Bulls Can’t Hang With Villanova

February 24, 2010

Sometimes it’s really easy to break these games down. Villanova has more quality depth, they are diverse on both ends of the floor, and when teams take away their preferred method of attack, they adjust to find others. USF doesn’t have any of these things, not yet anyway. Add in poor shooting and a pile of turnovers, and that’s how you get a final score like 74-49.

I remember Pico’s response to Astro when he was asked what St. John’s offense does in the 5 Questions with The East Coast Bias before last Saturday’s game. He said he was tempted to answer “suck.” If you asked me about USF’s offense I would be tempted to say the same thing. But the problem is that EVERYONE is playing zone against them. Even Villanova threw a zone at them for awhile tonight, and they never do that. The Bulls are not built to beat zone defenses. They can’t shoot, and their bigs don’t handle the ball well inside. This is hardly a secret. Basketball is not my strongest sport and even I can see those things. I don’t know if USF can break the pattern with the roster they have, but they better break it soon or this basketball rally we’ve seen the last month or so will go completely down the tubes.

But there’s more. The Wildcats’ sudden traps in the half-court caused problems. They either did it when they felt a screen coming, or just because they felt like it. I don’t think they allowed a screen/roll or pick-and-roll to come off all night long – they either trapped or switched. This took away the Bulls’ preferred method of attack on offense when Nova played man. The Wildcats played tight on DoJo and Mercer and Howard to keep from being beaten off the dribble. And once again USF was reduced to passing the ball around the perimeter. They couldn’t get set up inside, of course they couldn’t hit outside shots, and they turned it over 22 times – not really because of pressure, just because of sloppiness. It was because of turnovers that Anthony Crater only played 17 minutes. He had four of them and spent a good portion of the game in Stan Heath’s doghouse.

It’s too bad because for the most part, the Bulls played good defense. As long as Villanova wasn’t running, they kept the dribble penetration to a minimum and held the Wildcats in check. Scottie Reynolds made a couple of circus shots and managed to get his, but Corey Fisher only shot 3-of-11 for seven points, and Reggie Redding was a total non-factor on offense. USF also switched on nearly every screen, and although George Clooney Jay Wright made occasional tweaks like sending players under them for outside shots, it was on the break and on quick-hit plays where Nova did their damage, ultimately shooting 47%. They also had 15 more field-goal attempts than USF did because of all the turnovers.

Obviously the game turned when Dominique Jones picked up his fourth foul with 10:39 to go (on a horrible call, by the way). When Scottie Reynolds needs a blow, George Clooney Jay Wright can turn to a solid backup like Dominic Cheek or Isiah Armwood or Taylor King. When Dominique Jones needs to come out, and the bench is already short to begin with, Stan Heath goes to… Ryan Kardok. Yeah. The Bulls wore down physically and mentally, and by the last few minutes they had pretty much packed it in. After Jones’s fourth foul, USF had no good scoring options. They only scored 10 points the remainder of the game and an eight-point deficit swelled to a 25-point final margin.

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