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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

CopyCats League: What Makes Villanova So Good?

The Villanova Wildcats capture their second NCAA Men's Basketball title in three years. In a Copycat world, how can we copy the 'Cats? 

"Good artists borrow; great artists steal." - Picasso 

Salvator Leonardo da Vinci. "It had that kind of presence that Leonardos have..." remarked art historian Martin Kemp. Villanova has a presence. 

Villanova won the statistical battle, easily. They had an Effective Field Goal percentage (EFG%) of 56.1%, outrebounded Michigan by 11, lost the turnover battle by two, and took and made more free throws. Donte DiVincenzo sparkled off the bench as Villanova dramatically won in bench scoring. 

Coaching. Jay Wright has nothing to prove with two NCAA title pelts on his horse. Wright is a master player developer and gets players who compete on both ends. But hearing Brunson's eloquence about his teammates speaks volumes about their culture. 

Game understanding and execution. Yes, Villanova runs plays. 

But coach Pyper's video shows that they MAKE PLAYS. 

Talent. Let's not diminish the players. Jalen Brunson was National Player of the Year. Donte DiVincenzo was Most Outstanding Player. Bridges, Spellman, Booth, and Paschall are all terrific. Wright and his staff blend talent with elite development.

Development. The 'secret sauce' for Villanova lies in their growth mindset. 

Wright preaches, layups, finishing, and free throws. "Jab, go, extend." We practice "Bradleys" every practice. We're not great; but we want to excel. 

Offensive efficiency EFG%. It's said about the NBA, "it's a make or miss league." It's not just the NBA. 

Shotmaking wins. Of course, that's a function of ability, shot quality, and passing (creates easier shots). 

Free throw shooting.  

A local pundit, Tom Hellen, shares, "teams that can't shoot free throws last as long in the post-season as dogs that chase cars." 

Defense. Villanova's defense is 'traditional' excellence with a few wrinkles. Film illustrates. 

1. They pressure the ball and really move their feet. 
2. They contest shots without fouling. 
3. They switch a lot to limit separation.
4. They help and recover to deny middle penetration. 
5. They help the helper with rotation. 
6. They battle in the post and aren't afraid to front with ball pressure.
7. They compete on the glass.
8. They 'wall up' staying vertical. 
9. They trap selectively, putting offense 'in the glass box.' 
10.They load to the ball.
11.In their 2-3 defense, it shares features with 1-2-2 at times.
12.Technique beats tactics and they don't beat themselves with mental errors. 

Enduring lessons. There's nothing magical about what Villanova does. They defend fundamentally. They take better shots and make more of them. They sink free throws. They practice layups, finishing, and combination separate and finish moves. They play good basketball. The flavor of the year isn't vanilla; it's Villanova. 

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