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  • A Dummy’s Observations on the Pitt Johnstown – WLU Game

    I was really worried about this game. We had trouble for most of the game last year before finally pulling away. They had 7 of 8 players back, an All-American center and they have an outstanding coach. On paper, this could be a tough matchup.

    Pitt- Johnstown
    • Extremely well coached. No heat check or forced shots. Every shot is a good shot. Good ball movement in the half court.
    • Experienced, veteran team, but they only play 7, which is a risk against WLU.
    • All American center plus at least 3 outstanding 3-point shooters is a great composition for a strong half court team, as they make you pay if you double team the center.
    • I really like their PG Shull. Has a great repertoire of step back and fade away 2-point shots and is very accurate. I only saw last year’s athletic point guard (Mulbah) play once against WLU, but I thought he called his own number and took difficult shots a little too frequently even though he was effective in breaking a press. I think this PG, although a different style, will fill the gap nicely as he was 9 for 14 FG and 1 for 3 from three for 19 points.
    Pitt Strategy
    • Focus Jakubick on fronting and denying the ball to Butler inside. Kromka will guard Sarson, but serve as backup as needed, should Bryce get the ball. This was very effective for the most part.
    • Sag on defense, rather than play Butler up close to deny the 3-point shot.
    • When breaking the press, attack and don’t hesitate to take an open corner three in a 3-on 2 advantage in transition.
    • Maintain composure against the pressure.
    This game illustrated the cumulative mental and physical effect of the WLU pressure, even on experienced, talented, fundamentally sound, and well coached teams. Game was roughly even for the first 13 minutes. Then WLU had a spurt that got them ahead 8-10 points. WLU led 47-38 at the half, even though PJ was shooting 62% from field and 57% from three. WLU shot 47% and 39% from three, but got 12 more shots.
    In the second half, WLU jumped on PJ and extended the lead to 15 points in the 1st 1:40. PJ, being well coached, got the lead down to 7 with 14:30 remaining. However, their 3-point shooting was cratering (25% for second half), which I attribute to fatigue, as they were throwing up bricks from wide open corner looks. In the next 4 minutes, WLU created organized chaos in the PJ offense. They sped PJ up, and it became a classic 90 mph WLU open gym game. PJ was scoring quickly, and WLU was making layups on the other end within seconds. Turnovers were occurring all over the court and the lead ballooned to 14. Even though PJ was scoring, their coach knew that a track meet with WLU would not end well and smartly called a timeout. The lead varied from 12 to 19 points for the rest of the game.
    WLU outscored PJ on turnovers 31-13. The key was WLU forced 23 turnovers, of which 17 were steals or live ball turnovers that often result in points. That is 74%, which is incredible, as 40% live ball turnovers is a great stat.
    WLU had great ball movement, which resulted in open looks. Two players shot 60% from three, one shot 50%, and two shot 33%. Our 3-point shooting is good, if one excludes the extended slumps of some players due to mechanics issues that are resulting in relatively flat, low rotation (almost knuckleball) shots. I am sure that they will recognize and fix those issues.
    Another factor in success against PJ is the quality depth of the team. There is no drop-off in athletic ability between the 1st and 2nd platoon. The second platoon is getting more and more comfortable each game. There is no respite for a team that plays just 7 players.
    One other observation is how many WLU players can play the point – McKinney, Montague, Cannady, and West all have prior experience and Spadafora is a natural there. Butler is also comfortable playing the point, if needed.

    Final Score WLU 93 PJ 76

    I think Pitt-Johnstown will win quite a few games against traditional half-court teams.
    Last edited by Columbuseer; 11-17-2022, 06:19 PM.


    • FYI
      Hilltopper offensive efficiency is improving, playing at 121 pts per 100 possessions against UPJ. WLU was 109 and 111 in the 1st two games.
      UPJ was 108, which will win many half court style games.

      As their shooting improves and turnovers decline, i see it improving to the typical (for WLU and maybe NWMSU) 125 range.


      • Might be our best team since the last Final Four


        • Originally posted by Layton View Post
          Might be our best team since the last Final Four
          I agree. The ceiling for this team is very high. Shot 41% from three against ND. For season, wlu team assist to turnover ratio is 1.72, which would be good for a pg, extremely good for an entire roster. We are getting 20+ assists.

          Our new players are improving every game. The transfers admit that this style requires a longer adjustment period than the typical style. Infrequently using set plays, WLU requires players to make decisions in real time according to the situation. Players have to very rapidly recognize the situation, assess options, and take action. Big adjustment.

          ND uses a wv state strategy. Recruit great 1v1, athletic, playground players who can finish and turn them loose to attack the rim when they break the press. In the half court, spread the court, use a high ball screen and go 1v1. Most of their assists came against the press. Their team defense is suspect if one rotates the ball.

          Now wlu has the defensive athletes to slow down this type of team.

          On paper, ND has the talent to win a lot of games. However, Imho a good half court man or zone team will give ND problems due to their preference for 1v1 over teamwork.


          • Just need to get Hinds acclimated more we need his size and rebounding


            • Originally posted by Layton View Post
              Just need to get Hinds acclimated more we need his size and rebounding
              Good point. He missed valuable time due to injury, which has put him behind. But we are getting some brief glimpses of his capabilities. He is a good 3 pt shooter too. I see him getting more and more pt.
              Last edited by Columbuseer; 11-24-2022, 08:06 AM.


              • Originally posted by Columbuseer View Post

                Good point. He missed valuable time due to injury, which has put him behind. But we are getting some brief glimpses of his capabilities. He is a good 3 pt shooter too. I see him getting more and more pt.
                Hinds is 1 for 3 from 3 on the season thus far. While that's not good, I'm more concerned with the rest of the bench that is shooting .289 and if you take out 6th man Rasile (11 for 29) the rest of the bench is shooting .183 from 3.

                I'm also concerned with some of the minutes that supposed key players are getting. While it is understandable that you need to ride your top performers in the first three games, the last two games have been against weaker opponents where players who need it can play their way back into shape OR players needing to polish parts of their game can get the minutes to do so.


                • Fyi ncaa stats west liberty as of nov 25

                  2nd - 3pt attempts per game 35.6
                  3rd - scoring 99.0
                  4th - 3pt made per game 12
                  3rd - assists per game 24.4
                  6th - steals per game 12.0
                  8th - Assist to turnover ratio 1.72
                  10th - Turnover margin 7.8
                  15th - offensive rebounds per game 15.4
                  22nd scoring margin 19.0