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  • Concord Recap – WLU won 113-97

    Concord got inside frequently in transition and used their length and height effectively to score inside. They had a stellar 1.15 points per possession, which is better than most teams.
    However WLU plays at a level shared by only the Gonzagas and NWMSU type teams at about 1.25. However, in this game, WLU scored at 1.33 points per possession, due to great shooting and only 11 turnovers.
    The pace of play was very fast, with 84 possessions. Most traditional half-court team have from mid 60s to mid 70s number of possessions.

    Concord Strategy

    Coach May of Concord always has a good game plan against West Liberty.
    • A key part of his strategy is to limit WLU offensive rebounds. With a group of 6-4 to 6-7 long, athletic players, Concord is one of the best rebounding teams in the MEC. They held WLU to just 4 offensive rebounds, while getting 28 defensive rebounds. Concord also got 14 offensive rebounds to 23 defensive rebounds for West Liberty.
    • Attack the rim when breaking the press, if they have a numerical advantage. They had the athletes to do this and got some easy shots. They seemed to make a point of attacking Butler to try to draw fouls.
    • Utilize their long athletes and their advantage over WLU’s shorter guards. Attack the rim in the half court game and try to draw fouls. They forced 26 fouls and shot 31 free throws.
    • They surprised WLU with an occasional 1-3-1 zone instead of their typical man-to-man. WLU had trouble with it, committing turnovers. WLU countered by putting Rasile in the corner as a zone breaker, which is the weakness of the 1-3-1.
    • FAIL Concord is one of the best defensive teams in the league. They need to reduce offensive efficiency of WLU. They need to have a bad shooting night.
    • FAIL Limit turnovers. Concord committed 19 turnovers, of which 12 were live ball turnovers (63%) .

    Keys to WLU Victory
    • Great offensive efficiency – Concord had a stellar offensive efficiency of 115 points per 100 possessions. This was mostly due to them getting good inside shots in transition. However, WLU averages around 125 points per 100 possession. In this game WLU played at 133 points per 100 possession.
    • Great shooting - In past upsets of WLU by Concord, WLU shot poorly. Not tonight. This year’s team consistently makes the extra pass to give a teammate a wide-open look that resembles a warm-up shot. WLU was 16-30 from three.
    • Sharing the ball – WLU had 24 assists on 40 FGs (60%). Concord had 13 assists on 36 FGs (36%). This team understands that assists break down opponents and increase FG %.
    • They attacked Heller forcing him out of the game with foul trouble at critical times. He was responsible for 2 of Concord’s 4 threes. Without him they are somewhat rudderless.
    • WLU pressure – WLU traps on makes and misses. In addition, WLU passed the ball very rapidly. Concord was getting spread out and all five players had to be actively engaged and could not rest on defense. Fatigue was making Concord one or two steps too slow on close outs. Only 7 players got significant minutes for Concord. The resulting fatigue reduces defensive movement, FT % and FG%, especially from three. IMHO, the mistakes that teams with a short bench make is that they play their starters too long without a break.
    • They greatly improved in stopping the home run pass on the press.
    • IMHO, WLU made a good move in the second half by going from a trapping press to a man-to-man full court defense. Concord was not as efficient in a half-court game as they were in an open court transition game. WLU’s half court defense caused them to struggle to get good shots, when they were behind and needed to score quickly.
    Areas for improvement
    • Improve offense against 1-3-1. Other teams will likely try it as a change of pace, given the success of Concord.
    • Need to block out better than we did at Concord.
    • Earlier recognition of press break and sprinting back to stop 2 on 1 break.
    • Defense is played with body position with respect to opponent. WLU is picking up fouls because they are trying to recover too late from being in a bad defensive position. They need to improve situational awareness. IMHO, some of our bigger players are playing too high in their defensive stance. Their center of gravity needs to be below their shorter opponent’s center of gravity.


    • After a horrendous start, WLU is now averaging 37.2% as a team from three. Opponents are averaging 30%.
      For individuals, 35% is considered good, while 40% is considered elite.
      WLU has 5 players shooting over 40% and one player climbing at 37.8%.
      Highest is 60% with 2nd place at 49%.
      Impressive turnaround that reflects a lot of time in the gym.


      • Watched some of glenville wheeling game. Gsu is now playing high ball screen half court offense. No more wlu style. Have a couple good guards that can shoot the three. Turbo smith hitting nearly 50% from three. Our shutdown guards will need to be on top of their game. Only 7 deep, so our press could wear them out.


        • Originally posted by Columbuseer View Post
          Watched some of glenville wheeling game. Gsu is now playing high ball screen half court offense. No more wlu style. Have a couple good guards that can shoot the three. Turbo smith hitting nearly 50% from three. Our shutdown guards will need to be on top of their game. Only 7 deep, so our press could wear them out.
          Shutdown guards? They must not of been on against Concord.


          • Originally posted by IUPalum View Post

            Shutdown guards? They must not of been on against Concord.
            In the wlu style, you sacrifice some defensive position and some scores in transition to speed the team up, compared to a half court centric team. Still need to improve in getting back to reduce 2 on 1 breaks.
            However, when you get 12 steals in forcing 19 concord turnovers (63%), that is an excellent defensive day.
            we were up by 22 in second half and won by 16. wlu guards will face 6-0 opponents rather than 6-4 guys. Gsu plays a (yawn) high ball screen offense without much movement. Our guards have to slow them down, for their guards are serious scorers.


            • That was a really interesting game last night. The Hilltoppers looked really out of sync in the first half--lots of unforced turnovers. Guys were throwing passes to the wing just when the wing player would cut leaving the pass to fly into the first row of the stands. Stuff like that. Out of sync is the only way to describe how WLU looked in the first half.

              What's really interesting, though, is that once Glenville proved they would hang around and capitalize on those WLU mistakes, Howlett completely changed the game. For the final 10 minutes of the game, WLU called off the press and decided to just sit down and guard. And they also called off the motion offense and decided to run set plays called from the bench. In other words, a conventional half-court game broke out for the final quarter. And once it was a half-court game, WLU went on a 20-2 run to put the game out of reach. I thought it was really interesting to note that WLU was extremely successful (and proved they could be extremely successful) playing as a conventional half-court team. That's obviously not their preference, but they showed they have the chops to get stops in the half court and that they could be really efficient running half-court sets. Glenville had no answer for any of the set plays they were running. The set plays turned into layup after layup. To that end, WLU only made 4 triples all game long. Overall, just a weirdly atypical game. But that game also became a really interesting data point in the constellation of WLU's skillset.

              It was also interesting to note that given the half-court nature of much of the game (which was also facilitated by Glenville finally deciding that it wasn't worth running with WLU and they should pull it out and milk clock after breaking the press--it only took Caldwell about 8 years to figure that out), Zach Rasile, who has been the de facto 6th man for most of the season, only played about 5 minutes. Michael Sampson picked up a lot of that slack by getting more minutes than he typically does. Perhaps Sampson matched up a bit better in the half-court defense against some of GSU's bigger, more athletic guys.

              Now, it's entirely possible Rasile was under the weather. Howlett mentioned in his post-game presser that there was so much illness going around the team that there were only 6 guys at practice on Friday. So perhaps Rasile wasn't totally healthy. But overall, this was just a weird game by WLU standards, but in all it's weirdness, it showed some really interesting possibilities.


              • Good Analysis, Scrub. Two hours before tip off, Coach thought he only had 6 players who would even dress for the game.
                GSU has some good athletes. GSU had a great plan and executed it successfully, for the most part.
                • Keep WLU off the offensive glass. They limited WLU to 5 offensive rebounds while getting 25 defensive rebounds. GSU also got 12 offensive rebounds of their own.
                • Shoot well - GSU was 44% (11-25) from three, while limiting WLU to 30% on only 13 attempts (4-13), when they average 12 threes on 36 attempts.
                • Limit turnovers - this is where GSU failed, they committed 21 turnovers, with 12 being live ball turnovers (steals by WLU).
                IMHO keys to WLU victory
                • GSU had no one who could guard Bryce inside, or who could stop Malik, Cmont, or Steve. They had great defensive games, too.
                • Officials were letting them play, especially in the first half. There was very little stoppage of play , with only 2 fouls called in the first 10 minutes. It was a double edge sword. It was setting the stage for later GSU fatigue and lapses in judgment late in second half, but WLU had many guys who were less than 50% so they might run out of gas too. The coaches did a great job of managing minutes for the many sickly WLU players
                • GSU only got 6 FTAs, while WLU got 17, as GSU was starting to hold as they got tired.
                • WLU got 64 points in the paint, versus 32 for GSU. From the box score, you would think WLU had joined the PSAC LOL.
                • WLU got 29 points off turnovers, versus 9 for GSU
                • WLU play at 1.15 points per possession, which very good for a half-court centric team, but below WLU's typical 1.23-1.25 range. They held GSU to 0.95 points per possession. It is a good defensive day when opponent is under 1.0 points per possession.
                The game was tied with 8:08 remaining and only a 5 point lead with 5:24 left. However, at the 8 minute mark, WLU went on a 20-2 run, playing shutdown half court defense and a set play offense The WLU guards really denied Turbo Smith the ball and scoring opportunities in the last 8 minutes. GSU was starting to get worn down and make bad decisions on team defense, leading to back door layups and easy 5 foot shots for WLU. GSU was reverting to AAU hero ball, taking off-balance, bad shots.

                IMHO, this game highlighted the difference between great individual play (as in AAU ball), and great team play. WLU made GSU play team defense and offense, for which GSU was not prepared (totally new team from distant lands, except for 1 player from last year).

                The real key in the 88-73 win was the mental toughness of WLU, who played remarkably well given their physical condition. Amazing, gutsy, mentally tough performance!


                • Fyi WLU ncaa stats west liberty as of Jan 8 2023

                  Improving in FT, FG, and 3PT shooting %.

                  Rebounding declining as teams focus on stopping wlu

                  1st- 3pt attempts per game 32.1
                  1st- Assist to turnover ratio 1.85
                  2nd - assists per game 22.2 nova se
                  first at 24.3
                  2nd- scoring 99.2 Nova se is first at 106.7
                  3rd - 3pt made per game 11.9
                  4th - Turnover margin 7.9 Nova se is 1st at 10.6
                  4th- forced turnovers 19.86 Nova se is #1 at 24.79
                  5th - steals per game 10.9 1st is Nova se is 12.7
                  5th - Scoring margin 19 Nova se 1st at 29
                  20th - FG % 49.76
                  35th - offensive rebounds per game 12.79
                  71st - 3 pt % 36.96
                  88th - FT % 73.26
                  126th - Rebound margin 1


                  • Does anyone even read all these worthless stats?


                    • Originally posted by IUPalum View Post
                      Does anyone even read all these worthless stats?
                      I do.


                      • You guys have bigger issues than I thought.


                        • Originally posted by IUPalum View Post
                          You guys have bigger issues than I thought.
                          I read them and appreciate the fact that someone puts the time in to post them. Maybe you should read your post above and contemplate if that might self apply.


                          • Originally posted by DownLow55 View Post

                            I read them and appreciate the fact that someone puts the time in to post them. Maybe you should read your post above and contemplate if that might self apply.
                            If you knew basketball then you'd understand that most of those stats are meaningless. That's a lot of work for meaningless stats.


                            • Can’t wait to see IUP in the regional final on the Hilltop


                              • Originally posted by Layton View Post
                                Can’t wait to see IUP in the regional final on the Hilltop
                                (Love the confidence, Layton, but let's not forget that IUP is #1 in the Nation and will remain the favorite to host the Atlantic until proven otherwise.)