Friday, March 13, 2015

Atlantic 10 Second Round: Tempo-Free Capsules

Treveon Graham's 22-point, 9-rebound outing was enough for VCU to escape upset-minded Fordham and advance to Atlantic 10 quarterfinals. (Photo courtesy of Sports Illustrated)

As our Ray Floriani did for the MAAC women's basketball quarterfinals, again it will be here, as we recap the four second round games in the Atlantic 10 Tournament from Thursday at Barclays Center:

La Salle 76, UMass 69
UMass ended their matinee with three more possessions than La Salle, (68 to 65) but it was the Explorers who buried almost all hope of the Minutemen landing an at-large bid into the NIT.

Offensive Efficiency: La Salle 117, UMass 101

The key factor: Not only did Dr. John Giannini's roster make three more three-pointers than UMass, the Explorers also showed a conspicuous disparity at the foul line, attempting 33 free throws to just 20 taken by the Minutemen. Making 25 of those attempts at the charity stripe, La Salle was able to overcome an empty transition game that could only turn 11 UMass turnovers into a meager six points.

Leading Scorers and OE:
La Salle: Jordan Price, 28 points (OE .444)
UMass: Donte Clark, 23 points (OE .786)

VCU 63, Fordham 57
After opening the A-10 slate against one another on January 4 at Rose Hill Gym, the two herds of Rams saw completely different images staring ahead of them this time around. Fordham, who committed 28 turnovers in the regular season contest against VCU, was able to take much better care of the ball in the absence of A-10 Defensive Player of the Year Briante Weber, VCU's quarterback of a point guard, who tore his ACL shortly after the contest in the Bronx.

Much like UMass before them, VCU enjoyed a possession advantage, (63 to Fordham's 61) but Shaka Smart's team was able to turn the additional trips down the floor into a winning effort.

Offensive Efficiency: VCU 100, Fordham 93

The key factor: Treveon Graham. Fordham head coach Tom Pecora praised the VCU swingman, who secured all but one of his nine rebounds on the offensive glass, contributing to an offensive rebounding percentage of 47 for VCU. 

Side bar: While the most impressive part of this game may be Fordham playing a heavy favorite and perennial thorn in their sides in VCU to just a six-point outcome, New York's A-10 team also held their own from three-point range, shooting 10-for-21 from beyond the arc.

Leading Scorers and OE:
VCU: Treveon Graham, 22 points (OE .786)
Fordham: Jon Severe, 14 points (OE .357)

Final Thoughts
"We talk about rebounding percentage all the time, and if we can get an offensive rebound percentage around 50, (percent) that's phenomenal." - VCU head coach Shaka Smart

"One thing we did talk about was their ability to hurt you on the offensive glass, and you know, they had 18 second chance points and we had 12, in a six-point game. Their 20 offensive rebounds hurt us a great deal." - Fordham head coach Tom Pecora

St. Bonaventure 60, Saint Joseph's 49
For the second consecutive year, the Bonnies eliminated the reigning A-10 champion, putting on a defensive clinic in the opening act of the night session to dethrone Phil Martelli's Hawks, who shot just 26 percent (14-for-55) from the field.

Saint Joseph's earned an extra possession, (66 against the 65 of St. Bonaventure) but it proved inconsequential against the Bonnies' stifling defense.

Offensive Efficiency: St. Bonaventure 92, Saint Joseph's 74

The key factor: In this case, it's twofold: Balance and stamina. Four Bonnies ended the night in double figures on the scoreboard, but only the starting five broke the ice. The one player who did not score 10 or more points, however, provided an even bigger impact, as Denzel Gregg ripped down 15 rebounds; a number that, ironically enough, was the difference on the boards as St. Bonaventure muscled their way to a 48-33 victory on the glass.

Leading Scorers and OE:
St. Bonaventure: Youssou Ndoye, 18 points (OE .417)
Saint Joseph's: Isaiah Miles, 19 points (OE .364)

Final Thoughts
"I thought our defense was critical in the first half. We could have been down by 15, 20 points if we didn't defend. The physical team is the one that gets the breaks, and I thought our team did a great job." - St. Bonaventure head coach Mark Schmidt

"You could tell by body language and facial expressions that we were shooting hoping to make it, not thinking it would go in." - Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli

George Washington 73, Duquesne 55
In the Thursday finale, the Colonials brought down the curtain in impressive style, closing the game on a 23-9 run after Duquesne went on a run to pull within four points one night after opening their stay in Brooklyn with a victory over Saint Louis.

The nightcap was the slowest game of the day from a pace perspective, as Duquesne managed a mere 56 possessions, one better than George Washington's total of 55. The efficiency numbers, though, witnessed a much greater chasm in between the two teams:

George Washington 133, Duquesne 98

The key factor: Points in the paint. That, and that alone, is the telling stat line in a game that was evenly matched in nearly all other facets. For example, both teams played a very crisp game; committing just seven turnovers apiece, and each made ten three-pointers. But it was George Washington who attacked the lane with greater proficiency, doubling up the Dukes to the tune of 32-16 in interior scoring to complement a plus-14 margin on the boards, with 44 rebounds to Duquesne's 30.

Leading Scorers and OE:
George Washington: Patricio Garino, 12 points (OE .833)
Duquesne: Micah Mason, 22 points (OE .526)

Final Thoughts
"Our kind of theme was, we were going to go around them and not through them, but we really wanted to attack. It's hard to rely on defensive rebounding all the time, especially when guys aren't shooting well." - George Washington head coach Mike Lonergan

"They really hurt us on the offensive glass when they did miss. We cut it to four, and then they made an and-one, which changed the momentum." - Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry

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