Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ray Floriani's Tempo-Free America East Wrapup

Will Brown guided Albany to third straight America East championship as Great Danes were class of the conference throughout the season. (Photo courtesy of Vincent Simone via Big Apple Buckets)

The drama of the America East final almost made us forget. The sympathetic pain fans felt for Stony Brook’s Steve Pikiell, a class act and excellent coach, almost made us forget. In the championship, Albany edged Stony Brook for the title. For the moment, we forgot Vermont was one excellent club. The tempo-free breakdown of the America East covers only the conference meetings. (Numbers courtesy of

1) Vermont (efficiency margin +20, 12-4 record)
2) Albany (+16, 15-1)
3) Stony Brook (+11, 12-4)
4) New Hampshire (+8, 11-5)
5) Hartford (-7, 7-9)
6) Binghamton (-7, 5-11)
7) UMass Lowell (-9, 6-10)
8) UMBC (-17, 2-14)
9) Maine (-21, 2-14)

The Catamounts of coach John Becker, eliminated in a heartbreaker of their own in the conference semifinals, were the pace setters in efficiency margin. Interestingly, the team that eliminated Vermont was Stony Brook.

Vermont shot a conference high 53.9% eFG percentage. The Catamounts’ TO rate was just 17.8%, and the 20% FT rate was second in the conference. On defense, their strength was in keeping shooting percentages low, as attested to the 41.8% eFG mark of their opponents, the best defensive mark in conference play.

Albany excelled on offense with a 51% eFG mark and the conference’s best FT rate at 23%. Interestingly, Vermont and Albany were the only two conference teams to surpass 20% in FT rate.

The top four in the conference were the only ones to post efficiency margins in the positive. Setting the offensive pace:

1) Albany (107 offensive efficiency)
2) Vermont (106)
3) Stony Brook (101)
4) New Hampshire (100)

That group represented the only teams in conference to equal or crack the offensive efficiency century mark.

Leading Defenses:
1) Vermont (86 defensive efficiency)
2) Stony Brook (90)
3) Albany (91)

UMass Lowell (22.7%) and Binghamton (20.8) were the only two teams to force over 20% in turnovers on defense. Both teams wound up subpar on defense, as their allowed eFG mark exceeded 50 percent.

Possessions: Every conference team was under 70 possessions. The fastest pace was ninth-place Maine, at 65.9 possessions per game. The most deliberate was champion Albany, at 61.7. The range between these two extremes was only four possessions, meaning this conference was very similar in its tempo-dictating philosophy.

Care for the ball: Just two were equal or over the 20% ‘barrier’ in TO rate. Only UMass Lowell (20%) and UMBC (21.7%) were above the accepted cutoff. The leader was Stony Brook, at 17.3 percent.

Championship: Albany 51, Stony Brook 50
That classic encounter denying Stony Brook that coveted trip to the Big Dance. To put more salt on the wound, Stony Brook actually ’won’ the offensive efficiency. The Seawolves checked in at 83 to the 82 of Albany. As noted before, in 95 to 97% (depending on the study) of cases, the team winning offensive efficiency, wins the game. Not this time.

In a low 60-possession (Stony Brook 60, Albany 62) game, the Seawolves held Albany to 32% eFG shooting. The differences? Offensive rebounding percentage and the foul line. Albany held a 32-23 percent edge in offensive rebounding percentage. On the surface, not a huge margin, but this game did come down to a one-possession affair. Extending a few extra possessions was crucial for Will Brown's club. Stony Brook also shot just 10-of-19 from the free throw line, a 53 percent clip.

Player of the Year: Jameel Warney, Stony Brook
The 6-8 junior forward averaged 16.4 points per game in conference play. Warney posted a 24.4 per game efficiency using the NBA model. The OE metric saw Warney post a very efficient .722, largely due to his 150 offensive rebounds. Also, both efficiency metrics were aided by his 72 assists against 59 turnovers, and 87 blocked shots, simply an all-around effort deserving of the accolades bestowed upon him.

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