Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Ray Floriani's Tempo-Free MAAC Women's Basketball Wrapup

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Marist coach Brian Giorgis looks on with aggressive interest during MAAC Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

There was little surprise in the results. Quinnipiac dominated on both ends of the floor, as the Bobcats swept the MAAC with a 20-0 record and went on to unseat Marist as the conference champion. Under the direction of head coach Tricia Fabbri, the league's Coach of the Year, Quinnipiac fashioned an outstanding campaign, not only defeating opponents, but pushing the pace in the process. The following numbers are from conference games only, and courtesy of bbstate.com:

1) Quinnipiac (20-0 record, +28 efficiency margin)
2) Marist (15-5, +11)
3) Iona (13-7, +11)
4) Fairfield (13-7, +1)
5) Niagara (9-11, 0)
6) Siena (11-9, -1)
7) Canisius (8-12, -2)
8) Monmouth (8-12, -5)
9) Rider (8-12, -10)
10) Saint Peter's (4-16, -17)
11) Manhattan (2-18, -24)

Fastest pace:
1) Quinnipiac (75.6 possessions)
2) Monmouth (71.4)
3) Iona (69.1)

Most deliberate pace:
1) Fairfield (62 possessions)
2) Manhattan (65.9)
3) Saint Peter's (67.3)

Quite a disparity from the fastest to most methodical tempo. Thirteen possessions, a significant difference for a conference of eleven teams. Quinnipiac ran on virtually every opportunity. If transition could not be finished, they applied the breaks and went half court, but every possession originated with them getting out on the break.

Offensive efficiency leaders:
1) Quinnipiac (107)
2) Iona (101)
3) Marist (96)

Top defenses:
1) Quinnipiac (79)
2) Marist (85)
3) Siena (87)

Quinnipiac was outstanding on defense, as was Marist, which is no surprise, as Brian Giorgis’ teams emphasize the defensive end. The Red Foxes had the best eFG defense at 39.3%. Siena, just above .500 in conference, had a strong enough defense to get them to the MAAC ‘final four’ and the championship game of the WBI. The Saints' defensive efficiency through all games was an impressive 86.

Turnovers: Manhattan played at a slower tempo, yet they suffered through a 22% TO rate. This was not a case of losing the ball due to careless fast breaks, just a basic deficiency in half court execution which coach John Olenowski must address.

The top three in efficiency were the leaders in TS (true shooting) percentage. Iona (53.3%) edged Quinnipiac by a tenth of a point. The only other team to break 50% was a mild surprise in Canisius. The Griffs hit a TS of 50.5% despite finishing under .500.

Traits of the MAAC: The conference teams did not get to the line as much. No one had a FT rate of 20% or better, which hints at less inside power play and more guard/small forward styles. The turnover rates were high, as only the top four in efficiency were under 20%, led by Quinnipiac at 15.9%, another testament to their talent and organization. Running in transition, yet caring for the ball.

A positive trait was the ability of teams to win with different styles. You could push the pace as the champion Bobcats did, or take a slower to moderate tempo as Marist and Fairfield, yet still be successful.

What happened with Iona? Numbers suggested a team better than 13-7 and an early exit from tournament play. The Gaels were just out of the top three defenses, checking in with a 90 defensive efficiency. That and their offense suggested a better win-loss record, as well as the ability to crack the tournament ‘final four’ in Albany.

MAAC Championship: Quinnipiac 72, Marist 61
Possessions were in favor of Quinnipiac, 71-69. The Bobcats preferred that fast pace while Marist, a mid-60-possession team, was forced into a quicker tempo. Quinnipiac imposed that defensive will with a 101­-88 edge in offensive efficiency. The Red Foxes were limited to 42% eFG shooting. Brian Giorgis’ club did a reputable defensive job in the field goal department, limiting Quinnipac to 46.5% eFG shooting. The damage was done by the newly minted MAAC titlists from three-point range (44%) and the charity stripe, 19 of 24 for 79%. Interestingly, Marist, the conference FT rate leader at 18.7%, got to the line but shot just 12 of 22 (55%) in this final.

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