Sunday, July 12, 2015

Ray Floriani's Atlantic 10 Women's Basketball Tempo-Free Wrapup

Fordham's excellent defense allowed Stephanie Gaitley's Rams to secure 11 conference wins, advancement to Atlantic 10 semifinals, and WNIT invite. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

Atlantic 10 women’s basketball gained a great deal of notoriety and deserved attention as Dayton advanced to the Elite Eight. The Flyers battled UConn gamely for over a half before falling in the Albany Regional final. Dayton’s run highlighted another successful year in conference, and served notice regarding the quality of A­-10 play. Dayton did not win the conference title, though, that distinction went to George Washington, an early exit in NCAA play at the hands of Gonzaga. Duquesne, Richmond, and Fordham advanced to the WNIT, giving the conference five participants in postseason action.

Among the WNIT teams, Duquesne reached round three, (defeating Richmond in the second round) while Fordham also won a first-round game before bowing out at St. John’s in the next round. A tempo-free breakdown of the A-­10 women follows, with the numbers courtesy of bbstate.com:

1) George Washington (15-1 record, 76 possessions, +28 efficiency margin)
2) Dayton (14-2, 74, +22)
3) Duquesne (12-4, 71, +11)
4) Saint Joseph's (8-8, 68, +4)
5) Fordham (11-5, 68, +4)
6) Richmond (9-7, 69, +1)
7) Saint Louis (7-9, 73, -1)
8) Rhode Island (8-8, 67, -2)
9) VCU (7-9, 72, -5)
10) St. Bonaventure (5-11, 69, -6)
11) La Salle (5-11, 72, -7)
12) UMass (5-11, 72, -9)
13) Davidson (1-15, 70, -18)
14) George Mason (5-11, 73, -19)

The only team to crack 100 in offensive efficiency was Dayton. The Flyers checked in at 102. Conference champion George Washington had an OE of 95. The defense was an outstanding 77, the best in the entire conference.

The general profile of the conference revealed another group short on dominant post players, but stronger on the wings. The guards? Call them adequate to a little better than average. Guards are not responsible for every turnover. The offense does initiate with their position, so with 9 of the 14 teams over 20% in TO rate, at least some of that hinges on the backcourt.

The average pace of the conference was 71.2 possessions per game, a decidedly quick tempo which a lot of teams seemed to favor. Shooting was definitely less than spectacular, with no team cracking 50% for the eFG rate. The free throw rate saw no team hit 20%. This gives another indication of the conference being short on consistent post threats. With teams surviving on mid-to-longer range shots, defenses could gamble, thus the resulting eFG numbers, all under 50%. Dayton, at 49%, was the conference leader in field goal efficiency.

For Davidson, the only place to go is up. The Wildcats managed one win. They had the lowest offensive efficiency at 75 with the second-lowest on defense at 93. They shot a low 40% eFG percentage while showing the highest TO rate at 24%. Clearly, the move to the Atlantic Ten from the Southern Conference was not very easy for this group.

Offensive leaders:
1) Dayton (102 offensive efficiency)
2) George Washington (95)
3) Duquesne (92)
4) Saint Joseph's (89)
5) Saint Louis (88)

The only team to crack the century mark, Dayton paced the conference in eFG percentage as noted with their 49%. They also showed good numbers in FT rate (19%) and turnover rate at 20.3%. That TO rate number is just ‘above’ the cutoff, but not a serious liability, given the Flyers ability to get to the line and shoot from the field.

The top three-point shooting team, no surprise, it was Dayton at 39%. To top it off, Jim Jabir’s club shot a pace-setting 46% inside the arc.

Leading defenses:
1) George Washington (77 defensive efficiency)
2) Dayton (80)
3) Duquesne (81)
4) Fordham (82)

George Washington had the total package, forcing opponents into a 39% eFG percentage and a 22.8% TO rate. LaSalle led the conference in forcing turnovers (23% defensive rate). Their downfall was a second-worst eFG defense at 46%, which all translated into a 91 defensive efficiency.

The conference championship: March 8, 2015, Richmond, Va: George Washington 75, Dayton 62
The game saw a disparity in possessions, with 84 for the Colonials to the 77 of Dayton. Usually teams are a possession or two off, but this game gave a notable difference. Coach Jonathan Tsipis’ Colonials held an 89­-80 edge in offensive efficiency. Both were over the TO limit with the victors at 25%, and Dayton checking in at 21%. The big difference was the 47% offensive rebounding percentage of GW. Dayton could manage only 27% in that category, and the Colonials led 17­-9 in raw offensive rebounding numbers. That is extending a possession 17 times, far too much against a quality opponent.

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