Sunday, November 29, 2015

Barclays Center Classic: Ray Floriani's Tempo-Free Analysis

Cincinnati celebrates after winning Barclays Center Classic championship. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)

Brooklyn, NY - ­ For years, the criticism on the NBA is that if you see the last two minutes, you’ve seen it all. Skeptics could say that about the Cincinnati-George Washington meeting in the Barclays Center Classic  championship. They would have been very misguided with that assessment. Cincinnati emerged victorious, 61­-56, in a tough battle of unbeatens at Barclays Center. It was largely a case of making plays in the stretch. The numbers:

Possessions: 60
Offensive Efficiency: Cincinnati 102, George Washington 93

Four Factors:
eFG%: Cincinnati 48, George Washington 47
FT Rate: Cincinnati 23, George Washington 7
OREB%: Cincinnati 33, George Washington 25

TO Rate: Cincinnati 20, George Washington 18

Leading Scorers and Efficiency Factors:
Cincinnati: Troy Caupain (16 points, EF 21)
George Washington: Patricio Garino  (15 points, EF 20)

The difference: George Washington shot 8-of-11 (73%) from three-point range in the first half, but in the second half, cooled down to 3-of-11 (27%). Credit the Bearcats for better perimeter defense. Rebounding, a Cincinnati staple, was also in the Bearcats' favor, contributing to a 24-­16 advantage in points in the paint.

Tournament MVP honors went to Cincinnati senior forward Octavius Ellis. The 6­-10 Ellis scored nine points, adding seven rebounds for an efficiency factor of 14. In per minute EF, Ellis’ rate trailed both Caupain and Garino. (Caupain .636 EF per minute, Garino .625, Ellis .483)

Ellis did come up big for the Bearcats in that vital stretch run. Remember, MVP is ‘most valuable,’ not necessarily the best performer in raw or analytical figures, but rather the one the team essentially needs at the key juncture of the game. For Cincinnati to claim the title, Ellis’ performance was most ‘valuable.’

Final Thoughts
“We wanted to take away their inside game, and we allowed them to do that. We made a lot of threes the first half. We got good looks in the second half, but didn’t hit. They (Cincinnati) did a great job getting to the line and they kept us from getting inside. Their matchup zone was effective. We had to rely on taking outside shots, but missed some opportunities.” George Washington coach Mike Lonergan

“I thought we guarded the three-point line a lot better in the second half. It’s a
long game and they started out shooting well, but couldn’t sustain.” Cincinnati guard Kevin Johnson on George Washington’s first half hot shooting

“Obviously a hard-fought game. GW is tough and well coached. I love what they do on the offensive end. They shot well early, but our offensive rebounding was a game-changer for us.” ­ Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin

“With little prep time we were concerned with (Kevin) Larsen in the low post, especially his passing. They got the shots and converted. We went small, not allowing them to beat us off the dribble and get open threes. Teams have to beat us off the dribble so we set our defense accordingly.” ­ Cronin

“We are going to get better. We haven’t had a lot of time to work on our press. We want to press more and pick up the tempo. We have to pressure in the backcourt to get to where we want to go.” ­ Cronin

In the consolation game, Nebraska defeated Tennessee 82­-71. A 73-possession game saw the offensive efficiency controlled by the Huskers with a 112-­97 advantage. The difference? Both teams had turnover rates under 20 percent, (Nebraska 18 and Tennessee 15%) and were even with a 44% free throw rate. Nebraska led 40­-22 in offensive rebounding percentage, contributing to a 54% (to Tennessee’s 42) in eFG percentage.

Leading Scorers and Efficiency Factors:
Nebraska: Tai Webster (18 points, EF 18)
Tennessee: Kevin Punter (23 points, EF 31)

Final Thoughts
“We have to get to a point that when you watch us play, you know we are tough, that we are competitive, and that we are going to be a tough out. The last two games were not exemplary of that.” ­ Tennessee associate head coach Rob Lanier

“Tennessee has been on a comeback on everybody, and they made it a ballgame down to the last possession with a smart coach and veteran players. For us to be able to hold them off was important for us.” ­ Nebraska coach Tim Miles

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