Monday, December 7, 2015

MAAC Monday: Defensive efficiency, stat leaders, power rankings

While Rider is only MAAC team to hold opponents under 70 points per game on average, Tom Moore has Quinnipiac atop advanced metrics through first month of year. (Photo courtesy of Quinnipiac University Athletics)

Our second edition of "MAAC Monday" once again highlights some statistical trends and performances, while also profiling some of the conference's leaders and assessing where each team stands in our weekly power rankings. In this feature's debut last week, offense was the name of the game, taking a look at possessions and points per possession. This time, we focus on the other side of the ball, shedding further light on which defenses reign supreme from the perspectives of efficiency, effective field goal percentage against, and forced turnovers per possession when analyzing opposing turnover rates. Although MAAC play opened this past weekend, all games played to this point will be taken into consideration, and as always, any and all statistics were gleaned from the individual stat pages on each school's website.

Defensive Efficiency (opposing points per possession from least to greatest)
1) Quinnipiac (0.99 PPP)
2) Saint Peter's (1.00)
3) Monmouth (1.00)
4) Siena (1.02)
5) Iona (1.05)
6) Fairfield (1.06)
7) Niagara (1.07)
8) Rider (1.07)
9) Marist (1.12)
10) Canisius (1.13)
11) Manhattan (1.14)
Analysis: Tom Moore told us in the offseason about how he felt Quinnipiac had a chance to be more versatile defensively with the reduction in the shot clock, and after a shaky start to the schedule, the Bobcats rebounded with three straight games in which they held their opposition under 60 points. Moore's units have never been teams that make their hay in transition, opting instead for a more physical, rebounding-oriented approach, and it has worked to their advantage, particularly within the arrivals of Donovan Smith and Daniel Harris, both of whom average at least five boards per game. Their next closest competition, a pair of New Jersey rivals in Saint Peter's and Monmouth, has had a different strategy than the other. John Dunne's Peacocks, who could easily be 6-1 with all the right bounces, have put the clamps on opponents in recent weeks; especially against Rider and Siena, with a grinding mentality while King Rice's Hawks reverted to their form of last season in holding Niagara to just 42 points yesterday. On the other side of the spectrum, the bottom two teams can be explained rather easily. Canisius' high total surrendered is a byproduct of Jim Baron's uptempo style, (in last week's spotlight on points per possession, the Golden Griffins' 1.18 mark was a full 0.11 points higher than their next closest challenger) while Manhattan's lack of depth has given more opportunities to opposing teams than Steve Masiello would like to see this early in the year.

Effective Field Goal Percentage Against (from lowest to highest)
1) Quinnipiac (.461)
2) Monmouth (.468)
3) Fairfield (.487)
4) Siena (.488)
5) Niagara (.490)
6) Rider (.506)
7) Saint Peter's (.508)
8) Iona (.522)
9) Canisius (.524)
10) Marist (.541)
11) Manhattan (.583)
Analysis: Quinnipiac heads the standings here as well, which is something fans in Hamden are accustomed to seeing. Last year, the Bobcats ranked first in this category as well, yielding just a .446 clip through the 20-game conference schedule, and the reasoning behind this is simple: Tom Moore's defensive schemes look to take away the three-point shot first and foremost, and that was no further evident than in last season's meeting with eventual MAAC champion Manhattan, when Jasper forward Shane Richards was shut out. What makes the Bobcats' reign atop the charts even more impressive through the first month of this season, however, is that they are doing it without the lockdown presence of Zaid Hearst on the floor. Not too far behind is Monmouth, who never gets enough credit for the force they have become on the defensive end. As far as the bottom two, Marist's totals are somewhat inflated by lopsided losses to Vermont and Iona in recent days, while Manhattan's aforementioned depth issues have also allowed opponents to capitalize on a bevy of high-percentage shots against an undermanned Jasper unit that is just now starting to get reinforcements back as the schedule transitions back into the conclusion of non-league play.

Forced Turnover Rates (from highest to lowest)
1) Manhattan (25.7% of opposing teams' possessions)
2) Iona (21.0)
3) Siena (19.4)
4) Monmouth (18.5)
5) Rider (18.1)
6) Saint Peter's (18.0)
7) Marist (17.8)
8) Quinnipiac (17.7)
9) Canisius (17.6)
10) Niagara (16.6)
11) Fairfield (15.8)
Analysis: Even though they have been befallen by injury, the manpower shortage has not stopped Manhattan from doing what they do best, which is create chaos on the defensive end. Steve Masiello's system predicates itself on causing turnovers and getting transition opportunities, and although it may not show in the win-loss record just yet, the Jaspers have done an excellent job of achieving their primary goal, as evidenced by forcing turnovers on 25.7 percent of their possessions. Iona's position in the No. 2 spot may come as a surprise to a lot of people, considering the widespread criticism of Tim Cluess' high-octane assault, which prompts skeptics to claim the sixth-year coach chooses not to play defense. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth in New Rochelle, as the addition of Deyshonee Much has allowed the Gaels to space the floor even more than their usual affinity has suggested in the past, and five players on the roster are averaging at least one steal per game.

In our next edition of MAAC Monday, we will examine offense in a more critical lens, specifically looking within teams' offensive effective field goal percentages, as well as their offensive rebounding marks and assist rates, which will give an indicator as to which teams are sharing the ball most often. In the interim, however, here is an update on the conference's scoring, rebounding, and assist leaders:

Scoring Leaders
1) A.J. English, Iona (23.8 PPG)
2) Justin Robinson, Monmouth (22.5)
3) Malcolm McMillan, Canisius (21.3)
4) Khallid Hart, Marist (20.8)
5) Shane Richards, Manhattan (18.5) 
6) Marcus Gilbert, Fairfield (18.3)
7) Marquis Wright, Siena (17.9)
T-8) Brian Parker, Marist (17.3)
T-8) Rich Williams, Manhattan (17.3)
10) Antwon Portley, Saint Peter's (16.7)

Rebounding Leaders
1) Jamal Reynolds, Canisius (8.9 RPG)
2) Brett Bisping, Siena (8.6)
3) Quadir Welton, Saint Peter's (8.4)
4) Phil Valenti, Canisius (7.4)
T-5) Deon Jones, Monmouth (7.0)
T-5) Donovan Smith, Quinnipiac (7.0)
7) Zane Waterman, Manhattan (6.7)
8) Isaiah Williams, Iona (6.4)
9) Matt Scott, Niagara (6.3)
T-10) Jonathan Kasibabu, Fairfield (6.0)
T-10) Justin Satchell, Niagara (6.0)

Assist Leaders
1) A.J. English, Iona (7.0 APG)
2) Tyler Wilson, Manhattan (6.7)
3) Jerome Segura, Fairfield (5.7)
4) Trevis Wyche, Saint Peter's (4.6)
5) Tyler Nelson, Fairfield (4.5)
6) Malcolm McMillan, Canisius (4.1)
7) Marquis Wright, Siena (3.9)
8) Teddy Okereafor, Rider (3.6)
T-9) Giovanni McLean, Quinnipiac (3.3)
T-9) Matt Scott, Niagara (3.3)
T-9) Eric Truog, Marist (3.3)

Finally, we conclude "MAAC Monday" once again with our power rankings for each of the 11 teams:

1) Iona (3-2, 2-0 MAAC)
Last Week: 5
Last Game: Friday 12/4 at Marist (W 101-66)
Next Game: Tuesday 12/8 at Tulsa, 8 p.m.

2) Monmouth (5-3, 1-1 MAAC)
Last Week:
 1

Last Game: Sunday 12/6 at Niagara (W 56-42)
Next Game: Sunday 12/13 vs. Wagner, 2 p.m.

3) Siena (5-3, 1-1 MAAC)
Last Week: 2
Last Game: Sunday 12/6 at Saint Peter's (L 72-68)
Next Game: Wednesday 12/9 vs. Hofstra, 7 p.m.

4) Canisius (3-4, 1-1 MAAC)
Last Week:
 4
Last Game: Saturday 12/5 vs. Quinnipiac (L 78-76)
Next Game: Thursday 12/10 at Penn State, 7 p.m.

5) Saint Peter's (3-4, 2-0 MAAC)
Last Week: 9
Last Game: Sunday 12/6 vs. Siena (W 72-68)
Next Game: Sunday 12/13 at Seton Hall, 2:30 p.m.

6) Fairfield (3-4, 1-1 MAAC)
Last Week:
3
Last Game: Friday 12/4 vs. Rider (W 74-70)
Next Game: Friday 12/18 vs. Wagner, 7 p.m.

7) Quinnipiac (3-4, 1-1 MAAC)
Last Week:
6
Last Game: Saturday 12/5 at Canisius (W 78-76)
Next Game: Wednesday 12/9 at Hartford, 7 p.m.

8) Niagara (3-6, 1-1 MAAC)
Last Week: 9
Last Game: Sunday 12/6 at Monmouth (L 56-42)
Next Game: Wednesday 12/9 at St. John's, 5 p.m.

9) Marist (2-4, 1-1 MAAC)
Last Week:
 11
Last Game: Sunday 12/6 at Manhattan (W 75-70)
Next Game: Wednesday 12/9 vs. Albany, 7 p.m.

10) Manhattan (1-5, 0-2 MAAC)
Last Week:
7
Last Game: Sunday 12/6 vs. Marist (L 75-70)
Next Game: Wednesday 12/9 vs. Columbia, 7 p.m.

11) Rider (1-7, 0-2 MAAC)
Last Week:
 8
Last Game: Friday 12/4 at Fairfield (L 74-70)
Next Game: Tuesday 12/8 vs. Wagner, 7 p.m.

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