In what will become a regular feature in his "Tempo Tuesday" column, Ray Floriani gets us ready for Atlantic 10 play with a tempo-free review of the non-league portion of the A-10 schedule. All statistics reflect games played through Monday, December 28, and were taken from Basketball State.
Teams are listed in efficiency margin order, from highest to lowest, with somewhat of a surprise at the top.
1) Fordham (9-2, +24 efficiency margin, 72 possessions per game)
2) George Washington (10-2, +14, 70)
3) Richmond (8-3, +13, 71)
4) Duquesne (10-2, +10, 75)
5) Dayton (9-2, +10, 70)
6) VCU (7-5, +9, 73)
7) Rhode Island (7-5, +9, 68)
8) Saint Joseph's (9-2, +8, 72)
9) St. Bonaventure (7-3, +7, 72)
10) UMass (6-5, +4, 75)
11) Davidson (8-3, +3, 75)
12) Saint Louis (5-6, 0, 69)
13) George Mason (6-7, -4, 67)
14) La Salle (4-5, -15, 70)
Analysis: Fordham, a team struggling in the win-loss department as well as efficiency margin in recent years, leads the pack. Jeff Neubauer is getting attention for the job he has done on Rose Hill. Defense, as Neubauer promised, is the key. The Rams sport the top defensive efficiency in the conference at 84. Non-conference meetings have been successful and something to build on. Now the ‘acid’ test, namely the conference, with George Washington first up on Sunday.
Everyone’s pace seems faster than last season. It’s not just five seconds less on the shot clock. Teams invariably post a faster non-conference pace. Dictating tempo against some undermatched opposition means more possessions. In conference play, the competition is better, teams know each other and late in the season, offenses get more conservative. It all adds up to less possessions per game in league play.
Dave Paulsen is the new coach at George Mason, but the tempo is still relatively deliberate. Rhode Island’s pace, under 70 possessions, is a mild surprise. Saint Louis is another one favoring a slower pace, dating back to when Rick Majerus had taken over the reins prior to Jim Crews. For La Salle, it has been a struggle on both ends. A 96 on offense and 111 defensive efficiency are both subpar marks. At this point, the Explorers should be thankful they aren’t farther below .500.
Offensive efficiency leaders:
1) Richmond (112)
2) George Washington (110)
3) Davidson (109)
T-4) Duquesne (108)
T-4) Fordham (108)
Analysis: Fordham and Duquesne, given their numbers and early showing, will be teams to keep a close watch on as conference play progresses. Davidson’s three losses are to North Carolina, Pitt and Cal. The offensive efficiency in those games was 81, 90, and 81, respectively. Every other time, Bob McKillop’s group has surpassed the century mark, with a high of 140 in a romp at Charlotte. The offense, though, is still very efficient.
1) Fordham (84)
2) Rhode Island (92)
3) VCU (93)
T-4) Dayton (94)
T-4) Saint Joseph's (94)
Analysis: The Rams of Fordham join VCU and Rhode Island as ‘breeds’ that normally reside in this area. A year ago, Fordham posted a 101 defensive efficiency through 31 games. To date, it has been a remarkable reversal of defensive fortunes at Rose Hill.
Offensive turnover rate leaders:
1) Davidson (12.9%)
2) Saint Joseph's (14.3)
T-3) George Washington (15.5)
T-3) Richmond (15.5)
5) UMass (15.6)
Analysis: To little surprise, Davidson has posted some outstanding efficiency on offense. The Wildcats do not turn it over. Fast-paced UMass is a bit of a surprise. Derek Kellogg’s club was right near the 20 percent cutoff, with a 19.5 percent turnover rate a year ago. On the opposite side, only two teams exceeded 20 percent in turnover rate, Dayton at 20.7 and Saint Louis with 20.1. The latter has not been a surprise in recent seasons. Dayton losing one-fifth of their possessions to miscues is a surprise. That number should be reduced as the conference play progresses.
Effective field goal percentage leaders:
1) Duquesne (.568)
2) Richmond (.566)
3) Fordham (.554)
4) Dayton (.534)
5) Davidson (.520)
Analysis: Fordham and Duquesne are early surprises. Duquesne did shoot 52 percent in this category last season, while Fordham struggled at a 47 percent eFG rate.
Better at Barclays: Excuse the Bahamas for a moment. A-10 Player of the Week Isaiah Miles had a great game in a win over Virginia Tech at Barclays Center. Saint Joseph’s senior forward scored 36 points and pulled down 15 rebounds, all without a single turnover. His effectiveness factor was 55, with an astronomical 1.410 EF per minute.
Rookie of the Week: DeAndre Abram, George Mason. The Patriots' freshman guard scored a career high 27 points, with 10 rebounds against Wagner. His EF was 36, with a superb 1.125 EF per minute.