Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tempo Thursday: January 21, 2016


Bronx, NY - Tempo Thursday takes to the road. At Rose Hill Gym for a Wednesday pre-deadline meeting between George Mason and Fordham, it is an interesting matchup as both programs are trying to get established in a demanding circuit. Without going into detailed history, the visiting Patriots are still relatively new to the conference. Fordham has been on board two decades. Both have new coaches this season confident of reversing the fortunes.

The stat sheet tells us there were zero ties and lead changes. Deceptive, as Fordham’s 73-62 victory was well earned and up for grabs the final four minutes.

George Mason used 65 possessions, the Rams 68. The home five enjoyed a 107-95 advantage in offensive efficiency. Credit the turnovers, or lack of them.

George Mason is forced into 17 turnovers for an extremely high 26 percent turnover rate. Fordham committed only five for an outstanding 7 percent turnover rate. Consider those figures in what was a two possession game during ‘crunch time’, those last four minutes. The Rams came in having a dubious distinction of sporting a league-high 20 percent turnover rate. Eliminating a number of miscues and seeing a possession through had a major bearing on the final outcome. As Fordham coach Jeff Neubauer admitted, “turnovers are destructive and something we will continue to address in practice.” On this night, the Rams showed they are getting Neubauer’s message. The result, a hard-fought, satisfying win in conference play.

The breakdown of efficiency margin (EM), record and pace: (Numbers are courtesy of Basketball State)

1) George Washington (3-2, +14 EM, 69 possessions per game)
2) VCU (6-0, +13, 73)
3) Fordham (2-4, +11, 79)
4) Rhode Island (3-2, +10, 66)
5) Dayton (5-1, +10, 70)
6) St. Bonaventure (4-2, +9, 71)
7) Saint Joseph's (4-1, +8, 72)
8) Richmond (2-3, +7, 71)
9) Duquesne (2-4, +5, 75)
10) Davidson (3-3, +3, 75)
11) UMass (1-4, -3, 75)
12) George Mason (1-5, -6, 68)
13) Saint Louis (2-4, -9, 70)
14) La Salle (1-4, -13, 69)

Fastest pace:
1) UMass (74.9 possessions per game)
2) Duquesne (74.8)
3) Davidson (74.7)
4) VCU (72.5)
5) Saint Joseph's (72.1)

Interestingly, at this point only VCU and Saint Joseph’s own conference records exceeding .500. Could a change in tempo be in order for the other three?

Most deliberate:
1) Rhode Island (66.4 possessions per game)
2) George Mason (67.9)
T-3) La Salle (69.2)
T-3 George Washington (69.2)
T-5) Dayton (69.9)
T-5) Saint Louis (69.9)

Deliberate pace doesn’t guarantee victories. Regardless, it works for Rhode Island, George Washington and Dayton. As the Wednesday wrapup details a bit more, a change of pace was beneficial for Saint Louis in their upset of Davidson. 

All but three teams are over 100 in offensive efficiency. The trio looking up at the century mark:

La Salle (96)
George Mason (95)
Saint Louis (93)

In St. Bonaventure’ two losses to Duquesne and Dayton, the offense was not the problem. Mark Schmidt’s Bonnies averaged a 105.5 efficiency (the season norm is 108) for those two contests. Defense was the issue. In the 95-88 setback in the Steel City, Duquesne rang up a 118 offensive efficiency. In the 85-79 loss to Dayton, the defense allowed a too generous 113. That averages to 115.5 for two games.

The defensive efficiency leaders:
1) VCU (92)
2) Fordham (93)
T-3) Saint Joseph’s (96)
T-3) Rhode Island (96)
T-3) Dayton (96)

Still no surprise with VCU. As noted, turnovers are a concern. On the positive side, the Rams of Rose Hill continue to defend well enough to stay among the conference leaders, keeping company with a select group.

Wednesday’s other "beat the deadline" action:

Saint Louis 96, Davidson 87: In a faster-paced (for the Billikens) high 70-possession game, Saint Louis’ offense clicked. Jim Crews’ group rang up a 126 offensive efficiency to that of Davidson’s 111 to secure the upset.

VCU 93, Duquesne 71: The Rams keep rolling along. A low 70-possession game saw excellent offense (127 efficiency) by VCU coupled with solid defense, holding the visitors to 97 efficiency.

Usage leaders:
1) Jack Gibbs, Davidson (34.32 percent)
2) Jordan Price, La Salle (32.30)
3) Trey Davis, UMass (29.16)
4) Donte Clark, UMass (28.40)
5) Terry Allen, Richmond (28.02)

Gibbs is a do-it-all player for Davidson, but now a question begs to be answered: Are the Wildcats relying on the talented junior guard too much? Stay tuned.

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