Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tempo Thursday: Ray Floriani's A-10 roundup

The coaches tell us the timeworn mantra, ‘the season is a marathon, not a sprint.’ Well, in negotiating the 26.2 miles, you want to get into a rhythm and pace allowing you to negotiate the difficult latter stages.

In Atlantic 10 play there are miles, excuse us, games, to be faced down the road. On the other hand, the race is taking some kind of form with teams emerging at one end, others struggling at the other. Again, a good amount of basketball remains to be played, but it’s always desirable to get established and off to a good start. All teams are listed in order of efficiency margin, from highest to lowest, and all numbers are courtesy of Basketball State.

(All games played through January 13)

1) Fordham (1-3 record, +18 efficiency margin, 72 possessions per game)
2) George Washington (3-1, +15, 69)
3) St. Bonaventure (4-0, +11, 71)
4) Rhode Island (2-2, +11, 67)
5) VCU (4-0, +11, 73)
6) Dayton (3-1, +10, 70)
7) Saint Joseph's (3-1, +7, 72)
8) Richmond (2-2, +6, 71)
9) Duquesne (1-3, +3, 74)
10) Davidson (2-2, +2, 75)
11) UMass (1-3, -1, 72)
12) Saint Louis (1-3, -7, 69)
13) George Mason (0-4, -8, 67)
14) La Salle (1-3, -10, 70)

Saint Louis, with a 20.6 percent turnover rate, is the only team above the 20 percent cutoff for turnover rate. The conference leaders are:

1) Davidson (12.6 percent)
2) Saint Joseph's (14.3)
3) Richmond (15.7)
4) George Washington (16.1)
5) VCU (16.3)

Possessions: Rhode Island and  George Washington are enjoying success with a more deliberate tempo. That slower rate, though, does not automatically ensure victories, as Saint Louis and George Mason can attest. It comes down to finding what is right for your personnel and system, and executing. As noted, George Washington, at 16.1 percent, has one of the best turnover rates in the conference. Rhode Island is not far out of the top five, with a 16.7 percent showing.

Interestingly, the conference’s two fastest-paced teams, UMass and Duquesne, have combined for two conference wins. Defense is a problem in Amherst, as the Minutemen are giving up a 104 efficiency on the defensive end. Duquesne cares for the ball (17.5 percent turnover rate) and shoots (51.1 eFG percentage). Jim Ferry's club has trouble drawing fouls and getting to the line with the second-lowest free throw rate at 15 percent Only George Mason, at 14.3 percent, is lower.

The rebounding percentage leaders:

1) Rhode Island (61%)
2) George Mason (59.5)
3) VCU (58.4)
4) Fordham (56.0)
5) Dayton (52.9)

Slower tempo and tough rebounding is a hard combination to beat facing Danny Hurley’s Rams. George Mason rebounds, and offsetting the board work is a 101 defensive efficiency and 19 percent turnover rate.

A rundown on last weekend’s A-10 action:
St. Bonaventure 88, UMass 77
Possessions: 72
Offensive Efficiency: Bona 126, UMass 104

La Salle 61, Dayton 57 
Possessions: 62
Offensive Efficiency: Dayton 83, La Salle 109

Davidson 81, George Mason 75
Possessions: 72
Offensive Efficiency: GMU 105, Davidson 113

George Washington 91, Duquesne 64
Possessions: 71
Offensive Efficiency: Duquesne 91, GW 126

Saint Joseph’s 72, Rhode Island 67
Possessions: 69
Offensive Efficiency: URI 98, Saint Joseph’s 105

Richmond 93, Fordham 82
Possessions: 70
Offensive Efficiency: Richmond 131, Fordham 119

VCU 72, Saint Louis 56
Possessions: 68
Offensive Efficiency: VCU 102, SLU 84

Top 5 offensive efficiencies:
1) Richmond (112)
2) George Washington (110)
3) Davidson (109)
4) St. Bonaventure (108)
5) Fordham (106)

Leading 4 in defensive efficiency:
1) VCU (91)
2) Fordham (92)
T-3) George Washington (95)
T-3) Dayton (95)

As noted in weekend rundowns, Fordham posted an above average offensive efficiency while the defensive end was above average, on the wrong side. The 131 allowed to Richmond was 39 above the Rams' season average.

Co-Players of the Week:
Jack Gibbs, Davidson: Two-game effectiveness factor of 79, 71 minutes. EF per minute: 1.11 
Ryan Rhoomes, Fordham: Two-game EF 75, 68 minutes. EF per minute: 1.10
Rookie of the Week:
Otis Livingston, George Mason: Two-game EF 34, 70 minutes. EF per minute: .486

A final note on ‘usage’: Without going into formulas, usage is the percentage of team possessions used by each player. The top five:

1) Jack Gibbs, Davidson (33.26) 2) Jordan Price, La Salle (32.84)
3) Trey Davis, UMass (28.87)
4) Terry Allen, Richmond (28.33)
5) Donte Clark, UMass (28.00)

No surprise with Gibbs leading the pack, but two players from UMass are in the top five. While Davis and Clark are talents, Derek Kellogg’s club needs others to take up the slack. Combined, the pair account for over half of the Minutemen possessions.

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