BY RAY FLORIANI
We are roughly halfway home. The calendar tells us that in a month, the group will descend upon Brooklyn and Barclays Center for the annual festivities. There is time, but at this juncture, the contenders have separated from pretenders. There is opportunity for teams as Saint Louis or George Mason, not in serious contention, yet in a position to keep improving and finish strong.
A look at records and efficiency margin follows, with numbers courtesy of Basketball State:
1) VCU (9-0, +14 efficiency margin)
2) Dayton (8-1, +13)
3) Saint Joseph's (7-2, +10)
4) George Washington (6-3, +10)
5) St. Bonaventure (6-3, +9)
6) Rhode Island (4-5, +9)
7) Fordham (3-6, +7)
8) Duquesne (5-4, +6)
9) Richmond (3-6, +5)
10) Davidson (4-6, +1)
11) UMass (2-7, -4)
12) George Mason (2-7, -7)
13) Saint Louis (3-6, -9)
14) La Salle (1-8, -16)
Offensive efficiency leaders:
1) Richmond (111)
2) St. Bonaventure (109)
3) George Washington (108)
4) Davidson (108)
5) VCU (107)
Richmond runs an efficient offense, highlighted by a 15 percent turnover rate. What is going on with Chris Mooney’s club? Look no further than defense. The Spiders allow a 106 defensive efficiency. Not a way to win games, no matter how smooth the offensive machine is running.
Davidson’s problems? See Richmond, as the Wildcats are allowing a 107 defensive efficiency. By league comparison, La Salle has the lowest defensive efficiency, at 109.
Defensive efficiency leaders:
1) Dayton (92)
2) Saint Joseph's (93)
3) VCU (93)
4) Fordham (95)
5) Rhode Island (95)
Once again, the entire conference is under 20 percent in the turnover rate category. A surprise is the second-lowest mark belonging to Dayton at 19.1. Archie Miller’s teams usually care for the ball at a better rate. The Flyers compensate, though, with an excellent 53 percent eFG mark.
1) Duquesne (74.8 possessions per game)
2) Davidson (74.6)
3) UMass (74.6)
4) VCU (72.9)
5) Saint Joseph's (72)
Only VCU and Saint Joseph’s have thrived in this faster tempo. Davidson is a team still trying to find their way. Duquesne, as of late, has played better and never wavered from the quicker pace.
1) Rhode Island (66.6 possessions per game)
2) La Salle (68.1)
3) George Mason (68.5)
4) Dayton (69.1)
5) George Washington (69.3)
As we pointed out last time or a few times, deliberate does not guarantee success. Dayton and George Washington are two teams thriving in the slower tempo.
1) Jack Gibbs, Davidson (34.62 percent of possessions)
2) Jordan Price, La Salle (32.62)
3) Trey Davis, UMass (30.02)
4) Terry Allen, Richmond (28.34)
5) Melvin Johnson, VCU (27.71)
Not really a big difference. The number five slot is significant. As conference ‘crunch’ time nears and VCU looks to defend its title, it is only logical Melvin Johnson would play a more prominent role.
Recent game breakdowns:
UMass 61, Rhode Island 56: The Minutemen added to Dan Hurley’s tough times at Rhody. The pace was in the mid-seventies, obviously dictated by the home team. Both offenses were offensive, a 79 efficiency for each. URI enjoyed a plus-14 in offensive rebounding percentage. How did they lose this one? A 32.5 eFG mark is a good explanation.
George Mason 78, Richmond 74: On Wednesday, the Patriots earned A-10 win number two on the season, on the road no less. The pace was in the low seventies. Richmond showed a 101 efficiency, thanks to an excellent 5.5 percent turnover rate. Defense again allowed George Mason to ring up a 109 efficiency, a deciding factor in this one.
St. Bonaventure 83, Saint Joseph's 73: Mark Schmidt & Co. scored a big road win over a Saint Joseph’s team playing well in conference. The Bonnies had the edge in offensive efficiency 118-111, while the Hawks had an excellent 10.5 percent turnover rate. Bonaventure was off the charts with a 2.9 percent turnover mark for a game with possessions in the high sixties. That was enough to negate a plus-8.4 percent edge by the Hawks in offensive rebound percentage.
A closer look at Jack Gibbs: The Davidson junior guard averages a conference-leading 25.5 points per game. An iron man on the floor, Gibbs averages 36.5 minutes per game, and as noted, leads the conference in usage. Gibbs also paces the conference with a 20.6 efficiency.