Thursday, January 19, 2017

Tempo Thursday: January 19, 2017

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

The schedule progresses and you can actually see it in the efficiency margins. They are being affected by the level of play on display nightly, sometimes daily, in Atlantic 10 locales. To date, only half a dozen of the fourteen teams show positive efficiency margin numbers, a testament to the conference’s competitiveness.

Richmond is in the top spot of the standings with VCU, Dayton and La Salle a step behind. Dayton’s lone loss was an upset at UMass, and VCU suffered a similar fate at Davidson on Saturday. La Salle served notice and got our attention with a big win at Rhode Island, followed by taking care of business by defeating George Washington at home. While the race is already at the quarter pole, there is time for those in midpack to make a move and challenge.

Beginning with the efficiency margins and records as of January 17, 2017, all numbers are for conference play only and courtesy of KenPom:

T-1) Rhode Island (+15, 3-2)
T-1) VCU (+15, 4-1)
3) La Salle (+12, 4-1)
4) Richmond (+11, 5-0)
5) Dayton (+10, 4-1)
6) St. Bonaventure (+7, 4-2)
7) Davidson (0, 2-3)
8) George Mason (-4, 2-3)
T-9) Saint Joseph’s (-6, 2-3)
T-9) UMass (-6, 1-4)
11) Duquesne (-7, 2-3)
12) Fordham (-12, 1-4)
13) George Washington (-15, 1-4)
14) Saint Louis (-22, 1-5)

The offensive end sees a number of teams putting up some impressive figures. On the opposite end are a few with not as impressive showings, resulting in a conference average efficiency of 103, just above average.

Offensive efficiency:
T-1) Rhode Island (114)
T-1) La Salle (114)
3) Richmond (111)
4) VCU (110)
5) St. Bonaventure (109)
6) Davidson (103)
T-7) George Washington (102)
T-7) Duquesne (102)
9) George Mason (100)
10) Dayton (98)
11) UMass (97)
12) Saint Joseph’s (95)
T-13) Fordham (93)
T-13) Saint Louis (93)

Dayton sets the defensive pace with an 88 defensive efficiency. The secret to Archie Miller’s club is a combination - Forcing opponents into a conference-leading 24 percent turnover rate while limiting them to an effective field goal mark of .468. That latter mark is second only to the .463 of the VCU defense. Fordham has one of the best defensive turnover rates at 21 percent, but unfortunately for the Rams, they allow a 51 percent eFG mark; a dubious distinction as the highest in that latter category are George Washington (58 percent) and Saint Louis, (56 percent) both of whom are struggling in the win-loss column.

Defensive efficiency top five:
1) Dayton (88)
2) VCU (95)
3) Rhode Island (99)
4) Richmond (100)
5) Saint Joseph’s (101)

Fastest pace:
1) UMass (76 possessions per game)
2) Duquesne (73)
T-3) Dayton (72)
T-3) VCU (72)
5) George Mason (71)

Most Deliberate:
T-1) Saint Louis (64 possessions per game)
T-1) George Washington (64)
3) Fordham (67)
T-4) La Salle (68)
T-4) Davidson (68)
Interestingly, among the most deliberate, only La Salle sports a winning conference record.

Possession individual leaders: This is not meant as an indictment of a team’s tempo or pace. The possession numbers are a report card of team tempo. One chooses a pace best suited for its comfort zone, one the players can best adapt to; whether it is the NASCAR pace of the seventies, or walk-it-up of the sixties.

KenPom lists the average conference game pace at 69.3 possessions. It should be interesting to note what that figure is in a month. As the conference heads into the final quarter, expect that number to decrease. The intense competition, close games and often conservative approach of close conference contests should take its toll and reduce that figure by several possessions. Stay tuned.   

A look at some individual numbers in some non traditional categories:

Player usage
1) Charles Cooke, Dayton (33.9 percent of team possessions)
2) Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure (29.2)
T-3) Tyler Cavanaugh (28.8)
T-3) James Demery, Saint Joseph’s (28.8)
5) Rashaan Holloway, UMass (28.7)

Each of these players are entrusted with the ball over a quarter of a team’s total possessions. Coach Mark Schmidt and the Bonnies held their collective breath when Adams went down with an ankle injury. He missed two games, a loss at Dayton and neutral court win over Fordham, and was back for Tuesday night’s victory at Saint Louis. Demery, a Hawk sixth man a year ago, has come off a stress fracture that sidelined him for 10 games early in the season. The junior forward has emerged one of the key threats for Phil Martelli’s group.
Jack Gibbs of Davidson spent most of last season at or near the top of this list. The senior guard did not fall that far off, as he is seventh in the conference with 28.4 percent of the Wildcats’ possessions.

This next group is one you might want to alert your defense to watch a little more closely. These are the top five in percentage of team shots taken:

T-1) Charles Cooke, Dayton (31.1 percent)
T-1) James Demery, Saint Joseph’s (31.1)
T-1) Jack Gibbs. Davidson (31.1)
4) Mike Crawford, Saint Louis (29.7)
5) Tyler Cavanaugh, George Washington (29.0)

From these two prior lists, it is not difficult to ascertain the vital role Charles Cooke, the team-leading scorer at 18 points per game, plays in Dayton’s schemes.
Upcoming games of note:
Thursday, January 19
Richmond at Dayton - UD Arena, the home of the Flyers, is loud and a tough place to play. Chris Mooney’s club is up for the task in what should be a great matchup.

Davidson at La Salle- Another challenge for the Explorers, who are off to a great start in league play.

Tuesday, January 24
Saint Joseph’s at St. Bonaventure - The Bonnies return to Reilly Center with the services of Jaylen Adams, but the Hawks are never an easy out in this get-together.

We’re not sure who said home is where the heart is, but in this conference, it is not a guaranteed win for the host. KenPom lists the home team as having a 52.8 percent (19 wins in 36 games) success rate in conference clashes, a number attesting to the competitiveness and difficulty of this conference.

To date, only five of the 36 games (13.9 percent) have been decided by twenty or more points. A total 11 percent of the games have been close, defined by KenPom as decided by less than four points and/or overtime.
Thirty-five percent of all field goal attempts are from three-point range. That number ranks the A-10 20th among all the nation’s conferences.

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