Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tempo Thursday: February 23, 2017

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

Into the homestretch, it has come down to two heading to the finish. Mathematically, Rhode Island and Richmond may not be out, but with three conference games left, there is a bit too much to make up. Dayton visits Davidson and George Washington while their lone home date sees them entertain VCU in a game that could wrap things up. VCU has home dates with Saint Louis and George Mason while visiting Rhode Island and Dayton, not an easy road for Will Wade and company.

All statistics reflect Atlantic 10 games through February 22, 2017, and are courtesy of KenPom:

1) Dayton (+16, 13-2)
2) VCU (+15, 12-2)
3) Rhode Island (+11, 10-5)
4) St. Bonaventure (+4, 8-6)
5) Richmond (+3, 10-5)
6) George Mason (+1, 8-7)
7) Davidson (+1, 7-8)
8) La Salle (-1, 8-7)
9) George Washington (-4, 6-8)
10) Fordham (-6, 6-8)
11) UMass (-6, 3-11)
12) Saint Joseph’s (-9, 3-11)
13) Duquesne (-10, 3-11)
14) Saint Louis (-18, 4-10)

Offensive efficiency leaders:
1) VCU (111)
2) Dayton (109)
3) Rhode Island (107)
4) George Mason (107)
5) Richmond (106)

Ten conference teams enjoy a three-figure efficiency. VCU’s outstanding efficiency is largely due to an effective field goal percentage of 53, with a good deal of those finishes inside the three-point arc.

Defensive efficiency leaders:
1) Dayton (93)
2) VCU (96)
3) Rhode Island (96)
4) St. Bonaventure (101)
5) Fordham (102)
The offense-oriented A-10 has only three members with defensive efficiencies under 100. Rhode Island (45 percent), Dayton (47) and VCU (47) lead the conference in effective field goal percentage defense. St. Bonaventure is fifth at 50 percent. Fordham allows a generous 52% eFG mark, tenth in the league. Jeff Neubauer’s Rams do force you to turn it over, though, with a conference-leading 23 percent turnover rate. Interestingly, VCU; known as the team to create havoc and force turnovers, has a modest 20 percent turnover rate. Both herds of Rams get the job done by contesting shots in more of a half court setting.  

Tempo leaders:
1) UMass (74 possessions per game)
2) Richmond (72)
3) Duquesne (71)
4) George Mason (70)
5) Saint Joseph’s (70)

Those are the only five teams playing at a 70-possession or higher pace. George Mason, a surprise this season, seems to be doing well in this tempo. This is not due to tempo alone, but among the top five in terms of pace, only the Patriots and Richmond have winning records.

Most Deliberate:
1) Saint Louis (63 possessions per game)
2) Fordham (65)
3) George Washington (66)
4) St. Bonaventure (69)
5) La Salle (69)
Fordham has found success of late with their half court, grind-it-out tempo. The high turnover rate on defense, mentioned a few times already, is problematic for opponents because at the pace Fordham plays, there are less possessions to begin with.

A closer look at VCU: The offensive (conference leading) and defensive (second in A-10) efficiency of the Rams has been noted. It was also noted how well they shoot inside the arc. One reason is an offensive rebounding percentage of 35, the best in the league. Opponents have a percentage of 28, so VCU is showing a healthy plus-seven in that category. Offensive rebounds lead to close opportunities and the chance to get opponents into foul trouble. They have had some close calls in conference, however, their consistency has been exemplary. There is only one two-game losing streak in conference play, back in mid-January. To date, the Rams are riding an eight-game win streak.  

With mention of two-point shooting, here are those most proficient inside the arc:
1) Richmond (57 percent)
2) VCU (53)
3) UMass (52)
4) Dayton (51)
5) La Salle (51)

As noted, there is usually a correlation between two-point shooting and offensive rebounding. Not so with Richmond, as the Spiders have the lowest offensive rebound percentage in the conference at 18 percent.
Games of note:
Dayton 76, St. Bonaventure 72
On Saturday, the Bonnies gave Dayton all they could handle before dropping a tough road contest. In a 75-possession contest, St. Bonaventure posted an excellent 100 efficiency against the conference’s top-ranked defense. On their end, Dayton came through with a 106 efficiency, largely on the efforts of Scoochie Smith (19 points) and Kendall Pollard (16).

Fordham 53, Rhode Island 43
Right around deadline last week, Fordham scored a road victory over Rhode Island on Wednesday evening. Fordham’s efficiency was 85, but they held Dan Hurley’s group to a 69. As has been the case consistently this season, Fordham forced the home five into a 23 percent turnover rate. Rhode Island then took to the road to defeat George Mason and La Salle, which epitomizes the type of year it has been in this conference.

Games to watch:
Saturday, February 25: VCU at Rhode Island
It goes without saying that Rhode Island desperately needs this one to stay in the race. VCU, hoping to keep pace with Dayton, has a tough road test in their own right in an interesting matchup, as both are among the conference elite on both the offensive and defensive sides of the floor.

Richmond at Fordham
Visiting Richmond could use this one on the road as time is running out. In Fordham, they will face a team playing better of late who will try to get Chris Mooney’s club out of a 70-possession pace.

Efficiency: 104
Tempo: 69 possessions per game
Effective field goal percentage: 50
Turnover rate: 18
Offensive rebound percentage: 28
Home record: 58-43 (.574)

KenPom’s All-A-10 Team
T.J. Cline, Richmond
Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure
Marquise Moore, George Mason
Jack Gibbs, Davidson
JeQuan Lewis, VCU

Top 5 in Usage:
Here we look at the five players ahead of the conference pack in terms of what percentage of their team’s possessions are they using.

1) T.J. Cline, Richmond (32 percent)
2) Jack Gibbs, Davidson (30)
3) Tyler Cavanaugh, George Washington (29)
4) Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure (28)
5) James Demery, Saint Joseph’s (28)

Cavanaugh is not a surprise. A year ago, he used 25 percent of the Colonials’ possessions in conference play. Demery, a junior guard, has seen his usage increase from 18 percent last year, in part due to the injury bug that significantly hit the Hawks this season.

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