Thursday, February 9, 2017

Tempo Thursday: February 9, 2017

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

The conference leaders are beginning to show a little distance between the rest of the field, with VCU and Dayton at the top, Rhode Island and Richmond a stride behind. St. Bonaventure, La Salle and Davidson are close, but in danger of falling out of contention as we near the final quarter of the conference race.

As the conference season wears on, just the number of teams still showing positive efficiency margins is a testament to the league competitiveness. La Salle, owners of a .600 winning percentage in conference, is even. George Mason, at .500, is showing a negative efficiency margin, which illustrates the type season leaders Dayton and VCU are having. And don’t forget Rhode Island or Richmond. All efficiency margins and records are current through February 7, 2017, and are courtesy of KenPom:

1) VCU (+16, 8-2)
2) Dayton (+16, 9-2)
3) Rhode Island (+13, 8-3)
4) Richmond (+5, 8-3)
5) Davidson (+5, 5-5)
6) St. Bonaventure (+3, 6-4)
7) La Salle (0, 6-4)
8) George Mason (-1, 5-5)
9) George Washington (-6, 4-6)
10) UMass (-6, 2-9)
11) Fordham (-8, 4-6)
12) Saint Joseph’s (-8, 3-8)
13) Duquesne (-14, 2-9)
14) Saint Louis (-17, 3-7)

Offensive leaders:
1) VCU (112)
2) La Salle (111)
3) Rhode Island (109)
4) Richmond (108)
5) Dayton (107)

VCU is the 12th-best three-point shooting team in the conference. The Rams prefer to put up their points the old-fashioned way. They are fourth in conference two-point field goal percentage. Many of those two point opportunities come via second chances. Will Wade’s club is the conference pacesetter in offensive rebounding percentage, at 36.7 percent.

Defensive leaders:
1) Dayton (91)
2) Rhode Island (96)
3) VCU (96)
4) Davidson (100)
5) St. Bonaventure (101)

The offensive strength of the conference, night in and night out, is reflected in only three teams holding opponents to under 100 efficiency. Naturally, these three are among the league elite.

Fastest pace:
1) UMass (74 possessions per game)
2) Richmond (72)
3) Duquesne (72)
4) Rhode Island (70)
5) George Mason (70)

The average tempo for a team in Atlantic 10 play is 69.2 possessions, a brisk, but not all-out breakneck tempo, As noted previously, UMass is pushing the tempo, and it is what coach Derek Kellogg chooses to do and had done during his tenure in Amherst.
 
2015-16: 72 possessions per game
2014-15: 68
2013-14: 72
2012-13: 71

The last four seasons saw only 2015 dip under 70 possessions. Even at 68 per game, you are hardly talking about a walk-it-up-the-floor tempo.

Most deliberate:
1) Saint Louis (64 possessions per game)
2) George Washington (66)
3) Fordham (67)
4) Saint Joseph’s (69)
5) Dayton (69)

The only team with a winning conference record among this group is Dayton. Playing Archie Miller’s team means you have to face an efficient offense, a lockdown defense, and try to win as they dictate tempo and give you less possessions. Not an easy proposition for Flyer foes.

Turnover rate leaders:
1) Rhode Island (16 percent)
2) Davidson (17)
3) Richmond (17)
4) George Mason (18)
5) Saint Joseph’s (18)

Only Duquesne and UMass, both at 21 percent, are above the 20 percent threshold.

What is Richmond’s profile?
Chris Mooney has one of the better teams in the league and an efficiency margin that may not suggest a contender. A closer look at their numbers shows an uptempo 71-possession pace with an offensive efficiency of 107. The latter number is excellent. Their 102 defensive metric is not. They shoot the ball extremely well (53 percent effective field goal) while limiting turnovers (17 percent turnover rate). Having a marquee player, maybe THE conference one at that in T.J. Cline, is an added asset. The weakness needing to be addressed is an offensive rebounding percentage of 22 percent, against 31 percent from their opposition. Allowing opponents the opportunity to convert second chances is arguably a major reason the defensive efficiency is over the century mark.

Game of note:  
The A-10 gives us an appreciable share of competition spiced with drama. What transpired at Reilly Center on Saturday added another unique chapter to the story.

VCU 83, St. Bonaventure 77 (OT)

The teams’ respective efficiencies in the 80-possession affair saw VCU at 104 and St. Bonaventure at 100. The Rams owned a 30-12 edge in offensive rebounding percentage, their specialty and a huge factor in this win. That is where the normality of it all ended. Matt Mobley, an outstanding 34-point scorer on the afternoon, drained a three-pointer with three-tenths of a second remaining to give the Bonnies the lead. Bonaventure fans stormed the court and officials assessed the Bonnies a technical. VCU converted, and went on to win in overtime.
 
In the aftermath, the A-10 suspended the officiating crew for their interpretation. The league noted, “although the game officials cited crowd interference as the rationale for assessing the administrative technical foul at the end of regulation in the VCU-St.Bonaventure men’s basketball game, that interpretation was inaccurately associated with the SBU fans and students storming the court.”
 
A wild finish, to say the least, and victory for visiting VCU.

Upcoming games of note:
Friday, February 10: Dayton at Rhode Island
URI seeks to even a score at home against the Flyers.

Saturday, February 11: Davidson at VCU
The Wildcats, hoping to hang on in the A-10 race, could desperately use this tough assignment, especially away from home.

Here are a few other averages in conference play:

Efficiency: 103
eFG percentage: 50.3
Turnover rate: 18.6 percent
Offensive rebound percentage: 28.3
Home record: 44-32 (.579)

KenPom’s All-A-10 Team:
T.J. Cline, Richmond
Marquise Moore, George Mason
Charles Cooke, Dayton
Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure
Jack Gibbs, Davidson

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