Thursday, January 11, 2018

Atlantic 10 Tempo Thursday: January 11, 2018

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

Although it is still early in the season, a few trends are shaping up. Atlantic 10 balance is reflected in the fact no team was winless after the first three meetings. On the other side, favorite Rhode Island is achieving some separation with a perfect start. St. Bonaventure, expected to challenge Dan Hurley’s Rams, are having defensive issues that have resulted in losses at Dayton and Saint Joseph’s. There is time and no need to push the panic button. If teams need adjustments, now is an opportune time to implement them. 

Records and Efficiency Margins (courtesy of KenPom)
1) Duquesne (3-1, +25)
2) Rhode Island (4-0, + 21)
3) Davidson (2-1, +10)
4) VCU (3-1, +8)
5) Saint Joseph’s (2-1, +3)
6) Dayton (2-2, +3)
7) La Salle (1-2, +2)
8) St. Bonaventure (1-2, +1)
9) Richmond (1-3, -2)
10) Saint Louis (1-3 , -10)
11) UMass (1-2, -13)
12) George Washington (1-2, -16)
13) Fordham (1-2, -17)
14) George Mason (1-2, -17)

Offensive Efficiency Leaders
1) St. Bonaventure (112)
2) Dayton (110)
3) Rhode Island (109)
4) Duquesne (107)
5) VCU (106)

Defensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Rhode Island (88)
2) Duquesne (92)
3) Davidson (94)
4) La Salle (96)
5) VCU (98)

Only one team among the defensive leaders is under .500, that being La Salle, and only by one game. Rhode Island is enjoying a defensive season that is off the charts. The Rams are limiting opposing offenses to 43 percent effective field goal shooting, third-best in the conference, while imposing a 23 percent turnover rate that ranks second-best in the A-10.

Fastest Tempo
1) La Salle (74 possessions per game)
2) Saint Joseph’s (74)
3) St. Bonaventure (74)
4) VCU (72)
5) Rhode Island (71)

Rhode Island’s pace can be attributed to pressure defenses. Forcing turnovers, as noted in the defensive section, can produce transition runouts. VCU's pace can be attributed more to simply getting out on the break and running, as their defensive turnover rate is only a pedestrian 15 percent, third-lowest in the A-10, a far cry from the height of Havoc.

Slowest Tempo
1) Fordham (62 possessions per game)
2) Duquesne (63)
3) Davidson (63)
4) Richmond (64)
5) George Washington (66)

As noted before, a big part of Duquesne’s turn around is a more conservative approach on offense. To date, it’s working. 

Turnover Rate Leaders
1) Saint Joseph’s (14 percent)
2) Rhode Island (15)
3) Davidson (15)
4) Richmond (16)
5) UMass (16)

Five teams in the conference are at or over 20 percent, a noticeable difference from the small sample we looked at last week. The five struggling with turnover rates are:
1) Dayton (20 percent)
2) George Washington (20)
3) La Salle (21)
4) VCU (21)
5) Saint Louis (21)

The three-point shot is a mainstay. It is also very much a weapon in the way the game is played these days. Is it time to shovel dirt on the mid-range jumper? Not a discussion for now. Rather, we take a look at the three-point shooting percentage of the conference’s top ten in letting it fly and finding the bottom of the net from deep. Players with 40 percent minutes played and two shots per game qualify:
1) Rusty Reigel, Davidson (55 percent)
2) Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure (53)
3) Matt Mobley, St. Bonaventure (49)
4) Carl Pierre, UMass (48)
5) Jordan Davis, Dayton (45)
6) Taylor Funk, Saint Joseph’s (45)
7) Oskar Michelsen, Davidson (44)
8) De’Riante Jenkins, VCU (44)
9) Amar Stukes, La Salle (44)
10) Justin Tillman, VCU (42)

Effective Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Dayton (56 percent)
2) Davidson (53)
3) VCU (52)
4) Richmond (52)
5) St. Bonaventure (52)

The First Loss 
Duquesne got out of the gate fast, but the Dukes were stopped on Tuesday at VCU. The Rams came back from a double-digit first half deficit to post a 78-67 victory. 

Perception and Praise
Two months ago, would this have been considered a solid win for VCU? Mike Rhoades’ Rams were able to attain a 70-possession pace, more to their liking. Duquesne showed an excellent 11 percent turnover rate, but were done in by poor shooting and a 40-21 offensive rebound percentage deficit at the Siegel Center. 

KenPom's All-A-10 Team
Peyton Aldridge, Davidson
Jared Terrell, Rhode Island
BJ Johnson, La Salle
Justin Tillman, VCU
Matt Mobley, St. Bonaventure

A-10 Trends
Conference efficiency: 102
Tempo: 68 possessions
Home winning percentage: .667
Close games (4 points or less, or overtime): 21 percent
Blowouts (games decided by 19 points or more): 21 percent

Upcoming Games of Note
January 12
VCU at Dayton - The Flyers could dearly use this one, and while having it at home is not an automatic, it is a plus.

January 13
St. Bonaventure at Rhode Island - A tough task for the Bonnies, who would love to avenge road setbacks to Dayton and Saint Joseph's.

La Salle at Duquesne - Who can impose their tempo will? The contest between the fast-paced Explorers and deliberate Dukes could go a long way to deciding this meeting, which is quite an interesting matchup.

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