Thursday, January 25, 2018

Atlantic 10 Tempo Thursday: January 25, 2018

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

If the season truly is a marathon, Rhode Island is in stride hitting the 13.1-mile mark with a nice lead. There are competitors, however, as both Davidson and Duquesne have the Rams in sight. Even if you want to concede the regular season title to Dan Hurley’s group, there will be jockeying for the remainder of the top four finishes.

Records and Efficiency Margins (courtesy of KenPom)  
1) Davidson (5-1, +23)
2) Rhode Island (7-0, +22)
3) Duquesne (5-2, +8)
4) Saint Joseph’s (4-3, +7)
5) Richmond (4-3, +5)
6) VCU (4-3, +2)
7) Dayton (3-4, +1)
8) Saint Louis (3-4, 0)
9) St. Bonaventure (2-4, -1)
10) La Salle (2-5, -1)
11) UMass (3-4, -12)
12) George Mason (3-4, -9)
13) George Washington (2-5, -18)

14) Fordham (1-6, -24)

Offensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Davidson (117)
2) Dayton (112)
3) Rhode Island (112)
4) St. Bonaventure (110)
5) Richmond (107)

Davidson has been a problem for opposition defenses, and the Wildcats' 117 efficiency proves how difficult they are to defend. Chalk it up to a 58 percent effective field goal mark and 14 percent turnover rate. As noted previously, St. Bonaventure’s problems are not necessarily on the offensive end, as their 110 efficiency attests. Richmond is playing much better of late and their improved offense, now one of the best in the A-10, is part of the reason why.

Defensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Rhode Island (90)
2) Saint Joseph’s (95)
3) Davidson (97)
4) Duquesne (99)
5) Richmond (102)

Once again, Rhode Island is clear and far ahead as the defensive leader.The Rams not only lead the conference in defensive turnover rate (23 percent) and three-point field goal percentage defense (26 percent), but their opposing effective field goal percentage is a mere 46 percent, second only to Duquesne at 45. Hanging around the defensive leaders is Richmond, which calls for a further look into what is transpiring with the Spiders:

Richmond started out 2-10 before closing out 2017 with an upset over Davidson. Resuming conference play in the new year, the Spiders lost three straight. An about-face saw them post three straight victories, the latter two over VCU and La Salle, a pair hoping to carve out a place in the conference's first division.

Although they still employ a moderate 66-possession per game tempo, the Spiders are sporting a 55 percent effective field goal mark good enough for third-best in the A-10 while allowing a fourth-best 49 percent. They will not turn you over, as suggested by their 17 percent defensive turnover rate, nor will they foul. Richmond shows a healthy 36 percent free throw rate, while the same metric on the defensive end yields a scant 25 percent. Both numbers are good for third-best in the conference. So in very simple terms, on the defensive end, Richmond is contesting shots and forcing opponents to misfire without fouling and giving them an opportunity to visit the charity stripe.

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

The top five is comprised of the only teams in conference playing at a 70-possession or higher pace. While the leaders are employing an uptempo pace, it is by no means an all out, run-and-gun tempo.

Slowest Tempo
1) Davidson (61 possessions per game)
2) Fordham (64)
3) Duquesne (65)
4) Saint Louis (65)
5) George Washington (65)

This group has been fairly consistent since the beginning of conference play.  Davidson just grinds you out. They may not play fast, yet Bob McKillop’s Wildcats pose a decided defensive problem. While a slower pace may not guarantee a better chance to win, it has worked wonders for Duquesne. 

With so many offenses these days not thinking a bit about passing up a mid-range jumper in favor of a trifecta, the tactics call for a list of the conference top ten in three-point field goal percentage:
1) Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure (49 percent)
2) Carl Pierre, UMass (48)
3) De’Riante Jenkins, VCU (43)
4) Jordan Davis, Dayton (43)
5) Taylor Funk, Saint Joseph’s (42)
6) Jared Terrell, Rhode Island (42)
7) KiShawn Pritchett, Davidson (42)
8) Oskar Michelsen, Davidson (42)
9) Otis Livingston II, George Mason (42)

10) Nick Sherod, Richmond (40)

Turnover Rate Leaders
1) Saint Joseph’s (12 percent)
2) Davidson (14)
3) St. Bonaventure (15)
4) Rhode Island (16)
5) George Mason (18)

6) Richmond (18)

KenPom's All-A-10 Team
Peyton Aldridge, Davidson
Jared Terrell, Rhode Island
Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Davidson
Justin Tillman, VCU

Matt Mobley, St. Bonaventure

A-10 Trends
Conference average efficiency: 105
Tempo: 67 possessions
Home wins: 74 percent
Close games: 24 percent
Blowouts: 22 percent

As expected, the tempo is getting more on the conservative side as conference play progresses. Success on home court epitomizes what many of the A-10 mentors have preached, protecting your home court and trying to steal a few on the road.

Upcoming Games of Note
January 27
Duquesne at Rhode Island: Who would have thought at this point of the season Duquesne would enter Rhody as a team to be taken very seriously? Regardless, Keith Dambrot's Dukes get their shot to take down the conference-leading Rams.
Dayton at Saint Louis: The enigmatic Flyers own wins over VCU and Davidson at home, but a loss at Saint Joseph’s, where; in fairness, they have struggled for years. Regardless, the Flyers will be dangerous in the latest battle for what Dayton-centric site Blackburn Review has dubbed the Arch-Baron Cup.

VCU at George Mason: After a very competitive showing in a double-overtime loss at Duquesne. the Patriots are better than their record suggests.
January 28
Richmond at Davidson: Richmond upset the Wildcats back in December. Now, both teams are playing better than a month ago, which makes for an intriguing matchup.  

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