Thursday, February 1, 2018

Atlantic 10 Tempo Thursday: February 1, 2018

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

Rhode Island keeps rolling along. The Rams did have to dig down deep to come back from a double-digit second-half deficit to defeat Duquesne at home on Saturday. They then took to the road and narrowly edged UMass Tuesday. The half-empty group may perceive this as signs of vulnerability. The half-full approach can take this as a sign Dan Hurley’s club is showing excellent resilience when extremely talented and tested. For now, the Ram lead is a comfortable one as we are into the back end of the conference slate.

Records and Efficiency Margins (courtesy of KenPom) 
1) Rhode Island (10-0, +19)
2) Davidson (5-3, +18)
3) Richmond (6-3, +6)
4) Saint Joseph’s (4-4, +6)
5) Duquesne (5-4, +4)
6) St. Bonaventure (4-4, +3)
7) VCU (6-3, +2)
8) La Salle (3-5, +1)
9) Saint Louis (4-5, +1)
10) Dayton (4-5, -1)
11) George Washington (2-6, -9)
12) George Mason (3-5, -10)
13) UMass (3-7, -13)
14) Fordham (2-7, -19)

Offensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Davidson (115)
2) Dayton (112)
3) Rhode Island (112)
4) St. Bonaventure (108)
5) Richmond (107)

In total, a dozen Atlantic 10 teams are above the century mark in efficiency. Only George Washington (93) and Fordham (90) are below the 100 threshold.

Defensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Rhode Island (93)
2) Saint Joseph’s (96)
3) Davidson (98)
4) Duquesne (100)
5) Richmond (101)

On the opposite side, only the top four are keeping opposition under the targeted 100 efficiency, which begs the question: Are the offensive numbers due to strong, efficient offenses, or subpar defenses? Let’s look at how defenses are forcing turnovers. 

Defensive Turnover Rate Leaders
1) Rhode Island (24 percent)
2) Saint Joseph’s (20)
3) Richmond (19)
4) Saint Louis (18)
5) St. Bonaventure (18)

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)

Slowest Tempo
1) Davidson (60 possessions per game)
2) Saint Louis (65)
3) Duquesne (65)
4) Fordham (65)
5) Richmond (66)

One thing you can say is the difference between a 65-possession and 72-possession tempo is only seven possessions. That number may not seem like a whole lot, but in terms of the pace of a game, it is definitely significant. Your 65-possession team is playing at a much more conservative style, while the team in the low seventies is pushing the pace and looking to get out in transition. In terms of tempo, a difference of seven possessions is huge. 

Two-Point Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Dayton (63 percent)
2) Davidson (58)
3) Richmond (55)
4) VCU (53)
5) Fordham (52)

With the offensive obsession with the arc, it is time to remember the three-pointer is not the only way to put points on the board. Dayton is hitting their threes at a 46 percent rate, seventh-best in the A-10, but still a respectable number. Anthony Grant’s problems are on the defensive end, though, where the Flyers' defensive efficiency is 113, third-highest in the conference order. 

Individual Two-Point Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Josh Cunningham, Dayton (74 percent)
2) D.J. Foreman, Saint Louis (64)
3) Will Magarity, Davidson (64)
4) KiShawn Pritchett, Davidson (63)
5) Bo Ziegler, George Washington (63)
6) Malik Hines, UMass (63)
7) Trey Landers, Dayton (62)
8) Andre Berry, Rhode Island (62)
9) Tony Washington, La Salle (62)
10) Perris Hicks, Fordham (61)

Conference teams attempt between 30 and 40 percent of their shots beyond the arc. That leaves less than three-quarters of field goal attempts getting attempted in the two-point area, which explains why these individual field goal attempts may appear a bit inflated. 

Game of Note
Rhode Island 61, Duquesne 58
The host Rams were given all they could handle before pulling this one out in the Ryan Center. Duquesne owned the offensive glass with a 31-18 percent edge in offensive rebounding, but on the flip side the Dukes were forced into an exceptionally high 30 percent turnover rate, which proved to be the difference in this affair. 

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
Offensive efficiency: 105
Tempo: 67 possessions per game
Home victories: 71 percent
Close games: 28 percent
Blowouts: 20 percent

One notable change in this group is less blowouts and more close games. Games are decidedly more competitive as the campaign progresses, and even those below .500 can make life difficult for residents of the conference's upper tier. 

Upcoming Games of Note
Friday, February 2 
Rhode Island at VCU: The battle of Rams, where some observers feel this is a game Rhode Island can be knocked from the ranks of the unbeaten.
Saturday, February 3 
Saint Joseph’s at La Salle: A Big 5 meeting, but in conference play, this is a game both teams could dearly use.
St. Bonaventure at Duquesne: The Bonnies got back on track, defeating Saint Joseph’s and George Washington at home, defending better in the process. Mark Schmidt's team needs a repeat performance, with Duquesne representing a tough out.  
Tuesday, February 6 
Saint Joseph’s at Davidson: The Wildcats are tough at home, but not unbeatable. They will be tested by a Saint Joseph’s team second only to Rhode Island in defensive efficiency. Whomever can impose their will tempo-wise will enjoy a big advantage.

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