Thursday, February 15, 2018

Atlantic 10 Tempo Thursday: February 15, 2018

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

Send the regular season trophy to Kingston, Rhode Island. 

The only drama now is whether the Rams can run the Atlantic 10 table. The Rams have won 16 straight, with their last loss coming against Alabama on December 6. Beyond that, there is a good race for the remaining top-four spots and a double-bye when the tournament convenes in our nation’s capital. Davidson and St. Bonaventure appear to be in good standing, with VCU, Saint Louis and Richmond also close.

Records and Efficiency Margins (courtesy of KenPom)
1) Rhode Island (13-0, +20)
2) Davidson (8-4, +10)
3) St. Bonaventure (9-4, +9)
4) Saint Joseph’s (5-7, +2)
5) Saint Louis (7-6, +2)
6) Richmond (7-6, +1)
7) VCU (7-5, +1)
8) Dayton (5-7, 0)
9) Duquesne (6-7, -1)
10) La Salle (4-9, -4)
11) George Mason (5-7, -7)
12) UMass (4-8, -11)
13) Fordham (4-8, -14)
14) George Washington (3-9, -16)

Offensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Davidson (117)
2) Rhode Island (114)
3) St. Bonaventure (113)
4) Dayton (112)
5) Richmond (105)
6) Duquesne (105)

Defensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Rhode Island (94)
2) Davidson (97)
3) Saint Louis (100)
4) Saint Joseph’s (100)
5) Richmond (103)

Tempo Leaders
1) Saint Joseph’s (72 possessions per game)
2) VCU (71)
3) St. Bonaventure (71)
4) La Salle (71)
5) George Mason (70)

Slowest Tempo
1) Davidson (63 possessions per game)
2) Saint Louis (65)
3) Duquesne (65)
4) UMass (66)
5) Fordham (66)

Since the early weeks, there hasn’t been a great deal of change in uptempo or deliberate teams. Win or lose, this is what the coaches are committed to, and how they want their systems to work from a pace prospective. Case in point: Duquesne. Despite having their problems of late, Keith Dambrot has stayed the course with a deliberate tempo. Again, drastic alterations in pace are not what a coach looks for to correct what ails his team.

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

Only two teams are at 20 percent, VCU and Fordham. By and large, conference teams are caring for the ball and it shouldn’t be a surprise that four of the top five in the group sport winning records, the lone exception being Saint Joseph’s, decimated by injuries and a few tough setbacks along the way. On the defensive side. only one team; Rhode Island, is forcing the opposition into a rate over 20 percent, as Dan Hurley's Rams cause takeaways at a 23 percent clip.

A Closer Look at Jaylen Adams
It is not as if Travis Ford overlooked the St. Bonaventure standout before watching him score 44 points at Saint Louis' expense. The Olean Times Herald reported the Billikens' head coach spent almost all of his defensive preparation discussing Adams and being aware of his presence at all times. However, the Bonnies defeated the Billikens at home last Wednesday, 79-56, as Adams’ 44 followed up a 40-point game in a win at Duquesne a few days earlier:

44 points in 39 minutes, 14-for-18 FG (10-for-13 3-pt FG), 6-for-8 FT, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers

In NBA efficiency, Adams checked in at 49. On a per-minute basis, that equaled 1.26. In the Manley system, a per-minute rating of over 1.00 is outstanding. KenPom’s offensive rating tabbed Adams’ performance as a 178 efficiency. By comparison, the national leader is Saint Mary’s forward Jock Landale, at 127.7.

Percentage of Team Shots Attempted (minimum 40 percent of team's minutes)
1) Luwane Pipkins, UMass (33 percent)
2) B.J. Johnson, La Salle (33)
3) Grant Golden, Richmond (31)
4) Peyton Aldridge, Davidson (30)
5) Justin Tillman, VCU (29)
6) Pookie Powell, La Salle (28)
7) Will Tavares, Fordham (27)
8) Shavar Newkirk, Saint Joseph’s (27)
9) James Demery, Saint Joseph’s (26)
10) E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island (26)

Neither Matt Mobley nor Jaylen Adams of St. Bonaventure's high-powered backcourt is among the leaders. Mobley is 21st at 35 percent and Adams 25th, checking in with 24 percent of the Bonnies’ attempts. Pipkins, especially with Rashaan Holloway gone, and Johnson have been entrusted to carry a good portion of the load for their respective programs. Newkirk and Demery are a duo exceeding the numbers of Mobley and Adams by four percentage points, 53 to 49. As noted, injuries on Hawk Hill have necessitated the pair to be relied on for a good portion of Phil Martelli’s offense.

Upcoming Games of Note
Friday, February 16: Rhode Island at St. Bonaventure 
This very well could be the final hurdle in the Rams' hopes of finishing the A-10 season unblemished. Of greater significance is the Bonnies' seven-game win streak and renewed confidence inside a packed and fired-up Reilly Center.

Saturday, February 17: Duquesne at Saint Joseph’s
The Dukes have dropped five of six and desperately need a win. Getting one here could help get them back on track to finish strong in conference play.

VCU at George Washington 
It is tough to win on the road, but in this case, the visiting Rams get a great opportunity to pick up a win, as the Colonials are struggling and now at the bottom in conference efficiency margin.

Tuesday, February 20: Saint Louis at Dayton
The Flyers will look to avenge a January loss to the Billikens in the latest renewal of the Arch-Baron Cup.

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

A-10 Trends
Offensive efficiency: 105
Tempo: 68 possessions per game
Home winning percentage: 69 percent
Close games: 29 percent
Blowouts: 20 percent

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