Thursday, February 22, 2018

Atlantic 10 Tempo Thursday: February 22, 2018

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

Rhode Island dropped from the ranks of conference unbeatens Friday, as St. Bonaventure prevailed in a 77-74 thriller at the Reilly Center. The win puts the Bonnies in better position to secure one of the top four spots, and double-byes, in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. Interestingly, Dan Hurley’s Rams barely held on in overtime at La Salle in their next contest. This could very well set the stage for a competitive and unpredictable postseason get-together in Washington, DC. Saint Louis seemed to be in good standing for one of those four spots before Tuesday’s loss at Dayton. Time is winding down and the stakes are high.  Rhode Island will be at the top, but there is no shortage of storylines to be played out. The other positions, even beyond the first four, still remain unsettled at this point.

Records and Efficiency Margins (courtesy of KenPom)
1) Davidson (10-4, +18)
2) Rhode Island (14-1, +17)
3) St. Bonaventure (10-4, +8)
4) Saint Joseph’s (7-7, +4)
5) Saint Louis (8-7, +2)
6) Richmond (7-7, 0)
7) Dayton (7-8, -1)
8) Duquesne (6-8, -2)
9) VCU (7-7, -3)
10) La Salle (5-10, -4)
11) George Mason (6-8, -8)
12) George Washington (5-9, -9)
13) UMass (4-10, -11)

14) Fordham (4-10, -15)

1) Davidson (117)
2) Rhode Island (113)
3) St. Bonaventure (113)
4) Dayton (110)
5) Richmond (105)

6) UMass (105)

Defensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Rhode Island (96)
2) Davidson (99)
3) Saint Joseph’s (100)
4) Saint Louis (100)
5) St. Bonaventure (105)

6) Richmond (105)

As conference seasons progress, efficiency normally begins to drop off. Familiarity, especially seeing an opponent the second time around, is a factor. This season, that is not the case in the Atlantic 10. A number of teams show excellent efficiencies, with the only teams not in triple digits being George Washington (99) and Fordham (93).

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

6) Rhode Island (70)

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

6) Duquesne (66)

Looking at the leaders, it is hard to believe the A-10 ranks 22nd in the nation in possessions per game. At the top, they are playing a decidedly uptempo pace, with the first six checking in at 70 possessions or better. At the other end, one can see there is a significant dropoff in pace. Adding all 14 teams, factoring in those possessions, it is a little clearer why the conference is more on the deliberate side rather than a track meet style of play. 

Offensive Rebound Rate Leaders
1) Saint Louis (36 percent)
2) St. Bonaventure (32)
3) Duquesne (32)
4) Rhode Island (31)
5) VCU (29)

6) George Washington (29)

Opposing Offensive Rebound Rate Leaders (from lowest to highest)
1) Davidson (19 percent)
2) Saint Joseph’s (22)
3) Saint Louis (25)
4) La Salle (25)

5) VCU (26)

Extending Possessions
In the original formula devised by Dean Smith about 60 years ago, a possession ended on a shot; made or missed, last shot on a free throw or turnover. Offensive rebounds started a new possession. Today, the current formula employed copies Smith’s, but extends; not ends, a possession if you grab an offensive rebound. With that in mind and the stakes increasingly high in games nearing March, it is appropriate to see who does the best job extending their possessions.

Numbers-wise, an offensive rebound percentage of 40 or better is exceptional. Those in the thirty percent range are doing a better than credible job crashing the boards and keeping the possession alive. Interestingly, guard-oriented St. Bonaventure, is mixing it up inside of late, and the numbers show. On the defensive end, Davidson is clearly ahead and another reason Bob McKillop’s Wildcats are so difficult to play. They establish a pace that does not allow many possessions. To compound that, their rebounding simply prevents you from extending those possessions.


Individual Offensive Rebound Rate Leaders
1) Justin Tillman, VCU (12.2 percent)
2) Arnaldo Toro, George Washington (11.8)
3) Malik Hines, UMass (11.4)
T-4) Josh Cunningham, Dayton (10.7)
T-4) Hasahn French, Saint Louis (10.7)
6) Trey Landers, Dayton (9.9)
7) LaDarien Griffin, St. Bonaventure (9.8)
8) Tony Washington, La Salle (9.7)
9) Kellon Taylor, Duquesne (9.4)
T-10) Jordan Robinson, Duquesne (9.2)
T-10) Jordan Goodwin, Saint Louis (9.2)

On the individual side, it is notable that no one from Rhode Island is among the leaders. Their team pacesetter is Stanford Robinson, 23rd in the A-10 at 7.0. For the Rams, hitting the offensive glass is truly a group effort.

St. Bonaventure 77, Rhode Island 74 
Last Friday’s matchup at a sold-out Reilly Center before an ESPN2 audience lived up to its billing. The Bonnies enjoyed a slight edge in offensive efficiency, 113 to 109. Mark Schmidt’s team also had an advantage on offensive rebounding rate by a 45-44 count. The difference on this night was the turnover percentage, as St. Bonaventure checked in at 16 percent while Rhode Island recorded a 25 percent rate, a noticeable difference from their 16 percent norm. One of those turnovers was a game-changer, coming late with the Rams up six. Following the miscue and ensuing runout, the margin was four, and momentum, for all intents and purposes, altered.

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

A-10 Trends
Offensive efficiency: 105
Tempo: 68 possessions per game
Home court victories: 68 percent
Close games: 27 percent

Blowouts: 18 percent

Upcoming Games of Note
Saturday, February 24: Davidson at Duquesne
The Wildcats finish with a tough stretch. After visiting the Steel City, there are games with St. Bonaventure and Rhode Island. A win over much-improved Duquesne would be a beneficial boost.

St. Bonaventure at VCU: Although not the vintage VCU team of recent years, the Siegel Center will be a challenging venue and task for the visiting Bonnies.

Saint Louis at George Washington: Travis Ford and the Billikens would love a double bye, and this is a road game they need to get. The Colonials have struggled through the conference season, and Saint Louis has an opportunity for a coveted road win.

Tuesday, February 27: Davidson at St. Bonaventure
Closely related to their VCU game, this is another key game for the Bonnies closing out. Actually, it is pivotal for both teams, as Davidson hosts Rhode Island to close out the season. Both teams in this one want to finish strong and enter our nation’s capital on a high note.

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