Thursday, February 8, 2018

Atlantic 10 Tempo Thursday: February 8, 2018

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

If this were a road race like the marathon coaches often use as an analogy, it would be safe to say Rhode Island has run and hid from the pack. 

At this point, the drama in this race is whether or not the Rams will go undefeated. Secondly, and of vital importance, who will be the other three teams getting those coveted top four seeds and double bye for the conference tournament in Washington, DC?
At this point, Davidson is in good standing. Close behind the Wildcats are several teams with a shot for a tournament bye. Winners of four straight, St. Bonaventure is rounding into form. Richmond and VCU are still in the thick of things; while Saint Louis, in quiet fashion, has also moved up as of late. The only certainty is Rhode Island’s top spot. 

Records and Efficiency Margins (courtesy of KenPom)
1) Davidson (8-3, +23)
2) Rhode Island (11-0, +19)
3) St. Bonaventure (6-4, +5)
4) Saint Louis (6-5, +5)
5) Richmond (6-4, +4)
6) Duquesne (6-5, +3)
7) Saint Joseph’s (4-7, +1)
8) VCU (6-4, 0)
9) La Salle (4-6, -1)
10) Dayton (4-6, -2)
11) George Mason (4-6, -10)
12) UMass (4-7, -11)
13) George Washington (2-8, -19)
14) Fordham (2-8, -21)

Offensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Davidson (119)
2) Rhode Island (113)
3) Dayton (111)
4) St. Bonaventure (111)
5) Duquesne (107)

Defensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Rhode Island (94)
2) Davidson (96)
3) Saint Louis (99)
4) Saint Joseph's (100)
5) Richmond (101)

Some of these offensive efficiencies are gaudy, but in the final analysis, the body of work on the defensive end is what matters most. Saint Joseph’s leads the conference with an outstanding 13 percent turnover rate. Phil Martelli’s Hawks are near the bottom in effective field goal percentage and offensive rebound percentage, and the inability to not extend possessions has taken its toll on Hawk Hill.

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

Slowest Tempo
1) Davidson (62 possessions per game)
2) Saint Louis (65)
3) UMass (65)
4) Fordham (65)
5) Duquesne (65)

While there is no guarantee playing uptempo or at a slower pace will guarantee victory, it does serve as a snapshot of a team’s style. With that said, it must be pointed out that Duquesne is a team that has been able to benefit from applying the brakes this season. Change of pace, though, does not always ensure a change of fortune.

St. Bonaventure 84, Duquesne 81
On Saturday, the Bonnies captured their fourth straight win and first conference road victory in a big way. Jaylen Adams led the charge with a game-high 40 points, including the game-winning three-pointer with seconds remaining. Offense was the key, as the Bonnies enjoyed a 125-121 edge in offensive efficiency. Turnover rates were low with the Bonnies at 13 percent and Duquesne at 15 percent. The difference? Extending possessions, as the visitors enjoyed a 40-30 advantage in offensive rebounding rate. 

Upcoming Games of Note
Friday February 9: Davidson at Rhode Island
Dan Hurley and company will weather another challenge, as tempo will be a key. Davidson prefers a much more sedate pace as opposed to that of the host Rams. 
Saturday, February 10: Richmond at St. Bonaventure 
The Bonnies have played well in the confines of the Reilly Center, but the visiting Spiders pose a threat, and this is another game where tempo will be crucial in the outcome.
Dayton at VCU 
The Rams need this one. Revenge might be a factor, as VCU was thoroughly beaten (106-79) in last month’s trip to UD Arena. 
Tuesday, February 13: Richmond at Rhode Island
Chris Mooney’s group will represent a test for the Rams. Tempo will also be a factor in this one, as Richmond prefers to keep the pace in the mid-sixties possession-wise. 

La Salle visits Saint Louis on Saturday and hosts St. Bonaventure on Tuesday, and both are must-win games for John Giannini’s Explorers as they attempt to make a final run on moving up in the conference standings. 

Individual Offensive Ratings (courtesy of KenPom)
1) Justin Tillman, VCU (121.8)
2) Jared Terrell, Rhode Island (117.7)
3) Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure (117.5)
4) Peyton Aldridge, Davidson (116.5)
5) Otis Livingston II, George Mason (107.8)
6) Darrell Davis, Dayton (106.2)
7) E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island (106.1)
8) Tarin Smith, Duquesne (106.0)
9) B.J. Johnson, La Salle (105.8)
10) Luwane Pipkins, UMass (104.2)

A-10 Trends
Offensive efficiency: 105
Tempo: 67 possessions per game
Home winning percentage: 66 percent
Close games: 30 percent
Blowouts: 21 percent

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

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