Checking In On… the Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on January 27th, 2016

Four Thoughts About The Week of 1/18-1/24

  1. The conference remains evenly divided between winners and losers. Individual team records and efficiency continue to be consistent. As the table below indicates, through the first 6-7 games of conference play teams with losing records show a negative efficiency difference (offensive efficiency – defensive efficiency is less than zero). Essentially the efficiency difference is reflected in the win-loss records, logical, indeed self-evident, but not always true for a conference like the Atlantic 10 which has a reputation for inconsistent and unpredictable outcomes. A10-1Through the first seven (more or less) conference games the members show the spread of winning and losing teams, point per possession scored vs allowed and the efficiency differential continues to be relatively symmetrical.
  2. The bottom four teams are falling behind badly. George Mason, Fordham, La Salle, and Massachusetts show negative differences large enough to suggest they will not be competitive with the other 10 teams in the conference. Three of the five wins recorded by those four teams came against each other. Of the other two, only Dayton (beaten by La Salle) has a winning conference record. Fordham’s Jeff Neubauer and George Mason’s Dave Paulsen are in their rookie seasons. For Dr. John Giannini, a 12-year veteran at La Salle, and Derek Kellogg, whose tenure spans eight years at Massachusetts, the scrutiny will be less forgiving.
  3. The Dukes Are True Road Warriors. With winter storm Jonas bearing down on the Atlantic seaboard, Duquesne and George Mason moved their game in Fairfax, Virginia from Saturday to Friday afternoon in an effort to get the Dukes out and on the road ahead of the snowfall. The plan worked to perfection as the Dukes beat the Patriots 86-75 on Micah Mason’s game-high 23 points and the Dukes were on the team bus by 4:30 pm, ready to clear the Washington, DC metropolitan area before snow accumulated on the interstates surrounding the nation’s capital. What Duquesne did not anticipate was the wide western arm of the storm. Westbound on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the bus ground to a halt at 9:15 pm, 80 miles short of Pittsburgh. The delay that started as a traffic accident allowed the snow fall to catch up, stranding the Dukes, along with an estimated 500 cars and buses in a mile-long parking lot and could only be cleared with snow plows. A timely stop at a Sheetz hours before added food and drinks to the stockpile of pizza and sandwiches gathered on the way out of Richmond. Heat and a working bathroom provided some amenities for the 22-hour wait. The greatest challenge however, was accommodating the number of 6’8″ and taller bodies within the confined space. “We’ve been trying to make the most of it by stretching out to the other side of the bus,” junior forward L.G. Gill shared told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “A couple of guys on here are just laying out right now. It’s pretty uncomfortable, especially for guys like me.” After clearing the eastbound lanes, the turnpike authorities removed the concrete barriers separating the lanes, allowing the westbound traffic access to the cleared roadway. The Dukes were back to campus (and showers, hot food, etc) by Saturday evening.
  4. Versus the Rest of Division 1 — The conference did ok. Results from Big 5 doubleheader last Wednesday closed the book on the 2015-16 regular season non-conference composite record. The results are mixed. By most ratings systems, the Atlantic 10 is ranked in the top quarter of Division 1’s 32 conferences, usually ranked #7 or #8. The table below shows a summary of the composite record. The top quarter ranking is deserved. The composite 23-33 (0.411) record versus the six BCS Division and Big East conferences suggests a potential Atlantic 10 conference slate does not contain enough top-50/-100 teams to boost the RPI for more than another member who brought a weak out of conference record into conference play. Coming into conference play Dayton, George Washington, and Saint Joseph’s had resumes strong enough for NCAA bids. At this point VCU, should they continue to win, can take another at-large bid.


Note the “Basketball First” conferences include the Conference USA, Colonial Athletic Association, Missouri Valley, Mountain West, and West Coast Conferences. The “Mid-Major” conferences are those 10 conferences, not included in the “Basketball First” group. The “Low-Major” conferences are the nine conferences ranked #24 – #32 in the RPI and Pomeroy systems.

Four Games to Catch This Week
Sorting out the upper division continues this week with direct match-ups between the contenders. Richmond feels it more than the others, because another bad week will sink the Spiders, leaving St. Bonaventure and perhaps Duquesne space to move up.

Richmond at George Washington (Thursday January 28, 9 PM, ESPNU): This difficult road win could revive the Spiders fast-fading hopes of a top-four finish in conference. The Spiders strong card is a fast and efficient offense, driven by forwards Terry Allen and T.J. Cline. George Washington will counter with Tyler Cavanaugh and senior center Kevin Larsen, possibly the best in the conference. Count the fouls, as Wood, Cline, and Dion Taylor tend to pick them up, sometimes quickly. The result will come down to who controls the pace of the game and can score inside.

Virginia Commonwealth at Davidson (Friday January 29, 6 PM, ESPN2): Bob McKillop’s team has won 15 straight (eight in conference) at home, going back to February 4, 2015. The Wildcats are 4-4 in conference play, giving this game all of the attributes of a “must-win” for any hopes of a bye to Friday in the conference tournament (and life after Brooklyn). The Rams bring a 7-0 conference record to the Belk. Will Wade does not have a guard like Jack Gibbs, but McKillop does not have a center like Mo Alie-Cox. If Davidson can break VCU’s press and pick up easy transition buckets they might keep this close, but given the players Wade has (Mel Johnson, Korey Billbury, JeQuan Lewis, Justin Tillman, and Doug Brooks), it is hard to see Davidson’s home streak stretching to 16.

Saint Joseph’s at Rhode Island (Saturday January 30, 7 PM, CBS Sports Net): Both teams look inside for scoring, which for Rhode Island can come from any of the five starters (when they are all on the court), though forward Kuran Iverson often takes the lead. Junior forward DeAndre Bembry functions as a point forward in the Hawks’ offense. As often as he will shoot, Bembry will pass to an open teammate. One of Bembry’s recipients, senior forward Isaiah Miles, is working himself into the All-Conference team conversation. Look for transition buckets from the historically deliberate Hawks. Rhode Island is one of the most deliberate offenses in Division 1. They will test the Hawks ability to guard for most of the 30-second clock. The Joe’s are 3-0 on the road in conference play, while Rhode Island is 4-0 at home.

Richmond at St. Bonaventure (Sunday January 31, 3 PM): The Bonnies look to break a three-game losing streak when they host the Spiders Saturday at the Reilly Center. Richmond has losing streak of its own (4 games) that threatens any hope of an upper division finish for the season. The teams are well matched physically, stocked with ‘tweener wings who range from 6’4″ to 6’8″. Both feature efficient offenses, and spotty defenses. The Spiders do not defend the three point attempt well. Four Bonnies, guards Marcus Posely, Jaylen Adams, and Nelson Kaputo, along with forward Denzel Gregg, are not afraid to take that shot and convert with some efficiency. The Bonnies are 8-2 at home (2-1 in conference play), while the Spiders are 4-4 away from the Robins Center.

nvr1983 (1398 Posts)

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