Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by jstevrtc on February 11th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova By The Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

The Threshing Floor

If conference play muddied the rankings for the teams at the top (Charlotte moved into #1, pushing the trio of Rhode Island, Temple and Xavier, teams that had topped the standing since New Years, down a notch), the teams in the middle and bottom are sorting out, both by record and efficiency differentials. A threshing floor is a wide and flat surface, located in an open area (always breezy, though sometimes windy), where farmers can spread their wheat, and through a process of beating the stalks and kernels and tossing them straight up in the air, separate the edible grain from their husks and stalks. The grain is heavy and when tossed in the air will fall (more or less) straight to the threshing floor. The wind will carry the lighter husks and stalks to the side, off the floor. The schedule may be unbalanced, but the repetitive process of playing conference games has (as suggested by the table below) separated the upper division teams from the lower division teams. And that separation is obvious, even to the casual observer.

Table reflects conference games played through February 9.

The efficiency differential divides the conference cleanly into an upper and lower division. The separation between the two grows. St. Louis is a full 0.51 points higher than #8 La Salle. Using a Pythagorean Winning Percentage formula to develop a quick projection of each team’s conference record suggests Xavier, Temple and Dayton will end up in a three-way tie with (roughly) 13-3 records. While it would play to many preseason projections, the notion that Dayton will launch a 5-0 run through the remainder of their conference schedule is a bit optimistic. The Pythagorean Winning Percentage also suggests Charlotte will go 3-4 through their last seven conference games, possible perhaps since four of their opponents are upper division teams. They do, however, face two of those opponents (Richmond and Xavier) at home. The 49ers are 9-1 at home this season.

Standings as of 02/10/10

  1. Charlotte (8-1, 18-5)
  2. Xavier (8-2, 16-7)
  3. Temple (7-2, 19-5, #21)
  4. Rhode Island (7-2, 19-3)
  5. Richmond (7-2, 18-6)
  6. St. Louis (6-3, 15-8)
  7. Dayton (5-3, 16-6)
  8. Duquesne (3-6, 12-11)
  9. La Salle (3-6, 11-12)
  10. Saint Joseph’s (3-7, 9-15)
  11. St. Bonaventure (2-6, 9-12)
  12. George Washington (2-7, 12-10)
  13. Massachusetts (2-7, 8-15)
  14. Fordham (0-9, 2-19)

Team Rundowns

Charlotte

Coach Lutz’s squad took sole possession of the #1 ranking in the conference with wins over George Washington 72-68, on Wednesday (2/3) and Fordham 77-72, on Saturday (2/6), even as Xavier stumbled in Dayton over the weekend. Junior Shamari Spears was named co-Player of the Week by the Conference which noted he scored a career-high 31 points versus George Washington and logged his second double-double of the season (15 points and 13 rebounds) versus Fordham. This is the second time the conference has acknowledged Spears’ contributions to the 49ers. A good run by Spears is only part of the story of the 49ers’ seven game winning streak. Spears, freshmen Chris Braswell and guard Shamarr Bowden, all combine with sophomore Darrio Green to power Charlotte’s offense. Green, whose offensive rating tops 113, is the squad’s most efficient scorer. Bowden, Spears, and Green shoulder most of the shot-making responsibilities. Braswell, whose most recent offensive rating (per Ken Pomeroy) of 102.2 has received multiple nods from the conference for his work this season.

A rendezvous with the Flyers in Dayton Wednesday (2/10) is next up for Charlotte, and then a week off to regroup for Duquesne. This is a game Coach Lutz needs to get to solidify his team’s hold on the top of the A10. The Flyers, coupled with St. Louis in the last group North of the conference’s dividing line, needs to pull Charlotte back to the pack. Using the Pythagorean Winning Percentage (for conference games only) suggests Coach Lutz’s squad will go 3-4 in their last seven games. Taking a road win in Dayton would buck that trend, bolster team confidence, and reassure the selection committee that Charlotte can be competitive away from Halton Arena. An early season blowout at the hands of Duke and OOC road losses to Old Dominion and Tennessee leave that question open.

Dayton

With a week to prepare, the Flyers waxed the Musketeers 90-65, on Saturday (2/6).

As the table derived from the Xavier box score suggests, Rob Lowery, a senior guard whose injury in February 2009 cut short his run last season. Lowery has been working himself back into shape this season, and the Flyers, whose defensive efficiency (0.914) is second only to Temple’s in conference play, will need all of Lowery’s offensive capabilities in the last four weeks of the regular season. For Dayton, inconsistent offense in the form of mediocre shot efficiency and higher-than-average turnovers, is the principle reason the team trails conference leader Charlotte with two losses. Their efficiency differential is high enough to suggest (using the Pythagorean Winning Percentage for conference games only) Dayton can run the table for their last eight conference games, compiling a record that should put them back into the conversation for a post season bid (without having to run through the field in Atlantic City).

Having pulled the Musketeers out of a first place tie, Dayton hosts Charlotte on Wednesday (2/10) in another chance to muddy the top of the conference. A Dayton win over Charlotte would knot the top of conference again, putting Xavier, Temple and Charlotte into a three-way tie with about three weekends left in the conference season.

Duquesne

The Dukes’ season has fallen well short of expectations so far. Melquan Bolding has returned to the rotation, but the sophomore is coming back very slowly, and the season is running out. To date, Duquesne has beaten only those teams in the bottom half of the conference, not a credential that would impress a selection committee. Against upper division teams the Dukes have come up short time and again. Coach Everhart’s squad is bedeviled by demons on both sides of the ball. Extremely poor shot conversion (an eFG% of 44.7%, ranked at #13 in the conference, ahead of only Fordham) undermines an otherwise average-to-good conference offense. The problems on defense involve more elements of the game; poor defensive rebounding and a propensity to foul combine with extremely bad shot defense to produce a defense that has yielded 1.05 points per possession, ranked ahead of only Massachusetts and Fordham in conference play.

Duquesne has a two game home stand this week, facing Massachusetts on Thursday (2/11), followed by La Salle on Sunday (2/14). Both are good opportunities for wins, which would move the Dukes to the top of the A10′s lower division.

Fordham

Chris Gaston was named Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season as he scored 55 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in Fordham’s losses to Xavier (108-60, 1/30) and to Charlotte (77-72, 2/6). A pity that Jio Fontan transferred before Gaston exploded. The two could have formed a dynamic inside/outside combination. Probably not enough to turn the program around, but enough to improve on the Rams’ record from last season — and throw a scare into Coach Martelli’s Hawks. Ken Pomeroy’s “no win” probability remained at 63.14%. With a -0.240 differential, Fordham is nearly as far behind #13 Duquesne as the Dukes are from #7 St. Louis, the last team with a positive efficiency differential in conference games. For Coach Grasso, a commitment from Gaston (and guards Lance Brown and Alberto Eastwick) to return next season would carry more significance than a conference win, though a conference win (or two) would probably help Gaston, Brown and Eastwick decide to stay.

One of Fordham’s better prospects for a win, the George Washington Colonials are coming to town for a Saturday (2/13) game. Before that one, however, the Rams have to travel to New York’s Western Tier to take on St. Bonaventure on Wednesday (2/10).

George Washington

The January 30 loss to Rhode Island started a losing run that now extends to three games. The Colonials dropped games to Charlotte 72-68 (2/3) and to Duquesne 70-63 (2/6), this past week. That home loss to Duquesne is especially damaging, as the Dukes are also struggling through a season of lowered expectations. Post season prospects, short of running the table in Atlantic City next month, are nil. The team may have started the season well, but ineffective shooting (#11 in conference, ahead of only Saint Joseph’s, Duquesne and Fordham) is the principal culprit for an offense that has generated a paltry 0.97 points per possession in conference play (the conference average is 1.01). The defense is not fatally flawed, but giving up 1.02 points per possession is higher than the conference average (1.01). For Coach Hobbs, a losing season — the third since he led the Colonials to the NCAAs in 2007 with a 23-7 record — could not have come at a worse time. Many believe that Connecticut will begin it’s search for a successor to the Hall of Fame coach among those assistants who left to head programs of their own. At one point Hobbs was generally recognized as the most successful in that group.

The Colonials have perhaps their best opportunity to end their losing run as they take on Fordham on Saturday (2/13). The game will be played in the Bronx, though, and George Washington has dropped four straight road games in conference play.

La Salle

Coach Giannini’s squad is three games into a losing slide, having dropped a 68-65 home game to St. Louis last Saturday (2/6). Losing seniors Ruben Guillandeaux (last played 11/22/09) and Kimmani Barrett (last played 1/13 — the conference announced he would undergo surgery, thereby ending his college career) has reduced the Explorers from one of the conference’s most experienced squads to one of its least experienced in just under eight weeks. The Explorers are 2-5 in Barrett’s absence. Getting freshman Parrish Grant some court time in preparation for next season may become the higher priority as the current season slips away.

Next up for La Salle is a St. Valentine’s date with Duquesne, in Pittsburgh.

Massachusetts

The Minutemen are riding a three game losing streak, and two of the three games were added this past week. Both games were lost by identical eight point margins: Xavier, 87-79 on Wednesday (2/3), and Rhode Island, 93-85 on Saturday (2/6). Like Duquesne, UMass demonstrates yet again why shot efficiency is the most important of Dean Oliver’s four factors. The Minutemen are ranked #11 in the conference for efficiency differential, and #10 in the conference for (offensive) shot efficiency. As a dribble-drive squad that prefers to kick the ball out to the perimeter for a three, the Minutemen do not get to the line much either. For defensive shot efficiency Massachusetts is ranked #13, ahead of only Fordham.

Massachusetts’ schedule going forward (they have seven conference games left) looks fairly favorable compared to the front end of their schedule. With only three games remaining against upper division opponents, the Minutemen could acquire another 3-4 wins over the last month of conference play. The future starts Thursday (2/11) with a trip to Pittsburgh for a game with Duquesne, and continues with a visit from Saint Joseph’s on Sunday (2/14).

Rhode Island

The Rams extended their winning run to four games with a win over Massachusetts, 93-85, last Saturday (2/6). Rhode Island has put the second most efficient offense together, despite being ranked #4 in shot efficiency (50.6%), through strong offensive rebounding and a conference-leading low turnover rate (16.9%). According to Ken Pomeroy, every member of the Rams’ regular rotation has an individual offensive rating of 104.5 or higher. Four of Rhode Island’s remaining seven conference games are against upper division teams, but two of those games (versus Richmond and Charlotte) are home games. The Rams ought to prevail in both.

Rhode Island hosts Richmond on Wednesday (2/10), then travels to Philadelphia on Saturday (2/13) for their mirror game against Temple.

Richmond

Among the six conference teams currently in the NCAA postseason discussion, Richmond, with a solid 7-2 record to date, is often overlooked. The Spiders have assembled a solid conference resume, but out-of-conference road losses to William & Mary, VCU, Wake Forest and South Carolina may give the Selection Committee pause to think. In conference play Richmond has compiled a 3-1 road record, the sole loss coming at the hands of St. Louis, a fellow upper division team in the A10. Richmond’s bread and butter comes from defense, as they are #2 in the conference behind St. Louis for shot defense (eFG% is 43.7%) and #2 in conference play behind Rhode Island in turnover rates (22.6%). Their offense offers solid shooting efficiency (52.0%, #1 in conference play), but conference-worst offensive rebounding (26.0%), combined with a somewhat passive offense (FTA/FGA rate is 32.7%, well below the conference average of 36.1%) suggest the Spiders are a perimeter-oriented team that needs to convert their three point field goal attempts more effectively to prosper.

Richmond takes in two road games this week (terrible week to travel in the Northeast). First stop Wednesday (2/10) will be Rhode Island, followed by a Saturday (2/13) game at St. Bonaventure. If past is prolog, Richmond should beat St. Bonaventure, but their Rhode Island game is more complicated.

Saint Joseph’s

The problem with the Hawks’ season is that it has gone largely as planned. Seniors Garrett Williamson and Darrin Govens have shouldered much of the offensive responsibility, but neither had been especially efficient at posting points. Freshmen guards Carl Jones and Justin Crosgile are good players, but neither has developed into the impact player that Coach Martelli’s offense needs. The offense has not produced points efficiently in conference play. 0.96 points per possession is below the conference average of 1.00, and the Hawk defense allows nearly 1.05 points per possession, a deadly combination when trying to fashion a winning record.

The Hawks travel to Massachusetts for a Sunday (2/14) game. The Hawks’ road record this season is an underwhelming 1-8.

St. Bonaventure

The Bonnies are riding a four game losing streak that dates back to the last week in January. They added two of those games last week, dropping a 67-65 road decision to St. Louis on Wednesday (2/3), followed by a 78-71 loss at Saint Joseph’s on Sunday (2/7). The Bonnies convert shots at a conference-average 48.3% (eFG%), but they produce 4% fewer points per possession on average because they lose a conference-high 23.6% of their possessions. Andrew Nicholson may be a top 250 rebounder (per Ken Pomeroy), but as a team St. Bonaventure ranks only #13 in the conference in offensive rebounding. Senior Jon Hall and sophomore Nicholson can convert efficiently if the back court can consistently deliver the ball. Five of the Bonnies’ remaining eight games will come at home, so a move into the middle of the conference is only possible if St. Bonaventure can take advantage of a home court advantage.

The Bonnies open a three game home stand this week by hosting Fordham on Wednesday (2/10), followed by Richmond on Saturday (2/10).

St. Louis

The Billikens have put together a three game winning streak this week. First, they snagged a 67-65 home win versus St. Bonaventure last Wednesday (2/3), followed by a road win versus La Salle, 68-65 last Saturday (2/6), and lastly a win over Saint Joseph’s, 56-52 on Tuesday (2/9). The last two are of particular interest because they were road wins, a rare element in St. Louis’ resumen this season. Identified by Pomeroy as one of the youngest squads in D1 (at 0.56 years they are ranked #346, dead last), Coach Majerus’ squad was 1-6 in away games going into the week. The Billikens are getting it done with defense. They have posted a conference-best 43.0 shot defense (eFG%), combined with the #5 best turnover rate. Sophomore guard Kwamain Mitchell earned conference recognition in the form of A10 Player Of The Week for the second time this season with his 42 point/7 assist efforts in St. Louis’ games with St. Bonaventure and Syracuse.

St. Louis hosts Dayton Saturday (2/13). A win over the veteran Flyer squad would be a huge boost to Coach Majerus’ team.

Temple

Temple recorded a second consecutive 1-1 week in conference play as they beat Duquesne 76-60 on Wednesday (2/3), but lost their weekend game to Richmond, 71-54 on Saturday (2/6). That second loss dropped the Owls a half-game behind Xavier. Coach Dunphy’s offense and defense share a common set of priorities: that is, take care of the shot and then the rebound. On offense that translates in to a #3 conference rank for eFG% (51.4) and #5 rank for offensive rebounding (35.0%). On defense, the Owls rank #4 for shot defense (46.2% eFG) and #1 for defensive rebounding (26.4%). Ryan Brooks, Lavoy Allen and Juan Fernandez continue to be productive offensively, as Allen, sophomore Eric Michael, and Scottie Randall control the boards.

Temple will come off of a week-long break to host Rhode Island on Saturday (2/13).

Xavier

The Musketeers lost their second conference game last week, a 90-65 road game at Dayton on Saturday (2/6). Timing is everything as Temple also lost (to Richmond), keeping those two programs even in the loss column, and one loss behind Charlotte. Their offense, ranked #1 in conference games, earns them 1.11 points per possession. Combined with their #6 ranked defense, which allows 0.98 points per possession, that puts them at the top of the conference for efficiency differentials. On offense, top of the conference ranking in shot efficiency (eFG% of 54.3%) combined with frequent trips to the line (FTR of 45.7%) explain how Xavier earns their points. They have Jordan Crawford to thank, taking over a third of Xavier’s shots when he is on the court.  But as defenses concentrate on Crawford, Xavier has two other players — Terrell Holloway and Jason Love — who convert shots very efficiently.

Xavier takes a break from conference action to travel to Florida for a game with the Gators of the SEC.

Games to Catch:

Rhode Island at Temple Saturday 2/13 — An early season matchup gave Temple their first important conference road win, and knocked the Rams, who were flirting with #25 in the national polls, down a peg or two. Both teams, saddled with two losses apiece, need a win to keep pace with Xavier and remain one loss behind Charlotte. Lavoy Allen versus Delroy James should be interesting. Juan Fernandez and Luis Guzman will be tested by the conference’s best team in terms of forcing turnovers.

Xavier at Florida Saturday 2/13 — A top 50 RPI win up for grabs. Jason Love and Kenny Frease will have their hands full with Vernon Macklin and Dan Werner. If it comes down to a shootout between Kenny Boyton and Jordan Crawford, I have to like Crawford.

Dayton at St. Louis Saturday 2/13 — Two of the conference’s better defenses lock up in this game. St. Louis has been very tough at home (11-1 this season), while Dayton is less impressive on the road (4-3). This is the second game in a tough week for Dayton, but the Flyers cannot relax if they want to keep pace with the five teams clustered at the top of the conference.

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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference. 

Atlantic 10 Efficiency Differentials

Updated to reflect games through Tuesday, January 26, the teams are starting to sort out, with a few notable exceptions. Temple is moving away from the rest of the conference, even as St. Louis, Xavier and Rhode Island are forming a tier just below the Owls. Dayton is the outlier, as the Flyers’ 0.75 positive efficiency is contradicted by their 3-3 record. The culprit is a lackluster offense, though inconsistent defense does not help. If the Flyers’ offense produced a conference-average 1.0 point per possession, Dayton would have a 4-2 record. Fordham is struggling to maintain contact with the rest of the conference, as their problems on both offense and defense are reflected in their 0-6 record. Ken Pomeroy speculated in a blog entry on January 6 a 49% probability that Fordham would go winless in A10 competition this season. The Rams’ -0.229 differential is a strong suggestion this will come to pass.

Standings (as of 01/26/10)

  1. Temple (17-3, 5-0, AP #15)
  2. Xavier (13-6, 5-1)
  3. Charlotte (14-5, 4-1)
  4. St. Louis (12-6, 3-1)
  5. Rhode Island (16-3, 4-1)
  6. Richmond (15-6, 4-2)
  7. Dayton (14-6, 3-3)
  8. La Salle (10-9, 2-3)
  9. St. Bonaventure (9-9, 2-3)
  10. Saint Joseph’s (8-11, 2-3)
  11. George Washington (11-7, 1-4)
  12. Duquesne (10-9, 1-4)
  13. Massachusetts (7-12, 1-4)
  14. Fordham (2-16, 0-6)

Team Rundowns

Charlotte

Coach Lutz’s squad finished a very productive two-game road trip, beating Richmond 71-59 on Wednesday (1/20) and then La Salle 84-82 on Saturday (1/23). Those wins extend their current streak to three. Both La Salle and Richmond were well regarded coming into the A10 regular season, so Charlotte’s road wins should provide the 49ers with an edge over both as the conference standings sort out. Charlotte’s rebounders were able to gather a whopping 38.2% of their misses, yielding a six-point advantage in second chance points. Richmond will travel to Charlotte for a mirror game at the end of the season. Productive enough to take the Rookie of the Week honors, freshman Chris Braswell was cited for his 16 points against St. Louis, his nine points and 10 rebounds against Richmond and his sixth double-double of the season (21 points, 13 boards) in the 49ers’ win over La Salle. This was Braswell’s third designation as Rookie of the Week, the most so far this season.

Next up, the 49ers host Temple on Wednesday (1/27), and then travel to Amherst, MA, for a game with Massachusetts on Saturday (1/30).

Dayton

The Flyers handled George Washington easily on Wednesday (1/20), 66-51, with Chris Wright’s game-high (shared with GW’s Lasan Kromah) 14 points leading the way. Three other Flyers, the Johnsons Marcus (13) and Chris (10), along with Mickey Perry (11), scored double-digit points. In all, 11 players saw action. On Saturday (1/23) Dayton dropped a head-scratcher to Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia. It was the Chris Wright Show, as the Wooden preseason nominee scored 28 points while taking 36% of the Flyers’ possessions and 41% of their shots when he was on the floor (80% of the minutes). But he had little support from the rest of the squad as the Johnsons (who combined for over 47% of the shots when they played) went a combined 5-20 (1-11, 4-9) from the field. After leading very briefly at the start of the first half, the Flyers and Hawks tied four times, Dayton ceding the lead thereafter to Saint Joseph’s. A 14-6 run in the last 5:30 of the game was not enough to overtake the Hawks. Compounding their woes, Dayton returned home and dropped a second consecutive game to visiting Rhode Island on Tuesday (1/26), 65-64. Down 62-61 with 15 ticks left, the Flyers’ Chris Wright was fouled while taking a three-point attempt. On the line with the game in the balance, Wright hit all three attempts to put Dayton up 64-62. Their defense failed however, as Marquis Jones hit a three-pointer nine seconds later. Mickey Perry’s own heroic attempt at a three missed with 0:00 on the clock. A virtually unanimous preseason favorite to take the A10 regular season title and a berth in the field of 65, the Flyers, with a 14-6 overall record and 3-3 in conference are looking up at the bubble right now.

The Flyers take to the road again this weekend, playing at St. Bonaventure on Saturday (1/30), and then break for a week.

Duquesne

Duquesne’s road trip to Kingston, RI, on Wednesday (1/20) ended badly — a 75-67 beating at the hands of Rhode Island. Damian Saunders paced the Dukes with 21 points on 8-13 (1-4, 7-9) and 4-9 shooting, as the junior grabbed 11 rebounds to log his 15th double-double of the season. Eric Evans (16) and BJ Montiero (11) also scored double-digit points. Their Saturday (1/23) game with St. Bonaventure was more successful, as the Dukes downed the Bonnies 70-69 at home. Evans and Saunders paced Duquesne with 15 points apiece. The best news may be Melquan Bolding’s 14-point outing. The sophomore, coming off of rehabilitation, played 30 minutes in the St. Bonaventure game follwing a 29-minute outing against Rhode Island. Bill Clark’s 10 points made him the fourth Duquesne player to record double-digit points.

The Dukes travel to Cincinnati to play Xavier on Thursday (1/28) and then return home to host the Hawks of Saint Joseph’s on Sunday (1/31).

Fordham

Coach Grasso’s squad dropped two more games last week to bring their winless run in conference to six and 11 overall. St. Louis beat Fordham 75-48 in Chaifetz Arena on Wednesday (1/20), and then Temple beat them 62-45 in the Bronx on Saturday (1/23). Freshman guard Lance Brown paced the Rams with 15 points in St. Louis, while freshman Chris Gaston logged his 11th double-double of the season Sunday, with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Next up for Fordham, a visit from La Salle on Wednesday (1/27), and then back on the road, this time to Cincinnati for a date with the Musketeers on Sunday (1/31).

George Washington

January has been a cruel month for the Colonials so far, as Coach Hobbs’ squad has gone 2-4 through the first three weeks. The two losses last week extend their losing streak to four. They lost to Dayton in Ohio 66-51, on Wednesday (1/20), then dropped their weekend game 62-57 to Richmond on Saturday (1/23). Lasan Kromah shared game-high honors with Flyer Chris Wright with 14 points on Wednesday. Unlike Dayton which had three other players score in double digits, George Washington only had Kromah. Sophomore guard Tony Taylor paced the Colonials with 16 points on 4-6 (0-0, 4-6) and 8-8 shooting — a very efficient 66.7% eFG% and 1.63 PPWS. and the two freshmen, guard Bryan Bynes (11 points) and forward David Pellom (four points), were not prolific enough to put George Washington over the top in the Richmond game. The two teams took a combined 49 free throws on 52 fouls.

The Colonials will try to turn it around on Wednesday (1/27) when they host St. Louis. The weekend game, a visit to Rhode Island on Saturday (1/30), may not be a promising place to break their losing run.

La Salle

La Salle disposed of Big 5 rival Penn 76-57, last Wednesday (1/20) at the Palestra. Freshman Aaric Murray led the Explorers with 21 points on 8-11 (3-4, 5-7) and 2-2 shooting. Three others, guard Rodney Green (15), along with forwards Yves Mbala (14) and Jerrell Williams (13), scored in double figures. Coach Giannini’s squad dropped their weekend game to Charlotte 84-82, at the Gola. The Explorers trailed by two 48-46, at the half, but chased the 49ers through all but 30 seconds of the second half. They took the lead 77-76, at the 5:06 on an Mbala dunk. Charlotte tied 77 all on a Darrio Green free throw, and retook the lead, for good 79-77, on an An’Juan Wilderness layup. Rodney Green’s low post entry pass to Aaric Murray with five seconds left in regulation went out of bounds, turning the ball over to Charlotte for on last possession. An’Juan Wilderness put the game away with a jumper with no time left. The loss however, was eclipsed by news that senior forward Kimmani Barrett, out since the Massachusetts game on 1/10, will have surgery this week to repair a fractured bone in his right foot. Barrett, the Explorers’ second leading scorer, is most likely out for the season. Barrett is the second crucial injury suffered by La Salle, as senior guard Ruben Guillandeaux has missed the last 15 games with a stress fracture.

The Explorers have a busy week ahead. They travel to the Bronx to face Fordham on Wednesday (1/27), then across town to play conference (and Big 5) rival Temple on Saturday (1/30) and lastly back to the Gola to host Rhode Island on Tuesday (2/2).

Massachusetts

The Minutemen’s losing streak is up to five. They dropped a 70-69 decision to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday (1/20). Down 10 (57-47) to the Bonnies midway through the second half, Massachusetts’ 22-13 run fell short. Senior guard Ricky Harris paced the Minutemen with 22 points. Their woes continued Saturday (1/23) as they dropped a road game to Baylor, 71-45. Ricky Harris again led Massachusetts, this time with 14 points. Freshman forward Terrill Vinson recorded his second double-double of his career, gathering 12 (7-5-12) rebounds to go with his 14 points.

Massachusetts will travel to Philadelphia to play Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday (1/27), then take on Charlotte at home Saturday (1/30).

Rhode Island

After beating the Dukes on Wednesday (1/20) 75-67, the Rams dropped a road game to Xavier 72-61, on Saturday (1/23) — a disappointing 11 point loss. Their road adventure did not end there however, as they stunned Dayton 65-64, on a Marquis Jones three point jumper with 0:04 left. Senior Delroy James paced all scorers with 22 points, while Keith Cothran chipped in 17. Though the head-to-head loss to X was a setback, the Rams, now 4-2 in conference play (16-3 overall), are back within striking distance of Xavier, St. Louis and Charlotte for second place in the conference.

The Rams should be able to keep pace next week as they host George Washington on Saturday (1/30), then travel to Philadelphia for a game with La Salle on Tuesday (2/2).

Richmond

The Spiders squandered a chance to establish their spot in the conference pecking order (not to mention their chance for their first 10-0 home start) when they dropped a disastrous 71-59 decision to Charlotte on Wednesday (1/20). Of Richmond’s starters, only wing Justin Harper had anything approaching a good offensive outing, scoring 24 points on 8-11 (4-5, 4-6) and 4-6 shooting. Harper notched a gaudy 90.9% eFG% and 1.73 PPWS which would have been better had he hit another free throw (or two). The other four starters combined for 26 points on 8-32 (4-18, 4-14) and 6-9 shooting. Combined they posted a 31.2% eFG5 and 0.72 PPWS. Charlotte managed to score 1.14 points per possesion on a Spider defense that has typically given up 0.95 points per possession in conference play. Richmond, ranked #13 in the conference (only Saint Joseph’s is lower) for offensive rebounding percentage, had an even rougher night than normal, gathering only 22.9% of their misses. The Spiders bounced back on Saturday (1/23) with a road win over George Washington 62-57. Junior Kevin Anderson scored a game-high 21 points on 7-14 (4-4, 3-10) and 3-4 shooting. David Gonzalvez and Justin Harper also recorded double digit points. Harper’s 14 points on an efficient 4-8 (2-5, 2-3) and 4-6 shooting. Gonzalvez’s 11 points came on a high volume shooting night as the junior took 11 field goal attempts and eight trips to the line to record his points.

Next up for Coach Mooney’s squad, the Spiders host St. Louis Saturday (1/30). A win can give Richmond a leg up over St. Louis in the conference standings.

Saint Joseph’s

The Hawks downed Dayton on Saturday (1/23) in a 60-59 game whose score is much closer than the game itself. After falling behind very briefly at the start of the first half, the Hawks and Flyers tied four times through the first 11 minutes of the game, but the Hawks maintained control and took a four-point lead into the locker room. Their lead shrank to one twice in the second half, but the Hawks led by seven to nine points through most of the half. Despite a closing rush by the Flyers, the Hawks retained possession with 14 ticks left and left Dayton with a single field goal attempt at four seconds. Saint Jospeh’s second break from conference play resulted in a decisive 85-64 win over the struggling Quakers of Penn at the Palestra on Monday (1/25).

Coach Martelli’s squad will host Massachusetts at the Hagan on Wednesday (1/27), then travel to Pittsburgh for a game with Duquesne on Sunday (1/31).

St. Bonaventure

Seventy and 69 were the numbers for Coach Schmidt’s squad last week. They worked in the Bonnies’ favor in their first game, a 70-69 win over Massachusetts on Wednesday (1/20). But they worked against the Bonnies in their second game, also on the road, a 70-69 loss to Duquesne on Saturday (1/23). Andrew Nicholson earned his second citation as Player of the Week as he scored 27 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots in play against the Minutemen. Nicholson equaled his career high 29 points against Duquesne to lead all scorers and log his fifth 20 point game of the season. This was Nicholson’s second designation as Player of the Week.

The Bonnies will host Dayton on Saturday (1/30), then travel to St. Louis to take on the Billikens on Wednesday (2/3).

St. Louis

St. Louis beat Fordham on Wednesday (1/20) 75-48, in their only game of the week. Sophomore forward Brian Conklin came off the bench to lead the Billikens with 15 points in 20 minutes of play. Three starters, Aussie forward Cody Ellis (14), guard Kwamain Mitchell (13) and senior forward Willie Reed (10) also logged double-digit points.

The Billikens return to action with two road games this week. On Wednesday they stop in Washington, DC, to play the Colonials of GWU, and then down to Richmond to take on the Spiders for a Saturday (1/30) game.

Temple

The Owls extended their winning streak (currently at six games) by two more this past week. On Wednesday (1/20) they bested the Musketeers by five points, 77-72, on a 22 point, seven rebound effort by guard Ryan Brooks. Temple was able to exploit 13 Xavier turnovers for 19 points. Lavoy Allen chipped in 16 points. Temple beat Fordham 62-45, at Rose Hill, on Saturday (1/23). On a day when Lavoy Allen and Ryan Brooks combined for a horrific 4-18 shooting performance that yielded nine points, the Owls fell back on Juan Fernandez and their bench to come through with 39 points on a combined 13-20 (8-12, 5-8) and 5-6 shooting.

Temple travels to Charlotte for another conference showdown on Wednesday (1/27), and then back to the Liacouras Center for a game with La Salle on Saturday (1/30).

Xavier

The Musketeers went 1-1 for the week, a pretty good result considering the slate of opponents. They dropped a five-point decision to Temple , Wednesday (1/20). Jordan Crawford paced the Musketeers with 18 points. Xavier returned to their winning ways and leveled their race with Rhode Island on Saturday (1/23) when they beat the Rams by 11, 72-61, in the Cintas Center on Saturday (1/23). Jordan Crawford bolstered his Player of the Year resume with a game-high double-double, 21 points to go with 12 boards. The game was close for the first 33 minutes, neither team holding a lead greater than six points, when Xavier broke it open with a five minute, 15-7 run. The Rams could not close that double digit deficit as the Musketeers cruised home.

Coach Mack’s squad tacks two more games onto their homestand this week, first hosting the Dukes on Thursday (1/28), followed by the Fordham Rams on Sunday (1/31).

Games to Catch

  • Temple at Charlotte - Wednesday 1/27 — Another week and the schedule maker gives us another challenge for the conference lead. Charlotte puts a three game winning streak up against Temple’s six game winning streak. Someone’s winning streak will be over at (roughly) 9:00pm Wednesday. Charlotte, along with Xavier and Rhode Island is chasing Temple in the A10 race. Beat the Owls and the race becomes a four-way deadlock.
  • St. Louis at Richmond - Saturday 1/30 — The Spiders need a win over the Billikens to tighten the A10 conference race. David Gonzalvez has struggled of late, but Richmond will need all of their offensive weapons to counter Kwamain Mitchell, Cody Ellis, Willie Reed and Brian Conklin.
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on January 13th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

First Night

The Atlantic 10, though large at 14 teams, maintains a 16-game conference schedule. Conference play can be scheduled easily into the 10 weeks between New Year’s and Conference Tournament Week (roughly the second week in March). Sixteen games in just under 10 weeks allows for about two conference games (more or less) with a spot or two for another out of conference game. This is good news for the Philadelphia teams (La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and Temple), because it allows them to schedule one of their Big 5 rivals (Penn) into the latter part of the season, thereby sustaining a bit of suspense in their annual City Series. If a 16-game season cannot accommodate a balanced schedule (A10 teams would have to play 26 games; the season most likely starting in late November), it can sustain the idea of an inaugural day of conference play. This season’s First Night fell on Wednesday, January 6, as eight teams opened their conference season with four games. A ninth team, Charlotte, finished out their out of conference season against Tennessee, and two others, La Salle and Xavier, opened their conference slate (against each other) on Thursday (1/7). Opening night winners included George Washington (over St. Bonaventure), Massachusetts (over Fordham), Richmond (over Duquesne) and Temple (over Saint Joseph’s).

Home Court Advantage

The records and efficiency differentials include both out of conference and any conference games played to last Sunday. Both Xavier and Richmond appear quite formidable at home, a bit of a contrast to their performance on the road. Games those two can pick up out of their own house will benefit their conference records greatly. For teams who dream of getting to conference’s upper division, maximizing the advantage provided by a home arena is crucial. Fans have turned out in large numbers and been very vocal for the hometown team. For Fordham, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Massachusetts, whose records suggest no significant advantage is given for home games, we find the notion is bolstered by a low differential. Rhode Island shows a strong winning record, but a weak differential advantage. The Rams need to rebound better and get a hand in the shooter’s face.  Temple is an enigma. The Owls show a better differential away from home rather than in Philadelphia. It seems the Kansas game (not to mention the seven point loss to St. John’s at the Palestra) left a few scars.

Standings (as of 01/12/10)

  1. Temple (13-3, 2-0, #19 AP)
  2. Xavier (10-5, 2-0)
  3. Dayton (12-3, 1-0)
  4. Charlotte (11-4, 1-0)
  5. St. Louis (10-5, 1-0)
  6. George Washington (11-4, 1-1)
  7. Richmond (12-5, 1-1)
  8. La Salle (8-7, 1-1)
  9. Massachusetts (7-8, 1-1)
  10. Saint Joseph’s (8-9, 1-1)
  11. Rhode Island (12-2, 0-1)
  12. Duquesne (9-7, 0-2)
  13. St. Bonaventure (7-8, 0-2)
  14. Fordham (2-12, 0-2)

Team Rundowns

Charlotte

Coach Lutz’s squad closed their out of conference schedule with another road loss, this time to Tennessee on Wednesday (1/6). The score, 86-71, was especially disappointing given the suspension of four scholarship players on gun, achohol and drug charges the previous Friday. One would think the turmoil, the absence of a starter (Tyler Smith) a crucial rotation player (Cameron Tatum) and the primary backup point guard (Melvin Goins) would diminish the Vols’ effectiveness. The 49ers missed a good opportunity for a quality win as the Vols used to playing complementary roles to Tyler Smith stepped up to fill the void (and basket). Though Charlotte held a 3-point lead early (14-11), Tennessee took two 14-0 runs in the first half to put Charlotte back on its heels, and took a 51-29 lead into halftime. It got a little ugly at the end, as both Shamari Spears and Tennessee center Wayne Chism drew a technical with about 5:00 left in the 2nd half (Tennessee up 80-54). The 49ers returned home to host St. Bonaventure on Saturday (1/09). They beat the Bonnies 57-54 in a game not decided until the last minute. After Marquise Simmons dunked to cut the lead to one, a Bonnie turnover and foul put junior guard Charles Dewhurst on the line to settle matters. Dewhurst hit both free throws to push the lead to three with two ticks left.

Charlotte goes back to work on Wednesday (1/13) with a trip to Cincinnati, OH, and a game with Xavier. The 49ers will host St. Louis on Sunday (1/17), then travel to Richmond to play the Spiders the following Wednesday (1/20).

Dayton

The Flyers’s 6’6 Chris Johnson shared Player of the Week honors with Xavier’s Jordan Crawford. Johnson posted career-high points (26) and rebounds (20) as he led Dayton to a 78-72 overtime win at Duquesne in Dayton’s home conference opener on Saturday (1/9).

Dayton takes in the Big Apple on Wednesday (1/13) as they play Fordham at Rose Hill, then out to Cincinnati to take on Xavier on Saturday (1/13).

Duquesne

Duquesne opened conference play with a loss at the hands of Richmond, 80-68, on Wednesday (1/6). This was a home game for the Dukes, which makes it especially difficult. Coach Everhart’s squad then traveled to Dayton and dropped their second conference game to the Flyers, 78-72 (OT), on Saturday (1/9). Damian Saunders (21), Sean Johnson (14), Melquan Bolding (13) and Jason Duty (12) all scored in double digits. Saunders made it a double-double with 11 rebounds.

The Dukes host St. Louis Wednesday (1/13), then take a one week break to get ready for the Rhode Island Rams (1/20).

Fordham

The Rams opened on the road, dropping a 78-76 decision to Massachusetts last Wednesday (1/6). Brenton Butler led all scorers with 31 points on a very efficient 12-23 (6-11, 6-12) and 1-4 shooting. Chris Gaston (16) and Lance Brown (11) also scored double-digit points. Gaston logged his ninth double-double in this, his freshman season. Fordham then traveled to Philadelphia and lost their second A10 game to Saint Joseph’s, 82-69, at the Hagan. Freshman center Fahro Alihodzic, a 6’10, 235 pound native of Great Britain, scored a career-high 16 points in the losing effort.

Fordham will host Dayton on Wednesday (1/13), then Rhode Island on Saturday (1/16).

George Washington

The Colonials opened their A10 schedule with a road win, 78-71, over St. Bonaventure on Wednesday (1/6). Guard Lasan Kromah led all scorers with 23 very, very efficiently scored points on 9-11 (5-7, 4-4) and 0-0 shooting. Kromah’s eFG%, 104.5%, should turn a few heads (and change a few game plans) around the conference, and in fact earned Lasan the Freshman of the Week honors for January 10. A 65% eFG% is considered terrific. Coach Hobbs’ squad returned home and dropped their home opener to Xavier, 76-69, on Saturday (1/9). Damian Hollis led all scorers with 23 points on 8-22 (2-8, 6-14) and 5-6 shooting.

GW faces La Salle in Philadelphia on Wednesday (1/13), then takes a seven-day break to prepare for Dayton on Wednesday (1/20).

La Salle

Dr. Giannini’s Explorers opened at home against the Musketeers last Thursday (1/7), dropping their first conference game 68-62. A 20-2 second half run brought La Salle close, 54-56, but they could not get the next stop, and were shut out the final 2:03 of the game. The Rodney Green-Jordan Crawford duel went to the visitor, 22-20. The Explorers traveled to Massachusetts and beat the Minutemen 80-74 to square their conference record at 1. Freshman center Aaric Murray scored the team-high 18 points while teammate forward Jerrell Williams snagged 12 rebounds. Murray missed his fourth double-double of the season by a single rebound.

La Salle will host George Washington on Wednesday (1/13), and then travel to Richmond to play the Spiders on Saturday (1/16).

Massachusetts

Massachusetts beat Fordham, 78-76, to open their A10 schedule on Wednesday (1/6), then dropped a 80-74 decision to La Salle on Saturday (1/9). Senior guard Ricky Harris’ 21 points paced the Minutemen against Fordham, while freshman guard Freddie Riley did the honors against La Salle, scoring 21 points on 7-15 (6-14, 1-1) and 2-2 shooting.

The Minutemen travel to Richmond to play the Spiders on Wednesday (1/13), then to Philadelphia to play Temple on Saturday (1/16).

Rhode Island

The rankings above are deceptive. The Rams’ loss was to #19 ranked Temple 68-64 in overtime, on Sunday (1/10). A few ESPN/USA Today voters recognized the effort, as the Rams garnered 7 votes (#37 in the poll). Delroy James and Keith Cothran dominated the Rams’ offense, taking between them over 75% of the available shots when they were on the floor. That might have made defending them too easy. James had a relatively efficient 52.9% eFG% with a 1.05 PPWS. Cothran by contrast, had a rough night. The senior guard could muster only a 35.3 eFG% with a 0.82 PPWS. The Rams were very average on the offensive boards, and had difficulty keeping the Owls (i.e., Lavoy Allen) off the offensive boards.

Things should turnaround quickly, as the  Rams host Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday (1/13), then travel to the Bronx to play Fordham on Saturday (1/16).

Richmond

Coach Mooney’s Spiders opened the A10 season with a two game road trip. First stop was Pittsburgh where the Spiders drubbed the Dukes 80-68, on Wednesday. David Gonzalvez led all scorers with 19 points. Gonzalvez and four other Spiders (Kevin Anderson 18; Ryan Butler 14; Justin Harper 12; Dan Geriot 11) all logged double-digit points. Next stop was St. Louis where the Spiders dropped a 5 point decision (63-58) to the Billikens on Saturday (1/09).

Richmond will host Massachusetts on Wednesday (1/13), then host the Explorers of La Salle on Saturday (1/16).

Saint Joseph’s

The Hawks dropped their first A10 game to crosstown (and Big 5) rival Temple 73-49, on Wednesday (1/06). No Hawk scored more than eight points, though two, sophomore guard Scott Prescott and freshman guard Carl Jones logged eight points. They managed to even the record with a visit from Fordham. They beat the Rams 82-69, on Saturday (1/09). Four Hawks managed to score more than 10 points (junior center Todd O’Brien with 20; senior guard Garrett Williamson with 10 and freshman guard Carl Jones with 15), with senior Darrin Govins leading the way with 21.

Saint Joseph’s takes on it’s second Ram in five days when they travel to Kingston, RI, to play Rhode Island on Wednesday (1/13). The road trip has one more stop, in Olean, NY as the Hawks take on the Bonnies on Saturday (1/16).

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure opened the season as hosts to the Colonials, and dropped that decision 78-71, on Wednesday (1/6). Sophomore forward Andrew Nicholson scored 16 points to lead St. Bonaventure. Three other starters, all guards contributed 10 or more points to the effort. The Bonnies dropped their second A10 game, 57-54, this one on the road, to Charlotte, on Saturday (1/09). Freshman forward Marquise Simmons’ dunk brought the Bonnies to within a point, 55-54, with 0:45 left. Charlotte burned two 30 second timeouts and missed a jumper with 0:10 seconds left. A Jon Hall turnover and foul put a Charlotte junior guard on the line. Charles Dewhurst hit both free throws to push the lead back out to three with two seconds left.

The Bonnies will host St. Joseph’s on Saturday (1/16).

St. Louis

Coach Majerus’ squad hosted Richmond to open their A10 season, and beat the Spiders 63-58 on Saturday (1/9). Sophomore guard Kwamain Mitchell scored a team-high 16 points on 7-12 (2-3, 5-9) and 0-0 shooting. Also posting double digit points for the Billikens, sophomore forward Brian Conklin (12 points) and, playing in his first collegiate game, freshman forward Cody Ellis (10).

The Billikens hit the road for two games, the first at Duquesne on Wednesday (1/13), the second on Sunday (1/17) at Charlotte.

Temple

Temple opened their A10 slate by hosting, and beating Saint Joseph’s 73-46, on Wednesday (1/6). Their offense went through Juan Fernandez, Lavoy Allen and Ryan Brooks (as usual). Fernandez had a horrific night from the floor, going 0-10. He managed 4 rebounds, 2 assists (and 3 turnovers) and 3 steals in 33 minutes. The team as a whole converted at a 48.5% (eFG%), as Allen (with a double-double 20 and 11) and Brooks (13 points) were the heros. Sophomore Michael Eric scored 13 points in 15 minutes. They traveled to Kingston, RI, and beat the Rams 68-64 in overtime on Sunday (1/10). Fernandez was back in his zone, leading the team with 18 points on 7-16 (3-3, 4-13) and 1-2 shooting. Brooks contributed 16 points, just better than his season average 15.3, while Allen his second consecutive (and fifth of the season) double-double, with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Owls take a break from their conference schedule on Wednesday (1/13) as they play the Penn Quakers of the Ivy League (and Big 5) in the historic Palestra on Penn’s campus. On Saturday (1/16) it’s back to conference play as they host Massachusetts.

Xavier

Congratulations to Jordan Crawford who shared the A10 Player of the Week honors with Dayton’s Chris Johnson, for his efforts in X’s loss to Wake Forest on 1/3 and his 22 points in the Musketeers’ 68-62 win over La Salle last Thursday (1/7). The Musketeers traveled to Washington, DC, and beat the Colonials 76-69 on Sunday (1/10). Senior forward Jason Love led Xavier with 19 points.

Coach Mack’s squad hosts Charlotte on Wednesday (1/13), then Dayton comes calling on Saturday (1/16) for a noon (ET) game.

Games to Catch

  • Charlotte at Xavier – Wednesday 1/13 — Charlotte wants to move up in the conference and has played well (forget about Tennessee) on the road. For the Musketeers to maintain their standing in the conference they need to hold serve at home. This one will pit Shamari Spears against Chris Wright in what should be a good matchup.
  • St. Louis at Duquesne –  Wednesday 1/13 — Two teams fighting for a place in the A10′s upper division match up as the Billikens travel to Pittsburgh to play the Dukes. Coach Majerus’ very deliberate 4-out-1-in motion offense (about 64 possessions per game) matches against Coach Everhart’s uptempo style (about 71 possessions per game). St. Louis has not traveled well this season, an inexperienced squad the most likely cause. After starting hot, the Dukes have cooled down. Maybe rehabbed Melquan Bolding can help them regain momentum. Both teams play good defense, so the game may go to the team that can make a shot.
  • Dayton at Xavier - Saturday 1/16 — Dayton was the preseason favorite, but Xavier had a surprisingly good out of conference run. Is this an instance of the Changing of the Guard, or of Some Things Never Change? Jordan Crawford and Chris Wright should be a lot of fun to watch.
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