ACC Morning Ten: 12.20 & 12.21 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 21st, 2011

Please accept my sincerest apologies for the absent Morning Five yesterday. I hope a double-dose of links will help ease the pain.

  1. Run The Floor: In case you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of defensive charting. Michael Rogner has charted the defensive work of Bernard James, John Henson, Josh Smith and Anthony Davis. Putting on your ACC goggles, you can also check his piece over at Tomahawk Nation that ignores the non-Seminole players. The findings are very interesting. Basically, without Chris Singleton, the Seminole defense is elite with James in the game and above average with him on the bench. With James on the court, Leonard Hamilton’s squad allows only 0.75 points per possession, but with him on the bench it allows 0.91 points per possession. That’s a gigantic difference. For comparison’s sake, Henson “only” affects North Carolina’s defense by 0.11 points per possession.
  2. Durham Herald-Sun: James Michael McAdoo is off to a relatively slow start for North Carolina this season, and Roy Williams thinks it’s his lack of aggression to blame. Against UNCG, “Williams turned to the bench and said that if the 6’9″ freshman didn’t dunk the ball next time, everyone on the team would run sprints while he sat McAdoo on a lawn chair and served him lemonade.” McAdoo’s talent is undeniable, but his transition to the college level has been far from smooth.
  3. Washington Post: Coaching legend Larry Brown made another short stop (zing) to visit his former player, Mark Turgeon, at Maryland’s basketball practice recently. Despite playing for North Carolina, Brown called Maryland a “special place” with a “special coach.” The only coach in history to win an NCAA championship (1988) and an NBA championship (2004) also gave some advice to Turgeon.

  4. Basketball Prospectus: Drew Cannon evaluated Kendall Marshall as the 70th best basketball player in the country during the offseason, which was substantially below where pretty much everyone else places the unique North Carolina point guard. But Cannon realized that “[he] was evaluating players in terms of ‘how many wins would this player add to a randomly assembled team of college players?’ while everyone else was evaluating players in terms of ‘how many wins will this player add to his team?'” It’s an important distinction to make, and a valuable one. I still think he had Marshall a little undervalued (and most have him overvalued), but it certainly provides some food for thought (also, don’t be surprised to see some more content this week in a similar vein).
  5. It’s probably not surprising that three ACC teams are in the Top 25 this week. What may be surprising is which three teams made the cut. Instead of Florida State, Virginia‘s hot start earned the Cavaliers the conference’s third spot in the AP and Coaches polls. This raises the question of which team is actually better. Florida State has played a tougher schedule, and definitely has the athletic advantage on defense. But Virginia’s offensive and defensive numbers are a little better at the moment. This debate will definitely be something to keep an eye on moving forward. The second half of today’s links is after the jump.
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Conference Report Card: Atlantic 10

Posted by Brian Goodman on April 8th, 2011

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference. We will be publishing a series of conference report cards over the next week for conferences that got multiple NCAA bids to recap the conference, grade the teams, and look at the future for the conference.

Looking Back

2011 was business as usual it seems as two teams, Temple and Xavier, combined to represent the conference in the AP Poll for 11 of the poll’s 19 weeks. Three teams (Richmond, Temple and Xavier) were invited to the NCAA for the fourth consecutive year with two advancing to the second round and one advancing to the Sweet 16 before bowing out. The steady progress, if not the deeper advancement, into the NCAA Tournament field should give the conference cause for celebration. If the A-10 has not gained ground, it certainly hasn’t lost any ground either. The conference beat its Performance Against Seed Expectation (PASE – the number of wins earned in the NCAA versus the historic record for the assigned seed), 2.57, by winning a total of three games in tournament play. This year also marked the sixth consecutive postseason where the conference received at least one at-large bid. And for the second consecutive postseason, seven conference members in all (50% of the conference membership) played on after the final buzzer sounded in Atlantic City. The conference placed two teams (Dayton and Rhode Island) in the NIT and two others (Saint Louis and George Washington) in the CBI in 2010, with Dayton winning the NIT and Saint Louis losing in the CBI Finals to VCU. This postseason, only Dayton made the NIT, while Duquesne, Rhode Island and St. Bonaventure were invited to the CBI. Unfortunately none of them advanced beyond the second round.

So why are conference observers edgy? Despite the “all steady” in the NCAA Tournament, teams from two other non-BCS conferences, Virginia Commonwealth of CAA and the Horizon League’s Butler were represented in the Final Four, with Butler advancing to Monday night for the second consecutive year. The Atlantic 10 has not sent a team to the Final Four since the Massachusetts squad of 1996, whose Final Four appearance was later vacated by the NCAA, and has had only one representative (Xavier in 2008) [ed. note: corrected]  in the Elite Eight since the 2004 Tournament when Saint Joseph’s lost to Oklahoma by two points, 64-62, in East Rutherford, New Jersey on the same weekend that Xavier was eliminated by Duke, 66-63, in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Xavier’s Tu Holloway enjoyed a terrific season for the Musketeers. (credit: AP)

Final Ranking, Team-by-Team

  1. Richmond (28-8, 13-3) #12 seed: Coach Chris Mooney’s Spiders had several outstanding performances out of conference including their 65-54 win over Purdue (#3 seed NCAA), but those were negated by head-scratching losses to Iona aand Bucknell. The same held true in conference play, where wins over Dayton and Duquesnewere undermined by a home loss to Rhode Island early in conference play. The Spidersearned a #3 seed in the conference tournament where they knocked off #2 seed Temple that was dealing withinjuries and earned the conference’s automatic bid witha 67-54 win over Dayton in the Atlantic 10 Tournament finals. The Spiders beat #5 seed Vanderbilt (69-66) and #13 seed Morehead State (65-48) to advance to the Sweet Sixteen and a date with#1 seed Kansas. The ride ended witha 77-57 loss, but Mooney signed a contract extension which should keep him at Richmond for the foreseeable future. Mooney loses four key members of the squad this season, but returns 11 players, including two who started multiple games this season, for 2011-12. GRADE: A
  2. Temple (26-8, 14-2) #7 seed NCAA: The consensus favorite to win the conference regular season, the Owls stumbled in the Old Spice Classic, dropping two of their three games in Orlando. Coach Fran Dunphy’s squad dropped a third out of conference game to Villanova on the eve of conference play, but ran off three wins to start conference play. Back-to-back losses to Duquesne and Xavier put the Owls in second place in the conference, which is where they finished the regular season. Injuries sidelined sophomore Michael Eric, reducing an already short frontcourt rotation, for the last two weeks of the season. Scootie Randall also battled injuries as the season wound down, leaving Dunphy with a seven-man rotation for the Atlantic 10 tournament. A semifinal loss to Richmond ended Temple’s bid to earn the conference’s automatic bid for a third consecutive year, but the Owls secured a #7 seed to the NCAA Tournament and an in-state match-up with Penn State in the first round game, which they won 66-64 on a last second shot by Juan Fernandez. In the second round, they pushed #2 seed San Diego State to the limit before falling in double overtime. GRADE: B+ Read the rest of this entry »
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