Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Quarterfinals at the A10

by Ray Floriani

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ- Go with the favorites , The Atlantic Ten quarterfinals at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City saw three of the higher seeds move on to the semis. Fifth seed Rhode Island provided the only upset, a mild one, in the day/night action.

Quarterfinal Scores
TeamScore TeamScore
Rhode Island63

The game of the day was the 6:30 matchup between Dayton and Xavier. Two rivals in the conference post season tournament with Dayton fighting for it’s NCAA hopes, gave the potential for an intense ballgame. The pre-game buildup did not disappoint.

In a 75 possession game, the four factors:


Right from the tap this was a virtually frantic pace. Transition, three pointers, attacking the basket, physical play were the norm. Not a whole lot of half court sets , especially in the opening half. Dayton had a fifteen point lead with just under 12 minute to play. The Flyers could not hold off late charging Xavier , especially Terrell Holloway (22 points) and Jordan Crawford (20 points).

Offensive rebounding percentage told a significant story. In planning for this quarterfinal, Xavier coach Chris Mack emphasized rebounding as the priority. The Musketeers got the job done in resounding fashion.

The disparity in free throw rate can be attributed in part to Dayton’s late game fouling when they trailed and needed to get the ball back. A closer look can attribute part of that FT Rate advantage to the job Xavier did on the offensive glass. Second shots very often give better scoring opportunities and make the defense more susceptible to fouling. For the game Xavier shot better than Dayton from two point range. Xavier was 18 of 35 (51%) to Dayton’s 16 of 34 (47%). Again, offensive rebounding was a contributing factor.

Xavier's tempo-free grad assistants

Notes on the other contests. Richmond-UMass was a 71 possession game more to UMass’ liking. Richmond prevailed because they knocked down 11 treys (11-20) for a nice, 52% eFG percentage.

St. Louis had their 54 possession tempo, but Rhode Island did a great job on the defensive end. They forced the normally careful Billikens into a 24% Turnover rate and also enjoyed a marked 47-25 Offensive Rebounding percentage advantage.

Temple established a 56 possession tempo an was impressive in both phases of their offense. The Owls offensive efficiency was 127, the highest of any team in the quarterfinals, as Fran Dunphy’s club knocked down six treys and shot 60% (24 of 40) inside the arc.

Xavier is tempo free. Our press row seat behind the bench gave great close up insight. For the Dayton-Xavier game we were behind the Xavier bench. After each time out an assistant asked a quick question , of two young men seated behind us keeping charts, such as ‘how many post touches the last four minutes?’ Near the end of one time out I asked the two men if they were coaches. Turns out they are grad assistants and the one said, “we are breaking down offensive efficiency.” Naturally yours truly said it was thrilling to hear that. The legions of tempo free followers is growing.

“(Jordan) Crawford and (Terrell) Holloway made the plays we needed in the stretch.” - Xavier coach Chris Mack

“For 32 or so minutes we played pretty darn good. When we needed the key stops we didn’t get them.” - Dayton coach Brian Gregory.

Officials (Joe DeMayo center) confer
with coaches Brian Gregory of Dayton (L) and Xavier's Chris Mack (R) over a ruling

No comments: