Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: Canisius at St. Peter's

by Ray Floriani

JERSEY CITY, NJ - St. Peter's started the new year off right with a 63-55 decision over Canisius at Yanitelli Center. Coming into this first MAAC meeting of the new year the emphasis was on pace. Their two conference games saw visiting Canisius post the second fastest tempo in the league with a 79 (Marist led with 80) possessions per game. St. Peter's, was at the bottom with a 59 possession pace. Clearly, Canisius favored a break dance, St. Peter's a waltz.

The first half saw the Griffs determined to run. In a half court setting, Canisius seemed tentative and unsure of a method to effectively break down the St. Peter's defense. On the other side, the Peacocks look for an opportunity break on a few early possessions. If transition was not present, John Dunne's club was more than willing to settle for a half court tempo. The halftime pace and efficiency:

St. Peter's3482

St. Peter's led at the break 28-25. Only a 29% TO rate kept the Peacocks from building a larger lead. The Peacock defense was significant as the Griffs struggled with a 39% eFG mark and were forced into a 23% TO rate of their own.

The second half saw the Peacocks open the first four minutes with an 11-5 run. That gave St. Peter's a 39-30 edge. Nine points with 16 to play is not a huge deficit. Given the struggles of Canisius however, it was a notable margin at that juncture.

The Four Factors:

St. Peter's51353125

Canisius got it to a two possession game late but could never get closer as the Peacocks sealed it from the line. The Griffs struggled in half court sets against suffocating ball pressure. The other route was from beyond the arc and Tom Parrotta's club was a woeful 7 of 26 (27%) from three point range. From two point range, Canisius shot a paltry 13 of 31 (42%).

With leading scorer Wesley Jenkins sidelined (about another 10 days-two weeks) with a knee injury, St. Peter's has seen several players get more minutes and respond. Jeron Belin was one who came through tonight with 12 points. The senior forward also converted on two key penetrations down the stretch.

The TO rate "improved" to 25% by the game's end. That is an area of concern for St.Peter's as they entered the contest with a 23% turnover mark.

Defense, as the opposing eFG and TO rates suggest, was very strong. Entering the game St. Peter's had a 93 defensive efficiency on the season.

The final efficiency numbers:

St. Peter's63100

Pace, something John Dunne discussed afterward, was definitely in St. Peter's favor. Dunne's club controlled tempo the second half and forced Canisius into a half court scenario.

Final Numbers.
Canisius is 6-7 (0-3 MAAC. St. Peter's improves to 8-6 (3-0). Nick Leon led all scorers with 20 points. The St. Peter's senior guard also had 4 assists. Jeron Belin added 8 rebounds to compliment his dozen points.

Canisius was paced by sophomore guard Alshwan Hynes, coming off the bench for 16 points (5 of 10 from beyond the arc). Senior forward Tomas Vazquez-Simmons rejected 4 shots for Canisius who had 6 overall. Teams were even 24-24 scoring in the paint. Turnovers almost spelled St. Peter's undoing as Canisius enjoyed a 23-17 scoring edge in points off turnovers. Seniors abound on Canisius but the Griffs are 0-3 in MAAC play. Graduation loss of Frank Turner hurt more than anticipated. Opening with three on the road in conference did not help either.

St. Peter's assistant Bruce Hamburger
discusses the game on radio

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