Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Atlantic 10 Tournament Efficiencies

A Tournament Grows in Brooklyn
The first tournament championship at the Barclay's Center concluded on Sunday as Saint Louis beat Virginia Commonwealth 62-57 and led five A-10 teams (Butler, La Salle, Saint Louis, Temple and VCU) into the NCAA tournament. Five bids (more than the ACC, SEC or ?) matches the conference's all-time high from the 1997 and 1998 tournaments -- the hey days of John Calipari and John Chaney. The format used this season brought the top 12 conference teams to a neutral site (the Barclay's Center) for four days of basketball. Seeds #5 through #12 paired off Thursday, with winners facing seeds #1 through #4 in Friday's quarter-finals. The four survivors (Butler vs. Saint Louis and Massachusetts vs. Virginia Commonwealth) played Saturday with the winners playing the Finals on Sunday.

By the Numbers
I decided to plot the possessions and offensive/defensive efficiencies (points per possession) for the 12 teams:

Saint Louis3201168690.9710.8120.159
Saint Joseph's2137139621.1141.130-0.016
George Washington17277740.9731.041-0.068
La Salle15869640.9061.078-0.172

The sample is far too small for conclusions, but there are a few things that jumped out:

  1. Defense Prevailed -- the Billikens' offense was uneven and not partcularly efficient as they generated 1.04 points per possession versus Charlotte Friday and a low of 0.939 versus VCU on Sunday, but their defense was solid throughout the three game stretch. The same could be noted for VCU, Butler and Massachusetts, the four teams to advance to the semi-finals.
  2. Butler showed some offense -- The Bulldogs had a shootout with Dayton on Thursday as both teams posted offensive efficiencies of 1.14 and 1.05 respectively (Dayton's offensive efficiency is Butler's defensive efficiency). Brad Stevens' squad lowered their defensive efficiency below the 1.00 mark in their next two games, though their offense declined slightly versus La Salle as well. Fatigue played a role perhaps, as their outing versus eventual winner Saint Louis saw the Bulldogs' productively crater at 0.800 points per possession, well below their two +1.0 outings. If Rotnei Clarke can get some rest between games and freshman Kellen Dunham has any gas left in the tank (and Andrew Smith can stay out of foul trouble and...) the Bulldogs are poised for a run to the second weekend (at least).
  3. One game samples can't tell us much -- but La Salle's showing gives me pause. Temple, (NCAA) bid in hand ran into a very motivated Chaz Williams-led Massachusetts squad, but the Explorers served up a very uncompetitive offering versus a Butler squad that featured an overworked Rotnei Clarke. Dr. John Giannini's game plan may have been to run Clarke all over the arena, but after competing for the first half, La Salle seemed content to hang on the perimeter and chuck threes. The Explorers are, at best mediocre two point defenders, which may work to their advantage versus their first NCAA opponent, Boise State. Or it may not.
  4. UMass' showing was strong if unsuccessful -- the Minutemen, especially senior guard Chaz Williams, were motivated to run the table and grab the A-10's automatic bid, but they clearly ran out of gas in their third game (in three days) versus VCU. Notable that they held the Rams to miserly 0.947 points per possession in a losing effort Saturday afternoon. After posting >1.0 points per possession against George Washington and Temple, coach Derek Kellogg's squad collapsed under VCU's pressure. If they can avoid a first round letdown in the NIT, UMass should be strong and experienced enough to duplicate their 2012 NIT run, get back to Madison Square Garden and allow Williams to close out his career on a winning note.

No comments: