We’re near the midpoint of the Atlantic 10 conference season; there have been some surprises (URI is on a tear, George Washington is playing better than expected, and George Mason has fallen a ton). There have also been some unsurprising developments: we have a log jam of 5 teams at 6-3, and Dayton is still undefeated in conference play, and SJU is winless. Let’s take a look at each team and some of the reasons they’ve seen varying degrees of success and failure in league play thus far.
Good: Davidson has claimed the spot as the best three point shooting team in conference play, knocking down 35.7% of its attempts as a team. This isn’t particularly rare for a Bob McKillop team, and a recent rout over UMass saw the Wildcats shoot an incredible 64.7% from deep.
Bad: Not much of a “stat” if you will, but the Wildcats are 4-9 away from Belk Arena and 7-1 at home. When the Wildcats go on the road, they’ve had trouble in conference play; the most recent example was a 4OT loss to George Washington in Foggy Bottom where the Colonials were +11 on the glass.
Good: Unsurprisingly, the Flyers’ offensive efficiency has fallen slightly since non-conference play (the quality of competition has increased overall), but Dayton is still shooting 62.3% from the floor in league play. The Flyers, as a team, are more than 5% better from 2 than the next best team nationally.
Bad: Rodney Chatman has been struggling a bit for the Flyers as of late; he’s 19.0% from deep in league games and hasn’t been particularly good taking care of the basketball. That said, Dayton’s guard does a nice job making up for offensive woes with his on-ball defense.
Good: Interior defense has been the name of the game for the Dukes this far. They have the best block percentage in the conference (thanks to Michael Hughes and Marcus Weathers), but the Dukes are also 4th in effective field goal defense as well as 2 point field goal defense.
Bad: Defensive rebounding has been a big issue in conference play. Duquesne is allowing A-10 opponents to get offensive rebounds on 33.5% of their misses. La Salle was able to get 19 on the offensive glass.
Good: Fordham has been bad at a lot of things, but they’ve been pretty good defensively as a team forcing turnovers. Most recently, St. Bonaventure coughed it up 16 times as the Rams fell in overtime. In conference games, Fordham is 4th in the league in defensive turnover percentage.
Bad: Pick your poison. A stat that stands out to me is 39.9% as a team from 2 point range. Compare that to Dayton who’s shooting better than 62%. Wow.
Good: With all of the talk surrounding Jacob Gilyard and Fatts Russell and their ability to steal the basketball, Javon Greene is actually the conference leader in steal percentage (league games only). He’s been great on both ends of the floor and has 9 steals over his past 3 games.
Bad: Looking for a team that’s going to lose the battle from behind the three point line? George Mason is last in the league in conference games in both three point shooting percentage and three point shooting defense. The Patriots have been shooting worse than 30% from range as a team.
Good: I have to say something about Jamison Battle. He’s top 10 in the A-10 in effective field goal percentage, top 20 in defensive rebounding, the 2nd best in the conference at not turning the ball over, and he’s 87.5% from the charity stripe in league games. He should have a spot on the All Rookie Team.
Bad: George Washington is a team with 4 Quadrant 4 losses on the season (that’s really bad), and one of them came on the road against Fordham. In that contest, the Colonials were just 17.9% from three in one of their worst offensive performances of the season.
Good: Ed Croswell is 1st in the conference in offensive rebounding percentage, and that should be a surprise to few. He’s had 5+ offensive boards in 5 of his last 6 games for the Explorers.
Bad: La Salle is 0-3 in games decided by 3 points or less in conference play. The Explorers were able to win some barn-burners earlier this season in the Gulf Coast Showcase, but it seems their luck is running out in league play. Kenpom’s luck metric still has the Explorers as above average though.
Good: Tre Mitchell has become an absolute workhorse under Matt McCall: he’s involved in the most possessions of any player in Atlantic 10 play, and he’s taken the 2nd highest proportion of shots of any player for any team. I’m saying that’s a good thing, considering he’s UMass’ best player. He’s also drawing 6.1 fouls per 40 minutes, which is 2nd best in the conference.
Bad: Massachusetts’ last 5 losses have all come by double digits, including a most recent 35 point drumming at the hands of Davidson. It feels like the Minutemen have a tendency to get down on themselves when they’re not playing well, and effort can slip down the stretch. This is a young group, and this should improve with time.
Good: There are a lot of good offensive weapons on this team, but defense is where Rhode Island has been making its money. The Rams are holding A-10 opponents under 30% from three and to an effective field goal percentage of just 45.1%. Both of those metrics rank 1st in the conference.
Bad: For a team that really isn’t that reliant on the three, it could see an improvement in 2 point field goal percentage. The Rams are just 47.1% from two as a team which ranks 10th in the conference. Langevine has had a few down games in league play which has probably contributed to this.
Good: Free throw shooting is where Richmond has made its money. The Spiders are an incredible 81.2% from the stripe as a team in conference play; they’re 2nd in the nation in that metric as well. They don’t get to the line all that often, but when they do, they make them.
Bad: While the Spiders don’t miss many opportunities at the line, they have not been good at getting 2nd chances when they do miss shots. Richmond is 14th in the conference, pulling down just 16.6% of offensive rebounds on misses in league play. UR doesn’t have a go-getter rebounder on that end.
Good: Um…. I’ll say Lorenzo Edwards has been pretty solid on the glass in conference play. He’s top 10 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage, and he had a double-double against Duquesne.
Bad: Where do I start? Saint Joseph’s is taking more than 50% of their field goal attempts from long range in conference play (that’s insane), but they’re only 29.6% from deep as a team. No wonder this group has yet to win an A-10 conference game…
Good: Here’s an interesting one: Saint Louis leads the A-10 in assist/field goals made defense. That means the Billikens have been great limiting teams’ passing and forcing guys to make individual plays. Dayton, a team that shares the ball very well, only had 10 assists at Chaifetz earlier this season.
Bad: I’ll spare Billiken fans having to read another stat about abysmal free throw shooting. How about the fact that Saint Louis is only 45.8% from 2 as a team (12th in the A-10), despite it taking more than 75% of its shots from inside the three point line. Luckily, the Billies like to get on the O-glass.
Good: “You’ll sleep when you’re dead” is what Mark Schmidt likes to say, and Kyle Lofton leads the nation in percentage of minutes played at 96.3%. In conference play, he’s top 10 in assist rate, free throw percentage, and he’s 14th in three point shooting percentage, so I’d have him out there too…
Bad: The Bonnies are allowing A-10 teams to attempt a ton of three pointers (opponents shoot 47.6% of their field goal attempts from long range). This isn’t necessarily bad, but the Bonnies are also allowing teams to shoot nearly 34% from long range compared to just 32.5% on their end.
Good: You know where I was going here: Bones Hyland leads A-10 games shooting 51.1% from three. He’s been an absolute catalyst on the offensive end as of late. Marcus Evans is also finding other ways to impact the game with the 6th best assist rate in league play.
Bad: VCU has been surprisingly bad on the glass despite having one of the best defensive rebounders in the A-10 in Marcus Santos-Silva. The junior is 5th in conference play in defensive rebounding percentage, but the Rams are 11th in the A-10 in that category as a team.