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2013-14 Atlantic 10 Post-Mortem

by - Published May 22, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
atlantic10

Admit it: you thought the Atlantic 10 was never going to match the success it had in 2012-13, especially with one of its signature programs (Xavier) and a newcomer that gave it a big boost in that historic year (Butler), plus another one on the rise (Charlotte), off to another conference.

Don’t worry. You were hardly alone. And now that the Atlantic 10 has outdone itself, you can give the conference credit and now look at it in a different light going forward.

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Tournament madness: To Barclays and back

by - Published March 14, 2014 in Columns
author_floriani

BROOKLYN and NEW YORK – Two venues, four games. Two tournaments in a day. The logistics can be maddening. A ride to Secaucus train station is followed by a 10-minute train ride to Penn Station. Then pick up the subway to Barclays Center.

Well, game plan gone. The lot is full so it’s a drive to New York. The drive is fast, but there is traffic in midtown and virtually every parking lot has no vacancy. Still salvage a space in one at 7th and 36th, three blocks from MSG and the subway. Finally, a connection without a wait as the Brooklyn-bound train is on the track upon my arrival.

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Dayton ends Fordham’s season

by - Published March 14, 2014 in Columns
author_floriani

BROOKLYN, N.Y. – What is it about the Atlantic 10 and efficiency? Dayton defeated Fordham 87-74 in the second game on Thursday at Barclays Center. The numbers of note:

Possessions : Dayton 72, Fordham 70
Offensive efficiency: Dayton 124, Fordham 103

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St. Bonaventure 76, Fordham 65: Box score analysis and where does Fordham go from here?

by - Published February 14, 2014 in Columns
author_floriani

BRONX, NY – On Wednesday night, St. Bonaventure traveled to Rose Hill Gym and earned a 76-65 victory over Fordham. It was a battle of two teams trying to get to the middle of the pack in the Atlantic 10, entering the night just a game apart from each other in the standings.

We start by taking a look at some of the key numbers on the evening, then some notes that expand on them:

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St. John’s rolls over Fordham: Numbers and keys

by - Published December 9, 2013 in Columns
author_floriani

NEW YORK – St. John’s rolled over Fordham in the Holiday Festival 104-56 on Saturday. The venue, Madison Square Garden, is the same. The format and a lot of the intersectional attraction has changed. No more post Christmas tournament. Now it is a Saturday doubleheader with teams, including St. John’s, from the local area. The ‘out of area’ team, La Salle (a winner over Stony Brook in the opener) in this case, is located in Philadelphia about 90 miles away.

The St. John’s numbers were outstanding. Fordham got in a transition game and the Red Storm accepted it and excelled.

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Fordham 66, Rhode Island 63: A second look

by - Published January 28, 2013 in Columns
author_floriani

BRONX, N.Y. – A game decided by a possession invariably tells you one made the plays in the stretch while the other team did not. In Saturday’s 66-63 Fordham victory over Rhode Island, you can say that was the case. A much closer look, specifically under the glass, tells us where the game was decided: the offensive boards. In raw numbers Fordham held an 18-6 advantage. In the offensive rebounding percentage Fordham held a 44-19% edge. That basically told the tale.

The possessions:

Rhode Island 68
Fordham 68

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Tempo-free: Bonnies, Seton Hall and eFG percentage

by - Published February 26, 2012 in Columns
author_floriani

BRONX, N.Y.Shooting cures a number of ailments. It should be emphasized, accurate shooting. St. Bonaventure improved to 8-5 in Atlantic Ten play with an 89-63 victory over Fordham on Wednesday. The loss dropped the Rams to 2-11 in conference.

For starters, we take a look at the key offensive numbers in this one:

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2010 Atlantic 10 Post-Mortem

by - Published May 27, 2010 in Conference Notes

The 2009-10 season came after an off-season of transition for the Atlantic 10, as the conference moved its offices from the long-time home of Philadelphia to Newport News, Virginia. That was forgotten once the action got going on the hardwood, and not just because that’s what fans cared about. It was a big year for the conference, as it topped the previous record for non-conference wins with 135 and placed three teams in the NCAA Tournament. For good measure, two teams made a run to the NIT Final Four, with Dayton taking home the title, and three teams made the CBI, with Saint Louis making it to the final before losing to VCU (which also took out George Washington in the opening round).

For a lot of conference play, there was much buzz about how many teams might make the NCAA Tournament. At one point, many felt the conference could get as many as six teams, especially with the weak Pac-10, disappointing Big Ten and down years in conferences like the ACC and Conference USA. Six teams were certainly in play for a while, but much like two years ago, some of the teams in the bottom half of the conference started playing spoiler late in the season.

The post-season has been a good one thus far for the conference in the coaching ranks. Chris Mooney and Brian Gregory passed on overtures from other schools who had head coaching vacancies to stay with Richmond and Dayton, respectively. Fordham hired Tom Pecora to take over its program, while Charlotte hired Alan Major, regarded by many as an under-the-radar assistant, to take over for Bobby Lutz. Overall, there is some stability, which bodes well for the future.

Final Standings

Overall Atlantic 10
Temple 29-6 14-2
Xavier 26-9 14-2
Richmond 26-9 13-3
Saint Louis 23-13 11-5
Charlotte 19-12 9-7
Rhode Island 26-10 9-7
Dayton 24-12 8-8
Duquesne 16-16 7-9
St. Bonaventure 15-16 7-9
George Washington 16-15 6-10
Massachusetts 12-20 5-11
Saint Joseph’s 11-20 5-11
La Salle 12-18 4-12
Fordham 2-26 0-16

Conference Tournament

The first round took place at campus sites, with the home team winning three of the four games by double digits. The only game that did not fit that description was UMass’ 59-56 win at Charlotte in a defensive struggle. The seeds held in the quarterfinals save for Rhode Island’s 63-47 win over Saint Louis, although Xavier had to hold off Dayton and Richmond had to do the same with UMass to move on. Temple shut down Rhode Island for a 57-44 win in one semifinal, while Richmond needed overtime to knock off Xavier in a great game in the other semifinal. The Spiders got a game-tying layup from Kevin Anderson (27 points) to send it to overtime, where David Gonzalvez (26 points) hit a three-pointer to start them on the road to victory in the extra session.

In the championship game, Temple appeared to pull away early in the second half as they were up four at the half and led by 12 with just over 12 minutes left. But Richmond rallied, holding the Owls to just 33 percent from the field in the second half, and made it a ballgame late, where the Owls had to make free throws to seal the 56-52 win.

Postseason Awards

Player of the Year: Kevin Anderson, Richmond

Rookie of the Year: Chris Gaston, Fordham

Most Improved Player: Chris Johnson, Dayton

Defensive Player of the Year: Damian Saunders, Duquesne

Coach of the Year: Fran Dunphy, Temple

All-Conference Team

Kevin Anderson, Jr. G, Richmond

Lavoy Allen, Jr. F, Temple

Jordan Crawford, So. G, Xavier

Damian Saunders, Jr. F, Duquesne

Chris Wright, Jr. F, Dayton

Season Highlights

  • Of the 135 non-conference wins, 19 came against BCS conferences. That ranked fourth this season behind the Big 12 (28 wins), SEC (25) and ACC (25).
  • Fran Dunphy continues to be a master on the bench. Temple lost a lot from last season’s team, including Dionte Christmas, but all the Owls did was win 29 games and their third straight conference title.
  • The All-Atlantic 10 first team didn’t have a single senior, although one member of it (Jordan Crawford) will not be back next season.
  • Rhode Island didn’t finish the regular season well after winning a lot of close games early, but Jim Baron became the first Ram coach to lead the team to three straight 20-win seasons.
  • Although they faded in conference play, George Washington had a nice non-conference run that included five road wins. Only two teams in the conference won more road games than the seven the Colonials posted in total on the season.

What we expected, and it happened: Xavier had a new coach and no clear go-to guy, but the Musketeers continued to win. They didn’t miss a beat with Chris Mack taking over for the departed Sean Miller, and Jordan Crawford became the star of the team. Mack posted the most wins of any first-year coach in Division I, and the Musketeers reached the Sweet 16 for the third straight season.

What we expected, and it didn’t happen: La Salle was far from the contender many expected them to be, finishing 4-12 in the conference and not making the conference tournament. The Explorers were a senior-laden team, but an early injury to Ruben Guillandeaux set them back and a foot injury to Kimmani Barrett around the start of conference play was a back-breaker. The Explorers didn’t win a game in the month of February after they looked like they might come to life early in Atlantic 10 play. They weren’t deep in the backcourt before the injury to Guillandeaux, who started the season strong, and it showed as no team turned the ball over more than the Explorers did. They didn’t make up for it at the other end as only one team forced fewer turnovers.

What we didn’t expect, and it happened: Saint Louis finished in fourth place and made a deep postseason run, reaching the championship of the CBI. The Billikens looked to be at least a year away with a roster that featured 11 freshmen and sophomores and no seniors. But they racked up a good record in a manageable non-conference slate, then started February with six straight wins.

Team(s) on the rise: Saint Louis. The Billikens had no seniors on the roster, and after getting to the final of the CBI expectations will certainly be higher next season.

Team(s) on the decline: Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks were expected to be in rebuilding mode this year, but they looked worse than a rebuilding team. The upshot is that they finished with a winning record at home in their first year in the new arena, but there wasn’t much else to write home about this year and next year isn’t certain to be much, if any, better. Three players have transferred, Darren Govens and Garrett Williamson graduate and only two seniors will be on next year’s roster.

2010-11 Atlantic 10 Outlook

As good as this year was, next year could be even better for the conference. Ten all-conference players return next year, including four of five from the first team, as well as a strong crop of players that comprised the All-Rookie team. Stability is ever-present with many teams, especially from a coaching standpoint. Teams that lose key players won’t drop all the way back; Xavier and Temple will be fine, as will Dayton despite graduating several starters. Richmond shouldn’t be a one-year wonder, and Jim Baron appears to have Rhode Island in a good place although they’ve fallen agonizingly short of the NCAA Tournament a couple of times recently. Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure and George Washington appear to be on the way up, although a few teams don’t look to be on the rise right now. The immediate future for some middling programs like Charlotte, Duquesne and UMass is a little tough to figure right now.

A year ago, the conference’s move to Newport News, Virginia seemed like an odd destination given the conference’s geographic footprint. It had to make one wonder what the future of the conference would look like. Right now, the future looks quite positive based on the season just completed and what the season ahead could look like.

The Notebook

by - Published January 10, 2010 in Columns

TEANECK, N.J. – Earlier this week in a Big East matchup, Syracuse employed a 2-3 zone the entire game. No surprise as Jim Boeheim has been utilizing that signature defense with outstanding success since the days gas was under a dollar a gallon. No, this was actually the Syracuse women’s team who used in in a thorough 79-38 dismantling of Seton Hall at the Pirates’ Walsh Gym.

It seems coach Quentin Hillman, in his fourth year at the Big East school, was observing men’s practice his first year at Syracuse. “I looked up saw that (national championship) banner and thought about (Boeheim’s) years of winning and felt this was the way to go,” Hillman said. “I decided the 2-3 would be our main defense.” Hillman found early on that he has a friend and confidant in Boeheim. “Coach Boeheim has been great helping me with it. He has watched our practices, made suggestions and we both discuss it regularly.”

The women employ the zone in the same manner as then men. The guards and wings contest three-pointers and other perimeter shots. Seton Hall’s fine junior guard Ebonie Williams struggled through a two-point night on one for eight shooting. Williams was frustrated trying to get a decent look anywhere on the perimeter. Inside players like 6-2 Nicole Micheal and 6-4 Kayla Alexander clog the lane and use their length to break up passes in the paint.

The victory at the Hall left Syracuse at 13-1, the lone loss an OT setback at the hands of Georgetown. Life in the Big East conference for the women, as the men, is a succession of challenges and tough teams. Syracuse, with that patented 2-3, is certainly one of them.

Other Notes

  • A little confidence goes a long way. Last week Fairleigh Dickinson rallied from 22 down with 12 minutes to play to earn an 88-85 victory over Sacred Heart. A few nights later Bryant got out to a 10-1 lead over the Knights. FDU interim coach Greg Vetrone called time out and saw a team unsure of what lie ahead. The Knights regrouped en route to a 66-50 victory over the Bulldogs.
    Three nights later FDU defeated Central Connecticut State 83-74 , behind Sean Baptiste’s 26 points, to run their conference record to 3-1. FDU ended 2009 with a 1-12 record. The Knights took advantage of a three-game conference swing at home and are very much in the thick of the NEC race.

    “We have a new coach, a new system and new point guard,” Vetrone said. “Some of the teams we played early we were not ready to face. I said it would take time but (the momentum) is definitely coming.”

    Mike Scott scored 16 against Bryant. The junior point guard has been on fire for FDU. In the Sacred Heart and Bryant games, Scott had a combined 18 assists and zero (no misprint) turnovers in 70 minutes.

  • Bryant, in their second year of Division I, is in the Northeast Conference but not eligible for post season play. Tim O’Shea’s group has had a murderous schedule. Included were Boston College, Providence, St.John’s, Indiana and an improved Army club. There were two Ivies as well which happened to be Harvard and Cornell. Following the FDU game Bryant was 0-15. To make matters worse, leading scorer (14.5 PPG) Cecil Gresham, a senior swingman, was lost for the year with an injury in late December.
  • There is an interesting doubleheader at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. Cincinnati visits St. John’s and Fordham meets Dayton at the “World’s Most Famous Arena.”  Cincinnati faces another team in dire need of a conference win. The Bearcats faced Seton Hall at the Prudential Center and the Pirates took an 83-76 decision. Seton Hall earned their first win after losses in conference to West Virginia (overtime), Syracuse and at UConn.

    St. John’s is also 0-3 and in a must-win situation after having lost a tough one at Georgetown, a home collapse down the stretch to Providence and another road game to Louisville. Highly-touted freshman Lance Stephenson will make his MSG debut in a Bearcat uniform.

    Dayton survived a tough OT victory over Duquesne on Saturday and faces Fordham under interim coach Jared Grasso. The Flyers are the Atlantic 10 Conference favorites in the view of many experts. A pair of forwards, junior Chris Wright and senior Marcus Johnson, have been key players for Brian Gregory’s club.

  • Seton Hall sharpshooter Jeremy Hazell had 33 points against Cincinnati, his fifth 30-point scoring game this season.
  • The difference, from a tempo-free approach for St. John’s thus far:
                W-L	   OFF EFF	DEF EFF
    Overall	   10-5	     100	  93
    Big East    0-3	      90	  106

    The efficiency is the points per possession multiplied by 100. Offensively, the Red Storm overall average 1.00 points per possession on offense. The defense, at .93 is sound. In the Big East those numbers are reversed. The Storm is struggling overall on offense and a bit generous on defense.

    A reason for the defensive slip, beside better talent in the Big east, is the turnover rate. Overall the Storm are forcing opponents into a 20 percent TO rate – that is, one-fifth of the opposition possessions are turnovers. In the Big East that rate on the defensive end is 16 percent. In conference, St. John’s has found it more difficult to force opponents to turn the ball over.

Seton Hall Women Win With Defense Again

by - Published December 16, 2008 in Columns

JERSEY CITY, N.J. – A common denominator in this early season has been defense. Once again the Seton Hall women’s team was dominant on the defensive end in Saturday’s 66-51 victory over St. Peter’s at Yanitelli Center. The Hall limited St. Peter’s to 35 percent (18 of 52) shooting from the field. They also out-rebounded the hosts 38-30 and forced 21 turnovers. The Hall improved to 7-1, their best start since the 1994-95 season.

The game was close for a good portion of the opening half. Seton Hall started opening a lead the latter minutes and went into the half with a 27-19 lead. St. Peter’s, now 2-4 on the year, is a young team. Coach Stephanie DeWolfe’s group displayed their youth by missing several good scoring opportunities early on.

Midway through the second half, Ebonie Williams, the fine sophomore guard, hit three consecutive jumpers to open a comfortable double-digit lead for the Pirates. Williams paced all scorers with 17 points. Jamie Smith came off the bench to lead St. Peter’s with 13 points.

St. Peter’s also had a difficult time matching up with Noteisha Womack. The 6-3 senior is playing extremely well of late and had another double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Beside the damage done by the inside-outside combination of Womack and Williams, Phyllis Mangina’s club received contributions from the bench. Jadis Rhoden and Kandice Green came off the bench to contribute 11 and seven respective points. Tania Kennedy, St.Peter’s senior guard, added 11 points, including the 1,000th of her career.

Fordham Battles Valiantly in Loss

On Thursday evening Fordham dropped a heartbreaker to Fairfield in a men’s contest at the Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx. The Rams dropped to 1-6 while Fairfield improved to 6-3.

When it rains it pours. It was simply a succession of hard luck for Fordham on this rainy evening. Fordham was minus the services of Brenton Butler, the fine junior guard who injured his ankle in the win over Lafayette three days earlier. About a minute following tip-off, Chris Bethel broke his nose. He had a strong 19-point outing against Lafayette and entered the contest as Fordham’s primary inside threat.

To their credit, the Rams competed. They trailed 32-31 at the half. When the Stags opened up a seven-point lead with just over eleven minutes left, the feeling was Fairfield would pull away. Led by freshman leads guard Jio Fontan, Fordham refused to go away. They tied the game with twenty seconds left on an inside shot by Luke Devine. Fordham answered with a three pointer by Lyndon Jordan with two seconds to play. It was Jordan’s only field goal attempt in the only minute he logged for the evening.

Fontan led the Rams with 22 points, while swingman Mike Moore added 20. Fairfield had three players in double figures, paced by Jonathan Han’s 14 points. Anthony Johnson, a solid 6-8 inside player had a strong outing for Ed Cooley’s club with nine points, 13 boards and two blocks.

Fairfield/Fordham Notes

  • Fontan realized with Butler, and then Bethel out, he had to run the offense and also look for his shots. As noted he scored 22 points, on 7 of 12 shooting and looked for his teammates in the framework of the offense. “Jio grew up tonight,” said Fordham coach Dereck Whittenburg. “He picked it up and really had a good game. He understands what is required to run an offense.”
  • When asked what his biggest adjustment to college ball, Fontan, who starred at national prep power St. Anthony’s (NJ) simply says, “Just coming in and as point guard adjusting and getting to know my teammates and their tendencies.”
  • Whittenburg, confident and upbeat, maintains this is a new season. “The first five games were something else,” he said. “We are in a new season in my estimation and we’re one and one… We are definitely becoming a better team as our young guys are learning.”

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