Now that each team has played at least five games in the MAAC season, it’s time to dive into some metrics defining the season. With 10 games on the docket between Friday and Sunday, there’s plenty to remember while watching.
All stats are through games played on Jan. 17.
Reid and Bland the heart and soul of the Peacocks
Saint Peter’s sits alone at the top of the MAAC with a 5-0 record thanks to some seriously stingy defense. The Peacocks are four points per 100 possessions better than the second-best defense in the league (Quinnipiac) during conference play and rank top 100 nationally in defensive efficiency per KenPom.
The defense is spearheaded by the backcourt partnership of Latrell Reid and Brent Bland. In the 112 minutes that the pair have played together in MAAC play, opponents score just .791 points per possession and hold an effective field goal percentage under 40%.
In the other 88 minutes, with one or both of Reid and Bland off the floor, the Peacocks defense plummets. The team allows 1.13 points per possession in those minutes, a number that would rank dead last in the conference.
Bashir Mason has done an excellent job bringing players to the program that fit the defensive identity, but it’s no surprise that two of just three holdovers from Shaheen Holloway’s 2021-22 team are the heart-and-soul of the defense.
Bland was a redshirt that season and Reid played just 164 total minutes, but being a part of that group has helped shape the players they are today.
Both are also key pieces of the SPU offense. Bland is shooting 40% from beyond the arc in conference play for a group that isn’t loaded with 3-point threats. The spacing that Bland provides allows Saint Peter’s to be much more effective on the offensive end, and it shows in the On/Off data.
With Bland on the floor, SPU is 26.8 points better per 100 possessions than with him off the floor, while shooting 16.5% better from three.
Meanwhile, when Reid goes off the floor, the Peacocks become significantly worse at generating good looks. Thanks to his driving and playmaking ability, Reid sets up a ton of easy layups for his teammates, and the Peacocks take 13.6 more field goal attempts per 100 possessions at the rim when he’s on the floor. He also breaks down the defense and gets to the foul line at an elite clip.
The Peacocks have a huge game on Friday night, visiting a Fairfield team that has won nine of its last 10 games, including three MAAC wins by more than 20 points. The Stags are the No. 1 offense in the conference by six points per 100 possessions and should provide a stiff challenge for SPU’s defense.
(Stats from CBBAnalytics)
The Lewis-to-Otieno combo
There are only five players in the country who have connected 30 or more times with a certain teammate for a two-point basket off an assist.
Darius Brown -> Great Osobor (49x, Utah State)
Braden Smith -> Zach Edey (39x, Purdue)
Daniss Jenkins -> Joel Soriano (36x, St. John’s)
Tyler Kolek -> Oso Ighodaro (34x, Marquette)
The fifth duo? Quinnipiac’s Savion Lewis has assisted a Paul Otieno two-pointer 32 times this season.
Lewis has gotten his 121 assists in many different ways, but the most common one is the pick-and-roll pocket pass. If Otieno can create any sort of timing advantage off the screen, Lewis will fit a bounce pass between the two defenders, no matter how tight the window is.
Quinnipiac's Savion Lewis leads the country in assist rate this year, and many of those assists have gone to big man Paul Otieno on these bounce passes on the roll.— Sam Federman (@Sam_Federman) January 16, 2024
Otieno is shooting 70% at the rim and is top 10 in the country in points as a roll man per game. pic.twitter.com/YLE51eugkN
Otieno himself is having an excellent season, averaging 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, including back-to-back 20 point outings in the first weekend of January against Rider and Manhattan.
The former JUCO big man in his second season with the Bobcats is shooting a remarkable 70.9% at the rim, while ranking eighth in the country in points scored as a roll man, with 61.
It isn’t just Otieno that finds himself on the receiving end of many Lewis passes. From the same dataset, against Division I opponents, only 13 duos have connected on more assists leading to three pointers than Lewis and Matt Balanc.
The two graduate students redshirted together in 2018-19, and have been with the program through thick and thin since. Balanc has made 39 three pointers against Division I opponents, and 21 of them have come off of assists from Lewis.
Balanc is the second highest scorer in the MAAC with 18.5 points per game, six points higher than last year, and Lewis’ breakout is a big reason as to why he’s been so much more effective.
Quinnipiac’s opponent on Friday, Siena, allows the most points per game at the rim of any team in the conference at 35.1.
Sean Durugordon’s emergence
Siena’s offense needs every last point that it can get. It ranks 351st nationally, and 339th in effective field goal percentage entering this weekend’s games. It has gotten better over the last few weeks, and that’s all thanks to Austin Peay transfer Sean Durugordon.
Durugordon has played in just six games since being deemed eligible as a two-time transfer, but he’s scored 20 or more points in every game. He’s the first Siena Saint to ever accomplish that feat in his first six games with the program.
And he doesn’t stop at 20, in Siena’s win over Niagara to snap an eight-game losing streak, he scored 36 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, willing the Saints to victory. Durugordon has surpassed all expectations, averaging 25.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, shooting 49% from the field and 36% from three.
Durugordon is shooting 40% on guarded catch-and-shoot 3-pointers, ranking him in the 76th percentile. He’s also able to get to the foul line at an elite level, attacking the basket and using his body to leverage advantages.
The Harlem native leads the MAAC in fouls drawn per 40 minutes, with eight, and he’s missed just two of his 28 free throws in MAAC play.
Providing an additional ball handling presence has allowed Siena to speed the game up, and it led to the Saint best offensive game of the year on Monday. In a 77-possession track meet, Siena attempted just four three pointers, but pounded the ball into the paint with purpose, going to the line 38 times. The Saints scored 93 points, nearly 20 more than their previous season high.
On Friday, Siena takes on Quinnipiac, who leads the conference in avoiding fouls and is second in defensive efficiency. Durugordon will likely get matched up with Quinnipiac’s long wings, Amarri Tice, Richie Springs and Alexis Reyes, who will all provide a tough challenge for the star.
Other fun stats
- Marist is one of just two teams in the country with multiple true freshmen averaging 12 or more points per game in conference play (minimum three conference games per player). Jadin Collins averages 13.6 and Josh Pascarelli averages 12.6. The other team is Kentucky, with Rob Dillingham and D.J. Wagner.
- Iona’s 17.8% MAAC play steal rate ranks first in the country amongst teams with more than two conference games. The Gaels have six players averaging at least one steal per game.
- There are only five players in the country averaging at least 10 PPG, 4 APG, 1 ORPG, 4 DRPG, and 2 SPG. Those five are Kadary Richmond (Seton Hall), Demarcus Sharp (Austin Peay), Tamin Lipsey (Iowa State), Shahada Wells (McNeese), and Jasper Floyd (Fairfield). Elite company for Floyd.