Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2008

College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

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This Week in the A-10

By CCT Staff | December 29, 2008

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Ahmad Nivins (Sr.), Saint Joseph’s.
Nivins was a monster this past week, averaging 20.5 points and nine rebounds per game in a 1-1 effort for the Hawks.  Against Cornell, Nivins turned in the best performance of any A-10 player during the seven-day frame, scoring 26 and grabbing 16 rebounds.  He added another 15 points in the Hawks close loss to Siena.  The senior from Hawk Hill shot a remarkable 16-of-20 over the two games, an 80% clip.  Nivins now has six double-doubles on the season.

HONORABLE MENTION:  Andrew Nicholson (Fr.) St. Bonaventure; Aaron Jackson (Sr.) Duquesne

(Note: College Chalktalk’s week runs from the previous Monday through Sunday, given the release of ‘This Week in the A-10′ each Monday morning.)

GAME OF THE WEEK:  December 23, 2008.  Fordham 60, New Hampshire 56

No, it wasn’t a battle of two traditional powers, but Fordham and New Hampshire gave the fans at Rose Hill Gym a very entertaining contest… and one in which the home fans saw many positives.  Fordham was able to record their second win of the season, and did so by making key plays down the stretch.  Both Chris Bethel and Jio Fontan converted clutch baskets and free throws in the final minute, flipping a one point deficit into a Rams win.  “That was a gutsy win tonight,” said Fordham head coach Dereck Whittenburg. “It took us a while to get going after coming back from a 12-day layoff but I think we showed signs of what we’re capable of doing tonight.”

GAME OF THE UPCOMING WEEK:  Temple vs. No. 18 Villanova

The Wildcats look to run their record to 4-0 against A-10 opponents, as Villanova faces off against its Big 5 rival, Temple.  The Owls enter this one on a two-game skid, with both defeats on the road.  Even though they won’t be playing this one in their home gym either, Temple will be back in its home city, where it hopes to regain some confidence.  The Owls will need to get more out of players not named Christmas if they intend to stop the Wildcats; led by the dynamic duo of Dante Cunningham and Scottie Reynolds.

RPI BOOST OF THE WEEK:  Richmond; RPI No. 159 (Up 32 spots from 191 last week):  A good week for the Spiders as they notched two wins.  Their opponents’ RPI’s (No. 234 Bucknell and No. 292 UNC-Wilmington) were not overly impressive, but the two victories were enough to boost the Spiders 32 spots; the largest jump in the A-10.

RPI FALL OF THE WEEK:  George Washington; RPI No. 68 (Down 20 spots from 48 last week):  In reality, it was a win that hurt the Colonials more than a loss, as far as RPI is concerned.  They were able to knock off Sacramento St. (RPI No. 337), but unable to secure a win over Vermont (RPI No. 52).

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Power Rankings (through December 28th, 2008): (  ) = Last week’s ranking

  1. Dayton (2): Plus 13.2 scoring margin is tops in the conference and nearly doubles second place team’s plus-7.5 margin.
  2. Xavier (1): National ranking or not, the power rankings are about recent level of play as well as season-to-date… and XU has not been in top form.  17 turnovers versus Butler.
  3. Rhode Island (4): Idle, but losses by both Saint Joseph’s and Temple bump Rams up by default.
  4. Saint Joseph’s (5): The Hawks cannot get over the proverbial hump, alternating wins and losses for more than a month.  Beat back an underrated Cornell team, but squandered an 18-point lead in a loss to Siena last night.
  5. UMass (6): Four in a row for the Minutemen, who have hit an average of 10 threes per contest in those four victories.
  6. Temple (3): Enigmatic Owls have permitted last two opponents to shoot better than 46% from the field.  The result: two losses.
  7. Charlotte (7): Week off for the ‘Niners, who hope to carry late ‘08 momentum into the New Year.
  8. Richmond (11): Inconsistent play in their Wake?  Since losing to the Deacs, Spiders have looked good in last two wins, save for a short-stretch of the second half versus UNCW.
  9. Saint Louis (8): Largely youthful Billikens are gaining confidence, winning five of six, but have not been tested schedule-wise.
  10. La Salle (10): Explorers held serve this past week.  Kimmani Barrett continues to play exceptionally well, averaging 13.9 points per game – nearly double his scoring average from 2007-08.
  11. Duquesne (12): Freshman Eric Evans is averaging 10.4 points per game.  Dukes have won three in a row.
  12. St. Bonaventure (9): Bonnies were exposed by solid Niagara team after previously piling up wins against four teams with a combined 9-30 record.
  13. George Washington (13): Diggs may be breaking out of funk; good news for the Colonials.  Need win over the host, Hawaii, in the Rainbow Classic.
  14. Fordham (14): Rams maturation process proceeds.  Lost winnable game in FIU Holiday Tournament, but Fontan and Moore continue their strong play.

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CHARLOTTE

Last Week’s Results: WINS: None,  LOSSES: None

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 30 vs. Long Island, Jan. 3 @ Maryland

SUMMARY: The ‘Niners celebrated the Christmas holiday with a week off.  Charlotte will have its hands full this coming week, however, hosting Long Island and then making the trip to Maryland to take on the Terrapins.

DAYTON

Last Week’s Results: WINS: Dec. 23 vs. Marshall 62-50, LOSSES: None

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 30 vs. George Mason, Jan. 2 @ Toledo

SUMMARY: The Flyers improved to 8-0 at home as they broke open a 40-40 tie with a 12-0 run and went on to win against the Thundering Herd.  Chris Wright led the charge for Dayton, pouring in 16 and grabbing 10 rebounds. The Flyers signature defensive effort again came up big, as they held Marshall to a season-low 50 points on just 31% shooting from the field.

DUQUESNE

Last Week’s Results: WINS: Dec. 22 vs. North Carolina Central 97-79, Dec. 28 @ Robert Morris 88-62,  LOSSES:  None

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 31 vs. Bowling Green

SUMMARY:  The Dukes did what they needed to against two lesser opponents on their way to a two-win week.  Versus North Carolina Central, Aaron Jackson led the way with 20 points, and four others reached double figures in the 18 point win.  Eric Evans had a career-high 19 in the game, and Damian Saunders chipped in with a double-double (18 points, 10 boards).  Jackson again was the scoring leader for the Dukes in their game against Robert Morris, pouring in 18 points.  The Dukes hit a season-high 13 three-pointers in that one.

FORDHAM

Last Week’s Results: WINS: Dec. 23 vs. New Hampshire 60-56, LOSSES:  Dec. 28 vs. Tennessee-Martin 82-70

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 29 @ Florida Atlantic, Dec. 3 @ Bowling Green

SUMMARY:  Fordham received a welcomed addition this week with the activation of Jacob Green, a transfer from West Virginia.  Green played a role in the Rams win over New Hamphire, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds in his Fordham debut.  Freshman Jio Fontan again was a star for the Rams, scoring 18, including several big ones down the stretch.  Fontan shined once again for Fordham in their loss to Tennessee-Martin, netting 17 points. Mike Moore added 16 points for the Rams in a losing effort at the FIU Holiday Tournament.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

Last Week’s Results: WINS: Dec. 23 @ Sacramento St. 59-47,  LOSSES: Dec. 27 vs. Vermont 83-72

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 29 @ Hawaii, Dec. 30 vs. TBA, Jan. 3 @ Longwood

SUMMARY: The big man came up big against Sacramento State, as sophomore center Joseph Katuka had 13 points, 10 boards and swatted away four shots in sparking the Colonials to a win.  Rob Diggs also chipped in 14 points.  GW suffered a loss in their first game of the Rainbow Classic Saturday night, falling to Vermont.  Rob Diggs paced all scorers by dropping in 25 points, but it was Vermont that led wire to wire.

LA SALLE

Last Week’s Results: WINS: Dec. 23 vs. Mount St. Mary 65-59, LOSSES: None

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 31 vs. Manhattan, Jan. 3 vs. Howard

SUMMARY: The Explorers played aggressively, out-rebounding Mount St. Mary’s 45-30, a deciding factor in their narrow victory.  Rodney Green led the scoring for the Explorers with 17. Jerrell Williams and Yves Mekongo Mbala were the catalysts on the defensive end, grabbing 10 and nine rebounds, respectively. LaSalle rings in the New Year with a 4:00 pm contest against Manhattan.

MASSACHUSETTS

Last Week’s Results: WINS: Dec. 23 vs. IUPUI 64-57, LOSSES: None

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 30 @ Houston, Jan. 3 vs. Vanderbilt

SUMMARY: The Minutemen appear to have found their groove, as the human double-double Tony Gaffney and UMass knocked off IUPUI.  For Gaffney, 11 was the magic number, as he contributed 11 points and boards in the victory.  Ricky Harris led on the scoring front, tallying 23. Chris Lowe engineered a great game as well, setting up teammates left and right on his way to a 10 assist effort.

RHODE ISLAND

Last Week’s Results: WINS: None,  LOSSES: None

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 30 @ Fairleigh Dickinson, Dec. 3 vs. Akron

SUMMARY: The Rams had an off week around the holidays, but pick up where they left off – on the road – with a game on the 30th against Fairleigh Dickinson.  Later in the week, they host a tough Akron team.

RICHMOND

Last Week’s Results: WINS: Dec. 22 vs. Bucknell 79-57, Dec. 28 @ UNC-Wilmington 76-69,   LOSSES: None

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 31 @ VMI, Jan. 3 vs. Rice

SUMMARY:  Justin Harper was on his game, scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting in leading the Spiders over Bucknell.  U of R had a season-low nine turnovers in the game, and stole the ball 10 times en route to the victory.  Against UNCW, Richmond was able to fend off a late rally by the Seahawks, as Jarhon Giddings and Kevin Anderson both scored a team-high 16 points.  “The second half we just let down a bit,” said Richmond coach Chris Mooney.   ”Not just our execution, but our whole mentality.  We let the game get closer than we would have liked, but I’m glad we closed the game out the way we did.”

SAINT JOSEPH’S

Last Week’s Results: WINS: Dec. 22 vs. Cornell 71-67,  LOSSES:  Dec. 28 vs. Siena 76-75

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 31 vs. Drexel, Jan. 3 @ Ball St.

SUMMARY:  The Hawks are quite thankful for Ahmad Nivins.  In their win against Cornell, Nivins was huge, scoring a season-high 26 points and pulling down 16 rebounds.  Idris Hilliard also notched a double-double (14 points, 10 boards).   Hilliard had a career night against Siena, but his 20 point effort was not enough to help SJU get past a determined and seasoned Siena bunch.  Nivins added 15 for the Hawks, who let an 18-point second half lead slip away.

SAINT LOUIS

Last Week’s Results: WINS: Dec. 23 vs. Fresno St. 56-52, LOSSES: Dec. 22 vs. DePaul 65-61

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 30 vs. UMBC, Jan. 2 vs. North Carolina A&T

SUMMARY: The Billikens went 1-1 this week as they took part in the Las Vegas Classic. In their first game in the desert, the Blue Demons snapped the Billikens’ four-game winning streak by hitting six key free throws in the final 30 seconds.  Kevin Lisch was the offensive star for Saint Louis, registering 19. Free throws again were the difference, albeit in Saint Louis’ favor in a win over Fresno St., as Lisch hit four key ones from the stripe at the end.  Tommie Liddell led the Billikens in this one on the offensive end, scoring 19.

ST. BONAVENTURE

Last Week’s Results: WINS: None LOSSES: Dec. 23 vs. Niagara 83-65

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 30 @ Bucknell, Jan. 3 @ Central Arkansas

SUMMARY: Andrew Nicholson was the lone bright spot in St. Bonaventure’s loss to Niagara. He dropped in a career-high 23 points in 11-of-14 shooting from the field. Ray Blackburn (14 points) was the only other Bonnie to reach double figures in the contest. The Brown and White look to get back to their winning ways on Tuesday as they take on Bucknell.

TEMPLE

Last Week’s Results: WINS: None LOSSES: Dec. 22 @ Long Beach St. 76-71

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 29 @ No. 18 Villanova

SUMMARY: The Owls appear to be relying a little too much on the offense of Dionte Christmas. Christmas scored 11 of his 19 points in the final two minutes of the game, but it still was not enough to propel Temple past Long Beach State.  While four Temple players finished in double figures, none were able to step in and fill the scoring void Christmas left while he was cold for the majority of the game.  The Owls head home to Philly to take on Big 5 rival Villanova this week.

XAVIER

Last Week’s Results: WINS: None,  LOSSES: Dec. 23 vs. Butler 74-65

This Week’s Schedule: Dec. 31 vs. Robert Morris, Jan. 3 @ Virginia

SUMMARY: It is a surprise to fill in the ”wins” column with “none” two weeks in a row for Xavier, but that is the case, as they dropped a second straight contest – this time at the Cintas Center.  Derrick Brown contributed his usual stat line (17 points, 11 rebounds), but C.J. Anderson (15 points) was the only other Musketeer to reach double figures.  Strangely, Xavier tied a school record by blocking 12 shots in the loss to Butler.

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