Checking In On… the Atlantic 10Posted by Joe Dzuback on January 1st, 2014
Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10. You can also find his musings online at Villanova by the Numbers or on Twitter @vtbnblog.
All-Conference — Midseason Edition
With about a third of the 2013-14 season in the books and conference play coming next week, it is time to review the strongest candidates for a midseason All-Conference Team. Some of the same players show up a second year in a row. Chaz Williams, for example, is doing what everyone thought he would… just better. Other names (Cady Lalanne and Cedrick Lindsay) might be new to the list, but fans of the Minutemen and Spiders know who they are.
- Guard — Chaz Williams, Massachusetts. With the resurgence of the Minutemen program, Williams stands an excellent chance to take Player of the Year honors at season’s end. The senior guard leads the conference in total assists (82) and assists per game (7.8),and leads Massachusetts in scoring (173) and points per game (15.7).
- Guard — Cedrick Lindsay, Richmond. The junior point guard leads the Spiders in points scored (205), points per game (18.6), assists (54) and minutes played (378). Given Chris Mooney’s preference for a deep rotation, the last statistic is especially impressive as it represents 76.3 percent of the available minutes at Richmond’s point guard spot. With three games left before they start conference play — two of them very winnable — the chances are good that Richmond will start conference play with at least 10 wins in the book.
- Guard — Treveon Graham, VCU. The 6′ 6″ off guard leads Shaka Smart’s squad in scoring (203) and points per game (15.6) and is second in rebounding (85).
- Forward — Dwayne Evans, St. Louis. Evans was named to the preseason All-Conference First Team along with Chaz Williams, and like his UMass rival, Evans has not disappointed. The 6’6″ senior forward leads the Billikens in points scored (207) and has been a crucial piece in their 11-2 season.
- Center — Cady Lalanne, Massachusetts. The 6’10” center might be Williams’ teammate but also his biggest competitor for Player of the Year honors. Lalanne and Williams have both been named Player of the Week twice. The junior has started all 11 games for UMass, averages a double-double (14.0 PPG, 10.1 RPG), and leads the conference in blocked shots (32).
Though technically, with at least half a season yet to play, all spots on the first team are up for grabs, Williams, Evans, and possibly Lalanne should, if their non-conference level of play continues, be largely guaranteed spots on the postseason first team. Should another team break through in conference play (Dayton and George Washington come to mind), this early season order could be severely tested and a few unnamed players could work themselves into the conversation by year’s end. Aside from the four transfers on the Newbie List below, others who have impressed with their non-conference play include:
- Dyshawn Pierre (Dayton) — Even as Jordan Sibert draws the eyeballs and ink, Pierre continues to be the Flyers’ most effective wing.
- Devin Oliver (Dayton) – The second member of the Flyers’ potent offensive quartet is a forward who rebounds much taller than his 6’6″ height would suggest.
- Vee Sanford (Dayton) — The senior is playing his best ball yet. His assists are way up.
- Brandon Frazier (Fordham) — The senior point guard led the Rams last season after injuries virtually ended Chris Gaston’s effectiveness. Frazier leads Fordham in minutes played, and as defenses hone in on freshman Jon Severe, his scoring becomes increasingly effective.
- Sherrod Wright (George Mason) — The senior scoring guard leads the Patriots in scoring (162 points) and getting to the line (50.8 FTRate).
- Isaiah Armwood (George Washington) — The 6’9″ forward is a senior and continues to anchor the frontcourt for Mike Lonergan’s Colonial team.
- Joe McDonald (George Washington) — The sophomore point guard leads the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (3:1) and is tied for second with Richmond’s Cedrick Lindsay for total assists (51). Should the Colonials finish in the top three in conference, McDonald will be a big reason.
- Kethan Savage (George Washington) — George Washington’s wing is second in scoring (166 points, 13.8 points per game).
- Tyreek Dureen (La Salle) — Though the Explorers are largely out of contention even before conference play begins, Dureen’s plantar fasciitis has limited the point guard’s speed and jumping ability. Should therapy work, the senior may post numbers by season’s end good enough to warrant consideration.
- Xavier Munford (Rhode Island) — The senior leads the Rams for the second year running (195 points, 15 points per game). Even with modest progress for the team, Munford will find his way onto one of the season-end teams.
- Langston Galloway (Saint Joseph’s) — Heralded as a freshman, Galloway remains one of the Hawks’ most valuable players.
- Halil Kanasevec (Saint Joseph’s) — At 6’8″, he is undersized for a center, but can play big when called upon.
- Ronald Roberts (Saint Joseph’s) — Like Galloway, a conversation starter when the Hawks were thought to be conference contenders, the forward’s prospects will hang on the fortunes of his team.
- Briante Weber (Virginia Commonwealth) — The Rams’ steal and assist leader and defensive specialist could make the grade with a more consistent scoring game.
- Juvonte Reddic (Virginia Commonwealth) — Tends to face the basket on offense, the 6’9″, 245-pound senior leads the club in rebounding (97, 7.5 rebounds per game), second in scoring (150 points, 11.5 points per game), and sets a fierce trap when his coach Shaka Smart unleashes the HAVOC.
All-Conference Newbie Team — Midseason Edition
The conference does not recognize JuCos, transfers, and fifth-year players with an “All” team. The influx and impact of those may force the conference (along with the other 32 Division I conferences) to reconsider. A single team understates the depth of this pool of candidates. A second team would admittedly contain at least three freshmen in addition to another transfer or two with virtually no dropoff in talent and impact.
- Guard — Jon Severe, Fordham. The freshman leads the conference in scoring (221 points) and points per game (20.1). With two games left on the non-conference schedule, the Rams will have a record as least as good as the 7-6 record they earned in 2011-12, head coach Tom Pecora’s second season on Rose Hill. Severe and senior Branden Frazier are the most prolific scoring backcourt in the conference through Christmas Day. Named Rookie of the Week three times (in the season’s first seven weeks), Severe has to be considered the overwhelming favorite going into conference play.
- Guard — Maurice Creek, George Washington. The fifth-year senior struggled to complete an injury-free season at Indiana, but has found a great spot with the Colonials to finish his collegiate career. Creek is the best argument for why the fifth-year rule works and should be maintained. A serious candidate for the All-Conference Teams, had he finished at Bloomington he would most likely have languish behind Yogi Ferrell somewhere in the Hoosiers’ backcourt rotation.
- Guard — Jordan Sibert, Dayton. The junior back court transfer out of Ohio State was inserted into the starting lineup in the second week of the season, and has won the off guard position hands down. He has scored 20 or more points in four of the Flyers’ first 11 games and leads the conference in three-point conversion rate (48.2%). Along with forward/wings Devin Oliver, Vee Sanford and Dyshawn Pierre, Sibert is part of a four-headed scoring Hydra that opponents have had a hard time shutting down.
- Forward — DeAndre Bembry, Saint Joseph’s. Twice mentioned by the conference for his outstanding play, the Hawks’ 6’6″ freshman forward flew under the radar, until a 20-point, four-assist outburst in Saint Joseph’s loss to Creighton became the silver lining. He has posted 17 (Villanova) and 18 (Drexel) points in games in the past two weeks. Seeing how head coach Phil Martelli uses him in conference play should be interesting.
- Center — Ovie Soko, Duquesne. The fifth-year senior from UAB leads the Dukes in scoring (174 points) and rebounding (92 rebounds), while placing in the top five in conference in both. Though Jim Ferry’s squad continues to struggle (currently 5-5), Soko is one of the bright spots in their season.