Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by jstevrtc on February 11th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova By The Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

The Threshing Floor

If conference play muddied the rankings for the teams at the top (Charlotte moved into #1, pushing the trio of Rhode Island, Temple and Xavier, teams that had topped the standing since New Years, down a notch), the teams in the middle and bottom are sorting out, both by record and efficiency differentials. A threshing floor is a wide and flat surface, located in an open area (always breezy, though sometimes windy), where farmers can spread their wheat, and through a process of beating the stalks and kernels and tossing them straight up in the air, separate the edible grain from their husks and stalks. The grain is heavy and when tossed in the air will fall (more or less) straight to the threshing floor. The wind will carry the lighter husks and stalks to the side, off the floor. The schedule may be unbalanced, but the repetitive process of playing conference games has (as suggested by the table below) separated the upper division teams from the lower division teams. And that separation is obvious, even to the casual observer.

Table reflects conference games played through February 9.

The efficiency differential divides the conference cleanly into an upper and lower division. The separation between the two grows. St. Louis is a full 0.51 points higher than #8 La Salle. Using a Pythagorean Winning Percentage formula to develop a quick projection of each team’s conference record suggests Xavier, Temple and Dayton will end up in a three-way tie with (roughly) 13-3 records. While it would play to many preseason projections, the notion that Dayton will launch a 5-0 run through the remainder of their conference schedule is a bit optimistic. The Pythagorean Winning Percentage also suggests Charlotte will go 3-4 through their last seven conference games, possible perhaps since four of their opponents are upper division teams. They do, however, face two of those opponents (Richmond and Xavier) at home. The 49ers are 9-1 at home this season.

Standings as of 02/10/10

  1. Charlotte (8-1, 18-5)
  2. Xavier (8-2, 16-7)
  3. Temple (7-2, 19-5, #21)
  4. Rhode Island (7-2, 19-3)
  5. Richmond (7-2, 18-6)
  6. St. Louis (6-3, 15-8)
  7. Dayton (5-3, 16-6)
  8. Duquesne (3-6, 12-11)
  9. La Salle (3-6, 11-12)
  10. Saint Joseph’s (3-7, 9-15)
  11. St. Bonaventure (2-6, 9-12)
  12. George Washington (2-7, 12-10)
  13. Massachusetts (2-7, 8-15)
  14. Fordham (0-9, 2-19)

Team Rundowns

Charlotte

Coach Lutz’s squad took sole possession of the #1 ranking in the conference with wins over George Washington 72-68, on Wednesday (2/3) and Fordham 77-72, on Saturday (2/6), even as Xavier stumbled in Dayton over the weekend. Junior Shamari Spears was named co-Player of the Week by the Conference which noted he scored a career-high 31 points versus George Washington and logged his second double-double of the season (15 points and 13 rebounds) versus Fordham. This is the second time the conference has acknowledged Spears’ contributions to the 49ers. A good run by Spears is only part of the story of the 49ers’ seven game winning streak. Spears, freshmen Chris Braswell and guard Shamarr Bowden, all combine with sophomore Darrio Green to power Charlotte’s offense. Green, whose offensive rating tops 113, is the squad’s most efficient scorer. Bowden, Spears, and Green shoulder most of the shot-making responsibilities. Braswell, whose most recent offensive rating (per Ken Pomeroy) of 102.2 has received multiple nods from the conference for his work this season.

A rendezvous with the Flyers in Dayton Wednesday (2/10) is next up for Charlotte, and then a week off to regroup for Duquesne. This is a game Coach Lutz needs to get to solidify his team’s hold on the top of the A10. The Flyers, coupled with St. Louis in the last group North of the conference’s dividing line, needs to pull Charlotte back to the pack. Using the Pythagorean Winning Percentage (for conference games only) suggests Coach Lutz’s squad will go 3-4 in their last seven games. Taking a road win in Dayton would buck that trend, bolster team confidence, and reassure the selection committee that Charlotte can be competitive away from Halton Arena. An early season blowout at the hands of Duke and OOC road losses to Old Dominion and Tennessee leave that question open.

Dayton

With a week to prepare, the Flyers waxed the Musketeers 90-65, on Saturday (2/6).

As the table derived from the Xavier box score suggests, Rob Lowery, a senior guard whose injury in February 2009 cut short his run last season. Lowery has been working himself back into shape this season, and the Flyers, whose defensive efficiency (0.914) is second only to Temple’s in conference play, will need all of Lowery’s offensive capabilities in the last four weeks of the regular season. For Dayton, inconsistent offense in the form of mediocre shot efficiency and higher-than-average turnovers, is the principle reason the team trails conference leader Charlotte with two losses. Their efficiency differential is high enough to suggest (using the Pythagorean Winning Percentage for conference games only) Dayton can run the table for their last eight conference games, compiling a record that should put them back into the conversation for a post season bid (without having to run through the field in Atlantic City).

Having pulled the Musketeers out of a first place tie, Dayton hosts Charlotte on Wednesday (2/10) in another chance to muddy the top of the conference. A Dayton win over Charlotte would knot the top of conference again, putting Xavier, Temple and Charlotte into a three-way tie with about three weekends left in the conference season.

Duquesne

The Dukes’ season has fallen well short of expectations so far. Melquan Bolding has returned to the rotation, but the sophomore is coming back very slowly, and the season is running out. To date, Duquesne has beaten only those teams in the bottom half of the conference, not a credential that would impress a selection committee. Against upper division teams the Dukes have come up short time and again. Coach Everhart’s squad is bedeviled by demons on both sides of the ball. Extremely poor shot conversion (an eFG% of 44.7%, ranked at #13 in the conference, ahead of only Fordham) undermines an otherwise average-to-good conference offense. The problems on defense involve more elements of the game; poor defensive rebounding and a propensity to foul combine with extremely bad shot defense to produce a defense that has yielded 1.05 points per possession, ranked ahead of only Massachusetts and Fordham in conference play.

Duquesne has a two game home stand this week, facing Massachusetts on Thursday (2/11), followed by La Salle on Sunday (2/14). Both are good opportunities for wins, which would move the Dukes to the top of the A10′s lower division.

Fordham

Chris Gaston was named Rookie of the Week for the fourth time this season as he scored 55 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in Fordham’s losses to Xavier (108-60, 1/30) and to Charlotte (77-72, 2/6). A pity that Jio Fontan transferred before Gaston exploded. The two could have formed a dynamic inside/outside combination. Probably not enough to turn the program around, but enough to improve on the Rams’ record from last season — and throw a scare into Coach Martelli’s Hawks. Ken Pomeroy’s “no win” probability remained at 63.14%. With a -0.240 differential, Fordham is nearly as far behind #13 Duquesne as the Dukes are from #7 St. Louis, the last team with a positive efficiency differential in conference games. For Coach Grasso, a commitment from Gaston (and guards Lance Brown and Alberto Eastwick) to return next season would carry more significance than a conference win, though a conference win (or two) would probably help Gaston, Brown and Eastwick decide to stay.

One of Fordham’s better prospects for a win, the George Washington Colonials are coming to town for a Saturday (2/13) game. Before that one, however, the Rams have to travel to New York’s Western Tier to take on St. Bonaventure on Wednesday (2/10).

George Washington

The January 30 loss to Rhode Island started a losing run that now extends to three games. The Colonials dropped games to Charlotte 72-68 (2/3) and to Duquesne 70-63 (2/6), this past week. That home loss to Duquesne is especially damaging, as the Dukes are also struggling through a season of lowered expectations. Post season prospects, short of running the table in Atlantic City next month, are nil. The team may have started the season well, but ineffective shooting (#11 in conference, ahead of only Saint Joseph’s, Duquesne and Fordham) is the principal culprit for an offense that has generated a paltry 0.97 points per possession in conference play (the conference average is 1.01). The defense is not fatally flawed, but giving up 1.02 points per possession is higher than the conference average (1.01). For Coach Hobbs, a losing season — the third since he led the Colonials to the NCAAs in 2007 with a 23-7 record — could not have come at a worse time. Many believe that Connecticut will begin it’s search for a successor to the Hall of Fame coach among those assistants who left to head programs of their own. At one point Hobbs was generally recognized as the most successful in that group.

The Colonials have perhaps their best opportunity to end their losing run as they take on Fordham on Saturday (2/13). The game will be played in the Bronx, though, and George Washington has dropped four straight road games in conference play.

La Salle

Coach Giannini’s squad is three games into a losing slide, having dropped a 68-65 home game to St. Louis last Saturday (2/6). Losing seniors Ruben Guillandeaux (last played 11/22/09) and Kimmani Barrett (last played 1/13 — the conference announced he would undergo surgery, thereby ending his college career) has reduced the Explorers from one of the conference’s most experienced squads to one of its least experienced in just under eight weeks. The Explorers are 2-5 in Barrett’s absence. Getting freshman Parrish Grant some court time in preparation for next season may become the higher priority as the current season slips away.

Next up for La Salle is a St. Valentine’s date with Duquesne, in Pittsburgh.

Massachusetts

The Minutemen are riding a three game losing streak, and two of the three games were added this past week. Both games were lost by identical eight point margins: Xavier, 87-79 on Wednesday (2/3), and Rhode Island, 93-85 on Saturday (2/6). Like Duquesne, UMass demonstrates yet again why shot efficiency is the most important of Dean Oliver’s four factors. The Minutemen are ranked #11 in the conference for efficiency differential, and #10 in the conference for (offensive) shot efficiency. As a dribble-drive squad that prefers to kick the ball out to the perimeter for a three, the Minutemen do not get to the line much either. For defensive shot efficiency Massachusetts is ranked #13, ahead of only Fordham.

Massachusetts’ schedule going forward (they have seven conference games left) looks fairly favorable compared to the front end of their schedule. With only three games remaining against upper division opponents, the Minutemen could acquire another 3-4 wins over the last month of conference play. The future starts Thursday (2/11) with a trip to Pittsburgh for a game with Duquesne, and continues with a visit from Saint Joseph’s on Sunday (2/14).

Rhode Island

The Rams extended their winning run to four games with a win over Massachusetts, 93-85, last Saturday (2/6). Rhode Island has put the second most efficient offense together, despite being ranked #4 in shot efficiency (50.6%), through strong offensive rebounding and a conference-leading low turnover rate (16.9%). According to Ken Pomeroy, every member of the Rams’ regular rotation has an individual offensive rating of 104.5 or higher. Four of Rhode Island’s remaining seven conference games are against upper division teams, but two of those games (versus Richmond and Charlotte) are home games. The Rams ought to prevail in both.

Rhode Island hosts Richmond on Wednesday (2/10), then travels to Philadelphia on Saturday (2/13) for their mirror game against Temple.

Richmond

Among the six conference teams currently in the NCAA postseason discussion, Richmond, with a solid 7-2 record to date, is often overlooked. The Spiders have assembled a solid conference resume, but out-of-conference road losses to William & Mary, VCU, Wake Forest and South Carolina may give the Selection Committee pause to think. In conference play Richmond has compiled a 3-1 road record, the sole loss coming at the hands of St. Louis, a fellow upper division team in the A10. Richmond’s bread and butter comes from defense, as they are #2 in the conference behind St. Louis for shot defense (eFG% is 43.7%) and #2 in conference play behind Rhode Island in turnover rates (22.6%). Their offense offers solid shooting efficiency (52.0%, #1 in conference play), but conference-worst offensive rebounding (26.0%), combined with a somewhat passive offense (FTA/FGA rate is 32.7%, well below the conference average of 36.1%) suggest the Spiders are a perimeter-oriented team that needs to convert their three point field goal attempts more effectively to prosper.

Richmond takes in two road games this week (terrible week to travel in the Northeast). First stop Wednesday (2/10) will be Rhode Island, followed by a Saturday (2/13) game at St. Bonaventure. If past is prolog, Richmond should beat St. Bonaventure, but their Rhode Island game is more complicated.

Saint Joseph’s

The problem with the Hawks’ season is that it has gone largely as planned. Seniors Garrett Williamson and Darrin Govens have shouldered much of the offensive responsibility, but neither had been especially efficient at posting points. Freshmen guards Carl Jones and Justin Crosgile are good players, but neither has developed into the impact player that Coach Martelli’s offense needs. The offense has not produced points efficiently in conference play. 0.96 points per possession is below the conference average of 1.00, and the Hawk defense allows nearly 1.05 points per possession, a deadly combination when trying to fashion a winning record.

The Hawks travel to Massachusetts for a Sunday (2/14) game. The Hawks’ road record this season is an underwhelming 1-8.

St. Bonaventure

The Bonnies are riding a four game losing streak that dates back to the last week in January. They added two of those games last week, dropping a 67-65 road decision to St. Louis on Wednesday (2/3), followed by a 78-71 loss at Saint Joseph’s on Sunday (2/7). The Bonnies convert shots at a conference-average 48.3% (eFG%), but they produce 4% fewer points per possession on average because they lose a conference-high 23.6% of their possessions. Andrew Nicholson may be a top 250 rebounder (per Ken Pomeroy), but as a team St. Bonaventure ranks only #13 in the conference in offensive rebounding. Senior Jon Hall and sophomore Nicholson can convert efficiently if the back court can consistently deliver the ball. Five of the Bonnies’ remaining eight games will come at home, so a move into the middle of the conference is only possible if St. Bonaventure can take advantage of a home court advantage.

The Bonnies open a three game home stand this week by hosting Fordham on Wednesday (2/10), followed by Richmond on Saturday (2/10).

St. Louis

The Billikens have put together a three game winning streak this week. First, they snagged a 67-65 home win versus St. Bonaventure last Wednesday (2/3), followed by a road win versus La Salle, 68-65 last Saturday (2/6), and lastly a win over Saint Joseph’s, 56-52 on Tuesday (2/9). The last two are of particular interest because they were road wins, a rare element in St. Louis’ resumen this season. Identified by Pomeroy as one of the youngest squads in D1 (at 0.56 years they are ranked #346, dead last), Coach Majerus’ squad was 1-6 in away games going into the week. The Billikens are getting it done with defense. They have posted a conference-best 43.0 shot defense (eFG%), combined with the #5 best turnover rate. Sophomore guard Kwamain Mitchell earned conference recognition in the form of A10 Player Of The Week for the second time this season with his 42 point/7 assist efforts in St. Louis’ games with St. Bonaventure and Syracuse.

St. Louis hosts Dayton Saturday (2/13). A win over the veteran Flyer squad would be a huge boost to Coach Majerus’ team.

Temple

Temple recorded a second consecutive 1-1 week in conference play as they beat Duquesne 76-60 on Wednesday (2/3), but lost their weekend game to Richmond, 71-54 on Saturday (2/6). That second loss dropped the Owls a half-game behind Xavier. Coach Dunphy’s offense and defense share a common set of priorities: that is, take care of the shot and then the rebound. On offense that translates in to a #3 conference rank for eFG% (51.4) and #5 rank for offensive rebounding (35.0%). On defense, the Owls rank #4 for shot defense (46.2% eFG) and #1 for defensive rebounding (26.4%). Ryan Brooks, Lavoy Allen and Juan Fernandez continue to be productive offensively, as Allen, sophomore Eric Michael, and Scottie Randall control the boards.

Temple will come off of a week-long break to host Rhode Island on Saturday (2/13).

Xavier

The Musketeers lost their second conference game last week, a 90-65 road game at Dayton on Saturday (2/6). Timing is everything as Temple also lost (to Richmond), keeping those two programs even in the loss column, and one loss behind Charlotte. Their offense, ranked #1 in conference games, earns them 1.11 points per possession. Combined with their #6 ranked defense, which allows 0.98 points per possession, that puts them at the top of the conference for efficiency differentials. On offense, top of the conference ranking in shot efficiency (eFG% of 54.3%) combined with frequent trips to the line (FTR of 45.7%) explain how Xavier earns their points. They have Jordan Crawford to thank, taking over a third of Xavier’s shots when he is on the court.  But as defenses concentrate on Crawford, Xavier has two other players — Terrell Holloway and Jason Love — who convert shots very efficiently.

Xavier takes a break from conference action to travel to Florida for a game with the Gators of the SEC.

Games to Catch:

Rhode Island at Temple Saturday 2/13 — An early season matchup gave Temple their first important conference road win, and knocked the Rams, who were flirting with #25 in the national polls, down a peg or two. Both teams, saddled with two losses apiece, need a win to keep pace with Xavier and remain one loss behind Charlotte. Lavoy Allen versus Delroy James should be interesting. Juan Fernandez and Luis Guzman will be tested by the conference’s best team in terms of forcing turnovers.

Xavier at Florida Saturday 2/13 — A top 50 RPI win up for grabs. Jason Love and Kenny Frease will have their hands full with Vernon Macklin and Dan Werner. If it comes down to a shootout between Kenny Boyton and Jordan Crawford, I have to like Crawford.

Dayton at St. Louis Saturday 2/13 — Two of the conference’s better defenses lock up in this game. St. Louis has been very tough at home (11-1 this season), while Dayton is less impressive on the road (4-3). This is the second game in a tough week for Dayton, but the Flyers cannot relax if they want to keep pace with the five teams clustered at the top of the conference.

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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on January 20th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova by the Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Efficiency Differentials

The Atlantic 10 teams have played just over 20% of their conference schedule (as of Sunday, 1/17); every team has posted three or four games to the conference ledger. I might be a week (maybe?) early for conference-only efficiency differentials (offensive points per possession – defensive points per possession), but I was curious to see what the numbers and rankings could tell me now…

Xavier may have the most wins, but Temple has the largest positive differential. The Owls’ toughest win was on the road over Rhode Island (and a bit of a surprise because Rhode Island is ranked second), and that trumps the Musketeers’ home win over Dayton last Saturday (though that one is impressive given the progress Xavier has made since the beginning of the season). Are you surprised that, having absorbed a loss against Temple, the Runnin’ Rams of Rhode Island are ranked second? Consider that their next two opponents, Saint Joseph’s and Fordham, are #13 and #14 respectively. Blame the unbalanced nature of all conference schedules at this point in the season for a number of quirks. Rhode Island embarks on a two-game road trip, with stops in Cincinnati (Xavier) and Dayton, beginning on Saturday (1/23). That trip should clear up a few questions about Rhode Island, not to mention Dayton and Xavier. Even though it is early, the differentials do confirm that Saint Joseph’s and Fordham are struggling. That will most likely continue through the rest of the season.

Standings as of – 01/19/10

  1. Xavier (4-0, 12-5)
  2. Temple (3-0, 15-3, #17)
  3. Richmond (3-1, 14-5)
  4. Rhode Island (2-1, 14-2)
  5. Dayton (2-1, 13-4)
  6. St. Louis (2-1, 11-6)
  7. Charlotte (2-1, 12-5)
  8. La Salle (2-2, 9-8)
  9. George Washington (1-2, 11-5)
  10. St. Bonaventure (1-2, 9-8)
  11. Massachusetts (1-3, 7-10)
  12. Saint Joseph’s (1-3, 6-11)
  13. Duquesne (0-3, 9-8)
  14. Fordham (0-4, 2-14)

Team Breakdowns

Charlotte

Crushed in the first half 44-28, at Xavier, the 49ers rallied to “win” the second half 46-42, but it was not enough, however, as they came up on the short end of a 12-point decision 86-74 on Wednesday (1/13). Four starters, led by junior forward An’Juan Wilderness’ 15 points, scored in double digits. Charlotte beat Xavier on the boards 32-28, but that was not enough as the 49ers shot a terrible 9% from beyond the arc. They bounced back against St. Louis on Sunday (1/17) with a 63-61 overtime win in Halton Arena. Junior forward Shamari Spears played nearly 40 minutes and, along with freshman forward Chris Braswell, led all scorers with 16 points. Spears logged his seventh career double-double, the first with Charlotte. The win came with a price however, as senior forward RaShad Coleman suffered an avulsion fracture of the patella from the base of his left kneecap during the overtime period in the game. The senior, having taken an outlet pass from Dijuan Harris, put in a layup that gave Charlotte a 59-54 lead, but landed badly after. Most likely his career at Charlotte is over.

Next up for the 49ers is a trip to St. Louis for a game at the Chaifetz on Wednesday (1/20), followed by another trip to Philadelphia for a Saturday (1/23) game with La Salle.

Dayton

Luke Fabrizius’ 13 points led the Flyers over Fordham 74-58 on Wednesday (1/13). They shot an impressive 42% (8-19) from beyond the arc, as they posted their second conference win. Dayton traveled to Cincinnati and dropped their game at Xavier 78-74, on Saturday (1/16). Although they led at halftime 39-36, Coach Gregory’s squad could not hold off the Musketeers in the second half. Xavier came back to tie 39-all at the 19-minute mark of the second half, and the Flyers could not stop Kenny Frease from putting the Musketeers up by two with a layup on Xavier’s next possession. The two teams wrestled over the next four minutes, tying the score four times and exchanging the lead three more times before Xavier took over with about 14 minutes to play. Dayton’s Marcus Johnson shared scoring honors, 17 points, with his backcourt opponent, Terrell Holloway. Chris Johnson led rebounders (Dayton won the boards by a large margin — 48-28) with 16 and posted his third double-double of the season, and his second in the last three games. The Flyers lost their 26th straight game at Xavier, 78-74, on Saturday (1/16). Pushing a lead out to seven points twice in the first half, Dayton took a three point lead into the locker room. Coach Gregory’s squad fell behind by eight at the 2:51 mark of the second half, but after whittling Xaviers’ lead down to three with 0:48, they could not stop Jordan Crawford on Xavier’s next possession. They had it down to two with 0:03 left, but the change of possession foul put Terrell Holloway on the line, and the junior guard converted both free throws to ice the game. Marcus Johnson paced the Flyers with 17 points; he was one of four Flyers in double figures. Chris Johnson logged his third double-double of the season.

The Flyers will host George Washington on Wednesday (1/20), and then travel to Philadelphia for a game with the Saint Joseph’s Hawks on Saturday (1/23).

Duquesne

The Dukes dropped a double-overtime decision to St. Louis on Wednesday (1/13), 79-75. Damian Saunders played the entire 50 minutes (regulation plus two overtime periods) and paced Duquesne with a game-high 23 points on 9-21 (0-2, 9-19) and 5-7 shooting. Saunders made it a game-leading double-double, (his 14th of season, leading all of D1) as he also grabbed a game-high 17 (10-7-17) rebounds. Getting more offensive than defensive rebounds is unusual, and getting double-digit offensive rebounds more unusual still. Bill Clark notched his fifth career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Melquan Bolding logged 5 minutes of the 50 minutes allocated by regulation and two overtime periods. Strep throat was blamed for a missed practice and the limited action. Bolding has yet to his stride, but the Dukes clearly need him now.

Duquesne will take to the road for a game with Rhode Island on Wednesday (1/20), then return home to host the Bonnies on Saturday (1/23).

Fordham

Fordham extended its consecutive loss run by two more over the last week. After dropping a 16-point decision (74-58) to Dayton, they lost to Rhode Island 85-67, an 18 point loss. Both were home games for the Rams, but there was no advantage for the Fordham Rams. Brent Butler, relying on volume shooting, scored 20 points on 18 attempts against Dayton. Chris Gaston secured eight rebounds, though the Flyers clearly outrebounded the Rams. Gaston logged his ninth double-double, as he paced Fordham with 29 points and 16 (10-6-16) rebounds on 13-24 (0-0, 13-24) and 3-6 shooting. Butler chipped in 19 points

Next up for Fordham is a visit with the Billikens in St. Louis on Wednesday (1/20), and then back to the Bronx to host the Temple Owls on Saturday (1/23).

George Washington

George Washington dropped a heartbreaker to the Explorers on Wednesday (1/13), 65-64 in Philadelphia. In a game decided on the very last possession, Aaron Ware scored four points in the last 1:08 to close the deficit to a single point. Damian Hollis forced a La Salle turnover with 0:08 on the clock, but Travis King left a three point attempt on the rim as time expired. Damian Hollis and Aaron Ware paced the Colonials with 17 and 16 points respectively. Hollis made his a double-double, the ninth of his career and his first this season, as he grabbed 10 rebounds.

The Colonials go to Dayton to play the Flyers on Wednesday (1/20), and then return to DC to host Richmond on Saturday (1/23).

La Salle

Dr. Giannini’s squad won a nail-biter against George Washington 65-64, on Wednesday (1/13). Down one  at the half, the Explorers outscored the Colonials 34-32 in the second half to take the decision. In a game that saw 11 ties and 12 lead changes, the Explorers took the lead for good, 61-59, on a Rodney Green layup with 2:43 remaining. The Explorers stretched their lead out to five, 65-60 on four made free throws. The Colonials closed with an Aaron Ware-one man scoring rush in the last 1:08, but La Salle survived. La Salle freshman center Aaric Murray led all scorers with 21 points on 9-11 (2-2, 7-9) and 1-1 shooting. Yves Mekongo Mbala and Rodney Green each chipped in double-digit points, 17 and 15 respectively. The Explorers could get no bounce out of the win however, as they dropped a road game 67-63, to Richmond on Saturday (1/16). In contrast to his effort against George Washington, Aaric Murray took the “high volume” shooting route to a double-double night. The freshman scored 19 points to go with his 15 (3-12-15) rebounds as he recorded his fourth double-double of the season, the first in conference play. Junior Jerrell Williams, who shot 6-9 (0-0, 6-9) and 2-2 scored his 14 points far more efficiently (66.7% – eFG%) than Murray did his 19 (42.5% – eFG%) or Green his 10 (41.8% – eFG%). Unfortunately Williams took only 19.1% of the shots when he was on the floor, to Murray’s 39.0% and Green’s 22.2%.

La Salle travels across town Wednesday (1/20) to play Big 5 rival Penn at the Palestra, then hosts Charlotte on Saturday (1/23).

Massachusetts

Their two-game road trip last week was disappointing. Derek Kellogg’s team is a bit young (at 1.24 years, they are ranked #304 out of 346, according to Ken Pomeroy’s Scout Page), but dropping an overtime decision by seven points to Richmond had to hurt. The Minutemen made up their three-point first half deficit, but despite having two possessions in the last minute, were unable to convert and take the win. They were outscored 17-10 in the extra period. Freshman Freddie Riley’s game-high 20 points paced Massachusetts for the second consecutive game. Senior guard Ricky Harris chipped in 17 points on a high volume 8-21 (1-6, 7-15) and 1-1 shooting.

The Minutemen will host St. Bonaventure on Wednesday (1/20), then take a break from conference play, travel to Texas and play the Baylor Bears of the Big 12, on Saturday (1/23).

Rhode Island

The Runnin’ Rams nickname was well earned as Rhode Island dispatched Saint Joseph’s by a 27-point margin, 101-74, on Wednesday (1/13). Senior forward Delroy James scored a career best 24 points on 8-12 (3-6, 5-6) and 5-8 night. Freshman guard Akeem Richmond also had a career night, nearly matching James’ 24 points with 21 of his own. Richmond shot 8-14 (5-8, 3-6) and 0-0 for an efficient 67.9% eFG%. They followed the Saint Joseph’s game with another impressive outing, an 85-67, 17 point win over the Fordham Rams, on Saturday (1/16). Senior guard Keith Cothran scored 26 points, while Lamonte Ulmer recorded a career-high 24 points to complement his double-double (14 rebounds). This was Ulmer’s third double-double of the season and the fifth of his career.

After hosting the Dukes on Wednesday (1/20), the Rams run off to Cincinnati, OH, for a game with Xavier on Saturday (1/23), the first game in a two game road trip that takes them to Dayton for a game with the Flyers on Tuesday (1/26).

Richmond

The Spiders came from behind to knot the Minutemen at 53 and force an overtime period last Wednesday (1/13). They had ceded a three point lead to Massachusetts but managed to outscore their young opponents 17-10 during overtime to seal the victory.  The Spiders’ scoring triumvirate of Kevin Anderson, David Gonzalvez and Justin Harper each scored double-digit points, 19, 16 and 12 respectively, to bring the win home. The Spiders followed that win with another, this one over La Salle, 67-63, on Saturday (1/16). Up by nine 38-29, at the half, the Spiders withstood an Explorer 6-2 run which brought the visitors to within 5, 40-35 with 16:34 to play. Another push by the Explorers trimmed the Spiders’ cushion to 2, 50-48 about 7:30 later. Coach Mooney’s squad gathered themselves, took a 5-2 run to build a seven-point cushion, and did not allow the Explorers to get closer than three thereafter. Anderson, Gonzalvez and Harper again led the Spiders, scoring 21, 12 and 11 points respectively. Sophomore Darrius Garrett gathered six rebounds to pace Richmond rebounders.

Richmond hosts Charlotte on Wednesday (1/20), then travel to George Washington for a Saturday (1/23) game.

Saint Joseph’s

Coach Martelli’s squad played three games in five days, going 1-2 in the process. On Wednesday (1/13) they traveled to Kingston, RI, and lost a 101-74 decision to Rhode Island. Darrin Govens (15), Garrett Williamson (14) and Charoy Bentley (10) scored double-digit points. The second road game was played in Olean, NY, 68-65 on Saturday (1/16) against St. Bonaventure. The upperclassmen, senior guards Darrin Govens and Garrett Williamson, along with junior forward Idris Hilliard led the way with 15, 12 and 12 points respectively. Hilliard hauled in seven rebounds, matching sophomore center Todd O’Brien’s efforts. How did O’Brien score 11 points while taking five field goal attempts? He lived at the line, taking 12 free throw attempts for his five FGAs. That is an FTA/FGA of 240.0%. O’Brien’s 12.0% offensive rebounding rate is very promising. The Hawks took a break from conference play to host Towson of the CAA conference on Monday (1/18). They beat the Pat Kennedy-coached Tigers 64-57 at the Hagan Arena on campus to hold their run of losses to two. Idris Hilliard led the way with 20 points on 8-12 and 4-5 shooting. Freshman Justin Crosgile helped with 13 points on 4-7 (3-5, 1-2) and 2-2 shooting. Senior Garrett Williamson added 12 points in 40 minutes of play.

The Hawks will host Dayton on Saturday (1/23), and then take a second break from conference play for a tilt with Big 5 rival Penn at the Palestra.

St. Bonaventure

The Bonnies recorded their first conference win, a 68-65 squeaker, on Saturday (1/16), complements of Saint Joseph’s. Michael Davenport, Andrew Nicholson and Malcolm Eleby powered St. Bonaventure’s offense with both volume and efficient scoring. Davenport matched his season high with 19 points with a 61.5% eFG% performance. He used his 32.9% shot rate (high for a D1 player) very efficiently garnering a 113.9 offensive rating. Eleby, with 10 points in 18 minutes of play, notching a 60.0% eFG% while taking 21.8% of the shots when he was on the court provided the Bonnies with a bit of efficiency. Nicholson converted efficiently (a 63.6 eFG%) and prolifically, scoring 16 points with 11 field goal attempts. His offensive efficiency (95.2) was hurt by a 26% turnover rate. Losing one in four of your possessions is a rally killer waiting to happen.

Coach Schmidt’s squad travels to Amherst on Wednesday (1/20), to play Massachusetts, then to Pittsburgh to play Duquesne on Saturday (1/23).

St. Louis

The Billikens completed a two game road swing last week. Good news greeted the squad at the first stop, as St. Louis defeated Duquesne 79-75 in overtime on Wednesday (1/13), but lost to Charlotte, 63-61 (also in overtime), at the second stop on Sunday (1/17). The best news of the trip may have been Australian Cody Ellis, a 6’8, 240 pound forward from Perth, Australia, who became eligible in time for St. Louis’ 1/9 game with Richmond. In his first three games Ellis has scored 10, 14 and 11 points. Ellis is not afraid to shoot, and for the offense-starved Billikens, that is not a bad thing. Kwamain Mitchell led St. Louis with 19 points, while Kyle Cassity chipped in 15. Ellis posted a double-double, garnering 11 rebounds to go with his 14 points. Versus Charlotte, Jon Smith, a 6’5 freshman forward paced St. Louis with a career-high 15 points. Three others, Kwamain Mitchell (12), Cody Ellis (11) and Willie Reed (10) scored 10 or more points in the losing effort.

St. Louis hosts Fordham on Wednesday (1/20), then take off a week. The Billikens return to action when they travel to Washington DC to play the Colonials of GWU on Wednesday (1/27).

Temple

Coach Dunphy’s squad climbed to #17 in the AP poll this Monday (1/17) and with good reason. Having dispatched the Penn Quakers in a Big 5 contest on Wednesday (1/13) 60-45, the Owls know they are halfway to the first Big 5 Championship of the decade. If the score doesn’t seem particularly impressive given the state of the Quaker program (Coach Glen Miller was fired earlier in the season), consider that Dunphy coached at Penn for 17 seasons, before moving over to Broad Street. And Penn’s interim head coach, Jerome Allen, played ball for Coach Dunphy’s Penn teams in the mid 1990s. Guard Ryan Brooks continued his run by posting a game-high 15 points. Point guard Juan Fernandez added 12 points. Temple returned to conference play with a win over visiting Massachusetts 76-64, on Saturday (1/16). Brooks and Fernandez were effective yet again, scoring 29 and 15 points respectively. Junior forward Lavoy Allen gathered 14 (5-9-14) rebounds.

The Owls host the Musketeers on Wednesday (1/20), and then off to the Bronx for a game against Fordham on Saturday (1/23).

Xavier

Xavier had a two-game home stand last week, leading off with a visit from Charlotte, whom they defeated 86-74 on Wednesday (1/13). Jordan Crawford led all scorers with 18 points, with support from Dante Jackson (14 points), sophomore guard Brad Redford (12 points) and Jason Love (10 points). They were not good hosts on Saturday (1/16) either, as the Musketeers beat Dayton 78-74, at the Cintas Center for the 25th time since 1981. Losing the lead at the 4-minute mark of the first half, Xavier went to the locker room down 3 39-36. The X-men knotted the score at the 19-minute mark of the second half, and retook the lead on the next possession on a Kenny Fraese layup. Over the next four minutes the game saw four ties and three lead changes, but the Musketeers took the lead for good at the 14:32 mark and did not look back. Xavier nursed a lead as high as six and as low as one through the last 14 minutes, closing the Flyers out with a mix of jumpers and layups, masking a shaky showing (4-6) at the free throw line. Dante Jackson led all scorers with 19 points on 6-13 (5-8, 1-5) and 2-2 shooting. Jordan Crawford (16), Terrell Holloway (15) and Jason Love (10) all chipped in at least 10 points apiece.

Coach Mack’s squad travels to Philadelphia for an early season meeting with Temple on Wednesday (1/20), then return home to host Rhode Island on Saturday (1/23). Hosting Dayton on 1/16, followed by these two opponents has made this an especially rough week for the Musketeers.

Games to Catch

  • Richmond at Charlotte – Wednesday 1/20 — Is Richmond ready for the next step? A move up to the top spots in the conference won’t come until the Spiders can secure their home court and then go out and win on the road. With a home record of 7-0 and an efficiency differential of .215, Richmond would appear to have the first test covered. A road win over the 49ers would put them on the road to covering the second.
  • Xavier at Temple – Wednesday 1/20 — The schedule maker must have seen something in the off season that most of us missed, as he (or she?) scheduled a second “sorting out” game in two weeks. The Musketeers travel to Philadelphia to play the Owls. Jordan Crawford should give Ryan Brooks all he can handle, and the Jason Love – Lavoy Allen matchup should be pretty good too.
  • Rhode Island at Xavier – Saturday 1/23 — The Flyers last Saturday, the Owls on Wednesday and then the Rams the Saturday following. The Musketeers might be gunning for a 3-0 sweep (that would really scramble the A10 race), but 2-1 would be a good outcome. The Delroy James – Jason Love/Kenny Fraese matchup should be entertaining. Keith Cothran and Jordan Crawford might turn this into a game of HORSE.
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2009

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Standings (12/15/2009)

  1. Rhode Island (8-1)
  2. Charlotte (8-1)
  3. Temple (8-2)
  4. Richmond (7-2)
  5. Dayton (7-2)
  6. George Washington (7-2)
  7. Xavier (6-3)
  8. Duquesne (7-3)
  9. La Salle (6-3)
  10. St. Louis (6-3)
  11. St. Bonaventure (6-3)
  12. Massachusetts (5-5)
  13. Saint Joseph’s (3-6)
  14. Fordham (2-6)

Taking Stock

a10 providence gw uri

Common Opponent Analysis: Providence.  Both Rhode Island and George Washington hosted the Providence Friars within a 4 day period. How did the Rams and Colonials match up against a common opponent under similar circumstances? Rhode Island won a 3-point decision (86-83), while George Washington lost by a whopping 27 points (110-83). As the table shows, both teams played about 78 possessions (lower than they usually play — Pomeroy shows about 80 possessions per game), and have work to do on their respective defenses. And both teams are close on offense, garnering over 1.0 points per possession while converting their own field goal attempts in the low-mid 40s (eFG% — 44.0% for the Rams and 43.2% for the Colonials). Providence, a perimeter-oriented team under Coach Keno Davis, allowed both A10 opponents to rebound a high percentage of their own misses (47.1% and 51.1% to URI and GWU respectively), but The Rams’ frontcourt experience showed in their defensive rebounding numbers, holding the Friars to less than 30% of their misses (29.7%), even as GWU yielded 34% of the defensive rebounds, more typical of D1 basketball teams. The Friars took over twice as many 3s against George Washington as they did against Rhode Island, suggesting the Rams did a better job of defending the perimeter than the Colonials. Providence converted their 3s at a 55.2% clip, largely the reason for the Colonials’ disappointing 64.6% eFG% on defense. The Rams forced turnovers, somewhat unexpected against a perimeter-oriented team like PC, while the Colonials put the Friars on the line about once for every two field goal attempts, again unusual for a perimeter-oriented team. Conclusion: Rhode Island looks like they may be close to ready for conference play, while George Washington may need more work.

Looking Back.  Wednesday the 9th was not a pleasant one for three of the A10′s teams. George Washington hosted Providence, but dropped a 13-point decision against one of the Big East’s weaker sisters. Saint Joseph’s pushed #3 Villanova to the last 90 seconds of play before bowing by eight, and Duquesne went to Morgantown to face the Mountaineers and came out on the (very) short side of a 68-39 score.  Housing the ‘Eers may have been a reach, but a 29-point drubbing?

Big Wins.  Sunday the 13th however could not have been better for Temple, Xavier and Rhode Island, all of whom scored big wins over BCS rivals. Temple led off with a 71-61 win over Big 5 rival (and #3 ranked) Villanova. Argentine guard Juan Fernandez scored a career high 33 points on 11-15 (7-9 3FG, 4-6 2FG) and 4-4 FT shooting. Senior guard Ryan Brooks, who scored 20 points, can graduate knowing he beat the Wildcats once during his time on North Broad. Forward Lavoy Allen grabbed 17 rebounds, one short of his career best. Meanwhile down in Cincy, Xavier beat (#19 ranked) Cincinnati 83-79 in the 77th meeting of their Crosstown Shootout. It took the X-men 2 overtime periods to put down the Bearcats, as sophomore guard Terrell Holloway scored a career-high 26 points (and dished 4 assists) in 42 minutes of play. Holloway struggled with his 3 point shot, going 1-5 from beyond the arc, but he more than made up for it, going 6-8 on twos, and a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line. Sophomore transfer Jordan Crawford chipped in 16 points, the team’s 2nd highest total, on 5-16 (1-6 3FG, 4-10 2FG) and 5-6 FT shooting. Red-shirt freshman guard Mark Lyons chipped in 11 points. Senior forward/center Jason Love hauled in a career-high 19 (3 off) rebounds in 41 minutes of play, especially impressive given Cincinnati’s sizable frontline. Love had more than twice as many rebounds as the highest Bearcat rebounder, (guard) Deonta Vaughn, who had 9 rebounds. Rhode Island knocked off regional rival (and ACC member) Boston College 80-69 in the nightcap on a nearly perfect day. The Rams and Eagles sparred for the first five or so minutes, before Stevie Mejia gave Rhode Island the lead for good at the 14-minute mark of the 1st half. The Rams took an 8-point lead into the half, but BC managed to close the gap to four points at the 9:25 mark of the 2nd half until the Rams pushed it back out to ten over the next five possessions, and worked with a 10-point cushion for much of the balance of the half. Senior guard Keith Cothran led the Rams with 19 points, but four others, including seniors Delray Jones (forward), Lamonte Ulmer (forward), along with sophomore Orion Outerbridge (forward) and freshman Akeem Richmond (guard) all chipped in double-digit points. Cothran has led the Rams in scoring in six of their nine games this season. Akeem Richmond has scored double-digit points in six of his nine games as well, as the freshman is averaging 8.8 points this season. Only Fordham, with their 73-56 loss to St. John’s of the Big East, lost on Sunday.

Team Capsules

  • Charlotte.  The 49ers munched on cupcakes this past week, hammering Winston-Salem 94-52 on Tuesday (12/8) and then Gardner-Webb 95-66 on Saturday (12/12). Charlotte will meet Winthrop on Sunday (12/20) before getting down to business with Old Dominion on Wednesday (12/23).
  • Dayton.  After taking down George Mason 56-55 on the road last Tuesday (12/8), followed by Old Dominion 58-50 on Friday (12/11), Dayton will reward itself with a few sweets before Christmas, hosting the Blue Hose of Presbyterian on Saturday (12/19) before taking on Appalachian State on Tuesday (12/22).
  • Duquesne.  Hammered by West Virginia 68-39 on the road last Wednesday (12/9), the Dukes returned home to take their revenge against Robert Morris 59-54 on Saturday (12/12). Scoring without the injured Melquan Bolding, set to return at the end of the month, has fallen largely to a triumvirate of two juniors (forwards Bill Clark and Damian Saunders) and a sophomore (BJ Monteiro). These three take between 29% (Saunders) and 23% (Clark) of the shots when they are on the floor. Rotation player Sean Johnson aside, nobody else takes more than 15% (role player-level involvement) of the shots, surprising given that senior guard Jason Duty was an outside force last season, taking 133 three-point attempts last season, and hitting 41.4% of them. Duty’s reduced involvement has made Clark the principal outside threat, the junior taking about 58% of his shots from beyond the arc. Unfortunately Clark, at a 31% rate, is converting at a rate only 6% higher than the entire squad (and Duty). For a team that takes 38.6% of its field goal attempts from the 3-point line, a 26% conversion rate is a killer. If the squad has become a bit shot-challenged, the spate of turnovers, if uncorrected, will severely limit the team’s prospects come conference play. The Dukes lost a devastating 37% of their possessions in the West Virginia game, further crippling their offense. They also lost 25% or more of their possessions in the Robert Morris and Savannah State games, making those scores closer than their shooting might have suggested. The short, guard-oriented squad has trouble with defensive rebounding, allowing opponents to grab nearly 37% of their misses and ranks the Dukes at #284 among D1′s 344 teams. Only junior forward Damian Saunders is ranked in Pomeroy’s top 150 for rebounding. Duquesne will host Canisius on Wednesday (12/16), travel to Indianapolis to take on the IUPUI Jaguars on Saturday (12/19) and return home to play St. Francis, PA, the following Tuesday (12/22) before the holiday break. The Dukes will then return to action on the 30th when they travel to Norfolk, VA, to play Old Dominion.
  • Fordham.  The Rams dropped a 17-point decision to crosstown rival St. John’s. Freshman forward Chris Gaston again paced Fordham, scoring 32 points on a 12-19 (1-2 3FG, 11-17 2FG) and 7-11 FT shooting night. St. John’s was also Gaston’s 7th double-double in Fordham’s 8-game season. Fordham faces #9 Villanova at the Izod Center in the New Jersey Meadowlands on Saturday (12/19), and then travel to James Madison for a game on Wednesday (12/23). After the holiday break the Rams will return to action against Kennesaw State in Georgia on 12/29.
  • George Washington.  The Colonials beat the Tigers of Towson by four, 73-69, last Saturday (12/12), with senior forward Damian Hollis again pacing the team. Hollis posted 13 points and shared rebounding honors with sophomore wing Aaron Ware. Hollis has led the scoring for his team four times this season. GWU will travel to Greenville, NC, to play the Pirates of East Carolina on Tuesday (12/22), then take off for the holidays before heading up to Worcester, MA, to take on the Crusaders of Holy Cross on 12/28.
  • La Salle.  La Salle took to the road Wednesday and beat the Broncs of Rider 69-60, then travelled to Lawrence, Kansas, where they dropped a 90-65 stinker to KU on Saturday. The Explorers will face the Bison of Bucknell on Saturday, then travel to Oklahoma City to face the Oklahoma State on Monday (12/21). After the holidays, the Explorers will host the Big Red of Cornell on the 29th.
  • Massachusetts.  After getting bombed by Seton Hall on Pearl Harbor Day, Coach Derek Kellogg’s Minutemen bounced back with a win over Grambling State at home on Friday. It was a career night for freshman Terrell Vinson, as the forward scored a career high 20 points and logged his first career double-double at Massachusetts. The Minutemen will sojourn in Boston as they face-off with Memphis at the Boston Garden on Saturday night (12/19) and then cross town to take on Boston College at the Conte Center the following Wednesday (12/23). UMass stays on the road after the holidays, going South to Davidson, NC, to take on the struggling Wildcats on the 30th.
  • Rhode Island.  Coach Jimmy Baron’s squad just scraped by Northeastern by three on Thursday (12/10), then housed Boston College by eleven. Senior guard Keith Cothran paced the team twice, posting 19 points in each. Cothran has been the point leader in six of the Rams’ nine games this season. Nineteen seems to be Cothran’s favorite number — he has posted that number four times so far this year. Rhode Island hosts Fairfield on Sunday (12/20), then takes off for the holiday, returning to action versus Drexel on the 29th.
  • Richmond.  The Spiders lost to cross-town rival Virginia Commonwealth 65-57 on Saturday (12/12). Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez scored 19 and 18 respectively, but VCU shut down the Spiders over the last 6:38, allowing only three field goals over that span. Two of the three FGs were complements of Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalez. Justin Harper’s layup at 0:45 closed out the Spiders’ scoring and brought them to within three points, but possession fouls, which brought made free throws, pushed the margin back out to eight. The Spiders take to the road this week, first to Columbia, SC, to take on the Gamecocks of South Carolina Wednesday night (12/16), and then to Sunrise, FL. for an Orange Bowl Classic clash with the Florida Gators on Saturday (12/19). Richmond squeezes one more game in before the holidays when they take on UNC – Greensboro.  After the holiday break, the Spiders return to action against another North Carolina school, this time North Carolina – Wilmington, on the 28th.
  • Saint Joseph’s.  Coach Phil Martelli’s squad played a great game, taking Villanova to edge Wednesday night (12/09) at the Palestra, as they proved that tradition and rivalry can counter athleticism. The game was played for nearly 80 possessions, fast for Division 1, where the “typical” game is about 68-69 possessions. The Hawks’ freshmen guards, Carl Jones and Justin Crosgile give Saint Joseph’s fans something to cheer about as each logged double-digit points in the loss. Fouled by Scottie Reynolds with two minutes left, Carl Jones stepped to the free throw line and hit all three of his attempts.  Ninety seconds later he picked Corey Fisher’s pocket and set up Chris Prescott for a 3 pointer which cut Saint Joseph’s deficit to seven. With 17 seconds left Justin Crosgile hit three free throw attempts to reduce the game to two possessions again, but the Hawks could get no closer. The Hawks flew to Minneapolis, MN, where they lost another game, this time to the Gophers of Minnesota, 97-74. Senior guards Darrin Goven and Garrett Williamson each posted 15 points to pace the team. Junior center Todd O’Brien snagged six rebounds. The Joe’s losing streak stands at six, but a game with Lehigh on Sunday (12/20) should do the trick. After the holidays, Saint Joseph’s will travel to Albany, NY, where they will play Siena on Tuesday the 29th.
  • St. Bonaventure.  The Bonnies finished off their exhibition allotment by doing what Syracuse could not — beating the LeMoyne Dolphins by 11 in Olean, NY. St. Bonaventure then hosted Savannah State and abused them 79-47 on Saturday (12/12). The Bonnies will travel to the Carrier Dome and face #5 Syracuse on Saturday (12/19), then off to Buffalo, NY, to face Niagara on Tuesday (12/22). After the holidays, the Bonnies close out their Little Three round robin when they host Canisius on the 30th.
  • St. Louis.  Coach Rick Majerus’ Billikens closed out their exhibition season with a win over Rockhurst University 66-53. St. Louis will then run through three opponents in the fortnight before Christmas, taking Belmont on Wednesday night (12/16), Missouri State on Saturday (12/19) and University of Missouri – Kansas City on Tuesday (12/22). The Billikens will then break for the holidays, returning to action against Eastern Illinois on the 29th.
  • Temple.  The Owls beat #3 Villanova by a solid 10 points, 75-65, on Sunday (12/13) at the Liacouras Center. Down by 14 with 4:30 left in the 1st half, Temple launched a torrid 20-4 run over the next seven minutes that overtook Villanova. The Owls never looked back, closing out the game with a 36-29 run. Juan Fernandez and Lavoy Allen paced the team with 33 points and 17 rebounds respectively. Temple will take on Seton Hall on Saturday (12/19) and then break for the holidays, going back into action against Bowling Green on the 28th.
  • Xavier.  Two technicals, a Brian Kelly chant and an intentional foul that bounced the #9 national recruit on the hardwood and brought both benches to mid-court for a full-squad confrontation. And that was just the first half. Yes, the 2010 edition of the Crosstown Shootout had it’s highs (three career highs, actually) and lows (47 fouls, 2 “T”s). And after 50 minutes of full-out play, a winner by the slightest — four-point — margin. Bragging rights to the Queen City belong to the X-men this season, as they downed #19 Cincinnati 83-79 before 10,000+ fans at the Cintas Center. Terrell Holloway scored a career-high 26 points on 7-13 (1-5 3FG, 6-8 2FG) and 11-11 FT shooting. Senior Jason Love matched his career-high for rebounds, 19 (3 off), and scored the Musketeers’ last five points to seal the win. This is the 3rd straight Crosstown Shootout win for Xavier, the first for rookie head coach Chris Mack. The Musketeers travel to Indianapolis, IN, to take on #17 Butler on Saturday (12/19), return home for a tilt with Miami (OH) and then break for the holidays. They swing back into action as they host LSU on the 29th.

Games to Catch

  • Richmond at South Carolina, Wednesday 12/16 — The game features a matchup of guards, as the Spiders’ Kevin Anderson and David Gonzalvez will go up against the Gamecocks’ experienced backcourt duo, Devan Downey and Brandis Raley-Ross. South Carolina will be in the SEC hunt, with a good chance to bring home an NCAA bid come March.
  • Xavier at #17 Butler, Saturday 12/19 — The Bulldogs have replaced Gonzaga as the mid-major darling of the mainstream media. Terrell Holloway, Mark Lyons and Jordan Crawford will check out another 3-guard offense when they go into action against Shelvin Mack, Willie Veasley and Ronald Nored (with Zach Hahn and Shawn Vanzant off the bench). Jason Love and Kenny Frease will have a good chance to dominate inside.
  • Richmond vs #13 Florida, Saturday 12/19 — If Anderson and Gonzalvez get a workout with South Carolina, expect the Spider front court of Justin Harper, Dan Geriot and Ryan Butler (and Josh Duinker and Francis-Cedric Martel) to get a workout when they go up against Vernon Macklin, Alex Tyus and Chandler Parsons of the Gators. No rest for Anderson and Gonzalvez as they match up against highly recruited freshman Kenny Boyton and sophomore guard Erving Walker. Should be a good test for the Spiders.
  • La Salle at Oklahoma State, Monday 12/21 — Guards Rodney Green, Kimani Barrett and Ruben Guillandeaux will match up with Coach Travis Ford’s stable of guards — James Anderson, Keiton Page, Obi Muonelo and Ray Penn. Aric Murray and Yves Mbala (and Jerrell Williams) will have their hands full with Matt Pilgrim and Marshall Moses (and Roger Franklin).
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Backdoor Cuts: Vol. III

Posted by rtmsf on December 9th, 2009

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Backdoor Cuts is a college basketball discussion between correspondents Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore (and this week guest player Mike Walsh) that will appear every Wednesday in Rush the Court. This week they challenge each other to write about the conference challenges while excessively using the word “challenge” — before the new guy decides to monopolize the column for “Holy War” purposes.

DAVE ZEITLIN: With the Big Ten/ACC challenge finished, the SEC/Big East challenge coming up and the Pac-10/Big 12 challenge going on forever, we thought it was time to hear who your favorite RTC writers believe to be the best conference this season. Let’s call this the Dave Zeitlin/Steve Moore Challenge. Only nobody wins. And there’s no hard work or sweat involved (except maybe for Steve, whose fingers sweat when he types too fast). Here goes anyway:

Before the season started, it seemed like the Big East and ACC would be a little bit down, while the SEC and Big 10 would be a little bit up — and I think, for the most part, that’s held up so far. But even with Coach Cal (Steve’s hero), Billy Donovan and everyone’s favorite orange Jew leading a reloaded SEC East, I don’t think the conference has made up enough ground from its woeful 2008-09 performance (when only two teams finished in the top 50 of the RPI). The ACC is clearly down after losing the challenge to the Big 10 for the first time ever, and, despite their challenge triumph, I don’t think the Big 10 should stand at the top, especially after Evan Turner’s unfortunate injury. The Pac-10? Please.

So where does that leave us? I think the discussion at this point should come down to the Big East and the Big 12. The Big East may be a little down from last year when they were stacked top to bottom, but the conference still has three teams (Villanova, Syracuse and West Virginia) in the top 10. The Big 12, meanwhile, might boast the best two teams in the nation (Kansas and Texas) while also featuring teams like Texas Tech, which is coming off the biggest win in the coaching career of Pat Knight, who I like far better than his father.

So … Big East or Big 12? Big 12 or Big East? Even though I grew up watching the Big East and rooting for ‘Cuse, I’m going to give the nod to the Big 12 right now. Now I’ll let Steve crunch some numbers for you and disagree with me.

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STEVE MOORE: What, no America East/Ivy League challenge? Oh…wait, that happened Tuesday night when Penn lost AGAIN to those fighting Great Danes of Albany.

As the official RTC correspondent for the ACC, I can say that the Big Ten/ACC Challenge didn’t really say much about the strength (or lack thereof of the ACC). Duke is still a better team than Wisconsin, but playing in Madison is tough. The real swing came at the bottom of the ACC (Florida State, Virginia, etc.), which is much weaker than the bottom of the Big Ten.

For my money, the Big East is the best conference in the country, and it’ll be hard for anyone to compete with that over the next few seasons. Continuing — and this is a very abstract belief on my part with no real evidence to back it up — the league seems to have more programs that are intent on competing year-to-year, i.e. not necessarily recruiting guys who are clear one-and-doners, but going more for the long-term kids. Look at the roster Jay Wright has at Villanova, or Syracuse, or West Virginia. Lots of sophomores, juniors and even the rarest of college basketball species: SENIORS! Sure, the bottom of the Big East is pretty putrid (see DePaul, South Florida), even though they all have winning records right now on a steady cupcake diet.

Texas and Kansas are obviously great teams, and the Big 12 is clearly in the discussion. But it’s really hard to even have this debate so early in the year. Texas Tech’s win over Washington was nice, but I can’t take the Big 12/Pac-10 Challenge seriously considering how terrible the Pac-10 is this season.

That’s it for my abstract, totally baseless arguments on the subject. At least for now. I’m tired, and have no brain space for stats and numbers. I’ll leave that to the Ivy Leaguer…

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Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 25th, 2009

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

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By CCT Staff | February 4, 2009

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Lavoy Allen (So.), Temple

Allen had perhaps his best week as a collegiate player, averaging 19.5 points and 14.5 rebounds over a two game span. The 6-foot-9 sophomore was sensational from the floor, shooting a sparkling 74% (14-of-19) during the stretch. In his most impressive game of the season, Allen shot 8-of-8 from the floor, scoring 20 points and grabbing 18 rebounds in a win over St. Bonaventure yesterday. The two double-doubles this week were the ninth and tenth of the season for Allen, as he helped lead the Owls to two victories.

HONORABLE MENTION: Kevin Anderson, (So.) Richmond; Ahmad Nivins (Sr.) Saint Joseph’s; Damian Saunders (So.), 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.)

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Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on February 18th, 2009

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

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By CCT Staff | February 16, 2009

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Chris Wright (So.), Dayton
For Wright, winning the Player of the Week is about more than just numbers. In Dayton’s resume-building victory against nationally-ranked rival Xavier, Wright powered the Flyers with a 19 point, six rebound effort. In the process, Wright shouldered – as a star must – the additional burden for a Dayton squad without the services of valuable contributor Rob Lowery. Wright wouldn’t let his Flyers suffer a letdown after that rivalry win either, following up the Xavier effort with a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds) in Dayton’s triumph over Richmond. Wright averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and an impressive three blocks per contest for the week.

HONORABLE MENTION: Tony Gaffney (Sr.), Massachusetts; Mike Moore (So.), Fordham; Lamont Mack (Sr.), Charlotte

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