Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 2nd, 2011

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

A Look Back

Duquesne, despite an 0-2 week, continues to be ranked #2 in net efficiencies through Monday of this week (2/28/2011). Duquesne dropped into a fourth-place tie with Rhode Island after they sustained losses to the Rams and Saint Louis last week. While they have dominated enough games that their decline in net efficiency has not matched the decline in their won-loss record, it is clear the Dukes are suffering a severe end of the season slump. Bad timing, as a few of the conference teams need to finish their schedules strongly to earn bye seeds to Atlantic City, or at least secure home court advantage for the first round of conference tournament play. Xavier, Temple, Duquesne and Richmond, all of whom have maintained positive net efficiencies through the entire conference slate, were joined this week by a revitalized Dayton squad.

An oddity noted the past several weeks, but present through much of the A-10 conference regular season, is the inbalance between the teams with positive net efficiencies and those with negative net efficiencies, narrowed yet again when Dayton “crossed over” and joined Rhode Island on the plus side of net efficiency line. The gap between the “haves” and “have nots” has narrowed, as well, with the range between the top (Rhode Island with +0.020) of the middle four schools in the conference and the bottom (Saint Louis -0.019) is only 0.039, a gap less than that which separates Xavier from Temple (0.046) and less than a third of the gap which separates Fordham from Saint Joseph’s (0.122). I speculated last week about whether the relatively “bottom-heavy” conference would hurt Richmond’s chances for an NCAA berth, and it now appears as if that was premature as both Bracketology 101 (best predictive record over the past five seasons) and Joe Lunardi over at ESPN have Richmond in their field of 68. RTC bracketologist Zach Hayes lists the Spiders among the “first four out” in his February 28 bracket.

For those who wonder what happened to their team in conference play, the grid below should be helpful. The average efficiency for the conference is 1.018 (or 101.8 points per 100 possessions) — conference games only. By comparing each team’s offensive and defensive efficiency to the conference average (average for all conference games), I was able to determine whether the team had a “better than average” offense or defense (or both or neither). The grid below confirms the narrative of the conference season…

…with a few twists and insights. While two of the three “Good/Good” teams, Xavier and Temple, are entirely predictable, those who wonder why Richmond, despite preseason predictions, has struggled to secure their place in the NCAAs, the answer (from the chart) suggests it may have to do with defense. The Spiders have provided enough offense, but have struggled defensively in several conference games this season (Xavier, Temple and at George Washington). Through 14 conference games the Spiders are ranked #10 in shot defense (eFG%) and #9 in defensive rebounding, two factors that hurt when matching up with Xavier and Temple in particular. The key to the Bonnies revival this season is offense, while Rhode Island’s late season resugence has come through defense. The oddest team on the grid is George Washington. The Colonials tout an 8-6 record through 14 conference games, yet register below average (“Bad/Bad”) in both offensive and defensive efficiency. The paradox is resolved by noting that Coach Hobbs’ club as won a number of close conference games, two with La Salle (72-67 & 82-80), versus Saint Louis (52-46) and at Charlotte (73-67) for example, while also losing by double digits to Temple (41-57), at Duquesne (59-84) and at Richmond (58-68). Consistency matters too, it seems.

Power Rankings

The top team is Xavier. The Muskies settled it on the floor of the Consol Arena Sunday with a comfortable win over Duquesne, who dropped to #4 in the conference “record rankings.” Oddly, the bottom spot was also settled on the court, on Sunday and also with the host taking the loss. Saint Joseph‘s will now battle with Charlotte for the last spot in the first round of the A-10 Conference Tournament. Rhode Island also had a good week, while Dayton did not. Those developments are also reflected in the conference rankings and this week’s power rankings.

1. Xavier (22-6, 13-1) #23 AP

Last Week: 2/27 @Dayton 66-62

Next Week: 3/2 vs. Charlotte, 3/5 @St. Louis

Xavier continues to roll, pushing Dayton away 66-62 in a late season game that has become a conference television event. Tu Holloway again posted game-high points, 26 this time, as the Musketeers completed their sweep of the Flyers. The X-men moved up to #23 in the latest AP poll (Monday 2/28). In retrospect, the late season road game at Georgia was a very smart scheduling move. Coach Chris Mack‘s squad has games against Charlotte and a visit to Saint Louis to finish the week. Should Xavier drop both games, the #1 seed in Atlantic City would most likely go to Temple. Given the 49ers and Billikens have a combined 7-21 conference record however, those chances are pretty small (a quick log5 calculation puts the probabilities of winning both games at 70% — very, very likely). Go 1-1 and Xavier will still take the #1 seed by virtue of their holding the tie breaker over Temple. For a team that looked like their season was over on January 6, Xavier’s comeback is remarkable and a tribute to the coaching staff and players.

2. Temple (22-6, 12-2)

Last Week: 2/23 @Duke 61-78, 2/26 @George Washington 57-41

Next Week: 3/2 @Massachusetts, 3/5 vs. La Salle

A 1-1 week with a 17-point loss at Duke was the lowlight to Temple’s next-to-last week of the regular season play. Lavoy Allen took his second Player of the Week citation from the conference. The Owls are adjusting to life without Michael Eric. Temple has two conference games this week. They travel to Massachusetts for a game with the Minutemen on Wednesday, then back home for the regular season closer with Big 5 rival La Salle. A 2-0 week is very probable (the log5 probability per Ken Pomeroy is 78.9%, very likely). The Owls own the tie-breaker over Richmond, so a 1-1 week most likely still earns them the #2 seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

3. Duquesne (17-10, 9-5)

Last Week: 2/23 vs. Rhode Island 76-77, 2/26 @St. Louis 51-62

Next Week: 3/2 vs. St. Bonaventure, 3/5 @Richmond

The Dukes ran their losing streak to three through the games of last week. After an 8-0 start to conference play, Duquesne has logged a 1-5 record in conference play. Talk of an NCAA bid (remote short of an outstanding record — 14 or more wins for example — in conference play), vanished with their loss to Xavier on February 13, the Dukes nevertheless hold a #3 in the NIT field per The Bracket Project and an #8 seed per John Templon’s computer projection. Templon’s #8 seed puts the Dukes on the NIT bubble, something that could be addressed with at least one win in games of the last week of conference play. Ron Everhart and the Dukes host the Bonnies on Wednesday, then take to the road to close out the regular season in Richmond on Saturday. The Dukes have lost out on the last bye seed in Atlantic 10 Tournament, but even if they log another 0-2 week (not probable) they will host a first round A-10 Tournament game. No question Duquesne fans have to be disappointed with the team’s play over the last six games (a -0.020 net efficiency and 0.440 Pythagorean Winning Percentage), the good news is wins away from the Palumbo this season. The 2010 Dukes logged a 3-8 (0.273) record in away and neutral games that included a net efficiency of -0.102. This season Duquesne has a 0.093 net efficiency reflected in their 8-7 (0.533) record.

4. Richmond (22-7, 11-3)

Last Week: 2/26 @Charlotte 72-59

Next Week: 3/2 @Saint Joseph’s, 3/5 vs. Duquesne

Richmond closed their series with Charlotte with a 13 point road win. The Spiders have locked down at least a #4 seed in Atlantic City, bypassing the first round game for the second consecutive season, irrespective of how they play against Duquesne. A worst case for Coach Mooney’s team is an 0-2 week with a corresponding 2-0 from Rhode Island, in which case the Runnin’ Rams would take the #3 seed and push the Spiders down to a #4 seed (with a semi-final game versus Xavier, should both survive the quarter final round on Friday). A relatively unlikely possibility however, since the Spiders have a two loss edge over Rhode Island and play 3-11 Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday, a game Pomeroy projects as a win to a 80% probability. While Richmond has had some inconvenient timing with home games this season (Bucknell, Rhode Island and Xavier ring a bell?) and the Dukes have improved away from Palumbo this season, the Spiders have to be favored to close out the regular season with a win and a 13-3 conference record because Richmond is a consensus bubble team for the NCAAs right now, and finishing with a good run can only help their chances. Bracketology 101 has Richmond in as an #11 seed (last eight in territory), while RTC’s Zach Hayes has Richmond (just barely) out.

5. Rhode Island (18-10, 9-5)

Last Week: 2/23 @Duquesne 77-76, 2/26 @Fordham 90-58

Next Week: 3/2 vs. George Washington, 3/5 @St. Bonaventure

Rhode Island logged a 2-0 week to bounce back yet again and leapfrog the Flyers in my power ranking. The road win over slumping Duquesne gives Jim Barron‘s team the tie-breaker over the Dukes — both share #4 in the conference standings through March 1. Fourth place is the last bye seed in Atlantic City, and would allow the Runnin’ Rams to rest through the front end of next week, when eight of the conference’s 14 teams will go head-to-head one last time to decide who goes on to spend the weekend in Atlantic City, NJ. Rhodi’s last two will not be easy, hosting George Washington on Wednesday and traveling to St. Bonaventure on Saturday. Both the Bonnies and Colonials have improved with more season play. Sweep and Rhode Island has the last bye seed irrespective of other outcomes. Lose one or (horrors…) both, and final standings get complicated. Though an NCAA invitation will only come should the Runnin’ Rams run the table in Atlantic City, they are very much in play for an NIT berth, currently seeded #8 in both The NIT Bracket Project and John Templon’s computerized projection Rhode Island is on the (NIT) bubble, but a second 20 win season and strong finish in conference play should secure them a place in the field of 32.

6. Dayton (19-10, 7-7)

Last Week: 2/27 vs. Xavier 62-66

Next Week: 3/2 vs. Saint Louis, 3/5 @George Washington

Dayton logged an 0-1 week and dropped back to a 0.500 record in conference play. The Flyers, currently in a three-way tie for #7 (Massachusetts holds the tie-breaker), have an opportunity to move up to sole possession of #6 if they can beat both Saint Louis and George Washington to close out conference play. The Colonials have not been dominant at home during conference play (a 0.013 net efficiency for their seven conference home games), but the Flyers have been something less than Road Warriors themselves, logging an anemic -0.018 net efficiency in seven conference road games. Pomeroy’s log5 projection narrowly gives the game to the Flyers.

7. George Washington (15-13, 8-6)

Last Week: 2/23 vs. Charlotte 74-57, 2/26 vs. Temple 41-57

Next Week: 3/2 @Rhode Island, 3/5 vs. Dayton

The Colonials beat Charlotte on Wednesday, but lost (predictably) to Temple Saturday. This last week could be a Statement Week for Coach Karl Hobbs’ squad. Both games are with NIT teams from 2010, and teams close to the sixth ranked (in conference standings) Colonials. Take both and GW has assured themselves of home court advantage for the first round of conference play. Lose both and GWU closes the regular season with a 0.500 records, both in conference (8-8) and overall (15-15).

8. St. Bonaventure (15-12, 7-7)

Last Week: 2/23 vs. Fordham 82-63, 2/26 @Saint Joseph’s 65-79

Next Week: 3/2 @Duquesne, 3/5 vs. Rhode Island

Coach Mike Schmidt’s Bonnies thumped Fordham, but lost by 14 to struggling Saint Joseph’s. Though finishing the regular season above 0.500 and assuring themselves of at least a first round game in the Atlantic 10 Tournament has to be gratifying, locking down a homecourt advantage for the tournament has been squandered with the Saint Joseph’s loss. The last two games are interesting because both Duquesne and Rhode Island are tied for #4 in the conference standings and in the conversation for an NIT berth. Win both and the Bonnies will most likely tie for #6 in the conference standings and grab the #7 seed (and home court advantage) for the first round of the A-10 tournament (and play St. Louis). Win neither and St. Bonaventure will do no worse than last season’s 7-9, a #9 seed and trip to Washington DC for a first round tournament game at George Washington.

9. Massachusetts (15-12, 7-7)

Last Week: 2/23 vs. Saint Joseph’s 69-51, 2/27 @La Salle 49-72

Next Week: 3/2 vs. Temple, 3/5 @Fordham

The Minutemen posted another 1-1 week, beating Saint Joseph’s by two and dropping a 130point decision on the road to La Salle. Best case scenario for Derek Kellogg‘s squad is a 9-7 finish and a #6 place tie with Dayton. UMass holds the tie-breaker, which would give the Minutemen the home court for a first round game versus Saint Louis, a team they lost to during the season. A more likely 1-1 week would probably put UMass in tie for #7, good for the #8 seed and a first round game (at home) versus (most likely) St. Bonaventure.

10. La Salle (13-16, 5-9)

Last Week: 2/27 vs. Massachusetts 72-49

Next Week: 3/2 vs. Fordham, 3/5 @Temple

The Explorers logged a 1-0 week, beating Massachusetts in convincing. The losing streak stops at three games. Best finish for the Explorers at this point would give them a win over Big 5 rival Temple (and level their season series at 1 apiece) and a #10 seed for the A-10 tournament. Dr. Giannini’s squad would most likely travel to Massachusetts for a first round game with the Minutemen, a team that beat them by 23 last week. A more likely scenario has La Salle finishing conference play with a 6-10 record, but still with a claim to the #10 seed in the tournament.

11. Saint Louis (11-17, 5-9)

Last Week: 2/26 vs. Duquesne 62-51

Next Week: 3/2 @Dayton, 3/5 vs. Xavier

The Billikens posted a 1-0 week, complements of an 11 point win over fading Duquesne and a Rookie of the Week effort from Dwayne Evans. Finishing out with Dayton and Xavier is a tough road for Rick Majerus‘ charges. No doubt the schedule-makers anticipated a Mitchell and Reed-led team would challenge the Musketeers and Flyers for a piece of the conference elite. The late season games should be a valuable experience for the freshmen and sophomore-heavy team. Something they can build on for next season. Worst case, the Bills drop both and draw the #11 seed for the A-10 Conference Tournament. They will most likely travel to Dayton or Duquesne for a first-round tournament game.

12. Charlotte (10-18, 2-12)

Last Week: 2/23 @George Washington 57-74, 2/26 vs. Richmond 59-72

Next Week: 3/2 @Xavier, 3/5 vs. Saint Joseph’s

Another 0-2 week has extended coach Alan Major‘s losing streak to six. Prospects to break the run at six are slim as Charlotte takes to the road for a game with Xavier Wednesday. Prospects are a bit better on Saturday, as the 49ers host Saint Joseph’s. The last ticket to the first round of conference tournament play is on the line.

13. Saint Josephs (8-20, 3-11)

Last Week: 2/23 @Massachusetts 51-69, 2/26 vs. St. Bonaventure 79-65

Next Week: 3/2 vs. Richmond, 3/5 @Charlotte

The Hawks logged their second consecutive 20 loss season during the course of a 1-1 week. Langston Galloway earned his fourth Rookie of the Week citation (shared with Saint Louis forward Dwayne Evans). Looking ahead, beating Richmond, improbable (about a 20% probability per Ken Pomeroy), would nevertheless assure the Hawks of a first round game in the A-10 Tournament. Should they lose, their road game with Charlotte will decide who gets the last ticket to the A-10′s first round, and one last game for the season.

14. Fordham (6-20, 0-14)

Last Week: 2/23 @St. Bonaventure 63-82, 2/26 vs. Rhode Island 58-90

Next Week: 3/2 @La Salle, 3/5 vs. Massachusetts

Fordham’s winless string runs to 14 in conference play, with an 0-2 week. The probabilities (per Ken Pomeroy) have climbed to an ominous 59.9%. The Rams are staring at a two season winless run in conference.

A Look Ahead

No conference titles on the line this week, and in retrospect, it seems the schedule-makers in September overestimated Saint Louis and Dayton, while underestimating Rhode Island. Places #1 and #14, however, are the only two that are absolutely settled going into the last week of conference play. Virtually every other place will be settled by play either Wednesday or Saturday. The season will end Saturday for those teams finishing #13 and #14. At the bottom of the conference Saint Joseph’s and Charlotte will most likely settle who gets the last berth in the first round in Halton Arena, Charlotte Saturday.

The last A-10 Conference Tournament bye seed (#4) is still in play, with Rhode Island and Duquesne the primary candidates. Both will play St. Bonaventure this last week of the season, so the Bonnies, who have no hope of finishing higher than #7, can play the spoiler. Of particular interest is the Wednesday game between Duquesne and St. Bonaventure, to be played in Pittsburgh. The Bonnies beat the Dukes in Olean early last month, the loss that started the Dukes’ fall from grace. Places #5 through #10 will also be settled on the court this week, with Dayton, George Washington, St. Bonaventure, Massachusetts, along with Duquesne and Rhode Island all having a stake in the outcome. St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island and George Washington have games with two teams ranked in that group, several with each other (Rhode Island-St. Bonaventure, Rhode Island-GWU). Of interest is Dayton’s Saturday game with George Washington, as the winner will hold the tie-breaker over the other in the event Rhode Island loses to George Washington.

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Checking in on… the Atlantic-10

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 16th, 2011

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

A Look Back

Net Efficiencies, end of season honors: Net efficiencies through Monday of this week (2/14/2011) give us a better sense of the conference race than the won-loss standings. Though Duquesne drops to fourth place in the conference standings, the Dukes have dominated enough games to maintain their spot just below Xavier. Temple and Richmond follow, with both maintaining positive net efficiencies.

Xavier took sole ownership of first place Sunday with their win over Duquesne. The Musketeers’ conference SOS (see above) confirms their fans have no need to credit the conference schedule maker with an assist on their ascension. The Musketeers are back!

One of the developing oddities of late is the number of teams with negative net efficiencies — with a full ten teams logging negative nets through last Sunday. A 50/50 split would be unusual, but a 30/70 split is a bit unusual and a development that should rebalance over the next two weeks. The split however, does not bode well for postseason prospects. Consensus bracketology has the conference with three “solid ins” right now (Xavier, Duquesne and Temple), and Richmond “with work to do.”

With POY handouts  and All-Conference Team awards less than a month away, it is time to look at who has been on the conference radar all season. The Player of the Year will most likely come from the list below — I have noted the number of times the player has been cited as Player of the Week and the number of times the player has made the conference Honor Roll.

Someone not named Tu Holloway will have to put on a major push through the end of the month to overtake the Xavier guard for Player of the Year honors. Of the most like candidates (most are shown in the table), the most likely candidate is Justin Harper, Richmond’s talented #4 player, possibly Temple’s Lavoy Allen or Ramone Moore, or if Rhode Island has the kind of February that St. Louis had last season, maybe Delroy James finds his way into the conversation. But let’s be honest, for Rhode Island to have that kind of February, James would have to play like the Player of the Year. I believe the voters tend to look among the conference contenders for the Player of the Year contenders, which eliminates Chris Wright (Dayton), Andrew Nicholson (St. Bonaventure), Chris Gaston (Fordham) and Aaric Murray (La Salle). All four (and James and Harper) are however, along with James, Moore, Allen, Chris Wright and Duquesne’s Bill Clark, well in the mix for All-Conference Teams. Those not named to the first team will no doubt make the second team.

Rookie of the Year honors appear to be a little tighter, with contenders coming from Saint Joseph‘s, Dayton, La Salle and George Washington. Duquesne’s T.J. McConnell (see table above) is the clear favorite right now, but how he fares with the voters may well be tied to how strongly the Dukes finish out the regular season. The voters may be less inclined to pin conference-contender responsibilities on a freshman/transfer, so Langston Galloway (Saint Joseph’s), Tyreek Duren (La Salle), Juwan Staten (Dayton) and Namanja Mikic (George Washington) should not be handicapped when compared to McConnell. There are two more rounds of weekly citations and a strong closing by Saint Joseph’s or George Washington may scramble this race.

Power Rankings

The top team is Xavier. The Muskies settled it on the floor of the Consol Arena Sunday with a comfortable win over Duquesne. Duquesne dropped to #4 in the conference “record rankings”. Oddly the bottom spot was also settled on the court, also on Sunday and also with the host taking the loss. Saint Joseph’s will now battle with Charlotte for the last spot in the first round of the A-10 Conference Tournament. Rhode Island also had a good week, while Dayton did not. And those developments are also reflected in the conference rankings and this week’s power rankings.

1. Xavier (18-6, 9-1)

Last Week: 2/8 @Georgia 65-57, 1/13 @Duquesne 71-63

Next Week: 2/16 @Saint Joseph’s, 2/19 vs. Fordham

After a start to the season that included injuries, academics and unexpected losses, the Musketeers have put them back at the top of the conference and into the NCAAs. Xavier has been gaining national notice over the last half of January, and whispers of Chris Mack for conference coach of the year seemed justified with their comfortable win over Duquesne Sunday. Tu Holloway earned an Honor Roll citation for averaging double digit scoring over the course of the two road games.

The Duquesne game was a classic first half/second half struggle. The home team took a narrow one point lead into the locker room, but Xavier, the larger and more physical team, slowed down the pace (36 possessions was where Duquesne wanted to play) to a more manageable 33 possessions, and took control of the defensive boards. Duquesne had a huge 31-23 FGA advantage in the first half, complements of some terrific offensive board work. The Musketeers shut down the defensive boards, limiting the Dukes to a skimpy 20% rebounding rate of their misses in the second half. Neither team overwhelmed the opponent with an offensive blitz, but by limiting second chance opportunities, Xavier turned the game into a series of one-and-done possessions. And that was a game where their superior conversion abilities could prevail. Coach Mack’s squad has light duty this week — games with Saint Joseph’s and Fordham. No slip-ups, guys.

2. Duquesne (16-7, 8-2)

Last Week: 2/13 vs. Xavier 63-71

Next Week: 2/16 @Massachusetts, 2/19 @Dayton

The Dukes had another 1-1 week, which this time dropped them back to #4 in the conference standings, though they maintain their #2 spot in these power rankings. Ron Everhart‘s charges have two road games this week, coming off a loss to Xavier, this could be a rougher trip than anticipated. Beware of a dangerous Dayton club.

3. Temple (19-5, 9-2)

Last Week: 2/9 vs. Fordham 77-66, 2/12 @Dayton 75-63

Next Week: 2/16 vs. Richmond, 2/19 vs. Saint Joseph’s

It was Lavoy Allen’s turn, as the injury bug took a bite out of the senior forward, forcing him to the bench for Saturday’s game versus Dayton. Ramone Moore stepped up and earned his sixth Honor Roll citation last week as he averaged 24.0 points and 5.0 rebounds over the week. Moore snagged nine rebounds in the Owls’ win over Dayton. Temple has a showdown with Richmond scheduled for Thursday night. The winner should draw at least the #3 seed for the conference tournament in Atlantic City next month.

4. Richmond (20-6, 9-2)

Last Week: 2/9 @George Washington 69-65, 2/12 vs. Saint Louis 64-52

Next Week: 2/16 @Temple, 2/19 vs. St. Bonaventure

The Spiders put some distance between the elites and the middle teams as they posted another 2-0 week complements from two middle-of-the-conference teams. Justin Harper earned his second Player of the Week citation for as he averaged 21.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in Richmond’s two games last week. Coach Chris Mooney and Company take a trip up to Philadelphia for a mini-showdown on Wednesday, then returns home to host the Bonnies on Saturday.

5. Rhode Island (16-9, 7-4)

Last Week: 2/9 vs. Dayton 67-53, 2/12 vs. Charlotte 71-70 OT

Next Week: 2/19 vs. Massachusetts

Rhode Island demolished a struggling Dayton team Wednesday to take over fifth place in the conference standings, and hung on to beat Charlotte on Saturday in overtime. Too little too late? Perhaps for the NCAAs, a number of solid conference wins will not make the Selection Committee forget losses to Quinnipiac and a route at the hands of Florida. Finish solidly and another round in the NITs awaits. Will that be enough for coach Jim Baron? The Runnin’ Rams face regional rival (and conference mate) Massachusetts Saturday in one of their three conference mirror games.

6. Dayton (17-9, 5-6)

Last Week: 2/9 @Rhode Island 53-67, 2/12 vs. Temple 63-75

Next Week: 2/16 @Charlotte, 2/19 vs. Duquesne

Final Judgement Week did not go well for the Flyers, as they went 0-2 against teams they really needed to beat to make any case for the post season. Rhode Island has a two game cushion in the loss column now, and Temple has another important win to stay within striking distance of Xavier. Dayton continues to drift downward in the conference standings. Dayton will play Charlotte in Charlotte Wednesday, then return to host Duquesne on Saturday.

7. George Washington (13-12, 6-5)

Last Week: 2/9 vs. Richmond 65-69, 2/13 @Massachusetts 59-51

Next Week: 2/19 @La Salle

The Colonials logged another 1-1 week, but gained an advantage over Massachusetts by winning their head-to-head. Freshman Namanja Mikic earned his second Honor Roll citation (to go with his Rookie of the Week citation) as he averaged 17.5 points for the week’s games. Karl Hobbs‘ team travels to Philadelphia to play La Salle Saturday in their only game this week.

8. St. Bonaventure (13-10, 5-5)

Last Week: 2/12 vs. La Salle 82-61

Next Week: 2/16 vs. St. Louis, 2/20 @Richmond

Coach Mike Schmidt’s Bonnies hammered a struggling La Salle squad by 21 points, earning Andrew Nicholson his ninth Honor Roll citation this season. The Bonnies host St. Louis Wednesday and travel to Richmond for a tilt with the Spiders Sunday.

9. Massachusetts (13-10, 5-5)

Last Week: 2/13 vs. George Washington 51-59

Next Week: 2/16 vs. Duquesne, 2/19 @Rhode Island

The Minutemen ran their losing streak to three last week with a loss to George Washington Sunday. Derek Kellogg‘s squad looks at two more tough opponents this week as the Minutemen host a two game home stand by hosting the Colonials next Sunday, then the Dukes the following Wednesday.

10.  La Salle (12-14, 4-7)

Last Week: 2/9 @Saint Louis 78-77, 2/12 @St. Bonaventure 61-82

Next Week: 2/19 vs. George Washington

The Explorers won their mini-series with St. Louis, pushing the Billikens another game down in the conference standings, but they have a two game gap to jump if they want to finish in the middle of the conference. Dr. John Giannini‘s squad has earned 16 citations for individual performances from the conference this season, one less than conference-leaders Duquesne and Dayton, two teams ensconced in the conference’s upper division. When working through this season, the La Salle staff and administration is going to have to reconcile the paradox of recognizable individual performances and mediocre team outcomes. La Salle has a single weekend game, as they host George Washington on Saturday. If the Explorers plan to mount a closing rush for an upper division finish this season, they have to start with George Washington.

11. Saint Louis (8-16, 3-8)

Last Week: 2/9 vs. La Salle 77-78, 2/12 @Richmond 52-64

Next Week: 2/16 @St. Bonaventure, 2/19 vs. Charlotte

The Billikens posted an 0-2 week, and run their losing streak to three. The Richmond game raised no eyebrows, but giving up a layup to Ruben Guillandeaux with 19 seconds left (and a one point lead) will hurt for awhile. Freshman Dwayne Evans earned his second Honor Roll citation of the season as he averaged 15.5 points and 11.5 rebounds last week. Coach Rick Majerus‘ squad heads out to Olean, New York to play St. Bonaventure Wednesday, then returns to Chaifetz Arena to host Charlotte in a Saturday game.

12.     Charlotte (10-13, 2-7)

Last Week: 2/12 @Rhode Island 70-71 OT

Next Week: 2/16 vs. Dayton, 2/19 @St. Louis

Charlotte logged a 0-1 week and extended their losing streak with Satuday’s result in Rhode Island. Chris Braswell did draw a conference citation for logging his fifth double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) in the loss. Charlotte hosts Dayton Wednesday and travels to St. Louis for a weekend game with the Billikens.

13. Saint Joseph‘s (6-17, 1-8)

Last Week: 2/13 @Fordham 76-70

Next Week: 2/16 vs. Xavier, 2/20 @Temple

The Hawks played a single game last week, but it was a good one as Saint Joseph’s stormed back from a 12 point halftime deficit to notch the program’s 1,500th all-time win, a six point classic, against Fordham last Sunday that also earned Langston Galloway his third Rookie of the Week citation for his career-high 25 point performance against Fordham. Saint Joseph’s’ two-game winning streak has been fun, but the Hawks are back in the meat grinder this week as they host Xavier on Wednesday and then travel across town to play Temple on Sunday.

14. Fordham (6-17, 0-11)

Last Week: 2/9 @Temple 66-77, 2/13 vs. Saint Joseph’s 70-76

Next Week: 2/16 @Xavier

Fordham’s winless string runs to 11 in conference play, with another 0-2 week. The probability they will finish the conference season without a win stand ominously at 44.7% per Ken Pomeroy. The Pythagorean Winning Percentage suggests the Rams will earn a win, but the calculations for individual games shows a “losing” probability for each game. Best chance remains a travel-challenged Massachusetts squad at the end of the season. Fordham travels to Cincinnati to take on Xavier.

A Look Ahead

The week offers a single headliner game, Richmond at Temple on Thursday night. Crucial to settling the question of the #2 and #3 seeds in Atlantic City. A Temple win would assure the Owls of no worse than a #3 seed, with distinct possibilities of a #2 seed should Duquesne falter. A Richmond win will leave the question to be settled on the court in a season-ending clash with Duquesne on March 3. Rebounding has become Richmond’s burden to bear this season. The lack of presence on the glass means their shots have to fall consistently for them to have a chance. So far they have as the Spiders convert at a 54% (eFG%) rate in conference play. They do not however rebound defensively either. And that can be a real problem given Temple’s board domination. This one should go to the Owls, though Temple fans should be warned that Richmond has the strongest road-only efficiency in the conference.

The Rhode Island-Massachusetts game scheduled for Saturday can help the Runnin’ Rams for NIT consideration should Coach Baron’s charges win. With five conference games remaining in the regular season, Rhode Island can solidify a #5 seed in the tournament should they continue to win.

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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 2nd, 2011

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

A Look Back

Efficiency Differentials Sort Out the Best and Worst: In an effort to assess the “quality” of each team’s conference record, I included an SOS table below, consistent with Ken Pomeroy’s formula, on the average of the adjusted offensive and defensive efficiencies for the conference teams played so far. The four teams at the top of the conference, along with the three teams at the bottom behaved and “fell into place” this week, but Dayton, together with Massachusetts and Rhode Island, continues to be outliers. The Flyers are used to that role, one they assumed virtually all of the 2010 conference season as well.

The SOS will bounce around for the next few weeks, as less than 50% of the conference schedule is official to this point. Duquesne‘s record is consistent with its efficiency differential, but their SOS suggests this may be due to an easier schedule. Games against Dayton, Temple and Richmond, however, suggest the record is legitimate and earned. As the Dukes play through February their record and SOS are elements worth monitoring. Massachusetts’ negative differential is a significant counterpoint to the Minutemen’s conference record. Their two conference losses were blowouts — by 29 to Xavier and by 16 to Richmond. UMass faces the second-best defense in conference (so far) in Saint Louis on Wednesday, and if the Bills can find a scorer somewhere on their roster, that game may be less certain a win for Massachusetts than it first appears. Though Fordham lost both games again last week, they nevertheless narrowed the differential gap that had opened at the start of conference play.

Power Rankings

The showdown games broke for the favored teams last week, leaving the top one-third of the conference standings virtually intact. St. Louis had a bad week, as did Charlotte, and both fell to the bottom third of the rankings.

1.        Xavier (15-5, 7-0)

Last Week: 1/26 vs. George Washington 81-74, 1/29 @Richmond 85-62

Next Week: 2/2 @Charlotte, 2/5 vs. Saint Louis

The Musketeers had another 2-0 week as Tu Holloway received his fifth Player of the Week citation (second in a row), from the conference. Holloway averaged 27.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in X’s wins over GWU and Richmond. Coach Chris Mack‘s squad will travel to Charlotte on Wednesday before hosting Saint Louis on Saturday.

2.        Duquesne (15-5, 7-0)

Last Week: 1/26 @Fordham 91-72, 1/29 vs. Dayton 81-64

Next Week: 2/2 vs. George Washington, 2/5 @St. Bonaventure

The Dukes closed out a “perfect” January with their fifth 2-0 week, running their winning streak to 10. Duquesne’s “May-November Couple” senior forward Damian Saunders and freshman point guard TJ McConnell were cited together for the third consecutive week. Saunders with an Honor Roll citation (his fourth this season), was cited for averaging a double-double (16.0 points 10.0 rebounds) in games against Fordham and Dayton. McConnell averaged 14.5 points,  7.0 assists and 5.0 rebounds and in the Dukes’ two games. Duquesne, touting the highest possession rate in conference games this season (72.4) won each game by double digits (19 points versus Fordham, 17 points versus Dayton). Duquesne plays at home this Wednesday against George Washington, then take to the road on Saturday to face St. Bonaventure in Olean, NY.

3.        Richmond (16-6, 5-2)

Last Week: 1/25 @Dayton 70-61, 1/29 vs. Xavier 62-85

Next Week: 2/2 vs. Saint Joseph’s, 2/5 @Fordham

The Spiders fell another game behind the pace last week, beating Dayton on the road (a bit surprising perhaps), but dropping a home game to co-leader Xavier. Richmond squandered a good opportunity to pull one of the conference leaders back to the pack, but also to post another resume win for Selection Sunday. Richmond is listed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi in the “First Four Out” group as of last Monday (1/31). The squad should have an easier time this week as they face the conference’s two worst teams. No more slip-ups, guys.

4.        Temple (15-5, 5-2)

Last Week: 1/26 vs. Charlotte 76-67, 1/29 @Saint Joseph’s 72-54

Next Week: 2/2 @La Salle, 2/5 vs. Rhode Island

A Juan Fernandez-less Temple nevertheless posted 2-0 last week and pulled into a tie with Richmond for third place in the conference standings. Senior Lavoy Allen earned his third citation from the conference (a Player of the Week and two Honor Rolls) for posting back-to-back double-doubles in games with Charlotte and Saint Joseph’s. Fernandez, diagnosed with a bone bruise earlier this month, missed both games, in a prudent move by Coach Fran Dunphy. A wise move given the opponents, the Owls managed a nine point winning margin over the 49ers and an 18 point win over Saint Joseph’s. The back court quartet of Scootie Randall, Ramone Moore, Khalif Wyatt and TJ DiLeo combined for 42 points versus Charlotte and 39 versus Saint Joseph’s. Next week, the Owls travel across town for a game at La Salle, and host up-and-down Rhode Island on Saturday. Those two games, which Pomeroy projects as wins, should, worst case, have the Owls keep pace (albeit two games back) with Xavier and Duquesne, but coach Fran Dunphy knows that long term he has to get his back court leader healthy to stay in the conference race.

5.        Massachusetts (13-7, 5-2)

Last Week: 1/26 @St. Bonaventure 78-69, 1/30 vs. Rhode Island 64-54

Next Week: 2/2 @Saint Louis, 2/5 @Saint Joseph’s

The Minutemen had a 2-0, bounce back week, beating the Bonnies in an important road game, then most importantly, beating Rhode Island in a head-to-head for a piece of third place in the conference standings. Senior guard Anthony Gurley earned his fifth citation (second consecutive) for the Honor Roll as he shot 45.2% from the field while he averaged 24.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in UMass’ two games last week. The Minutemen will take to the road for their longest road trip of the conference season, traveling to Saint Louis for a game against the struggling Billikens and then over to Philadelphia for a game against with the also struggling Hawks of Saint Joseph’s on Saturday.

6.        Rhode Island (13-8, 4-3)

Last Week: 1/26 @Saint Louis 59-57, 1/30 @Massachusetts 54-64

Next Week: 2/2 vs. Fordham, 2/5 @Temple

Rhode Island beat a struggling Saint Louis team Wednesday, but dropped a ten-point game to Massachusetts Saturday. The 1-1 week translates into an ever-shrinking post season prospect (NIT anyone?). Senior forward Delroy James earned his eighth Honor Roll citation from the conference as he averaged 18.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the Rams last week. A Wednesday game versus struggling Fordham followed by a trip to Philadelphia and Saturday game with a wounded Temple squad lies ahead this week for coach Jim Baron and company. The Runnin’ Rams should be fine versus Fordham, but a win at Temple is chance to stay within striking distance in the conference race.

7.        George Washington (11-10, 4-3)

Last Week: 1/26 @Xavier 74-81, 1/29 vs. Saint Louis 52-46

Next Week: 2/2 @Duquesne, 2/5 @Charlotte

The Colonials logged a 1-1 week, stopping their losing steak at four when they beat Saint Louis on Saturday. They stay just north of 0.500 in conference play. Junior Tony Taylor‘s 20.0 point average for the two games earned him an Honor Roll mention, his fifth this season, by the conference. Karl Hobbs takes his team on the road for both games next week. They travel to Pittsburgh for a game with Duquesne on Wednesday. If the odds are long in Pittsburgh, they should be more favorable in Charlotte on Saturday. The Colonials will face the 49ers in a game they will need to win to stay above 0.500 in conference play.

8.        Dayton (15-7, 3-4)

Last Week: 1/25 vs. Richmond 61-70, 1/30 @Duquesne 64-82

Next Week: 2/2 vs. St. Bonaventure, 2/5 @La Salle

The Flyers logged their second 0-2 week this season; their first in conference play since last March. If that was “Statement Week” for Dayton, the pronouncement is “not happening”. Senior Chris Wright earned a mention, his sixth (to go with his citation for Player of the Week earlier this season), for the conference Honor Roll with his 15.5 point, 9.0 rebound average for those two games. The losing streak should stop at two as Brian Gregory‘s troops host St. Bonaventure on Wednesday and then travel to La Salle for a Saturday game. Maybe they will have another streak – of the winning nature — going into Week Six of conference play.

9.        St. Bonaventure (11-9, 3-4)

Last Week: 1/26 vs. Massachusetts 69-78, 1/29 @Fordham 69-60

Next Week: 2/2 @Dayton, 2/5 vs. Duquesne

Coach Mike Schmidt’s Bonnies broke their three-game slide Saturday at Fordham, but not before dropping a home game versus Massachusetts on Wednesday. Junior center Andrew Nicholson earned his seventh Honor Roll nod as he recorded his eighth double-double (25 points, 11 rebounds) of the season in the Fordham game. The Bonnies travel to Dayton for a Wednesday game with the Flyers, then return home to host Duquesne, on Saturday. A 1-1 week would be a morale boost for the squad.

10.      La Salle (11-11, 3-4)

Last Week: 1/26 vs. Saint Joseph’s 76-72, 1/29 @Charlotte 91-86 2OT

Next Week: 2/2 vs. Temple, 2/5 vs. Dayton

The Explorers ran off a 2-0 week, as Dr. John Giannini‘s benching of Aaric Murray appeared to continue to pay dividends. The results put La Salle in a three-way tie for eighth place in conference standings, four games behind conference leaders Duquesne and Xavier. Murray earned his seventh citation to the conference Honor Roll as he shot 63% and averaged a double-double (17.5 points, 11.5 rebounds) in the two games last week. February opens with something of a “Statement Week” for La Salle, as the Explorers host Big 5 rival Temple and faltering Dayton in back-to-back home games. Beating Dayton, a team that has struggled with their A-10 conference road slate, would have an effect on the battle for eighth place (and most likely seventh place as well).

11.      Saint Louis (7-13, 2-5)

Last Week: 1/26 vs. Rhode Island 57-59, 1/29 @George Washington 46-52

Next Week: 2/2 vs. Massachusetts, 2/5 @Xavier

The “Sort Out Week” sorted the Billikens to the bottom third of the conference, as Saint Louis closed out January on an 0-2 note. As for relief, the cavalry is not coming, not in 2011 anyway. Head coach Rick Majerus nixed the idea of a 2011 comeback for Kwamain Mitchell, the two year point guard suspended just before the open of fall practice for an incident in the spring of 2010. Though Mitchell was readmitted to Saint Louis University and reinstated to the basketball program for the spring semester, Majerus has insisted that unless “…we ended up with four players and he’s the fifth. He’s not going to play. He’s not ready to play…” While there is virtually no chance Saint Louis can roll out another “Fabulous February” like 2010 (7-1), next week’s opponents, Massachusetts on Wednesday and at Xavier on Saturday, would be the place to begin. Stay tuned.

12.      Charlotte (9-12, 1-6)

Last Week: 1/26 @Temple 67-76, 1/29 vs. La Salle 86-91 2OT

Next Week: 2/2 vs. Xavier, 2/5 vs. George Washington

Charlotte ran their current losing streak to four with losses to Temple and La Salle last week. Odds are good (if you follow Ken Pomeroy) that the 49ers will add one, possibly even two, to that streak next week. Guard KJ Sherrill earned his first Honor Roll citation Monday for his first career double-double (24 points, 13 rebounds) in the 49ers’ five point, two overtime loss to La Salle. That loss to La Salle opened a three-game homestand, and if Charlotte wants to solidify at least a first round game in the conference tournament, they should win another two or so conference games this season. George Washington is a reasonable candidate. After that, the pickings get very slim until the last week of conference play.

13.      Fordham (6-13, 0-7)

Last Week: 1/25 vs. Duquesne 72-91, 1/29 vs. St. Bonaventure 60-69

Next Week: 2/2 @Rhode Island, 2/5 vs. Richmond

Another 0-2 week for the Rams, as the percentages that they will finish the conference season without a win grew from an ominous 18% to an even more ominous 27.4% per Ken Pomeroy. Pomeroy employs a log5 formula to project winners and losers in each game, and offers the Rams’ 2/13 tilt with Saint Joseph’s, with a 33% chance of winning, as Fordham’s strongest opportunity to dodge a second winless conference season. After Saint Joseph’s, the best opportunity is Fordham’s home season closing game against Massachusetts (24%). News is not all bad however, as the Rams closed the differential gap between itself and the rest of the conference. Fordham travels to Kingston, Rhode Island, in a Battle of the Rams Wednesday, then back home to host Richmond on Saturday.

14.      Saint Joseph’s (5-16, 0-7)

Last Week: 1/26 vs. La Salle 72-76, 1/29 vs. Temple 54-72

Next Week: 2/2 @Richmond, 2/5 vs. Massachusetts

The Hawks’ slide numbers eight consecutive games as of last week. Seven of the eight are lodged against their conference record. Freshman forward Ronald Roberts became the third member of the squad to earn an Honor Roll citation from the conference as he came off the bench to average 14.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in the Hawks’ two games. Perhaps it was the prospect of posting a second consecutive 20-loss season, or the realization that the Hawks had lost their eighth consecutive game to the Temple Owls. Or the Temple student rollout (Big 5 contests are notorious for their student rollouts) that read “It’s the Big 5, not the Big 5-15″, or maybe the realization that this would be his first last place finish in the Big 5 this decade. During the Temple post game press conference the Hawks’ coach of 16 years, Phil Martelli, initially attempted to draw a distinction between his squads’ play in 2010 and 2011 — “These aren’t beatings, these are losses, Last year, we were getting ‘beatings’. Now, we’re getting ‘losses’”, but he eventually snapped and lashed out at program critics who are “anonymous… (posters) from the netherworld. It’s not people who have been in the fray.”, pledging that “Vengeance will be sweet. And if my family gets hurt by it, then you are talking about a whole other ballgame”. Martelli, the most media-friendly and media-savvy member of the Big 5 coaching fraternity, has established a strong bond with both the Saint Joseph’s fan-base and the Phildelphia ink and radio media. His two “pillars” reacted in very different ways. Fans took to Hawks message boards Sunday and penned signed replies to the coach. The ink media tended to ignore Martelli’s statements completely in their game recaps, or soften his comments. The program suffered another blow when sophomore guard Justin Crosgile was granted a leave of absence from the team to attend to personal matters. The announcement did not indicate when or if Crosgile would rejoin the team. Crosgile had a promising freshman campaign, but his development stalled this season, and he was unable to get off the bench for a 5-16 team. Saint Joseph’s travels to Richmond for a Wednesday game, and returns to Philadelphia to host Massachusetts on Saturday.

A Look Ahead

The week lacks the headliner games of last week, but there are a handful of games that should sort out the teams in the conference’s upper division. Dayton, La Salle and St. Bonaventure, sport identical 3-4 records, and Dayton will face both this week. The Flyers host St. Bonaventure Wednesday. Dayton’s efficiency differential suggests they should have a better record than their 3-4 tally to date. A Pythagorean Winning Percentage of 0.514 projects an 8-8 conference record. Bonaventure’s Pythagorean Winning Percentage projects (based on conference games only) a six win record, while La Salle’s projects to about five wins. Taking both games will not push Flyers back into the conference elites, but it will provide some definition for the middle tier of the conference. Rhode Island will most likely boast a 5-3 when the Ram visit Temple Saturday. The Owls play La Salle on Wednesday and should have either a 6-2 (likely) or 5-3 record to match Rhode Island’s. The loser falls another game off the pace, and trying to make up three games on the conference leaders with less than a month left in conference play is a pretty tall order.

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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 26th, 2011

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

(ed. note: this post was written before Tuesday night’s games.)

A Look Back

Some Early Season Definition to the Conference Race: The teams have played five of their 16 games on their conference slate, and the efficiency differentials are beginning to give definition to the conference standings. While the teams at the top and bottom of the conference produce differentials consistent with expectations — the top teams have the highest differentials, the bottom teams have the largest negative differentials — there are a few interesting anomalies that spice the middle layers.

Eight of the conference members have conference records north of .500, but only six of those teams have positive efficiency differentials. The two who do not (Massachusetts and Rhode Island) were trounced in one or more of their conference losses. Whether their won-loss records will come to reflect their efficiency differentials, or their efficiency differentials will come to reflect their records, may be a trend worth tracking over the next month. While it is too early to draw large conclusions, the separation between La Salle, Charlotte, Saint Joseph‘s and Fordham and the rest of the conference has to be troubling for fans of those programs. A conference SOS (next week perhaps?) might be helpful when deciding the problem to this point has been tough opponents or significant problems with the teams. But morale problems may become an issue which depresses win totals going forward (and contributes to outbound transfers come season’s end) for each of those programs.

Power Rankings

The weekend games, particularly the Xavier-Temple bout, established Xavier and Duquesne at the top of the conference rankings, with Richmond keeping pace. There is a log jam in spots #4 through #8. All five teams have identical 3-2 conference records, and each has suffered at least one loss to someone in the top three. The next group of four teams (Saint Louis, St. Bonaventure, Charlotte and La Salle) has one or two conference wins, but are in danger, should they hit a losing slide, to fall into the lowest reaches of the conference.

1. Xavier (13-5, 5-0)

Last Week: 1/19 @St. Bonaventure 79-65, 1/22 vs. Temple 88-77

This Week: 1/26 vs. George Washington, 1/29 @Richmond

The Musketeers had another 2-0 week as Tu Holloway received his fourth citation as Player of the Week from the conference. Holloway averaged 25.0 points and 7.0 assists in X’s wins over St. Bonaventure and Temple. Coach Chris Mack‘s squad will host George Washington on Wednesday before traveling to Richmond for a showdown with the Spiders on Saturday. Without looking at the weather forecast, I know it will be warm in Richmond on Saturday.

2. Duquesne (13-5, 5-0)

Last Week: 1/19 @La Salle 88-71, 1/22 vs. Charlotte 83-67

This Week: 1/26 @Fordham, 1/29 vs. Dayton

The Dukes ran their winning streak to ten with yet another 2-0 week. Freshman point guard TJ McConnell burnished his Rookie of the Year resume with another Rookie of the Week citation (this one shared with St. Bonaventure’s Michael Wright), his third consecutive citation, and fourth this season. The central Pennsylvania recruit averaged 10.0 points, 5.0 steals, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the Dukes’ two games last week. McConnell had seven assists to a single turnover in 56 minutes of play. Senior wing Damian Saunders earned an Honor Roll mention for his 71.4% shot accuracy in the two games. Saunders averaged 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.0 steals last week. If those wins came against two of the conference’s lesser lights, they were nevertheless earned in convincing fashion, by margins of 17 and 16 points respectively. Ron Everhart‘s squad takes another quick trip east on Wednesday, this time to New York City to take on the Fordham Rams. They return home to host Dayton on Saturday in another crucial match-up. Dayton, at 15-5 overall and 3-2 in conference, would like to pull this leader back to the pack.

3. Richmond (15-5, 4-1)

Last Week: 1/19 vs. George Washington 68-58, 1/22 @Massachusetts 84-68

Next Week: 1/25 @Dayton, 1/29 vs. Xavier

The Spiders kept pace with the leaders this week, registering two wins against middle-of-the-conference foes George Washington and Massachusetts. Both games were taken by double digits, and collectively earned senior forward Justin Harper another citation (his fourth, to go with a Player of the Week nod) on the conference Honor Roll. Harper averaged 25.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over the course of the two games. Chris Mooney‘s charges head into one of those decisive weeks, as they travel to Dayton for a Tuesday night game, and back to Richmond for a Saturday tilt with Xavier. A sweep this week, extremely difficult, but certainly possible (Ken Pomeroy favors the Spiders in both games), would hand Richmond an advantage over both schools should a tie-breaker be necessary, but more importantly it would bring Xavier back to the pack and Richmond would be poised to leap-frog Duquesne should the Dukes falter.

4. Temple (13-5, 3-2)

Last Week: 1/19 vs. Pennsylvania 73-56, 1/22 @Xavier 77-88

This Week: 1/26 vs. Charlotte, 1/29 @Saint Joseph’s

Temple stumbled to another 1-1 week. Guard Khalif Wyatt scored 46 points in 47 minutes of play off the bench, a set of performances that earned him a place on the conference Honor Roll this week. His 19 point scoring outburst, coupled with sophomore Scootie Randall‘s 28 point, 11-16 overall shot performance was not enough to get the Owls by A-10 rival Xavier on Sunday however. The two combined for 47 of the Owls’ 77 points, Noticeably absent however, were junior point Juan Fernandez and senior Lavoy Allen. Virtually neutralized by Xavier’s defense, the pair combined for six points on a collective 2-12 shooting, too little to affect the outcome. That lack of production from Temple’s twin offensive engine was fatal.

This week should be easier for the Owls, as they host up-and-down Charlotte on Wednesday and hike over to City Line Avenue for a game “at” Saint Joseph’s on Saturday. Those two games, which Pomeroy projects as wins, should, worst case, have the Owls keep pace (albeit two games back) with Xavier and Duquesne, but long term, coach Fran Dunphy will have to address the consistency problems plaguing his team leaders.

5. Rhode Island (12-7, 3-2)

Last Week: 1/19 @Saint Joseph’s 64-59, 1/22 vs. La Salle 75-76

This Week: 1/26 @Saint Louis, 1/30 @Massachusetts

Rhode Island beat a struggling Saint Joseph’s team Wednesday, but then negated their unexpected win versus Richmond with an equally unexpected, one point loss, to La Salle Saturday. The 1-1 week translates into an ever-shrinking post season prospect (even an NIT bid would be a stretch at this point). Senior forward Delroy James earned his seventh Honor Roll citation as he averaged a double-double (15.0 points and 12.5 rebounds) through the two games. Another Wednesday road game (it worked last week) at the Hagan versus Saint Joseph’s, and then Rhode Island returns to Kingston to host La Salle. Both the Hawks and Explorers are struggling right now, the Rams can move higher in the standings and create some daylight for themselves.

6. Massachusetts (11-7, 3-2)

Last Week: 1/19 @Charlotte 73-54, 1/22 vs. Richmond 68-84

This Week: 1/26 @St. Bonaventure, 1/30 vs. Rhode Island

The Minutemen had a 1-1, “bi-polar” week. After trouncing Charlotte by 19 at Charlotte on Wednesday, the Minutemen returned home to lose by 16 to Richmond on Saturday. Senior guard Anthony Gurley earned his fourth Honor Roll citation this season for his 23.5 point scoring average over the two games. Gurley dropped 30 points on the Spiders in the Richmond loss, a scoring blitz that included a career-high six three pointers. Massachusetts will take to the road for a game against St. Bonaventure Wednesday, and then will return home for an important test against Richmond on Saturday.

7. George Washington (10-9, 3-2)

Last Week: 1/19 @Richmond 58-68, 1/22 vs. St. Bonaventure 49-62

This Week: 1/26 @Xavier, 1/29 vs. Saint Louis

The Colonials logged an 0-2 week, both games in conference play, to extend their losing run to three games. They followed a 10 point loss on the road to Richmond last Wednesday with a 13 point home loss to the Bonnies. Expect the losing to continue at least one more game, as Karl Hobbs‘ troops go to Cincinnati to take on the Musketeers on Wednesday. The telling game will come Saturday as they host the Billikens. George Washington will need a win to stay above 0.500 for the season and in conference play. Saint Louis enters this week on a two game winning streak, and may well have another win on the record before coming into Amherst to play this Saturday.

8. Dayton (15-5, 3-2)

Last Week: 1/22 vs. Fordham 91-57

This Week: 1/25 vs. Richmond, 1/30 @Duquesne

The Flyers finished a 1-0 week, picking up a 24 point win versus Fordham on Saturday. Transfer guard Josh Parker earned his first Honor Roll nod from the conference for his contribution off the bench against Fordham. The junior pont scored 27 points in 24 minutes as a substitute for freshman point guard Juwan Staten.

This is “Statement Week” for Dayton, as the Flyers host Richmond on Tuesday and travel to Pittsburgh for a rendevous with conference Cinderella Duquesne on Sunday. Dayton’s rebounding will probably not be an advantage in their game with Richmond, as they will need perimeter defense to throttle back a red hot three point shooting Spider squad, ranked #7 in Division 1 for three point conversions (41.3%). Making Chris Johnson Justin Harper’s “second skin” and finding a way to throttle Richmond’s guard squad (Kevin Anderson, Darien Brothers and Cedric Lindsay) which collectively has converted three point attempts at a 43.3% clip would go a long way, but the would still have to find an answer for Dan Geriot. Not an easy task.

9. St. Bonaventure (10-8, 2-3)

Last Week: 1/19 vs. Xavier 65-79, 1/22 @George Washington 62-49

This Week: 1/26 vs. Massachusetts, 1/29 @Fordham

Coach Mike Schmidt’s Bonnies dropped a third consecutive game (a 14 point loss to Xavier) before breaking their fall complements of George Washington (a 13 point win). Freshman guard Matthew Wright shared Rookie of the Week honors (with TJ McConnell) for his two double digit scoring games. The Toronto native came off the bench to score 10 against Xavier, and followed with a career-high 18-point outburst that helped end St. Bonaventure’s 21-year winless run at George Washington. Senior point guard Ogo Adegboye paced the Bonnies with 16 points while two others, wing Michael Davenport (12) and center Andrew Nicholson (13), along with Wright, chipped in double digit points in the losing effort versus Xavier. The Bonnies led or tied in that game for the first 24 minutes. The Bonnies host a Massachusetts squad coming off of a loss on Wednesday, and then have a possible trap game at Fordham on Saturday (they travel to Dayton first thing in February). Two wins at this point would be very good, as the Bonnies have a two game road trip to start February that takes them through Dayton, then Duquesne, before returning home.

10.  Charlotte (9-10, 1-4)

Last Week: 1/19 vs. Massachusetts 65-73, 1/22 @Duquesne 67-83

This Week: 1/26 @Temple, 1/29 vs. La Salle

Charlotte broke their losing run in conference play at mid-month, but started a new losing string with back-to-back loses to Massachusetts and Duquesne. Sophomore center Chris Braswell earned an Honor Roll citation from the conference for his 14.5 point, 9.0 rebound average in the 49ers’ two games. Braswell shot 50% from the floor, shooting 9-18 overall (1-4 from three point land, 8-14 from inside the arc) and 10-13 from the line. Braswell’s shot efficiency (eFG%) was 52.8%, while his PPWS was 1.20. Coach Alan Major‘s squad will find the road does not get much easier as they travel to Philadelphia for a game with Temple Wednesday, then return to host a resurgent La Salle team Saturday. So far the 49ers are 1-1 at home in conference play.

11. Saint Louis (7-11, 2-3)

Last Week: 1/19 @Fordham 68-55

This Week: 1/26 vs. Rhode Island, 1/29 @George Washington

The Billikens added another conference win to their total with a trip to the Meadowlands and a win over Fordham on Wednesday night. Kyle Cassity earned a nod from the conference for his team-leading 13 points in the road win. Kwamain Mitchell was “DNP — pending clearance” again. Rumor is he should be re-instated “shortly”.

A two game “Sort Out Week” for the Billikens is in store. Both games pit the Bills against fellow “middle of the conference” opponents. Should the Billikens sweep (a 31.5% chance per Pomeroy, Pythagoreas & log5), they will vault themselves over the 0.500 mark in conference play and into the tier just below the conference leaders. Wednesday will feature a mini-showdown with the Runnin’ Rams who have faltered after upsetting Richmond at home in early January. Saturday’s road game is in Washington DC versus the Colonials, a team like St. Louis stumbled out of the gate this season, but put on a push early in the conference season. The past week has also seen the Colonials “settle” into the middle of the conference.

12. La Salle (9-11, 1-4)

Last Week: 1/19 vs. Duquesne 71-88, 1/22 @Rhode Island 76-75

This Week: 1/26 vs. Saint Joseph’s, 1/29 @Charlotte

The Explorers redeemed a 17 point home loss to Duquesne with a one point 76-75 road win in Kingston, RI, versus Rhode Island. Sophomore center Aaric Murray earned an Honor Roll citation for his game-winning shot with 28 seconds left in regulation at Rhode Island, which broke La Salle’s four game conference losing streak. Coach John Giannini‘s squad plays Saint Joseph’s in a Big 5/A-10 match on Wednesday night at the Palestra. The game may well earn La Salle their second conference win and insure they finish no worse than third in Big 5 play this season. The Explorers then hit the road for a Saturday game in Charlotte. The 49ers and Explorers have identical 1-4 conference records to this point, a two game sweep of the week could put La Salle back into the middle of the conference standings going into February.

13. Fordham (6-11, 0-5)

Last Week: 1/19 vs. Saint Louis 55-68, 1/22 @Dayton 57-91

This Week: 1/25 vs. Duquesne, 1/29 vs. St. Bonaventure

Another 0-2 week for the Rams, as the percentages that they will finish the conference season without a win grew from 6.5% to an ominous 18% per Ken Pomeroy. More unsettling however, is the offensive/defensive differential (see Conference Differentials Table at top) that is starting to drift seriously behind the rest of the conference. This happened last season, as Fordham finished their conference season with a -0.213, nearly twice the negative differential as the nearest team (-0.08 — Saint Joseph’s…). Coach Tom Pecora needs a win or two to reverse the tide and maintain the morale of his squad, as lack of improvement has been one of the elements that can influence squad members to stay and recruits to come. The best win opportunity of the week may be St. Bonaventure, a team that has lifted itself out of the conference cellar recently. The Bonnies visit on Saturday for a game that will pit front courts which feature junior Andrew Nicholson against sophmore Chris Gaston.

14. Saint Joseph’s (5-14, 0-5)

Last Week: 1/19 vs. Rhode Island 59-64, 1/22 @Penn 61-73

This Week: 1/26 vs. La Salle, 1/29 vs. Temple

The Hawks’ slide numbers six consecutive games, as of last week. Five of the six are logged on their conference record, but the latest, a 12 point out of conference “road” loss to Penn in the Palestra, the most devastating so far. Wednesday’s game versus La Salle is a Big 5 “must win” for Saint Joseph’s. Having lost to Penn, the Hawks are in danger of going 0-4 and finishing last in Big 5 play for 2011.

A Look Ahead

This is “Statement Week” for Richmond and Dayton. The two are featured in a Tuesday night match that will have the loser fall another game behind conference leaders Xavier and Duquesne. Richmond will then host Xavier while Dayton will travel to Duquesne. The Flyers have a unique opportunity to single-handedly scramble the rankings and inject themselves right into the thick of the conference race should they win both games. On the other hand, should Richmond sweep the week, the Spiders would drop the X-men into a second place tie, push the Flyers back into the conference pack, and position themselves for season-ending showdown (last game of the regular season) with Duquesne. A winless week for either would be devastating, and most likely limit NCAA scenarios to those which include a conference tournament championship. (ed. note: Richmond won Tuesday, beating Dayton 70-61)

Wednesday will feature games between Rhode Island versus Saint Louis and Massachusetts versus St. Bonaventure that will either mash up the middle of the conference, or create an even greater separation between the upper and lower division.

The featured games this weekend, Xavier at Richmond (Saturday) and Dayton at Duquesne (Sunday) have the same potential to either mash up the top four-five teams or else separate the two top teams from the cluster immediately below them.

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Morning Five: 01.20.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on January 20th, 2011

  1. It’s been a weird few weeks for Christian Standhardinger, hasn’t it? He left Nebraska in mid-season last month even though just about everyone predicted he’d have a breakout season this year. Soon after, he said he planned to transfer and play next season at La Salle. On Wednesday the world learned that over the weekend Herr Standhardinger was found having sex with a 19-year old girl in a park in Lincoln. We’ve been hearing and reading a lot of jokes on this matter, but La Salle isn’t laughing. Explorers’ coach John Giannini announced yesterday that any transfer ambitions the Munich native had have now been given das Boot now that Standhardinger has been tagged (as well as his companion) with a public indecency charge.
  2. The Bahamas is the new Maui. Calm down, travel connoisseurs, we’re just talking in terms of basketball. And we’re still kidding. This past weekend, though, the NCAA voted to give exempt status to the Bahamas, meaning teams that play in tournaments there can count their participation as one game instead of three. The Battle at Atlantis (held last month) will become the Battle 4 Atlantis, it will be held around Thanksgiving, and it will be played in a ballroom. What is it with these Caribbean events being held in ballrooms? Somebody build a gym! Ballroom or not, the chance to play two holiday tournaments in Maui and the Bahamas in consecutive seasons doesn’t sound too bad.
  3. Where do you stand on this whole John Calipari swearing issue? It looks like people aren’t surprised at the language used (most coaches are guilty of this) but rather the name-calling aspect. Again, this happens everywhere. Calipari just got caught on TV, and he’s apologized. What really surprises us are the folks who say they “wouldn’t have taken it” or that “nobody’s calling me [that name] in public.” So, a free education, chance to play for a pipeline program, lots of television exposure, a shot at a championship – you’d give all that up for pride? We doubt the big talkers in these complaints would have actually walked off in mid-game or left school the next day had they found themselves in the same spot. We’re not defending Calipari, but we are defending Terrence Jones. He was the target, and he took it, went out and played, and hasn’t said a word about it — not a single tweet of dissention, not a single remark to the media.
  4. Mike Holmes is finished at Coastal Carolina. Jeff Goodman reports that Holmes has now been given the heave-ho at his second school, having been shown the door at South Carolina last season. Both dismissals were the result of altercations with teammates, Goodman confirms, and he explains why one Chanticleer had to wear a protective mask on his face in a recent win. You’ve got to credit CCU coach Cliff Ellis for sticking to his principles on this (we’re lookin’ at you, Mississippi State) and bouncing Holmes despite the senior’s production. Coastal Carolina is 16-2 and 7-0 in the Big South, and Holmes led the team in rebounding with 8.4 RPG and was second in scoring, putting up 14.0 PPG.
  5. We sent out a couple of tweets on this subject last night, but please, allow us to offer a team for you to watch over these last six weeks of the regular season: Belmont. They’re nestled among several tall trees at 28th in the KenPom ratings, and at 16-3 (8-0), they are spanking the rest of the Atlantic Sun with an in-conference margin of victory of 29 points. Coach Rick Byrd’s deep bench isn’t an accident, and the team’s success to this point is a product of how Byrd interestingly distributes playing time and marshals his talent. The three blemishes on the record were all away, to in-staters Tennessee (twice, away!) and Vanderbilt, not exactly bad losses. Anyone want to face them in the first round?
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 19th, 2011

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

Looking Back

An Early Season A-10 Masala: Does anyone want to be the regular season champion? The first week-plus of conference play suggests the title and #1 seed in the conference tournament is a hot potato that no one wants to handle. Temple continues to have the fewest losses overall, but the Juan Fernandez-less Owls were dumped rather hard in Pittsburgh over the weekend, dropping a 12-point decision to overlooked Duquesne. Richmond was poised to take over the conference lead, but dropped a four-point game to struggling Rhode Island, leaving the door open for Dayton, who then lost to Xavier by five. The Musketeers, Duquesne and George Washington are the only undefeated schools left in the conference race, but as the chart below suggests, the twists and turns through the first 20%-25% of the conference schedule hint that this conference race will be hotter and closer than anticipated.

Xavier coach Chris Mack, struggling with a roster depleted by injuries and academics and scrambling for some answers on offense in the weeks before conference play has emerged as a very early favorite for conference coach of the year. Of course, if the Dukes maintain their momentum and Richmond puts it back together, the coach’s race may turn into a masala too.

Power Rankings

With upsets over the weekend, the conference standings are jumbled, and though my power rankings differ from the standings, I have moved even more teams around this week.

1. Xavier (11-5, 3-0)

Last Week: 1/12 vs. Massachusetts 79-60, 1/15 vs. Dayton 81-76
Next Week: 1/19 @ St. Bonaventure, 1/22 vs. Temple

The Musketeers had a 2-0 week as Tu Holloway received an Honorable Mention from the conference as he averaged 25.0 points and 7.0 assists in X’s wins over Massachusetts and Dayton. Mack’s squad will travel to St. Bonaventure for their game Wednesday, and return home for a crucial conference matchup with Temple on Saturday.

2. Temple (12-4, 3-1)

Last Week: 1/12 vs. St. Bonaventure 83-55, 1/15 @ Duquesne 66-78
Next Week: 1/19 vs. Pennsylvania, 1/22 @ Xavier

The conference’s sole representative in Top 25 polls was dropped again, one of several consequences of their Saturday road loss to Duquesne. The Owls finish their “out of conference” portion of their City Series schedule when they host the Penn Quakers on Wednesday, and return to conference action with a crucial game at Xavier on Saturday.

3. Richmond (13-5, 2-1)

Last Week: 1/13 vs. Rhode Island 74-78
Next Week: 1/19 vs. George Washington, 1/22 @ Massachusetts

The Spiders squandered an excellent opportunity to replace Temple at the top of the A-10 Conference standings and the Top 25 polls as they lost their only game of the week, a four point, 74-78 decision to Rhode Island. Richmond will host Rhode Island Thursday and then take the weekend off.

4. Duquesne (11-5, 3-0)

Last Week: 1/12 vs. Saint Louis 67-45, 1/15 vs. Temple 78-66
Next Week: 1/19 @La Salle, 1/22 vs. Charlotte

The Dukes ran their winning streak to eight with yet another 2-0 week. Senior Damian Saunders earned his second Honorable Mention from the conference as he averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 2.5 steals over the Dukes’ two wins last week. In the preseason, this pair of games was expected to produce an 0-2 week. Duquesne has, however, caught the eye of stats guru Ken Pomeroy who counted the Pittsburgh-based school’s results so far as one of the surprises of the season. Last week’s wins, both in convincing fashion, will raise the school’s profile and fan expectations as the season progresses. Head coach Ron Everhart and company have a quick road trip to Philadelphia for an important two-game homestand coming up. They host an undermanned, Rick Majerus-less Saint Louis team Wednesday and an Owls squad that may not have junior point guard Juan Fernandez available on Saturday..

5. Rhode Island (11-6, 2-1)

Last Week: 1/13 @Richmond 78-74, 1/16 vs. St. Bonaventure 56-55
Next Week: 1/19 @Saint Joseph’s, 1/22 vs. La Salle

The Runnin’ Rams got an infusion of Orion Outerbridge and the re-instated forward powered them to a 2-0 week and earned himself a Player of the Week nod from the conference for his performance last week.. Another Wednesday road game (it worked last week) at the Hagan versus Saint Joseph’s, and then Rhode Island returns to Kingston to host La Salle. Both the Hawks and Explorers are struggling right now, the Rams can move higher in the standings and create some daylight for themselves.

6. Massachusetts (10-6, 2-1)

Last Week: 1/12 @Xavier 50-79, 1/15 vs. La Salle 74-71
Next Week: 1/15 @Charlotte, 1/22 vs. Richmond

The Minutemen had a 1-1 week. After a painful 29-point loss at the hands of Xavier, Coach Kellogg’s squad bounced back with a three point win over La Salle. Massachusetts takes to the road for a game in Charlotte Wednesday, and then return home for an important test against Richmond on Saturday.

7. George Washington (10-7, 3-0)

Last Week: 1/12 vs. Fordham 72-52, 1/15 vs. Harvard 62-67
Next Week: 1/19 @Richmond, 1/22 vs. St. Bonaventure

The Colonials logged a 1-1 week, routing Fordham to go 3-0 in conference play, then dropping a five-point decision to Harvard out of the Ivy League. George Washington has worked through the softer part of their A-10 schedule (Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Fordham), and their road game with Richmond should give fans an indication of where the team stands. The Colonials return to DC to host St. Bonaventure Saturday.

8. Dayton (14-5, 2-2)

Last Week: 1/12 vs. Saint Joseph’s 65-59, 1/15 @Xavier 76-81
Next Week: 1/22 vs. Fordham

The Flyers finished another 1-1 week. Senior forward Chris Wright earned an Honorable Mentio from the conference as he averaged a double-double (12.0 points and 10.0 rebounds) for the third straight week. Wright and freshman point guard Juwan Staten, who earned a Freshman of the Week citation himself for his 13.0 point per game average and 58% accuracy in the Flyers’ two games last week, have emerged as the principal offensive options for Dayton, drawing 27.9% and 24.1% of the possessions and taking 25.6% and 21.1% of the shots, respectively, when they are on the floor. Neither however has been particularly efficient with those possesions, posting offensive ratings in the mid 90′s (about 0.95 points per possesion). There are other, more efficient options (Chris Johnson? Paul Williams?) available. While neither Staten nor Wright have been shooting particularly well from the floor, both could boost their ratings (and help their team offensively) by hitting their free throws. Wright shoots about 60% from the line, while Staten converts about 56%. Wright’s ability to get to the line is an important offensive option, but with a below average conversion rate, he does not punish the opponent enough for the foul. Dayton plays a single game this week as they host Fordham on Saturday. A win would put them back above 0.500 in conference play, a place they need to be as the week following will be very tough (Richmond and Duquesne).

9. St. Bonaventure (9-7, 1-2)

Last Week: 1/12 @Temple 55-83, 1/16 @Rhode Island 55-56
Next Week: 1/19 vs. Xavier, 1/22 @George Washington

Coach Mike Schmidt’s Bonnies stumbled through an 0-2 week, dropping their conference record to 1-2. Guard Michael Davenport led the Bonnies in scoring for both games, and recorded a career-high 28 points and 12 rebounds in the loss to Rhode Island. The Bonnies have another challenging week, as they host Xavier Wednesday and travel to Washington DC for a tilt with George Washington. St. Bonaventure has an advantage in the Xavier game as the Musketeers may be looking past them to their Temple game on Saturday. The George Washington holds conference seeding implications, as both SBU and GWU may be in need of a tie-breaker come March.

10. Charlotte (9-8, 1-2)

Last Week: 1/15 vs. Fordham 71-61
Next Week: 1/19 vs. Massachusetts, 1/22 @Duquesne

Charlotte broke their losing run in conference play with a 10 win over Fordham. Senior Derrio Green was honorably mentioned by the conference for his season-high (second time) 21 points, 19 of which were scored in the second half, in the 49ers’ Fordham game. Coach Alan Major‘s squad will host Massachusetts on Wednesday and travel to Pittsburgh to play Duquesne on Saturday. While Charlotte is favored against the shot-challenged Minutmen, they will have to value the ball (something they have struggled with this season) against a team that typically ends 22% of their opponents’ possessions without a shot. The Charlotte front court is bigger than their Duke counterparts, but Temple struggled to gain an advantage in the lane and low post last weekend.

11. Saint Louis (6-11, 1-3)

Last Week: 1/12 @Duquesne 45-67, 1/15 vs. Saint Joseph’s 67-51
Next Week: 1/19 @Fordham

The Billikens’ broke their fall with a win over Saint Joseph’s, but not before recording loss number six in their run. Freshman forward Dwayne Evans recorded a career-high 16 points and 18 rebounds — his first career double-double — in the Bills’ win over Saint Joseph’s. The confernce cited Evans for his performance. Recently re-admitted and re-instated Kwamain Mitchell is listed on the Billiken roster as “awaiting NCAA clearance”. No sign of Willie Reed.

12. La Salle (8-10, 0-3)

Last Week: 1/12 vs. Pennsylvania 89-83, 1/15 @Massachusetts 71-74
Next Week: 1/19 vs. Duquesne, 1/22 @Rhode Island

La Salle bounced back against Big 5 rival Penn to insure they would not suffer another winless week. Aaric Murray, as predicted by Explorers Coach Dr. John Giannini, did respond to the benching by averaging 15.0 points in La Salle’s two games. The sophomore center notched a 19 point, eight rebound game against Penn and followed with a 12 point, eight rebound performance in the Explorers’ three point loss to Massachusetts. The Explorers’ shot defense is the biggest (but not the only) problem so far. They have enough offense to prosper in the conference, but allowing opponents to convert 50.5% of the field goal attempts puts a large onus on their offense to keep up. Oddly, they defend the two-point field goal attempt only slightly better than the three-point field goal attempt. If Murray and company can step up their defensive intensity (and rebounding…) they may have a chance to drop Duquesne from the ranks of the conference undefeateds as the Dukes visit the Gola Wednesday. They travel to Rhode Island for a Saturday game. Neither will be easy.

13. Fordham (6-9, 0-3)

Last Week: 1/12 @George Washington 52-72, 1/15 @Charlotte 61-71
Next Week: 1/19 vs. Saint Louis, 1/22 @Dayton

Three games into 2011 and Fordham continues to look for their first win of the new year. Their losing streak has stretched to five games with their just concluded 0-2 week on the road, and things are not looking up as the Rams host Saint Louis Wednesday and travel to Dayton for a Saturday game. The squad is plagued by the twin demons of poor offense and porous defense, a common problem for inexperienced squads. And coach Tom Pecora has a squad Ken Pomeroy ranks in the bottom 19% for experience (ranked #279 out of 345). Pecora has to break the cycle established during the previous two coaching regimes — the staff recruits promising players; the team loses; the recruits become discouraged; the recruits transfer out; repeat. Right now, Pomeroy gives the squad a 6.5% chance of finishing their conference slate winless. Though the Rams are not favored to win any of their remaining conference games by Ken Pomeroy, there are several home games which should give them better opportunities. There are none coming this week however. The first step may well be to be competitive in the games they do have.

14. Saint Joseph’s (5-12, 0-4)

Last Week: 1/12 @Dayton 59-65, 1/15 @Saint Louis 51-67
Next Week: 1/19 vs. Rhode Island, 1/22 @Penn

The Hawks’ slide numbers four consecutive games, all logged on their conference slate, with those two additional losses last week. The road loss by six to Dayton might be a sign of hope for Hawk fans, but the 16 point road loss to a Saint Louis squad with even less experience (per Ken Pomeroy – , Saint Joseph’s is ranked #329 while St. Louis is ranked #338) has to be a bucket of cold water, but the more immediate task (like Fordham) may be to hold onto a nucleus of promising players as the program weathers the storm, and build on them for next season.

Looking Ahead

  • The game to catch this week will be on Saturday, when Temple visits Xavier. In less confusing times this was tabbed as an early season showdown for the top spot in the conference. When Xavier lost Jay Canty, Justin Martin and Brad Redford, Owl fans no doubt sensed blood in the water and an early knockout for Temple. Juan Fernandez’s injury however has exposed a shallow Temple rotation, and Temple’s loss to Duquesne over the weekend has made this a very, very important game for Temple. Lose in Cincinnati and the Owls risk falling two games off the pace.
  • Wednesday will feature a matchup important to Richmond, who dropped a home game to a re-energized Rhode Island team last Thursday. The Spiders like Temple find themselves in a scramble at an unexpected point in the season. Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has the Spiders on the outside looking in right now. Taking a second loss at home and to George Washington would seriously damage their case for an at-large bid should they not win the conference tournament. George Washington’s conference schedule so far has included Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Fordham. Richmond is their first serious conference test.
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Checking in on… the Patriot League

Posted by rtmsf on December 25th, 2010

Kevin Doyle is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League and a contributor.

A Look Back

  • A Clean Sweep for the BisonBucknell has won four of their last five games with their lone loss coming at the hands of a surprisingly strong Boston College team under first year coach Steve Donahue by just four points. During this stretch, Bucknell picked up the best non-conference win for the Patriot League as they beat La Salle 89-77; just days earlier the Explorers lost to Villanova by three points. Due to their strong play as a team and individually, Bucknell cleaned up with the weekly awards.
  • Top Four vs. Bottom Four—In the first edition of “Checking in on the Patriot League,” I highlighted the disparity between the top four and bottom four teams in the league. Since that first stretch of the season, not much has changed. Back on November 27th, the collective records of the top four teams—American, Bucknell, Lehigh, and Army—were 13-8, a winning percentage of .619. The collective records of the bottom four—Navy, Lafayette, Holy Cross, and Colgate—were 3-17, a paltry winning percentage of .150. Fast forward a month, and those bottom four teams are still bring up the rear. The record of the top four is 25-23, a .521 winning percentage. As for the bottom four, well you may want to cover your eyes for this: 9-38, a .191 winning percentage. U-G-L-Y.
  • Struggles in the Basement—In further investigating the bottom four teams in the league, Navy and Lafayette have at least picked up four wins each and have somewhat respectable records. Holy Cross and Colgate, however, are a combined 1-19. Colgate is the winless one of the two, and will struggle to pick up a victory before league play begins.
  • One of the Mid-Major’s BestC.J. McCollum has established himself as one of the best players in all of Mid-Major basketball. He had a big year last year as just a freshman, and has only built on that success. Among Mid-Major players, McCollum is seventh in scoring at 22.5 points a game and he is also corralling an impressive 7.7 rebounds for a guy that is listed at just 6-3. I have been saying this for some time now, but McCollum is the Patriot League’s best player since Adonal Foyle.
  • Team of the Weeks (Dec. 9-Dec. 22): Bucknell: Losing three straight games may have just been what the Bison needed to jump-start them with the last of the three losses coming against a very mediocre Wagner team. Since the losing streak, Bucknell has won four of five games and their offense is clicking on all cylinders. The emergence of Mike Muscala as one of the league’s premier big men, the continual steady play at the point guard position from Darryl Shazier, and contributions from freshman Cameron Ayers have all been highlighted in Bucknell’s recent success. One needs to look no further than how many points the Bison have average during this streak (73.8) than they did in their previous eight games (65) to see the progression of the team. Ironically, the best performance during the five game stretch came in their lone loss against Boston College. Bucknell took BC to the final minute before losing by four to the ACC squad.
  • Player of the Weeks (Dec. 9-Dec. 22): Mike Muscala, Bucknell: Since the La Salle game on December 17th, the stellar sophomore has become a focal point in the Bison offense. Muscala was largely responsible for leading Bucknell to the victory of the Explorers as he poured in 21 points while dishing out five assists—five assists are pretty impressive for a 6-10 guy. He followed up this outing with another solid one as he nearly had a double-double (20/9) in a win at Cornell. Maybe the most impressive statistic over the past three games for Muscala is his shooting efficiency from the field and free throw line. He is 13-15 from the line (87%) and 21-36 from the field (58%).
  • Freshman of the Weeks (Dec. 9-Dec. 22)Cameron Ayers: From a pure numbers standpoint, Ayers was not overly impressive, but neither was any freshman in the PL for the past two weeks. The freshman from Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, has become a fixture on the wing for Bucknell when spelling Bryson Johnson and Bryan Cohen. In the victory over La Salle, Ayers was 6-9 from the field for 13 points and pulled down four rebounds.

Clip of the Week

The two Washington D.C. based schools—American and Navy—competed in the BB&T classic. Navy had one of the league’s better wins this year defeating George Washington, while American hung tough but eventually succumbed to Florida.

Quote of the Week

La Salle head coach Dr. John Giannini on how impressed he was with Bucknell’s performance: “Bucknell was really good…if I wasn’t getting beaten so soundly, I would have really enjoyed watching them play. They were wonderful and we were far short of that.”

Power Rankings (Last week’s ranking in parentheses)

1. Bucknell (2) (6-7)

Previous Two Weeks: W La Salle 89-77, W Cornell 75-64, L Boston College 84-80

Next Two Weeks: 12/28 @ Loyola (MD), 12/30 vs. Dartmouth, 1/2 @ Richmond

After dissecting the success Bucknell has had over the past two weeks, as well as what key players have made them successful for much of the article already, you probably do not need to hear much more about the Bison. One final point on Bucknell though, the scoring balance and unselfish play is largely what has made them tough to beat lately—seven players are averaging six points or more.

2. American (1) (7-5)

Previous Two Weeks: W UMBC 66-53, L Northwestern 78-62, W Mount St. Mary’s 69-64, L Pittsburgh 61-46

Next Two Weeks: 12/29 vs. Fordham, 1/3 vs. Brown

The Eagles have pretty much done everything that was predicted of them thus far. No one expected them to defeat West Virginia, Florida, Northwestern, or Pittsburgh, and they predictably did not. In fact, they lost all these games by double digits. American, however, may only get better as the year progresses and they move into league play as transfer Charles Hinkle joined AU via Vanderbilt and became eligible to play just four games ago. Hinkle, along with transfer Troy Brewer, are still finding their identity within the American lineup. It does seem that Brewer has found a nice niche for himself as he is averaging over 12 points a game.

3. Lehigh (3) (6-5)

Previous Two Weeks: W Marist 91-78, W St. Francis (PA) 79-61

Next Two Weeks: 12/29 vs. St. Peter’s, 12/31 @ Yale, 1/4 @ NJIT

The Mountain Hawks bounced back from two straight losses with convincing wins against Marist and St. Francis (PA). C.J. McCollum was once again the top man for Lehigh in both games as he dropped in 35 against Marist and then 20 against St. Francis (PA). While most of the attention will always be given to McCollum—how couldn’t it be—the players surrounding the Lehigh stud sophomore have played well as of late. Michael Ojo is one of the top shooters in the PL from three, Gabe Knutson has established himself as one of the top big men, and freshman point guard Mackey McKnight has been as steady as they come boasting a 2.75 assist to turnover ratio. With the continued solid play of McCollum’s supporting cast, Lehigh becomes a contender in the PL.

4. Army (7) (6-6)

My apologies to Black Knight fans out there for my analysis and comments I made of Army two weeks ago. While Army still is not one of the better teams in the Patriot League, their wins over UNH and Brown in the last two weeks should not go unnoticed. The victory over Brown is their best on the year, and their ability to score the ball is as good as any team in the PL. Still, Army has played the weakest schedule in the league, and it is hard to gauge how they will perform come league play. The three headed monster of Julian Simmons, Jeremy Hence, and Ella Ellis have posed problems for many teams thus far and will be tough for any PL team to match up against. How Army performs against a good Fairfield team after the New Year will be a good barometer as to how they will match up with the upper tier teams in the Patriot League.

Previous Two Weeks: W New Hampshire 71-63, L Dartmouth 71-68, L Long Island 91-85, W Brown 88-86

Next Two Weeks: 12/29 @ Texas-Pan American, 12/31 @ Fairfield, 1/3 vs. Dartmouth

5. Navy (4) (4-9)

It is a really funny game, basketball is. Without their best player in Jordan Sugars, Navy went 2-1, and upon his return they have gone 1-3. It is not as if the Midshipmen have been playing world beaters either during this four game stretch, nor has Sugars been playing poorly (19 points and 6.5 rebounds) since returning to the lineup following an injury to his non-shooting hand, but for whatever reason they have dropped three winnable games in a row. Navy will have a chance to pick up a few wins against Long Island, Presbyterian, and Longwood before going up against league favorite Bucknell in their Patriot League opener.

Previous Two Weeks: L Mercer 73-68, L Elon 73-58

Next Two Weeks: 12/30 vs. Long Island, 1/2 vs. Presbyterian, 1/4 vs. Longwood

6. Lafayette (6) (4-8)

After bouncing back from a four game losing streak by winning three in a row, Lafayette has dropped their last two decisions continuing the rollercoaster season. Both of the losses were single digits and against formidable opponents who may challenge for their respective league crowns.   Lafayette’s shooting ability is not being called into question—they connect on seven threes a game—but their ability to rebound the ball has marred them on many occasions. Against LIU, the Leopards were outrebounded 39-24, and against URI it was 37-28. Corralling a rebound means another possession, and with how well Lafayette can shoot this may mean the differences between wins and losses.

Previous Two Weeks: L Long Island 85-80, L Rhode Island 73-65

Next Two Weeks: 12/29 @ Gonzaga, 1/2 @ Fairleigh Dickinson, 1/5 vs. Columbia

7. Holy Cross (5) (1-9)

The monkey is finally off of Milan Brown’s back. The first year Holy Cross coach picked up his first win with the Cross by defeating Marist. There is not too much to celebrate in ‘Sader Nation though as his team is 1-9 about a third of the way through the season. Over at ESPN.com, Mark Adams wrote in his weekly Mid-Major piece that: “Brown is a good coach, but he’s now in a situation which he has to pick up the pieces from a dysfunctional situation.” While he is the third coach in as many seasons for Holy Cross, there is little doubt that the Crusaders have some talent. They were picked to win the league two years ago, and the roster from that squad is pretty similar to the one this year. There have been subtle flashes that this team can get it together, but little progress has been made since the loss to the College of Charleston to open the year. The Patriot League is, by and large, a fairly weak conference this year, so the Crusaders may be able to pick up some Ws when league play rolls around.

Previous Two Weeks: L Fairfield 71-60, W Marist 75-57, L Hofstra 71-56

Next Two Weeks: 12/28 vs. St. Joseph’s, 12/31 @ George Washington, 1/2 vs. Sacred Heart, 1/5 vs. Yale

8Colgate (8) (0-10)

Previous Two Weeks: L Syracuse 100-43, L Maine 78-57, L Albany 63-61

Next Two Weeks: 12/29 @ Stony Brook, 1/2 @ Longwood, 1/4 @ Maryland

Things appear to be spiraling out of control up in Hamilton, New York. First, there were high expectations for John Brandenburg, a transfer from Virginia, coming into the season, but he has not lived up to these hopes as he is averaging 3.7 points and 2.4 rebounds. Then, arguably the Raiders’ best player Mike Venezia went down with an injury after the first six games. Immediately following Venezia’s injury, Colgate was humiliated by Syracuse losing 100-43 and scoring only eight points in the first half—a Carrier Dome record for a half. Colgate will most likely enter league play having not won a game as their next three games are on the road against decent competition. Their game against Longwood may be their only saving grace.

A Look Ahead

  • Four teams who are .500 or better, maybe?—According to KenPom, the Patriot League is ranked at the 27th best conference. While it is clear that the PL is not having one of their stronger years in recent memory, but the top four teams all still have an opportunity to reach the .500 mark or better by the end of non-conference competition.
  • Bucknell’s final game before conference play begins is against Richmond. While I believe, win or lose against the Spiders, that Bucknell is the team to beat this year, they can officially set themselves apart from the rest of the pack with a victory against Richmond.
  • After a tough six-game stretch against four very solid BCS opponents, American comes back down to earth with two games against mediocre opponents in Fordham and Brown. Wins here and the Eagles would enter league play at 9-5, certainly feeling good about themselves.
  • Will Colgate and Holy Cross combine for just a single victory in the non-conference schedule? Sadly, it is a distinct possibility. Colgate’s final three non-conference games are on the road, and one of the opponents is Maryland. Holy Cross, on the contrary, has two in Worcester and two on the road, but they will likely be underdogs in three of the games.
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“Friends Of Raftery” Would Require A Much Bigger Space

Posted by jstevrtc on October 7th, 2010

On October 25th, La Salle will have their annual open practice — their version of what used to be known around the nation as Midnight Madness, you could say — for fans, students, and pretty much anyone who would like an early peek at the Explorers. There’s even a reception afterward for La Salle alumni and supporters, according to the announcement of the event. The reception actually sounds cool, since it allows for the chance to interact with the players and coach Dr. John Giannini — and because the one and only Bill Raftery, an alum and a former player at the school, will be speaking at the event and participating in a Q&A.

The Great Raf Has Doctorates From Several Schools In the Field of Awesomeness

We’re not posting this merely to promote the La Salle event in Tom Gola Arena to our Philly readers and Big 5 connoisseurs. It sounds like a fine time, indeed — you’ve got an open practice, the chance to hang with the players and coaches, Raftery, free food and drink — what’s not to like, you know? But the reason we dig this so much is because the event is being put on by a group called “The Friends of Bill Raftery Committee.”

If the real “Friends of Bill Raftery” were to show up, they’d need to clear out a couple of small towns to have this thing. Tom Gola Arena is a great place to see a game, but it seats 4,000. Bill Raftery has millions of friends. Because if you’re a fan of college basketball, you’re a friend of Bill Raftery. We wanted to say that we just love that there’s an organization called “The Friends of Bill Raftery.” We want to join it.

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Checking In On… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on December 2nd, 2009

checkinginon

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

Standings

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

Early Season Invitational Tournaments, Part 2

The early season invitational tournaments have come to dominate the November schedules of many D1 conferences. For the Atlantic 10 Conference, these tournaments make an offer conference members can rarely refuse. Aside from the allure of playing fall basketball in exotic locations (ok, Cullowhee, N.C., Philadelphia and Chicago in November may not be that exotic…), they provide the A10 with a mix of high and mid-major opponents who, despite pressure from the NCAA, are often reluctant to sign equitable home-and-home agreements. If the locations are not exotic, the preliminary round games are often local (within a day’s drive or a 1 – 2 hour flight) if not at home (see Richmond, Massachusetts & St. Louis), while the final round games are scheduled (for the most part) on neutral courts, thus mitigating home court advantages sought by high-major opponents.

For the A10, 11 members participated in invitational tournaments this past November. The tournaments ranged from the (relatively) prestigious preseason NIT (Charlotte) to tropical locations like the Virgin Islands (St. Joseph’s), to continental destination cities like Charleston (La Salle) to the MVC-hosted (and insurance-sponsored) Traveler’s (St. Bonaventure).

a10 table 1

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #9 – Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on October 29th, 2009

seasonpreview

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

Predicted Order of Finish:

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

All-Conference Team:

  • Kevin Anderson (G), Richmond (36.8 MPG, 16.6 PPG, 2.8 APG)
  • Rodney Green (G), La Salle (35.3 MPG, 17.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.4 APG)
  • Levoy Allen (F), Temple (31.3 MPG, 10.9 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 1.5 BPG)
  • Chris Wright (F), Dayton (26.1 MPG, 13.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.3 BPG)
  • Damian Saunders (F), Duquesne (34.6 MPG, 13.1 PPG, 7.6 rpg, 2.4 BPG)
  • 6th Man: Kenny Frease, Xavier (14.6 MPG, 5.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG)

Impact Newcomer/All-Conference Rookie Team:

  • Carl Jones (G), St. Joseph’s
  • Christian Salecich (G), St. Louis
  • Terrell Vinson (F), Massachusetts
  • Chris Braswell (F), Charlotte
  • Aaric Murray (C), La Salle – Rookie of the Year

Atlantic10

What You Need to Know. Over the past two seasons the A10 has earned 6 NCAA bids, sending four different teams to the D1 post-season party of 64 65. That is more teams over the same period than any other non-BCS conference. Those teams garnered a higher winning percentage (6-6 or 50%) than the SEC (5-9 or 35.7%). This season should track with previous seasons as the A10 will look for 2-3 teams with enough talent and success to earn 1-2 at-large bids in addition to the conference’s automatic bid. The A10 has become a showcase for ‘tweeners and front-court players lately. The A10′s last two POYs were a pair of  undersized (for the positions they played) frontcourt players. Gary Forbes, a 6-7 PF out of Massachusetts won in 2008, and Ahmad Nivins a 6-10 235 pound C out of St. Joseph’s, won last spring. This season is no different as fans will see Dayton’s Chris Wright (a preseason Wooden nominee), Xavier’s Jason Love, Rhode Island’s Delroy James, Duquesne’s Melquan Bolding and Richmond’s Kevin Smith play a position or two “up” from their size and weight. The conference will showcase a number of very well-regarded incoming freshmen as Charlotte’s Chris Braswell, Massachusetts’ Terrell Vinson and La Salle’s Aaric Murray held offers from high-major programs, but chose A10 schools.

Predicted Champion. Dayton (NCAA Seed:  #4) Returning 84.5% of the minutes and 85.6% of the points from a team that finished 2nd in the conference and sent the Big East’s West Virginia home in the 1st round of the NCAAs before bowing out to Kansas, it is no wonder that the Flyers are the strong favorite to take the conference title and return to the NCAAs again in 2010. Dayton took the top spot in the A10 Coaches preseason poll, announced on Media Day (10/22). The squad is deep and experienced as Coach Brian Gregory brings back seven seniors and four juniors including four starters and nine of the top eleven scorers from last year’s team. Led by 6-8, 225 pound forward Chris Wright, a 2009-10 preseason Wooden Award nominee, the Flyers will try to pick up where they left off in March of 2009. Wright led the team in points per game (13.3) and rebounds per game (6.6). Dayton, however, is not a one man show. The Flyers return senior London Warren (the “Jacksonville Jet”), a 6-0 point guard  who led the team in assists (154) last season while averaging 21.5 minutes and 4.1 points per game. Gregory can play 3 guards by bringing in two 6-3 senior guards, Marcus Johnson and Rob Lowry. Johnson was the second-leading scorer (behind Wright), averaging 11.8 points per game while playing an average of 28.3 minutes. Rob Lowry, who came to Dayton via Cecil Community College (and Chesapeake Community College), watched the team’s last ten games from the bench, as he tore a tendon in his right knee on February 12th. Lowry was the team’s leading scorer 5 times in 2009 and was second to Warren in assists. If the Flyers play like they did at the end of the 2009 season they should separate themselves from the A10 pack early and pick up a #3 or #4 seed in the NCAAs. Look for their performance in the Puerto Rican Tip-Off, where they will face up to 3 high-major teams, as a gauge for where they stand in the Top 25.

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Checking in on the… Ivy League

Posted by rtmsf on December 21st, 2008

Dave Zeitlin is the RTC correspondent for the Ivy League.

Not much to report from the Ivies as players from the nation’s last non-scholarship league have been taking finals rather than playing many games. Nerds. But the good news for Penn fans is that the Quakers have not lost since the last time this site had its Ivy update – which may or may not be because they haven’t had any games since then. Still, Penn fans are beginning to get a little rowdy as evidenced by this new blog called Fire Glen Miller, which I’m pretty sure is anti-Quakers head coach Glen Miller. The blog, which was created by Penn students after the Quakers were drowned by Navy (get it?) to fall to 1-6 two weeks ago, recently had an interesting guest column from former player Steve Danley. Danley, a member of a very talented senior class that helped Penn get to three straight NCAA tourneys, played for Miller in the coach’s first season in 2006-07 and maintains that he is an “offensive genius.”  He also believes the young team needs time to gel, drawing a comparison to the not so good ’03-04 team when he and other future stars were freshmen. Let’s hope Danley is right, because Penn’s former coach Fran Dunphy just led Temple to a pretty nice win over Tennessee. And we miss him. A lot. (The Quakers, by the way, return to action on Dec. 29 with a tourney in Florida.)

Despite a recent 71-54 loss to Minnesota in which it shot 17 percent in the second half, Cornell remains clear front-runners in the Ivy League. The Big Red are only 4-5 but they’ve had a brutal non-conference schedule with their last eight games coming on the road. Needless to say, they’re excited to come home, which actually is saying something because not many people are excited to go to Ithaca in December. With reigning Ivy League Player of the Year Louis Dale nearly back to full strength, Cornell welcomes La Salle tomorrow – and La Salle coach Dr. John Giannini is concerned, calling the Red the “best team on our schedule with the possible exception of those Big East and ACC teams.” He’s a doctor, so you should listen.

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