Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on February 17th, 2010

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

Funky February

Maybe it is the weather, one of the more snow-filled winters in the last decade. Maybe it is the point in the season when teams that are good just exhale for a game or two, and teams that were supposed to be good take a hard look in the mirror and realize that something has to happen right now if their season is going to head somewhere other than the waste pile. If the conference is separating the top from the bottom, the top is getting crazy…

Dayton delivered their second consecutive take-down of a conference leader when they hammered the Charlotte 49ers 75-47, on Wednesday (2/10) night. Richmond spared the conference the conundrum of a five-way tie with barely a month left to the conference season when they dispatched Rhode Island (on the Rams’ home court no less), 69-67, earlier in the evening. Thursday dawned with four teams sporting (only) two conference losses, although technically Temple, with only seven wins, was not in a true tie with their three conference mates, Charlotte, Richmond and Xavier. Three more teams, Dayton, Rhode Island and St. Louis are just one loss behind the four leaders. Fully one-half of the conference is within striking distance of the conference title, and St. Louis excepted (maybe…), six appear regularly in postseason bracketology discussions. While it is remote — at best — to think all six will go to the NCAAs, I have begun to believe my projection of three teams was too light. The next two weeks will separate one or two teams from the top of the conference going into the A10′s postseason tournament.

Standings (as of 02/16/10)

  1. Richmond (9-2, 20-6 #25 AP)
  2. Temple (8-2, 2-05, #21 AP)
  3. Xavier (8-2, 17-7)
  4. Charlotte (8-2, 18-6)
  5. St. Louis (7-3, 16-8)
  6. Rhode Island (7-4, 19-5)
  7. Dayton (6-4, 17-7)
  8. Duquesne (4-7, 13-12)
  9. Massachusetts (4-7, 10-15)
  10. George Washington (3-7, 13-10)
  11. La Salle (3-7, 11-13)
  12. St. Bonaventure (3-7, 10-13)
  13. Saint Joseph’s (3-8, 9-16)
  14. Fordham (0-11, 2-21)

Team Rundowns

Charlotte

The 49ers have had their problems on the road this season, starting with the 101-59 drubbing they took in Cameron Indoor Stadium in their second game. After a nice seven-game winning streak through Christmas, Old Dominion rung their bell with a 30+ point beating. The Tennessee Volunteers booted them out of Knoxville with a 17 point loss and XU showed them the door with a 12-point loss in mid January. The 75-47 drubbing they took at the hands of Dayton on Wednesday (2/10), coming so close to the end of the season, might be the most damaging. The game was played at Dayton’s preferred pace (about 65 possessions), and Charlotte shot an abysmal 27% eFG% as Coach Lutz emptied his bench, running 14 players through the game to find someone who could hit a bucket.

The 49ers have had a week to think about that disaster, and will swing back into action Wednesday (2/17) as they host struggling Duquesne, followed by a Saturday (1/20) visit from Xavier.

Dayton

Dayton took care of Charlotte in resounding fashion, 75-47, on Wednesday (2/10). Having beaten both Xavier and Charlotte during their home stand, the Flyers seemed to have their season back on track. Against Charlotte, Chris Wright and Marcus Johnson stepped up to provide very efficient scoring, logging eFGs of 80% and 69% respectively while taking at least 30% of the shots when they were on the floor. Chris Johnson also had an efficient (if less prolific) night, logging an eFG% of 79% while taking about 18% of the available shots when he was on the floor. Their offense back on track, the Flyers took to the road and dropped their Saturday (2/13) game to St. Louis, 68-65. Small consolation that it took the Billikens two overtime periods to subdue the Flyers. And it is back into the middle of the pack for Dayton. The Flyers continue to lead the conference in efficiency differential (see table above), but that efficiency is not consistently translating into wins. Coach Gregory’s squad may be the unluckiest in the conference, but that will not win them any awards (or get them a postseason NCAA bid). They need victories, the kind that show up in the win column. They are one of the strongest teams in the country in rebounding, but they turn the ball over too much (ranked according to Ken Pomeroy at #219 in D1) and foul too much (ranked #268). Both of those deficiencies will kill a team in a close game.

The Flyers host La Salle Thursday (2/18) then travel to Pittsburgh to play Duquesne on Sunday (2/21). Both are should-wins for Dayton, as are their two remaining home games after this week. If Dayton is to make a run at the top of the conference (and back into the NCAA conversation), they need to take one (or both) of their road games the following week, at Temple (2/24) and Richmond (3/04). Their four good (RPI) wins will carry weight with the Selection Committee, but finishing #7 in the conference (where they currently stand) will only guarantee them a poor drawing in the A10′s Atlantic City tournament.

Duquesne

The Dukes are down to a run in Atlantic City to pull out their season. More realistically, Coach Everhart might want to look to next season and where he will find a replacement for senior Damian Saunders. Duquesne dropped an overtime game, 84-80, to Massachusetts last Thursday (2/11), then trounced a crippled La Salle team, 103-82, on Sunday (2/14). Duquesne’s defense is (according to Ken Pomeroy) comparable to a number of tournament-bound teams. Duquesne’s offense, however, will keep the Dukes out of postseason play. And the most glaring part of their offense is scoring from beyond the arc, where their accuracy (3FG% 26%…no that’s not a typo) has them ranked #347 (dead last) in Division 1. Three of the Dukes’ four most prolific three-point shooters have accuracies of less than 26%. And the fourth (senior Jason Duty) hits at a 33% rate. It might be time to give sophomore BJ Montiero more playing time and exposure to big game situations.

Duquesne ventures into Halton Arena Wednesday (2/17) for a game with Charlotte, then returns home to host Dayton on Sunday (2/21).

Fordham

The Rams dropped a road game, 72-61, to St. Bonaventure last Wednesday (2/10) followed by a 25-point home loss to Massachusetts (78-53) on Saturday (2/13). Ken Pomeroy now pegs the probability for a winless conference season at 76%. While there is a very small probability that Fordham will break their run next week — road games with Richmond Wednesday (2/17) and Rhode Island Saturday (2/20) — an upset would definitely, given Fordham’s #299 RPI, damage either Richmond’s or Rhode Island’s postseason prospects. Better opportunities lie ahead, with games against St. Bonaventure on the 24th and Duquesne on March 6.

George Washington

In a season with more than a few disappointments, getting some recognition for your players, like having Dwayne Smith named Rookie of the Week (cited for scoring a season-high 15 points in 15 minutes of play against Fordham), is one of those pleasures left in the season. They may have a good run in the conference tournament, but short of running the table, a postseason beyond Atlantic City is off the table. Coach Hobbs will lose Damian Hollis, a senior, but should have Lasan Kromah (another freshman who earned Rookie of the Week honors this season) and the next five scorers back next season, and hopefully they will be a year better. The Colonials maintained a better than average defense in conference play. Lack of a consistent offense has been their downfall.

George Washington will host Massachusetts on Wednesday (2/17), and travel to Richmond to close out their mirror series with the Spiders on Saturday (2/20).

La Salle

Another week, another bite out of the rotation. The 2010 season, projected as the season that would see the Explorers return to postseason play (NCAA or NIT) has become instead a Trail of Tears, as senior Yves Mekongo Mbala broke a finger in his shooting hand during practice on 2/8, and had surgery to repair it on 2/12. While the doctors predict a two-to-four week convalescence, anyone with a calendar handy can see that, at best, Mbala might be back for the A10 Tournament, and at worst has effectively ended his career at La Salle. Mekongo Mbala joins fellow seniors Kimmani Barrett and Ruben Guillandeaux on La Salle’s bench. At 3-7 and 11-13 overall, without a huge and unexpected turnaround, La Salle is going home after Atlantic City. The loss of the seniors has been devastating for the Explorers’ prospects this season, but those injuries have forced a few underclassmen to play more active roles this season. That should pay dividends in the seasons to come.

Next up for the Explorers is a trip to Ohio and a game with Dayton on Thursday (2/18) and home to host St. Bonaventure on Sunday (2/21).

Massachusetts

Ricky Harris shared Player of the Week honors for his 29 points in the Minutemen’s 84-80 overtime win over Duquesne. He also had a season-high six assists. UMass took two games last week, the aforementioned overtime win at Duquesne on Wednesday (2/10) and their home win over Saint Joseph’s 70-62, on Sunday (2/14). The Duquesne game broke a three-game losing streak, a recurring pattern for the Minutemen this season — two-to-five losses interrupted by one or two wins. Massachusetts has been able to beat every conference team ranked below them this season. What they do not have is a win against an opponent ranked above them in the conference standings. Their games this week, on Wednesday (2/17) at George Washington and Sunday (2/21) when they host St. Louis should settle the question of whether Coach Kellogg’s squad is turning their season around, or having a Funky February moment.

Rhode Island

The Rams had a terrible week. They went into last Wednesday’s (2/10) game with Richmond (a 69-67 loss) as a third of a cluster of teams just out of first place. They finished the week in sixth place, having dropped a 78-56 road game to Temple, one-half game ahead of seventh place Dayton. The Ram woes come on the defensive side of the basketball, the culprits a combination of shot defense (they are an equal opportunity provider, ranked #279th for two point defense and #296th for three point defense (out of 347 D1 teams) and defensive rebounding (ranked per Ken Pomeroy #303).

Their Wednesday (2/17) game at St. Louis should be interesting test of weakness versus weakness. The Billikens are offensive-challenged (ranked at #232 by Pomeroy) and rely on defense to prevail. St. Louis is an “average” shooting team that does not rebound their misses. The Billikens are 7-3 in the conference standings, so this Rhode Island can help itself immediately with a win. Their weekend game is Sunday (2/21) at Massachusetts.

Richmond

The Spiders leapfrogged Xavier and Charlotte to land in the AP Top 25 in the last slot this past Monday. This marks the first time since 1986 a Spider squad has been recognized by the polls. Coach Mooney’s squad extended their winning streak to six with a tough road win over Rhode Island, 69-67, on Wednesday (2/10) and a 68-49 win over St. Bonaventure on Saturday (2/13). Richmond is clustered with Temple, Xavier and Charlotte with two conference losses, but holds the half-game advantage by virtue of an additional win. Richmond is doing it on both sides of the ball. The Spiders are ranked #4 in conference games for offense, and #3 in confernce games for defense. Bracketologists from Joe Lunardi to RTC’s own Zach Hayes put Richmond in the field of 65 as a #7 seed.

Richmond hits one last breather in their schedule this week, a two-game home stand that includes Fordham on Wednesday (2/17) and George Washington on Saturday (2/20), before they play three fellow contenders (Xavier, Dayton and Charlotte) for an end of the season Trial by Fire.

St. Joseph’s

Coach Martelli’s young squad found no love in Amherst, Massachusetts, on Valentine’s Day. The Hawks dropped a 70-62 decision to the Minutemen. At 3-8 in conference and out of any postseason discussions beyond Atlantic City, the Hawks can still fight for some Big 5 respect. With two City Series games left (versus Temple and La Salle), the Hawks can knot those standings with two wins. After a road trip to Xavier Wednesday (2/17), they play Temple Saturday (2/20).

St. Bonaventure

The Bonnies beat Fordham 72-61, last Wednesday (2/10), but dropped a home game to Richmond 68-49, on Saturday (2/13). The season is not going as many Bonnies fans anticipated. At this point, improving their standings over 2009 (they finished #11) is a practical, if less ambitious goal. They will not get to 8-8 in conference play, but they might find three, possibly four more wins among the six games remaining. The home stretch starts this week as they host Temple Wednesday (2/17), and then travel to Philadelphia to play La Salle squad on Sunday (2/21). Temple is a stretch, but the Explorers are a wounded team right now, lacking three senior leaders.

St. Louis

Coach Majerus’ team personafies Funky February. Their January 30 game with Richmond was a hint of crazy stuff to come. As noted by Ken Pomeroy in his 2/01 blog entry, not only did the Billikens score less than 40 points in the game (no more than 20 in either period), but all of their points came from twos, probably the only D1 game of this type played this season. St. Louis scored no points from either beyond the arc or from the charity stripe. The offensively-challenged Billikens have quietly worked themselves into conference contention with a four-game winning streak that started with the game after their loss to Richmond. February has been perfect so far for St. Louis. They host Rhode Island on Wednesday (2/17) in a game that is significant for both, followed by a Sunday (2/21) road game with Massachusetts. St. Louis is 3-5 in road games this season, their wins coming over Duquesne, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s. They have taken conference road losses against Charlotte, George Washington and Richmond. Where does Massachusetts fit? And more importantly, where does St. Louis fit?

Temple

The Owls won their only game last week against Rhode Island, 78-56. Temple has two road games coming. On Wednesday (2/17) they go to Olean, NY, to play St. Bonaventure, and then across town on Saturday (2/20) to play their Big 5 designated game against Saint Joseph’s.

Xavier

Jason Love shared Player of the Week honors for his 20/10 performance in 22 minutes in Xavier’s 76-64 win over Florida. Florida may not be a tournament team this postseason (Coach Donovan has had a rough three years since winning two consecutive National Championships), but the win, coming on the road, should be, as ESPN’s Bubble Watcher Mark Shlabach noted, “catch the attention of the NCAA selection committee. It also gives them a nice nonconference win to go with four home victories over RPI top-50 opponents.” The Musketeers return to conference play on Wednesday (2/17) by hosting Saint Joseph’s, then travel to Charlotte for an important game with the 49ers on Saturday (2/20).

Games to Catch

  • Rhode Island at St. Louis Wednesday 2/17 — A matchup between the #5 and #6 ranked teams. Rhode Island is ranked #3 in conference games for offense, while St. Louis is ranked #2 in conference games for defense. St. Louis has three losses, while Rhode Island has four. The standings will either stratify a bit more, or there will be two clusters at the top of the conference — one with two losses, the other with four.
  • Xavier at Charlotte Saturday 2/20 — Another opportunity to sort out the top of the conference as the Musketeers enter Halton Arena to play the 49ers. Both teams are well stocked with guards — DiJuan Harris and Derrio Green will take the measure of Jordan Crawford and Terrell Holloway, but the game may come down to how well slightly undersized but athletic wing/forwards Shamari Spears and (freshman) Chris Braswell handle Jason Love and Jamel McLean. 
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2010

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

Atlantic 10 Efficiency Differentials

Updated to reflect games through Tuesday, January 26, the teams are starting to sort out, with a few notable exceptions. Temple is moving away from the rest of the conference, even as St. Louis, Xavier and Rhode Island are forming a tier just below the Owls. Dayton is the outlier, as the Flyers’ 0.75 positive efficiency is contradicted by their 3-3 record. The culprit is a lackluster offense, though inconsistent defense does not help. If the Flyers’ offense produced a conference-average 1.0 point per possession, Dayton would have a 4-2 record. Fordham is struggling to maintain contact with the rest of the conference, as their problems on both offense and defense are reflected in their 0-6 record. Ken Pomeroy speculated in a blog entry on January 6 a 49% probability that Fordham would go winless in A10 competition this season. The Rams’ -0.229 differential is a strong suggestion this will come to pass.

Standings (as of 01/26/10)

  1. Temple (17-3, 5-0, AP #15)
  2. Xavier (13-6, 5-1)
  3. Charlotte (14-5, 4-1)
  4. St. Louis (12-6, 3-1)
  5. Rhode Island (16-3, 4-1)
  6. Richmond (15-6, 4-2)
  7. Dayton (14-6, 3-3)
  8. La Salle (10-9, 2-3)
  9. St. Bonaventure (9-9, 2-3)
  10. Saint Joseph’s (8-11, 2-3)
  11. George Washington (11-7, 1-4)
  12. Duquesne (10-9, 1-4)
  13. Massachusetts (7-12, 1-4)
  14. Fordham (2-16, 0-6)

Team Rundowns

Charlotte

Coach Lutz’s squad finished a very productive two-game road trip, beating Richmond 71-59 on Wednesday (1/20) and then La Salle 84-82 on Saturday (1/23). Those wins extend their current streak to three. Both La Salle and Richmond were well regarded coming into the A10 regular season, so Charlotte’s road wins should provide the 49ers with an edge over both as the conference standings sort out. Charlotte’s rebounders were able to gather a whopping 38.2% of their misses, yielding a six-point advantage in second chance points. Richmond will travel to Charlotte for a mirror game at the end of the season. Productive enough to take the Rookie of the Week honors, freshman Chris Braswell was cited for his 16 points against St. Louis, his nine points and 10 rebounds against Richmond and his sixth double-double of the season (21 points, 13 boards) in the 49ers’ win over La Salle. This was Braswell’s third designation as Rookie of the Week, the most so far this season.

Next up, the 49ers host Temple on Wednesday (1/27), and then travel to Amherst, MA, for a game with Massachusetts on Saturday (1/30).

Dayton

The Flyers handled George Washington easily on Wednesday (1/20), 66-51, with Chris Wright’s game-high (shared with GW’s Lasan Kromah) 14 points leading the way. Three other Flyers, the Johnsons Marcus (13) and Chris (10), along with Mickey Perry (11), scored double-digit points. In all, 11 players saw action. On Saturday (1/23) Dayton dropped a head-scratcher to Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia. It was the Chris Wright Show, as the Wooden preseason nominee scored 28 points while taking 36% of the Flyers’ possessions and 41% of their shots when he was on the floor (80% of the minutes). But he had little support from the rest of the squad as the Johnsons (who combined for over 47% of the shots when they played) went a combined 5-20 (1-11, 4-9) from the field. After leading very briefly at the start of the first half, the Flyers and Hawks tied four times, Dayton ceding the lead thereafter to Saint Joseph’s. A 14-6 run in the last 5:30 of the game was not enough to overtake the Hawks. Compounding their woes, Dayton returned home and dropped a second consecutive game to visiting Rhode Island on Tuesday (1/26), 65-64. Down 62-61 with 15 ticks left, the Flyers’ Chris Wright was fouled while taking a three-point attempt. On the line with the game in the balance, Wright hit all three attempts to put Dayton up 64-62. Their defense failed however, as Marquis Jones hit a three-pointer nine seconds later. Mickey Perry’s own heroic attempt at a three missed with 0:00 on the clock. A virtually unanimous preseason favorite to take the A10 regular season title and a berth in the field of 65, the Flyers, with a 14-6 overall record and 3-3 in conference are looking up at the bubble right now.

The Flyers take to the road again this weekend, playing at St. Bonaventure on Saturday (1/30), and then break for a week.

Duquesne

Duquesne’s road trip to Kingston, RI, on Wednesday (1/20) ended badly — a 75-67 beating at the hands of Rhode Island. Damian Saunders paced the Dukes with 21 points on 8-13 (1-4, 7-9) and 4-9 shooting, as the junior grabbed 11 rebounds to log his 15th double-double of the season. Eric Evans (16) and BJ Montiero (11) also scored double-digit points. Their Saturday (1/23) game with St. Bonaventure was more successful, as the Dukes downed the Bonnies 70-69 at home. Evans and Saunders paced Duquesne with 15 points apiece. The best news may be Melquan Bolding’s 14-point outing. The sophomore, coming off of rehabilitation, played 30 minutes in the St. Bonaventure game follwing a 29-minute outing against Rhode Island. Bill Clark’s 10 points made him the fourth Duquesne player to record double-digit points.

The Dukes travel to Cincinnati to play Xavier on Thursday (1/28) and then return home to host the Hawks of Saint Joseph’s on Sunday (1/31).

Fordham

Coach Grasso’s squad dropped two more games last week to bring their winless run in conference to six and 11 overall. St. Louis beat Fordham 75-48 in Chaifetz Arena on Wednesday (1/20), and then Temple beat them 62-45 in the Bronx on Saturday (1/23). Freshman guard Lance Brown paced the Rams with 15 points in St. Louis, while freshman Chris Gaston logged his 11th double-double of the season Sunday, with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Next up for Fordham, a visit from La Salle on Wednesday (1/27), and then back on the road, this time to Cincinnati for a date with the Musketeers on Sunday (1/31).

George Washington

January has been a cruel month for the Colonials so far, as Coach Hobbs’ squad has gone 2-4 through the first three weeks. The two losses last week extend their losing streak to four. They lost to Dayton in Ohio 66-51, on Wednesday (1/20), then dropped their weekend game 62-57 to Richmond on Saturday (1/23). Lasan Kromah shared game-high honors with Flyer Chris Wright with 14 points on Wednesday. Unlike Dayton which had three other players score in double digits, George Washington only had Kromah. Sophomore guard Tony Taylor paced the Colonials with 16 points on 4-6 (0-0, 4-6) and 8-8 shooting — a very efficient 66.7% eFG% and 1.63 PPWS. and the two freshmen, guard Bryan Bynes (11 points) and forward David Pellom (four points), were not prolific enough to put George Washington over the top in the Richmond game. The two teams took a combined 49 free throws on 52 fouls.

The Colonials will try to turn it around on Wednesday (1/27) when they host St. Louis. The weekend game, a visit to Rhode Island on Saturday (1/30), may not be a promising place to break their losing run.

La Salle

La Salle disposed of Big 5 rival Penn 76-57, last Wednesday (1/20) at the Palestra. Freshman Aaric Murray led the Explorers with 21 points on 8-11 (3-4, 5-7) and 2-2 shooting. Three others, guard Rodney Green (15), along with forwards Yves Mbala (14) and Jerrell Williams (13), scored in double figures. Coach Giannini’s squad dropped their weekend game to Charlotte 84-82, at the Gola. The Explorers trailed by two 48-46, at the half, but chased the 49ers through all but 30 seconds of the second half. They took the lead 77-76, at the 5:06 on an Mbala dunk. Charlotte tied 77 all on a Darrio Green free throw, and retook the lead, for good 79-77, on an An’Juan Wilderness layup. Rodney Green’s low post entry pass to Aaric Murray with five seconds left in regulation went out of bounds, turning the ball over to Charlotte for on last possession. An’Juan Wilderness put the game away with a jumper with no time left. The loss however, was eclipsed by news that senior forward Kimmani Barrett, out since the Massachusetts game on 1/10, will have surgery this week to repair a fractured bone in his right foot. Barrett, the Explorers’ second leading scorer, is most likely out for the season. Barrett is the second crucial injury suffered by La Salle, as senior guard Ruben Guillandeaux has missed the last 15 games with a stress fracture.

The Explorers have a busy week ahead. They travel to the Bronx to face Fordham on Wednesday (1/27), then across town to play conference (and Big 5) rival Temple on Saturday (1/30) and lastly back to the Gola to host Rhode Island on Tuesday (2/2).

Massachusetts

The Minutemen’s losing streak is up to five. They dropped a 70-69 decision to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday (1/20). Down 10 (57-47) to the Bonnies midway through the second half, Massachusetts’ 22-13 run fell short. Senior guard Ricky Harris paced the Minutemen with 22 points. Their woes continued Saturday (1/23) as they dropped a road game to Baylor, 71-45. Ricky Harris again led Massachusetts, this time with 14 points. Freshman forward Terrill Vinson recorded his second double-double of his career, gathering 12 (7-5-12) rebounds to go with his 14 points.

Massachusetts will travel to Philadelphia to play Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday (1/27), then take on Charlotte at home Saturday (1/30).

Rhode Island

After beating the Dukes on Wednesday (1/20) 75-67, the Rams dropped a road game to Xavier 72-61, on Saturday (1/23) — a disappointing 11 point loss. Their road adventure did not end there however, as they stunned Dayton 65-64, on a Marquis Jones three point jumper with 0:04 left. Senior Delroy James paced all scorers with 22 points, while Keith Cothran chipped in 17. Though the head-to-head loss to X was a setback, the Rams, now 4-2 in conference play (16-3 overall), are back within striking distance of Xavier, St. Louis and Charlotte for second place in the conference.

The Rams should be able to keep pace next week as they host George Washington on Saturday (1/30), then travel to Philadelphia for a game with La Salle on Tuesday (2/2).

Richmond

The Spiders squandered a chance to establish their spot in the conference pecking order (not to mention their chance for their first 10-0 home start) when they dropped a disastrous 71-59 decision to Charlotte on Wednesday (1/20). Of Richmond’s starters, only wing Justin Harper had anything approaching a good offensive outing, scoring 24 points on 8-11 (4-5, 4-6) and 4-6 shooting. Harper notched a gaudy 90.9% eFG% and 1.73 PPWS which would have been better had he hit another free throw (or two). The other four starters combined for 26 points on 8-32 (4-18, 4-14) and 6-9 shooting. Combined they posted a 31.2% eFG5 and 0.72 PPWS. Charlotte managed to score 1.14 points per possesion on a Spider defense that has typically given up 0.95 points per possession in conference play. Richmond, ranked #13 in the conference (only Saint Joseph’s is lower) for offensive rebounding percentage, had an even rougher night than normal, gathering only 22.9% of their misses. The Spiders bounced back on Saturday (1/23) with a road win over George Washington 62-57. Junior Kevin Anderson scored a game-high 21 points on 7-14 (4-4, 3-10) and 3-4 shooting. David Gonzalvez and Justin Harper also recorded double digit points. Harper’s 14 points on an efficient 4-8 (2-5, 2-3) and 4-6 shooting. Gonzalvez’s 11 points came on a high volume shooting night as the junior took 11 field goal attempts and eight trips to the line to record his points.

Next up for Coach Mooney’s squad, the Spiders host St. Louis Saturday (1/30). A win can give Richmond a leg up over St. Louis in the conference standings.

Saint Joseph’s

The Hawks downed Dayton on Saturday (1/23) in a 60-59 game whose score is much closer than the game itself. After falling behind very briefly at the start of the first half, the Hawks and Flyers tied four times through the first 11 minutes of the game, but the Hawks maintained control and took a four-point lead into the locker room. Their lead shrank to one twice in the second half, but the Hawks led by seven to nine points through most of the half. Despite a closing rush by the Flyers, the Hawks retained possession with 14 ticks left and left Dayton with a single field goal attempt at four seconds. Saint Jospeh’s second break from conference play resulted in a decisive 85-64 win over the struggling Quakers of Penn at the Palestra on Monday (1/25).

Coach Martelli’s squad will host Massachusetts at the Hagan on Wednesday (1/27), then travel to Pittsburgh for a game with Duquesne on Sunday (1/31).

St. Bonaventure

Seventy and 69 were the numbers for Coach Schmidt’s squad last week. They worked in the Bonnies’ favor in their first game, a 70-69 win over Massachusetts on Wednesday (1/20). But they worked against the Bonnies in their second game, also on the road, a 70-69 loss to Duquesne on Saturday (1/23). Andrew Nicholson earned his second citation as Player of the Week as he scored 27 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots in play against the Minutemen. Nicholson equaled his career high 29 points against Duquesne to lead all scorers and log his fifth 20 point game of the season. This was Nicholson’s second designation as Player of the Week.

The Bonnies will host Dayton on Saturday (1/30), then travel to St. Louis to take on the Billikens on Wednesday (2/3).

St. Louis

St. Louis beat Fordham on Wednesday (1/20) 75-48, in their only game of the week. Sophomore forward Brian Conklin came off the bench to lead the Billikens with 15 points in 20 minutes of play. Three starters, Aussie forward Cody Ellis (14), guard Kwamain Mitchell (13) and senior forward Willie Reed (10) also logged double-digit points.

The Billikens return to action with two road games this week. On Wednesday they stop in Washington, DC, to play the Colonials of GWU, and then down to Richmond to take on the Spiders for a Saturday (1/30) game.

Temple

The Owls extended their winning streak (currently at six games) by two more this past week. On Wednesday (1/20) they bested the Musketeers by five points, 77-72, on a 22 point, seven rebound effort by guard Ryan Brooks. Temple was able to exploit 13 Xavier turnovers for 19 points. Lavoy Allen chipped in 16 points. Temple beat Fordham 62-45, at Rose Hill, on Saturday (1/23). On a day when Lavoy Allen and Ryan Brooks combined for a horrific 4-18 shooting performance that yielded nine points, the Owls fell back on Juan Fernandez and their bench to come through with 39 points on a combined 13-20 (8-12, 5-8) and 5-6 shooting.

Temple travels to Charlotte for another conference showdown on Wednesday (1/27), and then back to the Liacouras Center for a game with La Salle on Saturday (1/30).

Xavier

The Musketeers went 1-1 for the week, a pretty good result considering the slate of opponents. They dropped a five-point decision to Temple , Wednesday (1/20). Jordan Crawford paced the Musketeers with 18 points. Xavier returned to their winning ways and leveled their race with Rhode Island on Saturday (1/23) when they beat the Rams by 11, 72-61, in the Cintas Center on Saturday (1/23). Jordan Crawford bolstered his Player of the Year resume with a game-high double-double, 21 points to go with 12 boards. The game was close for the first 33 minutes, neither team holding a lead greater than six points, when Xavier broke it open with a five minute, 15-7 run. The Rams could not close that double digit deficit as the Musketeers cruised home.

Coach Mack’s squad tacks two more games onto their homestand this week, first hosting the Dukes on Thursday (1/28), followed by the Fordham Rams on Sunday (1/31).

Games to Catch

  • Temple at Charlotte - Wednesday 1/27 — Another week and the schedule maker gives us another challenge for the conference lead. Charlotte puts a three game winning streak up against Temple’s six game winning streak. Someone’s winning streak will be over at (roughly) 9:00pm Wednesday. Charlotte, along with Xavier and Rhode Island is chasing Temple in the A10 race. Beat the Owls and the race becomes a four-way deadlock.
  • St. Louis at Richmond - Saturday 1/30 — The Spiders need a win over the Billikens to tighten the A10 conference race. David Gonzalvez has struggled of late, but Richmond will need all of their offensive weapons to counter Kwamain Mitchell, Cody Ellis, Willie Reed and Brian Conklin.
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on January 20th, 2010

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

Efficiency Differentials

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

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

Standings as of – 01/19/10

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

Team Breakdowns

Charlotte

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

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

Dayton

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

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

Duquesne

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

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

Fordham

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

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

George Washington

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

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

La Salle

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

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

Massachusetts

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

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

Rhode Island

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

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

Richmond

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

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

Saint Joseph’s

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

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

St. Bonaventure

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

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

St. Louis

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

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

Temple

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

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

Xavier

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

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

Games to Catch

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

Posted by rtmsf on January 13th, 2010

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

First Night

The Atlantic 10, though large at 14 teams, maintains a 16-game conference schedule. Conference play can be scheduled easily into the 10 weeks between New Year’s and Conference Tournament Week (roughly the second week in March). Sixteen games in just under 10 weeks allows for about two conference games (more or less) with a spot or two for another out of conference game. This is good news for the Philadelphia teams (La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and Temple), because it allows them to schedule one of their Big 5 rivals (Penn) into the latter part of the season, thereby sustaining a bit of suspense in their annual City Series. If a 16-game season cannot accommodate a balanced schedule (A10 teams would have to play 26 games; the season most likely starting in late November), it can sustain the idea of an inaugural day of conference play. This season’s First Night fell on Wednesday, January 6, as eight teams opened their conference season with four games. A ninth team, Charlotte, finished out their out of conference season against Tennessee, and two others, La Salle and Xavier, opened their conference slate (against each other) on Thursday (1/7). Opening night winners included George Washington (over St. Bonaventure), Massachusetts (over Fordham), Richmond (over Duquesne) and Temple (over Saint Joseph’s).

Home Court Advantage

The records and efficiency differentials include both out of conference and any conference games played to last Sunday. Both Xavier and Richmond appear quite formidable at home, a bit of a contrast to their performance on the road. Games those two can pick up out of their own house will benefit their conference records greatly. For teams who dream of getting to conference’s upper division, maximizing the advantage provided by a home arena is crucial. Fans have turned out in large numbers and been very vocal for the hometown team. For Fordham, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and Massachusetts, whose records suggest no significant advantage is given for home games, we find the notion is bolstered by a low differential. Rhode Island shows a strong winning record, but a weak differential advantage. The Rams need to rebound better and get a hand in the shooter’s face.  Temple is an enigma. The Owls show a better differential away from home rather than in Philadelphia. It seems the Kansas game (not to mention the seven point loss to St. John’s at the Palestra) left a few scars.

Standings (as of 01/12/10)

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

Team Rundowns

Charlotte

Coach Lutz’s squad closed their out of conference schedule with another road loss, this time to Tennessee on Wednesday (1/6). The score, 86-71, was especially disappointing given the suspension of four scholarship players on gun, achohol and drug charges the previous Friday. One would think the turmoil, the absence of a starter (Tyler Smith) a crucial rotation player (Cameron Tatum) and the primary backup point guard (Melvin Goins) would diminish the Vols’ effectiveness. The 49ers missed a good opportunity for a quality win as the Vols used to playing complementary roles to Tyler Smith stepped up to fill the void (and basket). Though Charlotte held a 3-point lead early (14-11), Tennessee took two 14-0 runs in the first half to put Charlotte back on its heels, and took a 51-29 lead into halftime. It got a little ugly at the end, as both Shamari Spears and Tennessee center Wayne Chism drew a technical with about 5:00 left in the 2nd half (Tennessee up 80-54). The 49ers returned home to host St. Bonaventure on Saturday (1/09). They beat the Bonnies 57-54 in a game not decided until the last minute. After Marquise Simmons dunked to cut the lead to one, a Bonnie turnover and foul put junior guard Charles Dewhurst on the line to settle matters. Dewhurst hit both free throws to push the lead to three with two ticks left.

Charlotte goes back to work on Wednesday (1/13) with a trip to Cincinnati, OH, and a game with Xavier. The 49ers will host St. Louis on Sunday (1/17), then travel to Richmond to play the Spiders the following Wednesday (1/20).

Dayton

The Flyers’s 6’6 Chris Johnson shared Player of the Week honors with Xavier’s Jordan Crawford. Johnson posted career-high points (26) and rebounds (20) as he led Dayton to a 78-72 overtime win at Duquesne in Dayton’s home conference opener on Saturday (1/9).

Dayton takes in the Big Apple on Wednesday (1/13) as they play Fordham at Rose Hill, then out to Cincinnati to take on Xavier on Saturday (1/13).

Duquesne

Duquesne opened conference play with a loss at the hands of Richmond, 80-68, on Wednesday (1/6). This was a home game for the Dukes, which makes it especially difficult. Coach Everhart’s squad then traveled to Dayton and dropped their second conference game to the Flyers, 78-72 (OT), on Saturday (1/9). Damian Saunders (21), Sean Johnson (14), Melquan Bolding (13) and Jason Duty (12) all scored in double digits. Saunders made it a double-double with 11 rebounds.

The Dukes host St. Louis Wednesday (1/13), then take a one week break to get ready for the Rhode Island Rams (1/20).

Fordham

The Rams opened on the road, dropping a 78-76 decision to Massachusetts last Wednesday (1/6). Brenton Butler led all scorers with 31 points on a very efficient 12-23 (6-11, 6-12) and 1-4 shooting. Chris Gaston (16) and Lance Brown (11) also scored double-digit points. Gaston logged his ninth double-double in this, his freshman season. Fordham then traveled to Philadelphia and lost their second A10 game to Saint Joseph’s, 82-69, at the Hagan. Freshman center Fahro Alihodzic, a 6’10, 235 pound native of Great Britain, scored a career-high 16 points in the losing effort.

Fordham will host Dayton on Wednesday (1/13), then Rhode Island on Saturday (1/16).

George Washington

The Colonials opened their A10 schedule with a road win, 78-71, over St. Bonaventure on Wednesday (1/6). Guard Lasan Kromah led all scorers with 23 very, very efficiently scored points on 9-11 (5-7, 4-4) and 0-0 shooting. Kromah’s eFG%, 104.5%, should turn a few heads (and change a few game plans) around the conference, and in fact earned Lasan the Freshman of the Week honors for January 10. A 65% eFG% is considered terrific. Coach Hobbs’ squad returned home and dropped their home opener to Xavier, 76-69, on Saturday (1/9). Damian Hollis led all scorers with 23 points on 8-22 (2-8, 6-14) and 5-6 shooting.

GW faces La Salle in Philadelphia on Wednesday (1/13), then takes a seven-day break to prepare for Dayton on Wednesday (1/20).

La Salle

Dr. Giannini’s Explorers opened at home against the Musketeers last Thursday (1/7), dropping their first conference game 68-62. A 20-2 second half run brought La Salle close, 54-56, but they could not get the next stop, and were shut out the final 2:03 of the game. The Rodney Green-Jordan Crawford duel went to the visitor, 22-20. The Explorers traveled to Massachusetts and beat the Minutemen 80-74 to square their conference record at 1. Freshman center Aaric Murray scored the team-high 18 points while teammate forward Jerrell Williams snagged 12 rebounds. Murray missed his fourth double-double of the season by a single rebound.

La Salle will host George Washington on Wednesday (1/13), and then travel to Richmond to play the Spiders on Saturday (1/16).

Massachusetts

Massachusetts beat Fordham, 78-76, to open their A10 schedule on Wednesday (1/6), then dropped a 80-74 decision to La Salle on Saturday (1/9). Senior guard Ricky Harris’ 21 points paced the Minutemen against Fordham, while freshman guard Freddie Riley did the honors against La Salle, scoring 21 points on 7-15 (6-14, 1-1) and 2-2 shooting.

The Minutemen travel to Richmond to play the Spiders on Wednesday (1/13), then to Philadelphia to play Temple on Saturday (1/16).

Rhode Island

The rankings above are deceptive. The Rams’ loss was to #19 ranked Temple 68-64 in overtime, on Sunday (1/10). A few ESPN/USA Today voters recognized the effort, as the Rams garnered 7 votes (#37 in the poll). Delroy James and Keith Cothran dominated the Rams’ offense, taking between them over 75% of the available shots when they were on the floor. That might have made defending them too easy. James had a relatively efficient 52.9% eFG% with a 1.05 PPWS. Cothran by contrast, had a rough night. The senior guard could muster only a 35.3 eFG% with a 0.82 PPWS. The Rams were very average on the offensive boards, and had difficulty keeping the Owls (i.e., Lavoy Allen) off the offensive boards.

Things should turnaround quickly, as the  Rams host Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday (1/13), then travel to the Bronx to play Fordham on Saturday (1/16).

Richmond

Coach Mooney’s Spiders opened the A10 season with a two game road trip. First stop was Pittsburgh where the Spiders drubbed the Dukes 80-68, on Wednesday. David Gonzalvez led all scorers with 19 points. Gonzalvez and four other Spiders (Kevin Anderson 18; Ryan Butler 14; Justin Harper 12; Dan Geriot 11) all logged double-digit points. Next stop was St. Louis where the Spiders dropped a 5 point decision (63-58) to the Billikens on Saturday (1/09).

Richmond will host Massachusetts on Wednesday (1/13), then host the Explorers of La Salle on Saturday (1/16).

Saint Joseph’s

The Hawks dropped their first A10 game to crosstown (and Big 5) rival Temple 73-49, on Wednesday (1/06). No Hawk scored more than eight points, though two, sophomore guard Scott Prescott and freshman guard Carl Jones logged eight points. They managed to even the record with a visit from Fordham. They beat the Rams 82-69, on Saturday (1/09). Four Hawks managed to score more than 10 points (junior center Todd O’Brien with 20; senior guard Garrett Williamson with 10 and freshman guard Carl Jones with 15), with senior Darrin Govins leading the way with 21.

Saint Joseph’s takes on it’s second Ram in five days when they travel to Kingston, RI, to play Rhode Island on Wednesday (1/13). The road trip has one more stop, in Olean, NY as the Hawks take on the Bonnies on Saturday (1/16).

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure opened the season as hosts to the Colonials, and dropped that decision 78-71, on Wednesday (1/6). Sophomore forward Andrew Nicholson scored 16 points to lead St. Bonaventure. Three other starters, all guards contributed 10 or more points to the effort. The Bonnies dropped their second A10 game, 57-54, this one on the road, to Charlotte, on Saturday (1/09). Freshman forward Marquise Simmons’ dunk brought the Bonnies to within a point, 55-54, with 0:45 left. Charlotte burned two 30 second timeouts and missed a jumper with 0:10 seconds left. A Jon Hall turnover and foul put a Charlotte junior guard on the line. Charles Dewhurst hit both free throws to push the lead back out to three with two seconds left.

The Bonnies will host St. Joseph’s on Saturday (1/16).

St. Louis

Coach Majerus’ squad hosted Richmond to open their A10 season, and beat the Spiders 63-58 on Saturday (1/9). Sophomore guard Kwamain Mitchell scored a team-high 16 points on 7-12 (2-3, 5-9) and 0-0 shooting. Also posting double digit points for the Billikens, sophomore forward Brian Conklin (12 points) and, playing in his first collegiate game, freshman forward Cody Ellis (10).

The Billikens hit the road for two games, the first at Duquesne on Wednesday (1/13), the second on Sunday (1/17) at Charlotte.

Temple

Temple opened their A10 slate by hosting, and beating Saint Joseph’s 73-46, on Wednesday (1/6). Their offense went through Juan Fernandez, Lavoy Allen and Ryan Brooks (as usual). Fernandez had a horrific night from the floor, going 0-10. He managed 4 rebounds, 2 assists (and 3 turnovers) and 3 steals in 33 minutes. The team as a whole converted at a 48.5% (eFG%), as Allen (with a double-double 20 and 11) and Brooks (13 points) were the heros. Sophomore Michael Eric scored 13 points in 15 minutes. They traveled to Kingston, RI, and beat the Rams 68-64 in overtime on Sunday (1/10). Fernandez was back in his zone, leading the team with 18 points on 7-16 (3-3, 4-13) and 1-2 shooting. Brooks contributed 16 points, just better than his season average 15.3, while Allen his second consecutive (and fifth of the season) double-double, with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

The Owls take a break from their conference schedule on Wednesday (1/13) as they play the Penn Quakers of the Ivy League (and Big 5) in the historic Palestra on Penn’s campus. On Saturday (1/16) it’s back to conference play as they host Massachusetts.

Xavier

Congratulations to Jordan Crawford who shared the A10 Player of the Week honors with Dayton’s Chris Johnson, for his efforts in X’s loss to Wake Forest on 1/3 and his 22 points in the Musketeers’ 68-62 win over La Salle last Thursday (1/7). The Musketeers traveled to Washington, DC, and beat the Colonials 76-69 on Sunday (1/10). Senior forward Jason Love led Xavier with 19 points.

Coach Mack’s squad hosts Charlotte on Wednesday (1/13), then Dayton comes calling on Saturday (1/16) for a noon (ET) game.

Games to Catch

  • Charlotte at Xavier – Wednesday 1/13 — Charlotte wants to move up in the conference and has played well (forget about Tennessee) on the road. For the Musketeers to maintain their standing in the conference they need to hold serve at home. This one will pit Shamari Spears against Chris Wright in what should be a good matchup.
  • St. Louis at Duquesne –  Wednesday 1/13 — Two teams fighting for a place in the A10′s upper division match up as the Billikens travel to Pittsburgh to play the Dukes. Coach Majerus’ very deliberate 4-out-1-in motion offense (about 64 possessions per game) matches against Coach Everhart’s uptempo style (about 71 possessions per game). St. Louis has not traveled well this season, an inexperienced squad the most likely cause. After starting hot, the Dukes have cooled down. Maybe rehabbed Melquan Bolding can help them regain momentum. Both teams play good defense, so the game may go to the team that can make a shot.
  • Dayton at Xavier - Saturday 1/16 — Dayton was the preseason favorite, but Xavier had a surprisingly good out of conference run. Is this an instance of the Changing of the Guard, or of Some Things Never Change? Jordan Crawford and Chris Wright should be a lot of fun to watch.
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by rtmsf on January 7th, 2010

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

Looking Back/Looking Forward

The Atlantic 10 conference season has begun (literally) — the first games were played Wednesday 1/6, and next weekend will find virtually every conference team playing a conference schedule. How did the conference fare in the out of conference portion of the season? I have pulled together efficiency statistics from Ken Pomeroy’s web site and combined them with each team’s record (through January 5) and the difference of their offensive efficiency and their defensive efficiency (expressed as points per possession). To provide a context for the team’s won/lost record and efficiency difference, I have also provided (from Realtime RPI) each team’s current SOS (through January 4).

I did not credit St. Louis and St. Bonaventure with their in-season wins over their D2 opponents (Rockhurst and Le Moyne, respectively) because the possession-based stats from those games were not included in those team’s OOC stats, nor were they included in those teams’ SOS computation and ranking.

The order is mildly surprising — Temple remains at the top of the list, Kansas blowout notwithstanding, and Xavier holds the second spot, despite 4 losses. Some things never change it seems. Preseason favorite Dayton holds a very respectable spot, but I feel a little disappointed in that I thought the Flyers would do a little better, taking another game in Puerto Rico, or maybe the New Mexico game. Rhode Island‘s won/lost record appears to be confirmed by the Rams’ SOS, efficiency differential and recent results (their win over Oklahoma State last weekend). Richmond‘s SOS also invests credibility in their won/lost record and efficiency differential. It’s not clear from the table, but an element to factor when calculating the Spiders’ conference season prospects (and by inference, their postseason prospects) is their road record, where at 1-4, they seem overly sensitive to hostile environments. Optimism based on their out of conference records seems a bit premature for George Washington and Charlotte. Their efficiency differentials when juxtaposed with their respective SOSs, suggests these two teams may struggle in conference play. Charlotte was easily handled at Tennessee last night, while the Colonials will be tested early with a visit from Xavier this evening.

Standings as of 01/06/10

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

Team Rundowns

Charlotte

Charlotte thumped Mercer 91-80, last Wednesday (12/29), to close out 2009, but dropped a 9-point decision to Georgia Tech, 76-67, to open 2010 last Saturday (1/2). Dario Green and Shamari Spears led the 49ers with 23 points apiece against Mercer, but Green, with 31 points in 35 minutes of play, was only 1 of 2 Charlotte players (DiJuan Harris, with 13 points was the other) to score more than 10 points against the Yellow Jackets. The 42 point loss at Duke was embarrassing, but not fatal to Charlotte’s postseason prospects. The 49ers have a solid win at Louisville (#55 RPI). Coach Lutz’s squad missed three top 100 win opportunities, at Old Dominion (#41 RPI), and versus Georgia Tech (#63 RPI), and at Tennessee last night. They show no bad losses to this point. Perhaps an outstanding A10 record, combined with a strong showing at the A10′s postseason tournament will be enough to swing the Selection Committee. The Atlantic 10 Conference Offices recognized Dario Green as the co-player of the week and Chris Braswell as the co-rookie of the week.

The 49ers open their A10 slate on Saturday (1/9) when they host St. Bonaventure.

Dayton

Coach Gregory’s squad dropped their New Year’s Day game to New Mexico 68-66. Chris Johnson scored a team-high 21 points, 11 coming in the last 55 seconds of the game (three 3s and a 2). The Flyers were down seven when Johnson decided to make his run, but were not able (until Johnson’s last three closed the game) to cut the Lobos’ lead to less than four. Neither team was particularly efficient at converting possessions into points, but shot defense failed the Flyers as it did in the Kansas State game, and the Flyers could not keep the Lobos off the free throw line. New Mexico had nearly twice as many FTAs as Dayton. The Lobos took it to the cup at every chance, especially in the 2nd half. They were rewarded with over 1 FTA for every FGA they took (107.5), high even for the Lobos (see the New Mexico Game Plan page at Ken Pomeroy’s website). New Mexico earned 38.2% of their points at the line, high for a D1 team. Dayton did get votes in both polls Monday, enough to rank the Flyers #34 in the AP poll (placing them behind Temple and Rhode Island). With Tuesday’s 24-point blowout versus Ball State, 59-35, the Flyers close out their out of conference schedule with a 11-3 record. On a night when only three players logged more than 20 minutes (50% of the available playing time at their position), Chris Wright was the game-high scorer with 10 points. Coach Gregory emptied his bench and passed 14 different players through the game. Only two logged a minute of playing time, and a third logged less than five minutes. Postseason prospects will depend more heavily on their conference record than I anticipated in my season preview. The Flyers go into their conference slate with no signature (Top 25 RPI) wins. Their best wins are against Old Dominion (RPI #43 in Dayton) and Georgia Tech (RPI #63 in Puerto Rico). Their three losses are on the road or in neutral sites, all to top 25 RPI teams.

Dayton will host Duquesne in their A10 opener on Saturday (1/9).

Duquesne

The Dukes dropped a 9-point decision, 63-54, to the Monarchs of Old Dominion on Wednesday. Freshman guard Sean Johnson posted a career-high 17 points as he led the Dukes. Damian Saunders, Eric Evans and Bill Clark all scored in double digits as well, but the freshman posted an efficient 58.3% eFG% in the losing effort. The good news is that injured Melquan Bolding has been cleared to practice and will hopefully see some playing time in the next week or so. Odds for an NCAA invitation hang on a strong A10 record, which was given an early jolt with a loss at home to Richmond last night, 80-68. Given their difficulties on the offensive side of the ball (shot making, turnovers and very average offensive rebounding) against average (OOC) competition, I wonder how effective the Dukes will be in conference play. A relatively young team, they have struggled on the road (efficiency differential for road games is -0.147). That may not change much in conference play, despite Bolding’s return (remember he is not 100% nor is he in game condition at this point). The Dukes have a single notable (top 100 RPI) win, and that is against Radford (RPI #90). All of their losses are against top 100 teams. No ugly losses, but no signature wins (despite several chances) either.

Duquesne travels to Dayton to play the Flyers on Saturday (1/9).

Fordham

The Rams’ Southern Road Trip was a study in disappointment as Fordham dropped a 79-66 game to Kennesaw State last Tuesday (12/29) and another to Hampton, 78-54, on Sunday (1/3). Against Kennesaw State Chris Gaston (26) and Brenton Butler (25) scored 51 of Fordham’s 66 points. Against Hampton, Butler was the only double-digit scorer for the Rams, posting 21 points, about 38.9% of Fordham’s total production. Last night Fordham lost a 2-point heartbreaker at UMass.  Lacking consistent offense (Fordham is last in the A10 for offensive efficiency right now), prospects beyond Atlantic City are bleak. Ironically there are a number of A10 teams with worse defense, and even a few with worse offensive turnover rates and rebounding rates. But no team converts FGAs less efficiently than Fordham. Chris Gaston (who takes 37.4% of the team’s FGAs) and Brenton Butler (who takes 24.5%), their two principal threats, have eFG%s of 48.0 and 38.5 respectively, very tough conversion rates if the Rams expect to win. The Rams take about 69.2% of the FGAs as 2-point shots, which is pretty smart given they convert their 3s at a 24.2% rate. In other words they pose no serious threat from the perimeter. Defenses can collapse and concentrate on stopping lane penetration from Gaston (Butler takes 49.8% of his FGAs from beyond the arc). Hopefully Coach Grasso can use the season to experiment with the offense and develop/adopt a system that will make the most of the roster’s strengths, setting the foundation for next season. And Chris Gaston will decide he wants to be a part of the rebuilding. Gaston was named co-rookie of the week for the 2nd time this season.

Fordham will travel to Saint Joseph’s on Saturday (1/9).

George Washington

The Colonials were 1-1 on their New England Holiday Sojourn. After beating Holy Cross they dropped a 66-53 decision to Harvard on Wednesday (12/30). Damian Hollis scored 11 points (5-14, 0-6, 5-8 & 1-1) to lead George Washington. GW returned to Washington, DC, and beat Howard 81-63 on Saturday (1/2), paced again by Damian Hollis (18 points & 8 rebounds, both team-high) and Tony Taylor (13 points). Last night the Colonials got a 78-71 road win to open conference play against St. Bonaventure.  The 11-3 record looks promising, but it comes against competition with an SOS ranked #291. There are no signature wins in the offerings, with two of the three losses coming against their toughest competition (Harvard ranked #26 RPI & Providence, ranked #78 RPI). Their loss to Oregon State (#209 RPI) is bad. Against mediocre competition the Colonials have come to own the conference’s second worst (tied with Duquesne, ahead of only La Salle) turnover rate. They lost 21.9% of their possessions. Field goal efficiency is lower than the conference average, which, given GW’s SOS, raises a yellow flag for conference play. The Colonials have to rely on the strength of the conference (assuming they compile a good record in conference play) to bolster their credentials for the NCAA Selection Committee. Not a great plan.

Coach Hobbs’ squad will play their home opener against Xavier on Sunday (1/10).

La Salle

La Salle closed December with a loss to Ivy League favorite Cornell, then opened January with a catastrophe, a 5-point loss (66-61) to Binghamton on Saturday (1/2). Rodney Green’s 20 points (backed by Kimmani Barrett’s 17 points) was not enough to turn back the Binghamton Bearcats, shut down freshman Aaric Murray, limiting him to 4 (2-2-4) rebounds and 3 points over 33 minutes of play. The prospects for life after Atlantic City are bleak at this point. Though their resume lacked a signature win, the Explorers could at least plead their losses as having all been at the hands of top 100 teams. Until the Binghamton Bearcats. Like George Washington, La Salle will have to create a (NCAA) tournament-worthy resume on a strong conference showing. Risky business that may rely too heavily on a conference tournament run that would require an adjective like “miraculous,” “magical” or “remarkable” to accurately describe the effort.

The Explorers open their A10 season on Thursday (1/7) as they host Xavier. The squad will then take to the road for a game at Massachusetts on Sunday (1/10).

Massachusetts

Coach Kellogg’s squad dropped a 2-point decision to Davidson, 63-61, on Wednesday (12/30). Senior guard Ricky Harris and junior guard Anthony Gurley split the scoring duties, posting 21 and 17 points respectively. Sophomore center Sean Carter collected 10 rebounds (4-6-10), matching a career-high. Last night the Minutemen got a solid home win to begin conference play versus Fordham.  If tournament prospects are bleak, the Minutemen’s progress from this time last season is encouraging. The team headed into conference play with a 5-8 record, as opposed to this season’s 6-7 record. As the table below suggests their offense improved in the face of poorer shooting, on the strength of better rebounding, improved ball handling and more aggression getting to the basket. Massachusetts’ record would be (much) better if they had garnered 2009′s defensive numbers. Progress for the Minutemen might be better measured in getting more road wins and asserting a stronger home court advantage (and improving those defensive numbers), rather than post season bids.

Massachusetts will host La Salle on Sunday (1/10).

Rhode Island

Rhode Island continued to build it’s resume with a 4-point win over Oklahoma State, 63-59, on Saturday (1/2). Played more like a chess game than a basketball game, the teams took 61 possessions each (a pace more to Ok State’s liking than Rhode Island’s). If the game was not an offensive masterpiece, the Rams nevertheless posted some of their best defensive numbers of the season, as they limited the Cowboys to 0.97 points per possession and exploited the Cowboys systemic lack of rebounding. Delroy James, Keith Cothran and Stevie Mejia all posted double digit points, with Delroy leading the way with 14 points and 9 (7-2-9) rebounds. The effort did not go unnoticed, as the Rams upped their 5-vote 12/28 total in the AP poll to 52 votes in the current (1/4) poll. They need another 95 or so votes to break into the Top 25. Given their 5-point road win, 68-63, at Akron on Tuesday (1/5) perhaps a few more voters will remember them on their ballots next Monday. With 4 wins over top 100 RPI teams (Oklahoma State — #36, Northeastern — #67, Providence — #77 and Boston College on the road — #100) against a single loss (also to a Top 100 RPI team, a road loss to VCU — #37), Rhode Island has used their out of conference schedule to position themselves very well for postseason consideration. A strong showing in conference play (1 – 3 losses versus the better competition) should have them in the NCAAs.

Coach Baron’s squad opens their A10 schedule Sunday by hosting a marquee opponent, Temple, in a game that should have immediate repercussions in the conference race.

Richmond

The Spiders dropped a New Year’s Eve overtime decision at Wake Forest (74-68), Kevin Anderson leading the way with a career-high 31 points. Justin Harper was the only other Richmond player to post double-digit points as he scored 10 points on 3-8 (2-4, 1-4) and 2-4 shooting. They swung north to Lewisburg, PA to beat the struggling Bison of Bucknell on Saturday (1/2) 59-50, Anderson again led the team in scoring (the 7th time in 15 games) with 25 points on 9-17 (2-5, 7-12) and 5-7 shooting. Starting forwards Justin Harper and Ryan Butler chipped in 13 and 11 points respectively. Coach Mooney’s squad picked up four quality wins (ODU — #42, Mississippi St — #69, Missouri — #71 and Florida — #76) in their out of conference schedule. Their four losses, all to Top 100 RPI opponents were missed opportunities, one or two of which (that 20 point loss to South Carolina for example?) might be cause for regret come Selection Sunday. Their defense has been surprisingly effective (ranked #4 in the conference versus the #6 most difficult schedule) suggests they can do well in conference play if they can find a little more offense (calling David Gonzalvez…). Congratulations to Kevin Anderson who was named co-player of the week by the Atlantic 10 Conference. The article cited his career-high against Wake Forest and his point total against Bucknell.

Richmond opened their A10 schedule with another extended road trip that matches them against two of the A10′s youngest teams. First stop was Pittsburgh where Richmond handled Duquesne easily (80-68) Wednesday, followed with a stop in St. Louis for a play date with the Billikens on Saturday (1/9). Richmond has struggled in other team’s arenas; this trip will be a good test to see where they stand in the conference.

Saint Joseph’s

St. Joseph’s started a new losing streak, currently standing at two, as they dropped a game to Princeton over the weekend (Saturday 1/2) 70-62, at home. An Alpha and Omega combination, freshman Carl Jones came off the bench to lead the Hawks with 17 points on 6-13 (1-5, 5-8) and 4-5 shooting, coupled with starting senior Darrin Govens who chipped in 13 points on 5-14 (1-6, 4-8) and 2-2 shooting, led the team in scoring. Coach Martelli is working with a young team this season, and it is clear from the out of conference record that this will be a rebuilding year. With a 3-2 home record, the first step may be to establish a home court advantage in conference. And develop those young guards.

The Hawks open their A10 schedule with three games in 8 days. First they flew across town to get waxed by the Temple Owls last night 73-46, then they host Fordham on Saturday (1/9) and travel to Kingston, RI, to play Rhode Island the following Wednesday (1/13).

St. Bonaventure

Coach Schmidt’s squad beat Little Three rival Canisius 82-75, on Wednesday night (12/30). Jon Hall posted a 20 point night, leading the Bonnies. Hall grabbed 7 rebounds and dished 6 assists (and 0 turnovers) to boot. Chris Matthews notched 15 points. In all, five St. Bonaventure players scored double-digit points. They closed out their out of conference schedule on a down note, falling to Marshall 80-61, in Huntington, WV, on Saturday (1/2). While the Bonnies’ efficiency stats, both offensive and defensive, are good, their 6-6 record juxtaposed with their efficiency difference of 0.044, suggests they lack game-to-game consistency. The Bonnies are about a year (and a sure-handed point guard) away from the postseason. Among their six losses, only the Niagara loss (the Purple Eagles are ranked #114 in the RPI) is considered bad.

St. Bonaventure lost at home to George Washington on Wednesday 78-71, and will then travel to Charlotte to play the 49ers on Saturday (1/9).

St. Louis

The Billikens closed out their out of conference slate with a loss to Bowling Green, 59-50, on the road. Kwamain Mitchell and Ohio-native Jon Smith paced St. Louis with 13 and 11 points respectively. The Billikens’ record as the visitor in hostile arenas is 0-2 (true a small sample, but not because of NCAA scheduling). And for a postseason bid, therein lies the rub. A 9-0 home record (that includes a win over D2 Rockhurst) will not impress the Selection Committee, especially if compared to their 0-4 record when playing away from Chaifetz Arena.

St. Louis opens their A10 season with a home game against Richmond on Saturday (1/9), followed by a road game at Charlotte the following Wednesday (1/13).

Temple

The Owls closed out 2009 with another win, this one at Northern Illinois. Temple sports a 4-0 record versus MAC opponents (can they claim the conference’s automatic bid?). It was Juan Fernandez’s turn to go off, and the Argentine put up 26 points on 7-12 (4-7, 3-5) and 8-8 shooting. Ryan Brooks put up 19 points on 7-18 (0-6, 7-12) 5-7 shooting. Lavoy Allen harvested (4-7-11) 11 rebounds. The Kansas Jayhawks ran them out of the Liacouras Center Saturday (1/2), hanging an ugly 32 point loss (84-52) on the Owls. Kansas dominated the boards (43 vs 31) and outshot Temple (30-55 versus 16-64) badly enough to negate a very modest turnover advantage held by the Owls.

Coach Dunphy’s squad hosted the Hawks of Saint Joseph’s Wednesday night and handled them easily, 73-46, and will then travel to Kingston, RI, to tackle the Rams of URI Sunday (1/10). The following Wednesday (1/13) Temple will take care of some Big 5 business as they take on the Penn Quakers at the historic Palestra on Penn’s campus.

Xavier

The X-men lost to Wake Forest Sunday (1/3) in the inaugural play of the Skip Prosser Classic, dropping a 4-point decision, 96-92, after 2 overtimes. Jordan Crawford led all scorers with a career-high 31 points, while Jamel McLean and Terrell Holloway chipped in 21 and 13 points apiece. Despite lacking the seasoning playing together several seasons might provide, Xavier has done well with a demanding out of conference schedule. The offensive/defensive differential (+0.144) ranks the Musketeers second in the conference despite the loss of five games. Though they lack a Top 25 win and have a loss to Marquette (RPI rank #108), Xavier’s prospects in conference seem good, and a resume-building signature win in conference (Temple and Rhode Island offer opportunities) is possible. Going into conference play the Musketeers sport an 0-2 record against Top 25 competition, and a 2-2 record versus top 100 competition.

XU will travel to Philadelphia to open their A10 season Thursday (1/7) at La Salle, then extend the road trip with one more stop, in Washington DC to play George Washington in Sunday (1/10), before returning home to Cincinnati to host Charlotte the following Wednesday (1/13).

Games to Catch

  • Xavier at La Salle Thursday 1/7 — Had La Salle had a better out of conference showing, this early season matchup would have garnered some national attention. For those who have not seen La Salle’s Rodney Green and Aaric Murray and Xavier’s Jordan Crawford and Terrell Holloway, this one might be worth a look. (CBS College Sports)
  • Richmond at St. Louis Saturday 1/9 — The best of Saturday’s three conference games, the Billikens have been tough at Chaifetz Arena, but the Spiders need some road wins if they want to keep their postseason hopes alive. Both coaches have installed complex, motion-based offenses (Moody is a Princeton Offense coach, Majerus is a 4 out 1 in motion coach) that when working properly, can be very efficient. This one should remind spectators of a chess game played with a ball and five players per side.
  • Temple at Rhode Island Sunday 1/10 — Starts off the conference slate with a bang, the consensus two best teams coming out of their out of conference schedules lock horns in the 1st weekend of full conference play. (Cox Cable).
  • Xavier at George Washington Sunday 1/10 — A significant game for both teams. Xavier does not want to fall too far this season, but GW wants to recover the standing they had three seasons ago. The Musketeers have not traveled well in the out of conference season, so this game, as the closer on their extended road trip, can help set a different tone on the squad. If the Colonials hope to regain their standing, defending the home court is a first step. (CSS, FSN Ohio & Comcast Sportsnet).
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by jstevrtc on December 10th, 2009

checkinginon

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

Standings (as of 12/9/09):

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

Changes.   Change is in the air throughout the Atlantic 10 Conference very early this season.  Xavier, Dayton and Temple have all hit early road bumps in their out of conference (OOC) schedules — each has already logged a second loss.  Charlotte, Rhode Island and Richmond on the other hand, have been strong coming out of the gate, Richmond’s early season loss to William & Mary notwithstanding.  La Salle has had the strongest start in several seasons.  St. Bonaventure logged a couple of strong outings…before their rendezvous with Mississippi State.  And Fordham departed from long precedent by “releasing” 7th year head coach Dereck Whittenburg five games into their season. For Saint Joseph’s and Massachusetts however, change has not been a good thing.  Coach Phil Martelli may have finally found his guards, and Coach Derek Kellogg may have his athletic wings, but they are all very, very young.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

impactplayersOver the course of the last ten weeks we’ve broken down sixty players from around the country whom we expect will have the biggest impact on college basketball this season.  We performed this exercise geographically, choosing five high-major and one mid-major player from each of the somewhat arbitrary ten regions of the country.  If you’d like to read through the individual regions (and we highly encourage that), you can check all ten here.

impactcountry(2)

If you don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of the previous posts, we’ll summarize here for you by rating the strongest to the weakest regions.

(ed. note: we started this so long ago that Binghamton still had a promising basketball program, and DJ Rivera still had a place to play)

1.  Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower mw summary

Overview. This seemed pretty clear just at a first glance.  Aldrich, Collins and Harangody are three of the 1st team AAs on the RTC preseason list, and Brackins and Turner are on the 2d team.  This group has unbelievable scoring ability, size and experience.  The only weak link is the mid-major inclusion of Eldridge, who is a fine player, but not in the class of the rest of these superstars.  The nation’s heartland is the epicenter of college basketball talent this year.

Best Players Left Out. Where to start?  The depth in this region is incredible.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard at Butler, Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore at Purdue, even Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati.  The #6-10 players in this region would probably be better than all but a few of the other regions.

2.  Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR, OK)

mid-south summary

Overview.  It was a very close call between this region and the South Atlantic, but we felt that the guard play of Warren and Wall with Anderson on the wing would compensate for what this team gives up in size.  And it doesn’t give up much, considering Patterson, Smith and Jordan are all exceptional inside.  Tough call, but Wall is the likely #1 pick, so he’s the x-factor.

Best Players Left Out.  Plenty of raw size here, including Samardo Samuels at Louisville, Michael Washington at Arkansas and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.  Throw in the skilled size of AJ Ogilvy at Vanderbilt and Wayne Chism at Tennessee and this area will punish you on the interior.

3.  South Atlantic Region (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

s.atlantic summary

Overview.  This is the third region that’s chock full of NBA talent – each of the rest below have smatterings of it, but not nearly as much.  Aminu, Booker and Singler all define skilled versatility, while Monroe could end up the best big in the entire country if he wants it enough.  Sanders is a little undersized but relentless as well.

Best Players Left OutEd Davis at UNC was a lighting rod topic, as some felt that he’d be an all-american this year with his length and skill set.  Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are two others.  A good argument could be made that this region had the best players left out, but it sorta depends on how this year plays out due to their relative youth and inexperience.

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Cooler Than You: Some Of The Best Of College Basketball

Posted by jstevrtc on November 6th, 2009

seasonpreviewJust about anyone can name the best teams in college basketball, and, as far as individual players, if you’re reading this site you can most likely reel off three or four of your own personal All-America teams.  But what about those individuals who specifically excel at a few of the more exciting aspects of the game?  There are certain plays that make everyone come out of their seats:  a massive and powerful dunk that liberates some poor defender of his pride;  a ridiculously long three-pointer, especially at crunch time; and a blocked shot where the ball goes into orbit.  And of course everyone loves basketball players with cool names.  So here they are:  RTC’s rankings of the best dunkers, best long-range bombers, best shot-blockers, and coolest names in the game today.

The Most Excellent Dunkers

Unlike the NBA All-Star Weekend, we’ll begin with the dunk artists.  Each player is listed with a link leading you to an example or two of his work.  Sorry, UConn fans.  We respect you and your team, but we had to put Summers over Robinson because…well, you know why.

  1. Paul George, Fresno State  (vs St. Mary’s 2008, practice video 2009, Open Gym 2009)
  2. Chris Wright, Dayton  (vs Ohio State 2008, vs Marquette 2008)
  3. Durrell Summers, Michigan State (vs UConn over S. Robinson 2009, vs Minnesota 2009)
  4. Stanley Robinson, Connecticut (vs Michigan State 2009, vs Villanova 2008)
  5. Isaiah Thomas, Washington  (Madness 09)
  6. Scotty Hopson, Tennessee (vs Arkansas 2009)
  7. Keion Bell, Pepperdine  (Madness 09, Madness 09 over 5 guys)

Honorable Mention (or, guys who will probably be on this list by year’s end): Will Coleman, Memphis; John Wall, Kentucky; Delvon Roe, Michigan State; Wes Johnson, Syracuse.

The All-Jeff Fryer Team

This list of the best long-range bombers is named after the legendary (in our minds) Loyola Marymount guard who still holds the record for most three-pointers made in an NCAA Tournament game, an incredible 11 against Michigan in 1990′s second round.  If you can catch that game on ESPN Classic, it is something to behold.  You have to be a little nuts to be a bomber; you have to forget your last miss like it never happened and be willing to keep firing even when they just won’t fall (our editors are familiar with this feeling).  Here’s our ranking of 25 of this season’s best:

  1. T.J. Campbell, Portland
  2. Rihards Kuksiks, Arizona State
  3. Jared Stohl, Portland
  4. Andrew Goudelock, College Of Charleston
  5. Mike Roll, UCLA
  6. Jerome Randle, California
  7. Brandon Hazzard, Troy
  8. Ryan Staudacher, Montana
  9. Corey Allmond, Sam Houston State
  10. Ryan Wittman, Cornell
  11. Josh Young, Drake
  12. Corey Stokes, Villanova
  13. Jonathan Tavernari, BYU
  14. Gordon Hayward, Butler
  15. Troy Cotton, Wisconsin-Green Bay
  16. Tweety Carter, Baylor
  17. Rotnei Clarke, Arkansas
  18. Corey Lowe, Boston University
  19. Ricky Harris, Massachusetts
  20. Mac Hopson, Idaho
  21. Andy Rautins, Syracuse
  22. Nic Wise, Arizona
  23. Willie Warren, Oklahoma
  24. Jimmy Langhurst, Robert Morris
  25. Kelvin Lewis, Houston

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Closing Out Midnight Madness…

Posted by rtmsf on October 17th, 2009

BOOMLast night was the celebration, but it’s back to the blood, sweat and tears of two-a-days for the roughly 5000 Division I players around the country today as coaches begin whipping their teams into shape for season openers in less than a month.  RTC’s John Stevens dynamited last night’s disappointing ESPNU coverage, ultimately finding that the various tweets and message board updates from fans, coaches, players and media around the country were entirely more interesting than Steve Lavin sitting in an empty locker room waiting for a volleyball game to end.  So to wrap up our Midnight Madness coverage, let’s take another look at some of the sights and sounds from last night’s events around the nation.

First, some of the bigger events of last night…

Duke’s Midnight Madness took an odd turn last evening.  From The Onion:

DURHAM, NC—Freshman Nate Washburn, 17, was mutilated in front of 12,000 students, players, and coaches at Duke University’s Cameron Indoor Stadium Friday during the school’s traditional “Midnight Madness Sacrifice A Freshman Ceremony.” Prior to their first official practice, six hooded members of the Duke basketball team, lightly chanting the school’s fight song, led a blindfolded Washburn to center court, where he was greeted by head coach Mike Krzyzewski…

Ok, that’s a joke.  But the following video wasn’t.  They actually showed this at last night’s Countdown to Craziness in Cameron (this is the kind of stuff ESPNU should have been showing!), and the Titanic scene is absolutely going to give us nightmares for the entire rest of Nolan Smith’s career.  Seriously.  Check it out at the 1:55 minute mark (but the whole thing is worth watching).

And you may have heard that some tomfoolery got into those silly students at Georgetown last night.  Well, one specifically.  A freshman named Alex Thiele was arrested on suspicion of lifting a loaded handgun from a Park Police officer and then firing the damn thing in a bathroom in one of the dorms on campus.  What – it wouldn’t flush?  This is just bizarre.

Moving on, here’s Tom Izzo driving into the sold-out (first time ever) Breslin Center at Michigan State in a Formula 1 race car.  The tie-in, of course, is that Indianapolis is the site of the 2010 Final Four.

Here’s some of the freshman dance skit at Kansas’ Late Night in the Phog last evening.  Gary Parrish was there for this one.

You knew Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness was going to be on the other side of insane  last night, and it was.  Here’s John Calipari’s opening speech, which is being compared favorably with Obama’s gift of oratory by some (though not all).

Here’s Bob Huggins entering West Virginia’s Midnight Madness last night.  WVU is getting a lot of early season hype as a darkhorse F4 candidate.

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Boom Goes the Dynamite: 2009 Midnight Madness Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2009

BOOMEd. Note: for our Midnight Madness wrapup post, click here.

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to our first Boom Goes The Dynamite of the new season.  And now, we can say those words — “new season.”  For tonight is the final hurdle in that long lull of the off-season that we have to cross.  Maybe it’s inappropriately named, but who cares?  Tonight is Midnight Madness across the country.  Schools all over the place have got the festivities going, the first official games are less than a month away, and we can finally say that the new season is here.

ESPN-U’s broadcast is minutes away from starting.  I’m John Stevens, one of the editors here at Rush The Court, and I’ll be live-blogging the whole way with RTMSF, our founder and guru, behind the scenes watching message boards, Twitter accounts, and getting texts and video from all over, and we’ll put up everything we get.  So settle in, enjoy the coverage, and let us know your opinions as always.  Keep hitting that refresh button, and we hope you enjoy it.  Most of all — welcome.  It’s finally here.

9:01pm:  Here are some tweets RTMSF has already procured from various sources:

Mike Davis, Illinois

IlliniBalla24… @BuckWildBill33:  Three point contest tonight, i’m looking to go 15 for 15 <—- I like ur confidence but I like @dkeller23 for a bill lls

Abdul Gaddy, Washington

gaddy0uw…Midnight madness tonight! Everybody come support

Jim Boylen, Utah

JimBoylen…Talking to the media for a few minutes before practice starts. We’re going to hit the ground running!

Tom Crean, Indiana

TomCrean…http://twitpic.com/lr6zu – The first four in line for Hoosier Hysteria

Gary Williams, Maryland

MDCoachWilliams…MARYLAND MADNESS IS HERE!!!! Come out to the Comcast Center and check out all the action.

9:12:  Evidently the University of Kentucky had recording artist Drake at the festivities.  No report on Ashley Judd’s whereabouts.

9:16:  Right now, just lots of talk by Katz, Gallindo, and Branch.  Mostly about North Carolina.  Keep in mind, in the race for all-time wins, UNC is only 4 behind Kentucky, and the two face off on December 5th.  Might be REALLY important.

9:20:  Nice UNC picture:

unc pic

9:24: And here’s Drake from Kentucky:

drake and cal

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RTC’s 2009-10 Impact Players – Northeast Region

Posted by zhayes9 on September 2nd, 2009

impactplayersYesterday the calendar moved into September and we’re all foaming at the mouth around here to get started on the 2009-10 season preview materials, but we realize it doesn’t make much sense to start really gearing up on that until October.  Nevertheless, one feature we want to start that we’ll be publishing weekly all the way up to the start of the season is our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series.   Each week we’re going to pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Northeast Region (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, Upstate NY)

northeast

  • Joe Trapani – Jr, F – Boston College. Al Skinner hit the jackpot when Vermont transfer Joe Trapani elected to join the BC basketball program for the 2008-09 season after a successful debut campaign with the Catamounts, averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and earning America East all-rookie team honors. Trapani wanted to challenge himself at a higher level of competition, transferring to nearby Chestnut Hill where the 6’8 forward made quite an impression in his sophomore season, upping his scoring average to 13.4 ppg and rebounds to 6.6 per contest. Trapani earned a spot on this list mostly due to his all-around game; in fact, the skilled big man led the Eagles in assists in four games. His best performance may have come against Kyle Singler and Duke at home, an upset win for BC in which Trapani registered 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Not many 6’8 forwards can score, rebound, dish and shoot 36% from deep. His inside-outside game reminded many of the Eagle faithful of the recently departed Jared Dudley and will be even more vital to the Eagles success in 2009-10 without leading scorer Tyrese Rice. While the rest of the roster returns, it is Trapani who must lead the way if BC wants to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji, Biko Paris and other Eagles will contribute, but Trapani’s model of consistency and constant leadership makes him indispensable to Skinner and the BC program.
  • Arinze Onuaku – Sr, F/C – Syracuse. The Syracuse behemoth is one of the most puzzling players in all of college basketball. There are two statistics that jump out at you when analyzing Onuaku’s 2008-09 junior season with the Orange: 67% and 30%. Incredibly, that was Onuaku’s field goal and free throw percentage last year… in order. That’s right, Onuaku was an insanely efficient 178-267 from the floor, higher than Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Nevill, Patrick Patterson, DeJuan Blair or anyone in college basketball. On the flip side, his free throw shooting (37-124) was abysmal and downright embarrassing, meaning if Onuaku doesn’t improve in this area mightily over the summer and into the upcoming season, Hack-A-Onuaku will be explored greatly by Big East coaches in 2009-10. The big man MUST improve to at least 50% if he doesn’t want to greatly cost the Orange. Onuaku’s impact to Syracuse is mostly positive, though. The field goal percentage speaks for itself, along with 10.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and a 19/12 double-double against Cole Aldrich and Kansas last season. With Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris gone to riches (just kidding for two of them), Onuaku will be relied on heavily by coach Jim Boeheim to be a reliable force in the paint by blocking shots, staying out of foul trouble, scoring with efficiency and scooping up rebound after rebound. With Blair and Thabeet departed, nobody can have as much of an impact down low at Onuaku both in the Big East conference and in the entire Northeast region.
  • Jerome Dyson – Sr, G – UConn. When Jerome Dyson knocked knees with an unidentified Syracuse player and crumpled to the floor during a routine win for the 23-1 Huskies on Feb. 11, you could almost hear the collective groan from the UConn faithful throughout the Northeast.  You see, the dirty little secret for UConn was that Dyson at 34.8% was one of the only two players on the roster (AJ Price at 40.2% was the other) who could reliably nail a three-pointer for the Huskies.  UConn was never going to be confused for a team of marksmen, but it’s no coincidence that a team who was shooting a robust 36.4% from deep on the season at the time of injury shot a horrid 29.8% from outside the rest of the way.  It was painfully obvious in the F4 loss to Michigan St. that once the Huskies got in the hole, the three-pointer – a useful offensive weapon in comeback attempts – simply wasn’t available to them (2-6 for the game).  Dyson should be back at 100% this season, as his meniscus injury is completely healed and he has a chip on his shoulder from seasons lost.  With four key contributors gone from last year’s team, Jim Calhoun will be looking at his senior guard to put the team on his back and take the lead in crunch time.   This shouldn’t be much of a problem considering Dyson’s scorer’s mentality and natural abilities.  If UConn is going to avoid a major letdown from its 31-win season, it’ll be largely due to the poise and play of the player who has always seemed just on the cusp of greatness, but due to some bad decisions mixed in with worse luck, has never quite made it there.
  • Kemba Walker – Soph, G – UConn. Kemba Walker is the latest in a long string of NYC-bred point guards who is set for stardom in the Big East.  As a freshman backing up AJ Price in 2008-09, it was easily apparent to anyone watching that Walker was the player with the quicker first step, better touch around the basket, and ultimately, brighter future.  As such, he’s a projected first rounder whenever he decides to come out for the NBA Draft.  However, perhaps typical of many Big Apple products, his outside jumper is still a work in progress (27.1% from deep last year), but he needn’t rely on 22-footers because he can get to the cup and finish with anybody of any size (52% on twos, which is phenomenal for a six-foot guard).  Walker had some ups and downs during his freshman year, but the reason he’s on our Northeast Region squad has a lot to do with his performance in the Elite Eight against Missouri where he sliced and diced the Tiger defense so effectively (23/5/5) that we should be forgiven for thinking he was the best player on the floor.  Several of our braintrust believe that he could double his offensive output this season en route to becoming an all-american playmaker for the Huskies in the mold of former point guards Chris Smith and Khalid El-Amin.  Regardless of postseason accolades, we should expect the UConn backcourt of Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker to be one of the very best in the nation this year.
  • Ricky Harris – Sr, G – UMass. While the Minutemen may have underachieved in 2008-09, the scoring production provided by Ricky Harris on a game-by-game basis did not go unnoticed.  With point guard Chris Lowe and shot-blocking extraordinaire Tony Gaffney departed, Harris will be the centerpiece for Massachusetts in Chris Kellogg’s second year as the Minutemen head coach. Harris reached the top six in scoring in both his sophomore and junior campaigns at 18.2 ppg, so predicting a 20+ ppg senior season out of Harris is not outside the realm of possibility. He could very well challenge Dayton big man Chris Wright for A-10 POY this year and should be the #1 scoring force and premier outside shooter in the entire conference. Want more proof? This past season Harris became the 40th UMass player to accumulate 1,000 points in his college career and has scored in double-figures in 61 of his last 66 games along with 28 career contests with 20+ points. He lit up ACC foe Boston College for 35 points on 12-19 FG and 6-11 3PT in an overtime loss. While his rebounding and passing game leaves much to be desired, Harris will make or break whether the Minutemen surprise in a weaker Atlantic 10 and reach a postseason tournament this season. Now that Tyrese Rice and A.J. Price are no longer amateurs, nobody in the entire Northeast region can match his scoring potential on any given night. Harris’ ability to catch fire and will the Minutemen to victory earns him a spot on our all-Northeast squad.
  • DJ Rivera (MM) – Sr, G – Binghamton.  Our mid-major “sixth man” for this region shouldn’t be viewed as a slight of any kind.  We recognize that Rivera, the 6’4 do-anything guard from upstate New York can capably play with anyone in the Northeast region.  In fact, the player who was openly snubbed by America East coaches when it came to conference POY votes last season might just be the top mid-major player in the entire country in 2009-10.   You know the story: the nephew of Philly legend Hank Gathers, Rivera transferred from St. Joe’s after his sophomore year, received a hardship waiver from the NCAA, and proceeded to dominate the America East unlike anyone has, um, ever?  Rivera showed his clutch abilities by averaging 25/11 against league rival Vermont in two games last year, and even dropped 20/5 on 9-14 FGs against Duke in Binghamton’s first-round blowout loss to the Devils.  He’s an absolute stud, and we expect that after briefly flirting with the NBA Draft, he’ll be back with an enormous chip on his shoulder this season given the way the rest of his league treated him.  It’s our wager that  Rivera, with a substantial amount of his team returning, will make a run at a national scoring title (#5 returning scorer in the NCAA) and another trip to the NCAA Tournament to solidify his standing. 

Impact Players NE 2

Honorable MentionTim Ambrose, Albany.  Will Harris, Albany.  Rakim Sanders, BC.  John Holland, BU.  Corey Lowe, BU.  Ryan Wittman, Cornell.  Louis Dale, Cornell.  Jeremy Lin, Harvard.  Matt Janning, Northeastern.  Sharaud Curry, Providence.  Ryan Rossiter, Siena.  Alex Franklin, Siena.  Edwin Ubiles, Siena.  Andy Rautins, Syracuse.  Wesley Johnson, Syracuse.  Stanley Robinson, UConn.  Marqus Blakely, Vermont.

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Checking in on the… Atlantic 10

Posted by nvr1983 on March 4th, 2009

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

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By CCT Staff | March 2, 2009

PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Damian Hollis (Jr.), George Washington

Hollis had a memorable week in what has been a rather forgettable season for the Colonials, averaging 20 points and 14.5 rebounds over two contests.  The junior led GW to two wins, as he scored 25 points and pulled down 13 rebounds against Charlotte and then tallied 15 points and hauled in 16 boards against Richmond.  The junior showed off his hot hand by shooting 57% over the two games, connecting on 12-for-21 from the floor.  Hollis also was efficient from deep, hitting three of his five attempts from behind the arc.

HONORABLE MENTION:   Ahmad Nivins (Sr.), Saint Joseph’s; Kahiem Seawright (Sr.), Rhode Island

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

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