Bracket Prep: Western Kentucky, Davidson, James Madison, Gonzaga & Iona

Posted by BHayes on March 12th, 2013

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Championship Week continued in full blast on Monday night, as five more NCAA Tournament tickets were punched. As each of the 31 automatic qualifiers plays their way into the Dance over the next week, we’ll take some time to give you an analytical snapshot of each team that you can refer back to when you’re picking your brackets next weekend.

Western Kentucky

Sun Belt Cinderellas Again -- Welcome Back To The Big Dance Hilltoppers

Sun Belt Cinderellas Again — Welcome Back To The Big Dance Hilltoppers

  • Sun Belt Champion (20-15, 14-10)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #166/#183/#184
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +0.5
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #15-#16

 Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. Who needs the regular season anyways? For the second consecutive campaign, Western Kentucky saw months of mediocrity give way to an unlikely week of dominance at the Sun Belt Tournament, where they depart as champions again. The sequel may never be as thrilling as the original – the 2012 Hilltoppers were just 9-18 (!) before winning their final six games to earn the auto-bid – but this Western Kentucky team is as unlikely a Big Dance participant as any.
  2. Western Kentucky isn’t elite in any one facet of the game, but they may be able to match up with their opening round opponent with regard to physicality and toughness. The Hilltoppers are third in the Sun Belt in effective height, and also rank third in the league in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentages. 6’6” sophomore George Fant is slightly undersized for the amount of time he spends in the paint, but leads the team in rebounding at 6.6 boards per game. Fant also ranks in the top 50 in the country in fouls drawn per 40 minutes. Senior Jamal Crooks (11.8 PPG, 4.1 APG) is another high-motor Hilltopper – his emotional energy and leadership is a crucial reserve for the young team around him.
  3. Expect WKU to compete on both ends, but don’t mistake intensity with skill. They do not shoot the ball well from deep, turn the ball over at an unacceptable clip (on 22.3% of possessions), and don’t play a whole lot of defense either. It all adds up to a rather unimpressive paper profile, and the 10-10 Sun Belt record before this week does little to make you feel better about things. The exact seed line will depend on what happens elsewhere, but either way, it’s hard to envision the Hilltoppers being competitive, much less capable of manufacturing an upset for the ages.

Davidson

Soak It In De'Mon -- You And The Wildcats Are Tournament Bound Yet Again

Soak It In De’Mon — You And The Wildcats Are Tournament Bound Yet Again

  • Southern Conference Champion (26-7, 20-1)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #69/#66/#67
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +9.4
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #12-#14

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 10th, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC.

Top Storylines

The Redshirts: We are not talking about individual players but a program. In the latter part of the summer, Loyola announced its intention to exit the MAAC for the Patriot League. The Greyhounds captured the postseason title this past March. Coach Jimmy Patsos has another very strong group on hand. The interesting thing is how will the last run through the MAAC affect Loyola’s play. The guess here is not too much. Caution is needed however as the MAAC contingents would love nothing to upset the Greyhounds as a ‘going away present.’

How Will Jimmy Patsos Handle the Last Go-Round the MAAC? (AP)

Master Builder: When Canisius hired Jim Baron last spring they not only got a veteran coach with a proven track record, but the Buffalo-based school hired a coach who rebuilt situations at three different schools. First was St. Francis (PA). Next, his alma mater, St. Bonaventure, and most recently, Rhode Island. Baron brought St. Francis and St. Bonaventure to the NCAA Tournament in his careers there. He also had a few NITs under his tutelage but couldn’t get on the board during Selection Sunday while at URI. Make no mistake, though, Baron knows Canisius’ status and what needs to be done to succeed there. Word here says he goes ‘four for four’ in reclamation projects.

Must-See: A few of the notable matchups in the MAAC include…. On January 27, Iona hosts Loyola and visits the Greyhounds on March 1. The latter game could decide the regular season champion and have a strong bearing on final conference seeds for the postseason tournament. A few other notable games:

  • November 11 – Manhattan at Louisville – Steve Masiello ducks no one and heads south to face a powerful Louisville team and his former boss (mentor), Rick Pitino.
  • November 22 – Marist vs. West Virginia in the MAAC sponsored Old Spice Classic in Orlando. The field also includes the likes of Clemson, Davidson, Gonzaga, Oklahoma and Vanderbilt.
  • January 6Iona hosts Manhattan, and more than rivalry bragging rights are at stake.
  • January 25 – Loyola visits Manhattan, another huge midseason contest.

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Morning Five: 01.31.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on January 31st, 2012

  1. Seth Davis is back with his annual Jigsaw Man column. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept, Seth adopts the persona of “The Jigsaw Man” to pick out players who if they switched teams would fill significant voids and does so while speaking in the third person. He tries to avoid picking out obvious targets like Anthony Davis who would make any team better even if they didn’t have a deficiency at that position. We are not sure if we are just getting cranky in our old age, but it seems like Seth is cheating a bit with some of his picks. Stealing players like Terrell Stoglin (the leading scorer in the ACC), Scott Machado (maybe the best point guard in the country), and Mike Moser (a potential All-American and a long-time crush of Andy Glockner and Ryan Greene) seems to be too easy. Obviously, adding the best point guard in the nation would make Duke a better team. So if you are reading this Seth Jigsaw Man (and we know that you are), step it up a little bit next year. Pick someone like Alex Oriakhi who is wasting away on the bench, but could and should be a double-double guy in the right situation instead of picking a potential All-American who is the best player on a top 10 team like Moser.
  2. Whenever we hear someone talk about how unsavory recruiting is for top football recruits we hear someone else talk about how it is worse in basketball. We now have found at least one example where it is not. According to some media reports, one five-star football recruit who chose to attend Alabama over LSU was influenced by a promise that the former would give the recruit’s girlfriend a job. Interestingly, according to the NCAA bylaws, this appears to only be an infraction if it was committed for a basketball recruit, but for a football recruit apparently is it ok. The NCAA never ceases to amaze us.
  3. Last week, the National Coordinator of basketball officials in Division I, John Adams, posted a memo urging officials to pay a closer attention to sportsmanship and call technical fouls on coaches and players who violate this principle. After the officiating over the weekend, Adams decided that he needed to respond to the criticism of officials. While he did not discuss the atrocious officiating in Philadelphia or the missed goaltending call in upstate New York, Adams did discuss the role of officials in dealing with unsportsmanlike acts. Adams essentially believes that the controversial sportsmanship fouls were correct and hopes that these moves will help rebuild college basketball’s image after a rough past few months. While legislating the trash talking more effectively may reduce some of the unseemly incidents we have seen, we would also like to see Adams work on improving the officiating of all areas of the game.
  4. With his team on its way to a second straight solid season and a potential NCAA Tournament bid that it did not get last year, Iona coach Tim Cluess was given a contract extension through the 2016-17 season. Cluess, who came to the school without any prior Division I head coaching experience, is actually in the last guaranteed year of his initial contract. Thanks to a 25-win season to start his coaching career and what appears to be an even better second season, Cluess has a well-deserved contract extension, which should only help him with recruiting although we cannot imagine that any recruit thought Cluess was in jeopardy of losing his job.
  5. His team is currently on the wrong side of the bubble, but that did not stop VCU coach Shaka Smart from making a bold proclamation that the “the best programs in the state are in the CAA. It’s really not even close.” When you look at the numbers over the past ten years, the three programs he is referring to (VCU, George Mason, and Old Dominion) have put up much better numbers (detailed in the article) than the the ACC programs (Virginia and Virginia Tech). So technically Smart is correct even if he does come off as untactful, but it is more amusing to hear new George Mason coach Paul Hewitt talk about this when he guided another ACC program (Georgia Tech) right into the ground.
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Morning Five: 12.14.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 14th, 2011

  1. Coming into the season Kansas recruit Ben McLemore was one of the most highly touted freshmen in the country. However, Jayhawk fans dreams of having McLemore help carry their team along with Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor this year were derailed when he was ruled a partial qualifier and would have to sit out this season. Things got a little worse for McLemore yesterday as he was arrested after failing to show up to court on a charge of being a minor in possession of alcohol. We doubt that much will come of this extra charge although it doesn’t reflect well on McLemore and his maturation even if it was during finals week at Kansas.
  2. It looks like Jim Boeheim may end up getting involved in the Bernie Fine case after all, as the Syracuse coach was named along with the university in a suit brought by Fine’s accusers as defendants in a defamation case. According to a press conference yesterday, the basis for the lawsuit is the comments that Boeheim made after the allegations were made public, where he essentially said the accusers were seeking money. At the time, we said that while we understand Boeheim’s desire to defend his friend and longtime assistant, it was a poor public relations move and could lead to trouble in the future. Boeheim later apologized for his tone and words (two weeks after the initial statement), but now the lawsuit is being brought against Boeheim and the school as a result. If the case did not already have a circus-like feel to it, it will now have an extra element of that with the plaintiff’s attorney being Gloria Allred, a woman who has handled numerous high-profile cases and is one of the most prominent attorneys in the country.
  3. Ohio State may be without the services of unanimous preseason All-American Jared Sullinger for a while longer as he continues to battle back spasms. The Buckeye staff is still unsure when Sullinger will be able to return and he may sit out today’s game against the Spartans (relax, it’s South Carolina-Upstate not Michigan State). According to reports from around the team, Sullinger appears to be getting better and should be back relatively soon. The Buckeyes should be fine without him as they don’t really have a test until after Christmas when they play Northwestern and Indiana. Until then the schedule is pretty manageable even without Sullinger dominating the paint.
  4. Looking for a unique Christmas gift this year? How about a personalized voicemail greeting from Kansas coach Bill Self? It could be yours for just $5 thanks to a charity that Self is running with his wife with the proceeds helping to pay for Christmas gifts for Lawrence-area families that need assistance. Your $5 donation will get you a ticket into a raffle (more tickets means a greater chance of winning) and one name will be drawn from the “giant peach basket” (cute, right?). As the charity notes, before Missouri fans get any funny ideas (ok, they don’t name Missouri explicitly) Self reserves the right not to do this for messages that are “potentially questionable”.
  5. If you are looking a great personal interest story and maybe even a coach to pull for on a personal level, we highly recommend this feature on Iona coach Tim Cluess. Over the next 3-4 months you will hear a lot about his Iona basketball team, which is by far the best team in the New York City metro area, but if you just focus on their play you will be missing a major part of what makes Tim Cluess so intriguing. While on the surface Cluess comes from a privileged background where athletic talent is abundant his life has been full of personal tragedy as two of his brothers died of cancer at an early age (26 and 33). The piece is long, but it is well worth your time and if you only read one thing today we suggest you read this.
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Morning Five: 10.21.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 21st, 2011

  1. Iona got some great news yesterday when the NCAA announced that it would grant a hardship waiver to Arizona transfer Lamon “Momo” Jones making him eligible to play for the Gaels during the upcoming season. Jones, who reportedly left Arizona to be closer to his sick grandmother, averaged 9.7 PPG and 2.7 APG as the starting guard for the Wildcats. Interestingly, he joins a team that is talented enough that he may not even be the starting point guard as the team has all-MAAC senior Scott Machado (13.2 PPG and 7.6 APG) returning. Gaels coach Tim Cluess does not appear to be worried about his embarrassment of riches at point guard as may play the two together. The addition of Jones makes an already potent offense even more terrifying. It also make the Gaels an even heavier favorite in the MAAC and arguably the best team in the New York City area.
  2. We missed this last night, but we have to congratulate the ACC for calling out Notre Dame and essentially telling them that the Fighting Irish either join the ACC in all sports (including football where they have a ridiculous contract with NBC and a BCS loophole) or they can forget about joining the conference for any other sports. We have nothing against Notre Dame as an institution and particularly as a basketball team, but their bizarre relationship with the Big East always seemed strange to us and has adversely affected the Big East. Now the conference is on the verge of falling apart and Notre Dame like other schools is grovelling at the feet of other conferences. In the current climate, it is unrealistic for Notre Dame or any other school to expect a conference particularly one in a position of power to have terms dictated to it. While some Irish fans may have a difficult time accepting the new reality, it appears that some local writers are urging them to think about the future and stop living in the past.
  3. California basketball coach Mike Montgomery underwent surgery for an undisclosed condition yesterday. Neither the school nor Montgomery disclosed any information about the surgery or condition other than to say the surgery was “successful”. There is no definitive time table for Montgomery’s return, but he hopes to be to return by November 1 for the team’s exhibition opener. In the interim, assistant coaches Jay John and Travis DeCuire will assume Montgomery’s responsibilities. We wish Montgomery a speedy recovery and hope to see him on the sidelines in the next few weeks.
  4. The US Basketball Writers Association issued its preseason list for the Wayman Tisdale Award, which is given annually to the top freshman in the country. This year’s list features 12 freshman, who if you have followed recruiting at all you are familiar with even before the season starts. We cannot argue with any of the names included, but we do find it interesting that three Kentucky players made the list. In our eyes, the favorite are (in alphabetical order) Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, and Austin Rivers. Having seen the rest of these guys play and knowing what we know about the situations they will be playing in we have a hard time seeing any of the other players making a serious run at this unless their games improved significantly over the summer.
  5. It seems like every day a new violation gets reported. Most of the time they are relatively minor, but like the one that Bob Knight apparently committed they are violations and deserve a reprimand at the very least. Of course, there are the violations that some fans try to come up with like this one that we received in our inbox yesterday. The author bases his premise that Kentucky has committed a violation on the idea that a random fan who bought a ticket to a Kentucky game has made a donation to the school and thus is a representative of the school. We are all for punishing schools if and when the break the rules, but we don’t need to be stretching the interpretation of rules to find violations.
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RTC Conference Primers: #17 – MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 19th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • Conference Tournament Changes Venues: The MAAC championship will be staged at Springfield’s MassMutual Center.  How the March 1- 5 event manages to be received and attended will be followed closely by many observers. The conference and MassMutual Center staff have been working feverishly to provide the best possible product for fans. With the nearest school, Siena, roughly 90 miles away, providing an attractive event to draw fans is paramount and, as noted, will be tracked. The MAAC will have the tournament in Springfield from 2012-14.
  • MAAC Participates In Non-Conference Events: The MAAC will be represented in the annual Sears BracketBuster event in February. The conference will also host the Old Spice Classic in Orlando during the Thanksgiving weekend (with representative Fairfield a legitimate threat). Prior to March, a few MAAC schools will test out the MassMutual Center in the expanded Hall of Fame Classic on December 9. UMass will face Siena and Fairfield opposes Old Dominion.
  • Glover Fits For Wooden List: Iona senior forward Michael Glover has been named to the Wooden Award preseason Top 50 list. Glover transferred from Seton Hall to Iona and instantly made an impression as one of the MAAC’s brightest stars last season.

Sydney Johnson Brings His Coaching Talent to the MAAC

  • New Coaches On Board: Sydney Johnson takes over at Fairfield and has a wealth of talent on hand. Johnson got his start in D-I basketball only seven years ago as an assistant for John Thompson, III, before spending four seasons as Princeton’s head coach. Steve Masiello is the new man at Manhattan.  Masiello does not have the talent Johnson has, but is not short on enthusiasm and expectations. Masiello knows the MAAC well, having assisted Bobby Gonzalez for several years at Manhattan before heading to Louisville to work as a member of Rick Pitino’s staff.
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RTC Summer Updates: MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 15th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our MAAC correspondent, Ray Floriani.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

The MAAC should provide another interesting race for the top. Two of last year’s best programs, Iona and Fairfield, will slug it out. The Gaels were tournament runners-up to St. Peter’s while Fairfield was the conference regular season champion. Off the floor, the wheels are already in motion as the conference plans the move to Springfield, Massachusetts, where the men’s and women’s championships will be contested at the MassMutual Center.

  • A Busy MAAC HQ: The headline for a good part of August concerns the conference postseason tournament. ‘The Road to MAAC-achusetts‘ began on August 3, with marketing representatives from each MAAC institution meeting at Siena College. Reps from the MassMutual Center, the host site, were also in attendance. Among the presentations and objectives were league-wide advertising of the championships on ad pages and in media guides, in game promotions allowing fans the chance to win tickets to the tournament and grassroots marketing efforts in the communities of each school. Ticketmaster also outlined social media opportunities which will allow fans to follow the MAAC schools and see who may be attending a particular session of the tournament. “There are great synergies developing between the championship marketing team and the MAAC,” said Marissa Skibbe, Global Spectrum’s Director of Marketing at the MassMutual Center. “Together, we have created an extensive and fun plan that is moving like a well-oiled machine. We can’t wait to see the creative elements come to fruition.” The tournament isn’t the only place where the conference’s administration is making waves, however. MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor was recently named to the WCBA board of directors. One of the most highly-respected administrators in college basketball, Ensor recently completed a five-year term on the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee.
  • Dunne rewarded at St. Peter’s - Fresh off the school’s first 20-win season in two decades and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1995, St. Peter’s awarded coach John Dunne with a new contract extending through 2015-16. Dunne’s first two teams at St. Peter’s recorded just eleven wins total, but the win total over the past three seasons is 47, including 30 victories in MAAC play. The Peacocks finished this season 20-14 and captured the MAAC Tournament crown at Harbor Yards. They appeared in the NCAA Tournament, but were defeated by Purdue in the opening round. Dunne’s name was starting to surface as a few openings arose in the spring. The financial details of his new contract were not reported, but the extension marks a notable increase in pay over his former contract. “Throughout his [Dunne’s] tenure, he has guided our student-athletes to success both on the court and in the classroom, St. Peter’s AD Pat Elliott said. “We are excited about the future of St. Peter’s basketball with Coach Dunne leading the way.”
  • New Faces: Steve Masiello took over at Manhattan, replacing Barry Rohrssen. Masiello mostly recently was on Rick Pitino’s staff at Louisville. He knows the conference, however, having served as an assistant on Bobby Gonzalez’s Jaspers staff before heading south. After turning around the program at Fairfield, Ed Cooley was summoned to do the same at Providence in the Big East. Replacing Cooley is highly-regarded Sydney Johnson, formerly of Princeton. Last season, Johnson led Princeton to the Ivy title and NCAA Tournament, where they lost to eventual Final Four participant Kentucky by just two points. Johnson will inherit a strong group of returnees at defending regular season champion Fairfield. On the court, Lamont Momo” Jones decided he was ready for a different role after playing a supporting part with Derrick Williams in the Arizona Wildcats’ head-turning NCAA Tournament run and transferred to Iona (more after the jump).

Momo Jones' Transfer To Iona Will Spell Trouble For Gaels Opponents. (Charlie Riedel/AP)

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2010

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC.

Looking Back

It is generally assumed the MAAC will be wide open – mo more chasing Siena. Well guess who’s in front after one game? Truth of it is the MAAC will be a great deal of fun for fans and media, a double dose of Advil for coaches. Fairfield is the favorite, but there will be several teams on their heels. Which all adds to upsets, surprises, scoreboard-watching and great fun… except at times for the coaches.

Players of the Week

  • Kyle Smyth, Iona – The sophomore guard had a 26-point first half en route to a career high 29 points in the win at Albany. Smyth tallied a school record eight treys in that game.
  • Ryan Rossiter, Siena – Rossiter averaged 19.3 PPG and 17.7 RPG over the last three games.

Rookie of the Week

Marvin Jordan, Niagara – In a four game stretch, the 5’11 guard averaged 12.5 PPG, 3.0 APG and 2.5 APG. His 17 points in a win over Bowling Green established a new career high.

Power Rankings

1. Siena (2-4, 1-0) – Not an easy road, as the Saints lost to Butler and Princeton (in overtime). Siena drew first blood in conference play with a nice road win at Rider, however. A 22% turnover rate illustrates some of the early difficulties at this point. Their efficiency margin is -1 (100 OE – 101 DE). Despite an uptempo (72 possessions) pace, the Saints are only forcing opponents into a 19% turnover rate.

Player of Note: Ryan Rossiter, who now has a Siena record with 37 career double-doubles.

2. Rider (2-4, 0-1) – Dropped two straight tough ones at home. After losing the conference opener against Siena on Friday, the Broncs were upended by Hofstra two days later. The Broncs sport a 104 offensive efficiency rate and an impressive 55% eFG percentage. They were however, under 100 in both setbacks last weekend. A 22% turnover rate (26% versus Hofstra) has been the root of their undoing in some close contests.

Player of Note: Junior Brandon Penn scored 14 points and added nine rebounds (both career highs) in the loss to Siena.

3. Loyola (3-2) – A loss at Vermont balances a win against Morgan State at home. The Greyhounds are solid defensively, with a 93 DE rating and not too bad on offense sporting an OE of 100. An 18% turnover rate helps the offense smooth while an opposing eFG mark of 44% is a defensive key. Loyola averages 69 possessions per outing but seems comfortable at varying tempos.

Player of Note: Sophomore forward Erik Etherly pulled down a game and career high 13 rebounds in narrow 51-48 setback at Vermont.

4. Canisius (3-2) – Earned a New York split last week, dropping an 81-64 decision to Buffalo at home before defeating Binghamton on the road. The Golden Griffs are holding the opposition to 95 defensive efficiency. Turnovers are noteworthy on both sides of the ball. Canisius forces opposition into a 22% turnover rate, but on their end, the turnover rate is exactly the same and affecting the offense. The weekend is highlighted by visits to Iona on Friday and Marist Sunday.

Player of Note: Senior forward Elton Frazier scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 19 foul-plagued minutes against Buffalo.

5. Iona (3-3) – The Gaels topped Albany and Norfolk State on the road to get to .500. They have a big weekend, hosting Canisius and Niagara. Iona holds opponents to a defensive efficiency rating of 98, but the defensive eFG mark is a too-generous 53.5%. Turnovers have offset that. Tim Cluess’ club is forcing opponents into a hefty 24% turnover rate.

Player of Note: Beside Kyle Smyth’s outburst, junior guard Scott Machado had scored 14 points, paired with a career high 15 assists against Albany.

6. Fairfield (2-3) – The Stags snapped a three-game losing streak with an easy win over Norfolk State in the Hoop Group Classic at the Palestra in Philadelphia. Defense has been sound with a 90.7 defensive efficiency rating. Offensive rebounding percentage has been a strength, leading opponents 35%-28%. The Achilles’ heel to date is a 45% eFG mark. Offensively, the OE rating is coming along at 95, thanks to an eye popping 132 in the 91-56 win over Norfolk.

Player of Note: Senior forward Warren Edney averaged 18 PPG the last two outings.

7. Niagara (2-4) – The Purple Eagles dropped road games to Albany and Detroit, but remain uptempo with 71 possessions per game. Niagara’s been stagnant on both sides of the ball, but at least they take care of the rock, sporting an 18% turnover rate. Still not enough to counter a 41% eFG mark and an offensive rebounding percentage deficit (OREB Pct – Opponents OREB Pct) of -10%, so eventually they’ll have to up their scoring output.

Player of Note: Beside Marvin Jordan’s noted exploits, junior forward Kashief Edwards was named to the Legends Classic Detroit Subregional All-Tournament team after averaging 14.7 PPG with 7.0 RPG.

8. Manhattan (2-4) – The Jaspers had a rough go of it at the Old Spice Classic, dropping three games. In battling Georgia closely, they eventually came up short, dropping a 61-58 matchup. Manhattan simply has trouble scoring; their pace is in the mid sixties possession-wise but the offensive efficiency of 91 and eFG percentage of 41% are woefully below par.

Player of Note: Sophomore forward George Beamon had a consistently strong line against Georgia, 14 points, ten rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.

9. St. Peter’s (2-4) – As was the case last year, good defense, not so good offense. John Dunne’s club earned a nice win over Alabama at the Paradise Jam before coming home to defeat LIU, but took a step back with a loss at Seton Hall. The Peacocks’ OE is 80 while the DE is a more-than-acceptable 96. A return to form of Wesley Jenkins making his season debut against Long Island will help. Keeping Ryan Bacon, the main interior threat, out of foul trouble will also be a positive.

Player of Note: Jeron Belin, a senior forward, hit the game-winner against Alabama and had a team high 23 points against LIU.

10. Marist (0-6) - Another struggle, even in the early going. Red Foxes have dropped all six games by twenty points or more. The efficiency margin is a whopping -36, with the OE at 81 and defensive efficiency a too generous 118. On a bright note, the conference schedule tips off this weekend and both games (Niagara on Friday, Canisius on Sunday) are in the friendly confines of home, the McCann Center.

Player of Note: Redshirt freshman swingman Anell Alexis averaged a gritty 5.3 rebounds over three games since the last update.

A Look Ahead

  • December 4: Rider gets the unfortunate privilege of a trip to the Pete to face Pitt, while Manhattan takes on St. Peter’s.
  • December 5: Niagara and Iona square off while Loyola and Fairfield match up.
  • December 8: Loyola gets a crack at George Mason, but meanwhile in conference play, Niagara pays a visit to Buffalo.
  • December 10: Fairfield meets Siena, while St. Francis (NY) and Canisius battle out of conference.
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 24th, 2010

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

A Look Back

The start of fall Practice on October 15 shook out the statii on a few linger question marks in Saint Louis and Rhode Island, but the attrition that has followed the opening of practice, whether injury or other causes, seems heavier than usual in 2010. As the table below shows, bumps and bruises and one-game suspensions aside, 18 players (more than one per team) have missed practice and playing time due to injuries or academic issues since Midnight Madness. Five players will sit out the season, with others missing anywhere from several games to several months of the season.

For some teams and players, it is a matter of not having what you did not have before (Xavier and Justin Martin, Rhode Island and Levan Shengelia…unless you believe one minute of playing time had an impact on the team), but for others — Lasan Kromah and George Washington, Brad Redford of Xavier for example — the impact could affect the season. Among the unresolved is Luka Voncina, Charlottes freshman point guard from Slovenia, whose eligibility ruling (ineligible) was appealed in late October.

Power Rankings

Throw out the preview, a fortnight into the season and the ink of mid-October is already obsolete. The Power Rankings will reshuffle several times over the next month as teams react to player comings and goings, and a gradually tougher schedule.

1. Temple (2-0) AP #21

Season Start: 11/12 vs. Seton Hall 62-56, 11/14 vs Toledo 82-49

Next Week: 11/25 vs. California @ Orlando, FL (Old Spice Classic), 11/26 vs. TBD @ Orlando, FL (Old Spice Classic), 11/28 TBD @ Orlando, FL (Old Spice Classic)

Temple beat middle-of-the-conference team Seton Hall by six at home to open the season, and will have an opportunity to notch a few resume wins in Orlando as they take on California on Thanksgiving Day, to be followed by either Georgia or Notre Dame Friday 11/26. Depending on the results of the first two games, the Owls could face Wisconsin (most likely), Texas A&M or Boston College. Georgia and Wisconsin received votes in the most recent Coaches Poll.

2. Dayton (4-0)

Season Start: 11/13 vs. Mount St. Mary’s 67-52, 11/16 vs. Akron 76-68, 11/20 @ Mississippi 78-71 (OT), 11/22 vs. Savannah State 61-59

Next Week: 11/24 vs. Florida A&M, 11/27 vs. Cincinnati

Devin Searcy was cited on the November 15 conference Honor Roll for his double-double (15 points, 12 rebounds) versus Mount St. Mary’s (a 70-52 Flyer win). Dayton travelled to Oxford, Mississippi, Saturday and beat the Rebels of Ole Miss, 78-71, for the second time in eight months. The two teams met in the NIT semi-finals last March, and coach Andy Kennedy’s squad has been projected as a top-two finisher in the SEC West Division this season. The win should look very good on the Flyers’ resume. The conference named Jawan Staten Rookie of the Week (the first of several citations he will receive this season) for his performance against Mississippi in particular. The freshman point guard dished seven dimes, matching his effort from his debut versus Akron. Staten also hit the layup that gave the Flyers their first lead (in the overtime period) of the game.

3. Xavier (4-1)

Season Start: 11/12 vs. Western Michigan 68-65, 11/16 vs. IUPUFW 76-66 (OT), 11/19 vs. Iowa 86-73 @ Virgin Islands (Paradise Jam), 11/21 vs. Seton Hall 57-52 @ Virgin Islands (Paradise Jam), 11/22 vs Old Dominion 58-67 @ Virgin Islands (Paradise Jam)

Next Week: 11/27 vs. Wofford

Jamal McLean, expected to miss a month due to an orbital fracture suffered just before the start of the season, missed in fact only a single game. Is he 100%? Tu Holloway earned Conference Player of the Week honors in each of the first two weeks of the season, scoring 25 points in the Musketeers season opening win, 68-65, over Central Michigan, 28 points in Xaviers win over Iowa in the first round of the Paradise Jam and a scorching 35 points in Xs 57-52 win over Seton Hall, but the well went dry against Old Dominion, as Holloway and wing Dante Jackson went 6-21 from the field (28.6%) and 7-10 from the stripe for 22 points. The Monarchs managed to exploit two Xavier weaknesses that have emerged in the early games – rebounding, where ODU held a 36-25 advantage, and three point shooting. Xavier managed an offensive rebounding rate of just 10.7% while allowing ODU a more normal (for D-I) rate of 33%. Perhaps because they were down eight at the half, Xavier took 20 of 45 field goal attempts from beyond the arc, a whopping 44.4% of their field goal attempts overall, well above their typical 33.7% ratio. They converted only five of those threes, yielding a 25% conversion rate, below their 33.3% conversion rate coming into the game. The X-Men missed injured Brad Redford, a wing with a deep range.

4.  Richmond (4-1)

Season Start: 11/12 vs. The Citadel 79-37, 11/15 vs. William & Mary 73-49, 11/18 @ Iona 77-81, 11/21 vs. Charleston Southern 82-71 (Chicago Invitational Challenge), 11/23 vs. Southern 81-40 (Chicago Invitational Challenge),

Next Week: 11/26 vs. Wright State @ Chicago, IL (Chicago Invitational Challenge), 11/27 vs. TBD @ Chicago, IL (Chicago Invitational Challenge)

The Spiders’ first two wins were impressive displays of efficiency, as Richmond held both to less than 0.8 points per possession, outstanding among games in the opening week. The Iona loss was disappointing, but coach Tim Cluess developed a strong reputation as a game coach during his days in Division-II. Yet, it does not explain the sluggish performance in a win against Charleston Southern. The Spiders rounded back into form with an efficient 81-40 midday win over Southern, featuring a 66-possession game with Richmond holding Southern to 0.61 points per possession defensively, while scoring at a rate of 1.23 points per possession. The story of the first two weeks is Richmond’s defense.

5. Massachusetts (4-0)

Season Start: 11/12 vs. Rider 77-67, 11/17 vs. Sacred Heart 73-65, 11/20 vs. New Mexico State @ Springfield, MA 71-57 (Hall of Fame Tip-Off), 11/22 vs. Texas Christian 67-48 @ Springfield, MA (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)

Next Week: 11/27 vs. Holy Cross

Massachusetts opened their season with a 77-67 win over Rider of the MAAC, during which senior Anthony Gurley logged his 1000th point as a Minute Man on his way to a game and career-high 31 points. The conference cited Gurley on for his scoring in the Minutemen wins over Sacred Heart and New Mexico State. Wins over the Aggies and Mountain West Conference member Texas Christian are a pleasant surprise and a stars on their resume.

6. St. Bonaventure (3-1)

Season Start: 11/12 @ Canisius 70-80, 11/14 vs. Arkansas-Little Rock 77-64, 11/19 @ Cornell 56-54, 11/21 @ Binghamton 69-44

Next Week: 11/27 @ Cleveland State

The Bonnies stumbled out of the gate, dropping a 80-70 decision to Canisius, but coach Mark Schmidt’s squad has followed with three wins, two on the road. Andrew Nicholson was cited in the November 15 conference Honor Roll for his 23 and 25-point efforts in the first two games. Best of all, Demitrius Conger was cited for his double-double versus Cornell. The sophomore wing logged career-highs in points scored (22) and rebounds (16) in the Cornell game. Good news for the Bonaventure faithful, as they will need an alternative on offense if Nicholson is to be effective this season.

7. Rhode Island (3-2)

Season Start: 11/8 @ Pittsburgh 83-75 (Coaches vs. Cancer), 11/16 vs. Brown 92-67, 11/19 vs. College of Charleston 75-66 @ Toledo (Coaches vs. Cancer), 11/20 @ Toledo 75-65 (Coaches vs. Cancer), 11/21 vs. University of Illinois-Chicago 68-74 @ Toledo (Coaches vs. Cancer)

Next Week: 11/24 vs. Drexel, 11/27 vs. Davidson

The conference Honor Roll cited Delroy James two weeks running for his season average (19.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game) and performance at the Toledo Pod of the 2K Sports Classic Benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer. James scored 17 second half points in the Runnin’ Rams’ season-opening loss to Pittsburgh November 8. With both Xavier and Saint Louis struggling to overcome injuries, coach Jim Baron wanted to see URI move up. The loss to UIC could come back to sting the Rams come March.

8George Washington (2-1)

Season Start: 11/16 vs. Boston University 67-76 (@ Villanova, NIT Tip-Off), 11/17 vs Marist 79-59 (@ Villanova, NIT Tip-Off) 11/22 vs Nevada  58-56 (NIT Tip-Off, DC Pod)

Next Week: 11/23 vs Hampton (NIT Tip-Off, DC Pod), 11/29 vs. NC Wilmington

Even with Lasan Kromah out indefinitely with an left foot sprain, the Colonials went 1-1 (76-67 vs. Boston U; 79-59 vs. Marist) the NIT Tip-Off the North Pod, The Colonial host one of three consolation pods, and needed that home court advantage to knock off the Nevada Wolf Pack on Monday night.

9. La Salle (3-1)

Season Start: 11/12 vs. Columbia 82-71, 11/16 @ Baylor 64-74, 11/18 vs. Prairie View A&M 88-74, 11/20 vs. Morgan State 79-74

Next Week: 11/23 vs. Providence @ Cancun (Cancun Challenge), 11/24 vs. TBD (Missouri or Wyoming) @ Cancun (Cancun Challenge), 11/29 vs. Delaware State

Tyreek Duren took the first week’s Rookie of the Week honors his work in La Salle’s 82-71 season-opening win against Columbia on November 12. The guard dished nine dimes in his collegiate debut, tying an 11-year-old program record set by Julian Blanks in his collegiate debut in 1999. Another performance that had to raise the hopes and warm the hearts of Explorer fans, was fifth-year senior Ruben Guillandeaux’s career-high 29 points. The senior, one of three La Salle seniors who finished the 2010 on the sidelines, was granted a redshirt waiver by the NCAA and will finish his career at La Salle as the mentor for a corps of promising freshmen guards. Aaric Murray is another Explorer performing admirably. When he notched nine blocks and five steals against Morgan State on November 20, he became the first D-I player to do so since Sitapha Savane of Navy back on January 31, 2000.

10. Duquesne (2-1)

Season Start: 11/13 vs. Bluefield State (D-II) 110-67, 11/19 @ Robert Morris 63-69, 11/22 vs. Bowling Green 90-54

Next Week: 11/27 vs. UMD Baltimore County

Senior forward/guard Bill Clark drew a conference nod for his near-triple-double (a Duke player has only turned that trick once) with his 15 point, nine assist, eight rebound effort as Duquesne opened their season against D-II Bluefield State (WV) with a 110-67 rout of the Big Blues. The stumble against Robert Morris is a point of pride. The local rivalry goes back to 1981, and the Dukes hold a 15-5 advantage, last losing to Robert Morris in 2006. The school is investigating allegations that coach Ron Everhard had a student manager send 15 pairs of basketball shoes to the coach of Broward Community College as a gift to the Broward basketball program, strictly prohibited under NCAA regulations. Duquesne officials have described the equipment as a donation to a program operated by Broward CC coach Bob Starkman that supplies athletic equipment and accessories to troops stationed in Afghanistan and indicated they notified the NCAA of “the secondary violation” on November 19.

11. Charlotte (2-3)

Season Start: 11/12 vs. Gardner-Webb 70-78, 11/13 vs. South Carolina State 90-81, 11/18 vs. George Mason 56-78 @ Charleston (Charleston Classic), 11/19 vs. East Carolina 74-63 @ Charleston (Charleston Classic), 11/21 vs. Coastal Carolina 79-75 (2 OT) @ Charleston (Charleston Classic)

Next Week: 11/24 @ Oregon State, 11/27 vs. Radford

Newcomer Jamar Brisco drew conference kudos for his 30-point debut against Gardner-Webb on 11/12. If the 49er faithful loved Brisco, their feelings about the game itself were far cooler, as Charlotte stumbled to a 2-3 record out of the gate. Losses to Gardiner-Webb, 78-70 (the one-game suspension of forwards Shamari Spears and An’Juan Wilderness did not help the 49er cause), in coach Alan Majors’ debut and the double-overtime loss 79-75, to Coastal Carolina in the Charleston Classic (the 49ers went 1-2 in that invitational) are particularly distressing given both teams are out of the Big South Conference. The 49ers may want to cut back on three point attempts until Darrio Green can find the range. Through their first five games the 49ers have taken 39.9% of their field goal attempts from beyond the arc, but have hit an abysmal 28.2%. When you are in a hole, stop digging. Charlotte limped out of Charleston with a 1-2 record on the event.

12. Saint Louis (1-2)

Season Start: 11/12 vs. Austin Peay 62-64, 11/15 vs. Rockhurst (D2) 72-45, 11/20 vs. Georgia 59-61

Next Week: 11/23 vs. Tennessee State, 11/27 vs. IUPUI

The Billikens dropped a bunny against Austin Peay of the Ohio Valley Conference and fans started a Facebook paged titled: Free Willie & Kwamain Facebook page. That has to make a 2010 list for Most Ironic Website Name or Website Name in Poorest Taste somewhere. After exploring the transfer option for a month, an apologetic and contrite Willie Reed has indicated he would like to re-enroll at Saint Louis and play for the Billikens once the spring semester hits. The good news in those losses is that that the margin of victory was within a single possession. Freshman center Rob Low has started every game and averages 20.3 minutes and 14.0 points per contest.

13. Saint Joseph‘s (1-2)

Season Start: 11/12 vs. Western Kentucky 70-98, 11/16 @ Penn State 57-66, 11/20 vs. Norfolk State 70-65

Next Week: 11/23 @ Fairfield, 11/26 vs. Rutgers

It is tough being young. The freshmen collectively contributed 95 points on 31-98 (31.6%) shooting, to go with 59 rebounds in the Hawks’ three games. Each of them have averaged just under 20 minutes per game, ranging from 27.3 minutes and 10.7 points per game (Langston Galloway) down to 13.0 minutes and 2.7 points per game (Patrick Swilling). If minutes and points vary widely, efficiency sadly does not, as their eFG%s ranges from a relatively inefficient 42.5% (CJ Aiken) down to a very inefficient 33.3% (Ronald Roberts and Swilling). The freshmen, however, are not alone in their shooting woes, as the entire squad suffers from an inability to convert shots (and possessions) into points. Typical of younger teams, they also need to rebound better.

14. Fordham (1-2)

Season Start: 11/12 vs. Brown 65-69, 11/15 vs. Sacred Heart 69-51, 11/19 vs. Hampton 48-58

Next Week: 11/23 vs. Long Island, 11/27 vs. Hartford

Though Chris Gaston was cited on the November 15 conference Honor Roll for his 20th career double-double (21 points, 17 rebounds) in the Rams season opening loss, 63-59, to Brown on 11/12 Fordham continues to struggle. More competitive than the 2010 squad, coach Tom Pecora still needs to solve Fordham’s lack of offensive production. Gaston combines with junior guard Alberto Estwick and freshman guard Branden Frazier to form the nucleus of Fordham’s offense. So far however, only Estwick’s 42.9% field goal conversion rate (52.8% eFG%) is efficient enough to move the offense. When Frazier finds his groove perhaps he and Estwick can draw enough defensive attention to free up Gaston, who at this point, is mostly a volume scorer.

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