You all heard the whispers before the season started, the Atlantic Ten, like an epic pair of breasts, is now built for comfort and speed. The conference was going to take the country by storm, forcibly impregnate the masses and show those bluebloods that there is some serious basketball being played further down the dial.
So how are we doing? The conference is currently the fourth-rated conference behind the Big Ten, Pac 12 and Mountain West. The league has been consistent, yet only has one win against the current Top 25 (North Carolina). There’s still plenty of non-conference play on the docket and it appears that the A10 is essentially where everyone expected it to be at this point.
On a personal note, I’ve seen every team play at least once except for Duquesne and Fordham. So permit me to offer my glassy analysis with a team-by-team breakdown – in fifty words or less.
Butler: They’ll remind everyone that they beat North Carolina when they are sporting an 8-8 league record in March. Dunham and Marshall will be tough in conference play and Clarke is a guy drunkenly firing balls at the Pop-A-Shot while his girlfriend texts a guy from work.
Charlotte: Actually looked decent in the Alaska Shootout, granted the competition wasn’t too stiff. Braswell is still too nonchalant and Pierra Henry is asked to do too much. Major’s hair appears to be on a slant.
Duquesne: Haven’t seen them play yet, I’d like to keep it that way.
Fordham: Lost to Robert Morris by 16, Texas State by 10 and Pitt by 35. Burn this house down now, before anyone else gets hurt.
George Washington: Lost to Mount Saint Mary’s last night, game over. Don’t see the Colonials ripping off too many winning streaks this season. I saw Karl Hobbs eating pizza in Penn Station this summer. I think it was him.
La Salle: Watched Dr. John’s club beat a middling Villanova team in overtime this weekend. Not a completely horrible team by any measure. Tyreek Dureen still takes shots that leave you speechless and the Explorers seem to have more garbage men than is recommended. They will beat Dayton this year.
UMass: Opened strong before back-to-back losses to NC State and Tennessee. The Minutemen won’t have trouble scoring against the conference foes, but they won’t have much luck stopping anyone either. So basically the same team we’ve seen since Kellogg arrived.
Rhode Island: The Rams are better than the record indicates, but not by much. The Hurley’s scheduled above their heads. URI has no depth but do have some decent pieces (Munford, Malesevic, and Malone). The coaching brothers look like they want to fast-forward and get next year’s recruiting class on campus ASAP.
Richmond: Watched them get outscored by almost 30 points in the second half against Ohio. They are going to struggle offensively against teams with heartbeats. Kendall Anthony is the truth and Brothers is one hell of a second option. Mooney wins my heart if the Spiders finish in the top half of the league.
Saint Louis: The Bills aren’t living up to their preseason billing. Looked sloppy in a loss to Santa Clara and completely outclassed by Kansas. Still, there’s plenty of time to get back on track and they’ll finish near the top of the league when it’s all said and done. Cody Ellis is still fucking there, man.
St. Bonaventure: Lost to Canisius which is now coached by…Jim Baron. SBU won’t play anyone of substance until NC State in late December. Not expecting much from the Bonnies.
St. Joseph’s: The Hawks are freakishly athletic and nicely balanced. Have to like their chances to win the league at this stage of the game. SJU has an interesting matchup with Creighton this weekend, watch Doug McDermott get away with murder, it’s fun. My favorite A10 team to watch.
Temple: The Owls haven’t really been tested yet, so I still got them a spot behind VCU and St. Joseph’s. Scootie Randall is shooting lights out. Think their lack of depth will bite them at some point this season.
Xavier: No clue what the Muskies are all about. Christon is the real deal, already playing like an all-conference player. At this point it’s just a smoke and mirror show. Some decent wins and the loss to Pacific wasn’t as bad as first thought. Christi Mack still does it for me.
How many bids are we talking about? I don’t know — three, four, maybe five? The bigger question: can the A10 advance past the first weekend?
Dayton is still trying to earn its keep among the league’s stalwarts. After a very “gritty” victory over Manhattan, the Flyers turn their attention to Weber State.
Picked to finish second in the Big Sky, the Wildcats are led by Coach Randy Rahe (just a superb porn-star name for any of you teen runaways out there). The Cats come into tomorrow’s game with a 1-2 record, the sole victory coming at the hands of Arizona Christian – which is where they hide all the openly college-aged gay members of Southwestern parishes.
Weber State uses cards from the bench to signal plays to their team on the floor. Like a football team from the PAC12. Stu Merrill used the same system over at Utah State – which is where Coach Rahe picked it up from apparently.
The Wildcats like to share the rock, with four players averaging at least three assists per game. Weber State likes to employ a slow-tempo, comfortable when games are in the sixties. Clearly a disciplined team, the Cats milk the shot-clock for open looks. A 46.3% overall shooting percentage is a testament to that patient mindset (or an indication at the sub par defenses they’ve faced so far?).
Unfortunately, Damian Lillard graduated last season, so this may not be the best use of your Wednesday night. That being said, Weber still has some talent leftover from last year’s 25-7 team. That includes transfer Davion Berry (16.3 ppg), a “shoot-first and then fuck-it-shoot-again” guard that currently leads the team in scoring and minutes. Joining Berry in the backcourt is returning starter Scott Bamforth. The 6’2” senior is struggling to find his stroke early in the year, connecting on just 28% of his field goal attempts. Bamforth, a two-time All Big Sky selection scored around fifteen points last season and is getting all types of dirty looks for his shit play. If basketball had juicers, they’d be smelling his piss as we speak.
Former USC commitment (damn you, Jio Fontan!) Gelaun Wheelwright takes over where Lillard left off at the point guard slot. Still working his way back from a broken foot suffered over the summer, Wheelwright is off to a fast start offensively. Averaging just less than nine points per game, the sophomore has established himself as the Wildcats primary ball-handler and a consistent threat from the arc.
Jordan Richardson will get plenty of time at the point as well, as Rahe is focused on slowly working Wheelwright back into game shape before conference play. Richardson has exceeded expectations on the young season, scoring 11 points and dishing out 4 assists a contest. He is connecting on 66% of his three-point attempts, 61% overall from the floor.
Frank Otis, a transfer from SMU, has had more injuries than America’s Champ Hulk Hogan yet he continues to persevere like Hollywood Hulk Hogan. An undersized power-forward at 6’6”, Otis is averaging ten points and seven rebounds a game. The Wildcats’ other returning starter is 6’10” center Kyle Tresnak. Tresnak is a Kurt Huelsman clone in the sense that he doesn’t seem to do anything but take up space and rile up my irritable bowel syndrome.
The rest of the team is composed of transfers from the JUCO ranks and guys Rahe owes favors to. Even Archie Miller has no idea who’s coming off the bench for Weber State, he likes to be surprised.
“Why are numbers beautiful? It’s like asking why is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony beautiful. If you don’t see why, someone can’t tell you. I know numbers are beautiful. If they aren’t beautiful, nothing is.”
Prediction: No way this team flies into Dayton and walks away with a W. I just won’t accept that. UD comes out swinging and Weber State never really challenges. Devin Oliver leads all scorers and Benson gets a double-double. Flyers win, 73-62.
Tom Blackburn is a proud U. o' D. alum. He loses faith in humanity one day at a time, but not in you, you seem like you are all kinds of alright. Charter member of the T-Man fanclub.