Hurricane Sandy came in and disrupted the progress of the Blackburn Review pirate ship. Like a Matt Kavanaugh date, the storm caused great trepidation and ended with a large police presence (I swear I’m going to try to make that my last Kav joke of the season).
It’s all behind us now. The BR is once again going to be a thorn in the side of every English professor and closed-minded individual we encounter. Basically, no more fucking around. The season is just around the corner and we are ready to snark the shit out of it.
We begin, as always, with a brief investigation into the Atlantic Ten Conference:
If I had the opportunity, I would break into Brad Stevens’ house, download child pornography onto his computer and alert the FBI. That’s how much I loathe what I believe has been the luckiest basketball program over the past few seasons. Although the 2012-13 Bulldog squad won’t conjure up images of previous teams, nor compete for the A10 championship, Stevens’ club will still pose a considerable test for the rest of the league.
Butler is coming off a quiet season, finishing 22-15 overall, ending the year tied for third in their conference. The Bulldogs were headed for one last season in the Horizon League before Barry Collier threw himself on the ground and begged for Butler to enter the A-10 IMMEDIATELY. Collier runs that athletic program like a ornery despot, a welcome addition indeed.
Rontei Clarke will be suiting up for the Dogs this season after sitting out a his transfer from Arkansas. After an absolutely dismal year from the perimeter, Butler shot just 28.1% from behind the arc in 2011-12, Clarke’s arrival couldn’t have come soon enough. Whereas he was used as primarily a shooting-guard with the Razorbacks, Stevens’ has asked the six-foot guard to handle the point guard slot for the season.
Working in Butler’s favor is the fact that in addition to Clarke, they are returning four other starters to the fold. Andrew Smith, a 6-11 center, will be the team’s main focus down low. Highly regarded freshman Kellen Dunham is already being compared to Gordon Hayward — which means he will someday be the worst defensive player in the NBA. Roosevelt Jones, Khyle Marshall and Chase Stigall round out the roster.
Butler ain’t playing when it comes to their schedule. They head to Hawaii for the Maui Invitational in late November, travel to Northwestern and Vanderbilt and take on preseason #1 Indiana as well. Archie Miller just got light-headed. (Blackburn)
Ah…it’s last call for the Atlantic Ten’s square peg. The 49ers’ final season in the league (they’re all yours Conference USA) will likely finish like every campaign so far under Alan Major — in a state of confusion. Major has to be at home sweating bullets as we speak, is there a better time for a school to make a coaching change than after this season? Following the 2012-13 season, Major will have spent three uninspiring years at the helm, with an imminent leap to a new conference on the horizon. Major better start working those back channels.
Last season, Major’s squad was beset with injuries and oddities. Luka Vocina left the team after just eight games, Derrio Green was benched for five of the last nine games for undisclosed reasons and KJ Sherrill was suspended for a game and missed the season’s final four games with a broken arm. The 49ers basically imploded and never looked back.
Chris Braswell (15.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg), DeMario Mayfield (11.2 ppg, 7.0 rpg) and Pierria Henry (7.2 ppg, 3.4 apg) form a solid triumvirate for the school’s final foray in the league. Braswell really improved his game last season, adding an outside element, and will be on the A10’s best players this year. Mayfield struggles with his shot selection, but does all the little things that make him an invaluable contributor. Henry started every game as a freshman and will look to improve upon on his decision-making.
Terrence Williams, a 6-4 guard and 6-6 forward JT Thompson will be main features of the 49er attack as well. Thompson is a graduate student from Virginia Tech coming off back-to-back ACL surgeries. There are corpses that wouldn’t trade bodies with Thompson.
Schedule-wise, Charlotte has scaled things back a bit. After an early season appearance in the Great Alaska Shootout (remember that?), the Niners will visit Davidson, Miami and host Florida State before commencing A10 play. Not a tough slate, but certainly a stern challenge for any entity associated with Alan Major. (Blackburn)
Coach and TJ gone
Why hast Thou forsaken us?
Basement feels like home
Hope springs eternal
(Hawks, Rams, Flyers, most others)
never at Duquesne
Burn the motherfucker down
Let the new Coach coach
And there you have Duquesne’s 2012-2013 season. Two parts utter dread, and one part hopefulness. Jim Ferry tries to inject some life into a Duquesne program that felt more like a funeral procession as last season progressed. (Roseceaux)
Perennial league doormat Fordham is still in the Atlantic 10. Seriously, that’s the best opening line I could come up with. We’re talking about a team that went 3-13 in conference play last year, good enough for a 14th (last) place finish. But that three win total is actually more than the Rams had tallied in the previous THREE SEASONS COMBINED. For real.
Chris Gaston (17.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg) is an absolute beast who continues to toil away in relative obscurity. Gaston can hoop and is almost a lock for first team all conference honors this year. The problem, as always, is that Gaston has little talent surrounding him. The Rams sport a 15-man roster than features two seniors, one junior and a whopping twelve underclassmen. Anything more than another finish in the league cellar would be considered progress on Rose Hill. (Secaur)
Ugh, where to begin? Can we excommunicate this team out of the conference? I really can’t think of anything positive to say about the Colonials. They were terrible last year at 10-21 and this year will be no different. The only nice thing I can really think of is that it appears GW is going back to what they did in the 90’s. Load up the roster with a team from the United Nations and hope for the best. I was never good at geography (speaking of which, if you don’t hang out at Sporcle.com, you are an idiot), but I count at least 5 players from foreign lands.
Lasan Kromah is the team’s leading returning scorer at 11 ppg. Throw in Nemanja Mikic’s 9 ppg and you have a team that is desperate to replace Tony Taylor and David Pellom’s double digit scoring.
As for freshmen, it looks like a dude named Paris Maragkos is now on campus. It appears he is from Greece. The only thing I know about that country is Mamma Mia, Jesse Kostopoulos, and smelly food. So if Paris comes out onto the court to Dancing Queen (played by Jesse and the Rippers) while eating a gyro, then I would be willing to bet he would instantly be a BR favorite.
GW will go into league play with a shitty ass record because they will lose at Notre Dame, Georgia, and Rutgers. They do get an overrated Kansas State at home so that should help boost their RPI despite them losing that game too. The Colonials get Dayton, Temple, and Butler all at home so maybe they can sneak a win out of one of those and have that be the highlight of the year. Look for this team to finish near last place, if not last place altogether. (Donoher)
Coming off a 21-13 season that ended with an NIT loss to Minnesota, there seems to be a palpable sense of hope in the Tom Gola Middle School Gymnasium. The good Doctor, John Giannini, returns a dynamic backcourt triumvirate in Tyreek Duren, Ramon Galloway, and Sam Mills. Duren, who was inexplicably left off the preseason All-A10 teams, is a top-tier point guard. Galloway is a gunner who shot 45% from 3 last year, and Sam Mills does everything well. Sophomore DJ Peterson and Virginia Tech transfer Tyrone Garland (eligible in December) will add depth to what could be the best overall backcourt in the league by March.
The Explorers return one interior player of note, sophomore Jerrell Wright, who put up 10 and 6 in an impressive freshman season. Joining him up front are sophomore Steve “Zack Attack” Zack and freshman Jermaine Davis, both projects in every sense of the word. This is not an ideal frontcourt.
La Salle will be a scrappy bunch capable of putting up points on any team in the country. They will have 3 guards on the floor at all times, and will give 4 guard looks quite a bit. But even with a tremendous backcourt, how good La Salle will be is ultimately up to the post players. As many mismatches as they will create on offense, they will give up that many on defense if a second big man does not step up to help Wright.
A rather pedestrian non-conference slate is headlined by games with Villanova, Miami (the real one, in Florida), Delaware, and Penn State. And we thought UD -played boring OOC games. (Adam)
The UMass Minutemen return four starters from a team that won 25 games a season ago. That is a fact. What it means is a little tougher to decipher. On the one hand, there is a strong case to be made that UMass is a program poised to take a big step forward in 2012-’13. On the other, the Minutemen always seem to be that team that just can’t manage to find its way over the hump.
5’9” point guard Chaz Williams is the catalyst and the team’s best player. Williams averaged 16.9 points and 6.2 assists a game last year to lead the Minutemen. Along with Williams, Terrell Vinson and Raphiael Putney are also back to anchor the UMass frontcourt. The Minutemen have talent, experience and depth – all the ingredients to make an NCAA tournament appearance. The biggest question mark will be the team’s defense as UMass gave up more than 72 points a game to opponents last season. If that number improves, Derek Kellogg’s team could be a factor come March. (Secaur)
After firing Jim Baron, the Rams go the route of the Flyers. Like Coach Archie, Danny Hurley benefits from being squeezed from the scrotum of a highly successful high school basketball coach. Only more so. While the elder Coach Miller was featured in the Beaver Times (along with Katie Butler), the elder Coach Hurley was featured on 60 Minutes. While Coach Archie’s older brother played ball at Pitt, Coach Danny’s older brother won two national titles at Duke. He is already stocking his program with a great string of 2013 recruits, and they will be formidable next year. That’s one prodigious sack o’ sperm.
But they’ll blow this year. Not only did they lose Billy Baron and Orien Outerbridge from a team that went 7-24 (4-10), they also lost star freshman Jonathan Holton to the kind of sex crimes that Matt Kavs could only dream about.
The Hurleys are stocking their roster with improved talent, but most of them won’t play until next year. Nikola Malesevic is a 6’7 Serb who does all the things we would expect a Serb to do (including looking like an extra from Shindler’s List). He will be scoring option number one. Jordan Hare (how could he not play at Auburn) is a 6-10 freshman forward. He is a triple threat to score, rebound, and block shots – with an emphasis on rebounding. Xavier Mumford is a JUCO shooting guard who, prior to attending two junior colleges, played for coach Danny Hurley at St. Benedict’s. He’s a deep threat and a good on the ball defender.
The Original Rams will be facing one of the toughest OOC schedules in the league. Certainly over their heads with games versus Ohio State, VaTech, Auburn, George Mason, and at St. Mary’s (Ca.). Their only guaranteed wins this season appear to be games vs. Georgia State, Brown, and their annual embarrassment of Dayton. (Roseceaux)
Chris Mooney had an almost impossible task last season — replace NBA draftee Justin Harper, All-A10 point-guard Kevin Anderson and All-YMCA center Dan Geriot. Oh, and the Spiders went to the Sweet Sixteen. So you’ll have to excuse Mooney for finishing up 16-16 last season, a virtual non-factor in conference play.
This year should be an improvement for Richmond, returning three starters from last year’s club. Cheif among them is Darian Brothers (14.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg), one of the league’s best all-around offensive players. Joining him in the backcourt is the reigning A10 Freshman of the Year, Kendall Anthony. Anthony (13.0, 1.7 apg), a 5-8 point-guard, is one of the quickest and most exciting players in the conference. Cedrick Lindsay (11.2, 3.7 apg) returns as well — rounding out one of the best backcourts in the Atlantic Ten. The frontcourt is where UR is really going to struggle, no a lot of talent or experience upfront for Mooney’s squad this season.
Not much to speak off from a scheduling point of view. The Spiders visit Minnesota, host Wake Forest, travel to inner-city rival Old Dominion and make a mad dash to Kansas right before Christmas. (Blackburn)
26.1 ppg, 13 rpg, and 3.3 apg. That is what the Bonnies are tasked with replacing with the loss of Andrew Nicholson and Da’Quan Cook. The weight of that void will fall primarily on last year’s second leading scorer, Demitrius Conger. The 6’6 forward is coming off of a junior season that saw him post 12.1 ppg and 6.2 rpg on 50% shooting from the field. Also carrying the load for the Bonnies this season will be returning guards Junior Matthew Wright and Senior Eric Mosley. Wright and Mosley combined for just over 12 ppg, 5 rpg, and 4 apg a season ago.
The Bonnies are riding high after its first A10 championship and first NCAA appearance since 2000. Despite coming off of a great season, the Bonnies will have a tough time filling the shoes of A10 POY and Orlando Magic big man, Andrew Nicholson. Seriously though, look at his shoes, those things are enormous. The Bonnies return 3 of 5 starters and 9 of 12 schollies, but will have a tough time getting remotely close to the success they had last season. Picked to finish 11th in the A10, expect for the Bonnies to play spoiler as they have some talent, but not enough to garner any great results. (Baujan)
Frank Barone… er… Phil Martelli is ornery as ever, and after several years finally has reason to expose himself to the media, as St Joseph’s was voted the preseason favorite in the A16. To be blunt, this is probably the most talented roster in the league.
Carl Jones and Langston Galloway combined for over 32 points per game in the backcourt last year. Jones is a tremendous athlete who can score in every way. Galloway is a great shooter (47% from 3) who had a more than respectable 2-1 assist/turnover ratio as an off-guard. Sophomore Chris Wilson will provide depth, but Jones and Galloway will both play around 35 minutes per game. It’s their show.
As good as the guards are, the true strength of the Hawks may be the frontcourt. C.J. Aiken (10 points, 5 boards, 3.5 blocks per game) is the most talented returning big man in the league, and a legit NBA prospect. Halil Kanacevic (8 points, 8 boards) is a double-double waiting to happen. And Roland Roberts, Jr (11 points, 5 boards, 60% FG) is very disappointed he can’t windmill dunk on Kavanaugh again.
The Non-Conference slate has a Coaches vs Cancer game with Notre Dame, with BYU or Florida State to follow. Games with Vilanova, Drexel, and Creighton round it out.
This St Joes team is built to contend in the A16 and make a run in the big dance. The only thing that can hold them back is consistency, but with their core now being upperclassmen, they should take a huge step forward in that area. We should fully expect to see their name in the big boy bracket on Selection Sunday. (Adam)
The reports of Fat Rick’s death are greatly exaggerated. He is not dead, he is just taking some time off. That is a crushing blow to a team that surprised a lot of outsiders (not us here at the BR) with a 26-8 record and an NCAA Tournament bid. Fat Rick has not left the cupboard empty though.
Kwamain Mitchell has earned preseason first team honors and has been given the A16’s Brian Cardinal award to the player that we all say, “Wait, he is STILL there?” Rapers gonna rape, Slater’s gonna slate. Right Kav? Cody Ellis and Dwayne Evans are also going to share the load of the scoring. If you ask me, those are three solid players to build your team around.
The two freshmen that you need to keep an eye out for are Keith Carter and Jared Drew. Carter is a lightning quick point guard and Drew is a silky smooth shooting guard. I would imagine that both of these players will get valuable minutes and help the team succeed. I would also imagine you know that I didn’t do too much research so these players could possibly be redshirting. Oh well.
It appears that the Billikens have a fairly easy OOC schedule. The only hiccups I can see possibly happening are New Mexico and Texas A&M, both of which are at home. SLU’s A16 schedule is fairly tough, with visits to Temple and Xavier and the annual victory over Dayton in Saint Louis. Look to the Billikens to finish near the top of the A16 and again make the NCAA Tournament. (Donoher)
It’s the last hurrah for the Temple Owls, who are moving to the land of milk and honey in the Big East. Fran Dunphy’s crew is looking to build on last year’s 24-8 season that resulted in yet another NCAA Tournament bid. What is in store for the Owls this year?
In order to handle their yearly brutal schedule (more on that later), the Owls will have to find a way to replace two of their top players, 2012 A10 first teamer Ramone Moore and third teamer Juan Fernandez. Preseason first teamer, Khalif Wyatt, will be the main guy in Dunphy’s system. And while we are on Wyatt, you can’t help but tip your hat to the guy. I spent my 21st birthday throwing up from attempting to play flip cup with Hairy Buffalo. Wyatt spent his birthday getting arrested in Atlantic City. That’s how you get ass. Or, at least trying to get ass. Rahlir Hollis Jefferson is the team’s next leading scorer and hopes to improve on his breakout year.
From everything I have read, incoming freshman Daniel Dingle is going to be the SHIT. Look for this guy to terrorize the A16 this year. He is my dark horse to be a first teamer this year. Quenton DeCosey is another freshman that will turn some heads. Dunphy has no problem getting players to Temple and with them going to a better conference, expect Temple to continue getting top-notch players.
One does have to wonder if the move to the Big East will change Temple’s “anyone, anywhere” mantra. We’ll find out next year. This year, however, Temple has a BEAST of a schedule. At Villanova and at Kansas highlight the OOC schedule road games. Throw in a neutral site tilt with Duke and a home game with Syracuse and you have a killer task. Then, Temple has to play what appears to be the hardest A16 schedule in the history of mankind. At Dayton, at Xavier, at Butler, at St Joseph’s. Good LORD! Anyway, this won’t deter Temple. Look for them to finish in the top 4 in the league…again…and make the NCAA Tournament…again. Jealousy. And hey, good riddance Temple! (Donoher)
The Rams enter the A10 on the heels of a round of 32 bow out after their miracle Cinderella run in 2011. Smart will rely on an experienced squad that returns 84% of minutes played, 85% of rebounding, and 80% of the scoring from last season. Leading the charge for the Rams is preseason A10 third team selection, Juvonte Reddic. The Junior big man is coming off a successful sophomore campaign where he posted 10.3ppg, 6.7rpg while shooting 51% from the field. Reddic is also a defensive stalwart as he lead the team in blocks (44) and was 2nd in steals (47). Joining on the defensive side of the ball is all A10 Defensive Team selection, Briante Weber. The sophomore guard comes off of an impressive freshman season where he lead the country in steals per 40 minutes at 4.6.
The Rams welcome in a quality freshman class that is headlined by Melvin Johnson and Jordan Burgess. Johnson, a 6’3 two guard from NYC, was a consensus top 100 recruit and this is evident through him being named to the preseason A10 All Freshman team. If this name sounds familiar, it is because Dayton was also a school that had shown a lot of interest in Johnson. The Burgess name is not a new one to VCU Rams fans. Jordan’s older brother, Bradford, lead the Rams in scoring last year and set the NCAA record with 146 consecutive starts. Jordan comes in as a top 100 recruit and a match up nightmare as a 6’4 210lb wingman with a great inside out game. (Baujan)
Turmoil has been the theme of the off-season for Xavier. The Musketeers will be without their top three scorers from a year ago – losing Tu Holloway to graduation, Mark Lyons to transfer, and Dez Wells for
consensual sex with a coed violation of the school’s code of student content.
Chris Mack will have his work cut out for him as his best returning players are probably junior Jeff Robinson and sophomore Justin Martin (seriously, I looked it up). Incoming freshman Semaj Christon impressed at Musketeer Madness and looks to get minutes right away at the point guard position. Xavier has been the cream of the A10 crop for some time now, but if ever the Muskies were to be vulnerable, now is that time. I’m not saying it’s this season or never for UD to finally get a win on the road against XU but … OK, yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. (Secaur)
Projected Order of Finish
- St. Joseph’s
- Saint Louis
- La Salle
- St. Bonaventure
- George Washington
- Rhode Island