We spend a great deal of our own time writing, podcasting and obsessing about the goings-on of the Dayton Flyers, but what about this poopy Atlantic 10 Conference you keep hearing about? Fear not, loyal reader of the BBR, your old pal Sully has prepared an abstract of sorts; outlining the extremely questionable, and unmistakably mediocre basketball-doing that has been going on in the Atlantic 10 conference since the beginning of November. I’ll go alphabetically so VCU can be last in something else.
What’s important to keep in mind while reading this recon? With the exception of Saint Louis and maybe Davidson or VCU (if they rattle off 15/16 wins) no one in the Atlantic 10 is playing for an at-large bid right now. When talking about the proverbial “bubble”, all of the A10 would be on the outside looking in, and the only way to get people to pay attention would be steamrolling the conference and avoiding all landmines or home losses.
(If I made an error about your team and you’re gonna get all huffy about it, leave a correction in the comments and I’ll update the article)
Best win: Wichita State, who is not the usual Wichita State.
Worst loss: @ Wake Forest
What’s up with them? Davidson has essentially taken care of business in the non-con without tripping over their own dicks like the rest of the A10. The Wake Forest loss is definitively bad, but it would be fair to say they beat everyone they should’ve and lost the games that aren’t all that shocking. Jon Axel Gudmundsson (17.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 4.2 apg) continues to be one of the best European players in division 1 basketball, and freshman Luka Brajkovic has burst on the scene in December to keep the Davidson offense flowing in and out of the middle. How Bob McKillop continues to recruit and develop overseas talent is beyond me, his white hair is full of secrets. They also have a white boy freshman from West Virginia who is averaging 10 points a game out of absolutely nowhere, I can’t even make this shit up. The absence of Kellan Grady (19.4 ppg) has definitely hurt (4 games so far) but with him in the lineup, the Wildcats are among the A10’s best. Luckily, Carter Collins has filled in amicably to make sure the ship stays afloat in the meantime. Behind the Dayton Flyers, Davidson has the 2nd most efficient offense in the league.
Do they matter? Without a doubt. Davidson came into the season as a trendy pick to win the conference, and will still be the favorite by some if Grady stays on the floor. The chances they finish below 6th are very low.
Can they win the A10? For sure
Best win: vs. Marshall
Worst loss: vs. NJIT
What’s up with them? Funny enough, Duquesne will go into conference play at the top of the standings, at 9-4, but they really haven’t beaten anyone worth a damn and lost their final non-con game at home to an upstart NJIT squad. Their losses WERE all respectable before that one (Pitt, PSU and @ ND), but when you see teams like Longwood and MD-Eastern Shore on the schedule, you know you are being fed lies. Keith Dambrot seems to have the Dukes on the correct path to relevance, having the 348th most experienced roster out of 353, and still remaining competitive. The Dukes are so young, the only useful upperclassman, Mike Lewis II, has decided to transfer mid-season after seeing the writing on the wall. DUQ’s entire lineup now is freshman and sophomores, lead by Eric Williams Jr (14.2 Pts, 7.3 Reb, 1.4 Ast), Sincere Carry (10.8 Pts, 3.5 Reb, 5.9 Ast) and big boy Mike Hughes (13.2 Pts, 5.8 Reb)
Do they matter? Not yet, but they’re going to win some games they shouldn’t and will likely be a tough out every night. DUQ is full of scrap pile recruits that all have something to prove in their underclassmen years. Their youth will be their identity and Dambrot ain’t no slouch.
Can they win the A10? Maybe next year.
Best win: lol, they don’t have one of those
Worst loss: All four are equally pathetic in their own way
What’s up with them? They haven’t played fucking anyone, man! There is only ONE TEAM in the entire country who has played a worse schedule than Fordham. It’s smoke and mirrors people. As a famous alumni would say, “Sad!” Fordham has another freshman who is their best player (Nick Honor) meaning he is very unlikely to graduate from Fordham. The Bronx Rams have become one of the countries most effective producers of quality transfers, so you can’t say they’re good at nothing.
Do they matter? Of course not, it’s Fordham.
Can they win the A10? ^see previous response
George Mason (6-7)
Best win: Beating the Naval Academy at home. It’s that bad, guys.
Worst loss: at home vs. Vermont or American, take your pick.
What’s up with them? Dave Paulsen brought back his entire roster from last season and somehow got worse. GMU quickly went from being a logical conference front-runner to, well, back to just being the same old George Mason. Otis Livingston (13.7 Pts, 2.1 Reb, 4.6 Ast), Justin Kier (13.6 Pts, 4.8 Reb) and Javon Greene (9.7 Pts, 5.2 Reb) remain the backbone of the team, the only problem is that the GMU “backbone” hasn’t been all that good. Major questions about the head coach will begin to swirl in Fairfax over the rest of the season if GMU continues on this trajectory, mostly because the expectations inside the program for this particular season were as high as they have been in the last decade. Hang in there, GMU fans, there’s always alcohol.
Do they matter? They will matter in the same way ketchup matters on a Chicago hot dog: you can add it into the mix, but it will serve no purpose and only frustrate others.
Can they win the A10? If you would’ve asked me this question in October? I would’ve say, “yes”. Today? I most certainly say, “no”.
George Washington (4-9)
Best win: GW only has four, so I would really be dressing up a hooker to proclaim one, “the best”.
Worst loss: Close your eyes and point.
What’s up with them? They’re awful!
Do they matter? Absolutely not, they do nothing well and their program is in complete shambles after a controversy which involved their AD showing a propensity for scheming on college chicks and calling his head basketball coach a chronic masturbator. These are dark days in the Foggy Bottom. Dayton might still find a way to lose there.
Can they – no.
Best win: lol
Worst loss: When you lose 10 games before January 1st, they all hurt progressively worse as you go along.
What’s up with them? It’s Pookie Powell and a bunch of schmucks! Joking aside, LaSalle lost the bulk of their production last year to graduation, and weren’t exactly able to replace it during the departure of their head coach, Dr. John. Pookie will go into conference play as the fourth leading scorer in the league, but behind him there isn’t much help at all. They lost their first ten games before beating two sub-200 squads before A10 play. Staying with the theme of “they’re not bad at everything” …LaSalle is currently the fourth best free-throw shooting team in the country. I, for one, respect a commitment to fundamentals during a losing campaign. Free throws will always be free.
Do they matter? Nope!
Can they win the A10? If a bunch of team planes crash on the way to Brooklyn in March, even then I don’t like their odds.
Rhode Island (7-5)
Best win: Neutral vs. West Virginia
Worst loss: vs. Stony Brook
What’s up with them? I can’t make heads or tails honestly. After losing their coach and the majority of their scoring from last season, URI has weebled and wobbled their way to almost perfectly alternating wins and losses, landing at 7-5. Jeff Dowtin and Cyril Langevine have stepped into larger roles to lead the charge for the Rams, but Fatts Russell has struggled in the starting lineup and will go into conference play as the least efficient scorer in the A10 by a country mile. Russell is currently averaging more shots per game than points, (a stat that is unbelievably impressive) and is dead last among qualified scorers for FG% (29%) and 3pt % (18%). Their three key freshman: Harris, Martin and Tate have proved useful and give their roster necessary length, but will need to increase their production for URI to truly come together as a team.
Do they matter? Definitely. The keys to URI’s success in the A10 are threefold: 1. Dowtin and Langevine leading the ship. 2. Fatts will need to stop outwardly killing his team less and 3. The freshman need to chip in 20+ points/gm. If all of those happen, the young Rams will be a serious threat. As it stands, they’re still figuring it out and their season predictably has resembled UD’s last year.
Can they win the A10? I really don’t think so.
Best win: Fire Chris Mooney
Worst loss: Fire Chris Mooney
What’s up with them? They haven’t fired their coach, Chris Mooney, yet, and they should’ve like two seasons ago.
Do they matter? Not until they fire Chris Mooney.
Can they win the A10? In the distant future when Chris Mooney isn’t the coach.
St. Bonaventure (4-9)
Best win: Their best win is against Canisius College (222) if you go by KenPom rankings. If you can tell me what city that’s in, you’re a true college basketball fan. Canisius, as you may have guessed by the overall narrative of this piece, is not a good win.
Worst loss: @ Niagara
What’s up with them? Mark Schmidt has been the Bonnies coach since 2007 in a town with a population of 13,000 and one of the smallest enrollments in division 1 basketball – he knows what he signed up for. Last March, in Dayton, Ohio during the First Four, Schmidt was in a bar with a few local gentleman who asked how the team was looking next year after a few key departures. Schmidt set his beer down on the bar, casually glanced off and then uttered in his thick New England accent: “We’re probably going to be terrible again.”
He was not wrong. In fairness, Bonaventure has been hindered by the absence of their team leader, Courtney Stockard, but have struggled to find any kind of groove offensively. Like Dayton, Bona runs a fairly thin roster, and after their key four contributors, there just isn’t much substance left.
Do they matter? They do not.
Can they win the A10? They can not.
St. Joes (7-5)
Best win: @ Princeton
Worst loss: @ Bill and Mary
What’s up with them? Despite being 7-5, Joes is still in the conversation to land in the top 4. Their losses (with the exception of William & Mary) are all respectable, and their best player and conference’s leading scorer, Charlie Brown (20 ppg), had to sit out the loss to Villanova. They are a typical Martelli team: pack-line defense that forces perimeter shooting, mistake-free offense and sound fundamentals. Brown’s counterpart, Lamarr Kimble (17.6 Pts, 3.6 Reb) has been an effective #2 and sophomore Taylor Funk has returned to give the Hawks an added perimeter weapon. Freshman guard Jared Bynum has been a great addition, but has had a tendency to disappear when they really need him, as Freshman often do.
Do they matter? Without question. The top of Joes lineup is as talented as any in the A10, but they aren’t deep or experienced and (as with season’s past) any singular injury could completely derail their season. If everyone is healthy; Charlie Brown is going to get his, and the supporting cast will do just enough to beat you. They’ll be a tough matchup every night.
Can they win the A10? Phil Martelli coached teams can always win the A10, always.
Saint Louis (9-4)
Best win: @ Seton Hall
Worst loss: @ Southern Illinois
What’s up with them? SLU will come into conference play with one of the countries most stout defenses, ranking #14 overall and top 100 in virtually every defensive metric. On the flip side, there are only 9 teams in D1 who shoot free throws worse than SLU (192-for-322, 59%), and they’ve struggled shooting the ball overall from just about everywhere. The Bills are paced by seniors Javon Bess (15.5 Pts, 7.4 Reb) and Tramaine Isbell (11.9 Pts, 4.0 Reb) while remaining anchored by Hasahn French and newcomer Carte’Are Gordon down-low. They largely stick to a 7-man rotation and have generated an alarming amount of offense from second chance points. If they can figure out how to shoot for any interval this season, they will be damn near unbeatable in the A10.
(UPDATE: hours after I posted this article, Carte’Are Gordon announced he would be leaving SLU before the second semester. This is a MAJOR blow to SLU and will change how they’re perceived going forward, as well as how they can defend the post)
Sources: Saint Louis freshman Carte'Are Gordon will transfer. Former Top-75 recruit. Was averaging 8.9 PPG and 4.1 RPG.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) January 2, 2019
Do they matter? It can be argued that they matter the most. A road win @ SLU is among the very few “good wins” on the A10 schedule right now, next to beating Dayton or VCU in their own building.
Can they win the A10? (UPDATED) They CAN win the league without Gordon, but it’s going to be an uphill climb. That’s a massive blow to the Bills.
I know what you’re thinking.
“This is an “M” Sully, their name is Massachusetts.”
I ask you, have you ever called them, Massachusetts? That’s what I thought. It’s UMass, they fall under “U”.
Best win: @ Providence
Worst loss: vs. Howard
What’s up with them? Simply put, UMass has been wildly inconsistent, and while they have the talent to hang with anyone in the conference, they also have the capability to lose to anyone in the conference. The arrival of Vanderbilt transfer center Djery Baptiste in the second semester should help mask some of their obvious defensive liabilities, particularly on the interior, but putting 75 on the boys from Amherst is commonplace these days. You can only get two sentences into talking UMass before bringing up Luwane Pipkins, the dick-swingin-est player in the A10. Currently second in scoring and with two 30-point efforts to his name, Pip will be a problem for defenses every night. With that said, when the Minutemen struggle from deep, they can’t win. In losses to Temple and UGA, the four primary guards combined to shoot 4-for-35 from deep. It will be imperative for them to play tighter defense to contend in this year’s A10.
Do they matter? To Dayton fans? Yes. UMass is becoming a real thorn in the ass of the Flyers.
Can they win the A10? Naaahhhhhhhhhh man.
Virginia Confederate University (9-4)
Best win: @ Texas
Worst loss: vs. College of Charleston
What’s up with them? So far this season the Richmond Rams have the largest discrepancy between their offensive and defensive ratings, with the 9th best defense in the country to go with the 220th most efficient offense. Much of VCUs offensive woes can be attributed to Marcus Evans and De’Riante Jenkins high-volume inefficiencies. Both players are taking 10-12 shots per game and shooting 38% and 35% respectively, to go along with 26% and 28% from long range. VCU is incredibly deep this season, cycling 10 or 11 guys routinely, allowing their pressure defense to truly shine. If at any point they can get the offense figured out, they will be the A10’s toughest out, in the meantime, they’re still going to win a lot of low-scoring slugfests.
Do they matter? Much to my chagrin, they matter every year. VCU’s ability to reload and avoid irrelevance is both impressive and incredibly annoying.
Can they win the A10? Unfortunately yes, very much so. The chances VCU finishes lower than 5th are low, and have been picked by many to win it all this year.
That’s it knuckleheads. A10 play opens up Thursday night at 730 ET when George Mason visits St Joes, everyone else will get going over the weekend.
Wear red, be LOWD, this will be the longest article I post on the BBR this season, without question.