The State of the (Hot)lantic 10 - Week 1

by Michael Weber

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Welcome to another exciting season of Atlantic 10 Conference play.  We've seen some interesting games thus far as our conference has made it through most of the out-of-conference season.   Our teams have turned up some real nice wins as we've beaten Georgetown and Tennessee.  On the other hand, however, we've been beaten by teams like Central Connecticut State, Bowling Green, East Tennessee State and Towson.  It's been an interesting season so far to say the least.  Teams have been dealt injuries(Xavier and Duquesne) and Charlotte has been on an absolute roller coaster since their season got underway with a loss to Gardner-Webb.  Even Rick Majerus has had to miss time due to an injury.  That is the least of the Billikens concerns and Willie Reed and Kwamain Mitchell were suspended for the first semester for violating team rules and now apparently will red-shirt this season.  Charlotte coach Alan Major, in his first season, decided it was in the teams' best interest to show Shamari Spears the door.  With other injuries, Charlotte was fielding a decent YMCA League team through much of their OOC schedule.  But, as we all know, a roller coaster isn't all downhill.  The 49ers managed to beat Tennessee at the TimeWarnerCable Arena in downtown Charlotte in a game that was nationally(ok - if you get this channel) televised on CBS College Sports.  Xavier, the conference's best "program", has been dealt several significant blows that all started when Brad Redford tore his ACL in the off-season and will miss the entire season.  Other injuries have left Xavier with something like 9 scholarship players to compete with.  Their depth really showed with a win over Wofford and a loss to Miami(OH).  We've seen budding stars turn into bona-fide studs(and yes I'm talking to you Andrew Nicholson).  We've seen freshmen play excellent at times with TJ McConnell, Langston Galloway and Juwan Staten.  Those three are likely a cut above the rest as it stands right now with this freshman class.  There has been talk of some coaches being on the hot seat(Karl Hobbs and even Phil Martelli come to mind).  Chris Mooney is likely to be sought out by bigger BCS jobs at the conclusion of this season which could leave the A10 looking for 2-3 coaching additions.  It could even be more if Jim Baron's team falls apart again.  Another new coach in the league this season is Fordham's Tom Pecora, who is doing an outstanding job of making his team competitive.  They are exceeding expectations right now but are likely 2-3 years away from being a serious threat in this league.  Oh, and Tom Izzo almost left for the Cleveland Cavaliers head coaching position and rumors were flying wild that Brian Gregory would be in-line to take over the MSU program.  I swear this sort of stuff only happens in the Atlantic 10.  Now for week 1:

TEAM OF THE WEEK:  George Washington - It has to be, doesn't it?  You are looking at a team with a loss to Navy with Karl Hobbs on the hot seat.  This team rebounded nicely in the first week.  What else is new though?  You can set your clock to this one.  A team absolutely stinks in the OOC schedule and then comes in guns-a-blazing in conference play.  At least one team is good for this every year.  However, on the flip side, luckily they didn't beat anyone headed for an NCAA Bid.  The Colonials won tough games against LaSalle and Saint Joe's.  But, when it comes to league games, it doesn't much matter who you played or what the score was.  You need not be the best team in the country...just the best one in the arena.  Next-up for GW is a home game against Fordham. 

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:  Justin Harper, Richmond - I have to be honest:  You could line-up the entire Richmond Basketball Team and ask me to find Justin Harper and I probably couldn't do it.  That's not to say I'm any authority on Richmond Basketball but he is somewhat of an aftherthought on that team with Kevin Anderson(and Gonzalvez last year).  Anyhow, he blew up Charlotte and LaSalle for 26PPG, 6.5RPG, 2.0BPG.  He mad 19 of his 29 shots and went 7-13 from dahntahn.  For those keeping score at home, Harper is #32. 

GAME OF THE WEEK:   92-88(3OT) Bonnies over Charlotte - 3 overtimes in conference play.  Enough said.

DUD OF THE WEEK:  Dayton loses to Umass, 55-50 - The Flyers came in riding a 13-3 record and were looking to move to 2-0 in league play but Derek Kellogg's pesky Minutemen, fresh off of a blowout loss to Central Connecticut State, stopped the Flyers in their tracks.  Chris Wright contributed 6 points.  The Flyers seem to have many of these road duds in their back pocket when the conference season starts.  It's a real shame, because flipping this one and the ETSU game for UD would have them sitting at 15-2 and a virtual lock to make the NCAA Tournament barring a huge meltdown(which we've seen before).  Congrats to the Minutemen for being the least worse team in this one. 

SURPRISE TEAM OF THE WEEK:  George Washington - See Above

STAT LINE YOU PROBABLY MISSED OF THE WEEK:  55 Minutes; You see, basketball games are two halves.  Each half consists of 20 minutes.  2 halves times 20 minutes equals 40 minutes.  So, what I am I talking about?  Well, The Bonnies and 49ers decided to treat the 3,438 Olean faithful to three additional 5 minute overtime periods.  That would be 55 minutes of running up and down a basketball floor.  Most guys, you know, need a breather during a 40 minute game.  Not Andrew Nicholson.  He played all 55 minutes in this one and scored 34 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, had 2 steals, 1 assist and committed 3 turnovers.  Congrats to Andrew for making Mark Schmidt a lot of money.  (Ogo Adegboye also played 55 minutes and scored 14 points but no one really knows who he is, so I left him off of this award list).

WEB'S DUQUESNE FLAVOR OF THE WEEK:  TJ McConnell - He won the A10 Rookie of the Week Award for the second time this season.  Also, a shout out to the Duquesne Women who are making some serious head-way in the AP Poll.  Until next week...GO DUKES!

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