Discuss on Yuku
The three of us put our heads together on what to expect in the A-10 season and we came up with a composite prediction of what the standings will look like come tournament time.
3. St Louis
4. George Washington
5. St Bonavanture
8. St Joe's
9. Rhode Island
And now for each of us individually:
1. Xavier. They have a potential Sweet 16, perhaps better team if they get the right matchups. Holloway is a potential A10 POY, Lyons came on extremely strong the second half of last year, and Frease if he improves with his frame has the potential for a quality senior season. Jeff Robinson is a solid if unspectacular player. Brad Redford will be back off major knee surgery, and if he kept his quickness (not that he had much to start with, but he couldn't afford to lose much) could provide a huge spark off the bench. Justin Martin, a high recruit who was a partial qualifier last year, should be ready to go. Dezmine Wells is an ESPN top 50 recruit.
2. Temple. Juan Ferndandez and Ramone Moore make a very dangerous 1-2 that should help lead Temple to another NCAA berth. Michael Eric should step in and replace Lavoy Allen, and with Scootie Randall and Jefferson both back this Owls team should be very good. Their issues at PG may be helped with getting DiLeo an extra year of experience, if not they have Will Cummings, the 29th best PG in the country per ESPN's recruiting rankings, to help fill a major hole from last year. Should be the best all-around team in the A10.
3. Saint Louis. Kwamain Mitchell returns on what should be Majerus's run to the NCAAs. Last year, a team with no seniors went 6-10 without Mitchell. Add in Mitchell and it turns around the URI and LaSalle games for sure, perhaps more. Combine that with everyone returning and 12-4 with Majerus's solid coaching isn't out of the question. Scoring 98 points against any team for a Majerus coached team has me impressed, even if it is an inferior Canadian opponent. Also of note...all of the last 5 years a bottom 5 team has moved into the top 5 in the A10 standings. SLU seems like the lock this year.
4. GW, barely, solely based on that they double Richmond, La Salle, and Charlotte as well as play Duquesne, St. Bona and URI at home this year. With that favorable of a schedule, and presuming Kromah returns healthy, I'll take GW here. A hugely risky pick though, as a new coach combined with Kromah's questionable health or play after a major injury leaves a ton of question marks.
5. Richmond. Mooney is an excellent coach. Last year they lost Gonzalvez and Butler, and kept on going. This year they obviously lost a lot. However, those that frequent the board also know how much I love Lindsay's game and think he'll be fine stepping in at PG. Brothers, Lindsay, Dunkier, Martel, Garrett, and to a lesser extent Robbins still make an excellent combo that could easily contend for a bye next year.
6. St. Bona. They return 4 of 5 starters, losing only Ogo, a very mediocre PG. The only problem was they have nobody to replace him, and in a guard-oriented league how well you can do without a floor general is a huge question. Nicholson keeps them in the top tier, but I don't see drastic improvement.
7. Duquesne. Losing Clark and Saunders will be a huge challenge for the Dukes, as will the awful road A10 schedule. The Dukes figure to be a middle of the pack A10 team, with excellent guard play that can put the Dukes ahead from the remaining rest of the A10.
8. URI. Always seemingly underrated, the good but never great Rams have finished T6th, T5, T2, T9, T4, and T7 since the A10 brought in Charlotte and SLU. Expect about the same and a middle of the pack team.
9. St. Joe's. Martelli has a very good young team, but they have the same problem as the Bonnies and UMass: no true PG. With a young team and no true PG, I can't take the Hawks much higher.
10. Dayton. When was the last time the A10 saw a starting backcourt of 2 D1 transfers? Well, it could happen at Dayton with Dillard (Southern Illinois) and Josh Parker (Drake). Anytime you have 2 transfers in the backcourt and a new coach, even with a quailty player like Chris Johnson, I'll take my chances on you struggling, even with Dayton's home court advantage.
11. Charlotte. A veteran-laden team that could be a huge surprise in the A10. Alan Major has shown that he will do things his way, instituting discipline sometimes lacking under Lutz (on a view from afar anyway). Derrio Green, Braswell, and Briscoe should all be quality A10 players. Combine that with possibly starting 2 more upperclassmen - Barnett and Sherill - and you'll have a veteran team with a quality backcourt that could give the A10 fits. I'm not sure I shouldn't have picked them higher...
12. UMass. Hard to pick Kellogg even this high, but I think I have to. Once again, there's no true PG for the Minutemen, and with Kellogg's questionable coaching I can't trust this team. Good news is they double La Salle.
13. Fordham. Finally surpass La Salle, solely because La Salle seems that down. Things are looking up under Tom Pecora, but the Rams are still a ways away IMO for contending for an A10 tourney slot unless one of the other teams collapses, which is quite possible in this years A10.
14. La Salle. UGH. They lost three of their best four players from last year on a team that finished 11th in the A10 last year. Giannini's days in Philly may be numbered. Fortunately recently La Salle got excellent news that South Carolina transfer Ramon Galloway will be eligible to play this year after the NCAA granted his hardship waiver. Unfortunately, with nobody that has shown they can score returning, I see the Explorers slipping to the bottom rung of the A10.
1. Xavier - Every year, there's a reason they shouldn't be on top. Every year, it doesn't end up mattering.
2. Temple - Clearly the other best team.
3. SLU - Good coach, good players coming back, the return of Mitchell, and an exhibition tour to get things in gear. Three or four is a good bet.
4. GW - Very close to 5th, and if it wasn't for player losses this would be Richmond. That said, GW has some potential this year.
5. Richmond - Their coach will keep them afloat. Mooney is just too good.
6. Bona - They haven't done much with Nicholson yet, don't know that they will. They could leap up, though.
7. Duquesne - If the guards are as good as advertised, the Dukes can be in the top half of the league, though just barely.
8. St. Joe's - Still young. Next year could be special though. I wonder how much more Martelli can live off of the West/Nelson year?
9. URI - A middling team that will need to find some identity. Perhaps finishes the season stronger than they start it.
10. Dayton - New coach, and no Staten. Tough breaks, though long-term the lack of BG may be good for them.
11. UMass - I had them a little higher until I realized that they STILL don't have a point guard.
12. Charlotte - Could be a dark horse...
13. Fordham - ... but if they're not, Fordham has a real shot to be 12th. Which is something for them. Otherwise, they'll easily be above LaSalle at least.
14. LaSalle - 'nuff said.
1. Temple - I like the mix of players returning to the Owls including a healthy Juan Fernandez.
2. Xavier - Can't win the league every year, right? Lost some key defensive players and I can't see Holloway doing much more than repeating what he did last year.
3. St Louis - Great coach plus they get their two best players back to go along with some unexpectedly experienced depth.
4. St Bona - 1 NBA prospect and 2 very good seniors make this the best chance for the Bonnies to break through in a while.
5. GW - Tony Taylor is the most likely to supplant Holloway for conference POY and they have a nice mix of players coming back to go along with a shiny new coach.
6. St Joe's - Still young but rising. This team could go higher.
7.Richmond - Not excited about what they have coming back, but I think Mooney can take them to 7th.
8. Duquesne - Should have the depth to absorb losses of Saunders and Clark along with another solid recruiting class. Should host an A-10 game in spite of grueling conference road schedule. Will need to lean on what may be the deepest and best backcourt in the conference to overcome holes in the post.
9. UMass - This team might actually be better without Gurley and his ball hog inflated 18.7 points.
10. Dayton - Not real excited for Flyers fans this year.
11. URI - Team will go as far as Orion Outerbridge will take them and I don't think it will be very far. Loss of Delroy James really hurts.
12. Charlotte - Still a mess, but they have what appears to be a very nice freshman class coming in. I look for them to have a season similar to the one St. Joe's had last year.
13. Fordham - This is not a typo. I think they will finally make it out of the A-10's cellar this year.
14. Lasalle - Lost their 3 biggest weapons and might have an even bigger void in the post than the Dukes without the back court to bail them out.
+1 to anyone who made it this far.