A very early look at A-10 (Part 2)

By Steve DiMiceli

Earlier this week, I had a look at the teams in the Atlantic 10 with their core players returning. This time, I'll look at teams relying on newcomers and depth to improve during the 2013-2014 season.

Let me make it clear though, I'm not speaking to the quality of these teams, just that there are more question marks. I wouldn't count anyone mentioned in this entry out especially not from our first group of teams who will depend a lot on newcomers and transfers. Even the teams that lost a lot probably won't amount to terrible teams.

Teams Depending a Lot on Newcomers and Transfers ( Rhode Island, Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham)

Rhode Island has been awful the last couple of years. It's not unfair to say it. Thanks to the Hurley hype machine they won't stay that way for very long. The Rams get an immediate boost from  transfers sitting out there dismal 2012-13. Gil Biruta highlights Dan Hurley's meteoric rise up the coaching ranks when you consider the redshirt sophomore played for Hurley in high school. Biruta averaged 9.7 points per game as a freshman for Rutgers. Jarelle Reichelle and Deshon Minnis come over from Rice and Texas Tech respectively and should compete for minutes. To top it off, the Rams will bring in one of the best 2013 recruiting classes. Combo EC Matthews might replace Mike Powell from day one. Hassan Martin likely won't start his freshman year, but projects as a high end A-10 player moving forward.

Dayton also has one of the best incoming 2013 classes and may have their best base of young talent since 2008. Former Duquesne target Dayshon Smith looks to join the party early to replace Kevin Dillard, but he'll have competition from fellow frosh Kyle Davis. Kendall Pollard should take   significant minutes at small forward. Combine the class of 2013 with the class of 2012 and Archie Miller should have a lot to work with over the next few seasons.

Like Rhode Island, Duquesne will be completely reinvented in 2013 - 2014 and could have as many as 4 newcomers in the starting lineup and 6 of them in our 9 man rotation. The influx isn't as strong at Duquesne but this should be an improved team. Ovie Soko could make a play for a spot on the all league team. Tra'vaugh White led all of junior college in scoring. Isaiah Watkins and Jordan Robinson are both highly regarded big men who could contribute right away.

Fordham is probably the only team that doesn't fit well into any of the categories I created. They lose Chris Gaston, but he was the only significant player departing. They don't belong in the final category. They also weren't even decent last year to include them in the first entry. They added another former Duquesne target in Jon Severe, but he is probably the only addition who will help this year. Of course, he could provide a huge boast if he is as good as advertised.

I settled on adding the Rams to teams depending on newcomers, because they have a lot of players who most A-10 fans have never heard of that could break out. It'll be like adding new players. I really like Ryan Canty and I think he could step up in a big way. He was incredibly efficient last season. Travion Leonard is another break out candidate in the post. Others like Mandell Thomas more than I do, but it's possible he makes a bigger impact next year.

Teams that Lost a Lot (St Bonaventure, St Joe's)

Again, I want to point out that I don't think the teams who lost a lot will necessarily be bad. In fact, I think St Joe's could be quite good. Problem is, they lost their two best players from an already thin team when Carl Jones graduated and CJ Aiken elected to go pro. They have some incoming players, but there are no clear internal replacement for their losses. There is talent, but will there be enough?

St Bonaventure is a different story. They lost more than anyone in the league but were a fairly deep team. Two years after their run to the NCAA tournament, the Bonnies have a lot to overcome. Matthew Wright and defensive specialist Charlon Kloof should become a key components while minor Duquesne killer Jordan Gathers should see considerably more playing time. Marquise Simmons and JUCO transfer Andall Cumberbatch will look to fill the void created by Demetrius Conger's departure.