Picking a clear favorite to win the Atlantic 10 this season is a tough task, and the media’s picks at Atlantic 10 Media Day at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn display that.
Six teams received at least two first-place votes, with Saint Joseph’s receiving 11 and locking up enough overall points to be the media’s pick to win the conference.
Phil Martelli welcomes back every key contributor from last season’s 20-14 (9-7 A-10) team, led by guards Carl Jones and Langston Galloway and forward C.J. Aiken.
Following Saint Joseph’s in the poll is Saint Louis, which received ten first-place votes. The Billikens (25-7, 12-4) return the majority of their key contributors from last season’s NCAA tournament team, but the most important piece (Rick Majerus) isn’t coaching this season due to health issues.
Jim Crews, who has head coaching experience at both Evansville and Army, will look to lead Saint Louis to their first Atlantic 10 regular season title.
VCU and Butler, the two newcomers to the conference, were pegged to finish third and sixth respectively with the Rams receiving three first-place votes and the Bulldogs two.
Here’s the entire poll, with first-place votes in parentheses:
1. Saint Joseph’s (11)
2. Saint Louis (10)
3. VCU (3)
4. Temple (2)
5. Massachusetts (2)
6. Butler (2)
7. La Salle
11. St. Bonaventure
13. George Washington
15. Rhode Island
Only the top 12 teams will play in the Atlantic 10 tournament at the Barclays Center March 14-17.
The league’s media also made it’s all-conference team selections, and while no Saint Joseph’s players was named to the first team All-Atlantic 10 squad four projected starters are on the second and third teams.
First Team: Kevin Dillard (Dayton), Chris Gaston (Fordham), Chaz Williams (UMass), Kwamain Mitchell (Saint Louis), Khalif Wyatt (Temple).
Second Team: Rotnei Clarke (Butler), Chris Braswell (Charlotte), Ramon Galloway (La Salle), Langston Galloway (Saint Joseph’s), Carl Jones (Saint Joseph’s).
Third Team: Darien Brothers (Richmond), C.J. Aiken (Saint Joseph’s), Halil Kanacevic (Saint Joseph’s), Scootie Randall (Temple), Juvonte Reddic (VCU).
All-Defensive Team: Roosevelt Jones (Butler), Pierria Henry (Charlotte), C.J. Aiken (Saint Joseph’s), Jordair Jett (Saint Louis), Briante Weber (VCU).
All-Rookie Team: Kellen Dunham (Butler), Jordan Hare (Rhode Island), Daniel Dingle (Temple), Melvin Johnson (VCU), Semaj Christon (Xavier).
The only jarring sight in these preseason honors is likely the fact that Xavier was picked to finish 9th, and given the many personnel (and coaching staff) losses that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
But when considering that the Musketeers have finished no worse than third in the standings every year since 2006 (tied for 7th that season), it’s definitely strange to see them that low in the league’s pecking order.