If performances in these early-season events are any indication of what to expect when conference play rolls around in January, the Atlantic 10 is in for a fun regular season race.
UMass won the Charleston Classic on Sunday (despite two losses in San Juan, VCU will be fine), and Dayton capped a good three days in Maui with a thorough 80-62 beating of California in the third-place game of the Maui Invitational. Dayton (6-1) was the tougher team, and by the end of the game it was clear that they were the better team as well with four players scoring in double figures.
Devin Oliver tallied 21 points to lead the way, with Jalen Robinson added 17 points and five rebounds off the bench. Dayton’s balance has been a strength thus far, and that was once again the case on Wednesday night. Entering Wednesday four players were averaging double figures, with Ohio State transfer Jordan Sibert leading the way with an average of 16.3 points per game. He was kept quiet by Cal, shooting 1-for-7 from the field and finishing with just three points.
But it didn’t matter, with guards Vee Sanford (14 points, three assists) and Kyle Davis (12 points) both stepping up. And despite scoring just two points, freshman Scoochie Smith dished out three assists and grabbed four rebounds on the night. If there are any two stats that illustrates the depth advantage Dayton enjoyed with Cal (5-2) missing starting center Richard Solomon (eye abrasion) it would be points in the paint and bench points.
Dayton outscored Cal 48-26 in the paint, and its reserves outscored Cal’s by a 52-8 margin (Jordan Mathews scored all eight bench points for Cal). The number of options at head coach Archie Miller’s disposal were on full display Wednesday night, and that bodes well down the line for a team that was picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic 10.
“Our bench was a big part of today’s game,” noted Robinson. “Last night Coach told us just to be ready and our depth would take us a long way. Everybody who came in off the bench came in and was very productive and played together as a team.”
Although the fact that Dayton was one made shot against Baylor away from playing in the title game of the Maui Invitational may sting a bit, that shouldn’t take away from the progress made by the Flyers this week in wins over Cal and No. 11 Gonzaga. If Dayton can build on their play against the toughest competition on their schedule to date, they’re more than capable of exceeding those preseason expectations.
Last month the NCAA announced that due to rules violations found in their investigation of the SMU men’s basketball program, the team would be banned from postseason play in 2015-16 and head coach Larry Brown would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2015-16 season. With a team led by seniors Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy and just one player (Keith Frazier) being the subject of the investigation, it was assumed that SMU would at the very least appeal the postseason ban.
Friday, the school announced that while it will appeal some of the penalties handed down by the NCAA to the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs they will not appeal the postseason ban or Brown’s suspension.
“After careful consideration, however, we will not appeal the NCAA post-season ban on men’s basketball or partial season suspension of Head Men’s Basketball Coach Larry Brown,” SMU president R. Gerald Turner stated in the release. “Although we regret the severe impact on our student-athletes, the simple fact is that the NCAA penalty structure mandates at minimum a one-year post-season ban for the level of misconduct that occurred, in our case, when a former staff member completed an online high school course for a prospective student-athlete, committing academic misconduct.
“In addition, should we appeal this matter, the lengthy process and uncertainty during this period could harm many aspects of the program. Coach Brown and his staff also agree that it is in the best interests of the program to accept these sanctions and move forward.”
Among the penalties the school will appeal (with regards to the basketball program) are the “duration of scholarship losses” and how long the recruiting restrictions placed on the program will last, and the vacating of games Frazier played in during the 2013-14 season.
This a tough turn of events for players who had nothing to do with the violations, as they see their opportunity to return to the NCAA tournament taken away. As a result of the school’s decision, SMU’s season will end March 9 following their regular season finale against Cincinnati.
Kevin Marfo committed to George Washington on Friday evening, announcing his decision on Twitter.
“I am grateful and appreciative to all the schools that recruited me. But I will be spending the next four years at George Washington University,” he tweeted.
This caps a successful week for Mike Lonergan on the recruiting trail. On Tuesday, GW landed a commitment from Darnell Rogers, a 5-foot-3 point guard. He is the son of former GW guard Shawnta Rogers, the 1999 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year. GW ends the week by adding a tenacious rebounder to a front court that graduates top rebounder Kevin Larsen after this season. Rogers and Marfo join power forward Collin Smith in the Class of 2016. Seton Hall transfer Jaren Sina will also be eligible in 2016-17.
He cut his list to 10 in August with Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Minnesota, Boston College, UMass, Saint Joseph’s, DePaul, Rhode Island and Providence all making the cut along wit the Colonials. He later trimmed the list to five finalists: BC, Providence, DePaul, GW and Rhode Island.
The Worcester Academy (Mass.) forward played for BABC this summer in the Nike EYBL, averaging 11.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-8 Marfo is listed as the No. 148 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.