Atlantic 10

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Rodney Purvis #15 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts after hitting a three pointer against the Syracuse Orange during the Tire Pros Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2016 in New York City. Connecticut defeated Syracuse 52-50  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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CBT Roundtable: College Basketball’s Biggest Disappointments

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Travis Hines: Given the expectations weren’t all that high for the Huskies, consider this one hell of an achievement to find them here. They’ve been that bad while Markelle Fultz has been amazing. You have to start with Fultz’s brilliance to fully understand Washington’s ineptitude. The potential No. 1 draft pick is averaging 22.8 points on 49.7 percent shooting from the floor and 48.7 percent from the 3-point line while also putting up 6.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game. Throw in the 2.1 steals and 1.2 blocks, and he’s literally on pace to post numbers that have never been posted in college basketball. As a freshman. That’s just absurd. What else is absurd is that Washington has a guy of Fultz’s caliber performing up to the hype and still somehow sits 4-5 with losses to Yale, TCU (twice), Nevada and Gonzaga, which came in especially embarrassing fashion in a 27-point drubbing on national television.

The “how’ of Washington’s struggles clearly land on the defensive end of the floor, where one coach remarked to our Rob Dauster that “They were so ******* bad on defense. It was like they had never been coached. They had no plan.” So, that’s not good, I don’t think. The Huskies’ season is disappointing on a number of levels, first being it appears that we won’t be watching Fultz in the NCAA tournament, which is a bummer. The second is Lorenzo Romar didn’t need to surround Fultz with McDonald’s All-Americans to have a successful season. Capable dudes (given a defensive plan) would have been enough. And Washington wasn’t able to do that. How disappointing.

Rob Dauster: UConn has been an absolute mess this season. They lost to Wagner and Northeastern at home in their first two games. They barely escaped Loyola Marymount with a win. They went 1-2 in the Maui Invitational, with the one win coming in a closer-than-it-should’ve-been win over Chaminade. If that wasn’t enough, UConn has also been devastated by injury, with two starters – McDonald’s all-american point guard Alterique Gilbert and Terry Larrier, who was their best player at the start of the year – going down with season-ending injuries. This was a team that entered the season with a legitimate case to be considered a top 25 team and is, in all likelihood, going to end the year with a win over a potentially NIT-bound Syracuse team in Madison Square Garden being the highlight of their year.

This is how bad things have gotten for UConn: When I was at the game at MSG, a UConn fan told me that he would consider this season a success “if UConn shows up as a bad loss when they show Syracuse’s NCAA tournament résumé.” For a team that has won two of the last six national titles, that’s quite a fall from grace.

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Terrence Payne: Outside of the major six conferences, the Atlantic 10 is up there as one of the best. The A10 looked like it was on its way to another banner year when the preseason poll included both Rhode Island and Dayton. Currently, both teams find themselves outside the top-25, but more importantly, the conference as a whole finds itself with an underwhelming non-conference résumé. The A-10 is slightly above the American Athletic Conference for seventh place in the Conference RPI rankings, while KenPom rates the A10 as the eighth toughest league.

Rhode Island landed an early-season victory over No. 24 Cincinnati on a neutral floor, but the Rams have lost three out of four, all on the road, to Valparaiso, Providence and Houston. Dayton has been plagued by injuries to Kendall Pollard and transfer Josh Cunningham, which contributed to a 2-2 start. The Flyers have won five straight since, but Dayton could enter conference player with its best out of league win being against Northwestern or New Mexico, neither team pegged to land an at-large bid at this point. And it’s not just the team’s that began the season ranked. VCU, another A-10 power, hasn’t looked up to par, dropping back-to-back games against Illinois and Georgia Tech.

With a few weeks before conference play begins, the A-10 is lacking signature wins. Three years after receiving six bids, an all-time high for the conference, the A-10 is on pace to have, at best, half that amount this upcoming March.

Scott Phillips: It’s tough to call a young, injury-riddled team disappointing, but if Tom Izzo can angrily sit at the end of his own bench in the middle of games then we’re allowed to have such feelings. This Spartans team is 7-4 with single-digit home wins over Florida Gulf Coast, Oral Roberts and Tennessee Tech. Michigan State’s rebounding and free-throw shooting woes have cast serious concerns about their ability to win games early in the Big Ten without Miles Bridges. Of course, I expect Michigan State to make the NCAA tournament – and figure things out quickly – but they better do that before conference play begins.

VIDEO: Dayton clamps down on Duquesne, wins A-10 opener

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Charles Cooke scored 21 points to lead the way offensively for the Dayton Flyers, as they won their Atlantic 10 opener at Duquesne by the final score of 66-58. Cooke was the lone Flyer to score in double figures on an afternoon in which their defense was the story of the game. Dayton limited Duquesne to 32.7 percent shooting from the field and forced 18 turnovers, converting those mistakes into 18 points on the other end.

Dayton wasn’t much better offensively, shooting 36.5 percent, but their ability to manufacture points through their defense made the difference. Duquesne’s Derrick Colter, the team’s leading scorer on the season, led Jim Ferry’s Dukes with 14 points but he did not have his best day. Colter shot 2-for-12 from the field and committed eight turnovers, with Dayton’s guards making things difficult for him throughout.

Dayton reserves Darrell Davis and Sam Miller scored nine points apiece, and Dyshawn Pierre grabbed ten rebounds in his second game of the season for the 11-2 Flyers.

UMass unveils special uniforms for Wednesday’s game

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With this season marking the 20th anniversary of their trip to the Final Four, UMass will honor former head coach John Calipari Wednesday night at halftime of their game against New Orleans. The school will raise a banner in Calipari’s honor and the current Kentucky head coach will be in attendance at Mullins Center as his current team is won’t play its next game until Saturday against Ohio State in Brooklyn.

Tuesday afternoon it was announced that the Minutemen will wear special jerseys for the game, bringing back the cursive “UMass” script worn by Calipari’s 1995-96 team.

Of course Wednesday’s festivities do have some objectors, as UMass’ trip to the Final Four was eventually vacated after it was found that Marcus Camby, that season’s winner of the Naismith and Wooden awards, received money from an agent. Calipari was found by the NCAA to have done nothing wrong himself, but that hasn’t stopped some from questioning whether or not the coach should be honored by UMass.

Earlier this year there was a similar situation at Memphis, where the school announced that it would honor Calipari for his accomplishments there before changing their minds the following day as a result of fans voicing their displeasure. Calipari, who won five Atlantic 10 regular season and five Atlantic 10 tournament titles while at UMass, was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in September.

Current UMass head coach Derek Kellogg played for Calipari at the school from 1991-95.

Judge rejects Ohio basketball player’s reinstatement bid

Dyshawn Pierre
Associated Press
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DAYTON, Ohio (AP) A federal judge on Friday again rejected a star basketball player’s bid for reinstatement to the University of Dayton after a suspension linked to a female student’s sexual assault accusation.

Dyshawn Pierre’s one-semester suspension ends soon, but he’d hoped for a ruling to help clear his record and let him rejoin the team immediately.

His attorney, Peter Ginsberg, said he and Pierre are disappointed and considering their options, such as appealing the decision or continuing with his lawsuit against the university.

The university, which declined to comment on the ruling, previously said Pierre didn’t suffer irreparable harm and there was no reason to cut short the suspension.

His lawsuit noted that Montgomery County prosecutors declined to file charges against the 6-foot-6 senior from Toronto. Pierre has said the allegation stemmed from a consensual sexual encounter, and he called the school’s investigation “fundamentally unfair” with a “wholly irrational, unsubstantiated” conclusion after a hearing that didn’t accommodate his learning disability.

“In circumstances of this seriousness, the university owed a duty to do more than the bare minimum,” Ginsberg said. “It should have been fair and thorough and professional, and Dayton has been none of those things.”

In October, U.S. District Judge Thomas Rose denied a temporary order to stop the school from enforcing the suspension. Rose ruled that the public interest is served by allowing universities to carry out disciplinary rules and procedures to keep an educational environment harassment-free.

He wrote that the school’s hearing board found Pierre was “unable to demonstrate that he received any words or actions that indicated he had effective consent for sexual intercourse or sexual contact.”

Ginsberg argued that the disciplinary board lacked training to interpret medical and law enforcement issues in the case.

It’s unclear whether Pierre will play this season. Coach Archie Miller told the Dayton Daily News on Thursday that he’ll meet with Pierre when the suspension ends Dec. 20 to gauge his physical and mental status and ability to contribute this season. Miller said Pierre will play “if it’s feasible” or sit out a year.

The Flyers are 7-1 after upsetting No. 21 Vanderbilt on Thursday.

Second-half resurgence pushes Dayton past No. 21 Vanderbilt

Kendall Pollard, Damian Jones
Associated Press
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A renewed commitment to working the ball around for quality shots led to Dayton erasing an eight-point halftime deficit (they trailed by as much as 16 in the first half) to beat No. 21 Vanderbilt in Nashville, winning by the final score of 72-67.

Archie Miller’s Flyers shot 59.3 percent from the field in the second half, with improved shot selection being a key factor. After settling for perimeter shots against a team without its leading shot blocker in Luke Kornet in the first half, attempting ten three-pointers (making three), Dayton attempted just five three-pointers in the second half.

Instead the ball went inside on a more regular basis, with Dayton scoring 24 of their 40 paint points in the game’s final 20 minutes. Kendall Pollard, who hit a huge three-pointer in the game’s final minute, scored 12 of his game-high 21 points in the second half and redshirt freshman big man Steve McElvene (ten points, nine rebounds) chipped in with six points and five rebounds.

As a team Dayton outscored Vanderbilt 40-22 in the paint while also controlling the rebounding stats (38.5 percent offensive reb. percentage, 79.8 percent defensive reb. percentage), which led to their holding a 17-2 edge in second chance points.

While Damian Jones accounted for 18 points and eight rebounds, Vanderbilt didn’t get much production from their other front court players on a night when they needed them to step up. Dayton took advantage, and they managed to pick up a result that will look good on their résumé as the season wears on. Also of note is the fact that Dayton is now 12-3 in their last 15 games against SEC opponents.

Dayton has depth, experience and talent, attributes taken into consideration by voters when they were picked to win the Atlantic 10 in the league’s preseason media poll. Yet with an eye towards the future the play of McElvene may be the biggest takeaway for the Flyers. After accounting for 14 points, ten rebounds and four blocks in a win over North Florida the redshirt freshman followed it up with another solid outing, doing so against a big man projected to be a first round pick in June’s NBA Draft.

Dayton has players such as Pollard, point guard Scoochie Smith and forward Charles Cooke to lean on for key contributions. But if McElvene can continue to develop, at his size (6-foot-11) he gives Dayton a piece they’ve lacked in recent years. And with the suspended Dyshawn Pierre expected back at the end of the semester, an already deep Dayton squad will get deeper ahead of conference play.

VIDEO: No. 23 Providence beats Rhode Island on Bentil tip-in

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Saturday night in-state rivals No. 23 Providence and Rhode Island met in Kingston, and as many expected the game did not disappoint. The Friars got off to a quick start only to see the Rams respond with a 20-4 run, and from that point onward the two Ocean State teams traded punches throughout in a game that was decided as time expired by Providence forward Ben Bentil.

Following a Jared Terrell jumper with 6.2 seconds remaining Providence point guard raced up the court, releasing a shot attempt with enough time to allow Bentil to tip in the miss just before time expired. The game-winner capped a 23-point, eight-rebound night for Bentil, who to this point in the season has not only been one of the Big East’s most improved players but one of the most improved players in the country as a whole.

Terrell led four Rams in double figures with 19 points.

Video credit: ESPN