St. Joseph’s lost another piece in their front court on Monday as head coach Phil Martelli annoucned that freshman Markell Lodge will sit out the 2014-2015 season to focus on his academics.
“Markell, his family and I made the decision, while receiving input from our academic advising staff. We feel that he would benefit from placing all of his emphasis on academics this year,” said Martelli. “This decision is absolutely the right step for Markell, who has a bright future at Saint Joseph’s.”
Lodge was a three-star recruit, according to Rivals. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-6 forward Christian Faith Center in Virginia. He played his AAU ball for Team Loaded VA.
Losing Lodge is a major blow considering the number of pieces the Hawks front court will be missing this year. Halil Kanicevic and Ronald Roberts Jr. both graduated, and Papa Ndao will miss the season with an unspecified medical issue.
The Hawks should be able to pair Kimble together with incoming-freshman guard Shavar Newkirk to form a nice duo of guards that can handle the ball.
Kimble is coming off of a really good July in which he tied for the Peach Jam lead in assists per game at 6.6 dimes per game. Kimble averaged 4.6 assists per game in 21 EYBL games this spring and summer to go along with 8.1 points and 3 rebounds a game.
The Atlantic 10 is an unpredictable conference. Look no further than Dayton. The Flyers lost four of their first five league games, and weren’t even assured a berth in the NCAA tournament until they heard their name called on Selection Sunday, but that didn’t stop them from making a run that ended a game away from Final Four.
Dayton was the last A-10 team standing out of six bids the conference received in 2014, one more than the previous season, although the other conference members failed to see the success Archie Miller’s program did during March. VCU, UMass, Saint Joseph’s and George Washington all bowed out in the Round of 64 while Saint Louis, which stumbled into the Big Dance losing four of its last five games, needed a collapse from N.C. State to advance to the Round of 32 where Louisville delivered the Billikens a 15-point loss.
Heading into next season, VCU and Dayton will be the favorites to sit atop the conference standings. The Rams have the conference’s best returning talent, Treveon Graham, who will be complimented by several key contributors and an impressive recruiting class Shaka Smart put together. Dayton’s best returner is its head coach, who was linked to high-major vacancies despite signing an extension through 2019.
Outside of the Rams and Flyers, who emerges as contenders in the A10? Can UMass, St. Joe’s or George Washington make return trips to the NCAA tournament? How does Jim Crews handle the loss of Dwayne Evans and Jordair Jett at Saint Louis?
One team that should emerge as a threat in 2014-2015 is Rhode Island. Third-year head coach Dan Hurley has previously built up a struggling Wagner program. He has the pieces this year to make a jump from last season’s 14-18 (5-11 A10) team.
Regardless, the A10 is poised to be another fun conference to track next season.
Dayton: The Flyers finished sixth in the conference standings last season. Despite losing Devin Oliver and Vee Sanford, the Flyers can ride the momentum from their NCAA tournament run to rise to the top of the conference in 2014-2015. Dayton returns leading scorer Jordan Sibert along with seven of the nine players who averaged more than 12 minutes per game. Directing that cast is Miller, one of the top up-and-coming coaches, who will still be roaming the Dayton sidelines.
Rhode Island: The Rams graduate leading scorer Xavier Munford from a team which only one five conference games. However, A-10 Co-Rookie of the Year E.C. Matthews leads the crop of returnees, which includes top rebounders Gilvydas Biruta and Hassan Martin. Incoming guard Jared Terrell, a four-star recruit, adds talent and depth to the URI perimeter. The Rams were projected for a big jump this past season, but it looks as if this upcoming campaign might be the one that ends with the Rams’ first tournament appearance since 1999.
Treveon Graham: The rising senior guard saw spikes in points and rebounds per game, though, his shooting percentages dipped from his sophomore season. The 6-foot-6 Graham is the only returning A-10 first-team selection, and is surrounded by rotation guys Briante Weber, Melvin Johnson, JeQuan Lewis and Jordan Burgess and a talented class of freshmen.
Saint Louis: Crews deserves a lot of credit for his two seasons with the Billikens, but when you lose Jett, the A-10 Player of the Year and Evans, an all-conference selection, along with Mike McCall Jr. and Rob Loe, you’re bound for a down year. Saint Louis’ conference schedule includes two games against Dayton, Rhode Island and VCU in addition to a road game at George Washington.
Davidson: The Wildcats become the conference’s 14th member this season, and while they join the A-10 with five NCAA tournament appearances since 2006, the Southern Conference regular season champion makes the move without top scorer and rebounder, De’Mon Brooks, who concluded his college career this spring.
NCAA tournament bids: Over the course of the past two seasons, the Atlantic 10 has received 11 bids to the Big Dance. It’s going to be difficult to replicate that sort of success this upcoming season. UMass has to replace Chaz Williams. George Washington is without Mo Creek. Can Rhody make the large enough jump from bottom half to tournament conversation? Outside of VCU and Dayton, the A-10 has plenty of potential bubble teams.
FIVE NEW FACES
Terry Larrier, VCU: The 6-foot-8 forward headlines a four-man recruiting class. He’s a four-star recruit, regarded as the No. 43 overall player in the Class of 2014, according to Rivals.com. Larrier has great upside, and he, with three other three-star commits, will provide Havoc with the depth it needs.
Bob McKillop, Davidson: For the last 22 seasons, McKillop has been a coach in the Southern Conference. He brings 472 career wins and seven NCAA tournament appearances into the A10, but without Brooks and longtime assistant Jim Fox, who took over the Appalachian State program, the Wildcats appear to be in an uphill battle for its first season. It will likely be a bump in the road in what should be a smooth transition.
Jabarie Hinds, UMass: The West Virginia transfer will be the added piece in a talented back court with Derrick Gordon and Trey Davis. In two seasons in Morgantown, he averaged 7.4 points per game. He gives the Minutemen an experienced scoring lead guard, who can also be a force on the defensive end.
Jordan Price, La Salle: In 2012, Price was the No. 79 overall recruit, according to Rivals. After averaging 5.4 points in 14.8 minutes per game, the 6-foot-5 guard transferred to La Salle to continue his career. He and Cleon Roberts will try and replace the perimeter duo of Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland.
Jared Terrell, Rhode Island: He originally committed to Oklahoma State over URI back in September, but had of change of heart in April. Terrell’s commitment, along with Matthews’ development help offset the loss of Munford. The powerful 6-foot-3 guard brings years experience against high-level prep school and grassroots competition.
Way-Too-Early Power Rankings
3. Rhode Island
5. George Washington
6. Saint Louis
7. Saint Joseph’s
8. La Salle
10. St. Bonaventure
13. George Mason
The Huskies will advance to face the winner of No. 2 Villanova and No. 15 Milwaukee.
The Hawks were in control for much of the first half, but UConn made their run in the second half turning the final 10 minutes of this game into one of the more entertaining stretches of basketball that you are going to see in this tournament. The two team traded big buckets and exchanged the lead a number of times down the stretch, and we came within a couple of inches of what would have been one of the all-time great buzzer-beaters.
UConn had a chance to win at the end of regulation, but after a tremendous inbounds play reminiscent of the play that made Valparaiso’s Bryce Drew immortal, Napier missed a running three at the buzzer.
The game changed in overtime when Halil Kanicevic fouled out early in overtime. He’s the sparkplug for everything that the Hawks do offensively, and without him on the floor, the Hawks looked lost.
The good news for the Huskies is that they were able to get this win on a night where Napier did not play his best. He made some big shots — and clutch free throws — down the stretch and added six assists and eight boards, but he shot 7-for-22 from the floor and was thrown off his game when Phil Martelli made the decision to put the longer, more athletic DeAndre Bembry on him.
DeAndre Daniels played one of his better games, finishing with 18 points, while Ryan Boatright added 17 points, many of which kept UConn within striking distance as Napier struggled through the first half. It also should be noted that UConn’s 7-foot freshman Amida Briah finished with nine points and six boards, grabbing key offensive rebounds and hitting some clutch free throws. With the Huskies down by three in the final minute, he grabbed an offensive rebound and got the putback plus the foul to tie the game at 70.
Hagan Arena will be rocking for St. Joseph’s vs. Villanova
When St. Joseph’s and Villanova — two of the five schools making up Philadelphia’s “Big Five” — meet on the hardwood, the game is always a ‘can’t miss’ and atmosphere unparalleled.
When the game is played at St. Joseph’s Hagan Arena, there may not be another gym in the country that provides the home team with as big of an advantage, and visiting team fits.
Hagan Arena, which opened in 2009, seats only 4,200 people, but you can bet there will be more people than that figure present for tomorrow’s tilt between the Hawks and Wildcats as the game promises to be standing room only. It’s a hot ticket, and plenty of fans will be turned away as a result.
“I think getting tickets for this game is harder than getting tickets for the Super Bowl,” St. Joe’s senior forward Halil Kanacevic told Dave Zeitlin of CSNPilly.com. “I’ve literally got people calling me every day. I can’t help them out. I wish I could. I can’t even get some of my family members tickets.”
When the home team, St. Joe’s traditionally played games against Villanova at The Palestra, but beginning in 2011 played the game at Hagan Arena; the Hawks cruised to an easy 74-58.
The Hawks will look to take advantage of the home-court advantage that Hagan presents tomorrow against Villanova, who is one of the season’s early surprises with wins over Kansas and Iowa at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
Kanacevic remarked about the crowd in 2011, and what he expects Saturday’s game to bring: “It was a top-five crazy atmosphere I’ve played in. It was crazy. They said it was 4,200 people but it was definitely more than 4,200…[F]actor in they’re a ranked team coming into our gym. And then you factor in that it’s Villanova. So I don’t think you really need to say much about it.”
Villanova head coach Jay Wright is well aware of the problems Hagan presents to opposing teams. “Playing in there is wild,” Wright said. “There aren’t many places like that left anymore where they’re right on top of you and right behind the bench.”
In a day full of great games, Villanova knocking off No. 2 and previously undefeated Kansas takes the cake. The game was hardly pretty, but that doesn’t much matter to Jay Wright. In fact, it seemed like Wright’s game plan against Kansas was to play in the mud — a physical, grind-it-out kind of battle. Ryan Arcidiacono hit only one shot all night, but it was a critical one as his three-pointer from the corner put Villanova on top 61-59 with ten seconds remaining.
2) San Diego State acquitted themselves well when they played Arizona earlier this month — a 69-60 loss at home — but they confirmed they are a true contender in the Mountain West with an 86-80 victory over Creighton. There’s no doubting just how good Doug McDermott and the Creighton offense are, but their defense leaves much to be desired. Spotting the Aztecs a 19 point lead in the second half was too deep a hole to climb out of in the end.
3) It took three overtimes and delayed the start of the marquee game of the day between Arizona and Duke, but Drexel outlasted Alabama 85-83. The Dragons are now 4-2 with a good win over Alabama, and strong showings against UCLA and Arizona, despite both being losses. Chris Fouch was an absolute warrior today playing 54 minutes and willing Drexel’s way to the win. Bruiser Flint has a good group who will challenge for the CAA title.
1) Mercer’s Jakob Gollon had a day. The senior forward entered Friday’s game against Valparaiso averaging 6.4 points, but exploded for 37 points in the Bears’ triple overtime win over Valpo. Dropping 37 points on 17 shots is remarkably efficient. To go along with the scoring effort, Gollon also dished out seven assists and pulled down seven rebounds.
2) There may not be another player in the country whose team missed him as much last season as Penn State did with Tim Frazier. Frazier demonstrated just how important he is to the Nittany Lions as he propelled his team to an overtime victory over St. John’s going off for 29 points. He didn’t shoot particularly well — just 5-14 from the field — but he got to the free throw line 20 times, making 17 of his attempts.
3) Langston Galloway filled up the stat sheet in a big way for St. Joseph’s in a 78-66 win over Siena. The senior guard poured in 27 points (6-10 3PT), had seven rebounds, three assists, and five steals.
1) It was a bad time for Southern Mississippi to play Louisville as this was the Cardinals first game following their loss to North Carolina. The Golden Eagles, who entered the game 6-0 and are one of the top teams in Conference USA, scored just 13 first half points and shot 29% as a team for the game en route to a 69-38 loss.
2) The transition to Division 1 hasn’t been a pleasant one thus far for Abilene Christian. Entering tonight they were 2-6 with their only wins coming against sub-D1 teams, and five of the losses being blowouts. Tonight, they suffered their seventh loss of the season to West Alabama, a sub-D1 team.
3) Chris Bolden has had a rough start to the season. He was suspended for the first three games of the season for a violation of team rules, and since he has rejoined the team he has been less than stellar shooting a combined 7-34 in four games. Against Mississippi, a 77-67 loss, Bolden was 1-8 from the field. Bolden will need to be better if Georgia Tech has any chance at have a good season.
Missouri moved to 7-0 with an 83-70 win over Nevada. Jabari Brown, Earnest Ross, and Jordan Clarkson did nearly all the scoring as they combined for 73 points.
Tennessee bounced back with a 64-49 win over Xavier a day after losing to UTEP.
No. 5 Oklahoma State had a 44-30 halftime lead over Butler, but nearly gave it away in the second half. They ended up winning 69-67 and will meet No. 21 Memphis in the championship game of the Old Spice Classic.
Behind 19 points off the bench from Anthony Gill, Virginia defeated SMU, 76-73.
Cincinnati moved to 6-0 with a win over Kennesaw State, but the Bearcats’ schedule has been hardly challenging to date.
Denver lost to Pepperdine in the Great Alaska Shootout to move to 0-4. A tough start for a team looking to challenge for the Summit title.
Penn State earned a good win over St. John’s in overtime 89-82 at the Barclays Classic.