NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: A detailed view of a Spalding basketball during a quarterfinal game between the Davidson Wildcats and La Salle Explorers in the 2015 Men's Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 13, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

WATCH LIVE: Atlantic 10 basketball doubleheader Saturday on NBCSN

Leave a comment

The Atlantic 10 comes to NBCSN and the NBC Sports app on Saturday with two games that will air as part of a doubleheader.

It starts with UMass at Saint Joseph’s at 12:30 p.m. and concludes with St. Bonaventure traveling to George Washington at 2:30 p.m.

CLICK HERE to watch the Atlantic 10 on NBCSN

Looking Forward: Here’s what the Atlantic 10 has in store for the 2016-17 season

dayton
Associated Press
Leave a comment

The NBA Draft’s Early Entry Deadline has come and gone. Just about every elite recruit has decided where they will be playing their college ball next season. The coaching carousel, which ended up spinning a bit faster than initially expected, has come to a close for all of the major programs. 

In other words, by now, we have a pretty good feel for what college basketball is going to look like during the 2016-17 season. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what has happened — and what will happen — in the Atlantic 10 over the next six months. 

KEY OFFSEASON STORYLINES

1. Hot coaching names stay put: The A-10 doesn’t lack for quality coaches, with some being discussed for major coaching vacancies on an annual basis. Two that fit the mold are Dayton’s Archie Miller and Rhode Island’s Dan Hurley, with the latter facing some questions in regards to the Rutgers opening earlier this spring. Hurley decided to stay put in Kingston for another season, choosing a talented roster that’s approaching full strength after an injury-riddled 2015-16 instead of taking on a major rebuilding job in his home state. Miller, whose name seemingly comes up regarding every major opening, also has a deep roster to work with next season at Dayton. Unless the opening is a truly elite one, why mess with happiness? VCU’s Will Wade also opted to remain in Richmond. He was targeted by Vanderbilt after Kevin Stallings left for Pitt.

2. The conference’s battle for respect is a continuous one: For those who watch the Atlantic 10 on a consistent basis, there’s no doubt that this is a quality league. But Selection Sunday left a bad taste in the mouths of some, the result of VCU getting a ten-seed or regular season tri-champion St. Bonaventure being left out of the field completely. It would be nice to say that the remedy is to simply win more games, but when it comes to getting teams in the NCAA tournament field who really knows what it takes when discussing a conference like the Atlantic 10 (and the league rated well in out of conference RPI and strength of schedule). The good news for the league is that it has multiple teams capable of playing their way into the national polls and staying there, with Dayton and URI leading the way.

3. Saint Joseph’s getting used to life without top three scorers: Phil Martelli’s Hawks won the Atlantic 10 tournament title and gave top seed Oregon all they wanted in the second round of the NCAA tournament, with DeAndre Bembry and Isaiah Miles leading the way. But those two, along with Aaron Brown, have all moved on meaning that Saint Joseph’s will have to account for the loss of their top three scorers from last season. The positive is that there are options, including guards Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble and forwards James Demery and Pierfrancesco Oliva, to call upon. But making that jump from supplementary piece to key cog in the attack can be a difficult one for some, and how the returning Hawks handle that shift will have a major impact on their season.

4. Incoming transfers will have a significant impact on the conference race: Many Atlantic 10 programs benefitted from the transfer market, whether it was the more conventional transfer (sit out a year before playing) or those of the grad student variety. Dayton (power forward Josh Cunningham) and Rhode Island (shooting guard Stanford Robinson) will both have transfers available, as will teams such as La Salle, George Washington (see below) and Duquesne. Duquesne’s most noteworthy transfer additions are of the grad student variety, with Kale Abrahamson (Drake) and Emile Blackman (Niagara) needing to be key contributors from the start with the Dukes losing the productive tandem of Micah Mason and Derrick Colter. Also adding immediately eligible transfers were George Washington (Patrick Steeves, Harvard) and Fordham (Javontae Hawkins, Eastern Kentucky).

Davidson's Jack Gibbs (12) tries to drive past Iowa's Mike Gesell during the first half of an NCAA tournament college basketball game in the Round of 64 in Seattle, Friday, March 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Davidson’s Jack Gibbs (12) (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

NOTABLE NEWCOMERS

  • La Salle’s transfers: The Explorers’ lack of depth last season placed too much upon the shoulders of Jordan Price, with the team struggling to get wins in spite of his lofty point totals. Dr. John Giannini won’t lack for option in 2016-17, thanks in large part to the transfers who will be able to take the floor. Pookie Powell, B.J. Johnson and Demetrius Henry will all be eligible after sitting out last season, and Arizona State transfer Savon Goodman is eligible to compete immediately as a graduate student. The question: how well will the pieces mesh together?
  • Jaren Sina, George Washington: Another transfer, the former Seton Hall guard will be a key figure for Mike Lonergan’s Colonials. As a sophomore Sina averaged 7.0 points and 2.3 assists per game, but with Alex Mitola out of eligibility and Paul Jorgensen transferring he’ll be asked to run the show for a team that welcomes back Yuta Watanabe and Tyler Cavanaugh.
  • DeJon Jarreau and Brison Gresham, Massachusetts: The two Louisiana natives wanted to attend college together, and in the end their desire to do so benefitted the Minutemen. Of the two Jarreau may be the more important figure early on, as the four-star guard will be asked to help fill the void left by the departures of Trey Davis and Jabarie Hinds on the perimeter.
  • De’Riante Jenkins, VCU: Will Wade landed a quality four-member freshman class, with the 6-foot-5 Jenkins being the crown jewel. Ranked 60th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, Jenkins is the second-highest ranking incoming freshman in the Atlantic 10 (Jarreau is 39th). And with Melvin Johnson graduating, there’s room for the athletic wing to have an immediate impact at VCU.

SURPRISING DEPARTURES

  • L.G. Gill, Duquesne: Not sure how surprising this move truly is, especially considering the current transfer climate. Gill graduates this spring, and with the rules being what they are he can use his final season of eligibility at another school. But the loss of his team’s leading rebounder from a season ago means that head coach Jim Ferry will have to account for the departure of his top three scorers from last season (Derrick Colter and Micah Mason being the others).
  • Paul Jorgensen, George Washington: With Alex Mitola and Joe McDonald both out of eligibility, it appeared as if “Prince Harry of Harlem” was in line for an increase in playing time (averaging just over 15 mpg as a sophomore) in 2016-17. Instead Jorgensen decided to transfer, as his style didn’t always seem to mesh with what GW wanted to do offensively, and he’ll complete his final two seasons of eligibility elsewhere. The move leaves Mike Longeran’s team with even less experience on the perimeter, with Jaren Sina competing with underclassmen such as sophomore Jordan Roland for the point guard spot.

COACHING CHANGES

  • Travis Ford, Saint Louis: After a busy spring in 2015 the Billikens made the lone coaching change in the Atlantic 10 this spring, with the former Oklahoma State head coach replacing the dismissed Jim Crews. Ford has his work cut out for him too, as SLU’s talent issues that resulted in Crews’ firing won’t be remedied overnight. Of Saint Louis’ top five scorers from a season ago three have moved on, with Mike Crawford (10.3 ppg) and Jermaine Bishop (8.9 ppg) being the leading returning scorers. Ford attracted his fair share of talented recruits while in Stillwater, and the hope at SLU will be that he can do similar things while also developing that talent into a team capable of winning in the Atlantic 10.

WAY-TOO-EARLY ALL-CONFERENCE PREDICTIONS

G Jack Gibbs (Davidson) – Player of the Year
G E.C. Matthews (Rhode Island)
G Jaylen Adams (St. Bonaventure)
F Charles Cooke III (Dayton)
F Hassan Martin (Rhode Island)

WAY-TOO-EARLY POWER RANKINGS, IN TWEETS

1. Dayton: The Flyers return most of their key cogs, and a Charles Cooke III withdrawal from the NBA Draft would make them a Top 25 team.
2. Rhode Island: Health issues were the biggest problem for Rhody. With Matthews, Martin and Terrell among those back, URI can make a run at the A-10 crown.
3. VCU: Losing Melvin Johnson hurts, but VCU returns both experience and talent. They’ll be fine.
4. Davidson: Led by one of the nation’s top scorers in Jack Gibbs, the Wildcats return forward Peyton Aldridge as well.
5. Richmond: This is a big year for Chris Mooney, but he’s got some key pieces returning led by T.J. Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones.
6. George Washington: The Colonials have some key losses to account for, but returning Watanabe and Cavanaugh will help.
7. St. Bonaventure: Yes they lose Marcus Posley and Dion Wright. But Jaylen Adams returns, and it’s time to stop overlooking the job Mark Schmidt’s done as head coach.
8. Saint Joseph’s: Losing your top three scorers would hurt any team. The good news for SJU is that they’re rising sophomores are pretty good.
9. La Salle: The depth issues of last season have been remedied by the influx of transfers. But will all the pieces fit together?
10. Fordham: Jeff Neubauer has a budding all-conference player in Joseph Chartouny at his disposal, but the loss of Ryan Rhoomes hurts.
11. Massachusetts: The freshman class will help the Minutemen down the line, but this team needs to defend far better than they did a season ago.
12. Duquesne: Abrahamson and Blackman were productive stats-wise at prior stops, but can they help vault Jim Ferry’s team up the A-10 standings?
13. George Mason: Losing Shevon Thompson doesn’t help Dave Paulsen’s rebuilding efforts, but give him time. He’ll get Mason headed in the right direction.
14. Saint Louis: Speaking of needing time, Travis Ford is faced with quite the rebuilding project at SLU given the departures and their recent struggles.

PHOTO: Phil Martelli ‘re-labels’ Big 5 Coach of the Year award

Saint Joseph's head coach Phil Martelli watches from the bench in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Villanova, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, in Philadelphia.  (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson
2 Comments

Monday night the Philadelphia Big 5 held its annual postseason awards dinner, an event in which La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova get together to honor the city’s best players and teams from the season. Among those honored at the dinner was St. Joseph’s head coach Phil Martelli, who after leading his team to an Atlantic 10 tournament title and the second round of the NCAA tournament was named Big 5 Coach of the Year.

However in receiving the honor Martelli made sure to show some respect to rival head coach Jay Wright, who led Villanova to a third straight Big East regular season title and the program’s second national title. Add in the fact that Villanova won the Big 5 for the third consecutive season.

So what did Martelli do with his trophy? He wrote “Jay Wright” on a Post-it note and applied it to the trophy.

No. 1 Oregon holds off No. 8 Saint Joseph’s

Oregon forward Dillon Brooks,center, goes after a loose ball against Saint Joseph's forward Isaiah Miles, left, guard Shavar Newkirk, right, and forward Pierfrancesco Oliva during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament in Spokane, Wash., Sunday, March 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
(AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Leave a comment

Oregon was able to hold on for a 69-64 win over No. 8 seed Saint Joseph’s on Sunday night in a West Regional second-round game in Spokane.

The No. 1 seed Ducks (30-6) had two huge 3-pointers from freshman Tyler Dorsey (14 points) and sophomore Dillon Brooks (25 points) and forced a timely late shot-clock violation and late turnover to hold off a hard-fought effort from the Hawks. Elgin Cook also added 18 points for Oregon, as he made two big free throws with under a minute left.

Saint Joseph’s (28-9) was led by DeAndre Bembry, as the junior had 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Hawks also had 11 points from freshman Lamarr Kimble and Aaron Brown and Shavar Newkirk finished with 10 points each. With a chance to tie down by three points with the shot clock turned off, Bembry turned the ball over to seal the Oregon win as Dorsey iced the game with two free throws.

Oregon’s defense did a very nice job of making matters difficult for Saint Joseph’s senior Isaiah Miles. After averaging 18.4 points per game during the season, Miles only finished with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting.

Oregon moves on to face defending champion and No. 4 seed Duke on Thursday night in the West Region. This is the first time all four No. 1 seeds have advanced to the Sweet 16 since 2012.

Saint Joseph’s tops VCU for Atlantic 10 tournament title

Virginia Commonwealth guard JeQuan Lewis (1) passes the ball off against Saint Joseph's forward DeAndre Bembry (43) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game during the championship game of the Atlantic 10 men's tournament, Sunday, March 13, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Leave a comment

Saint Joseph’s punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament on Sunday with a 87-74 win over VCU in the Atlantic 10 tournament title game at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Hawks were the No. 4 seed in the tournament and ran through a solid field of teams, including George Washington in the quarterfinals, Dayton in the semifinals and an NCAA tournament-bound Rams team in the finals.

The Hawks (27-7) were led by 30 points, five rebounds and four assists from DeAndre Bembry and 26 points and 12 rebounds from Isaiah Miles as the two star players stepped up in a huge game to carry Saint Joe’s to the dance. The win and A-10 tournament title likely gives Saint Joseph’s somewhere in the No. 7 to No. 9 range and they’ll be a dangerous team with weapons like Bembry and Miles.

Bembry was 13-for-16 from the field and looked dominant against VCU. He’s one of the best players in the country you might not know about entering the NCAA tournament.

VCU (24-10) lost a rugged and physical game as Korey Billbury and JaQuan Lewis each had 19 points. They should also find themselves in the No. 7 to No. 9 range in terms of seeding later today and they’re going to be a tough out for teams that aren’t prepared to face their style of play.

VIDEO: Saint Joseph’s erases 16-point deficit, beats George Washington

Leave a comment

Friday’s Atlantic 10 quarterfinal matchup between No. 4 seed Saint Joseph’s and No. 5 seed George Washington was an important one for both teams, with the Hawks looking to sew up an NCAA tournament bid and the Colonials having work to do to get into the conversation. Mike Lonergan’s team led by as many as 16 points and appeared well on their way to an important résumé-boosting victory.

However DeAndre Bembry and the Hawks turned things around, rallying back for an 86-80 win over the Colonials. As a result Saint Joseph’s will play top seed Dayton in Saturday’s semifinals, and George Washington in all likelihood is now headed to the Postseason NIT.

Saint Joseph’s outscored George Washington 51-31 in the second half, with Bembry finishing the game with 21 points, Shavar Newkirk 19 and three other Hawks scoring in double figures as well. Joe McDonald led six Colonials in double figures with 15 points, and Kevin Larsen just missed out on a triple-double as he accounted for ten points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.