Things got crazy at the end of regulation in the St. Bonaventure and VCU game on Saturday. Down by two points and inbounding under their own basket with 3.2 seconds left, the Bonnies found Matt Mobley for the go-ahead three-pointer to put St. Bonaventure up 66-65.
Thinking that the three-pointer was a buzzer-beater, some fans and members of the St. Bonaventure bench rushed the floor in celebration and received a technical foul on the play.
With one free throw to tie with 0.4 remaining, VCU’s JeQuan Lewis nailed it to put the game into overtime.
The Rams eventually ended up winning in overtime, 83-77, meaning the premature court storm cost St. Bonaventure a win.
Here is the Atlantic 10’s official statement on the call: “The decision to assess a one-shot technical foul for the delay of game at the end of the VCU-St. Bonaventure game was a correct call. The conference office has reviewed the end of the game, and spoken to the Atlantic 10 Coordinator of Officiating, who verified that it was in fact the correct call.”
No. 20 Baylor found itself down by eight points at halftime in its opening-round game against VCU in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday afternoon. But the Bears clamped down on defense and used their length and athleticism in a 71-63 comeback win.
The Bears (4-0) were down 36-28 at the half but still advanced thanks to a balanced effort on both ends of the floor along with a big second half from junior forward Jonathan Motley. Getting comfortable in the second half, Motley finished with a double-double as he had 19 points and 10 rebounds on the afternoon — including five offensive rebounds. Guards Manu Lecomte (16 points) and Al Freeman (15 points) both also finished in double-figures.
Finishing with 13 offensive rebounds, Baylor’s perimeter shooting struggled but they made up for it by cleaning up on the glass. Baylor only shot 2-for-9 from three-point range but they adjusted their offense to attack the rim against VCU as Lecomte and Freeman both did damage off the bounce. The attacking style also paid off for Baylor at the free-throw line as they finished 27-for-33 from the charity stripe.
VCU (3-1) was led by JeQuan Lewis as he finished with 21 points, including an impressive 5-for-10 from three-point range. Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed finished with 13 points while Jonathan Williams chipped in 12 points.
This is another solid early win for the Bears, as they’ve certainly looked like a top-25 caliber team early in the season. After the win against Oregon, this tournament is a nice chance for Baylor to make another early-season statement as they try to become a factor in a Big 12 race that looks on paper like a one-team (Kansas) race.
Baylor moves on to face the winner of Michigan and St. John’s in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Looking Forward: Here’s what the Atlantic 10 has in store for the 2016-17 season
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).
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.
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.
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.
Thursday evening VCU head coach Will Wade landed a commitment from one of the top transfers on the board, as former Maine small forward Isaac Vann made his pledge to the Atlantic 10 program. Vann, who was one of the top freshmen in America East last season, will have three years of eligibility remaining after he sits out the 2016-17 campaign.
The 6-foot-6 Vann had a very productive freshman season at Maine, as he averaged 16.4 points and 5.8 rebounds per contest for the Black Bears. Vann, who also averaged 1.7 assists and 1.6 rebounds in 28.3 minutes per game, shot 45.7 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from beyond the arc. He was one of two unanimous All-Rookie Team selections, with Albany’s Joe Cremo (America East Rookie of the Year) being the other.
With a season to get acclimated to Wade’s system, Vann can be a quality addition for the Rams moving forward.
Amongst its wing options entering the 2016-17 season VCU has just one senior, with that player being Jordan Burgess. The Rams will also add freshmen De’Riante Jenkins and Marquell Fraser this summer, giving them the depth they need moving forward. Vann’s decision to transfer to VCU came less than a week after he took his visit.
Saint Joseph’s tops VCU for Atlantic 10 tournament title
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: No. 2 seed VCU advances to Atlantic 10 semifinals
Will Wade made his head coaching debut at the Atlantic 10 tournament Friday night, and his VCU Rams did not disappoint as they beat No. 10 seed Massachusetts 85-70 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Melvin Johnson led four Rams in double figures with 19 points as VCU won despite shooting 1-for-16 from beyond the arc. Overall VCU shot 40.3 percent from the field, but their ability to hit the offensive glass proved to be the difference. VCU managed to rebound 42.6 percent of its missed shots, converting 20 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points. Add in 50 points in the paint, and the Rams were able to remove any doubt early in the second half as they led by as much as 20.
JeQuan Lewis added 16 points and three assists, Korey Bilbury 12 points and Justin Tillman ten points and nine rebounds as the Rams moved one step closer to an NCAA tournament berth.
Trey Davis led UMass with 20 points and Jabarie Hinds and Rashaan Holloway added 16 apiece, but the rebounding and live turnovers proved to be too much to overcome. UMass committed just 12 turnovers, but VCU converted those mistakes into 20 points.