[b]Scouting the Atlantic 10 tournament[/b]
March 06, 2007
Record: 23-7 RPI: 32
Lowdown: Finished season with eight straight wins to claim share of league title. Depth and veterans at every position. Point guard spot in good hands with Drew Lavender.
Coach’s comment: “With the environments we’ve had to play in this season, and the players we’ve had to face, we feel very good about being the No. 1 seed going into this tournament.” — Sean Miller
Record: 23-7 RPI: 56
Lowdown: Senior forward Stephane Lasme is just third player in NCAA history to record four triple-doubles in one season. A-10 player of year is second in nation in blocks (5.2 per game) and first in league in rebounding (9.4). A-10 co-champs have won six straight.
Coach’s comment: “We can’t let our guys get too high. We’ve been hard, very hard, on them in practice.” — Travis Ford
Record: 20-8 RPI: 83
Lowdown: Overhauled their roster from last year but prevailed in final five games to notch third straight 20-win season. Senior guard Carl Elliott leads A-10 in assists (5.2) and steals (2.7).
Coach’s comment: “At the beginning of the year, we had so many new guys. We didn’t have those key veterans at key positions. And to accomplish what we did, I’m very pleased.” — Karl Hobbs
Record: 18-12 RPI: 80
Lowdown: Billikens rely on Tommie Liddell (15.4 points per game), Kevin Lisch (15.1) and Ian Vouyoukas (12.1). Had disappointing 8-8 finish in conference after being picked third, but won three of final five games, losing only on road to UMass and Dayton in close calls.
Coach’s comment: “We’ve been defending very well. We did a good job at Dayton and a good job at UMass. If a coach can be upbeat after winning only three of five games, I am.” — Brad Soderberg
[b]In the race
Record: 14-15 RPI: 139
Lowdown: Enthralled with 3-pointer, leading league with 253 this season, but they were next-to-last in 3-point percentage (.333). The 49ers are led by third-team all-league guard De’Angelo Alexander, who is averaging 17.7 points per game.
Coach’s comment: “Anyone that finished 8-8 or 7-9 in the league is going to look at potential wins they let get away. We got blown out a couple times, which was rare for us. But we were also in close games with teams at the top, and that gives us hope.” — Bobby Lutz
Record: 18-11 RPI: 74
Lowdown: Finished 15-2 at UD Arena, tying for fifth-most home wins in school history. But Flyers had just two road wins, equaling school’s eighth-lowest total in modern era (since 1947). They’ve won two straight games despite losing senior wing Monty Scott to a career-ending knee injury.
Coach’s comment: “We don’t have a lot of experience, especially on the wing. You can say those new players have been in 29 games now, but they haven’t played in a tournament yet — where every game is a grind-it-out type. If you lose your focus for a second, you’re in deep trouble.” — Brian Gregory
Record: 17-11 RPI: 97
Lowdown: Season prior to fourth-year coach Dereck Whittenburg’s arrival, Rams won just two games. But they’ve notched 10 league wins for first time since joining A-10 in 1995-96, and their 17 victories are most since 1991-92. Junior forward Bryant Dunston has had 25 career double-doubles.
Coach’s comment: “A lot of people thought this wasn’t a good situation and I shouldn’t pursue it, but I told them they were wrong. It’s a great league, and we’re in New York City. Fordham should have a chance to compete at this level.” — Dereck Whittenburg
Record: 17-13 RPI: 122
Lowdown: Earning fourth seed and first-round bye wasn’t expected after being picked to finish 11th, but Rams are on three-game losing streak. Forward Will Daniels, who averages 17.2 points per game, is first-team all-league choice. Guard Jimmy Baron leads A-10 in 3-pointers made (92) and 3-point percentage (.492).
Coach’s comment: “We’ve got to get back to Rhode Island basketball, which is getting the ball down low, attacking the basket and picking it up on the defensive end, trying to take away 3-point shots.” — Jim Baron
Record: 17-13 RPI: 95
Lowdown: Potent trio on front line, including first-team all-league pick Ahmad Nivins and third-teamer Pat Calathes, is team’s strength, but rotation in backcourt includes four freshmen. Season ended with three-game losing streak.
Coach’s comment: “Outside of showing a competitive nature, we’ve been wildly inconsistent. As we go into the A-10 tourney, I don’t know what we’ll see.” — Phil Martelli
[b]Along for the ride
Record: 12-17 RPI: 164
Lowdown: Shooting 46.1 percent from field — their highest mark since 1983-84 — but they’ve cooled considerably while losing their last two games, hitting a combined 37.9 percent. Owls have league’s top two scorers in guards Dionte Christmas (20.4) and Mark Tyndale (19.3).
Coach’s comment: “We haven’t played our best basketball over the last few games. It would be really nice if our guys could step up and make some shots when they get open.” — Fran Dunphy
Record: 10-18 RPI: 218
Lowdown: After being feel-good national story, Dukes have fallen on hard times. They’ve lost their last seven, although they still lead league in scoring (78.4) and free-throw percentage (75.6). Freshman forward Robert Mitchell is A-10 rookie of year after averaging 16.6 points per game. Centerville High School graduate Scott Grote is fourth in scoring (9.8).
Coach’s comment: “Our guys have been through quite an ordeal this year. … I think we’re starting to get mentally fatigued. We have such a young group of players, and they’re hitting the wall. We’ve not been out of any games, but we haven’t made plays down the stretch.” — Ron Everhart
Record: 8-21 RPI: 270
Lowdown: Earned final spot in A-10 tourney by winning two of their last three games, upsetting Saint Joseph’s and Rhode Island. The Spiders made 15 3-pointers in season finale, three short of school record.
Coach’s comment: “Playing our way into the tournament, rather than backing into it, was very satisfying for our guys.” — Chris Mooney
— Doug Harris, Staff Writer
[b]A-10 coaches say league deserves two NCAA bids
However, an RPI expert believes Xavier and UMass are still on the bubble.[/b]
By Doug Harris
Dayton Daily News
March 06, 2007
DAYTON — Most college basketball analysts would say Xavier and Massachusetts have some work to do if they expect to earn NCAA tournament at-large berths, but the consensus among Atlantic 10 coaches is that their league co-champions have already done enough.
“We need to quit tiptoeing around in this league,” Saint Joseph’s coach Phil Martelli said. “UMass and Xavier are in the NCAA tourney. They’re NCAA quality. I watch every game on television, and these two teams are powerful.”
Both schools will take 23-7 records into the A-10 tournament, which starts Wednesday. Xavier has an RPI of 32, UMass 56.
“We have two teams with resumes that, if you took away their names, everybody would be saying they’re in,” Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. “And I think they are.”
But Jerry Palm, who runs CollegeRPI.com, has both teams on the bubble, saying Xavier probably can’t afford a bad loss in the A-10 tourney, and UMass needs to at least reach the finals.
From 1991 to 2004, the A-10 earned fewer than three bids only twice. But it picked up just one in 2005, and it was a one-bid league last year until Xavier became the surprise winner of the postseason tourney.
UMass coach Travis Ford isn’t sure where his team stands.
“Everyone I’ve talked to who has seen us play thinks we should be a team that gets in,” he said. "But if you base it on numbers and RPI, we still have to win a game or so."