WH Previews the Atlantic 10

From WH on the A-10 board…

[b]WH's A-10 previews, etc[/b]

I have finished my A-10 previews and will begin releasing them shortly after Midnight Madness. I like to sit on them for a week or so and then edit after I’ve had some “decompression.” As usual, I’ll post in order of my predicted finish, last to first. I still haven’t gone over skeds and figured out predicted W-Ls, so I haven’t decided yet.

I plan to be even more conservative this time around when marking W’s on nonleague games. Last year’s noncon performance was much better than the year before but it not nearly as good as it should have been.

Like I normally do, I’ve tinkered with the structure of my previews. I wanted to keep them shorter, no more than 5 pages (MS Word 12 point, Times New Roman). Last year, I went too long on some previews – up to 7 pages – partly because we had two new teams in the league and I wanted to provide a comprehensive introduction. Now, we are all more familiar with each other. I do reserve the right to add material to the previews – primarily illuminating quotes I find from players and coaches – but everything else would remain unchanged barring major preseason injuries, player losses, etc.

As always, I welcome all debate and will respond civilly to those who post in kind. Don’t put any stock in my prediction on records and league placement. My main goal is merely to give indepth profiles on each team so readers can better judge a team’s potential, good or bad. Any errors are purely my own and all corrections are welcome.


Link: A-10 Previews, etc.

And here’s his first look at the 2006-07 A-10…

[b]WH's All-Rookie Selections[/b]

Remember, jucos and transfers are not eligible. Only true or redshirt freshmen are. Also, I base my picks not on who has the most talent, but on which players are most likely to play enough minutes to acquire the necessary stats.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Rodney Green (see below)

ALL-ROOKIE TEAM

Rodney Green, La Salle – Multiskilled, midsized athlete could start at point and play major minutes since LaSalle has no other experienced ball handlers.

Kimmani Barrett, La Salle – Athletic forward is jack-of-all trades. He was the best freshman on LaSalle’s preseason trip to Canada.

Tiki Mayben, Massachusetts – Heralded point guard is a terrific ball-handler with excellent court awareness.

Dan Geriot, Richmond – Philadelphia-area forward, a bigtime prep scorer, can handle the ball, shoot the trey and rebound.

Jawan Carter, Saint Joseph’s – Point guard is a big scorer and savvy distributor. He’s likely to start right away.

(If players are chosen based on high school reputation, I could see Xavier’s Adrion Graves bumping someone from this list, perhaps Barrett or Geriot)

Other Candidates:

Marcus Johnson, Dayton – Explosive 6-3 frosh could be 3rd guard off bench.
Delroy James, Rhode Island – Deluxe 6-7 athlete and slasher.
Ryan Butler, Richmond – Could start at point. Good shooter and ballhandler.
Brian Morris, Richmond – Thin 6-6 forward is lights out shooter.
Darrin Govens, Saint. Joseph’s – Scoring point is more athletic than Carter.
Obi Ikeakor, Saint Louis – Mobile 6-8 bigman can shoot inside or out.
Luis Guzman, Temple – Touted point guard who can shoot fills a big hole.
Adrion Graves and Derrick Brown, Xavier – Highly rated athletic slashers.


Link: WH’s All-Rookie Selections

WH does excellent previews. Pretty much every post of his over on the A10 board is top quality.

[b]WH’S All-Conference Picks[/b]

I don’t know if the A-10 is going to stick to its goofy method of selecting preseason All-Conference players (10 on the first team, 10 on the second). I break my list down into four teams. If the league organizes its list the same way, my first and second teams would compose the First Team and my third and fourth teams would compose my Second Team.

I think almost all of these players will show up on the league list, though a few are questionable (Forbes, Salisbery, Achara, Nivins) based on pure stats or their absence from last season. The order obviously could be different. There’s so many good guards in the league it’s hard to separate them (Rice, Burrell, Harris, Roberts, Lisch, Goldwire, etc).

Picking player of the year is difficult. A lot of good players. Still, I think Ian Vouyoukas is the toughest player for any team in the league to defend. He’s also a much improved defender who clogs up the middle.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Ian Vouyoukas, Saint Louis (see below)

FIRST TEAM

*Ian Vouyoukas, Saint Louis – Immovable object is an “un”-resistable force down low.

*De’Angelo Alexander, Charlotte – If the league’s top returning scorer continues to shoot above 40% plus on treys, he’ll earn the moniker “The Great.”

*Bryant Dunston, Fordham – Skilled low-post operator can now dial up treys (19-39, 48.7%) when the paint gets clogged.

*Rashuan Freeman, Massachusetts – League’s top returning rebounder will be free to score more inside with better help on the perimeter.

*Justin Cage, Xavier – The best player on Xavier is also the best all-round player in the A-10. Cage, who boxes up opponents on defense, was uncaged offensively after Brian Thornton went down.

SECOND TEAM

*Maureece Rice, George Washington – Call him “Minute Rice” on offense. He stirs GW’s pot and puts up points in a hurry.

*Stanley Burrell, Xavier – Stan is the Man when the Musketeers need a burst of offense.

*Tommie Liddell, Saint Louis – This fabulous freshman, a point guard/quick forward, is about to become a sensational sophomore.

*Rob Ferguson, Saint Joseph’s – Quiet forward makes a loud statement with his good all-round play.

*Carl Elliott, George Washington – Point guard with a football player’s body passes like a quarterback, drives to the rim like a tailback and patrols the passing lanes like a free safety.

THIRD TEAM

*Brian Roberts, Dayton – Smooth as Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream, scoring guard can scoop the ball into the “bowl” from any number of spots.

*Gary Forbes, Massachusetts – Ford the coach says Forbes the player earns his namesake: he’s a richly skilled scorer.

*Leemire Goldwire, Charlotte – Leemire can go haywire from outside.

*Ahmad Nivins, Saint Joseph’s – Gifted 6-9 sophomore set to become center of attention for reloading Hawks.

*Stephane Lasme, Massachusetts – Shotblocker deluxe keeps the ball from going in at one end but he is increasingly putting it in at the other.

FOURTH TEAM

*Justin Doellman, Xavier – The 6-10 bigman with an outside game has also become tougher to handle inside the paint.

*Monty Scott, Dayton – The Flyers found out last year that a Scott-free offense is a low-scoring one.

*Darnell Harris, La Salle – The Explorers don’t have to search far and wide for one of the deadliest 3-point rainmakers in the league.

*Kevin Lisch, Saint Louis – Hard-nosed defender is a baby-faced assassin from behind the arc.

*Kieron Achara, Duquesne – Forgotten after an injury-induced redshirt season, the Scottish center still remembers how to score, rebound and block shots.

*Dustin Salisbery, Temple – Wingman is a good scorer, but sometimes he plays more like Salisbury steak than filet mignon.

Honorable Mention:

Norm Plummer, Dayton
Marcus Stout, Fordham
E.J. Drayton, Charlotte
Regis Koundjia, GW
Will Daniels, Rhode Island
Jim Baron Jr., Rhode Island
Gaston Moliva, Richmond
Paul Williams, St. Bonaventure
Michael Lee, St. Bonaventure
Tyler Relph, St. Bonaventure
Mark Tyndale, Temple
Drew Lavendar, Xavier

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Stephane Lasme, Massachusetts

ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM

Stephane Lasme, Massachusetts
Justin Cage, Xavier
Bryant Dunston, Fordham
Carl Elliott, George Washington
Kevin Lisch, Saint Louis

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Pat Calathes, Saint Joseph’s

Honorable mention:

Chris Bethel, Fordham
Gaston Moliva, Richmond


Link: WH’S All-Conference Picks
Also, I base my picks not on who has the most talent, but on which players are most likely to play enough minutes to acquire the necessary stats.

I think this statement has a lot to do with why none of our freshmen are on his list. Conversely, you would think that having so many returning players would make us a league favorite? Especially when they are guys like Leemire & DA?

We’ll see.

[QUOTE]PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Ian Vouyoukas, Saint Louis (see below)[/QUOTE]

With all due respect to DA, this is the safe pick. I made a mistake about him being a senior last year that I now wish was right. He’s gonna be a major PITA this year with the maturation of Lisch & Liddell.

[QUOTE=NinerAdvocate;191624]With all due respect to DA, this is the safe pick. I made a mistake about him being a senior last year that I now wish was right. He’s gonna be a major PITA this year with the maturation of Lisch & Liddell.[/QUOTE]
Okay NA, I need a little help on this… what the heck are you talking about??? PITA? Lisch & Liddell?

Okay NA, I need a little help on this.... what the heck are you talking about!?!? PITA? Lisch & Liddell?

Lisch and Liddell are players for St. Louis. PITA haven’t the slightest clue

[QUOTE=ChevEE;191625]Okay NA, I need a little help on this… what the heck are you talking about??? PITA? Lisch & Liddell?[/QUOTE]

PITA = Pain in the Ass

SLU’s Tommie Liddell was the A-10 Rookie of the Year last season and his backcourt teammate Kevin Lisch joined him on the A-10 All-Rookie team. If memory serves me right, Lisch lit us up in Halton when Saint Louis beat us last year.

he had like 20 points if i remember correctly. we didn’t have a person to stop him. Eddie would have been the guy guarding lisch if eddie had still been here.

i really miss the sucky biliken team where we used to lose to them at their place and they used to lose all the time here. i don’t like them beating us here. Needless to say we are playing in the savii center this year and i’m scared we aren’t going to pull that one out.

[URL=http://slubillikens.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/mtt/liddell_tommie00.html]Liddell[/URL] - 6’4 G, 10.3 ppg 6.9 rpg, 77 assists

[QUOTE]posted his fourth double-double with 13 points and 12 boards at Charlotte and converted a crucial lay-up with 21 seconds left[/QUOTE]

[URL=http://slubillikens.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/mtt/lisch_kevin00.html]Lisch[/URL] - 6’2 G, 11.1 ppg, 41.4% 3pt FG

[QUOTE]poured in a game-high 20 points at Charlotte while shooting 66.7 percent (8-12) from the field and a perfect 4-of-4 from the arc [/QUOTE]

At least Drejaj used up his eligibility. I don’t know anything about their freshmen. I seem to recall Run posting something about a good recruit coming in.

SLU may be the best team in the league. I have no idea about their depth, but they have 3 stud players to build around. If they can get solid contributions from 4 other guys, they’ll win 20+ games.

[B]SLU may be the best team in the league.[/B]

Truth…

I also think that Xavier will do really well. But what is with GW? Are they really going to be that good this seaosn./

We have our best players at the Guard position this year, but normally we are best when we have a strong frontcourt and also a couple 3 pt shooters.

So this year may be a little different from our normal type team. But at the end of a game guard play is the key to W or L’s.

We are normally very very good in the middle of the season, conference play, we will see if all this is a little different this year.

Phil Jones probably plays the most of our freshmen and has the best chance of making the All-Frosh team. Agree? Disagree?

I’m sure Andersen and Dewhurst will be solid too, but the depth chart is a little thicker on the wings.

[QUOTE=NinerLoudNProud;191664]Phil Jones probably plays the most of our freshmen and has the best chance of making the All-Frosh team. Agree? Disagree?
[/QUOTE]

I’m thinking the same thing NLP - sounds like he’s playing well so far and the C spot is probably the easiest spot on this team to crack right now. It’ll be interesting to see how much time he gets but he probably has the best chance of making the All-Frosh team.

Phil Jones probably plays the most of our freshmen and has the best chance of making the All-Frosh team. Agree? Disagree?

I’m sure Andersen and Dewhurst will be solid too, but the depth chart is a little thicker on the wings.

One advantage Phil has over the other newcomers: He could impact the opening tipoff. Coach Lutz may start Phil over Coleman with the intention of putting Coleman in the game at the first whistle. This could provide Phil with an extra opportunity to prove himself.

I may get run out of town for this…but on paper…I like this years team over last.

If Carlos is half as good as advertised…then we are 10 times better at the point…Mitch really hurt us last year…

DA and Lee…both are studs…and I think people (sports pubs) are really sleeping on Lee…his GW issue at the end of last year overshadowed the real Lee…I think he is gonna have a helluva year…

As for the front court…I love the mix we have …EJ, Twan, Court…and two hyped freshman in Booker and Big Phil…People make the mistake of thinking of the EJ from last year…dont do that… EJ produces when he is healthy…and I think he is finally healthy.

It seems like we have solid scoring options off the bench as well…outside of Bennet last year (who I felt should have been starting)…who did we have?

Everyone is down on the Niners for 1 thing and 1 thing alone…no more Curt…and while he will be missed…we were not effective with him being our number 1 last year…and we had no one at the point to get him the ball.

With so many newbies…if we can gel…I think we battle it out with Xavier for the conf title.

I’m really excited about the upcoming season, but I’m trying to not put on my green-tinted glasses just yet. In some discussions with an “insider” at UNCC (non-athletic department), his assessment is that we’re going to take our lumps in 06-07. While there is no arguing that we have something special in the duo of De’Angelo Alexander and Leemire Goldwire, the rest is a big question mark.

Right now it looks like Xavier, UMass, and Saint Louis are the class of the league. GW has the same question marks we do, so it remains to be seen if this is a rebuilding year or if the Colonials just reload. If former Penn State player (and 2004 Big 10 Rookie of the Year) Marlon Smith hadn’t “bailed” on Fordham, I would have chosen them as the dark horse to challenge for the league title and Bryant Dunston for POY. They still could, but someone will have to step up in their backcourt (touted frosh PG Herb Tanner apparently won’t be eligible until after the fall semester, so that doesn’t help either).

Anyway, we will just have to wait and see what happens. We will certainly get challenged right from the start by playing Colonial-favorite Hofstra in the first game of the season.

GO NINERS!!!

[b]WH's Rating The Coaches[/b]

I don’t claim any special expertise in assessing the quality of A-10 coaches - I am merely a devout college basketball fan – but I rate them every year and might as well do so again.

I give each coach an overall rank, and then a rating of 1 star to 5 stars on both recruiting and strategy.

  1. Phil Martelli, Saint Joseph’s. The best coach in the league and currently the longest serving coach at one program. Martelli has done more with “more” than any other coach in the league – and he’s also done more with “less.” His teams have run and his teams have crawled – successfully in both cases – depending on the players he had on hand. After all St. Joe’s recent success, he’s recruiting better than ever despite some of the worst facilities in the league.

Strategy: **** ½. Recruiting: ****

  1. Fran Dunphy, Temple. Like Martelli, Dunphy extracts more production from less talented players than most coaches do. His teams are smart, disciplined and tough. That’s why Penn has consistently given much better programs a run for their money. How else to explain Penn winning three city series titles in the Big Five, which also consists of Villanova, Temple, St. Joe’s and LaSalle. The question now is: can Dunphy recruit scholarship-caliber players after such a long stay at a nonscholarship school? He does get good marks for superior recruiting in the Ivy League, though his grade is really incomplete.

Strategy: **** ½. Recruiting: ****

[b]3) Bobby Lutz, Charlotte. Lutz has always been a big winner. His teams are athletic and aggressive and shoot well. The defense isn’t always so solid, however, and the Niners have not fared all that well in postseason play under Lutz. He is an excellent recruiter.

Strategy: ***½. Recruiting: ****1/2.[/b]

  1. Karl Hobbs, George Washington. Hobbs arguably recruits better than any coach in the league when taking into account GW’s mediocre facilities and lack of fanfare in a region devoted to Georgetown and Maryland hoops. He identifies great athletes who are underrecruited and they develop under his watch. His coaching has come a long way, too. The Colonials run the fastbreak as well as any program in college.

Strategy: ***½. Recruiting: **** ½.

  1. John Giannini, La Salle. The doctor has won everywhere he’s coached. He excels at pregame and halftime adjustments. He knows how to motivate his players and his best teams are intelligent and energetic. Dr. G has also shown ability to recruit well in difficult places (Maine) and in difficult situations (LaSalle).

Strategy: **** . Recruiting: ****

  1. Sean Miller, Xavier. Young coach made huge strides last year. He restructured the offense after center Brian Thornton was lost to a season-ending injury and resuscitated a team that was on its deathbed. The result: an A-10 championship. I’ve had some doubts about Miller, but he erased most of them. He should enter the upcoming season with a lot of confidence after finally putting his stamp on the program last spring. Oh, did I mention he’s a great recruiter?

Strategy: *** ½. Recruiting: ****1/2

  1. Brian Gregory, Dayton. Flyers coach suffered his first losing season last year after two winning campaigns. The disappointing results were not entirely his fault. A surprise transfer and key injuries hurt the program deeply. Those problems might have been rectified by stellar recruiting.

Strategy: ****. Recruiting: ****.

  1. Brad Soderberg, Saint Louis. If given the same talent as all 13 other A-10 teams, the Billikens boss would probably rank among the top five coaches. His teams are tough and disciplined and make fewer mistakes than their opponents. The offense isn’t exciting, but the defense is topnotch. On recruiting, Soderberg has to do a better job of finding more good players. He discovers a true gem (Liddell) once in awhile and also develop rough gems (Vouyoukas), but he also picks up the occasional volcanic rock (Husak).

Strategy: ****. Recruiting: ***1/2

  1. Travis Ford, Massachusetts. Ford has done an excellent job at lower-level schools and he made the shorthanded Minutemen more competitive the moment he stepped on campus. He’s also recruited exceedingly well in a very short time. With all the talent UMass now has on its roster, Ford will give the A-10 a better idea this season as to how well he can coach.

Strategy: *** ½. Recruiting: ****

  1. Dereck Whittenberg, Fordham. Rams coach quickly made the worst team in the A-10 a respectable program, notwithstanding poor facilities in a market where the school is prone to get overlooked. He’s energetic and gets his teams to play with energy, too. The recruiting, however, has been suspect after a stellar first class (not counting the lone recruit signed his very first year). And Fordham’s defense was so-so at best last season. If Whittenberg had found another good guard or two who was ready to play this year, the Rams might have contended for the A-10 crown.

Strategy: ***½. Recruiting: ***1/2

  1. Ron Everhart, Duquesne. New Dukes coach has rebuilt two terrible programs and the betting here is that he will at least partially succeed in Pittsburgh. He recruited 10 players in a whirlwind spring – not counting one player who failed to qualify – and he has added two high-level starters for next season. Everhart’s teams play at a very fast tempo, much like GW, but his teams have sometimes been suspect defensively. He see better defense in the A-10. If he learns to adjust, he’ll do just fine.

Strategy: ***1/2. Recruiting: ****

  1. Jim Baron, Rhode Island. The longest serving coach in the A-10, Baron has endured a couple of rough years and some school supporters are starting to bay, loudly. While Baron has recruited better athletes, the Rams are less adept offensively. He has to do a better job of marrying the two. Meanwhile, the defense hasn’t been as good in preceding years. Baron has also shown a propensity at URI to blow some games the Rams really should win. All of those things should not obscure a long record of success in rebuilding programs. His teams are tough, physical and play hard. Yet Baron knows it’s all about what you’ve done lately. And the answer is: not much.

Strategy: *** ½. Recruiting: ***

  1. Chris Mooney, Richmond. Second-year coach really can’t be graded at this point. He inherited an extremely difficult situation last year and a roster without any true guards. While he perhaps stuck too rigidly to his Princeton system even though some players were a poor fit, the Spiders were also far more competitive than they had a right to be until a late-season slump. Mooney brought in a nice recruiting class of players more suited to his style. We’ll be able to better judge him at the end of 2006-07, but I will give him a grade nonetheless.

Strategy: ***. Recruiting: ***1/2

  1. Anthony Solomon, St. Bonaventure. Bonnies coach has scrapped for decent recruits and slowly rebuilt the athleticism and talent level. Problem is, the Bonnies still lack big scorers and their defense under Solomon has consistently been terrible, especially in league play. Solomon now has enough talent and experience to make a break out of the bottom third of the league (11-14). If he doesn’t, I think he should start updating his resume.

Strategy: ** ½. Recruiting: ***1/2.


Link: Rating The Coaches

Wow, people seem to have stuff to say on the A10 boards about his coach rankings, but I like how he maturely addresses each rebuttal.