WH's 2007-08 predictions/previews for the A-10

[QUOTE=Gill2003;262031]Hey Run, what is the schedule that WH is releasing all the previews?[/QUOTE]

Gill, WH didn’t list a schedule as to when he would post, so I will just keep checking the A-10 board.

La Salle pegged for 13th place…

[B]A-10 Preview – 13th Place

Last season: 10-20 (3-13), 14th Place

La Salle University
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Founded: 1863
Enrollment: 6,200
Affiliation: Private Catholic co-educational university

Tom Gola Arena (seats: 4,000)
Average attendance last season: 2,423

John Giannini, 4th year (19th overall)
Record at La Salle: 38-49 (331-198 overall); 62.2% winning percentage

0 Darryl Partin FR WG 6-4 180 Seattle, WA/Charis Prep (NC)
2 Kyle Griffin FR 6-3 185 Allentown, PA/Germantown Academy (PA)
1 Paul Johnson JR F 6-6 195 Washington, DC
3 Sherman Diaz SR F/G 6-5 190 Trinidad/Life Center Academy (NJ)
5 Kimmani Barrett SO G/F 6-6 190 Paterson, NJ
*10 Rodney Green SO G 6-5 190 Philadelphia, PA
*11 Darnell Harris SR WG 6-1 165 Baltimore, MD
*12 Yves Mekongo Mbala SO PF 6-7 210 Elizabeth, NJ/St. Patrick’s (NJ)
20 Jerrell Williams FR 6-8 210 Paterson, NJ/ Northfield Mount Hermon (MA)
21 Terrell Williams FR 8 210 Paterson, NJ/ Northfield Mount Hermon (MA)
*34 Ruben Guillandeaux SO PG 6-5 185 Brooklyn, NY/St. Patrick’s (NJ)
50 Jameson Keefe FR 7-3 280 Troy, NY

*Returning starters


La Salle lost an agonizingly high number of close games to end in last place, just one year after the school’s best finish ever (third) in the A-10. It should have come as no shock. The Explorers were the second youngest team in the league and lacked size and outside shooting. Without a serious low-post threat or a go-to guy, La Salle struggled to score late in games. Among the young Explorers, turnovers and defensive lapses were all too common.

The good news is that the Explorers are one year older and all but one key player returns. Yet some of the old problems linger. La Salle does not have a single player over 6-8, for instance, while point play and outside shooting remain suspect.

Coach John Giannini can rely on the energy, quickness and athleticism of his young team to compensate for its shortcomings. To move up in the A-10 pecking order, however, the Explorers have to show more consistency on offense and better concentration on defense. Lapses in those areas cost them dearly.


Mike St. John – The 6-8 banger (5.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg) was the biggest and most experienced player on a team sorely lacking in both. He did a good job on the boards and was a surprisingly good passer. Yet St. John’s deficiencies were exposed in the absence of former La Salle star Steven Smith. A tortoise in a sea of hares, St. John had trouble finding a role in the Explorer’s frenetic offense. He rarely posed a threat in the paint and he hoisted too many treys (17-60, 28.3%). St. John scored the fewest points (5 ppg) since his freshman season and only reached double figures in three games.

Brian Grimes – The 6-7 Philadelphia native said he was not a good fit and transferred to Columbia, but lack of time may have been a factor. He was the team’s second biggest player, but the 220-pound Grimes played fewer minutes (12.1 mpg) than the other four freshmen. In limited time, a hustling Grimes showed prowess as a rebounder (2.5 rpg) and interior defender and some basic offensive skills (4 ppg). He would not have been a star if he stayed, but Grimes could have been a solid contributor. His size might be missed down low on defense.

Sean Neal – Reserve point guard (1.7 ppg, 1.3 apg) was not an A-10 caliber athlete, but he was called upon occasionally to settle down his younger teammates.


Darnell Harris – Undersized wing guard is one of the smoothest shooters (14 ppg) in the league. He hit a career-high 41.2% treys even though he was a focal point of opposing defenses. Harris doesn’t take many bad shots or force his offense, although at times he should. He cannot carry a team for long stretches and probably should be a second or third option, but Harris still needs to be more selfish. The young Explorers suffered frequent droughts and require leadership from their only senior starter.
When he’s on, Harris can light up the scoreboard. He scored 20-plus points in seven games, including a career high 32 in a loss to Penn. In an ominous sign, though, his production tailed off late in the season. Reportedly hampered by an ankle injury, Harris scored 5 points or under in five of the last 10 games. A repeat performance – injury or not – would likely doom any chance of La Salle getting near the 0.500 mark. Harris is the only pure shooter on the roster with experience.

Rodney Green – The 6-5 sophomore, selected to the All-Newcomer Team, is a gifted scorer (12.6 ppg) with one of the quickest first steps in college. Green reached double figures 22 times, including the first 10 games of his college career, with a season-high of 25 in a win vs. Central Connecticut State. Green can get to the basket even when opponents sag off because he’s so fast and agile. He loves to go to the hole or post up, no matter the size of the defender, and he’s relentless on the glass (5 rpg). Almost all of his scoring came within 10 feet of the basket, which explains his gaudy 54.6% field-goal percentage.

Green will find it hard to continue to play his kind of game unless he improves his jumper (0-8 treys). Defenders are wise to his shortcomings and they’re already packing the lane to take away penetration. A fast one-trick pony is still a one-trick pony. In his last six games, Green scored just 43 points, and not all of his declining production stemmed from fatigue. Green can also do a better job on defense. He’s a gambler (34 steals) prone to lose concentration on his assignment. Too often the result was an easy basket for opponents.

Kimmani Barrett – Like an all-purpose tool, the long and athletic 6-6 swingman (8.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg) does a number of things well. Barrett hasn’t shown much of an outside shot (4-19 treys), but he still hit 52% of his field goals by running the break, slashing to the rim or attacking the glass – 61 of his 105 boards came on offense. By being so active, he also gets fouled a lot, and he’s a very good free-throw shooter (81.3% FT).

As a sophomore, Barrett can be expected to show big improvement. He’s a smart player and has the raw ability to develop into a topflight talent at both ends of the court. Without a better shot, however, he’s unlikely to become a primary option, although it’s a testament to his versatility that Barrett could still become a double-digit scorer. He reached double figures nine times, including a career high 19 in a win over Temple, though his highest scoring output involved teams with small frontlines. Barrett struggles to score against bigger defenders, especially since they do not have to respect his jumper.

Ruben Guillandeaux – Big 6-5 point guard started out slowly but became a major cog in the offense by the time conference play kicked off. After averaging just 5.6 points in nonconference contests, he scored 10.1 points a game in A-10 action and reached double figure in nine of 16 league games, including a career-high 21 at Massachusetts. The biggest surprise was a better-than-advertised outside touch (41.4% 3PG). Guillandeaux is a good standstill shooter and he’s effective pulling up after a dribble or two. He’s also one of the best free-throw shooters in the A-10 (87% FT).

Guillandeaux didn’t do a bad job running the team. He is a solid ball-handler and passer (78 assists) with good vision and didn’t turn the ball over as much as a typical freshman. His size, however, can work against him. Guillandeaux is not a darting penetrator who can break down defenses and create offense for teammates when the shot clock is winding down. And he struggled to defend smaller point guards. Guillandeaux has the tools to be a fine player, ideally on the wing after Harris is gone. But for now he needs to use his size more to his advantage. The Explorers don’t have any other real answers at point.

Yves Mekongo Mbala – Physical 6-7 combo forward, an explosive athlete with good all-round skills, has as much potential to star as any of La Salle’s four sophomores. Mbala (8.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 42 assists, 45% FG) scored as many as 23 points in a game and grabbed up to 11 boards. He’s especially tough on the offensive glass and throws down some of the most vicious dunks in the league, one of which was a highlight-reel jam over shotblocker deluxe Stephane Lasme.

Mbala also has range on his jumper, notwithstanding a slow release, and he could play small forward if he shoots more consistently. His ball-handling also needs work. Mbala is more effective taking taller defenders off the dribble instead of trying to back them down. He doesn’t have a staple post move yet and won’t beat regular double teams.

What could wear on Mbala are his defensive responsibilities. La Salle is one of the smallest teams in the A-10 and Mbala will have to anchor the post defense. He’s going to take a beating inside unless he gets more help. He doesn’t have the height to cover the better bigmen in the A-10 and adding bulk isn’t the answer, either. Mbala is big enough already and could lose some quickness if he gains more weight.

Paul Johnson – Giannini’s first recruit struggled to find a role in his second season and his minutes declined (16 mpg from 19 mpg). The 6-6 Johnson (5.9 pg, 50% FG) does not have any go-to moves, his outside shot (25% 3PG) is shaky and he doesn’t handle the ball well enough to dribble by defenders. He is a decent finisher near the basket and had some success against smaller frontlines, but Johnson was mostly shut down by larger defenders. His forte should be defense. Johnson has long arms and quick feet and the size to cover most forwards. He’ll earn more time if he focuses on that part of his game.

Sherman Diaz – The 6-4 swingman (4.8 ppg, 52% FG) can be counted on to provide energy off the bench. He’s a swarming defender who led the team with 24 blocks and he notched 18 steals in limited playing time (14 mpg). Diaz is particularly effective in a press. His offensive shortcomings and erratic decision making, however, mean Giannini can never take Diaz’s contributions for granted. He will have an occasional offensive outburst, but Diaz is not a reliable scorer. In 10 games last season, he scored zero points.


Jerrell Williams - Jerrell, who got offers from several Big East schools, is said to be the more talented of the Williams twins. He’s quick and athletic and does most of his scoring around the hoop on aggressive drives to the rim and followup baskets. He’s also a good rebounder and will block some shots, an area where La Salle could use help. Given the team’s lack of size, Jerrell should get a chance to break into the rotation immediately.

Terrell Williams - The younger of the twins, Terrell has the potential to become a defensive stopper. Though athletic like his older brother, Terrell is not as skilled offensively. He’s better known for his versatility and doing the little things to help a team win.

Kyle Griffin - Griffin has exactly what most of his teammates lack: a deadeye outside shot. He’s not the most athletic kid, but Griffin plays a smart game and is a solid ball-handler who can man either backcourt position. He could benefit especially as a trailer in La Salle’s uptempo offense, squaring for treys when teammates penetrate and kick the ball out. He’s not a gambler with the basketball, either. Turnovers were a big problem for La Salle last year.

Darryl Partin – Athletic 6-4 guard, a late-summer signee, is a solid all-round player and above-average defender. “He is a good passer and ball handler at the point position but also has the ability to score off the ball,” Giannini says. “He has the ability to guard players of different sizes especially the smaller, penetrating type of guards that hurt us at times last season.”

Jameson Keefe – Gentle 7-3 giant is expected to redshirt to improve his conditioning and refine his largely untapped skills. Keefe got looks from a handful of midmajor programs willing to take a risk on such a large player. He has struggled with knee injuries and is still getting use to his body. If La Salle is fortunate, he could turn into the next Bryce Husak: a space-eating, shotblocking threat able to contribute a few minutes a game


Giannini has to enter the season with a clear idea of how the Explorers will play. Sometimes the team ran and pressured the ball; sometimes it did not. When the game was on the line, the offense usually broke down in halfcourt sets. La Salle finished dead last in turnover margin (-3.07), the result of too many players trying to score on their own. It was every man dribbling for himself.

La Salle would appear best suited to pressure the ball and work the transition game. The problem is, Giannini does not have a speedy point guard to make the fastbreak go and keep turnovers down. Guillandeaux did a credible job at point, but he’s not an assist machine. Nor is it fair to expect the freshmen Partin and Griffin to seize the reins.

A half-court approach is equally problematic. The team’s best low-post threat is 6-5 swingman Rodney Green. He plays much bigger than his size, but he’s not a regular option in the paint, either.

What Giannini does have is a bunch of players who can drive or dish. Yet that tactic only contributes to a winning strategy when penetrators take care of the ball and they have teammates who can hit open jumpers.

Harris is a terrific 3-point shooter and Guillandeaux can knock down the triple, but they need help. La Salle hit 47 fewer treys than its opponents. It wouldn’t be a problem if the Explorers hit more 2-point baskets, but they didn’t do that, either.

One area where Giannini might not have a major concern is rebounding. Surprisingly the smaller but quicker Explorers finished second in the A-10 in rebounding margin (+4.6).


The slightly older Explorers should benefit from their experience and win a few more games, but it’s hard to see La Salle crawling out of the A-10 cellar. Finishing strong at the end of close games is likely to haunt the team once more. La Salle lacks a serious low-post threat or enough shooters to create space for Giannini’s fleet of slashers.

La Salle will also have problems again at the other end of the court (45.6% FG percentage defense, 10th in the A-10). Some of the better floor generals in the A-10 had their way with the Explorers and La Salle is susceptible against larger frontcourts.

Giannini continues to build the program and the foundation has been laid, but the frame is just starting to go up. It’s reasonable to expect La Salle to creep closer to the 0.500 mark, but a winning season will have to wait until 2008-09.

“This year we’re hoping to be solid and next year we’re hoping to be in the top tier,” Giannini told Fox Sports. Sounds like a plan.

13-17 (5-11), 13th place

Predicted noncon wins and losses

L – At Mount Saint Mary
W – At Howard
L – At Bucknell
W – At Morgan State
W – At Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (Puerto Rico)
L – vs Mississippi (Puerto Rico)
L – Depaul (Puerto Rico)
L – At Villanova
L – at Florida State

La Salle has a schedule that could allow the team to post a winning record in noncon play. I’ve got the Explorers going 7-6, excluding an expected win over non-Division 1 Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

Key games include at Mount Saint Mary, at Bucknell and vs. Depaul in Puerto Rico. The game at Mount Saint Mary is the type that bottom-dwelling A-10 teams have lost in recent years. Bucknell is more experienced, but it is far less athletic and has graduated lots of good players in the past two years. The Depaul game falls in a tough 3-game stretch, but the Demons are also very young and seem beatable.

If the Explorers win a few more games than I expect and go 9-4 in noncon play, La Salle would enter the A-10 slate on a high and could prove more dangerous than I predict.

What would do wonders is if Green displays the same kind of improvement in his 3-point shooting that Tommie Liddell showed from his freshman to sophomore years. I am not expecting it, but you never know.

I’d also like to see more full-court pressure and halfcourt traps. LaSalle has tons of athleticism, but not as much size and shooting. It has to use its energy and quickness to its advantage early on. If the games are close at the end, La Salle will be at a disadvantage to most opponents.

Link: A-10 Preview – 13th Place

Coach ... can rely on the energy, quickness and athleticism of his young team to compensate for its shortcomings. To move up in the A-10 pecking order, however, the Explorers have to show more consistency on offense and better concentration on defense. Lapses in those areas cost them dearly.

Wow, sounds very familiar… :ducks:

[QUOTE=ChevEE;262075]Wow, sounds very familiar… :ducks:[/QUOTE]

wonder if W.H. is going to copy/paste for when he makes our preview?

Hello again, Niners fans. I don’t have a set schedule. Previews come out every 2-3 days, on average. The only deadline is the start of the first A-10 game. All previews will be posted by then.

On Leemire, we have a lot of good shooting guards in this league. Leemire is in competition with Brian Roberts, Kevin Lisch, Mo Rice, Darnell Harris, Jim Baron Jr., Stanley Burrell, Marcus Stout, Kojo Mensah and Dionte Christmas, among others.

As for Phil Jones, if he’s as good as he’s supposed to be, he should be an All-Newcomer. He is eligible, BTW. Only transfers and jucos are excluded, not redshirts frosh or Prop 48s. I wonder about a few things.

First, is he rusty? Most guys I’ve seen who couldn’t practice the year before tend to take a few months to shake off the rust. That was the case with Tiki Mayben at UMass last year, and he transferred after losing his starting job. Big guys don’t develop as quickly as guards, either.

Also, will Lutz actually demand that his perimeter players feed Jones in the post. I am tired of seeing a zillion treys and little or no patience to develop a post game. Call me skeptical about Jones getting enough touches. I have to see to believe. …

PS: And no, no copy and paste (-:

[QUOTE=W.H.;262078]Hello again, Niners fans. I don’t have a set schedule. Previews come out every 2-3 days, on average. The only deadline is the start of the first A-10 game. All previews will be posted by then.

On Leemire, we have a lot of good shooting guards in this league. Leemire is in competition with Brian Roberts, Kevin Lisch, Mo Rice, Darnell Harris, Jim Baron Jr., Stanley Burrell, Marcus Stout, Kojo Mensah and Dionte Christmas, among others.

As for Phil Jones, if he’s as good as he’s supposed to be, he should be an All-Newcomer. He is eligible, BTW. Only transfers and jucos are excluded, not redshirts frosh or Prop 48s. I wonder about a few things.

First, is he rusty? Most guys I’ve seen who couldn’t practice the year before tend to take a few months to shake off the rust. That was the case with Tiki Mayben at UMass last year, and he transferred after losing his starting job. Big guys don’t develop as quickly as guards, either.

Also, will Lutz actually demand that his perimeter players feed Jones in the post. I am tired of seeing a zillion treys and little or no patience to develop a post game. Call me skeptical about Jones getting enough touches. I have to see to believe. …

PS: And no, no copy and paste (-:[/QUOTE]

hah it would work technically. I want to see if we can use gaby effectively. He could be a HUGE asset to the style and tempo of the team we are running.

[QUOTE=W.H.;262078]As for Phil Jones, if he’s as good as he’s supposed to be, he should be an All-Newcomer. He is eligible, BTW. Only transfers and jucos are excluded, not redshirts frosh or Prop 48s.[/QUOTE]
WH, thanks for that clarification/correction.

WH, keep up the great work! Thanks again!


Also, will Lutz actually demand that his perimeter players feed Jones in the post. I am tired of seeing a zillion treys and little or no patience to develop a post game. Call me skeptical about Jones getting enough touches. I have to see to believe. …

PS: And no, no copy and paste (-:[/QUOTE]
I watched the first team practice a few nights ago. The team seemed to do a better job getting the ball to the post guys than they had in the past. Phil definitely looks rusty right now though as he is coming off an injury and has been out of competitive basketball for well over a year. Coley looked pretty good around the rim, he definitely has some jumping ability but his jump shot looked pretty bad (I don’t think I saw him hit a single shot honestly), but Ngoundjo definitely looked the best that day. He’s got a big frame, really long arms, and ET-like fingers. Mack didn’t do much around the rim, he mostly shot jump shots from what I saw. Pretty much everyone on the team outside of Ian and Goldwire seemed willing to take the ball inside though. In their defense however, I don’t think either missed more than a couple of shots in scrimmage from 3 land.

And here’s 12th place…


[QUOTE]A-10 Preview - 12th Place

Last year: 8-22 (4-12), 12th place

Robins Center
Seats: 9,171
Average Attendance: 4,023

Chris Mooney, 3rd year (4th overall)
Record at Richmond: 21-39 (39-51 overall; 43.3% winning percentage)

2 Chris Richard FR PG 6-3 175 Portland, OR
4 Jarhon Giddings JR F 6-9 235 Clemmons, NC
*5 David Gonzalvez SO G 6-4 200 Marietta, GA/Notre Dame Prep (MA)
*11 Oumar Sylla SR G/F 6-7 230 Mali/Long Island, NY/Valparaiso
12 Kevin Smith FR WF 6-5 180 Murfreesboro, TN
14 Kevin Anderson FR PG 5-11 165 Duluth, GA
15 Gaston Moliva SR PF 6-7 240 Cameroon/Ryan Academy (VA)
21 Kevin Hovde SO G/F 6-5 200 Kennett Square, PA
31 Conor Smith FR WF 6-8 200 Brookfield, WS
32 Justin Harper FR F 6-9 210 Richmond, VA
*40 Dan Geriot SO F/C 6-9 235 Springfield, PA
44 Ryan Butler SO WG 6-6 200 Richmond, VA

*Returning starters


The Spiders are in the second year of a youth movement under third-year coach Chris Mooney (who’s pretty young himself) and the growing pains are far from over. After welcoming seven freshmen last year – three of whom left – Richmond has added five more newcomers.

Building a program anew takes time, however, and Richmond does not have enough size and experience to hasten the process, so the team will have to rely on its four sophomores to lead the way. Fortunately for Mooney two of those sophomores are potential stars. Dan Geriot might be the most talented young center in the A-10 and versatile guard David Gonzalvez was a big surprise as a freshman.

Richmond is not entirely deficient in senior leadership. Power forward Gaston Moliva and swingman Oumar Sylla add plenty of athleticism and experience. Sylla missed half of last season and Moliva sat out all but one game.

And for the first time in Mooney’s tenure, the Spiders will actually have a true point guard on the roster – two of them, in fact. Both are freshmen, but they’ll give Richmond some badly needed speed and playmaking in the backcourt.

While all the youth gives the Spiders hope for the future, it also makes Mooney’s job harder. After the season ended, some players revolted in frustration over the coach’s William Buckley-style offense: slow and deliberate to the point of caricature. Mooney has promised to speed up the offense, but the Princeton style is about finding good shots, not rushing them.

The players have been given a voice. Now they need to talk the talk – and do so in a language that the players and Mooney both understand.


Brian Morris – Slight 6-5 guard transferred to Towson State to join an older brother who’s on the coaching staff. Morris (8.1 ppg) was forced to handle the ball and help run the offense (2.8 apg) because the Spiders lacked a true point. He did a good job for a freshman playing out of position. He limited turnovers and generally made sound decisions, though his offense suffered. A long-range marksmen in high school, Morris shot just 37.8% overall and 33.8% on treys. His thin frame also handicapped Morris on defense.

Peter Thomas – Former walk-on was the epitome of reliable. He rarely turned the ball over, took good shots (6.5 ppg, 53% FG) and played sound defense. On a more talented team, Thomas would not have started every game, but he lent stability to a young squad.

Drew Crank – The 6-11 center (5.2 pg, 2.4 rpg, 55% FG) decided not to play in his final year. Recruited by former coach Jerry Wainwright, Crank was not a good fit for the current system. His size and post-up ability were never fully utilized and he was unsuited for the zone defenses favored by Mooney. Still, his departure deprives the program of its biggest player. The experienced Crank could have helped against larger A-10 teams.

David Brewster – Rangy 6-6 shooter, the best athlete in last year’s promising crop of freshmen, only played in 13 games (starting five). He was suspended for academic reasons and later transferred. Brewster had the tools to become a good player, but he lacked attentiveness on the court and in the classroom.


Dan Geriot – The 6-9 sophomore (11.9 ppg, 50.4% FG) is not especially quick and doesn’t have great hops, but he might be the most skilled bigman in the A-10. Geriot can shoot the trey (38% 3PG), put the ball on the floor and finish with either hand. Geriot is no slouch in the post, either. He likes to turn and face up for short jumpers, but he also has a variety of moves with his back to the basket. He scored in double figures 19 times, including a career high 27 in a loss to Fordham in the A-10 tournament. Geriot is also dangerous as a passer (42 assists) who finds the cutters, especially from the top of the key. He’s an ideal fit for the Princeton offense.

Geriot’s biggest struggle was physical. Stronger defenders could muscle him up and Geriot lacked the strength to rebound effectively (3.1 rpg) or defend the post. He committed 107 fouls –fouling out of six games - and needs to play smarter on defense. In the off-season, Geriot added 20 pounds to push his listed weight to 235 in an effort to withstand the rigors of the post. He’ll win a greater share of the low-post wars as his body matures and he gets stronger. Before long Geriot could be an All-Conference performer. He’s the key to Richmond’s hopes of returning the program to its winning ways.

David Gonzalvez – Sophomore guard is not very flashy, but he has the skills, toughness and athleticism to be a very good player in the A-10. Perhaps the least heralded recruit in a six-man class, Gonzalvez (9.6 ppg, 40% FG, 3.4 rpg, 2.2 apg) quickly established himself as the second-best player after Geriot. He can play all three wing positions and has the potential to be a superior defender. Heady as well as headstrong, he knows how to take advantage of mismatches. When guarded by bigger defenders, Gonzalvez takes them off the dribble. If matched up with smaller players, he shoots over them or posts up. He wants the ball in his hands at the end of games and doesn’t shy away from the pressure.

What Gonzalvez needs to improve is his shooting (30.4% 3PG) and decision making (65 assists to 64 turnovers). Mooney also has to make sure Gonzalvez doesn’t take too many liberties in his offense. Gonzalvez almost transferred after the season and was the player who pushed the hardest for the coach to loosen the leash.

Ryan Butler – The 6-6 redshirt sophomore, anointed for stardom by Mooney, sparkled some of the time and struggled the rest. Butler has a quick trigger and deep, deep range. In a loss to Old Dominion, he dropped in 5 treys, and he hit 3 treys in five other games. Like Gonzalvez, he’s also got the ball-handling ability and size to drive or post up. Yet Butler made too many poor decisions with the ball (62 turnovers) and took too many hasty shots. His court time fell in conference play and he saw just 5 minutes of action in each of the last two games. Butler has the talent to be an A-10 starter. Now he’s got to show the decision making to go along with an impressive set of skills.

Oumar Sylla – The defense-minded utility player sat out the first 14 games owing to a theft-related incident on campus. When he returned, Sylla showed much improvement offensively. He scored 6.8 points a game and even connected on 9-22 treys (41%) – not bad for a player who had shot 21.7% on 3-pointers for his career. Sylla retooled an ugly-looking jumper and did not rush his shots as much, though his release point is still unusually low. A long and athletic 6-7, however, Sylla usually launched his shots without much trouble. The Spiders would welcome an encore performance in Sylla’s final year, but they don’t need his scoring as much as his defense, speed and experience. With long arms and quick feet, he’s a good fit for the zone defenses Mooney employs.

Gaston Moliva – Mooney hopes to see the 240-pound bruiser after an injury-induced redshirt year (he scored 9 points and grabbed 8 boards in the only game he played). Moliva was lost to surgery after he fractured a bone in one foot and he had similar surgery on the other foot in September, though the problem was considered less severe. He might be back in time to start the season.

Moliva has never achieved the success anticipated by Spider fans after a tremendous freshman season, but he is the toughest and most physical player on the roster and will anchor the Richmond middle. Surprising light on his feet, Moliva is a good shotblocker and rebounder and stout defender in the post. Though not a major offensive threat, he’s capable of scoring 9 or 10 points a game just by being opportunistic. His main job in the Princeton offense is to set picks, roll off screens and crash the glass. Geriot will usually be a focal point on the blocks unless Moliva suddenly unveils a heretofore-lacking post game. The Spiders need him for other things.

Jarhon Giddings –The 6-9 redshirt junior, once a very promising recruit, has been hobbled by a chronic shin condition. Giddings played just 11 minutes a game, averaging 3.2 points and 1.5 boards. He mostly sticks to the perimeter and is decent outside shooter (33% 3PG). Surprisingly he led the team in blocks with 13, but that was mostly a reflection of Richmond’s weak interior defense. Unless he fully regains his health, expect more of the same from Giddings.

Kevin Hovde – Recruited walk-on (3.2 ppg, 15 mpg) started six games and scored 24 points in a loss to a run-and-gun VMI squad, but he failed to reach double figures in any other game. The heady Hovde is a solid all-round player and good outside shooter (10-22 treys, 45.5% 3PG). He won’t become a focal point of opposing defenses, but he has the ability to be a semi-regular contributor in the A-10.


Kevin Anderson – Speedy 6-0 floor general from Georgia came on strong his senior year before committing to Richmond. He’s a good ball-handler and dribble-penetrator with a solid outside shot. He’s one of several smaller players Richmond signed to help run Mooney’s offense and supply badly needed defense against the quick point guards that prevail in the A-10.

Justin Harper - Philadelphia native, who spent his formative years in Richmond, was considered talented enough to receive an offer from Providence College in the Big East. The combo forward is a fine athlete with versatile skills. He’s a good rebounder and passer and an accurate shooter out to the 3-point line. He’s not strong enough to hold down the fort in the paint, though, and is more of an outside-in player at this stage of his career. Harper and sophomore-to-be Dan Geriot eventually could form a potent tandem at the forward slots because of their shooting ability.

Kevin Smith – Athletic swingman from Tennessee was a post player during most of his high school career but switched to point as a senior. Though he doesn’t excel in any one area, Smith is a decent shooter, passer, ball-handler and defender. He has the sort of versatility that Mooney likes for his version of the Princeton offense.

Chris Richard – Combo guard from the West Coast is a good 3-point shooter. He played on a talent-rich squad and did not up big numbers, but Richard displayed suitable skills and physical ability to impress the coaching staff. He is bigger than Anderson and a better shooter than Smith. “Chris wasn’t asked to score big points every night,” high school coach Pat Coons told the Richmond Dispatch. “He is a very good defender and very athletic."

Conor Smith – The 6-8 forward from Wisconsin has good genes: His father played in the Big 10 for the Badgers in the 1970s. Smith’s main asset is his ability to stretch defenses. He once hit eight 3-pointers in a single game.


Despite all the losses, Richmond was competitive in most of its games. The Spiders won at South Florida and led on the road at halftime at Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. The Spiders also played their best ball at the end. They beat St. Joseph’s 78-68 and Rhode Island 71-69 in the last week of the regular season and lost 63-61 to fifth-seeded Fordham in the A-10 tournament.

Some of those losses will turn into wins this season. The team returns all but one of its key players and should have Moliva and Sylla for the full year. The sophomores have also done a lot of growing up – and not just due to tons of playing time. Geriot and Co. have spent plenty of time in the weightroom. The Spiders won’t get physically mauled again or wear down as easily in the second half.

“A lot of these guys had to grow up quickly,” Mooney told the Richmond Dispatch. “I think they did experience-wise. Now their bodies have to catch up.”

To make a dramatic leap forward, though, Richmond has to get better in a number of areas. Defense and rebounding were blatant sore spots. The Spiders let A-10 opponents shoot nearly 49% and were outrebounded by a whopping 10 boards a game.

Rebounding “has got to be a huge focus for us,” Mooney says.

The return of Moliva and newfound strength of the sophomores will help close the rebounding gap. A more seasoned and athletic Richmond squad better accustomed to Mooney’s switching man and zone tactics can also be expected to play better defense.

Point play and 3-point shooting – a must-have skill in the Princeton offense – also have to improve. With Morris gone, Mooney has to break in another freshman at point, although Gonzalvez can run the offense some of the time.

And while Richmond has some good shooters, the team only hit 35% of its treys to finish 10th in the A-10. Backdoor cuts in Mooney’s offense are less effective if defenders can pack the middle.

The best shooter of the returnees, Ryan Butler, blew hot and cold. Without more consistent shooting, Richmond’s offense could sputter again. The Spiders were last in scoring at a paltry 60.6 points a game.


When any A-10 team has nine sophomores and freshmen, the future is rarely now. Better things await, just not this year. Mooney’s sophomores and five frosh will have to attend additional sessions in the school of hard knocks.

If they learn their lessons well, Richmond will be a tougher out once league play starts. Geriot gives the Spiders a major presence in the post – low or high – and Gonzalvez is tough to handle on the perimeter. Fifth-year seniors Moliva and Sylla will also make big contributions, and this time around the freshmen don’t have to be fed to the wolves.

Opponents should be particularly wary in the Spider’s lair. A few good teams are likely to feel the sting of an upset. Just ask St. Joseph’s and Rhode Island.

Richmond is almost certain to improve on last year’s 8-win total, but the Spiders still face a hard climb in an increasingly competitive A-10. Consider it a success if last year’s 12th-place finisher takes two or three more steps up the ladder.

Record: 13-16 (5-11), 12th Place

Added WH’s addendum on OOC wins and losses…

[b]A-10 Preview - 12th Place

Last year: 8-22 (4-12), 12th place

University of Richmond
Location: Richmond, VA
Founded: 1830
Enrollment: 3,550
Affiliation: Private, liberal arts university

Predicted noncon Wins and Losses

W – Maine (Memphis, Tenn.)
L – At Memphis (Memphis, Tenn.)
W – At East Carolina
L – At Rice
L – At Marist
L – At Virginia Commonwealth

I have the Spiders going 8-5 in noncon play. Richmond lost to William & Mary and VMI last year, but I don’t see it happening two years in a row, particularly with both games at home. East Carolina has a roster that’s almost entirely turned over. Good chance to beat them early in their place. Rice is very beatable, as is Marist, which lost some key players, but I went conservative. Winning at VCU is always hard for Richmond, but ODU might be vulnerable after some key graduation losses. As for Virginia Tech, it’s a young team this season and I don’t think all that much of Greenberg’s in-game coaching ability. The only games that I think are definite losses are Memphis and, to a lesser extent, VCU.

Link: A-10 Preview - 12th Place

[QUOTE=run49er;262365]12th place goes to the Spiders…[/QUOTE]

Afraid VA beat you to it Run. Look up.

[QUOTE=ChevEE;262416]Afraid VA beat you to it Run. Look up.[/QUOTE]

Yes, but I included WH’s addendum in which he predicts Ws/Ls for OOC. I also add institutional info (location, enrollment, affililiation, etc.).

BTW, I suspect our preview is coming up very soon!

My bad…

[QUOTE=VA49er;262501]My bad…[/QUOTE]

VA, no need to apologize. While I’m looking forward to reading our preview, I just wish it would be later (meaning we would be ranked higher than we’re going to be in this season’s list!).

You know what they say, Run. It’s not how you start – or what the “experts” predict – it’s how you finish. Good to see that BL’s butt is on the line. No better motivation to make sure this Charlotte team is a pleasant surprise (as I secretly think will be the case).

Also, will Lutz actually demand that his perimeter players feed Jones in the post. I am tired of seeing a zillion treys and little or no patience to develop a post game. Call me skeptical about Jones getting enough touches. I have to see to believe. ...

This was my biggest pet peeve from last season. Lots of out side attempts (ususally failing) without waiting to get inside.

[QUOTE=kevinharbin;262537]This was my biggest pet peeve from last season. Lots of out side attempts (ususally failing) without waiting to get inside.[/QUOTE]

just last season?

And 11th place goes to…Temple!

[b]A-10 PREVIEW - 11th PLACE

Last year: 12-18 (6-10), 11th Place

Temple University
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Founded: 1884
Enrollment: 34,200
Affiliation: Public, state-related university

Liacouras Center
Seats: 10,206
Average Attendance last season: 4,312

Fran Dunphy, 2nd year (19th overall)
Record at Temple: 12-18 (322-181 overall; 64.0% winning percentage)

1 Chris Clark SR PG 5-8 165 Narberth, PA
2 Ryan Brooks SO G 6-4 200 Lower Merion, PA
3 Martavis Kee FR G 6-2 G Fort Lauderdale, FL
10 Luis Guzman SO PG 6-3 180 Paramus, NJ
*13 Mark Tyndale SR WG 6-5 210 Philadelphia, PA
*15 Semaj Inge JR G 6-4 180 Camden, NJ
*22 Dionte Christmas JR G/F 6-5 190 Philadelphia, PA/Lutheran Christian (PA)
23 Ramone Moore FR WG 6-4180 Philadelphia, PA
24 Lavoy Allen FR PF 6-9 225 Morrisville, PA
30 Craig Williams FR F 6-9 240 St. Croix, VI
41 Sergio Olmos SO F/C 6-10 220 Spain

*Returning starters


The new-look Owls and their modern-day offense were easier to watch under coach Fran Dunphy – except for the losing. The team finished 12-18 in the first season of Temple basketball since 1982 without Hall of Famer John Chaney. It was the school’s first losing record in 24 years.

It wasn’t all bad. Temple lost five games by 5 points or less and ten games 9 points or less. The Owls could have finished .500 if a few balls bounced their way. What really hurt was the lack of any decent players above 6-6. The Owls were crushed on the boards, had virtually no post offense and could not stop the league’s better frontcourts from dominating inside.

Nor did it help that Mark Tyndale, one of the best players in the league, missed the first semester because of poor grades. Starting center Wayne Marshall also left the team for the same reason.

Given all those problems, Dunphy probably deserves praise for eking out 12 victories. He’ll get no such credit, though, if Temple doesn’t surpass its win total this season. The Owls return the two highest scorers in the league – Tyndale and Dionte Christmas – and add a talented four-player recruiting class, including a pair of first-year bigmen both 6-8 or taller. The Owls still might not get much post scoring, but they’ll no longer be defenseless in the middle.


Dustin Salisbery – On a better team, the versatile and athletic 6-5 swingman would have warranted votes for all-league consideration. An erratic underachiever in his first three seasons, Salisbery turned in his best performance as a senior. He tallied career highs in scoring (16.4 ppg), rebounds (5.0 rpg), assists (2.4 apg) and shooting percentage. He even registered a career-high 48 steals, though Salisbery was generally a subpar half-court defender. One of Dunphy’s primary challenges with the departure of Salisbery is to find a third scorer to complement Christmas and Tyndale.

Dion Dacons – The 6-6 “power” forward did a yeoman’s job inside for an undermanned and undersized Temple squad. He played just as many minutes as a senior as he did in his first three seasons combined. Dacons guarded much bigger players but did a creditable job. He made opponents work hard for baskets, got his hands on a number of balls (33 steals) and led the team in rebounding (6.9 rpg). Dacons (career 56.7% FG) was also his usual efficient self on offense (7.1 ppg) in the few instances when he did shoot. He even hit 15 three-pointers. Temple can find bigger and better players at Dacons’ position, but few who are tougher and smarter.

DaShone Kirkendoll – Lightly recruited 6-5 swingman from Dayton was brought to Temple for his long-range gunnery, but Kirkendoll (4 ppg, 37% 3PG) failed to produce consistently. He only played 12 minutes a game and transferred after his junior season.

Anthony Ivory – The 350-pound center played only 58 minutes in two years.


Dionte Christmas – Easily the most improved player in the league, the 6-5 Christmas emerged as Temple’s newest star (20 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2 apg). He led the league in scoring and was named Second Team All-Conference for his effort. It’s a stunning turnaround for a player who averaged just 3.5 points as a freshman.

What makes Christmas hard to guard is his athleticism and versatility. He’s a deadly outside shooter (40% 3PG) but dangerous off the dribble. He has a great first step and big hops, rising quickly for putbacks on missed shots. Fouling him doesn’t do any good, either. He hit 87% of his free throws. Torrid until the very end of the season, Christmas scored 20 or more points 18 times and topped the 30-point mark five times, including a midseason stretch of three straight games. Christmas releases quickly and is hard to block, though he does take plenty of questionable shots. (It’s hard to believe those same shots will all go in for a second year in a row.)

The challenge for Christmas is to make his teammates better. The Owls need him to score, but his offense alone cannot produce a winning record. Defenses can be expected to clamp down even harder and double teams will become the norm. The result should be more opportunities for other Owls to score. Christmas could also do a better job on defense. He stole the ball 45 times and blocked 11 shots, but he didn’t defend with the same vigor he devoted to scoring. If the points of the players he guarded were subtracted from his own total, Christmas’ scoring would not look nearly as impressive.

Mark Tyndale – As well as Christmas played, Tyndale might have been the better player by year end. He averaged 19.4 points (2nd in the A-10) and reached double figures in his final 17 games. Tyndale shot a career high 43% from beyond the arc and seized 6.7 boards a game. And don’t forget the 68 assists and 37 steals. He easily would have topped Christmas’ totals in both categories had he played just as much. Tyndale was academically ineligible in the first six games, a situation that resulted in his exclusion from the league’s All-Conference teams.

Don’t expect anyone to overlook Tyndale in his final season. The rugged 6-5 forward is a legitimate candidate for player of the year. Few in the A-10 are as versatile. Tyndale is a natural leader who scores inside and out, rebounds and defends. He’s even called upon sometimes to play point and run the offense, although he still exhibits bull-in-a-china shop tendencies

Tyndale made his biggest strides in shooting, long a weakness, and decision making. The evidence can be seen in his 3-point accuracy. Tyndale hit 24 treys in each of his first three seasons, but he took just 56 shots to reach that number as a junior, compared with 75 as a sophomore and 111 as a freshman. Under the watchful eye of Dunphy, a more mature Tyndale has a better idea of what a good shot looks like than he did three years ago. For Dunphy and the Owls to return to their winning ways, Tyndale has to put up big numbers, but he also has to show the freshmen the way. Two players can never beat five.

Semaj Inge – Little used as a freshman, Inge (4.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg) started 26 of 29 games as a sophomore and had his moments, including 17 points in a loss to Cincinnati. The point guard by default, Inge averaged 2.4 assists and did an adequate job running the offense. He handles the ball fairly well and can get into the lane, though he doesn’t always finish because of a slight frame. Inge might have seen more time (21.7 mpg) if he shot well and played better individual defense. He connected on 37.5% of his attempts and just 25% on treys. Though he likes to ball-hawk (37 steals), Inge reaches to much and fouled out of five games. Without improvement in both of those areas, freshman Martavis Kee could start eating into his minutes.

Sergio Olmos – The 7-foot European import is no Spanish Conquistador. He only played 13.5 minutes a game even though the Owls were the smallest team in the A-10. Olmos (2.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 53% FG) is somewhat awkward and not especially assertive at either end of the floor. He doesn’t make himself big in the paint and is slow defensively. While he’s good for a basket and a blocked shot each game, that’s far too little production to justify extended minutes. Unless Olmos steps up, he’ll lose time to the newcomers. The Owls need more production from him, even if he plays just 10 or 15 minutes a game.

Ryan Brooks – Dunphy’s first signee at Temple barely played until the final third of the season, but a pair of strong performances suggest Brooks could become a key cog as a sophomore. He scored 10 points (2-4 treys) in a late-February win over Charlotte, then followed up with 15 points (3-4 treys) in a season-ending loss to St. Joseph’s. A good shooter with ample athleticism, the 6-4 Brooks nailed 11 of 25 three-point attempts. His release looks odd and it’s unclear if he can create his own shot, but he’s the most likely candidate to replace the scoring of Salisbery. He’s not a bad passer or defender, either.

Chris Clark – Senior point guard is a borderline A-10 player, but he’s performed admirably. Clark took great care of the ball – just 25 turnovers – and ran the offense with relative aplomb (75 assists in just 17.5 mpg). He’s small and quick, keeps his head up and has good vision. If Clark shot better from outside (27.6% 3PG) and wasn’t a liability on defense, he might play more. The arrival of several talented bigmen could allow Dunphy to give the 5-8 Clark a bit more time.

Luis Guzman – The 6-2 combo guard barely got off the bench as a freshman and it’s not clear if he has A-10 talent. He played just 36 minutes and took 11 shots, hitting three. Guzman evidently could not shoot, pass or take care of the ball well enough to break into the rotation of a team in need of backcourt help. Guzman is an above-average athlete who was a well-regarded recruit in Chaney’s final class. He’ll get another chance, just like Inge did after a terrible freshman season. Dunphy would be happy to see the same kind of improvement.


Lavoy Allen – Highly regarded Pennsylvania native is arguably the most gifted young bigmen to enter the league this season. Allen has a soft touch near the basket and is an accurate faceup shooter out to 15 feet. Listed at 6-9, Allen also has long arms and good springs, helping him to block shots and rebound. He’s going to start right away. “We’re throwing him to the wolves," Dunphy told the Philadelphia Bulletin. “I wish we had the luxury of bringing him along slowly but that’s not happening. He’ll be OJT – On the job training.”

Martavis Kee – The 6-2 signee was one of the most highly recruited players in this year’s A-10 class. Kee, a big point guard who likes to score, is a good not great athlete. He handles the ball well and has the size to get to the rim, a valuable quality since the sharpshooter from Florida tends to blow hot and cold. Kee will get every chance to win the starting point position in competition with returnees Inge, Clark and Guzman.

Ramon Moore – The Player of the Year in Philadelphia’s public league, Moore was considered a longshot qualifier when he picked the Owls last spring. Temple evidently would like to redshirt Moore so he can gain strength. Though almost 6-5, he weighs just 180 pounds, and the Owls appear to have enough strength on the wing.

Moore is plenty talented. He’s been called a very smooth athlete with a nice stroke and was a bigtime scorer in high school. Whatever his team needed – points, rebounds, assists, steals – Moore delivered. He’s also a terrific free-throw shooter.

Craig Williams – Big forward put up big numbers in the Virgin Islands (against weak competition) and attracted plenty of attention from U.S. schools. He’s strong and fairly athletic, a good rebounder who can block some shots. How much time he gets will depend on how quickly he responds to a higher level of competition. His weight and conditioning also need work. At the very least, he adds size and depth to a Temple program sorely lacking in both.


Although Dunphy runs a motion-based offense, the Temple attack clearly will revolve around Christmas and Tyndale, the top two scorers in the A-10. Both players shot more than 40% from the arc but can score in a variety of ways. Christmas is a slasher-shooter while the more physical Tyndale can back defenders down.

Now Dunphy has to find a third scorer to complement his dynamic duo, most likely rising sophomore Brooks.

Clark and Inge, for their part, make an experienced if unremarkable combination at point. Clark is stingy with the ball when it comes to turnovers and won’t make many bad decisions. Inge likes to roam for steals and can get to the basket. The one big handicap is that neither has shot well in their college careers. Brooks or perhaps the freshman Kee may fill the bill if Dunphy wants more shooters on the floor. In those situations, Tyndale can even slide over to point.

The young bigmen are not expected to contribute lots of points. They just have to get some followup dunks and putbacks and finish plays when the guards draw and dish. Their main priority is to rebound and defend the paint. Temple was outrebounded by 4.5 boards a game and gave up way too many second- and third-chance baskets. The Owls allowed opponents to shoot 44%, whereas Chaney’s teams typically held foes to 40% or less.

“I didn’t do a very good job defensively,” Dunphy told the Bulletin. “I’ve got to do a better job of getting these guys to blame the whole, vs. blaming the individual, and take responsibility as a group for their defense.”

It won’t be quite as easy for opponents to score inside with Allen patrolling the middle, but every player has to do his part, and it starts with the team’s leaders. Christmas has to become a superb two-way player and Tyndale, if he puts his mind to it, has All-Defensive Team capability. Better defense is another way to offset the loss of Salisbery.


I neglected to mention the loss of recruit Michael Eric in my review. Must have overwritten or accidently deleted that part. While Eric might not have helped much on offense, he’s supposed to be an excellent shotblocker and Dunphy could have rotated Eric in the center spot with Allen and Olmos. He would have given Dunphy more dice to roll when his other bigmen got in foul trouble. The Owls really need to have one big guy in the game all the time. Now all Dunphy has is Allen and Olmos, unless Williams shows rapid improvement.[/I]


Dunphy’s Owls play a more open and precise offense and will score enough baskets to compete against most teams. Temple averaged 75 points a game, the program’s highest output since 1977. The defense figures to improve as well.

The Owls will also have more balance. The Dunkin Donuts-size hole in the middle will be at least partly filled by the cream of one of the league’s better recruiting classes.

Dunphy himself has a better idea of what his players can do and what he has to do to return Temple to its glory days. He’s still a great coach and Dunphy will put a bigger imprint on the Owls in his second go-around.

After Christmas and Tyndale, however, there’s a big drop-off in talent or experience. A 0.500 record is a reasonable goal, but it’s hard to see Temple doing much better than that.

Record: 14-16 (6-10), 11th place

Predicted Noncon Wins and Losses

L – At Tennessee
L – Providence (Puerto Rico)
W – Charleston(Puerto Rico)
W – Consolation Game (likely Marist)
W – At Bowling Green
L – At Akron
W – At Drexel (Palestra)
L – Florida (Sunrise, Fla)

I am predicting an 8-6 noncon record, which might be a touch aggressive. Charleston and Marist are beatable on neutral court, though if either one pulls an upset the Owls would be playing a tougher team. Providence is good, but I think Temple has a shot. I figure the Owls to split two on-the-road games at Bowling Green and Akron. Temple could lose both or win both, but BG is not as talented. Gotta figure one win here. Picking Temple to beat Ohio at home is a gamble. Ohio has a good team with some vets who won’t be fazed at Temple’s one-third full arena. Towson should be a win. The Owls have a shot vs. a young Nova squad, but I go conservative and predict a loss. Drexel beat Temple last season, but this time around the teams are more evenly matched. Eastern Michigan is not supposed to be very good. Florida is young but they have great recruits and Duke is Duke. Penn looks to be weaker than it has been in a few years.

Link: A-10 PREVIEW - 11th PLACE

[QUOTE=run49er;262548]And 11th place goes to…[B]Temple[/B]![/QUOTE]