GW has fallen to #13 in the latest WH A-10 Ranking System: Ranking the A-10 (VERSION 2.0)
1)RICHMOND. The Spiders are the most complete team in the A-10, and with wins already over Purdue and Arizona State, are looking great in terms an at-large bid. Justin Harper has really ramped up his game and is playing at a First Team level. Where, though, is Francis Martel’s offense?
2)TEMPLE. The Owls are still shooting poorly from outside (23%) but they starting to show gradual improvement on offense. Fernandez is coming around and sophomore Khalif Wyatt has been great off the bench. Ramon Moore is struggling a bit, however, and Allen is just not a guy who will dominate inside with scoring. Good thing the defense is great. The Owls will win a lot of low-scoring affairs.
3)XAVIER. Tu Holloway, as great as he’s played, is not a good enough outside shooter to carry this team offensively. Defenses will get better at taking away his penetration and controlling the damage he does. Thus the improvement of combo guard Mark Lyons is most welcome. Still, I am skeptical this team has enough firepower to remain in contention for an at-large bid. Dante Jackson, Jamel McLean and Kenny Frease cannot be relied upon to score every game. Oh, how Brad Redford’s shooting would come in handy now!
4)MASSACHUSETTS. The Minutemen move up by default. They have only one loss and have been very competitive in each game. The offense is putting up more than 70 points, the defense is much improved and the team never gives up. Anthony Gurley (21. 4ppg) has been fantastic, one of the best players in the A-10.
Problem is, the team can’t seem to string two great halves together in one game. The inside game is suspect and the outside shooting comes and goes. When Freddie Riley is on, UMass can beat almost anybody. Otherwise he might shoot UMass out of a chance to win. Better shot selection is in order.
5)LA SALLE. The Explorers blew a big one at home Saturday vs. Oklahoma State in a game they led almost the entire regulation. I have been a fan of coach G for a long time because he knows how to build a down-and-out program. Yet I am unimpressed by his game management. He is not a coach who makes great in-game adjustments.
One example: LaSalle played a zone for much of the game against Delaware State and got crushed from outside. G finally went to man late in the second half – long after he should have switched. The Explorers were barely able to eke out a win, but it never should have come to that. Frankly, I didn’t think he would ever switch out of the zone. Then in the OSU game, Devon White was big on the boards in the first half, but he barely played in the second half when LaSalle needed a beefier player to guard Moses when he was killing the Explorers inside.
Still, the Explorers have good inside-out balance, and like UMass, they move up by default.
6)DAYTON. The Flyers are shooting a horribly, just 39% overall (13th, A-10), and the defense has had plenty of uncharacteristic lapses. Still, lots of talent, size and athleticism here and I expect Dayton to get its act together in time. Chris Wright is playing better, but the Flyers need more from Chris Johnson and especially Josh Parker, who’s shooting a surprisingly poor 29% on treys. He had a rep for shooting and was a very good shooter in preseason. Also, Devin Searcy has to show up every night inside – and his teammates need to do a better job getting him the ball.
Dayton still has at-large possibilities with upcoming games vs. Old Dominion, Seton Hall, George Mason and New Mexico. The Flyers need to win at least two of those games – if not three – and avoid another loss to a team like East Tennessee State.
7)RHODE ISLAND. Rhody got trashed by an improving Providence team, showing typical matador defense. Delroy James (21 ppg, 6.6 rpg) is playing like an A-10 player of the year and Marquis Jones has been solid, but center Will Martell and sophomore marksmen Akeem Richmond (just 31% on treys) have been disappointments. Lack of depth, as expected, is hurting URI, too.
With tough games coming up Northeastern and Quinnipiac, Rhody is in a tenuous position. The team really cannot afford to lose either game to keep alive faint hopes of at-large possibilities.
8)DUQUESNE. The Dukes can score and Damian Saunders is starting to play like an A-10 First Teamer, but this team needs to rebound better and play better defense to position itself for a postseason (NIT, CBI) bid. Duquesne has the smallest frontcourt in the league and the Dukes were exposed by Pitt. Fortunately the only team likely to beat them up inside in the A-10 is Temple and, maybe, St. Bonaventure.
9)ST. LOUIS. Awful game for the Bills at Portland. I don’t think I have ever seen a team dominate another so much inside. I think Portland scored more than half its points in the paint, and most were of the old-fashioned postup variety. Not cheap backdoor layups or anything like that. The young SLU players are talented, as I already mentioned, and Majerus will keep this team very competitive throughout the year. Yet the Bills will have trouble scoring and defending from time to time and their inexperience will show through.
Most surprising is the play, or lack thereof, of Cody Ellis. The Australian sophomore didn’t play vs. Portland because of defensive shortcomings. More than any other player, he has been severely affected by the loss of Reed and Mitchell. Reed’s shotblocking covered for Ellis’ subpar defense and Kwamain got him plenty of open looks to shoot.
10)ST. BONAVENTURE. Might we be seeing signs of life? Point guard Ogo Adegboye came up huge with seven treys in a 66-64 win over Buffalo. It was his first stellar effort of the season, but the Bonnies need many more performances like that to achieve a .500 record. The team will play as well as its guards do.
Almost as important, some of the frontcourt players need to provide consistent scoring and rebounding to take the load off all-league center Andrew Nicholson. Demitrius Conger and DaQuan Cook have each had big games, but they come too far and few between.
11)CHARLOTTE. THe Niners have played better lately despite the suspension to Shamari Spears, but Charlotte simply lacks enough talent and depth to finish in the top half of the A-10. They won’t finish in the basement, however, because the Niners have more inside-out balance and experience compared to the teams I list below Charlotte.
12)ST. JOSEPH'S. The Hawks are up and down as might be expected of a young team. The latest freshman to shine is combo forward Ron Roberts, but Langston Galloway has fallen off a bit.
Emerging as a future league star is fiery but diminutive point guard Carl Jones (17.5 ppg). Love the kid’s fire and competitiveness. I am also amazed at his ability to get into the lane and finish over much bigger players. That said, the failure of Martelli’s recruiting in the junior and sophomore classes is all too obvious.
13)GEORGE WASHINGTON. The Colonials are offensively inept (61 ppg, 14th in A-10) and mediocre defensively. GW simply can’t score and it has to play in-your-nose defense all game long to have a chance to win. This is a team anyone in the A-10 can beat the way the Colonials are playing right now. GW has more size and athleticism than Fordham, but Fordham has more scorers and the Rams are more confident about their future. The Colonials need to avoid self-pity or their season will become a disaster.
14)FORDHAM. The Rams are improving despite mediocre talent and a limited roster. Fordham might get help in the second semester from a PG recruit, Lamount Samuel, who is supposed to become eligible. Pecora has stuck with just six players and needs to find another one or two guys to contribute. The Rams will be more dangerous at home this season, but they will be underdogs in every game they play on the road.