We’re just four games into Atlantic 10 play but a little over halfway through the regular season. Only two undefeateds remain in conference and both, VCU and St. Bonaventure, could see their first A-10 blemishes as early as this Saturday with tricky road tests at Richmond and Duquesne.
With a very balanced conference that has already seen two of its bottom three upset two of its top three (in terms of A-10 record), it looks like we’re in for a wild ride to March.
Below is a list of my mid-season superlatives based off play up to this point. I fully expect my end-of-season recap to look nothing like this in what promises to be another competitive year of Atlantic 10 basketball.
CONFERENCE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Terry Allen (Richmond)
There are a number of things I love about this year’s POY race but perhaps tops on that list is it includes some guys having breakout seasons. Allen has been very good throughout his career but didn’t perhaps get the credit he deserved thanks to some sensational performances around the league and one diminutive Spider point guard who might not have passed Allen the ball as much as he should have (sorry, Kendall). Saint Joseph’s Isaiah Miles and DeAndre Bembry have both had great starts but consider Allen’s A-10 rankings before you argue any other A-10 player. Points per game: third. Rebounds: fourth. Field goal percentage: 10th. Steals: sixth. The guy is doing it all right now.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Phil Martelli (Saint Joseph’s)
The Hawks have already matched last season’s 13 total wins. If not for a gutsy road performance from VCU, Martelli’s team would have already passed that mark with their only other losses coming to Florida and Villanova. The Hawks have wins at Temple and Richmond, outlasted Rhode Island at Hagan and have the conference’s third highest kenpom ranking (60) behind just VCU and Dayton.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR: Joseph Chartouny (Fordham)
Despite missing all four of his conference games Chartouny would get my Freshman Player of the Year vote at this point thanks to the conference’s top assists and steals averages (he also ranks third in defensive rebound percentage and is the only player in the top-10 of that stat shorter than 6’6). Chartouny has basically been Briante Weber-ish when on the court this season. His Rams will need to get him back on the court as Fordham is just 1-3 without him this season.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Hassan Martin (Rhode Island)
Martin leads the Atlantic 10 in blocks and blocks per game and does so much more than that. He’s a huge paint-deterrent for Rhode Island, the league’s current No.1 scoring defense at 64.6 points allowed per game. We love this dude.
BEST CONFERENCE WIN: VCU at Saint Joseph’s
The Rams are tied with St. Bonaventure at 4-0 atop the Atlantic 10 but have had a relatively easy path to there. Their one good win however is probably the best win of A-10 play thus far, defeating Saint Joseph’s in Philly. According to kenpom that’s been the toughest win of the early conference season by any A-10 team.
WORST CONFERENCE LOSS: Dayton at La Salle
How? How did this happen? The Flyers hit Philly 12-2 with six wins against kenpom top-100s and fell to the league’s lowest ranked team, 61-57, currently Dayton’s worst loss since January of 2005 against a Duquesne Dukes team that finished the season 8-22.
TOUGHEST A-10 SCHEDULE (SO FAR): George Mason
Bad news Patriots: you’re 0-4 in conference play. The good news is perhaps your record might be better had your A-10 season not started with road games against VCU (kenpom No.34) and Davidson (No.107) and home contest against top-100s Saint Joseph’s and St. Bonaventure. The Patriots next three up are all ranked 150 or below by Pomeroy, but unfortunately two of those are on the road. Let’s see if Mason’s youth are battle-tested and capable of slashing some marks in the win column.
EASIEST A-10 SCHEDULE (SO FAR): George Washington
The Colonials are the only Atlantic 10 team who have yet to play a kenpom top-150 A-10 squad this season. Even with that they had to survive a Fordham scare at home (69-63) and dropped a horrible road loss at Saint Louis (65-62). That streak ends with a road game at Dayton this Friday followed by home contests against both Rhode Island and Richmond.
BEST FANS: Dayton Flyers
12,767 fans per game speaks for itself. UD fans are among the best in the country and have packed their home arena for years during even the worst of seasons. VCU is up there, pushing 80 consecutive sellouts, and truth-be-told, are a better traveling bunch than the UD faithful, but Dayton’s ability to bring in 12,619 for a Dec 21st game again Furman? Bravo Dayton…Bra-vo.
WORST FANS: George Washington
The Colonials seem to be the kings of this award. After a 14-3 start that has included 10 home games, GW is averaging just 3222 fans per contest, which currently ranks 11th in the Atlanic 10. That is a joke of an attendance average and completely unacceptable for a team that deserves much better.