A-10 Rankings via Cold Stone

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I recently took my kids to Cold Stone Creamery and was shocked at all of the random and downright ridiculous flavors the ice cream superpower had available for children and their scared but excited parents.  I was standing in line with my kids and I couldn’t help notice the size options and think of Aziz Ansari’s bit.  It does contain a bit of vulgarity so if that isn’t your thing, might not want to watch this:

Of course, my warped mind started ranking teams in the A-10 via the same size options at the creamery just for shits and giggles.  It makes sense right?  Really stupid names for serving sizes to go along with a ranking of teams before they even play a conference game.  Here is what I cam up with:

“Like It”

If you are in the is group you probably aren’t that great.  I try to like everybody though as I have found that being a nice and affable person tends to make for a more enjoyable existence and lowers the risk of people spitting in your soup.

The fact that most teams haven’t even completed 30% of their schedules seems to dictate that most of the conference falls into this category.  It is way too soon to start freaking out about a couple of bad losses or a great win or two for any team this early in the year but…

“Love it”

If you are in this group you don’t stink but you aren’t scaring Kentucky either.  This is kind of like the a tie in the NFL.  You can’t be pissed because you just played a 60 minute game and didn’t lose but at the same time you just played a 60 minute game and didn’t get the win. There is a whole lot of EHHHH in this group right now.

“Gotta Have It”

It’s the best, Jerry! The best!”  Kenny Bania knows what’s up.  If you are in this group right now, I gotta have you!  That sounds as bad as it looks as I type it but whatever,  I’m seeing this thing through.

THE “LIKE ITS

Fordham

Wins against New York Tech (didn’t know that was a real school) and Sienna aren’t enough for me.  Gonna need a little bit more guys.  I will say that Eric Paschall is having a great season so far and Ryan Rhoomes is averaging 11.5 rebounds per game but that’s all I’ve got.  Fordham hoops is generating a whole lot of nothing on the “excitement meter” these days.  Plenty of time to change things around for the Rams but they need to get on it ASAP.

George Mason

Rough times in Fairfax these days.  It is very hard to like or love a 2-6 record.  However, that shot against Manhattan was INCREDIBLE and I know I loved watching that replay about 50 times.  The Patriots have had some tight losses this year but shooting 39.2% from the floor as a team isn’t going to get it done most nights.

Saint Joseph’s

I can’t get over the Fairleigh Dickinson loss.  You can’t lose to Fairly Ridiculous.  You can’t score 10 points in a half.  Saint Joe’s did both already this year.  I’m a big fan of DeAndré Bembry and Coach Martelli has a resume that speaks for itself so if this team improves a lot in the next couple of months I won’t be surprised.  But if they don’t improve I shouldn’t be surprised since they lost A TON from last year’s squad.  #analysis

Saint Louis

Struggled against North Carolina A&T and lost to Texas A&M-CC.  A 27-point loss to Mississippi State looks bad as well.  However, these guys are completely rebuilding and still can play great team defense for long stretches of a game.  Austin McBroom needs some help on the offensive end though if these guys are going to make any noise this season.

Duquesne

Blowout wins against Bluefield State, Abilene Christian, and Howard aren’t going to create much excitement for your squad.  Losing the NJIT isn’t going to help your cause.  But then NJIT beats Michigan in Ann Arbor?  Are you serious?  Maybe that wasn’t such a bad loss after all?  These guys are scoring 83 points per game though so I’ll be watching to see if they can keep it going once conference play starts.

Richmond

Richmond has played 4 road games and two of them were against N.C. State and #23 Northern Iowa.  The only problem is that Richmond has lost all 4 of those games.  I watched the win the Spiders had against William and Mary and came away somewhat encouraged.  I watched the Spiders loss to JMU and came away very confused.  I was thinking UR might be a sleeper team this year in the A-10 but I haven’t seen it yet.  I’m very interested to see how this team responds over the next few weeks as they do have some talent and a dynamic point guard in Anthony.

La Salle

Win four in a row and then lose four in a row. Not exactly what the Explorers had in mind to start off their season. La Salle has been playing pretty stingy defense, holding teams to around 40% from the floor so far.  Jordan Price and Jerell Wright are solid players but La Salle really isn’t getting all that much from the rest of their roster.  I really like Cleon Roberts as far as his toughness is concerned but he, much like the rest of his team, struggles shooting the ball.  Two of La Salle’s losses have been against UVA and Nova and both of those schools currently sit in the top 10 in both polls.

THE “LOVE ITS”

UMass

The Minutemen have a formidable schedule this year.  It shouldn’t be an excuse and maybe I’m using it as one but I look at losses against Notre Dame, Harvard, LSU, and FGCU and the fact that most of this roster is still getting used to life without Chaz and I’m cool with making that excuse.  Nothing early has been easy for UMass and that is probably a good thing if this team is going to make some noise this year.  Lalanne, Esho, Gordon, Davis, Clark, and Hinds are all capable players who can score the ball.  However, they have also given up over 80 in both of their past two games so things on the defensive end need to tighten up for the Minutemen to get back on track.

VCU

See Umass.  Brutal schedule so far for the Rams and it doesn’t look to ease up anytime soon.  VCU’s 3 losses have come against teams with a combined 24-1 record with 2 of those teams being UVA and Nova.  Maybe Shaka and Dr. John can grab some eggnog over the holidays and talk about the runaway bread trucks that flattened their respective squads this season.   VCU has some serious problems on both ends of the floor but they also have a track record of improving greatly each year in December and January.  All of that being said, until the Rams get a consistent 3rd scorer to go along with Graham and Johnson, things could be a struggle on the offensive end.  This team does have a lot of young talent but that young talent hasn’t made much of an impact yet.  VCU’s opponents are shooting a solid 47% from the floor this year and 41% from 3-point land.  Both of those numbers have do go down if the Rams are going to make a run in the conference.

THE “GOTTA HAVE ITS”

Davidson

I understand that the Wildcats haven’t played the toughest of competition so far this season.  The group of fans who look at the likes of Catholic and Campbell and come away unimpressed with the early season slate Davidson has faced thus far have a point.  I understand that sentiment and there isn’t any way to disprove it at this point in the year.  The only thing I will add in defense of the Wildcats is that they have a squad that is full of shooters.  I don’t care if you are playing UNCW, Kentucky, San Jose State Tech Community College, or the San Antonio Spurs.  You can never have enough quality shooters on your team.  Davidson has a team full of guys who can make shots.  Eight Davidson players who get significant minutes are shooting better than 44% from the floor this year.  Tyler Kalinoski, Jack Gibbs, Peyton Aldridge, and Oskar Michelson have combined to go 68 for 139 from 3-point range (48.9%) up to this point in the season.  We will see how/if these numbers can hold up as the season continues because if they do, there will be quite the contingency in Brooklyn come March with visions of Steph Curry making it rain (basketballs not dollar bills) dancing in their heads.

Dayton

Dayton had a great run last year and seems to be playing with that same level of confidence and swagger this season.  Veterans Jordan Sibert , Dyshawn Pierre, and Kendall Pollard are always going to be the focus of any scouting report and for good reason.  Scoochie Smith is a point guard with kind of an old school game but all the brash and flash of a kid who learned how to play growing up in the Bronx.  He is struggling a bit with his shot so far this season but he is still a tremendous asset because he makes his teammates better when he is on the court.  The guy I find myself liking more and more is Devon Scott.  It looks like he has righted his ship so to speak and is really a strong contributor right now.  I went back and watched him in the Miami and UIC games last night and he was really strong on the boards.  He might be a guy to watch come conference time.  I like Dayton and so does just everybody else who watches the A-10.  They might not have played great against EMU but they got the win and every team needs a few of those game each year.

George Washington

I went up to UVA and watched the Colonials give the Cavaliers fits for about 20 minutes a few weeks ago.  Unfortunately for GW, the Wahoos turned the tables big time in the second half and sent them home with a 59-42 defeat.  No shame in that game though as UVA is running roughshod over all of its A-10 foes this year.  Patricio Garino is a fantastic small forward with a complete game.  Kethan Savage is a strong shooting guard who can get after you on the defensive end.  Larsen on the block is handful and my guy Yuta Watanabe(all-name team lock) is the real deal with a sweet stroke and a real feel for the game.  The guys are good but I don’t think they have played all that well yet.  I actually thought they looked better in a loss to Seton Hall than in their victory over UNCC last weekend.  This team is balanced and unselfish which could make them a real threat come March.  Point guard Joe McDonald is as tough and gritty as they come and looks to be a strong leader.  I was really impressed with him after the UVA game. He answered questions from a reporter directly and politely but didn’t make any excuses for his or his team’s performance in the second half.  Not everyday you see a kid that age show that kind of composure and grace.  It says a lot about him but it also bodes very well for the four other guys with whom he shares the court.

Rhode Island

E.C. Mathews is a baller.  Fact. He looks more and more like a future pro.  Guys who can get their shot in a variety of ways are rare in this conference these days.  Mathews is one of those guys and the Rams are riding him to victory at a nice clip to start the year.  However, it isn’t just about E.C. up in the land of chowder and the Farrelly Brothers.  Hassan Martin has picked up where he left off last season, averaging 11 & 7, and could really develop into a big time forward in the league.  Freshman Jared Terrell looks as good as advertised, not an easy task when you look at what most freshman are doing this time of year, and will definitely continue to improve.  The Rams loss to Georgia Tech really didn’t seem that bad when I watched the game.  It was a great game between two teams playing really hard and at a pretty high level.  What really impressed me about Rhody though was what they did to Southern Miss on the road following that loss.  A 32-point arse whuppin’ is hard to pull off at home against a high school team.  Rhode Island made it happen on the road!  Well done Rams, well done.  Gilvydas Biruta should continue to frustrate and flat-out piss off opponents for the remainder of the season with his toughness and refusal to quit on the boards.  It looks like Rhody should be a tough squad this year and could very well be in the “top four mix” come March.

St. Bonaventure

Bonnies baby!  Bonnies!!!!!  The Bonnies are 6-1 and the good folk of Olean are digging it!  I know wins over Dartmouth and Canisius arent’ sexy but at least they are wins.  The wins versus Ohio and Buffalo probably won’t get you to go grab your Lanier throwback jersey out of the closet but they should.  Ohio and Buffalo are both good teams and winning those games says to me that it is time for this guy to love him some Bonnies.  I was kind of going back and forth on which group I should put the Bonnies in so I took a minute and asked myself, “What would Sly do?”  I asked myself that obvious question because Rambo 4 was on and I was watching the AARP card-carrying member open up a can on a bunch of fools.  Sly would just do this:

Yea, I’m going all the way “Over the Top” and showing the Bonnies some love.  The Bonnies have the big fella Youssou Ndoye patrolling the paint and forward Dion Wright has looked really strong so far this year as he has averaged over 13 ppg and is getting buckets in a variety of ways from inside the 3-point line.  Marcus Posley is a scorer and has really stepped up his game this season.  He isn’t a terrific shooter but he is an effective scorer and the two don’t have to be synonymous.  Freshman guard Jaylen Adams, not to be confused with Jalen Adams (seriously, how ridiculous is that?), just pulled down Rookie of the Week honors for the second week in a row.  Look, I have only seen the Bonnie play a little bit this year but I don’t care.  These guys have a great home court advantage in their gym, a really good center, and some scorers on the perimeter.  The last time I checked, that was a pretty nice starting point for a good basketball team.

Alright, that is all I’ve got for this baby.  Just having a little fun and dorking-out in the process.  If this was a waste of your time I apologize, minus the fact that you got to watch two incredible videos.  As of today, it looks like the conference is nowhere near the level it was at last season.  Much of this was to be expected due to the drastic changes so many teams were going to experience this year.  Some teams might be looked at as overachievers and some underachievers but I don’t really see it that way.  Achievement tends to infer that something has been gained or fulfilled.  This isn’t football!  Two losses don’t ruin a season.  Lots of hoops left to play here peeps.  In a year where maybe two or three teams get to the dance, conference play will be just as intense as ever.  Good, bad, or indifferent, I know I’ll be trying to catch as much of the action as I can.  No need to confer with Sly on that one.

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Brian Keiper is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and has a M.Ed from University of Richmond. He teaches, coaches, and spends way too much time involved with local basketball in Richmond, Virginia but wouldn't have it any other way.

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