A-10 Roundup: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

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At look at the good, bad and ugly of every A-10 team in order or OOC record.

6-1 DAVIDSON

The Good: Davidson is doing exactly what you want a new conference addition to do: win OOC games. The Wildcats have completely blasted their opponents in five of their six wins and truth be told, the Charlotte game was much more of a blowout than the final score suggests (the Niners went on a 8-1 run over the final 19 seconds of play to pull within six). Kalinoski and Gibbs look great and the Wildcats 55.3 effective field goal percentage (55.3%) ranks 25th nationally.
The Bad: Davidson’s strength of schedule. It’s hard to get a sense of just how good this Wildcats team is with their SOS that ranks 306th nationally.
The Ugly: See above. I know I’m doubling down on our first team but the Wildcats have played just two opponents ranked below 219 by Ken Pomeroy including a season-opening W over DII Catholic. The schedule remains very winnable with three teams ranked 177 or below heading into a road test against a VERY good UVA squad.

6-1 DAYTON

The Good: Another year, another 6-1 start. Dayton picked up a nice win over Texas A&M in Puerto Rico before falling to defending national champ, UConn (who, oddly enough, has lost all three games following that win).  Dayton should pick up a win over Bowling Green to move to 7-1 before being challenged on the road at Arkansas.
The Bad: The Flyers last two wins were perhaps tighter than Dayton fans would prefer given the competition. Miami (OH) and Eastern Michigan both challenged Dayton late, neither of which reside within kenpom’s top-130, Miami ranking 276.
The Ugly: UD’s three-point percentage. What was a strength last season has been a weakness so far for the flyers, connecting on just 29.3% of their attempts from distance. Last season Dayton shot 37.7% from the field.

6-1 ST. BONAVENTURE

The Good: Youssou N’doye’s 11.7% blocks percentage ranks 25th in the country, a major reason why the Bonnies have held teams to 38.5% shooting inside the arc (13th nationally). Oh, and 6-1 is also nice.
The Bad: While Bona has done a good job at defending the paint they haven’t had a ton of success scoring in it at the other end. SBU’s 45.8% 2p% against a pretty beatable schedule ranks 224th nationally.
The Ugly: Only 21 of D1 college hoops’ 351 teams have played a weaker schedule than St. Bonaventure, making Bona somewhat of a mystery team (like Davidson) at 6-1.

5-2 GEORGE WASHINGTON

The Good: Despite losing shot-blocker Isaiah Armwood you knew GW was going to bring some stout defense this season. They have done just that with the nation’s 32nd ranked defense. Great to see a healthy Kethan Savage on the court as well for the Colonials. After missing half of last season’s he has wasted no time in knocking the dust off, averaging 13.7 ppg for GW.
The Bad: GW lost a big piece when leading scorer and biggest three-point threat, Maurice Creek, graduated. The Colonials have missed his production from deep and are shooting just 31.2% from distance (242nd nationally). Also, after leading UVA on the road by 4, the Colonials missed a huge resume opportunity by posting just 18 second half points against the Wahoos in what turned into a rout. Then again, UVA does that to opponents.
The Ugly: GW’s home attendance is atrocious for a team playing in the A-10 and coming off an NCAA tournament season. They may be a top-four preseason pick but their attendance is bottom four at 2,608. Good luck keeping a great coach like Lonergan with fan support like that during the good times.

5-2 RHODE ISLAND

The Good: How about URI’s win over then-No.21 ranked Nebraska? That was good. There’s also the fact that Rhody’s 92.4 adjusted defensive efficiency ranks 38th nationally, second to only GW in the A-10.
The Bad: Gotta cut down on the fouling. Rhody is sending guys to the line at too high of a rate, with shot-blocking sensation Hassan Martin being the biggest offender. Martin fouled out against Nebraska, all-be-it in the 38th minute, but has at least four fouls in four other games, including four in 20 minutes against Kansas. Martin posted a season-low four points that game.
The Ugly: The hatred between Rhode Island and Providence fans when the Rams take on their in-state rival today. Rhody dropped last year’s meeting by one point in a home loss. Kenpom prodicts a 2-point Rhody loss with a 42% chance with a Rams win.

5-3 VCU

The Good: Despite the Rams three losses VCU ranks No.1 in the A-10 with a top-35 pomeroy rating. Treveon Graham’s scoring numbers are up (17.4 ppg) despite a slight dip in minutes as the senior chases the school’s all-time scoring record. Graham has connected on a career-best 43.2% of his three-point attempts while averaging his most attempts from distance of his college career (5.5). The Rams boast two top-100 wins (Oregon, Illinois State) away from Richmond, have a neutral court blowout W over No.103 Tennessee and another solid win over No.105 Toledo.
The Bad: VCU forces a ton of extra possessions by turning teams over one of every four trips down the court. But those extra possessions mean nothing if the Rams aren’t capitalizing on them. VCU has a pedestrian effective field goal percentage of 49.5% (141st nationally) and are one of the worst teams in the country at hitting their free throws with a team percentage of 62.1% (Shaquille O’Neal shot better during his 02-03 season).
The Ugly: VCU has been one of the best programs in the country at turning teams over under Shaka Smart but have been absolutely atrocious in the half court this season. The Rams defensive effective fg% of 54.8% ranks 317th out of 351 D1 teams.

3-2 DUQUESNE

The Good: Micah Mason is a RIDICULOUS three-point shooter. We knew this coming into this season so it’s nice to see him on fire from deep to start the season, hitting 53.8% of his 26 threes so far this season. The Dukes rank 11th nationally in 3p% and as long as Mason and Colter are hoisting em up they have a great chance to stay in the top-20 for that stat.
The Bad: Jim Ferry put together one of the weakest OOC schedules in the A-10 this season and if there’s one thing you can’t do against a very week schedule it’s lose. The Dukes have looked good against three “fringe D1” opponents but took an RPI hit when NJIT at home. Does it help that Michigan lost to them as well? Yes. But those are terrible losses for both programs.
The Ugly: DEFENSE! Duquesne’s adjusted defensive efficiency of 102.8 ranks dead last among A-10 teams and is good for 248th nationally.

5-4 SAINT LOUIS

The Good: The Billikens are turning teams over almost as much as VCU. SLU has three very winnable games coming up so could(/should?) move to 9-4 (Vermont will be tough) before things get interesting.
The Bad: Almost everything else. SLU’s offense ranks dead last in the conference. They have REALLY struggled to hit shots this year and when they aren’t turning teams over had really struggled to defend as well, giving up a 52% effective field goal percentage to opponents. SLU went from 2013-14 regular season champ to the only team kenpom’s computers pick Fordham to beat in A-10 play this season. Let that sink in for a sec.
The Ugly: The Billikens lost three home games last season: one to eventual No.1 seed, Wichita State, one to eventual Elite 8 participant, Dayton, and then the yearly headscratcher…Duquesne. They have two home losses already this season, first to No.287 Texas A&M Corpus Christi then most recently to South Dakota State. Vanderbuilt finishes off the Bills OOC schedule followed by a tough home A-10 opener to Rhode Island. Should be an interesting season for Jim Crews and the boys.

5-4 UMASS

The Good: The Minutemen have three solid OOC wins in the form of Boston College, Florida State and Northeastern. Would you guess the Huskies are the highest ranked of the three? Cady Lalanne is just shy of a double-double average at 14.3 ppg and 9.3 rpg while Maxi Esho has looked great when he’s not in foul trouble (which unfortunately is often).
The Bad: After a 5-1 start with some nice wins in the mix, UMass has gone on a three-game skid, all-be-it against three solid teams: Harvard (No.29), LSU (No.76) and Dunk City (No.89). None of those games have been in the Minutemen’s home court.
The Ugly: UMass hasn’t really lit it up from deep in a while, but this year’s 28.4% three-point percentage is the worst under head coach Derek Kellogg and the worst in Amherst in a loooong time (UMass did shoot 28.6% during the 2010-2011 season).

5-4 SAINT JOSEPH’S

The Good: The Hawks have played some really good defense…….at times. SJU is also 2-1 against Philly teams, with wins over Drexel and Temple before a blowout loss at the hands of Villanova.
The Bad: The graduation of SJU’s big three has been a KILLER for the offense. The Hawks have just one player averaging double-digit scoring, DeAndre Bembry at 14.8 ppg.
The Ugly: The Hawks went from one of the top-50 three-point shooting teams last year to one of the bottom eight this year, connecting on just 23.4% of their attempts. They haven’t been much better anywhere else on the floor either, including the free throw line where they are shooting just 61.1% as a team.

4-4 LASALLE

The Good: Jordan Price has been a breakout star for the Explorers. The Auburn transfer (a former top-100 out of high school) leads the Explorers with 16.1 ppg, good for seventh in the A-10.
The Bad: LaSalle started the season a shaky 4-0 followed by four consecutive losses. They’ve beat the teams they should have beaten and lost to the teams they should have lost to, so shouldn’t be too hard to figure out how they’ll do in conference play: mediocre.
The Ugly: Yet another dreadful three-point shooting team, the Explorers have connected on just 25.8% of their attempts, a far cry from the Ramone Galloway led Sweet 16 team that hit 37.7% to rank 30th nationally.

3-4 RICHMOND

The Good: Niagara transfer TJ Cline has looked great for Richmond so far this season. The 6’8 sophomore is shooting 60% from the field and is hitting 43.8% of his three-point attempts to start the season. Richmond’s challenging schedule hasn’t produced the resume boosting wins Spider fans had hoped for but should make them a tough A-10 opponent. The Spiders have also been deadly in the paint, connecting on 55% of their attempts.
The Bad: See above. All of UofR’s major resume boosting opportunities seem to have slipped away from them, meaning they’ll have to do most of their damage in the A-10 if they want to be on the right side of any bubbles this season.
The Ugly: The scene at SpiderNation.com. Kenpom’s computers currently likes Richmond much more than their fan base seems to.

2-4 FORDHAM

The Good: The Rams are back on the court Wednesday night after their first D1 win of the season, a 69-67 home W over Sienna. Ryan Rhoomes has been solid in the paint this season, averaging 11.2 rebounds per game to go with an impressive 8.5% blocks percentage.
The Bad: Fordham is horrible. Home losses to UMES and UMass Lowell, there ya go.
The Ugly: The Jon Severe situation. A month after tweeting “Basketball saved my life. I don’t know who I would be without it”, severe leaves Fordham for personal reasons. Severe was a Rivals top-150 recruit out of high school but averaged just 1.7 ppg in limited minutes this season. No clue what he’s up to but I wish him the best and hope he finds himself back on a court in the future.

2-6 GEORGE MASON

The Good: We knew Jalen Jenkins would be good for Mason but the rise of Marquise Moore should give Patriots fans some additional hope for the future. Moore has scored 20+ in GMU’s last two and averages 10.5 for Mason despite to 1-point clunkers.
The Bad: GMU’s home-opening loss to Cornell was apparently the appetizer for a season that could include a ton of losses. HOWEVER, Mason has played a damn tough schedule up to this point and in fairness has been competitive outside of a dismantling at the hands of WVU. The Patriots will certainly be battle-tested heading into A-10 play.
The Ugly: Mason has yet to crack the 70-point mark this season behind an offense that has been atrocious.

 

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About Author

Mat Shelton-Eide has been involved in college athletics since 2007, starting as a co-founder of VCURamNation.com where he covered the Rams all the way to Houston as the one-time CAA darling shocked the hoops world with a historic run to the Final 4. He has worked within two Atlantic 10 athletic departments, first as a graduate assistant in the VCU Sports Information Department during the '09-'10 basketball season, then after receiving his M.Ed. from VCU's Center for Sport Leadership, as a ticketing and marketing intern in the University of Richmond's athletic department during the inaugural season of Richmond's Robins Stadium, months before the Spiders 2011 Sweet 16 run.

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