Revisiting the A10 Coaches Rankings
It’s been almost a year and a half since the last A10 Coaches Rankings, and much has changed. Two postseasons, two recruiting classes, and six coaching changes have certainly shaken the rankings.
Dan Hurley, UConn
Hurley left for UConn after leading the Rams to an A10 Tournament Championship and two straight NCAA tournaments. Had he stayed with Rhody, he undoubtably would have been in the top tier of these rankings.
John Giannini, NA
Dr. G had only one NCAA appearance in 14 seasons with La Salle. On top of that, he had a career losing record, and finished .500 or worse (in conference play) in 9 seasons. It was time for him to go.
Jim Ferry, NA
Ferry was relieved of his duties at Duquesne after five unsuccessful seasons leading to a combined 60-97 (.382) record. Even worse, he was 21-65 (.244) in conference.
Derek Kellogg, LIU Brooklyn
Kellogg was fired at the conclusion of his 9th season at the helm of the Minutemen. He had a career .447 in conference winning percentage. Last year, he took LIU Brooklyn to the NCAA tournament though, and was still the eighth highest paid state employee in Massachusetts.
Will Wade, LSU
Will Wade took over for Shaka Smart at VCU for only two seasons, but made the NCAA Tournament in both of them. His teams won 51 games, and didn’t take a noticeable step back from Smart’s famed squads.
Archie Miller, Indiana
Archie left Dayton after making the Flyers a perennial power in the A10 and a recognizable face in the NCAA Tournament. The Flyers went to four straight tournaments under Miller, including their Elite Eight run.
Ashley Howard, La Salle
Howard takes over for Dr. G at La Salle after five years as an assistant at Villanova. He isn’t new to La Salle, or Philly, as he played point guard at Drexel, and was an assistant at La Salle from ’04 to ’08.
David Cox, Rhode Island
Unlike Howard, Cox has no rebuilding to do. Even though Rhody loses a stellar senior class, with a high-ranking recruiting class and a core of Fatts Russel, Jeff Dowtin, and Cyril Langevine returning, Rhode Island is in a position to compete in the A10 even without Hurley.
1. Bob McKillop, Davidson: Previous (3)
Another year, another highly competitive Wildcats team. There was no adjustment period when Davidson entered the league, as they managed to win the conference in their first season in the A10. He seems to always get the most out of his players, and will usually have his teams playing their best basketball when it matters most.
2. Mark Schmidt, St. Bonaventure: Previous (4)
Schmidt’s work in Olean speaks for itself. He’s taken the Bonnies to two NCAA tournaments after winning only 24 games in the previous four seasons before his arrival. Wins this past season over Maryland, Syracuse (two if you count their recent recruiting victory), and UCLA, solidify his position as a top coach in this league.
3. Phil Martelli, St. Joseph’s: Previous (1)
The four time A10 Coach of the Year, and 2004 National Coach of the Year, just keeps on rolling for the Hawks. In a “down” year this past season, where they were riddled with injuries, St. Joseph’s still finished 4th in the conference, and came up just short of playing in the Conference Championship game. If not for the unlucky injuries during these past two seasons, Martelli could have easily seen another (his 8th) NCAA tournament appearance.
4. Dave Paulsen, George Mason: Previous (6)
Paulsen has almost finished what many of the coaches in this league aspire to do; rebuild what was a struggling program. Mason finished 4th in the league last year and didn’t graduate a single senior. The Patriots will be one of the favorites next year, and will have a chance to get back to the NCAA’s for the first time since 2011. If Paulsen completes the rebuild, he can make a case for one the top spots in these rankings.
5. Keith Dambrot, Duquesne: Previous (NR)
Dambrot has only been at the helm of Duquesne for a season, but he seems to already be turning around their losing culture. having five eligible transfers and a slew of quality incoming freshman should make them competitive this upcoming season. Dambrot has been a winning coach his whole career, but if he can end up doing it at Duquesne, he’ll end a 41 year NCAA Tournament drought.
6. Mike Rhodes, VCU: Previous (NR)
Last season, for the first time in eight years, VCU did not play in the NCAA tournament. Rhodes didn’t have the same quality players that both Shaka Smart and Will Wade did, as he relied almost exclusively on Justin Tillman on both sides of the court. Rhodes has five new players this year though, and must hope that that he finds the same success that his last three predecessors have found in the Siegel Center.
7. Travis Ford, Saint Louis: Previous (NR)
In one season, Ford managed to get an 11th place team into 6th (and nearly 4th). The offense was miserable after the suspension of Jordan Goodwin, but the defense was stellar, and potentially the best in the league. Ford has always been a great recruiter, and will have a chance to continue the climb up the standings with highly touted forward Carte’Are Gordon arriving this fall.
8. Matt McCall, UMass: Previous (NR)
On December 17th, Umass fans were ready to crown McCall king for turning around the program in less than a half of a season. They had just beaten Providence and Georgia, and were playing like contenders in the A10. The fans had to hold back their excitement though, as the Minutemen managed only five conference wins. McCall is still on track though, as he returns promising sophomores Carl Pierre and Unique McLean, and three high upside freshman.
9. Anthony Grant, Dayton: Previous (NR)
Anthony Grant seemed in over his head the entire season last year. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in his first season and chalk it up to being at new program, and not having his “style” of players. These next two season will be different though, as he’ll get to bring in his own players. Dayton fans got used to winning with Archie Miller and won’t tolerate seasons like this past one for very long.
10. Maurice Joseph, George Washington: Previous (NR)
MoJo had a promising start to his head coaching career in 2016-17 when he lead an underrated GW team to a 6th place finish in the conference. Unfortunately, this past season the Colonials regressed significantly, managing only seven wins in the A10, and will graduate their only true impact player, Yuta Watanabe. He has a lot of rebuilding to do to get GW back into the upper echelon of the conference.
11. Chris Mooney, Richmond: Previous (7)
It’s been seven years since the Spiders have appeared in the NCAA tournament. Last year, it appeared almost certain that he’d be let go, but unfortunately for the “Fire Mooney Mafia” members, the Spiders won enough games to keep him around.
12. Jeff Neubauer, Fordham: Previous (9)
Neubauer hasn’t improved this Fordham team at all since taking over. After an eight win campaign in his first season, the rams have only won 11 in the past two. Additionally, every player that seems to find success ends up transferring, most recently Antwoine Anderson (UConn) and Joseph Chartouny (Marquette).