Rumblings, Grumblings, and A10 Fumblings

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We are entering the final games of the 2015-16 A10 regular season and there is a feeling of angst and excitement in the air as fans from teams all over the place start to look forward to March Madness and the NCAA Tournament.  I woke up this morning and couldn’t believe that it was almost March.  As is always the case for me, February flew by and now I find myself freaking out about the next 10 days and the remaining A10 games left to be played before we all head to Brooklyn,  Here are some random questions, concerns, and observations:

  • I’m so over the NBA “expert” or “super-fan” who feels the need to crap all over college hoops because it is “unwatchable” and/or such an inferior product compared to the NBA.  NO SHIT!!!!  These are 18-22 year-old kids who aren’t as good as the men being paid millions of dollars who play for professional teams.  What makes college basketball great isn’t the product on the court but everything that goes into the experience that the fan, player, coach, and school get to share in some way.  And in the NBA, you will never see this:

  • Watching Rhode Island go through the enormous hurricane of poo that rocked the program this year was such a bummer.  The injuries have gotten to the point where it is almost comical to expect the Rams to get through 20 minutes of basketball without a player or players having an appendage fall off or just spontaneously combust in the middle of the court. I really hope E.C. has a strong recovery and the Rams get a real shot next year at making a run.  That team could be a ton of fun to watch if all of the pieces are in place.
  • Kenpom has the A10 rated as the 8th best conference in the country, just ahead of the CAA.  I hope Ken wasn’t watching the Saint Louis/Dayton game last night because that ranking, even though his rankings are based on actual analytics, might have dropped to 28th by this morning.  WTF man!  That was the basketball version of a Chaetophbian (person afraid of hair) coming home and finding this dude hanging out on his couch:

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The Flyers and Billies combined to go 34-113 from the floor for a blistering 30%.  Awesome.  Get me a razor.

  • While I’m at it, can we not freak out over the Flyers performance last night or any other night when Pollard is sitting on the bench.  Yes, the Flyers looked like complete garbage for 43:20 of that game last but it is OK.  It is OK if, and now it looks like a pretty substantial if, Pollard is able to play in Brooklyn and beyond with what appears to be a pretty bad bone bruise on the outside of one of his knees. Those things hurt like a sonofabitch and it is the recovery time which is most important.  Time and rest is all that helps those things and rest isn’t easy to come by when you have games every 3 or 4 days.  Dayton is still a damn good basketball team. It just might have to find a way to win some crucial games without one of its key guys.  It would be a first for Archie Miller to motivate a shorthanded team to the point where it exceeded outside expectations though.  Last year he had an incredibly deep and tall team.
  • VCU travles to George Mason in what could be one of those “sneaky good” A10 games.  Don’t get me wrong, at 9-18 GMU is pretty freaking bad, but it does one thing very well.  George Mason is 3rd in the country in offensive rebounding % defense, currently holding opponents to a 22.9% rate on the offensive boards.  This is a huge factor for VCU who makes a living crashing the boards and usually needs to on the road where its 3-point shooting this season has been inconsistent at best.  We will know if we are in for another UMass/VCU like performance if Mason, one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the country, channels its inner-Minuteman and goes 8-8 from 3-point range to start the game like UMass did vs. VCU a couple of weeks ago.  VCU has struggled against teams with significant length inside and GMU definitely fits that description when you refer to Shevon Thompson.  He has about 5 inches on Mo Alie-Cox; that match-up will be worth watching.
  • The overall quality of the A10 has definitely been hit and miss this year.  I was really excited about the prospects of the league before the start of the season but things haven’t worked out exactly the way I would have hoped.  What is crazy to me is that the A10 could still get 4 teams into the NCAA Tournament and none of them will be Rhode Island.  Freaking injuries man!
  • Dayton and GW have nice OOC wins this year for the conference and then after those two, the pickings get pretty slim.  I would love to see the Bonnies, VCU, or Joe’s get a crack at some of their opponents from earlier in the season right now.  I would love for my junk folder not be filled with opportunities to meet new and exciting models all across Europe and Asia (you go on 1 freaking website and….).  I would love for my boss to say to me, “You are incredible.  Why don’t you take the next year off of work and I’ll double your salary and buy you a new car.”  I would love all of these things.  Sadly, none of them will ever happen.  My personal problems/dreams aside, it is the plight of the schools outside of the Power 5 to schedule big and win early at all costs.  Vanderbilt has 11 losses and plays in the SEC(not a basketball powerhouse of a conference) and is now on the bubble. A10 teams will never have that luxury.
  • It has been awesome to see Jaylen Adams come back from his injury from last season and shine this year.  We were on the Adams bandwagon early last year but then he got hurt and we were all left to wonder what version of Mr. Adams we would see this year.  What we have seen is a kid who is leading his team to a possible tournament bid if it can win a few more games over the next couple of weeks.  Adams is 2nd in the A10 in getting to the free throw line and when he gets there he converts over 90% of the time.  He is also 33rd nationally in 3-point %; shooting the ball at an impressive 46.3%.  I immediately liked Adams last year when I saw the amount of confidence and SWAGG the freshman played with.  Those levels have only increased this season and now Adams is basically must-see-tv when the Bonnies play.  Plus he has some serious huevos grandes.  See below:

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  • Give me 4 better duos in college basketball than Bembry and Miles.  I’ll wait…
  • Remember when VCU was screwed because Shaka Smart took the money and ran down to Texas?  I do.  How good does RamNation feel right now?  Will Wade has done a masterful job of getting every ounce of quality play out of a team that is far greater as the sum than it is as its original parts.  Yes, VCU has quality players but its depth and Wade’s ability to adjust in mid-stride has been impressive.  Of course, all praise must be immediately turned to distain should VCU lose to GMU tonight. I mean, if nothing else, we all can agree to overreact on a daily basis right?
  • Really looking forward to Bonnies/Joe’s, VCU/Dayton, GW/Davidson, and VCU/GW.  Just like the match-ups and different styles of play.
  • If you ever wanted to know what my Pops looks like when he is pissed off, here you go:

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  • What is going to happen with GW?  I still like its original “Big 3” and obviously the addition of Cavanaugh has been a game changer.  I’ve always been a McDonald fan just because I respect his toughness.  He is a clutch player and you really can’t put a price tag on clutch. I wonder if he has one of more Dayton or VCU moment/clutch play left in him before his playing days are done?
  • I have a very important meeting tonight regarding my job and its future.  I’m not ashamed to say I demanded that the establishment have multiple TV’s and Bells Two Hearted Ale available. Check and check. #Squadgoals

 

 

 

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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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