So the A10 Tournament is off and running after a couple of days of interesting hoops. I say interesting but there are far more harsh adjectives that come to mind to describe the basketball I watched on Wednesday and Thursday. But enough of the negativity and the painfully obvious, today is Friday which means the fans of the A10 should be in for some higher quality hoops throughout the day.
La Salle vs. Davidson
At 12:00, the potent offense from North Carolina will square off against the scrappy defense from Philly. The games that provide us with contrasting styles are always fun to watch and this one shouldn’t be any different. Davidson has been on fire for the past 3 weeks and hasn’t shown any signs of cooling off. Can La Salle and its cast of characters led by the Baron Davis look-a-like Jordan Price extinguish those Wildcat flames? Can La Salle keep things close heading into the final 8 minutes of today’s game? It is definitely possible but it will take a herculean effort from Dr. John’s group. Buuuuuut, strange things happen in conference tournament games and I’m sure everyone is well aware of the past upsets that the #1 vs. #8/9 game has produced over the last few years. La Salle has been one of the most inconsistent teams in the conference all season but when things are clicking for the Explorers, they are a really tough group to handle. But Davidson is just balling right now. Kalinoski, Gibbs, and Sulivan. Not a law firm. Just a trio of talented shooters and tough kids who are on a serious roll these days. Tough to pick against those guys right now. I can’t do it.
Richmond vs. VCU
The 3rd meeting between the Spiders and Rams has all of the makings of a doozy, especially after the 2OT thriller that took place the last time these guys met. Richmond is really playing well after having a rough start to its season. The Spiders get its big fella, Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, back for at least some sporadic minutes today which should only help its cause. VCU played a scrappy Fordham team yesterday and pulled out a difficult win but anyone who watched that game probably didn’t come away very impressed. The old saying about putting lipstick on a pig might apply. It was some ugly basketball. VCU couldn’t buy a shot in the second half against a Fordham team missing one of if not its best players in Eric Paschal. Not encouraging stuff for Rams fans considering the way Richmond has been playing defense for the past month. It took VCU two overtimes to get 63 points against the Spiders a couple of weeks ago. These teams just know each other so well that the games between them are likely to be of the “slugfest” variety. Kendall Anthony and ShawnDré Jones seem to be peaking at the right time and TJ Cline has evolved into a hybrid point-forward type of player for the Spiders, especially since Richmond lost Nelson-Ododa to an eye injury. Yesterday the Rams got very little from JeQuan Lewis due to foul trouble and Mo Alie-Cox and Terry Larrier combined to go 2-17 from the floor. Buuuuuut, numbers and trends really don’t mean much or really anything when you are talking about a couple of schools who are separated by less than 10 miles. Both of these teams will come out scraping and this game, much like the last two, will probably be decided by who makes the least amount of mistakes. And as of late, that advantage would have to go to the Spiders
Dayton vs. St. Bonaventure
Bona gonna go up against the #TrueTeam tonight. Bona looked to be headed to the CBI or NIT around 7:00 last night but something happened on the way to post season obscurity. Bona woke up. A strong all-around performance in the second half against St. Joe’s got the Bonnies another day of A10 hoops. Now they face the #TrueTeam. I think anyone who has followed this site this season knows how much respect I have for Sibert, Pollard, and Pierre. I’ll put those 3 up against any 3 from any team in the country and like my chances 7 days a week and twice on Sunday. Pollard’s improvement this season has been incredible. Pierre is an all-around great college basketball player. Sibert is a straight-up killer. Dayton is a match-up nightmare for most teams because they can move the ball and know how to play effectively on the defensive end, especially considering their limitations with size and numbers. Archie Miller has inspired his group of kids to play beyond any reasonable expectations that others outside of that program might have for that team. When I watch Dayton play, the first thing that strikes me is how connected they are as a group. Bona has been a team that has had the highest of highs and the lowest lows of this season. Marcus Posley literally had the “best week ever!!!” when he hit buzzer-beaters to defeat Davidson and VCU in consecutive games last month. The Bonnies are a really tough group to figure out. They go through stretches where they look completely lost and incapable of playing with any quality or familiarness with each other. But then those same players have moments where they look like a tough, athletic and focused squad who can get good looks at the hoop and frustrate the hell out of its opponents. I will be interested to see how Dayton attacks the Bonnies today. Pollard and Pierre can cause match-up problems in the post and on the perimeter but Bona has the length at multiple spots to bother shots and slow down the Flyers. I don’t see Bona being able to stop Dayton but if the Flyers have to deal with foul trouble or a really hot Posley, this game could be tight heading down the stretch. Vegas likes Dayton by 6 and I thought that number might be a little higher. I like the Flyers in this one as well.
Rhode Island vs. George Washington
I wonder what would happen if Kevin Larsen and Hassan Martin just went all “Alien vs. Predator” in the middle of the court tonight? It would be a scary sight for sure. Those guys are just enormous humans and both can bring the pain if you don’t keep them in check. I’m not even going to mention Mr. Terrell’s arms nor will I request to see the young man’s birth certificate. I’m just saying there are Cuban baseball players laughing at the notion that Terrell is a freshman in college. The final game of the day looks to be another “slugfest” between a couple of teams who can grind out games with the best of them. George Washington looked really good again last night. The Colonials have been on a nice run after a brutal February and seem to have righted their sinking ship. The offense looks a lot better and has shown signs of consistency for the first time in a long while. Now all the Colonials have to do is score against one of the top defensive teams in the country! Yeah! Good times! Rhode Island is an incredibly gifted defensive unit. Martin is a ridiculous shot blocker and rebounder. He plays so much bigger than his actual size and the rest of his teammates follow his lead when it comes to protecting their basket. Vegas has Rhody by 1.5 right now. I think with GW’s recent resurgence on the offensive end of the floor, this game could be a real tight one. How well Rhody can score against GW’s various defenses will probably determine the outcome of this one. I love what Hurley has done with this program and a deep run in this year’s tournament would be another feather in his cap. I can’t wait for this game tonight. If GW can continue to make shots, we could be in for a memorable night cap to what was hopefully a great day of hoops in Brooklyn.