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The Good, Bad, and Goals for All 14 Teams

Looking at a lot of tweets and replies to our account, there’s a lot of positive and negatives toward each team. It’s fun to be excited about the potential of your team, but sometimes reality hits, and you become cautiously optimistic about how your team will be performing this year.

Here’s one good thing that I like and one potentially bad thing about each team this year:

 

Davidson

What I like:  Davidson is returning Kellan Grady, who looks to build off  his second-team, all-conference performance last season. He by himself is a reason to watch Davidson basketball. They also return two young guys in Hyunjung Lee and Luka Brajkovic that should be better.  Bates Jones is coming into his own as well.

Where it could go wrong:  If Grady is off, the odds of winning are not so good.  It is also not a very deep roster and not very many returning difference-makers, which was also their downfall last year in a year where the Wildcats were supposed to finish in the top 4.  Grady has a history of injuries as well, which would be horrific for their season if that happens.

Goal:  Finish top half of the A10

 

Dayton

What I Like:  Dayton is returning five guys from last year’s awesome team, which three of them were key contributors in Crutcher, Watson, and Chatman.  Dwayne Cohill got better as last year progressed, and is poised to be a key contributor as a junior either as a starter or as a 6th man.  Jalen Crutcher is on track to be an All-American and a potentially NBA draft pick next summer.  There’s a trio of freshmen and two red shirts from last year that they are excited about.  This team was far from just Obi Toppin and might make some more noise around the country again this year.

Where it could go wrong:  Down low.  Jordy Tchimanga is slated to be the starting big man.  He was inconsistent last year and did not get a lot of playing time behind Obi.  Jordy was often in foul trouble.  He is a big question mark heading into this season.  The other Flyer big men are Mouslaye Sissoko and Chase Johnson.  Sissoko sat out last year as a red shirt, and Johnson was on the team before taking a leave of absence.  That’s two more question marks. If none of those guys can make an impact, Dayton could be exposed to some much bigger teams like Saint Louis, Duquesne, UMass, and George Mason.

Goal:  Win the A10

 

Duquesne

What I like:  The Dukes are bringing back everyone from a solid team that finished 5th last season. Their new arena is (hopefully) opening this year.  Michael Hughes and Marcus Weathers are primed for big seasons.  It’s a very experienced team that now needs to prove it.  Lots of hype this year in Pittsburgh.  The least time the Dukes made it to the NCAA Tournament was 1977!! The drought could end this year.

Where it could go wrong:  This team struggled to score last year at times, and it hurt against some bad teams.  The Dukes have had seasons like this in the past where they have had hype but then end up with some bad losses to some bad teams.  History haunts this program so bad, but Keith Dambrot and the Duquesne athletic department have really turned this culture around with retaining good players, new arena, and rebranding.  You just have to hope, if your a Duquesne fan, that history doesn’t follow you this year.

Goal:  Finish top 4 in the A10

 

Fordham

What I like:  They didn’t lose any guys to the transfer portal! When was the last time that happened at Fordham? The Bronx Rams don’t look like a contending team, but at least they have guys that are buying into staying at Fordham and trying to at least stay consistent.  Joel Soriano and Onyi Eyisi look to build off of good freshman and sophomore campaigns (respectively).  Ty Perry and Jalen Cobb are both Juniors now.  I have them finishing last until I see otherwise, though.

Where it could go wrong:  It’s Fordham, and nothing seems to go their way every year.  The team is all back, but they are still young.  Jeff Neubauer hasn’t figured it out yet, so nothing points to getting anything going this year either.  It also might be his last year coaching there regardless of what happens, which might take away any motivation for him to coach. But, we’ll see what happens at Rose Hill.

Goal:  Don’t finish last

 

George Mason

What I like:  Mason is bringing back a lot of dudes, including studs Javon Greene and AJ Wilson, who are now the senior leaders of this team.  Josh Oduro looks to build off a strong freshman campaign, as does Xavier Johnson. There’s a good mix of experience and youth, which is what you want in a team. This is the year to get something going if you are Dave Paulsen.

Where it could go wrong:  Dave Paulsen has had talent in the past, but has also under-achieved with said talent.  Mason has yet to have a really strong season since joining the A10, and this might be the year that they have the best chance at making a big run to a top 6 or even top 4 finish.  But, can Paulsen make the right moves to push this team of talented guys over the hump? History says no, which is why the season could go wrong.

Goal:  Finish top half of the A10

 

George Washington

What I like:  Jameer Nelson Jr and Jamison Battle were good last year as freshman, and should be even better this year.  Jamion Christian went heavy in the transfer portal and snagged a few grad transfers that can play a role in this year’s team.  GW did lose a few seniors from last year’s team.  Christian is building something and is clearly the right guy to lead GW back to relevancy in the A10, but it may be a while.

Where it could go wrong:  They have a few talented young players, but the depth doesn’t look to be there for Christian and Co. this year.  GW always finds ways to win games that they shouldn’t, which is a testament to how good of a coach Christian is.  They still look to be a year or two away from competing again, but we will see how this big roster turnover looks.

Goal:   Finish outside the bottom 4

 

La Salle

What I like:  This is a hard one. The only thing I like is David Beatty, who chose to stay for his senior season. Kudos to him. He is a good player and might get an all-conference honor next March. Other than that, this team is really REALLY young.

Where it could go wrong:  From the get-go.  La Salle has a lot of freshman, RS sophomores, and sophomores. Beatty is the only senior.  This might be a tough year for the Explorers.  I like Ashley Howard, but man La Salle is a tough job.

Goal:  Don’t finish last

 

Massachusetts

What I like:  Tre Mitchell. That’s where this team starts. The dude was a beast as a freshman and will be one of the best big men in the conference and country next year.  He’s got the makings to be a future NBA draft pick.  Not only that, but the team is pretty much bringing back everyone from a young team that finished in the top half of the A10 last year.  It’s crazy because the team is still young this year with Carl Pierre being the only senior and Dibaji Walker being the only junior. TJ Weeks is coming back fully healthy. Kolton Mitchell and Preston Santos should be much improved.  I’m excited about this team. Matt McCall might finally have his squad.

Where it could go wrong:  TJ Weeks is already injury prone, and if he’s out again, that could hurt.  The team is also still young, and that could hurt if the group of freshmen from last year’s team does not improve enough to get over the hump, essentially saying they are still yet one year away from being good again.  Matt McCall has a lot of pressure to have a good team going into his fourth season as head coach.  He has a lot to prove this year if he wants to stay in Amherst.

Goal: Finish top 4 of the A10

 

Rhode Island

What I like:  They bring back Fatts Russell, who also might be an all-american and up for POY in the A10.  After that, it is a roster with a lot of new faces that were all transfer waiver approved by the NCAA.  The two big names on that transfer list at Mahki and Malik Mitchell, twin brothers from Maryland.  They look to be a key piece to David Cox’s squad this year.

Where it could go wrong:  A lot of new faces without a red shirt year equals little turnaround time to get used to playing together.  We don’t know how these guys will look playing together for the first time, even if there is a lot of hype on how deep and loaded the roster looks.  Luckily Fatts is an experienced senior floor general and can lead this team back to the top of the A10. But where this could go wrong lies with how well the list of new faces plays together. By the time they figure it out, it could be too late.

Goal:  Finish top 4 of the A10

 

Richmond

What I like:  What’s not to like?  An entire starting line up of seniors from a team that finished second in the A10 last year. A good shooting big man down low in Grant Golden.  A DPOY candidate in Jacob Gilyard. A big scoring threat in Blake Francis. A work horse that can do anything in Nick Sherod. Man, this team is loaded and might be a top 25 team in the country when it is all said and done.  This is easily the most talented Richmond team since 2010.

Where it could go wrong:  The only thing I can see is if the team doesn’t improve that much to get over the hump.  Basically, see last year’s VCU team as an example.  A lot of talent that came back from winning the A10 the year prior but didn’t drastically improve. The only little thing I see is lack of experienced depth.  Gustavson and Kouressi are there off the bench but the rest are freshmen and sophomores. Andre Weir is a interesting prospect, though.

Goal:  Win the A10

 

St. Bonaventure

What I like:  Here’s another experienced team.  The two main likeables are Kyle Lofton and Osun Osunniyi.  Both have potential to have big junior seasons in Olean.  Dominik Welch and Jaren English are juniors as well and will look to be glue guys along side Lofton again. Another crazy thing is that the team is basically all juniors, so they will have next year to be really good as well.  As always, the Bonnies are well coached by Mark Schmidt and will be even more of a tough out this year with an experienced team that finished 6th last season.

Where it could go wrong:  Osun sat out a bit last year with injuries, so that could hurt the Bonnies if that happens again.  The team has depth, but it is an unknown how much of them will contribute much off the bench.  They also have a few new faces from the transfer portal.  That’s a bit of an unknown as well.  Not much to hate about this team really.

Goal:  Finish top 4 in the A10

 

St. Joseph’s

What I like:  Ryan Daly is back and should have more help this year.  The Hawks are bringing in two transfers that were 4 star recruits that sat out last year in Dahmir Bishop (Xavier) and Greg Foster Jr (Gonzaga).  Everyone from last year’s young team should be better, but how much better? Billy Lange should have a better squad and year.

Where it could go wrong:  You never know how new players will work together.  The team is still developing and still in the midst of a rebuild on Hawk Hill. Billy Lange seems to have a good thing going, but rebuilds take time. It might be another tough year.

Goal:  Finish outside the bottom 4

 

Saint Louis

What I like:  Another team bringing back everyone from a 4th place finish a year ago.  SLU was slow out of the gate last year, but eventually figured it out when Javonte Perkins stepped up off the bench and sparked 20 points a game for the Bills.  Hasahn French is still a beast down low. Jordan Goodwin is still a pure scorer. Jimmy Bell should be a lot better. They get Terrance Hargrove, Fred Thach, and Gibson Jimerson back to help with more scoring.  Yuri Collins looks to build off a strong freshman year. They have depth off the bench. This team might be the most loaded team since 2013.

Where it could go wrong:  Free throws.  SLU is the worst in the country at it, and it hurt them in big games down the stretch last year. They need to fix that if they want to win the inevitable close games this season against Richmond and Dayton.  The other issue last year was injuries.  It killed their team depth, and they can’t afford to lose guys again.

Goal:  Win the A10

 

VCU

What I like:  Bones Hyland is back to make noise after a great freshman year.  He is this program’s go-to guy now.  Levi Stockard is a nice littel grad transfer that should help Bones out, as well as fellow senior Corey Douglass. Hason Ward and Vince Williams were good last year as well.  VCU will be good defensively again, as always. But all things should go through Bones Hyland.

Where it could go wrong:  Not a lot of scoring, which was their downfall last year as well.  The team is young and might need one year of rebuilding to get back into the top of the A10.  This year might be a tough one for Ram fans.

Goal:  Finish top half of the A10