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2009 - 2010 Atlantic Conference Preview

Atlantic 10 Conference Teams: Charlotte, Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham, George Washington, La Salle, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Richmond, Saint Joseph’s, St. Louis, St. Bonaventure, Temple, Xavier 

The battle for #1 in the A10 could get interesting this year.  It won’t be easy for anybody to claim the top-spot with the top half of the division returning a lot of talent.  Dayton has their eye on the prize with 11 of their top scorers returning.  Xavier, still a prime contender, welcomes a new Coach and loses some top scorers.  They’ll need to adjust quickly if they hope to claim another title.   

Read on for a brief 2009-2010 season preview and conference record prediction for each basketball team in the Atlantic 10.  Standings/Predictions are listed at the end of the conference preview. 

2008-2009 Record: 11-20, 5-11

The 49ers had 2 major problems last season: Inconsistency and Injuries.  They only won 11 overall games and were especially bad on the road.  Look for an extra year of experience and some key newcomers to make a difference this year.  Shamari Spears and Chris Braswell are top frontcourt recruits.  Redshirt freshmen, Bowden, with a great jump shot, should help with the perimeter.  If Charlotte can make the best of its newcomers, and gain some early confidence on the road, they’ll see an improved 2009-2010 season.  It’s unlikely that they’ll come anywhere near the postseason. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 6-10 

2008-2009 Record: 27-8, 11-5

Dayton won 27 overall games last year and tied for 2nd in the Atlantic 10.  They reached the second round of the NCAA tournament.  The question this year: Does Dayton have what it takes to win the conference title and run deeper into the NCAA tournament?  This season, 11 of the top 12 scorers return.  All America candidate, Chris Wright (13.3 ppg) should play an even larger role this season.  Expect a healthier and more experienced team to serve as a threat to the Xavier Musketeers and the rest of the nation.   
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 13-3 

2008-2009 Record: 21-13, 9-7

With good recruiting, Coach Ron Everhart has been working on getting the Dukes where they want to be.  Last year they won 21 overall games and played in the NIT.  They were close to an NCAA bid.  Could this be the year?  One of the major losses that the Dukes will need to replace is Aaron Jackson who averaged 19.3 points per game.  Luckily, they should have enough shooters to replace his output.  They’re still a young team and they return 8 of their 9 top scorers.  Coach Everhart will also look to incoming freshmen Andre Marhold and Sean Johnson to make an impact.  The Dukes will likely see similar success in their 2009-2010 campaign, with the possibility of playing in their first NCAA tournament since 1977. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 10-6 

2008-2009 Record: 3-25, 1-15

The Rams have taken quite a dive since their 17-11 (10-6) 2006-2007 season.  They were one of worst teams in the league and in the nation last year, winning only 3 overall and 2 conference games.  Fordham was in last place in the A-10 in nearly every statistical category.  Things aren’t looking much better this season.  Two of their leading scorers (Mike Moore and Trey Blue) were granted releases and left for other schools.  The Rams will look to point guard Jio Fontan (15.3 ppg) to lead a young and inexperienced team.  Although it can’t get much worse, expect similar season results at Fordham this year. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 1-15 

George Washington
2008-2009 Record: 10-18, 4-12

After two down seasons, Coach Karl Hobbs is on the hot seat.  Who would have thought?  They have gone 19-35 over 2 seasons after a four year 90-32 run, two A-10 titles, and regular postseason appearances.  It won’t help that over the past 15 months, five players have left.  With many new players expecting to see a lot of playing time this season, expect nearly as many (or more) A-10 losses from George Washington this year. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 3-13 

La Salle 
2008-2009 Record:  18-13, 9-7

La Salle tied for 5th in the A-10 conference and once again played in the NCAA tournament last season.  They lost their second game to Temple, 84-75.  With one of the most experienced teams in the A-10, things are looking good for La Salle in their 2009-2010 season.  A-10 Player of the Year candidate Rodney Green (17.8 ppg), will be leading a squad full of seniors.  The Explorers also welcome top-15 recruit center Aaric Murray.  Expect La Salle to threaten the top of the Atlantic 10 this season. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 11-5 

2008-2009 Record: 12-18, 7-9

The Minutemen didn’t impress last year.  They finished 10th in the A-10 just one year after winning 21 overall games (10 in the conference) and winning 4 games in the NIT.  Massachusetts has a decent foundation this year with guards Ricky Harris and Anthony Gurley returning.  With a young team suiting up, Coach Kellogg will rely on the two to provide leadership.  They have talented newcomers, including Terrell Vinson, Javorn Farrell, Sampson Carter, and Freddie Riley.  All have received national attention.   They also have solid transfers, Hashim Bailey and Sean Carter.  Their most notable losses are Chris Lowe (12.4 ppg) and Tony Gaffney (11.5 ppg).  The Minutemen might have all the tools they need to be more successful this season.  
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record:  8-8 

Rhode Island
2008-2009 Record: 23-11, 11-5

The Rams were 10th in the country last year for points per game at 79.3.  Their scoring defense wasn’t so hot at 72.6 points per game, but the points were enough to get them 23 wins and an invitation to the NIT.  They lost in the second round.  Despite the loss of Jimmy Baron (Coach Baron’s son and the best 3-point shooter the Rams have ever seen), good things should come out of this Rhode Island team.  Most of their explosive offense returns and forward Ben Eaves might be able to fill the 3-point void.  It’s unlikely that they’ll score as many points this year, but they’ll be valid contenders for the A-10 title and they should again see a postseason. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 10-6 

2008-2009 Record: 20-16, 9-7

Coach Mooney and the Spiders managed to make it to the postseason last year with 20 wins.  They played in the NIT, but lost in the third round to UTEP.  With only one departing player, the Spiders are confident that they’ll have the experience they need to see further success.  Richmond returns 4 starters and junior Dan Geriot.  Dan Geriot was the Spiders’ leading scorer during the 07-08 season, who missed last season due to a knee injury.  The Spiders will certainly threaten the top of the A-10 and should see a postseason; If not the NCAA tournament, then The NIT again. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 11-5 

Saint Joseph’s 
2008-2009 Conference Record:  17-15, 9-7

The Hawks had early success last year, but struggled as they lost 7 of their last 10 games.  This year they are excited for a fresh start (and an improved home-court advantage) as they play in the new Michael J. Hagan Arena.  A couple key losses, however, will make things difficult.  They lose Ahmad Nivins (19.2 ppg) and Tasheed Carr (14.3 ppg).  The Hawks have some experience in the backcourt, but they’ll need a couple players to step up and score some major points.  They’ll likely struggle in the A-10 and wind up in the bottom half. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record:  6-10 

Saint Louis 
2008-2009 Record: 18-14, 8-8

Saint Louis has remained competitive, but unable to rise above the .500 mark in the A-10 in recent years.  As tough as it has already been, the Billikens will likely see themselves in rebuilding mode this season.  They’ll be young, inexperienced, and without top scorers Kevin Lisch and Tommie Liddell.  Coach Majerus will have some work to do, but can look forward to molding some talented newcomers.  Majerus went to Australia to recruit 6-8 Cody Ellis and 6-4 Salecich.  
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 5-11 

Saint Bonaventure 
2008-2009 Record: 15-15, 6-10

St. Bonaventure finished 11th in the A-10 last year; better than many expected, in fact.  They were picked by most to finish last in the conference.  They went 15-15 and won 6 conference games.  Things are looking a bit better for the 2009-2010 season.  Talented sophomore Andrew Nicholson (12.5 ppg) returns, and junior Lewis Leonard will play after redshirting last season.  Leonard should add to an already well-manned perimeter.  Expect the Bonnies to be more competitive in the conference and to win a few more overall than they did last year. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 8-8 

2008-2009 Record: 22-12, 11-5

The Owls had a good run last year.  They won 22 overall games and won the A-10 tournament.  They made it to the NCAA tournament but lost in the first round to Arizona State, 66-57.  Chances are, it won’t be as easy for Temple to see similar success this year.  Their losses are astounding.  The Owls lose 19.5 ppg Dionte Christmas, 7-0 center Sergio Olmos (8.4 ppg), and guard Semaj Inge.  Coach Dunphy will need to find a go-to scorer to replace Christmas and fill the leadership role.  Lavoy Allen and Ryan Brooks will be called upon to fill that spot.   
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 8-8 

2008-2009 Record: 27-8, 12-4

It’s slightly ironic that Xavier takes the #14 spot in this A-10 preview.  They won the 2008-2009 regular season title and played three games in the NCAA tournament.  They lost by only 5 points to Pittsburgh to end their postseason.  This year, lifelong Xavier fan (and player) Chris Mack, takes over as coach.  He loves the program, understands the traditions, and should be a perfect fit for the Musketeers.  Despite some key losses (BJ Raymond-14.1 ppg, and Derrick Brown-13.7 ppg), Coach Mack inherits a talented squad.  Mack’s first year won’t be easy, but talented ball handlers, Dante Jackson and Terrell Holloway, return.  Both have proven they can score.  Late addition, 6-9 Jeff Robinson (denied admission into Perdue), should help as well.  The Musketeers will be valid contenders for the number one spot in the A-10.  Expect a good first year with Coach Chris Mack, ending in another appearance in the NCAA tournament. 
2009-2010 Predicted Conference Record: 12-4 

Atlantic 10 Regular Season Champion:  Xavier

Atlantic 10 Tournament Champion:  Temple 

Atlantic 10 Predicted Order of Finish: 

  1. Dayton 13-3
  2. Xavier 12-4
  3. La Salle 11-5
  4. Richmond 11-5
  5. Duquesne 10-6
  6. Rhode Island 10-6
  7. UMass 8-8
  8. St. Bonaventure 8-8
  9. Temple 8-8
  10. Saint Joseph’s 6-10
  11. Charlotte 6-10
  12. Saint Louis 5-11
  13. G. Washington 3-13
  14. Fordham 1-15