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Historically, the A-10 rarely has teams that come out and totally surprise. Part of the reason is that we recruit fewer jucos and high-impact transfers than lesser leagues or lots of programs in the South and West. Our league has been more predictable with its reliance on four-year players.

That does seem to be changing a bit. Part of the reason is more parity. We always had two or three total dogs and maybe a few more teams whose ceilings were clearly lower. Yet the league as a whole is recruiting better and programs are not as slow to replace coaches who are not cutting it.

Ten years ago, for instance, the A-10 would not have gotten rid of coaches like Karl Hobbs, Jim Baron or Ron Everhart at the time they were lot go. There was more tolerance for same old same old.

Not anymore. The hyper-competitive college landscape has changed that. So has the money. And the NCAA success of schools like, ironically enough, Butler and VCU (and George Mason) has gotten every administrator outside the BCS leagues thinking: Hey, we can do that, too!

The new commish probably has helped in this regard.

Looking at the upcoming season, I see three teams with the potential to sharply exceed preseason expectations and be in the thick of things during league play. I don't count LaSalle, which I think is a legit title contender. No darkhorse, the Explorers.

1)DAYTON. The Flyers have one of the best points in the league. They have one of the better frontcourts if Josh Benson is back to normal. And they have a couple of transfers from BCS leagues, WG Vee Sandford and combo forward Matt Derenbacker, who could fill the team's two seemingly biggest holes.

Helped by a fantastic home-court edge, the Flyers have potential - potential - to win 20 games and prove to be quite dangerous.

2)RICHMOND. The Spiders have one of the best and deepest backcourts in the league and all the guards can shoot. Richmond also has a junior bigman, Derrick Williams, who's set to explode and give the Spidies a beast on the blocks. That's the classic recipe for success in the A-10.

Two things will determine if Richmond takes that next step. Team defense has to improve and some young bigmen need to step up on the boards and provide interior defense following the loss of Darius Garrett. The talent is there, there's enough experience, but there are a few big question marks, too.

3)ST. BONAVENTURE. The prevailing view on this board is that the Bonnies take a big step back with the loss of Nicholson. I am not in that camp. I think the Bona backcourt came on very strong at the end of last season and will be the strength of the team this year. Kloof has star potential, wingman Chris Johnson can shoot and Schmidt has 4 other guards with A-10 talent he can put on the floor.

The frontcourt will be solid - Conger is one of the better forwards in the league. It would help if Marquis Simmons because a major contributor after losing a season to injury.

More to the point, Bona was one of the top three defensive teams in the A-10 last season. Nicholson was a big part of that, but the Bonnies played excellent team defense. Almost every key contributor is an above average defender and some like Kloof are capable of shutting opponents down.

I see a Bonnies team with a lot of depth and experience, pretty good size, a rapidly improving backcourt, and the ability to defend better than most A-10 squads. Rebounding will need to be more of a team effort, but I expect Bona to have a positive number vs. opponents.

Can Bona get back to the NCAAs? I am skeptical, but I think this team will be much better than most fans here believe.
 

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Thank you for your comments about the Bonnies. It's good to see them getting a good look for their guard play which I think helped key their run last year. They will be a tough out all season, and will play a much more interesting version of basketball than they have the last couple years (until the ball got to Nicholson). I'm prepared to see some Conger or Johnson at the 4, which will lead to a lot more spread and running. I think Simmons would have been starting and giving much more security than Cook by the end of last season, so I think he was a major loss, and I am hopeful he is back to full strength.

Dayton I don't see as a darkhorse. The unknowns are not the players, but how they will play. If the transfers do as expected, Dillard is as advertised on this board and they've got the size, I expect them to be very good.

There are 8 or so teams with at least an outside shot at the NCAAs. I don't know that the Bonnies are an at large threat, as we just don't have the strength of schedule, and it may take a month or two to really gel. Hopefully we can repeat last year's formula of getting hot at the right time.
 

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I think WH nailed it re: Richmond. It was somewhat surprising that Richmond's team defense was suspect last season. Richmond's defensive scheme is complex and requires precise communication and coordination between the players. I think we all expected the defense to be great last year with the great athletic talent of Martel and Garrett. But the communication/coordination on defense of KA, K. Smith, Harper, and Geriot was missed even more than their scoring.

How quickly do the young forwards master the defensive scheme? How well do they communicate with their teammates? These are big questions in our defensive scheme. The offense is going to be fine. The team defense will determine the Spiders' fate.

One other note, an incident that occurred during Nelson-Ododa's senior season has reared its ugly head. Nelson-Ododa has been charged with a felony in GA from the 2 year old incident. Per school rules, he is suspended for now, but he is allowed to practice with the team. How this plays out could have a big impact on our season. Hoping Terry Allen or Luke P. are ready to start if necessary.
 

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Saying Dayton has the potential to win 20 games is like saying a teenager has the potential to be caught looking at porn. It's gonna happen.

Sent from my DROIDX using VerticalSports.Com App
 

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WH it appears you have not done your homework. The Dayton Flyers will finish with a 13-3 record and a second place finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

(Insert full conference predictions here)

(Insert full Dayton schedule here)

(Insert full Dayton roster here)
 

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WH it appears you have not done your homework. The Dayton Flyers will finish with a 13-3 record and a second place finish in the Atlantic 10 Conference.

(Insert full conference predictions here)

(Insert full Dayton schedule here)

(Insert full Dayton roster here)
I appreciate your powerful use of bold, but I would also like some long block quotes from obscure basketball blogs and a bevy of links. If you can provide these items, I will consider your post with the utmost seriousness.
 

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The darkest horse of all is of course the jet black Duquesne Stallion.
 

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Huh. I always thought that this was the Duquesne black stallion:

 

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Thank goodness WH, I thought I was losing my mind thinking Dayton could be much better than folks are givng them credit for.

Last season the Flyers interior defense was very poor. The addition of a couple of bigs along with the fact that Alex could be the most improved player on the squad, might be enough to make a difference.

Benson is an offensive minded player.
Kav has plenty of size, however he's slow and doesn't jump well.
The news on Alex is he's the most improved player on the team.
The two new kids are big,strong but lack experience.

The Flyers will go as far as their interior defense will take them. This is the single most important element to this years squad.

The two and three spot?
Vee will get plenty of chances but the player that interests me the most is Matt Derenbacker. The kid can flat out play.

Most experts are picking Dayton middle of the pack.
IMO the Flyers have the best player in the league in Dillard.
If they can find a way to greatly improve the defense down low, they have a chance to make some noise.
If they play interior defense anywhere like last season, see ya in the NIT.
 

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WH always does his homework, and he does it better than anyone (professional or amateur) I have ever encountered.
Last year Dayton finished 19-11.
WH projects them at 18-12 this year.
That would seem to be in line with Welser's pick, leaving them projected at roughly the same RPI.

I have a feeling that X will be projected fairly low in WH's review.
 
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