Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Around the Atlantic 10

DuquesneXavierSt. BonaventureSaint LouisDaytonCharlotteRichmond

By Matt Kasznel
Duquesne Duke

For a team with just one senior last year, there was a lot of turnover on the Duquesne men’s basketball roster this offseason.

Besides watching senior guard Jason Duty graduate, the team lost third-leading scorer Melquan Bolding (transfer), as well as guard Chase Robinson (transfer), forward Oliver Lewinson (transfer) and center Morakinyo Williams (early graduation).

Last season also ended with some drama, as guard Bill Clark was suspended for the final game of Duquesne’s season, a 65-51 loss to Princeton in the first round of the CBI, for violating team rules. This came just months after Clark was suspended due to questions surrounding his recruitment years earlier.

Combined with the graduation of star guard Aaron Jackson the year before, the Dukes struggled to a 16-16 record, the first time during Duquesne coach Ron Everhart’s four-year tenure that the squad did not improve on the previous year’s record.

This year, the Dukes hope that the reinstated senior Clark and fellow senior Damian Saunders can help the Dukes back to the NIT or better. Saunders, recently named one of Sports Illustrated’s top 10 defenders in college basketball, is a nightly stat-sheet filler; he averaged a double-double (15 points, 11.3 rebounds) to go with 2.8 steals and 2.9 blocks a game. The mercurial Clark will look to bounce back from a tumultuous year where his previously pinpoint shooting declined precipitously.

Clark wasn’t the only one bitten by the poor-shooting bug last year; the team posted its worst shooting percentages of any year under Everhart. Part of the plummet can be attributed to the loss of Jackson, who excelled at penetrating the lane and creating open shots for Clark, Saunders and others.

Everhart won’t be looking for the next Jackson, but he will be looking for someone who can give his teammates the open 3s the offense is built around – or, at the very least, someone other than Clark (74 percent) who can shoot better than 70 percent from the charity stripe.

The losses of Lewinson and Williams makes a small lineup even smaller, with senior David Theis and sophomore Rodrigo Peggau the tallest returning members of the team. This could lead to more of Everhart’s fast-paced “10-40″ strategy, which features wholesale substitutions every few minutes to keep fresh legs on the floor.

Bolding’s transfer will require Duquesne to lean more heavily on guards B.J. Monteiro and Sean Johnson, particularly now that starting point guard Eric Evans will be sidelined until mid to late December with a fractured foot. But the Dukes will also be counting on production from its five true freshman, particularly highly-touted prospects T.J. McConnell (34.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 9.1 assists at Chartiers Valley High School) and Joel “Air Jamaica” Wright (25 points, 20 rebounds at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn)

Monteiro might be the X-factor for the Dukes’ success or failure. A fringe player his freshman year, Monteiro stepped into the starting lineup during Bolding’s extended absence due to injury and scored 11.1 points in 28 minutes per game. One of the better shooters on the team last season, Monteiro must continue to find high-percentage shots while also improving his dismal free throw shooting (50.4 percent) if the Dukes are to improve on last season’s .500 record.

By Scott Mueller
Xavier Newswire

No Xavier men’s basketball player has ever missed out on an Atlantic 10 regular season championship. In order for the Musketeers to capture their fifth straight title, second-year coach Chris Mack will have to keep his team from becoming complacent.

The Musketeers lost one of the most explosive players in college basketball when Jordan Crawford left for the NBA last season. They will look for the combined efforts of senior Danté Jackson, junior Tu Holloway and sophomore Mark Lyons to compensate for the loss of Crawford.

Last season, Holloway established himself as one of the top point guards in the conference and as one of the top free throw shooters in the country. Holloway made as many free throws last season as any other Musketeer attempted.

“I think he is one of the best point guards in the nation,” Mack said. “For us to be as good as we want to be, he has to embrace the responsibility and work that comes with those expectations. I know he is ready for the challenge.”

In some respects, replacing Crawford will be easier than replacing Jason Love. Seven-foot junior Kenny Frease was a Top 50 recruit coming into college, but has yet to show any true dominance. Frease has averaged just over five points a game for the past two seasons. Love averaged 11.8 points per game last season and led the team in rebounds.

If Frease can increase his scoring and rebounding, the Musketeers could be looking at another NCAA tournament run.

Frease and senior Jamel McLean combined to average just under 12 rebounds a game last season, a number that will have to go up for the Muskies to be competitive.

To be aggressive on the boards the Musketeers will need some of their freshmen to contribute solid minuets. 6-foot-8 freshman Jordan Latham should see substantial playing time.

St. Bonaventure
By Ryan Papaserge
The Bona Venture (St. Bonaventure)

For the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team this season, its success will likely revolve around just one player – center Andrew Nicholson, a first team preseason All-Conference and All-Defensive team selection. After averaging 16.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season, the Mississauga, Ont., native is without the help of forward Jonathan Hall due to graduation.

Shoring up Nicholson in the starting lineup will be guards Ogo Adegboye and Michael Davenport. Adegboye, a senior, will likely replace Malcolm Eleby, who transferred over the summer. The London native played on Great Britain’s Under-23 national team during the offseason, leading the team to the prestigious Eurobasket tournament in 2011.

Davenport, a sophomore may be the second-most important piece to the Bonnies’ offense this season, after showing flashes of brilliance last season. The Cincinnati native ended the season with 13 straight games of producing 10 points or more, and shot 73.3 percent from the free-throw line, leading the team.

An even bigger question mark for the team is a lack of a solid presence at the forward position. While Nicholson will see some playing time as a forward, the group of redshirt junior Da’Quan Cook, sophomore Brett Roseboro and redshirt sophomore Marquise Simmons showed little signs of promise last season. One of the three will have to step up, but it is expected that Cook will start when the season begins.

Coming off of the bench this season to contribute will be freshman guards Sam de Haas (a Dutch product) and Matthew Wright (a Toronto native), sophomore guards Jamil Goodwin, Joe Bucher, and Demetrius Conger, and forward/center Jake Houseknecht.

St. Bonaventure finished with a 15-16 mark last season, reaching the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals for the first time since 2002. Other than Nicholson, there is too much uncertainty at this point to claim the the Bonnies will match last season’s mark.

Saint Louis
By Derrick Neuner
The University News (Saint Louis)

The Saint Louis men’s basketball team’s hopes of competing for the Atlantic 10 conference title diminished with the loss of its two star players Kwamain Mitchell and Willie Reed last week, but coach Rick Majerus will fill the voids and rekindle hope with perhaps the most dynamic recruiting class in school history and returning players.

Mitchell and Reed were suspended from SLU on Oct. 13 by the student conduct board amid allegations that they sexually assaulted a female student last spring. Mitchell, the leading scorer on last year’s squad, has been allowed to reapply to the school; Reed has opted to transfer.

Majerus will now look to juniors Kyle Cassity, Paul Eckerle and Brian Conklin to lead on both offense and defense. The rest of the Billikens’ lineup will consist of All Conference Third-Team selection and sophomore Cody Ellis, sophomore Christian Salecich and All-Rookie selection and freshman Rob Loe.

Ellis joined the Billikens in January last season and made an immediate impact. As a 2009-10 All-Rookie selection, he registered 10.5 points per game and collected 4.9 rebounds per game. Despite missing 13 games, Ellis finished third on the team with 39 3-pointers.

Perhaps the biggest question mark surrounding the 2010-11 Billikens is the incoming freshman class. Highlighted by New Zealander Roe, six freshmen and a sophomore transfer have been added to the Billikens’ roster. Guard Mike McCall collected All-State honors in Illinois after averaging 18.4 ppg and 4.6 assists per game while scoring 20 or more points in a game 13 times while guard Jordair Jett garnered All-State plaudits in Minnesota and led his high school team to an appearance in the state championship and averaged 20 ppg

The Billikens’ 30-game slate is highlighted by non-conference contests against defending national champion Duke and Southeastern Conference contender Georgia, as well as an appearance in the Cancun Governor’s Cup. The Billikens potentially could play 16 games against foes that earned a postseason tournament bid in 2010.

The Billikens compiled a 23-13 overall record last season and finished fourth in the A-10 with an 11-5 mark. SLU advanced to the final of the College Basketball Invitational.

By Jacob Rosen
Flyer News (Dayton)

The Dayton men’s basketball team is on the verge of yet another exciting season. Returning from a National Invitational Tournament title a season ago, the young Flyers are hoping to soar back to the NCAA tournament in 2010-11.

Last year’s team underperformed in Atlantic 10 Conference play, but defeated four consecutive Bowl Championship Series conference teams to win the NIT. This year, the team hopes to recover from the loss of seven graduated players in combining returning stars and young prospects.

“So it’s interesting,” Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. “We did lose a lot and we lost a lot of experience, a lot of wins, and a lot of guts of guys that had to fight through some tough times, but we still do have a lot of guys coming back too. You know, it’s an interesting mix. A group of guys is going to have to take different roles and expanded roles, and some new guys are going to have to make an impact for us.”

Leading the charge for the Flyers, projected to finish fourth in the A-10 according to a preseason poll of the conference coaches, will be senior forward Chris Wright and junior forward Chris Johnson. The two led UD in both scoring and rebounds last season, and will have to set the bar high again in terms of their commitment to the team to get the attention of the newcomers.

“Personal goals? I don’t have [any] personal goals,” Wright said. “I just go out there and help my team, you know, and hope that my team has a tremendous year. If the team plays good, if everyone contributes and plays their roles, then we will be the team we want to be.”

A new backcourt highlights the changes for the Flyers this season. Highly-touted freshman point guard Juwan Staten and redshirt junior transfer Josh Parker from Drake University will compete for starting roles. Both are optimistic about the start of the season and their contribution to a exciting time in Dayton’s basketball history.

“I mean, I think the sky is the limit,” Staten said. “We have a great team, and if we play our type of basketball I feel that we can beat anyone.”

By John Carpenter
University Times (Charlotte)

A lot of changes happened in Charlotte during the offseason. After starting out 18-5 overall and 8-1 in A-10 play, the Charlotte men’s basketball team looked to be in prime position for a trip to the NCAA tournament. Inexplicably, the 49ers lost seven of the last eight and missed postseason play all together, leading to the firing of long-time head coach Bobby Lutz and his staff.

Four starters from that team are back along with new head man Alan Major. Forward Shamari Spears (16.0 points per game, 5.9 rebounds per game) leads the Charlotte attack alongside sophomore Chris Braswell (9.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg). Prior to last season, Lutz said Spears would be Charlotte’s leading scorer. Spears fulfilled that expectation by scoring in double figures in all but four games. Braswell was named to the A-10 All-Rookie team after recording eight double-doubles.

Major hasn’t had a lot of floor time with the two, but they definitely fit in to what he wants to do offensively.

“I think the big thing with those guys is that we want them to play with unbelievable energy,” Major said. “If you have four guys that are playing at their max effort, you hope that it’s going to wear down the other front line at some point.”

Senior An’Juan Wilderness is the third member of Charlotte’s returning frontcourt, but will have to stay healthy if he wants to hold onto his job. Last season marked the second time in a row he’s played only 24 games because of injury.

Behind Wilderness on the depth chart is 6-6 junior Javarris Barnett (2.4 ppg, 1.9 rpg), who showed signs last season, including a 10-point, 11-rebound performance in Charlotte’s 71-59 road win over Richmond.

Major also has other options, depending on how he wants to configure the lineup. Center Phil Jones led the team with 65 blocks last season but won’t fit in every offensive scheme because of his size. Gokhan Sirin has some nice size at 6-foot-9, but is much more comfortable from behind the arc, as 44 of his 61 shot attempts came from downtown.

Charlotte looked to have a nice option in forward K.J. Sherrill, but Sherrill tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee and will be sidelined for 8-12 weeks. To compensate, look for Charlotte to land a JUCO transfer that could make an immediate impact.

Charlotte has one of the best front courts in the A-10 and should be bolstered by Major’s long time experience with big men. The same can’t be said for the back court.

Look for Charlotte to implement a point guard by committee strategy to get the job done this season. Derrio Green (13.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg) will start at shooting guard after a nice sophomore campaign. Green knocked down a team-high 79 3s and hit five or more in five different games, including a season-high eight against Massachusetts. He was second on the team with 72 assists, but also turned it over 54 times, leaving a less than desirable assist-to-turnover ratio.

The heir apparent to former point guard DiJuan Harris is transfer Jamar Briscoe. As a freshman at North Carolina Central, Briscoe was second in the nation in freshman scoring at 17.8 ppg behind Liberty’s Seth Curry.

“We need him to keep being the same scoring threat that he’s been,” Major said. “He may just have to be more efficient because he won’t have to be the shooter that he was at Central.”

Major’s third option to play the point guard will be his first recruit, freshman guard Luka Voncina from Slovenia. Voncina averaged 14.4 points per game and 5.4 assists to lead his junior team to a national championship in Slovenia. Voncina also represents a recruiting edge for Charlotte, as he chose the 49ers over Seth Greenburg and Virginia Tech.

Expect Briscoe and Voncina to see the majority of minutes at point guard, but Green definitely has the ability to slide in if he’s needed.

Major will earn most of his money by figuring out the situation in the backcourt. If he does, Charlotte has more than enough talent in the frontcourt to contend for a conference title. Spears will receive most of the attention in the paint but Braswell has the most potential and could be a double-double player every game.

Charlotte’s non-conference schedule will be highlighted by trips to Oregon State and Georgia Tech and a home game against Tennessee before Christmas.

Lutz overachieved last season with four new starters and won 19 games. Now with four returning starters and a new coach, expect Charlotte to achieve around 19 wins, possibly 20.

By Andrew Prezioso
The Collegian (Richmond)

Despite losing two starters from last year’s team that reached the First Round of the NCAA tournament, the Richmond men’s basketball team is poised to duplicate that success.

Spider coach Chris Mooney returns for his sixth year leading a program that was in shambles when he first got the job. After winning just eight games in 2007, Mooney has led the Spiders to back-to-back 20-win seasons and a No. 7 seed in last year’s NCAA tournament.

Much of that tournament team returns this year, including the 2010 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Kevin Anderson. He declared for the NBA Draft last year but withdrew his name. For the first time in Anderson’s career, he will be without fellow guard David Gonzalvez, who was second on the team in scoring.

“[Gonzalvez] could do a lot of things I could do, but since he’s bigger than me, the best defender was usually on him,” Anderson said. “So now they’re probably going to be on me so it’s going to be tougher to score and find ways to get my teammates involved this year.”

Besides replacing Gonzalvez and Ryan Butler, the biggest question will be how well the team plays against big men. In last year’s NCAA Tournament game, Saint Mary’s Omar Samhan, a 6-foot-11 center, dominated against Richmond’s smaller lineup. A lot of that pressure will fall to freshman Derrick Williams and senior Dan Geriot, who was an all-conference player as a sophomore but tore his ACL two years ago and struggled in his return last year. Part of the problem last year for Geriot was that he increased his weight from 230 pounds to 265 pounds during his year-long rehab.

“I’m happy to be back at this weight,” Geriot said. “I’m moving better. I’m not that quick, but I’m a little quicker at 230 than at 260.”

With a tough non-conference schedule that includes either road or neutral-site games against Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Seton Hall and a possible game against Purdue, the Spiders (26-9, 13-3 A-10)  will be tested early in the season.  But with the returning talent, another 20-win season and NCAA berth is expected in Richmond.

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