Superb second half leads Bona to comeback victory over VCU

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — VCU went into halftime with a 15-point lead. After that, the Rams never looked the same.

After being out-played by the Rams on both ends of the floor in the first half, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team used two big runs in the second half to beat VCU, 70-54, at the Reilly Center on Wednesday night.

Bona opened the second stanza on a 20-3 run that was capped with three-consecutive dunks, two of which were accompanied by a defensive foul. Jalen Adaway drove to the rim and dunked over a VCU defender while drawing a foul before Osun Osunniyi did the same. Osunniyi then got another dunk off of a lob pass, which seemingly gave Bona the entirety of the game’s momentum.

After the Rams battled back midway through the half, SBU ended the game on a 19-3 run that spanned over 11 minutes of game time.

“The game was, ‘Who’s going to own the paint?’ In the first half, they owned the paint,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said. “They kept the ball downhill, they were killing us on the back board, we didn’t do a good job against their press… As a coach, you just challenge the guys, and if you have character guys, guys that are competitors, they’re going to respond.”

Jaren Holmes scored 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds for Bona, which improved its play on the glass late in the game after being out-rebounded 28-15 by the Rams in the first half. Bona out-rebounded the Rams 22-14 in the second half, however, and only allowed four offensive rebounds in the second frame after giving up 13 of them in the first.

“The most important minutes (of the second half) were the first five minutes,” Schmidt said. “The first 10 possessions. We couldn’t have played better offensively or defensively in the second half. To hold that team to 14 points and the percentage that they shot, it’s a credit to our guys.”

The Bonnies held the Rams to 14 points on 19% shooting from the field in the second half, while shooting nearly 56% from the field and 50% from three-point range themselves. Bona ended up shooting 42% from the field in the game, while VCU shot just 32%.

“Since I’ve been here as a coach, in my opinion, that’s the best half we’ve played both offensively and defensively,” Schmidt said. “We took care of the ball and ran some stuff that was effective, but in essence it came down to, we started going downhill and we stopped them from going downhill.”

Dominick Welch, who had been held to zero points in SBU’s last game (a win over Duquesne), scored a game-high 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the field, including 5-for-6 from three-point range. Kyle Lofton scored 12 points for the Bonnies, while Jalen Adaway scored nine points and Osun Osunniyi scored nine points to go with nine rebounds.

“I felt that we weren’t playing aggressively enough in the first half, but we always emphasize defense in practice, and I think that defense and rebounding played a big role in letting our offense (come back),” Welch said. “We really wanted to stick to getting stops and cutting that lead down before the first media (timeout).”

Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, who scored a team-high 16 points for the Rams, was held to 1-of-7 shooting for three points in the second half. Vince Williams Jr. scored 11 points for the Rams, while Levi Stockard III and Hason Ward each added eight points.

This was just VCU’s second lost in Atlantic 10 play, as the Rams fell to 3-2 in the league and 10-4 overall.

“We have competitive guys, and I think they were a little embarrassed by how they played in the first half,” Schmidt said. “And they responded. The first tv timeout was critical for us to get some momentum, and we did that.”

This marked Bona’s fifth-straight A-10 win, as the Bonnies improved to 5-1 in the league and 7-1 overall. SBU’s schedule continues to shuffle, as an upcoming Saturday-night road trip to Saint Louis was canceled and replaced by a trip to La Roche University, where the Bonnies will play Duquesne for the second time in eight days.

SBU won its first matchup over the Dukes, 62-48, last Friday at the RC. Bona’s win over VCU gives it sole possession of first place in the A-10, breaking a tie with UMass, which also went into Wednesday night at 4-1 in conference play.

“This is a very good team that we played tonight, and it just shows the will that we have as a team and the chemistry that we’re building together,” Welch said. “It feels like these wins are really different. A step in the right direction.”

UPDATE: Holmes named A-10 player of the week; Bonnies to play at Fordham on Wednesday after GW cancelation

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Whoever said the core of St. Bonaventure’s men’s basketball team was a “Big 3” must’ve forgotten about Jaren Holmes, who on Monday, was named the Atlantic 10’s ‘Player of the Week’.

The junior guard had a dominant performance in the Bonnies’ 83-57 win against Saint Joseph’s last Wednesday. 

Holmes shot 14-for-22 from the field for 38 points, along with 10 rebounds and three assists, against the Hawks. Eight of his 22 makes were from beyond the arc. Holmes attempted 12 three-pointers on his own in the game, a statistic made significant when considering that SBU, as a team, has only attempted an average of 18 three-pointers per game this season.  

Beyond the incredible shooting performance from Holmes on Wednesday, it was his ability to shift momentum that likely won him this honor. While the Bonnies started out slowly against the then 0-8 Hawks, only leading by four at halftime, Holmes took it upon himself to take over early in the second half. 

Holmes, on his own, went on a 9-2 run in just over three minutes, single-handedly stretching St. Bonaventure’s eight-point lead to 15.  Holmes was, in a word, unstoppable.

He’s second in the Atlantic 10 and tied for 34th in the country in three-point shooting percentage, hitting over 52% of his shots beyond the arc, and is ninth in the conference in overall shooting percentage.  

“We’re not playing great, but we have some veteran guys,” Bona head coach Mark Schmidt said on Tuesday. “Guys that really care. It’s a blessing that we have guys that know the system, because we haven’t practiced a ton.”

The Bonnies’ momentum for the week would stop on Wednesday, however, as Friday night brought the postponement of their scheduled game against George Washington, which was supposed to be played Saturday at noon in the Reilly Center. 

Per a statement from George Washington athletics, the Colonials had a positive test within their “Tier One” personnel, forcing the game to be rescheduled. 

Tier One personnel includes all team members who have “frequent close contact” with players, including coaches, medical staff, managers, and student-athletes themselves. No further information has been made available as to when the game will be played, or if it will be played at all. It is also unknown, as of Tuesday, who at GW tested positive. 

“We haven’t had a lot of practice time, especially going five on five, so we just try to get better in all our areas,” Schmidt said. “More chemistry; getting guys more reps. We had an extra day of practice and tried to improve because we aren’t near where we need to be.”

College basketball has had nationwide issues containing the COVID-19 pandemic this season, despite strict protocols put in place prior to the season. The A-10, however, has taken a beating at the hands of the virus. Ten of the league’s 14 schools have had to postpone and/or cancel men’s and/or women’s basketball games so far this season.  

“I don’t want to look at it as we’re the only team that’s going through this,” Schmidt said of the cancelations. “The team that we’re playing tomorrow (Fordham), I think they were quarantined for 46 days. Some people have had it worse, but you’ve got to take it one day at a time and can’t feel sorry for yourself.”

The Week Ahead 

While the virus prevents us from telling exactly what is ahead for this week, the Bonnies are scheduled to play at 1-3 Fordham on Wednesday at 2 p.m., before returning to the Reilly Center to play 3-3 Duquesne on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Bonnies’ game against the Dukes was moved from Saturday to Friday, to be the A-10’s national game that will be broadcasted on ESPN2.

Fordham’s schedule has looked similar to Bona’s this season, as a COVID-19 shutdown in late November derailed the Rams’ non-conference schedule to the point where they were left unable to play any games before A-10 play began. SBU played two conference games this season.

But for how little they’ve played this season, the Rams have been outscored by a collective 53 in the first half of their four games. In stark contrast, the Bonnies have outscored opponents by 30 points in the first half alone.  

“They’re struggling offensively, but that hasn’t affected their defense and hasn’t affected how hard they play,” Schmidt said. “These kids really play. They’re very good defensively. They take a zillion charges. They’re just hard-nosed kids. Blue collar kids that love to compete. They understand who they are and they play awfully hard.”

Chris Austin has averaged over 11 points per game for the Rams this season, while Joel Soriano has averaged 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. The Rams’ lone win of the season came on Jan. 5 at home against Dayton.

As for Duquesne, which is 2-2 in the conference right now, the Bonnies will have to contend against Marcus Weathers. The senior forward is shooting nearly 50% from the floor and averaging 13.2 points per game for the Dukes this season. He’ll face a St. Bonaventure defense that has held opponents to just 41% shooting. 

Those numbers are in no small part due to being ninth in the nation defending against the three, allowing opponents just under 26% shooting from beyond the arc. The good news for the Bonnies is that the Dukes are only shooting just under 29% from there this season.

“In this league or in any league, on any given day, anybody can win games,” Schmidt said. “We’re going down to Fordham understanding that that’s going to be a very difficult game, and hopefully we can play well enough to win by one. This is not an overlooked game.”

Lofton’s game-winner pushes Bona past Richmond for first A-10 win

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Nic Gelyon

RICHMOND, VA — “You want the ball in his hands at the end of the game to make a play.” 

That’s St. Bonaventure men’s basketball head coach Mark Schmidt speaking about junior guard Kyle Lofton. Lofton’s step-back three-pointer with just over two seconds remaining in the game iced a 69-66 win for the Bonnies at preseason Atlantic 10 favorite Richmond on Saturday.  

St. Bonaventure continued its dominance over Richmond, a team the Bonnies have beaten in five of six previous matchups in the last four years. 

During last season’s 75-71 nail-biter against the Spiders, then-sophomore guard Jaren Holmes shined, contributing 17 points, four rebounds and an assist in one of his best performances as a Bonnie. Holmes scored another 17 points on Saturday, with three rebounds and two assists.

Holmes, who suffered an injury in the team’s previous game, was a game-time decision, having played just one minute in the Bonnies’ loss to Rhode Island on Wednesday. He managed to play 31 minutes on Saturday in an efficient showing from the now-junior.

 “He’s just a player,” Schmidt said of Holmes. “That toughness, he brings that… that’s what we were missing at the Rhode Island game, that toughness. He makes big time plays when you need them.” 

Lofton wasn’t far behind with 16 points on 5-for-9 shooting, as well as one rebound and three assists. He also went 5-for-6 from the charity stripe. Bonaventure’s 12-for-14 free-throw shooting played an important role in keeping up with a dangerous offensive team in Richmond.  

In the first half, SBU’s largest lead was six points, a lead that would last only until the Spiders went on a run of seven consecutive makes in the final four minutes of the half. St. Bonaventure’s starters, specifically Lofton and forward/center Osun Osunniyi, looked gassed on defense toward the end of the half as the Spiders bullied the Bonnies in the paint with three consecutive layups. Richmond guard Blake Francis’ buzzer-beating three would give the Spiders a 35-33 lead at halftime. 

Schmidt said that halftime is where the problems began for the Bonnies in their loss to URI.

“We didn’t get off to a good start in the second half against Rhode Island,” Schmidt said. “By getting off to a good start in the second half, it sets the tone for the half, and I think the guys did a really good job in that situation.” 

Indeed, coming out of halftime, both teams traded blows. St. Bonaventure went on a streak of five consecutive makes, including a three by Holmes. The Spiders managed to answer back with a three of their own Blake Francis, as they tried to continue their momentum from the end of the half with a 40-39 advantage.   Neither team shot well from beyond the arc on Saturday, with both sides shooting under 30%. 

Francis’ triple proved to be the last time Richmond would lead in this game, as Bonaventure answered it a minute and a half later with a pull-up jumper from Lofton to take a 41-40 lead. 

SBU was aided by several Spider miscues, including forward Tyler Burton fouling out of the game with just over a minute left in regulation. Burton, one of the Spiders’ best three-point shooters and their best free-throw shooter, had been in foul trouble for most of the game.  

With fifteen seconds left in the game and Bona leading by one, Bona guard Dom Welch was called for a foul, sending Spiders forward Grant Golden to the line for two. Had he made both free-throws, Richmond would’ve had a 67-66 lead, and wouldn’t have had to hit a three down the stretch to tie the game. He only hit one of the two. Osunniyi grabbed the rebound and the Bonnies called a timeout. 

Off the timeout, Lofton drove the ball up the court following a game-tying jumper by Blake Francis. He dribbled around the top of the key with six seconds left in the game. With two seconds left, Lofton pulled up, off-balance, a couple feet behind the arc.   

He hit the shot. The Bonnies avoided going 0-2 to start A-10 play, and advanced to 3-1 overall on the season.

Osunniyi finished with seven points and 13 rebounds, while Welch scored 11 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Richmond was led by Francis, who scored 21 points and handed out three assists. Jacob Gilyard had 13 points for the Spiders, while Nathan Cayo turned in a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

After the game, the character of Lofton and Holmes, as well as the entire team, was not lost on Schmidt.

 “Having a difficult game at Rhode Island, you know, we didn’t play well,” Schmidt said. “It was a struggle… we didn’t play a perfect game today by far, but I thought they handled adversity, they learned from their mistakes. The kids responded in a positive way, and that’s what you like from a coaching perspective.” 

Bona will now return home and prepare for St. Joseph’s, against whom the team will host its A-10 home opener on Wednesday.

Bonnies begin A-10 play with pair of road games at Rhode Island, Richmond

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Mark Schmidt breaks each college basketball season down into three parts: non-conference play, conference play and the postseason.

For Schmidt and the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team, the first part of the season didn’t go according to plan. The team had six of its eight scheduled games canceled due to a variety of COVID-19 concerns, but won both of the games it was able to play.

After beating Akron and Hofstra, the Bonnies enter Atlantic 10 play undefeated for the first time in program history.

“You just accept it and do the best job you can,” said Schmidt, who is in his 14th season as head coach at SBU, of the team’s unprecedented non-conference slate. “We knew this was going to happen. When it happens, it’s like a punch to the gut, but it is what it is. We’re 2-0, and now we turn our attention to the A-10. It would be just like that if we would have played 11 or 12 games in the non-conference.”

Bona begins A-10 play with a pair of road games against two of the conference’s perennial championship contenders. SBU will first travel to Rhode Island on Wednesday, where they will take on the 3-5 Rams.

“(Rhode Island has) got good size,” Schmidt said. “They’ve got high-major transfers. They’re very aggressive offensively and defensively.”

The Rams, who were picked to finish sixth in the league (Bona was picked to finish fourth), have not only already played eight games this season, but have played three games against Power Five conference opponents. URI’s losses include Arizona State, Boston College and Wisconsin, while the Rams own wins over South Florida, San Francisco and Seton Hall.

URI has lost three games in a row after previously enjoying a three-game winning streak. The Rams have already played one A-10 game, falling at home to Davidson on Dec. 18.

“We’ve got to try to keep them in the half court offensively, and take care of the ball so we don’t turn it over so they can get out on the break,” Schmidt said. “If this is a game that is in the 80s or 90s, they’re probably going to win. We’ve got to try to control tempo as much as we can and do a good job of keeping the ball out of the paint.”

Rhody is led by senior guard Fatts Russell, who has averaged 14.4 points per game and over three assists per game this season. The last time the Bonnies played the Rams, Russell scored 29 points in an 81-75 URI win at the Reilly Center.

“It’s very important for us to take care of the basketball and get shots up,” Schmidt said. “If we can do that and hopefully get some second shots, we’ll be okay. They are a tremendous athletic, physical half-court team.”

Senior guard Jeremy Sheppard averages 9.3 points per game for the Rams, while Antwan Walker, a forward who transferred to the program from Georgetown, averages 8.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game.

For Bona, Osun Osunniyi has been a bright spot in the middle of Schmidt’s offense. The junior forward/center has averaged 19.5 points and 10 rebounds per game in Bona’s two victories, while junior guards Kyle Lofton and Dominick Welch trail closely behind, each scoring 16.5 points per game over SBU’s young season.

Bona will enjoy the return of transfer guard Anthony Roberts, who missed the team’s first two games due to an extended quarantine period. Roberts averaged 12.7 points per game for Kent State last season.

Despite the lack of in-game reps that the Bonnies have gotten to prepare for A-10 play, Schmidt said that his team is excited to play “no matter who they’re playing.”

After playing URI, Bona will travel to Richmond to play the Spiders, who were the preseason favorite to win the A-10. The Spiders enter A-10 play with a 6-2 record, owning wins over Kentucky and Vanderbilt. On Dec. 22, Richmond lost at home to Hofstra, a team that Bona had defeated three days prior.

“It’s not an ideal situation,” Schmidt said. “We’ve played two games.”

Bona and URI are scheduled to tip off at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. That game can be seen on ESPN+. The Bonnies will tip off against the Spiders at 5 p.m. on Saturday in a game that can be seen on CBS Sports Network.

“These two games aren’t going to tell us how good we are or how bad we are, just like the first two games that we played didn’t tell us how good we are or how bad we are,” Schmidt said on Tuesday. “I’ll probably tell you in three or four weeks where we’re at.”

Atlantic 10 men’s basketball preview, part two

photo: G. Fiume/Getty Images

By Anthony Goss, Ryan Surmay and Peter Byrne

The 2020-21 college basketball season began on Wednesday, and several Atlantic 10 teams are scheduled to begin play over the holiday weekend.

This article is the second of a two-part series highlighting each A-10 team other than St. Bonaventure, which was previewed several weeks ago. After each team completes its respective non-conference schedule, A-10 play is scheduled to begin in late December.

Massachussetts Minutemen
2019-20 Record: 14-17 
Best Player: Tre Mitchell 

Last season, the Minutemen finished in the middle of the pack in the A-10 despite a losing record overall. While their record was not good, they showed massive improvements throughout the season, led by freshman center Tre Mitchell, who put up just under 18 points and eight rebounds per game.

The team had a strong supporting cast surrounding Mitchell, as well, as TJ Weeks Jr. and now-senior Carl Pierre also put up double digit points. While the Minutemen lost six players between graduation and the transfer portal, the trio of Mitchell, Pierre and Weeks can make some noise in the A-10 if all stay healthy. 

Richmond Spiders
2019-20 Record: 24-7 
Best Player: Jacob Gilyard 

Dayton’s undefeated A-10 campaign last season left many other storylines in the league unnoticed. One of these was the impressive season put together by Chris Mooney’s Richmond Spiders, who went 24-7 and 14-4 in conference play to put themselves in contention for an NCAA Tournament bid.

This season, Richmond will run it back with the same squad except for the loss of Nick Sherod, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury in October. Sherod’s injury aside, this is a talented team picked by many to win the A-10. Jacob Gilyard, a gifted passer who has excellent vision and sets his teammates up well, runs the show for the Spiders. Gilyard can also score the ball, but most of the scoring duties go to his partner in the backcourt, Blake Francis, a crafty lefty who led the Spiders in scoring last season.

Center Grant Golden is a versatile big who fits perfectly in the Richmond offensive system, which the Spiders rarely deviate from despite the abundance of scoring talent they have. Richmond’s senior-laden squad should win a lot of games this season and contend for an A-10 title, as well as an NCAA Tournament bid.  

Rhode Island Rams 
2019-20 Record: 21-9 
Best Players:Fatts Russell 

The Rams may have had the craziest offseason in the A-10 going into this season, due to players entering the transfer portal and graduating.

The biggest pieces to leave were Cyril Langevine and Jeff Dowtin. The two of them alone combined for roughly 25 points and 15 rebounds per night. While half of URI’s offense and rebounding left, Fatts Russell is staying for his senior year and will be the catalyst for them, averaging 18.8 points and 4.6 assist last season.

David Cox is going to have his hands full with having to essentially rebuild his entire team after a third-place finish in the prior season. For most teams, this task would be too daunting, but they were able to land twins  Mehki and Makhel Mitchell, who both were four star prospects. The Mitchells spent their freshman seasons playing at Maryland. Additionally, wings Malik Martin and Jalen Carey are expected to play significant minutes.

Saint Louis Bilikens 
2019-20 Record: 23-8 
Best Player: Jordan Goodwin 

With a top-four finish in the conference last season and almost all of the roster returning, Saint Louis fans have a lot to look forward to in the 2020-21 season. The Bilikens return their top two players in Jordan Goodwin and Hassan French, who both averaged a double-double this past season.

Goodwin was voted as a preseason first team all-Atlantic 10 selection, and French was voted on to the second team. The Bilikens will also have senior Javonte Perkins returning. The 6-6 wing averaged 15 points per game off of the bench last season, which makes him one of the conference’s best sixth men. 

As a whole, expect Saint Louis to play a similar style to last season. The Bilikens were one of the conference’s worst three-point shooting teams at 34%, so expect guards in Yuri Collins and Jordan Goodwin to attack the paint consistently. The Bilikens will also look to give paint touches to Hassan French on a consistent basis.

As a team that always plays hard and plays tremendous defense, the Billikens are more than capable of competing for an A-10 championship. If they click offensively and play well on the defensive end, this team could make some noise come March. 

St. Joseph’s Hawks
2019-20 Record: 6-26 
Best Player: Ryan Daly 

In Billy Lange’s first season as head coach, he was stuck with the task of taking over for longtime coach Phill Martelli, who led the team to seven NCAA Tournaments and six NITs during his 24-year tenure. However, it did not go according to plan after only winning a total of six games.

Ryan Daly has been a bright spot for the team, averaging 20.5 points, 6.9 rebound and 4.3 assists per game last year. His partner in the backcourt, sophomore Cameron Brown, will also be returning in hopes of building upon last season. The Hawks have two transfers in Greg Foster from Gonzaga and Dhamir Bishop from Xavier coming in, which will help provide some depth: an issue last season.

Fans can be hopeful that Billy Lange’s time on the Philadelphia 76ers can help rebuild their culture since, as the Hawks haven’t had a winning season since the 2015-2016 season. But, for now, there is much more work that needs to be done to get back to that point. 

VCU Rams 
2019-20 Record: 18-13 
Best Player: Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland 

VCU collapsed down the stretch last season, going 1-7 in its final eight games. This offseason, the Rams lost most of their scoring and production from a year ago. This will be one of the younger teams in the conference, but has plenty of potential, led by sophomore guard Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland. Primarily a scorer off the bench, a plethora of injuries led head coach Mike Rhoades to insert Hyland into the starting lineup as a freshman, and he handled his new role well.

Despite Hyland’s skillset offensively, scoring may come at a premium, as no returning scorer other than Hyland averaged more than five points per game. Rhoades’ defensive scheme extends out to disrupt the offensive flow of opposing teams, while preventing easy shots off of cuts or open attempts from three. With guys like Vince Williams and Corey Douglass leading the charge, VCU should remain one of the better defensive teams in the conference. This may not be a year in which the Rams contend for the conference title, but they will be competitive in the top tier of the A-10.  

Atlantic 10 men’s basketball preview, part one

photo: David Kohl/USA Today Sports

By Anthony Goss, Ryan Surmay and Peter Byrne

The 2020-21 college basketball season begins on Wednesday, with several Atlantic 10 teams scheduled to begin play over the holiday weekend.

This article is the first of a two-part series highlighting each A-10 team other than St. Bonaventure, which was previewed several weeks ago. After each team completes its respective non-conference schedule, A-10 play is scheduled to begin in late December.

Davidson Wildcats
2019-20 Record: 16-14 
Best Player: Kellan Grady 

For a team known for its precision and consistency, Davidson dealt with many issues last season in terms of injuries and unexpected departures.

This offseason, the Wildcats lost guard Jon Axel Gudmundsson, the 2018-19 A-10 player of the year. Despite a slump early last season, Kellan Grady has shown he has the capability of leading a Wildcat offense that operates on motion and ball movement.

Grady can score the ball at all levels, and his shot is deadly from beyond the arc. Grady will be surrounded by Hyunjung Lee and Michael Jones, who can both knock down three-pointers as well. Luka Brajkovic will shoulder most of the work inside with his skillset inside as a low-post scorer.

Defense will be the issue for Davidson, as it usually is in most seasons, and rough nights on offense could get ugly during A-10 play. However, guarding this offense presents a daunting task for opposing teams.  

Dayton Flyers
2019-20 Record: 29-2
Best Player: Jalen Crutcher

First of all, what a season for the Flyers in 2019-20. They had a legitimate shot to win the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed. Those chances do not come very often for A-10 teams.

With that being said, the Flyers lost some major talent heading into this season. The big loss is Obi Toppin, the Naismith Player of the Year who was selected No. 8 overall in this year’s NBA draft by the New York Knicks. Dayton also lost Trey Landers and Ryan Mikesell to graduation, a duo who combined to average just under 20 points a game last year. That’s a total of 40 points per game lost. However, the Flyers return Jalen Crutcher, who is arguably the best player in the league heading into this season. They also bring back two guards in Ibi Watson and Rodney Chatham who each should put up double digits points per game. Lastly, Dayton also loves what they see from 6’11 transfer Jordy Thiamine from Nebraska. He should be a force down low for the Flyers.

All in all, this team returns enough talent and solid newcomers to compete for a top-four spot in the conference. Will they go 18-0 again? Doubtful. However, this team is definitely good enough to win 12 or 14 games in the A-10. 

Duquesne Dukes 
2019-20 Record: 21-9 
Best Player: Marcus Weathers 

Since Keith Dambrot took over as head coach, Duquesne has gotten better every season. This upcoming season should be no different, as the Dukes return every starter and seven of their top eight scorers from last year’s team that won 21 games.

They are led by 6-8 forward Marcus Weathers, who averaged 14.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game last season. Something to look out for with the Dukes is their offensive efficiency under Dambrot. Last season, they had the fourth-most efficient offense in the A-10 behind Dayton, Richmond and Davidson. Duquesne only scored less than 60 points in only three games last season, so they’re a team that is not afraid of a shootout.

After being picked fifth in the league’s preseason poll,, it is more than fair to say that the Dukes could sneak into the top four when the regular season ends.

Fordham Rams
2019-20 Record: 9-22 
Best Player: Chuba Ohams 

After yet another season of single-digit wins and another last-place conference finish with two A-10 wins, it’s safe to say the Fordham basketball program has taken another step backwards. This season, Fordham will be faced with filling the void left from the graduation of its starting backcourt of Antwon Portley (10.4 points per game) and Erten Gazi (8.9 points per game).

The Rams will look toward Chuba Ohams, a redshirt junior, to continue his success from last season after a knee injury suffered during warmups in January ended his campaign prematurely. Before going down, he averaged 11 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest. While their record may not have shown it, their games last season only had a -3.1 point differential, which gives optimism for Fordham fans coming into this season.

Going into his sixth season with the Rams, head coach Jeff Neubauer’s teams have only gotten progressively worse in conference play, winning eight, seven, four, three and two games per season, respectively. Once again, Fordham was the preseason pick to finish last in the A-10.

George Mason Patriots
2019-20 Record: 17-15 
Best Player: AJ Wilson 

Last season, George Mason constantly adjusted its style of play on the fly to accommodate Justin Kier’s injuries. The inconsistency resulting from this spoiled a historic 11-1 start.

With Kier now gone, the Patriots now turn to redshirt senior AJ Wilson, along with Javon Greene and Jordan Miller, to make some noise in the A-10. Wilson likes to operate from the top of the key, and while he prefers going right, he has the strength to finish around the rim on both sides. Wilson does not hunt a three-point shot off the dribble, preferring to shoot off of a screen or a drive-and-kick.

Last season, the Patriots pressed more often than most teams. This defensive mindset should remain this season, but head coach Dave Paulsen’s emphasis on conservative defensive principles will be noticeable for GM. With a crowded field at the top of the conference, it might be hard for the Patriots to move up much this season, but expect them to play spoiler against conference foes with Wilson as the catalyst.

George Washington Colonials
2019-20 Record: 12-20
Best Player: Jameer Nelson Jr.

This is the second year of the Jamion Christian era, and his mark is already being put on the George Washington program. Christian returns budding young talent in Jameer Nelson Jr., Chase Paar and Jamison Battle, who all played together last season.

Christian also brought in several pieces from the transfer market, notably Sloan Seymour and Brandon Leftwich, who played for him at Siena and Mount St. Mary’s, respectively. George Washington’s offense emphasizes shooting, and the bigs will look to stretch out the floor. Look for Nelson Jr. and the rest of the guards to attack in pick-and-roll action, as the Colonials led the nation in such sets last season and it will likely generate most of their offense this year.

Don’t expect a major jump in the standings, as this team simply is not ready to compete at the top of the A-10. But, with Christian’s emphasis on player development, expect to see the core at George Washington to develop toward a bright future.

La Salle Explorers
2019-20 Record: 15-15
Best Player: David Beaty

Last year, the Explorers finished near the bottom of the pack in the A-10, tied for 10th. They finished the season with a .500 record at 15-15, but struggled in conference play, going 6-12.

To make matters worse, the Explorers lost their best player to the transfer portal in Ed Croswell. Croswell averaged 10.4 points and 7.6 boards for LaSalle last season. Furthermore, the Explorers also lost two senior starters in Isiah Deas and Saul Phiri. The two impact starters that remain are senior David Beaty and Scott Spencer, who combined to average about 20 points per game last season.

The Explorers were picked to finish 13th in the preseason poll, so it could be a rocky year in Philly for coach Ashley Howard and his team.

A-10 commissioner: uncertainty still surrounds men’s basketball season

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The Atlantic 10 released its men’s basketball schedule on Wednesday, but league commissioner Bernadette McGlade made one thing clear: there is still uncertainty surrounding the season.

With conference play scheduled to begin at its usual time in late December, McGlade said that her staff has been continuously working on contingency plans to prepare for the winter.

“We considered punching up the schedule and going to 20 games or 22 games,” McGlade said. “We looked at bubbles, we looked at playing back-to-back at the same site… We tried to be really sensitive to the needs of our media partners and the needs of our facilities and campuses.”

McGlade said that the league had upwards of 10 potential solutions for its schedule, but decided against putting any of its teams in a bubble.

“It’s really tantilizing,” McGlade said of the possibility of an A-10 bubble. “We looked at a lot of locations, even on our own campuses. But the ability to create a bubble in the intercollegiate sense, and control everyone’s comings and goings, just didn’t seem workable as far as our collegiate model.”

McGlade said that the league appointed at COVID-19 medical advisory in May, on which each of the league’s 14 schools are represented.

The league has also been given the right, based on a vote by school athletic directors, to readjust the schedule at any time, or move games. This could potentially make the number of home and away games for each team uneven, McGlade said.

“That could include establishing a smaller pod in an area that isn’t a hotspot, or reversing the site of a game,” McGlade said.

While the league has avoided a “pod” or “bubble,” it’s not ruling out the possibility of needing to pivot to one mid-season.

McGlade also mentioned the possibility of adding more conference games if teams are unable to play the non-conference contests that they currently have scheduled. Each A-10 team has been budgeted seven non-conference games by the NCAA before league play begins.

The A-10 will have two “look-in windows” during which it will determine whether games should, and can, be added. These windows will be on Nov. 18 and Dec. 4.

“If there is a deterioration in our non-conference schedules, then we have the ability to add additional conference games if we need to at that point in time,” McGlade said. “Everyone in the league has agreed to that policy.”

McGlade said that the league has already picked potential dates on which additional games could be added.

The A-10 has also set a minimum testing standard that schools can individually decide to expand on. To meet league standards, however, players and coaches will need to be tested three times per week, and on non-consecutive days.

The number of fans that will be allowed into games will be left up to member institutions, as well, McGlade said.

“We have some institutions that, as of right now, have zero public attendance,” she said. “Others have 10% of their indoor capacity, and one or two that have 15% of indoor capacity.”

None of the league’s schools, she said, are currently set to fill 50% or more of their arenas. St. Bonaventure University announced on Wednesday that, for the time being, no fans will be permitted at home games at the Reilly Center to start the season.

SBU was picked by the press to finish fourth in the A-10 this season, behind Richmond, Saint Louis and Dayton, respectfully. McGlade said that she thought the league would be “stronger than ever” this season, and Bona head coach Mark Schmidt agreed.

“(The A-10) can compete with any league in this country,” Schmidt said. “The hope is that we can get three or four A-10 teams in the NCAA tournament.”

SBU is scheduled to begin A-10 play against Saint Louis, with a date and time to be determined, before hosting Duquesne on Dec. 30.

“I think every team in this league, other than Richmond, has a chip on their shoulder,” Schmidt said. “Nobody wants to be picked number one. At the end of the year, hopefully we’re number one.”

The Bonnies will begin non-conference play on Nov. 25 against Towson, the first of four games that they will play in a bubble at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Basketball: Atlantic 10 Student Media Preseason Poll

(Photo Credit: Atlantic 10 Conference)

The Atlantic 10 Media Days are complete, with the men’s side meeting in Pittsburgh last week and the women’s side congregating in Richmond yesterday. Polls were conducted by a group of select media members and the league’s coaches to determine the preseason predicted order of finish and all-league teams.

Because the media members the conference selected were all professionals, The Intrepid decided to conduct a student media preseason poll made up of student media members from across the A-10.

Seven of the league’s school newspapers contributed by submitting ballots of their men’s and women’s predicted orders of finish and their top male and female players for all-league teams.

The newspapers that participated were: The Intrepid- St. Bonaventure, The Good Five Cent Cigar- Rhode Island, The Duquesne Duke- Duquesne, Flyer News- Dayton, The GW Hatchet- George Washington, The Commonwealth Times- VCU, The Davidsonian- Davidson

Men’s Preseason Projected Order of Finish

  1. Rhode Island- 93 points, two first-place votes
  2. Dayton- 87 points, two first-place votes
  3. VCU- 85 points, two first-place votes
  4. Davidson- 81 points, one first-place vote
  5. St. Bonaventure- 66 points
  6. George Washington- 60 points
  7. Richmond- 58 points
  8. La Salle- 55 points
  9. St. Joseph’s- 34 points
  10. UMass- 33 points
  11. Fordham- 29 points
  12. George Mason- 20 points
  13. Duquesne- 18 points
  14. Saint Louis- 16 points

Preseason All-A10 First Team

Jack Gibbs, Davidson

E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island

Tyler Cavanaugh, George Washington

Charles Cooke, Dayton

Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure

Second Team

Jordan Price, La Salle

Scoochie Smith, Dayton

Hassan Martin, Rhode Island

Mo Alie-Cox, VCU

JeQuan Lewis, VCU

Women’s Preseason Projected Order of Finish

  1. Saint Louis- 95 points, five first-place votes
  2. George Washington- 91 points, two first-place votes
  3. Duquesne- 81 points
  4. Dayton- 75 points
  5. VCU- 72 points
  6. St. Bonaventure- 62 points
  7. Richmond- 47 points
  8. Fordham- 46 points

T9. Rhode Island- 45 points

T9. St. Joseph’s- 45 points

11. George Mason- 29 points

12. UMass- 22 points

13. Davidson- 16 points

14. La Salle- 9 points

Preseason All-A10 First Team

Jackie Kemph, Saint Louis

Caira Washington, George Washington

Charise Wilson, Rhode Island

Saicha Grant-Allen, Dayton

Janelle Hubbard, Richmond

Second Team

Amy Griffin, La Salle

Kadri Ann Lass, Duquesne

Amanda Szamosi, Duquesne

Mariah Ruff, St. Bonaventure

Hannah Schaible, George Washington