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.

Women’s soccer falls to Dayton

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Hayden Robinson

The St. Bonaventure women’s soccer team (4-7-1) lost 10 at home against Dayton (4-6-2) on Thursday night. 

The Dayton goal came when a header from Alexis Goins found the net in the 16th minute. 

This goal would be all Dayton needed, as neither team was able to score for the rest of the game. 

Bonnies midfielder Amber Achladis found a shot on goal in the 39th minute, but was saved by Dayton goalkeeper Carly Becker. 

Dayton generated many more opportunities than the Bonnies. Dayton would see a total of six shots on goal throughout the game, while St. Bonaventure only had one. 

One penalty card was pulled during the game. SBU’s Kacie Fillian drew a yellow card in the 38th minute.

This game would go down to the wire at the end of the second half.

In the last minute of the game, the Bonnies had a golden opportunity with a corner kick by forward Bella May. However, the shot was blocked, leaving time expired. 

Head coach Steve Brdarski spoke after the game about the team’s loss 

The first twenty minutes of the game, we just didn’t have enough energy and not enough pressure,” Brdarski said. “At the end of the day, the coaching staff didn’t do a good enough job getting ourselves prepared for the first twenty minutes of the game and in the end it comes down to that one play right there.” 

The Bonnies will look to improve their record on Sunday when they play at Saint Louis University. 

We have probably the toughest 72 hours we could have,” Brdarski said. “They’re the number one team in the conference right now. Playing them on the road doesn’t do us any justice and that’s going to be a tough game.” 

Brdarski also talked briefly about the week-long break the Bonnies have between their Sunday game against St. Louis and their game against Richmond. 

 We need the week,” he said. “We’ve been losing a lot of close games. Last Sunday, we were in North Carolina and then came home to play, and now we’re getting ready to jump on the road again to Saint Louis. That’s going to do its damage on us.” 

Brdarski said that injuries over the last three games has affected his team.

“What we need is a week to recover and be able to be ready for our next game,” he said.

Quick Hits: Dayton snaps Bona’s win streak

By Jeff Uveino

The last time St. Bonaventure traveled to UD Arena, they shocked the then #15 ranked Dayton Flyers, fueled off 31 points from Jaylen Adams.

But Wednesday night’s contest wouldn’t produce the same results.

After going in as slight favorites on the road and riding an eight-game win streak, the St. Bonaventure Bonnies fell to the Flyers, 82-72. 

The Flyers started hot, turning a 14-4 run to begin the game, into a 14-point halftime lead.

St. Bonaventure closed the gap at single-digits midway through the second half, and again toward the end of the game, but couldn’t catch the Flyers. 

Dayton was hot from the floor the whole game, shooting 56% on the night. Their defense held the Bonnies in check to the tune of just 39% shooting from the field. 

The Flyers received big scoring contributions from multiple players, led by Darrell Davis, who had 28 points. Trey Landers added 17 points, and Jalen Crutcher had 12 points.  

The Bonnies’ backcourt duo of Adams and Matt Mobley filled the score sheet, but were kept quiet enough by the Flyers’ defense to prevent overcoming the team’s overall poor shooting.

Mobley had 24 points, all of which came in the second half. Adams added 15 points and 7 assists. Freshman Izaiah Brockington had 10 points coming off the bench. 

With the loss, St. Bonaventure fell to 11-3 overall, and 1-1 in Atlantic 10 play. Dayton improved to 7-7 overall with the win, and 1-1 in A-10 play. 

The Bonnies will look to rebound as they travel to Philadelphia for a Saturday game with St. Joseph’s. 

Men’s basketball: Bonnies falter in final stretch, lose heartbreaker to Dayton

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

DAYTON, Ohio — With less than a minute left at UD Arena, Jaylen Adams’s quest to lead St. Bonaventure to another road victory over the Flyers was still within reach.

Adams hit a deep three-pointer with 36 seconds left to cut the Dayton lead to 68-65, then answered a Kendall Pollard dunk by drawing a foul and making both free throws.

Unfortunately for the Bonnies, Scoochie Smith and Darrell Davis would cash in on six of eight free throws in the next 20 seconds. Not even another massive Adams three from near the half-court logo to give himself 35 points on the day would be enough to come back, as the Flyers won 76-72. Dayton improved to 21-5, 12-2 in the Atlantic 10, while SBU fell to 16-10, 8-6 in the conference.

“I think we’re better than our record shows,” Adams said, and it’s hard to argue with him. The Bonnies outscored the first-place Flyers 26-11 over the first 12:40 and were able to answer after they went down eight with 1:24 to go, a knockout punch for nearly every UD opponent.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonnies falter in final stretch, lose heartbreaker to Dayton”

Men’s basketball: Bonnies look for second straight win at UD Arena

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team’s last game at University of Dayton Arena doesn’t seem all that long ago.

The Bonnies came into that Feb. 20, 2016 contest having just suffered their worst loss of the season to that point, against a La Salle squad that had one Atlantic 10 win. Bona followed with its best victory of the year, defeating the Flyers 79-72 and resurrecting its NCAA Tournament chances. Jaylen Adams was the star, scoring 31 points and the go-ahead three-pointer with 36 seconds left.

Each school’s 2015-16 team was better than its current squad. In a more nationally-competitive Atlantic 10, Dayton was ranked No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25 entering the game, while Bonaventure was a game better in conference (9-4).

Despite the matchup not being of the same caliber, it has a similar level of importance. With VCU beating Richmond Friday night, UD (20-5, 11-2) needs a win to stay tied atop the A-10 standings. If Bona wins and George Mason beats Rhode Island, Bona (16-9, 8-5) will hold fourth place and be in the driver’s seat for a double-bye in the A-10 Tournament with four games left.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonnies look for second straight win at UD Arena”

Men’s basketball: Bonnies search for first win at UD Arena since 2002

(Jaylen Adams Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

After being upset at La Salle, the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team finishes out its road trip at league-leading Dayton on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for noon at UD Arena.

The host Flyers stand at 21-4, 11-2 in the Atlantic 10. The Bonnies come in at 17-7, with a 9-4 conference record. The teams have seven mutual victories in the league: UMass, Davidson, George Washington, Fordham, Saint Louis, George Mason and Rhode Island. Each has a curious loss to the last-place La Salle Explorers.

The last meeting between the schools on Jan. 19 at the Reilly Center was one of the strangest Bona games in recent memory. The Flyers outscored the Bonnies 45-18 in the first half, sending some fans to the exits. SBU didn’t quit, however, putting up 61 points in the second half, including 15 in the final two minutes, and falling by just six.

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Bonnies search for first win at UD Arena since 2002”

Men’s basketball: Atlantic 10 Week in Review 1/18-1/24

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

After three weeks of Atlantic 10 play, we have a scenario that many envisioned at the season’s commencement: an absolute logjam in the middle of the standings. Seven teams have an in-conference winning percentage over .500, while VCU is the only perfect team left.

Here are the current standings:

Team Conference Overall
VCU 7-0 15-5
Dayton 6-1 16-3
St. Joe’s 5-1 16-3
George Washington 4-2 15-4
St. Bonaventure 4-3 12-6
Davidson 3-3 11-6
Rhode Island 3-3 11-8
Duquesne 3-4 13-7
Saint Louis 3-4 8-11
Richmond 2-3 10-7
Fordham 2-5 11-7
UMass 1-5 8-10
La Salle 1-5 5-12
George Mason 1-6 7-13

Continue reading “Men’s basketball: Atlantic 10 Week in Review 1/18-1/24”

Women’s basketball: Bonnies start challenging road trip at Dayton

(Photo Credit: GoBonnies.com)

By Katie Faulkner @kfaulkner20