Men’s basketball: A-10 Awards

By Chuckie Maggio @chuckiemaggio

The Atlantic 10 Tournament is less than a week away. Before the conference converges on Brooklyn, it’s time to hand out some awards. The Intrepid doesn’t have an official ballot, but here’s how I would vote on each league honor:

Player of the Year: DeAndre Bembry, St. Joseph’s. I originally had Dayton’s Jordan Sibert winning this award because he’s the best player on the team I think is the best in the conference. However, the award is for the best overall player in the conference, and Bembry has been just that this year. The sophomore leads the league in scoring at 17.8 points per game and averages 3.5 assists a contest. He has scored or assisted on 45 percent of his team’s baskets, which is absolutely insane, and he’s seventh in rebounds as well at 7.9 a game. The Hawks aren’t the best team in the A-10 by any means, but Bembry has kept them afloat; there’s no way they are 7-10 in the league without him. All those factors make the St. Joe’s forward the Player of the Year.

Honorable mention: Sibert, Jordan Price (LaSalle), E.C. Matthews (Rhode Island)

Defensive Player of the Year: Hassan Martin, Rhode Island. Martin leads the league in blocks at 3.14 a game and is eighth in rebounding at 7.7 a contest. He has had nine games with double-digit rebounds and six games with five or more blocks. All the more impressive: he has more blocks (88) than personal fouls (73). The sophomore’s most impressive game this year was against La Salle on Jan. 22, when he registered 10 blocks and nine rebounds to go with his 14 points. You don’t see a forward come a rebound short of a triple-double every day, but Martin is not your average forward. He should take home the hardware.

Honorable mention: Shevon Thompson (George Mason), Youssou Ndoye (SBU)

Rookie of the Year: Christian Sengfelder, Fordham. If Jaylen Adams hadn’t missed the last third of the conference slate due to injury he would have definitely been the front-runner, but Sengfelder had an incredible freshman season as well. He led a young Rams team in rebounds (7.3 a game) and field goal percentage (49 percent) while playing just under 34 minutes a game. Teammate Eric Paschall has a strong chance at this award as well after leading the team in scoring with 16.5 points per game, but Sengfelder’s defense will likely give him the upper hand.

Honorable mention: Paschall, Adams

Most Improved Player: Kendall Pollard, Dayton. Pollard went from playing 8.5 minutes a game to playing 28.6, and he made the most of his increased workload. He scored 12.4 points a game after scoring just 2.2 last year and grabbed 5.5 boards a game as opposed to averaging 1.3 last season. His improvement was certainly necessary after the December dismissals of Devon Scott and Jalen Robinson left the Flyers with just seven scholarship players.

Honorable mention: Jack Gibbs (Davidson), Mo Alie-Cox (VCU)

Sixth Man Award: T.J. Buchanan, Rhode Island. In a season where coaches were reluctant to use their benches, Buchanan has arguably been the most productive reserve. He has not started a game this season but has played 22.8 minutes a game in which he is leading the team in assists per game with 2.6 in addition to his average of 5.5 points. Four double-digit point games also help Buchanan’s case.

Coach of the Year: Archie Miller, Dayton. The decision is clearly between Miller and Davidson’s Bob McKillop. The Wildcats’ dominating victory over VCU on Thursday night gave them a chance to win the regular season title and will surely swing some votes McKillop’s way. There is no wrong selection, but Miller has done more with less the whole season, and even coming up just short for the top spot wouldn’t lessen the incredible performance he’s had. Not many coaches go 16-4 after booting their best big men off of the team, and guiding the Flyers through all the adversity should help Miller grab the top spot.

Honorable mention: McKillop, Dan Hurley (Rhode Island)

First Team All-Conference:

Kendall Anthony, Richmond

Jordan Sibert, Dayton

DeAndre Bembry, St. Joseph’s

Treveon Graham, VCU

Hassan Martin, Rhode Island

Second Team All-Conference:

Jordan Price, La Salle

E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island

Marcus Posley, St. Bonaventure

Dyshawn Pierre, Dayton

Shevon Thompson, George Mason

Third Team All-Conference:

Jack Gibbs, Davidson

Tyler Kalinoski, Davidson

Patricio Garino, George Washington

Dion Wright, St. Bonaventure

Youssou Ndoye, St. Bonaventure

All-Defensive Team:

Mandell Thomas, Fordham

JeQuan Lewis, VCU

Hassan Martin, Rhode Island

Shevon Thompson, George Mason

Youssou Ndoye, St. Bonaventure

Women’s basketball: Fordham Preview

By Joseph Phelan, @JPhelan13

The Bonnies meet the Rams in the semifinals this afternoon at 1:30.

The winner advances to the championship game Sunday morning.

Here are some quick thoughts and statistics:

Rematch: On Feb. 1 St. Bonaventure beat Fordham 74-67. Chelsea Bowker sunk three second-half threes, while Katie Healy had a career-high 27 points. St. Bonaventure forced the Rams to shoot under 40 percent from the field. Emily Michael’s defense on Fordham’s Erin Rooney had been fantastic. Rooney shot 3 for 16 on the afternoon.

Continue reading “Women’s basketball: Fordham Preview”

Behind the Wolfpack: Fordham modeling after Bona’s

By Ryan Lazo, feature columnist, @RMLazo13

Fordham coach Tom Pecora sat in the interview room following the Rams’ 82-63 loss at the Reilly Center last February and paid the ultimate compliment to St. Bonaventure.

“I want to build my team in their image.”

Pecora, like Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt, inherited a program that has been a basement dweller for a number of years. The job at hand: to turn a once proud program around and excite its fan base.

Sound familiar?

It should because in his four plus years, Schmidt has done the same for the Bonnies.

Schmidt improved the team every year, recruiting better players, earning more wins and moving the program to respectability.

At Atlantic 10 Conference Media Day, Pecora looked at the preseason polls and saw St. Bonaventure sitting at the No. 4 spot.

He said it’s a credit to Schmidt and spoke of the importance of developing players.

“Developing a program does not happen overnight, and you can’t look for quick fixes,” Pecora said. “You have to build steadily, making good recruiting decisions, and you have to be patient and develop your players.”

In his nine years as head coach of Hofstra, the Pride compiled a 155-126 record and had four post-season appearances (three National Invitation Tournament and College Basketball Invitational).

At Fordham, it didn’t take long for him to bring the excitement back to Rose Hill gym after defeating St. John’s, an eventual NCAA tournament team, one who beat Duke and eventual champion UConn.

Pecora realized how important Fordham’s success is following that game.

“A gentlemen, had to be in his 70s, runs up to me, hugs me and begins to cry,” Pecora said. “He told me that he’s supported Fordham athletics for 50 years and this is what we dream of.

“That’s when it hit me, the tradition of this school, the passion of the alumni, it made me realize what Fordham is all about.”

Sound familiar, right?

The Rams took small steps last season, showing they could compete in the A-10, but finishing with a 7-21 record.

However, they did end their 41-game conference losing streak, propelling them into his second season at the helm.

The Rams have already exceeded their win total from last season (8-9), achieving victories over Georgia Tech and No. 21 Harvard in addition to dominating their home court with a 7-2 record.

Fordham is led by junior Chris Gaston, averaging 16.2 points per game, followed by sophomore guard Branden Frazier, averaging 12.6 ppg, reminiscent of the Andrew Nicholson, Demitrius Conger pairing of the Bonnies.

With nine of its 13 players either a freshman or sophomore, Fordham is in the thick of the rebuilding process.

Like St. Bonaventure, Fordham is a team with a rich tradition and recent lows, but Pecora is already picturing a Bona-like ascent.

“We were selling out the place when we weren’t winning, this place is going to rock when we’re good,” Pecora said of Rose Hill.

Fordham takes on St. Bonaventure Saturday at the Reilly Center at 2 p.m. The Bonnies are 6-1 at home, but lost to what looked to be an unimposing Arkansas State.

There are no easy home games in conference play — and this will be a lot closer than the 82-63 rout last year.

With two signature wins already and a junior leading a team of youngsters, the Rams are ready to keep Rose Hill rocking into the A-10 campaign.

And the Bonnies better be ready.