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Atlantic 10 Notebook

February 3, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic-10 Conference Notebook

by Jonathan Scherner

Upset for the ages

Richmond suddenly made themselves a candidate for the NCAA Tournament with their upset victory over 12th ranked Kansas.

Tony Dobbins hit a fade-away jumper with one second left to give the Spiders an improbable 69-68 victory at Allen Fieldhouse. It was the first victory by an unranked opponent at Kansas since Nebraska in February, 1999.

Dobbins’ game-winner came on a tough shooting night where he hit just two of eight shots. Mike Skrocki led the Spiders with 23 points.

Flying high

St. Joseph’s just seems to keep getting better. The Hawks used a combined 40 points from Delonte West and Jameer Nelson to destroy St. Bonaventure 114-63 and remain undefeated at 17-0. St. Joe’s is now ranked #3 in the nation and will face their next challenge Saturday at cross town rival Temple.

Quite an achievement

Temple coach John Chaney reached a significant milestone this week when he won his 700th career game 76-57 over St. Bonaventure. The Hall of Fame coach is just the 16th Division I coach to reach 700 wins. 475 of those victories have come as head coach of Temple.

Wooden contenders

Both St. Joe’s Jameer Nelson and Xavier’s Romain Sato stayed on the revised Wooden Award list that was released last week. Nelson and Sato survived the cut that lowered the list to 30 players. Sato has been the lone bright spot for Xavier and Nelson has been making a lot of noise around the country as he has led his Hawks to a perfect 17-0 start.

Under the radar

No one seems to be talking about the Dayton Flyers, but they have put together quite a start to the Atlantic 10 season. With all the talk surrounding St. Joe’s perfect start and Richmond’s upset victory, the Flyers have managed to go unnoticed in the A-10. But after a rough end to the non-conference season, Dayton has started off 6-0 in the A-10 and has a two-game lead in the West.

Player of the week

Gary Neal – So. Forward LaSalle

Neal averaged 28 points as LaSalle split two conference games. In the loss to Dayton, Neal poured in 30 points and followed that performance up with 26 points in a road victory over Duquesne. Against the Dukes, Neal scored 22 second half points to spur the Explorers come from behind win.

Rookie of the week

Rashaun Freeman – So. Forward Massachusetts

In a disappointing season for the Minutemen, Freeman has been the one bright spot. In winning his fifth Rookie of the Week award this season, Freeman averaged 16 points and nine boards over a three game stretch. After starting the stretch with two double doubles, Freeman scored 16 points to lead UMass to an upset victory over Temple.

Dayton Flyers (16-3, 6-0)

The Flyers have quietly put together a great season. After reaching 22nd in the polls in December, three losses knocked Dayton off everyone’s radar. Since then, the Flyers have won six straight and hold a two-game lead over George Washington in the A-10 West. Their most recent victory was a narrow road win over LaSalle, 77-75. Ramod Marshall led the Flyers with 24 points to help Dayton hang on down the stretch. The Flyers’ next big test comes in the form of archrival Xavier Saturday.

Duquesne Dukes (8-10, 3-4)

The Dukes continued their solid turn around in Atlantic 10 play as they have three wins, including a huge victory over Xavier earlier in the season. Duquesne suffered a tough loss to LaSalle Wednesday at home, when the Explorers pulled out the 74-70 victory. The Dukes were led by Elijah Palmer’s 20 points and Ron Dokes’ 15 points and 13 boards. Duquesne will look to get back on track at St. Bonaventure Sunday.

Fordham Rams (4-13, 1-5)

After a strong non-conference season, the Rams have come up short more often than not in Atlantic 10 play. The Rams’ most recent loss was at home against Massachusetts. Michael Haynes led the Rams with 28 points, 21 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a bad first half. The loss drops Fordham into last place in the A-10 East. Fordham looks to regain their touch when they travel to Temple Wednesday.

George Washington Colonials (11-7, 5-2)

The Colonials have continued their surprising turnaround in the A-10 as they now sit just a game and a half behind Dayton in the West. A sign of their turnaround came Wednesday, when the Colonials destroyed Xavier 81-60. TJ Thompson scored 19 and Pops Mensah-Bonsu had 14 points and eight boards in the dominating victory. As the Colonials continue to get better every week, they will be a tough out come postseason play in March.

LaSalle Explorers (8-11, 3-3)

The Explorers are yet to live up to the preseason expectations, but recently they’ve been showing signs of finding their game. Gary Neal’s 30 helped LaSalle make a frantic comeback at home against Dayton before going down in the final minutes. The strong play carried over in their victory at Duquesne Wednesday night. The one-two punch of Neal and Steven Smith again led the way. Neal had 26 points, 22 in the second half, and Smith had a double-double with 25 points and 14 boards. LaSalle looks to keep wrecking havoc when they take on Rhode Island and St. Joe’s in the next week.

Massachusetts Minutemen (7-11, 2-5)

The Minutemen appear to have decided to start playing some basketball as they ended their five game skid. After starting A-10 play winless, UMass has rebounded with victories over Temple and Fordham. Rashaun Freeman has carried the Minutemen all season and continued to do so in the victories. Freeman scored 16 against Temple and 18 against Fordham. UMass will look to prove that their winning ways weren’t a fluke when they hit the road to take on Rhode Island Saturday.

Rhode Island Rams (13-7, 2-4)

After a great non-conference season, the Rams have been struggling in conference play. After a four game losing streak, Rhode Island appeared to have woken up last Saturday when they destroyed Fordham 75-54. The Rams were led by Dawan Robinson with 18 points. Rhode Island will look to keep their postseason hopes alive and kicking when they host rising UMass Saturday.

Richmond Spiders (11-8, 3-3)

What woke Richmond up? After a lethargic start to the conference season, the Spiders went on the road and came up with an amazing upset over then 13th-ranked Kansas. Richmond kept that momentum going as they dominated a slumping Xavier team, 53-44, led by Tony Dobbins’ 18 points. With an RPI that is now in the low 30s, Richmond is looking to make a serious push for NCAA Tournament consideration. If they want to keep their hopes alive they must knock off George Washington Saturday before a huge showdown with division leader Dayton next week.

St. Bonaventure Bonnies (6-11, 2-4)

The Bonnies have been easy pickings lately as they didn’t put up much of a fight against Temple and St. Joe’s. The Hawks crushed the Bonnies 114-63 and Temple coach John Chaney got his 700th victory against them. The Bonnies look to bounce back Sunday when Duquesne comes to town.

St. Joseph’s Hawks (17-0, 7-0)

The Hawks seem to be unstoppable. After dominating the lowly Bonnies, St. Joseph’s climbed to 3rd in the polls and look to run the table. With the backcourt duo of Jameer Nelson and Delonte West leading the way, not many teams have put up a fight against the Hawks this season. The Hawks’ only real challenges left on their schedule appear to be in the next two weeks as they take on Temple, Villanova and Dayton.

Temple Owls (7-9, 2-4)

The Owls finally got Chaney that win, as they controlled the tempo against St. Bonaventure to get head coach John Chaney his 700th career coaching victory. David Hawkins led the Owls with 21 points as he took over the A-10 scoring lead from Marques Green. Win number 701 might not be as easy to come by as St. Joe’s comes to town Saturday.

Xavier Musketeers (10-8, 2-4)

The Musketeers’ post season hopes are quickly fading as they have lost four of their last five to drop to dead last in the A-10 West. Xavier doesn’t seem to be improving as they shot below 40 percent their last two games against Richmond and George Washington. Maybe it will take a rivalry to get things going again, as Xavier travels to face rival Dayton Saturday afternoon.


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