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Atlantic 10 Notebook

February 21, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Atlantic-10 Conference Notebook

by Jonathan Scherner

These Hawks just keep soaring higher

St. Joseph’s climbed up to number two in the polls as they remained undefeated. The Hawks used victories over Dayton, LaSalle, and Fordham to stay perfect and reach number two after Duke lost.

St. Joe’s is led by Jameer Nelson. Nelson is averaging 20 points a game and just over five assists. It was announced last week that he is one of the 20 final finalists for the James Naismith College Player of the Year award.

St. Bonaventure receives punishment

St. Bonaventure’s punishment was handed down by the NCAA this past week. The Bonnies are banned from the 2004 NCAA Tournament and put on three years probation after it was discovered last season that they were playing with an ineligible player. After being forced to forfeit six games, the team decided to not play the remainder of the season.

Over their three years probation, the Bonnies will lose three scholarships each season while they are on probation. The Atlantic 10 will decide if St. Bonaventure will be allowed to play in the A-10 Tournament in Dayton this year.

Xavier is on a roll

After losing 74-67 to Dayton at the end of January, the Musketeers have won five straight including a victory over cross-town rival Cincinnati.

Xavier is led by senior point guard Lionel Chalmers, who scored 20 points in the Cincy victory and is averaging just over 17 points a game.

Player of the Week

Jameer Nelson – senior guard, St. Joseph’s

Nelson was able to avoid the Sports Illustrated cover jinx to he earns his sixth Player of the Week award of the season. He averaged 18 points, 5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 4.5 steals in two Saint Joseph’s wins as the Hawks ran their record to 22-0. Against Dayton, Nelson posted 16 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and three steals as the Hawks downed Dayton, 81-67. He followed that with 20 points, four rebounds, six assists, and six steals in a 73-59 win over Rhode Island on Feb. 14.

Rookie of the Week

Gaston Moliva – freshman forward, Richmond

Moliva earned his first Rookie of the Week award after averaging 10 points and 5.5 rebounds in a pair of games for the Spiders. In a 62-51 loss to Xavier on Feb. 10, Moliva recorded 11 points, eight rebounds, and three blocked shots. He closed the week with nine points and three boards in a 74-53 win over Fordham on Feb. 14.

Dayton Flyers (20-5, 10-2)

After getting off to a perfect 9-0 start in the A-10, Dayton has hit a rut, losing two of their last three games. After losing on the road to St. Joseph’s, the Flyers returned home and dominated Duquesne 70-58. Sean Finn led the Flyers with 20 points and seven boards. Dayton hit the road again and once again couldn’t find their winning touch as George Washington knocked off the Flyers on a runner by TJ Thompson with one second left to pull within a game of Dayton in the A-10 West. Dayton will try to re-find their winning ways Saturday, but it won’t be easy as they have to travel to archrival Xavier.

Duquesne Dukes (9-14, 4-8)

After a promising start in conference play, Duquesne has fallen off the pace in recent weeks. The Dukes have lost three straight road games starting with LaSalle two weeks ago. Their most recent loss was 83-65 to Temple after David Hawkins exploded for 27 points. Duquesne will hope that a trip home will solve their problems when they take on George Washington Saturday.

Fordham Rams (4-18, 1-10)

Things have not gotten better for the Rams in what has been a growing experience under new head coach Dereck Whittenburg. The Rams’ most recent loss came at the hands of No. 2 St. Joe’s 72-54. Michael Haynes led Fordham with 24 points in the loss. Fordham will try to get win number two when they take on rising Massachusetts.

George Washington Colonials (15-8, 9-3)

The Colonials have quietly put together one of the best seasons in the conference. With their victory over Dayton Wednesday, GW is now just one game back of the Flyers in the A-10 West. The Colonials have balanced scoring with TJ Thompson, Mike Hall and Pops Mensah-Bonsu leading the way. The Colonials should stay on the winning track Saturday against Duquesne before two crucial games against Richmond and Xavier.

LaSalle Explorers (10-14, 5-6)

The Explorers continue to be one of the bigger disappointments in the A-10. After coming into the season with high expectations, LaSalle has been stuck at a level of mediocrity all season. After winning two straight home games, LaSalle’s most recent loss was at home to Xavier, 78-68. Steven Smith led LaSalle with his seventh double-double of the season, but it wasn’t enough. Things don’t get any easier for the Explorers as they have to travel to Richmond Saturday before coming home to play Temple.

Massachusetts Minutemen (9-14, 3-8)

After a four game win streak at the end of January, the Minutemen have hit another slump, losing three straight. Their most recent loss was a 73-66 home loss to Rhode Island. Anthony Anderson scored 19, but UMass couldn’t hold on in the second half. They should pick up their fourth conference win Saturday at Fordham before returning home to take on St. Joseph’s.

Rhode Island Rams (15-11, 4-8)

The Rams have had an up and down season so far, but they might have snapped out of their slump with a win over UMass. After losing four straight, Rhode Island needed one on the road and they got it, 73-66. Brian Woodward led the way with 18 points and helped spark a 14-2 second half run. The Rams will try to see if they have it figured out Sunday when St. Bonaventure comes to town.

Richmond Spiders (15-10, 7-5)

After losing a crucial home game to Xavier in their attempt to remain on the NCAA Tournament bubble, the Spiders bounced back nicely with a pair of 20-point victories over Fordham and St. Bonaventure. Senior guard Tony Dobbins had 12 points and 12 boards to spark the Spiders to the victory over the Bonnies. Richmond will have to finish the season out strong if they hope to receive a bid to the Big Dance. Their schedule sets that up nicely with their toughest game being a road showdown with George Washington.

St. Bonaventure Bonnies (6-16, 2-9)

The last thing the Bonnies needed was more bad news, but they got it in the form of being put on three years probation by the NCAA. With just two conference wins, St. Bonaventure has been struggling and is in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. Marques Green has been the lone bright spot for the Bonnies, averaging 20 points and five assists a game. St. Bonaventure will look to salvage a disappointing season when they travel to Rhode Island Sunday.

St. Joseph’s Hawks (23-0, 12-0)

The Hawks seem to be unbeatable as they continue to destroy their competition in the A-10. Their last tough test before the conference tournament came in the form of the Dayton Flyers a week ago. The Hawks again won in a convincing manner, 81-67, and were led by Jameer Nelson’s 16 points and seven assists. St. Joe’s last difficult game will be a cross-town shootout at home with Temple Saturday. If they get by the Owls, the Hawks appear to be ready to enter the conference tourney undefeated.

Temple Owls (12-10, 6-5)

The Owls have found their rhythm in conference season once again. After a tough start to the A-10 season, Temple has won five straight games, including an 83-65 pasting of Duquesne last week. David Hawkins is the man for Temple, averaging over 24 points a game, which is good enough for third best in the country. Head coach John Chaney will try to pull another trick out of his sleeve Saturday when they travel to No. 2 St. Joseph’s.

Xavier Musketeers (15-9, 6-5)

After seeming to be out of contention for a Tournament bid, the Musketeers have reeled off five straight wins starting with Cincinnati at the beginning of February. Seniors Lionel Chalmers and Romain Sato are the keys for Xavier if they want to keep their winning streak going. It won’t be easy, though, as they have to take on rival Dayton Saturday afternoon at the Cintas Center. A win over the Flyers would make the tournament case a lot more appealing to the committee.


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