If you haven't seen the movie Big, the main character, Josh Baskin, ends up being transformed into an adult version of himself (played by Tom Hanks) by a fortune telling machine called Zoltar. And all he wanted to was to be tall enough to go on a ride at the carnival. Talk about not getting what you paid for. We don't accept quarters here, but we will look into the hazy future and hope to predict what will be coming in the 2014-15 season for our leagues. Sorry, no refunds.
The Atlantic 10 has been a conference on the rise the past couple of years and certainly made their mark in the NCAA Tournament this past year with Dayton's trip to the Elite Eight. That's the good news... the bad news is the conference graduated a whole lot of talent this spring, which makes your wonder if the conference will take a step back?
Don't let that get you down, the Atlantic 10 will still be one of the most competitive and fun conferences to watch in 201415 and they add a new cat to the fray in the addition of Davidson as the conference's fourteenth member.
Very Early All-Conference Team:
POY: Treveon Graham, VCU
DPOY: Briante Weber, VCU
COY: Dan Hurley, Rhode Island
Jabarie Hinds, UMass (from West Virginia): Losing a player like Chaz Williams would cripple any team but UMass has a real chance to continue to compete and challenge for a NCAA Tournament bid with the addition of Jabarie Hinds to their backcourt.
Julian Royal, George Mason (from Georgia Tech): Paul Hewitt will bring in an old recruit to Fairfax in Ramblin' Wreck transfer Julian Royal. Royall was a high profile and hyped recruit who saw his playing time drop for the Yellow Jackets. He certainly has the talent to make an impact in the A10.
Achraf Yacoubou, St. Louis (from Villanova): St. Louis also lost an iconic point guard in Jordair Jett but Jim Crews will try to fill part of the backcourt void with Villanova transfer Ash Yacoubou. Yacoubou didn't play much for the Wildcats in two years, but he's certainly a talented guard who can help the Billikens.
Aaron Brown, St. Joseph's (from West Virginia): Another former West Virginia guard will contribute in the Atlantic 10, this time on Hawk Hill. Brown will be another big guard for Phil Martelli to throw in his lineup with DeAndre' Bembry.
Cleon Roberts, La Salle (from Georgia Southern): Roberts had a an impressive freshman year at Georgia Southern averaging 8.6 points per game in the Souther Conference. Now Roberts will help Dr. Giannini fill the void left by the departure of Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland.
Jordan Price, La Salle (from Auburn): Cleon Roberts won't be the only talented freshman at Giannini's disposal on Olney Avenue as the Explorers also add talented scoring guard Jordan Price. Price averaged 5.4 points per game in his freshman campaign in the SEC.
Early Standings Prediction:
1. VCU Rams: Shaka Smart has to have a bitter taste in his mouth with the way the 2013-14 season ended. The Rams lost in the Atlantic 10 Championship for the second year in a row and then got bounced by Stephen F. Austin in their first game in the NCAA Tournament. There is a lot of hype on Broad Street with the addition of Top 100 recruits Terry Larrier and Mike Gilmore and the Rams will likely be a Top 25 team to start the season.
While the new additions are great this season will be about Mr. Reliable Treveon Graham and defensive titan Briante Weber, as well as the maturation of players like Melvin Johns, Mo Alie-Cox, JeQuan Lewis, and Jordan Burgess. Shaka Smart certainly has a special group, can he capitalize on it?
2. Massachusetts Minutemen: You'll hear a lot this offseason around the hyperbole of Derrick Gordon being a "distraction" for UMass but I think the Minutemen can rally and build around last season. Certainly UMass will be in uncharted territory with opposing fans and players but this is a veteran group that can have a special year. Cady Lalanne is a special big man who can run the floor and play inside and outside. Combine him with the talented backcourt of Trey Davis, Gordon, and West Virginia transfer Jabarie Hinds and you forget the Chaz Williams drop off real quick.
3. George Washington Colonials: Mike Lonergan has reinvigorated the fan base in Foggy Bottom and despite losing a lot of talent in Isaiah Armwood, Mo Creek, and others the Colonials should challenge again in 2014-15. Point forward Patricio Garino is a special player who can do it all and fellow juniors Joe McDonald, Kethan Savage, and Kevin Larsen now have a lot of experience they can build off of. Lonergan gives some different defensive looks that always challenge A10 opponents and he should be helped by the additions of talented freshmen Paul Jorgensen, Yuta Watanabe, Anthony Swan, and Matt Cimino this season.
4. Dayton Flyers: Dayton shocked the world with their trip to the Elite 8 last year and are trendy pick to contend in the Atlantic 10 again in 2014-15. While the Flyers certainly have a lot of talent in Jordan Sibert, Dyshawn Pierre and others, the loss of Vee Sanford, Devin Oliver, and Matt Kavanaugh is a lot to handle. The Flyers season may come down to the maturation of Scoochie Smith, who became an impact player off the bench in March.
5. Richmond Spiders: A lot of people will point to the departure of Cedrick Lindsay as a reason for concern for Chris Mooney's squad, but the Spiders have plenty of talent. Kendall Anthony is probably the conferences best retuning point guard and the Spiders really learned how to play without Lindsay the last month or so of the season last year. ShawnDre' Jones is one Spider who really matured during that Lindsay absence and he'll allow Anthony to play off the ball a bit. Alonzo Nelson-Ododa may be the A10's best rim protector and he'll now play along 6'7 transfer T.J. Cline, who averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds per game during his freshman year at Niagara.
6. Rhode Island Rams: Dan Hurley's squad was maybe the nation's most overhyped team coming into last season and that might continue this year. Xavier Munford is gone but A10 Freshman of the year E.C. Matthews can pick up the slack. Gilvydas Baruta will be a big part of this season, along with four star recruit Jared Terrell.
7. La Salle Explorers: Gone is the Explorers' iconic backcourt, that will be supplemented by transfers, but having Jerrell Wright and Steve Zack in the frontcourt will keep La Salle competing in the A10 alone. After all...they are coached by a doctor...
8. Saint Louis Billikens: Speaking of A10 icons, Jordair Jett and Dwayne Evans are gone so Jim Crews will have to rebuild on the fly a bit. Look for Austin McBroom to grow for the Billikens and for Villanova Ash Yacoubou to help fill the holes for the STL.
9. Saint Joseph's Hawks: Phil Martelli's gritty squad stole the A10 title a year ago but gone are Ronald Roberts, Langston Galloway, and Halil Kanacevic. Martelli does still have freshman star DeAndre' Bembry and will bring in some new talent to help out on Hawk Hill.
10. Saint Bonaventure Bonnies: Speaking of gritty teams, that seems to be the forte for St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies may have missed their window though with their top two scorers moving on, but they still do have some talent in seniors Youssou Ndoye, Jordan Gathers, Andell Cumberbatch, and junior Dion Wright. The Bonnies will always be a tough team to play in the A10.
11. Fordham Rams: Fordham continues to struggle under Tom Pecora but could this be the year that the Rams can make a move in the A10? It depends on prodigal son Jon Severe who averaged over 17 points as a freshman and certainly has the talent to be one of the conference's best players.
12. Davidson Wildcats: Davidson is the new kid on the block for the A10 and it'll be interesting to see how Bob McKillop's adapts to the rise in talent levels. De'mon Brooks is gone, so it's up to sharpshooter Tyler Kalinoski and junior Brian Sullivan to carry the load for the Wildcats. Davidson's frontcourt could get run over in the new conference unless they can find an immediate impact player, possibly highly touted freshman Peyton Alridge. McKillop is still one the nation's top coaches, so don't count out the Wildcats.
13. George Mason Patriots: Paul Hewitt is definitely on the hot seat in Fairfax and though the Patriots could surprise, the negative taste from last year is still there. Patrick Holloway, Jalen Jenkins, and others will need to step up, but the fate of the Patriots season may lie on the immediate impact of Georgia Tech transfer Julian Royal.
14. Duquesne Dukes: Duquesne may continue to climb the A10 but the loss of Ovie Soko is huge in Pittsburgh. Keep an eye on Micah Mason and second year player L.G. Gill as some guys who can make some noise in the A10.