The Atlantic 10 held its media day on Tuesday at the home of its 2017 postseason tournament, Pittsburgh’s PPG Paints Arena.
This will be the first time the city has had the tournament since its Civic Arena hosted the event each season from 1978-82.
Here are some highlights of the day-long deluge of A-10 hoops.
A three-horse race at the top (which we knew)
Pretty tight at the top with Dayton and Rhode Island. Flyers 374 points, 16 1st-place votes. Rhody 370 with 12— Justin Parker (@CitizenJP) October 18, 2016
As has been clear since the offseason began, Dayton, VCU, and Rhode Island are expected to jostle for the league title. Dayton got the preseason nod with 374 points, but Rhode Island received 12 first place votes and was right there. VCU (340 points) wasn’t far off either. Each team has its question marks: Dayton has a lack of frontcourt depth, Rhode Island is relying heavily on E.C. Matthews’ return and VCU lost two key players.
Little faith in George Washington, or is it?
A-10 predicted order: Dayton, RI, VCU, Davidson, St. Bonny, Rich, La Salle, GW, St. Joe, UMass, Fordham, GM, Duquesne, SLU.— stu durando (@studurando) October 18, 2016
There are plenty of reasons the Colonials fit in this spot. For one, they’re facing a unique challenge after Mike Lonergan’s late dismissal. GW also must replace several key pieces in Patricio Garino, Kevin Larsen, and Joe McDonald. But this was a team that won the NIT last year, returns a bona fide star in Tyler Cavanaugh (who wound up on the preseason first team) and has a solid supporting cast (Jared Sina, Yuta Watanabe, Patrick Steeves).
Eighth seems a little low, but maybe that’s just indicative of the volatility of the A-10’s middle tier. Richmond could win a lot of games with a great offense, La Salle’s wave of transfers could mesh immediately, Jack Gibbs and Jaylen Adams could carry their respective teams, and so on. Or all of those things may not happen. It’ll fun to see who emerges from this pack.
VCU’s three-point challenge
The Rams didn’t live and die by the three last year, but they’ll need some new faces to step up from deep. Departed seniors Melvin Johnson and Korey Billbury accounted for 58 percent of VCU’s 262 made three pointers in 2015-16. JeQuan Lewis can shoot from distance, but Wade needs more deep threats surrounding a post presence like Mo Alie-Cox.
The run-and-gun Patriots
Paulsen on defense: The vast majority of the time we'll play 4 guards, Jalen Jenkins will be the 5-man and Troy Temara will back him up.— Mason Basketball (@MasonMBB) October 18, 2016
It appears George Mason will have a four-guard look much of the time, which certainly fits a roster that has just four players taller than 6’7. This should lead to a more up-tempo attack, a change from last year’s lineups built around center Shevon Thompson. Otis Livingston II is a great building block at point guard but he’ll need dependable shooters to emerge from a group that includes sophomores Jaire Grayer and Kameron Murrell, as well as freshmen Karmari Newman, Ian Boyd and Justin Kier.
Get used to the reference
With Jack Gibbs figuring to be in the spotlight more than ever, you might as well get used to it: Steph Curry references will never be far away. That Gibbs would pledge his allegiance to Curry is, for lack of a better phrase, not surprising.