By Paul Gotham
Conference play nears the end of the first quarter with three teams La Salle, No. 24 (AP) St. Louis and No. 15 (USA Today) UMass leading the pack at 3-0. Not quite time for separation weekend, but teams are getting in position.
Words of the week: Fordham’s Tom Pecora on freshman Jon Severe: “He’s still learning to play with a yellow light instead of green light and understanding what a great shot is and what good shots and not-so-good shots are.”
Hot reads: SLU in USA Today’s weekly Caucus. The OTH’s J.P. Butler says St. Bonaventure is no mood for moral victories. College Chalktalk’s Ian Nolan fills readers in on the 7 A-10 Names to know. USA Today’s Nicole Auerbach discusses GW’s return to the top of the A-10. Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch focuses on Jordair Jett’s versatility. Ray Floriani looks at Tempo. Plus features on UD’s Devin Oliver, St. Joseph’s Halil Kanecevic and UMass taking to the road.
The top games of the weekend in the Atlantic 10 in order of importance.
Dayton (13-4/1-1) at Richmond (11-6/1-1) 3 p.m. ESPNU
Opposites collide at the Robins Center. UD, going on the road for the second time this week, leads the A-10 in 3-point percentage (42.7), points per possession (1.11) and are second in rebound margin (5.5). UR limits opponents to 28.6 percent behind the arc (3rd), and are tied for third allowing .94 points per possession. The Spiders rank last in rebound margin at -5.7. Richmond’s pesky matchup zone will need to be at its best against a balanced Dayton lineup consisting of nine players who have topped double figures at least once this season. Cedrick Lindsay (19.2 points and 4.3 assists) leads the Spiders. Devin Oliver (11.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists) paces UD.
UD’s balance gets the better of the Spiders in a four-point win for the Flyers.
George Washington (14-3/2-1) at St. Bonaventure (11-6/1-2) 7 p.m.
That knock on the door you hear is George Washington’s Colonials trying to get in the top 25. St. Bonaventure returns home after taking No. 15 UMass and No. 24 SLU to the wire. Both teams received little credit in the pre-season being pegged near the bottom of the conference (GW #10, SBU #12). Now, the two are looking for a spot among the top four. GW and SBU rebound near the top of the league with the Colonials posting a rebound margin of 4.9 (3rd) and the Bonnies 4.6 (4th). Bona’s 37.7 percent on the offensive glass tops the conference. GW’s 5.5 blocks is tied with UMass atop the A-10. Charlon Kloof (12.2 points, 4.8 assists) sets the pace for SBU. Maurice Creek (14.1) leads five Colonials in double figures.
Saturday night on Bob Lanier Court will prove too much for the Colonials. SBU by five.
Temple (5-10/0-5) at La Salle (10-6/3-0) High Noon The Palestra ESPN2 GAMEDAY
Once conference rivals, always Philly Big 5 foes. The Owls and Explorers take center stage with the ESPN Gameday on hand. Both teams earned bids to last year’s NCAA Tournament. La Salle advanced to the Sweet Sixteen. The Explorers (winners of four straight) have the look of a team who has ironed out some early season struggles. Temple has struggled with injuries. Making matters worse, starting point guard Will Cummings sat out Temple’s previous contest against Cincinnati with concussion-like symptoms. La Salle’s Steve Zack is 11th in the nation with nine double-doubles on the season. Anthony Lee (13.9 points, 9.5 rebounds) paces Temple.
The Explorers win by three.
Duquesne (8-7/1-2) at VCU (13-4/1-1) 4 p.m. CBS Sports Network
VCU coming off a loss to GW and playing at home does not bode well for a young Duquesne club trying to find its way in Jim Ferry’s second season at the helm. VCU leads the nation in turnovers forced (19.6) and opponent turnover rate (27.0). Duquesne’s team assist to turnover rate of 1.5 leads the A-10. Treveon Graham scores 15.5 and grabs 6.6 boards a game for the VCU. Duquesne’s Ovie Soko averages 17.9 points and 8.1 rebounds.
VCU by nine.
Fordham (0-3/7-9) at No. 24 St. Louis (16-2/3-0) 2:30 NBC Sports Network
A win at home and the Billikens should grab a spot in both polls (not that it really matters). Fordham’s Jon Severe and Branden Frazier form the highest scoring backcourt in the conference. They will be put to the test against a SLU defense known to turn opposing shooters’ sweet spots sour. Severe can score in bunches when he gets rolling (see the above comment), but Jordair Jett is among the best on-the-ball defenders in the country.
St. Louis by 13.