Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Around the A-10 for the week of Feb. 23: big games, bracketology, news about the league


Here's this week's update from the Atlantic 10: GW is no longer getting votes again in the AP poll, but is getting a bit of tourney buzz. There's a lot going on around the league, read on!

Week Ahead Top Games
Below are the top games around the league this week. A full schedule is always available on Atlantic10.com and can be found here

·      Coming off a major victory over Dayton last week, St. Bonaventure takes on Duquesne WEDNESDAY night at home. (7pm.ET, TWC-NY)
·      VCU will travel to George Washington SATURDAY in an important late-season opportunity for both teams to bolster their NCAA tournament resumes. The Rams currently sit in first place in the A-10, winning their last three games, while the Colonials sit in fifth place. Last time these two teams met on Feb. 6, GW came out with a 72-69 victory. (12:30p.m.ET, NBCSN)
·      Dayton’s matchup with Rhode Island SATURDAY will be broadcasted nationally on ESPN2. Just two weeks ago, when these teams last met on the court, the game went down to the wire, with Dayton winning 68-66. (12p.m.ET) 
·      Second place Saint Joseph’s hosts Saint Louis SUNDAY afternoon. (1p.m.ET, ASN)

National Picture Updates
19 Days Until Selection Sunday

Dayton sits at No. 22 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and just outside the AP Top 25 (receiving 80 votes). Saint Joseph’s and VCU are also receiving votes in both polls.

The A-10 continues to have six teams in the top 60 of RPI rankings: Dayton (17), Saint Joseph’s (26), St. Bonaventure (33), VCU (49), GW (52) and Davidson (60). 

In Jerry Palm’s latest CBS Sports bracketology predictions (2/22), Dayton is a six seed, Saint Joseph’s eight seed and VCU an 11 seed. GW is a last four in team and St. Bonaventure is a first four out team.

USA Today has Dayton (seven seed), Saint Joseph’s (eight seed), VCU as a last four in team and St. Bonaventure as a first four out team in team in its most recent bracket update.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has three A-10 teams in his latest bracket predictions (2/22): Dayton (five seed), Saint Joseph’s (nine seed) and VCU (nine seed).

A-10 Pulse
ESPN’s Andy Katz said St. Bonaventure’s 79-72 win over Dayton was the ‘Win of the Week’. LINK

AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston wrote about Saint Joseph’s recent success and soaring expectations. LINK

Busting Brackets wrote about Saint Joseph’s major win over Dayton as another boost to the Hawks’ tournament resume. LINK

Buffalo News wrote about St. Bonaventure’s growing case for a NCAA tournament bid following key conference victories. LINK

VCU’s senior Melvin Johnson was named A-10 Player of the Week following the Rams’ pair of wins last week. Johnson scored 19 points against Rhode Island followed by 20 points against Richmond, and tied VCU’s career-mark for 3-pointers with 269. LINK

The NCAA’s Brian Mull named three A-10 schools among the nation’s best college basketball towns: Dayton, Philadelphia (Saint Joseph’s) and Richmond made this list of nine. LINK

Social Buzz
@TBNbucky tweeted that the A-10 is a ‘fantastic conference’ with ‘smarter players’ 

@JonRothstein said five A-10 teams remain in the mix for at-large bids. Also hinted that Rhode Island could have been a sixth if not plagued with injuries. 

@JonRothstein also wrote the Bonnies are in the at-large discussion with two major road wins against Dayton and Saint Joseph’s. 

@DickieV tweeted about the Bonnies’ win over Dayton.

GW destroys La Salle 90-50, slightly improves NCAA hopes


The Colonials were on fire on Sunday, clobbering the Explorers of La Salle 90-50. The good guys shot 58% from the floor and 70% from three as five players scored in double figures.

Jordan Roland and Yuta Watanabe both had nice games, scoring 11 each, and Yuta added three blocks. Tyler Cavanaugh scored 22, Patricio Garino had 19 on 7-7 shooting from the floor, including 4 threes and 8 boards, and Alex Mitola added 10.  Kevin Larsen added 8 points and 7 rebounds.

The big win seemed to have gotten the good guys some notice too among Bracketologists. Jerry Palm with CBS Sports has GW one of the last four in, while Joe Lunardi, NBC Sports and SB Nation had the Colonials as one of the first four out. Lunardi said on Twitter he thought GW had a 40-45% chance to make it. USA Today had GW as part of the next four out.

Those are all improvements upon last week, however, as many of those didn't even mention GW. ESPN had GW's RPI at 50 on Monday.

So what's next? The Colonials have four games left: a visit to Richmond to face the 14-12 Spiders this Wednesday, then hosting VCU (20-7) on Saturday and George Mason (9-18) on Tuesday, closing the season at 16-9 Davidson on March 5th.

Obviously winning all four would help -- especially as VCU is teetering on being a top 50 RPI team, currently at 49. The Rams still have Mason, GW, Dayton and St. Joe's, so they'll probably stay in the top 50. GW has already beaten VCU, Mason and Davidson and dropped a double overtime heartbreaker to Richmond earlier.

One or two losses there, and the good guys would surely need multiple wins in the A-10 tournament, maybe even a title. So we'll see. At least things are looking a bit brighter. That tends to happen after a 40-point win.

Monday, February 15, 2016

What we can do as fans: go to games or donate money. So let's do it.

I posted this on GWHoops.com but thought it would be good to post it here.

A lot of GW fans seem to be panicking. GW lost tough ones to St. Joe's and St. Bonaventure, which aren't great for the team's tourney hopes; while at the same time, those teams have a combined 36 wins, so they weren't exactly bad losses.

I wasn't happy about those losses, but pretty pleased with the VCU win. So what can we do, other than freak out?

Two things that I can think of. Go to games (and bring friends) and donate money. That's it. I don't think Mike Lonergan is whiling away his days wondering if he can glean any brilliant strategy from posters GWHoops.com. I don't think the players are coming figure out what they can do better. I don't think the selection committee is logging on, either.

So if that's all we can do as GW fans, then dammit, let's do it. If you're able, go to games, be loud!, and bring friends. Make it a tough place for opposing teams to play, and an energizing place for the home team and our fans. And if you are able, donate some dough.

Otherwise we are just complaining and going nuts for no good reason.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Interview: Coach Lonergan thrown out of daughter's basketball game (for a pretty good reason)

This is kind of funny, but also kind of sweet: the Post reports that Coach Mike Lonergan was thrown out of his daughter's basketball after he (rightly) argued that she didn't have five fouls.

Talking to Lonergan's friends the Sports Junkies on 106.7 FM, he told the story when asked if he was kicked out of the game:
“That could be a little exaggerated. I rush over to St. John’s to catch the Seton JV game. Middle of the third quarter, my daughter — they’re down like four — so start of the fourth quarter, she gets a foul called, and the scorer’s table hits the horn and says she’s got five fouls. So my wife she’s sitting … near me in the bleachers, I said ‘she doesn’t have five fouls.’ She said ‘no way she has five.’ So my daughter goes to the bench, bawling, she’s crying, so I look over, I say ‘Hey, do you have five?’ She said ‘No.’ So, I thought I was discreet, I waited till the next timeout, and I went over to the scorer’s table and I asked the little young lady that was sitting there, from St. John’s, I said ‘Hey, how many fouls does No. 13 have?’ She said ‘Well, I only had her for four.’ So some middle-aged loser at the scorer’s table starts yelling at me, asking me who I am. I said, ‘I’m nobody. I’m just, my daughter’s down there crying, I know she doesn’t have five fouls and I’m just curious why, you know, you got her for five. And then he called over a policeman — who I knew, I used to play basketball with [him] — so I just went into the hallway and talked with him, and then I just said ‘Well I better get out of here.’ So that was a little embarrassing, to say the least.”
One of the hosts asked, “So they never corrected it?” 

“No! And so, I don’t think my daughter knows I got thrown out, ’cause it was pretty, kinda quietly done. I went and sat down, and the cop came over and said, ‘Hey, they want you to leave.’ I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me? Alright.’ My wife didn’t even say anything to me, so I don’t know how the heck you could know. I think maybe I had a Nike shirt on, and since they’re owned by Under Armour over there, maybe they got upset with that.”
The full audio is below, which goes on a bit longer. It sounds like coach was pretty chill about it and admitted he shouldn't have gotten up, but was sure she only had four.

They also talk about Garino's great play, Yuta Watanabe's play, the then-upcoming St. Joe's game :( and more. He also says that he doesn't talk about the bubble with the team so as not to put extra pressure on them.

It's a pretty interesting interview, and funny too. Mike Lonergan interview with the Sports Junkies

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ugh: GW spanked in ugly loss to St. Joe's

 I needed more beers for this one

This was one of those games that makes you ask existential questions: why does this happen? Why do we like GW basketball? Is it even worth it? The answer to the last question is of course yes, but it still was not a lot of fun.

At least the game makes analysis easy: the good guys never had the lead, getting it as close as three to get our hopes up before the Hawks went on a soul-crushing 17-3 run. The Colonials were out-everythinged: outshot, outhustled, outcoached, outdefensed, outbenched, outlayuped, out-any other basketball word you can think of. At least we all got out of the Smith Center by 8:45 pm.

The students who sit under the basket seemed to know what was going to happen: they were all dressed in black and acted like they were at a funeral most of the game.

I brought my friend, a Maryland alum. He got to see a crummy, sloppy game with an angry friend. At least he liked the stadium.

GW, now 7-4 in conference, faces 8-3 St. Bonaventure Saturday in Olean.

Around the A-10 for the week of Feb. 8: big games, tourney buzz, news about the league


Here's this week's update from the Atlantic 10: GW is getting votes again in the AP poll, there are some big games coming up, and lots of media types are noticing the league.

Week Ahead Top Games

Below are the top games around the league this week. A full schedule is always available on Atlantic10.com and can be found here.
  • Third-place Saint Joseph’s will take on a tough fourth-place George Washington WEDNESDAY night. The Colonials have won their last three games, including a huge road win over VCU Saturday. (7 p.m. ET, CSN-MA, streaming on A-10 Network)
  • VCU will try to rebound after the Rams’ first conference loss to GW on Saturday, taking on UMass THURSDAY evening (7 p.m. ET, ESPNU) and Saint Louis SATURDAY. (6 p.m.ET, CBS Sports Network
  • Nationally ranked No. 19/17 Dayton hits the road to take on Rhode Island FRIDAY night in the third of five Friday night A-10 games on ESPN2. (7 p.m.ET, ESPN2
  • George Washington is on the road, tipping off against St. Bonaventure SATURDAY afternoon. The Bonnies have won five of their last six games at home. (4 p.m.ET, TWC-NY)
National Picture Updates
33 Days Until Selection Sunday

Week 14 of the AP Top 25 has Dayton at 19, up five places since last week, when the Flyers re-entered the rankings at No. 24. The USA Today Coaches Poll also has Dayton in its top 25 in the No. 17 spot. This is the first time the Flyers have been ranked in the top 20 of both polls since 2008. VCU and Saint Joseph’s received votes in both polls, and GW received votes in the AP poll.

The Atlantic 10 now has six teams, Dayton (12), Saint Joseph’s (31), George Washington (36), VCU (41), St. Bonaventure (49) and Davidson (50), in the top 50 of the NCAA’s published RPI ranking as of February 9. This is more than the Big East, SEC and Big Ten, which all have four teams in the top 50.

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi released his latest NCAA tournament predictions Monday with four Atlantic 10 teams included: Dayton (four seed), GW (nine seed), VCU (10 seed) and Saint Joseph’s (11 seed).

In CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm’s most recent bracket prediction, Dayton sits at a four seed and VCU and George Washington are both projected to make the tournament as part of the last four in. Saint Joseph’s is just outside the cut as a first four out team.

In the latest USA Today bracketology update (February 9), three A-10 teams are projected to make the tournament. Dayton is slotted at a five seed, VCU a nine seed, GW a 12 seed as a first four in. Saint Joseph’s sits just outside USA Today’s bracket, as a first-four out team, and Davidson and St. Bonaventure are noted as other possible at-large bid contenders.

A-10 Pulse
Following George Washington’s major win over previously undefeated-in-conference-play VCU, CBS Sports writer Matt Norlander stated the win should put the Colonials solidly in bracket predictions and noted the team’s previous win over Virginia as another major proof point to GW’s case. LINK

CBS Sports Insider Jon Rothstein noted GW as a team that is going to be hard to keep out of the tournament if they continue performing following the win over VCU. He notes other wins over Virginia and Seton Hall as additional justification for a tournament bid. LINK

Bleacher Report featured columnist Jake Curtis named VCU as a current unranked team “set to make waves” in the NCAA tournament. He notes the current squad is probably better than the Rams’ Final Four team in 2011 and gives a nod to coach Will Wade. LINK

St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams was named A-10 Player of the Week Monday. The sophomore guard averaged 25 points and 5.5 assists in the Bonnies’ two games last week, including a career-high 31 points and seven assists on the road against Saint Joseph’s on February 3 and a buzzer-beating three to defeat Saint Louis. LINK

Social Buzz
  • CBS Sports Insider @JonRothstein called Dayton “the best team in American no one is talking about.”
  • @JonRothstein also noted Dayton’s Charles Cooke as the best transfer in CBB that isn’t being talked about.
  • @marcdavissports, WBBT sports director in Richmond, tweeted there isn’t a team more dangerous than VCU. Following the Rams’ loss to GW, he tweeted the loss shouldn’t affect VCU’s at-large bid chances if the team preforms well going forward.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Hatchet on Lonergan: pushing the team to focus and get better

The Hatchet has a really good article about Coach Mike Lonergan working to get the team focused on basketball and get tough. Published before the team's nice win over Davidson, it's got some choice quotes from the coach on those two issues, both of which Lonergan has talked a lot about this year. 
“I said, ‘I just need you guys to really look in the mirror and seize this opportunity,’” Lonergan said. “We worked so hard: Seton Hall, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia, Tennessee. We got a lot of quality wins and we’ve got the opportunity to get more. But our seniors, for them, I just told them, ‘You’ve got the rest of your life. You don’t want to have any regrets when you’re my age.’”

...
“We’re good enough, our top five to seven. We should be playing at a higher level, and to me it’s concentration and focus,” Lonergan said. “You’ve got the rest of your life to worry about girlfriends and different things.”

“I’m tired of the cell phones and all this stuff. We’ve got to be focused, man. We’ve got to play team defense," he added. "We’ve been playing with each other for four years, some guys, and we want to take this thing to the next level. I love our team, but I don’t think they realize that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and these next three, four weeks are very important.”
The coach also talks about beating good teams but losing to bad ones, like Saint Louis and DePaul, and says he believes the team should make the NCAAs.

It's actually all pretty inspirational stuff, almost from a movie, and it works out. It's worth reading.

This Saturday's game in Richmond against VCU will be a big one -- if the good guys can win, it'll help their chances significantly. As noted in the recap, the team is on the bubble -- Jerry Palm has GW as one of the First Four play-in games.

Around the A-10: big games, rankings, and more from the league


The Atlantic 10 has recently started putting out a weekly recap for bloggers, which I'm going to start sharing with you. It's a nice recap of what's going on, what's interesting, and what's new. Check it out!

Week Ahead Top Games
Below are the top games around the league this week. A full schedule is always available on Atlantic10.com and can be found here.
·      On SATURDAYGeorge Washington will face a tough road challenge, taking on current conference leader VCU, who hasn’t lost a game since mid-December. (CBS Sports Network, 12 p.m. ET
·      Davidson will also be taking on Duquesne on the road SATURDAY afternoon. (NBCSN, 12:30 p.m. ET
·      SATURDAY evening, No. 24 Dayton faces George Mason as the Flyers look to keep their hold on second place in the conference standings. (MASN, 6 p.m. ET)
 
National Picture Updates
40 Days Until Selection Sunday
In both the latest AP and Coaches polls released Monday, Dayton made its way back into the Top 25 at No. 24. VCU and Saint Joseph’s received votes in both polls.
 
Six A-10 teams, Dayton (13), St. Joseph’s (29), VCU (34), George Washington (54), Davidson (58) and St. Bonaventure (60) are in the top 75 of the latest RPI rankings, last updated February 2. The Hawks and Bonnies both jumped a spot since the previous rankings.
 
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has four A-10 teams in his latest bracket, released Monday night. Both Saint Joseph’s and George Washington are projected in his First Four as an 11 and 12 seed, respectively. VCU sits at a 10 seed and Dayton as a 5 seed.  
 
USA Today’s latest NCAA tournament predictions (updated February 2) puts three A-10 teams in the mix: Dayton (6 seed), VCU (9 seed) and Saint Joseph’s (11 seed). George Washington Davidson and St. Bonaventure are also considered potential contenders for at-large bids.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has three A-10 teams, Dayton (7 seed), George Washington (10 seed) and VCU (11 seed), making the tournament cut in his latest bracket.

A-10 Pulse
Bleacher Report wrote a great long-form piece on VCU’s Melvin Johnson and his evolution as a student-athlete, including his career goals. A great nod to the emphasis A-10 teams place on both on and off the court performance. LINK

Forbes wrote a case study on the relationship between athletic directors and university presidents, which includes VCU’s Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin. LINK

The Washington Post’s Matthew Giles wrote an article on Dayton’s strong potential come NCAA tournament time, considering its current 8-1 run. LINK

Duquesne senior guard Derrick Colter was named A-10 Player of the Week after averaging 25 points in the team’s victories against La Salle and Saint Louis during Coaches vs. Cancer week. Fitting timing, as Colter himself is a cancer survivor. This marks the first time a Dukes player has received Player of the Week award in almost two years. LINK

Buffalo News’ Bucky Gleason wrote about the relationship between St. Bonaventure’s junior guard Marcus Posley and Coach Mark Schmidt. LINK
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