Team: Fordham Rams
2001 Record: 12-12
Head Coach: Bob Hill (26-27, 2 years)
Key Players: Jeff McMillan, F (9.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg); Teremun Johnson, F, (9.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
Key Players Lost: Bevon Robin, G (14.2 ppg, 4.9 apg); Jason Harris, G (11.3 ppg, 2.5 apg)
Outlook: The Rams’ front court has big, physical, active bodies. The backcourt, however, is Fordham’s major weakness. The team doesn’t have the experience or offensive firepower from its guards.
Team: Massachusetts Minutemen
2001 Record: 15-15
Head Coach: Steve Lappas (First season)
Key Players: Kitwana Rhymer, C (9.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg); Shannon Crooks, G (9.0 ppg, 3.2 apg); Micah Brand, C (8.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Key Players Lost: Monty Mack, G (19.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg); Jonathan Depina, G (5.8 ppg, 3.1 apg)
Outlook: If the Minutemen want to have any shot of winning the division, they must adapt quickly to the coaching style of the sometimes-abrasive Lappas and find a way to replace Mack. Lappas can take solace in the fact that his two big men, Rhymer and Brand, are hard-nosed defensive players who are still improving offensively.
Team: Rhode Island Rams
2001 Record: 7-23
Head Coach: Jim Baron (First season)
Key Players: Brian Woodward, G (13.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg); Howard Smith, G (4.4 ppg, 3.5 apg)
Key Players Lost: Tavorris Bell, F (19.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg); Zach Marbury, G (16.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg); Dinno Daniels, G (11.6 ppg, 3.3 apg)
Outlook: The Rams have four players from last year’s team- that might be a good thing. With a bunch of key players academically ineligible, this is not what Baron envisioned after coming from St. Bonaventure. Having Bell and Marbury (who declared for the draft but weren’t picked) may have helped, but would not have made the Rams a winner anyway.
Team: St. Bonaventure Bonnies
2001 Record: 18-12 (lost to Pittsburgh in NIT first round)
Head Coach: Jan van Breda Kolff (First season)
Key Players: J.R. Bremer, G (16.6 ppg, 4.1 apg); Marques Green, G (6.2 ppg, 4.4 apg); Vidal Massiah, F (9.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
Key Players Lost: Kevin Houston, F (19.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg); Peter Van Paassen, F (14.2 ppg, 6.1 rpg)
Outlook: Van Breda Kolff must get the holdovers to learn and understand his complicated multiple defenses. If he can do that and find a way to get Green and Bremer on the court at the same time, the Bonnies have a good chance to replace the scoring they lost and finish third or fourth in the division.
Team: St. Joseph’s Hawks
2001 Record: 26-7 (lost to Stanford in NCAA region semifinals)
Head Coach: Phil Martelli (107-78, six years)
Key Players: Marvin O’ Conner, G (22.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg); Jameer Nelson, G (12.5 ppg, 6.5 apg); Bill Phillips, F (11.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg); Na’im Crenshaw, G (11.4
ppg, 3.3 rpg)
Key Players Lost: NONE
Outlook: With the reigning Coach of the Year (Martelli), Rookie of the Year (Nelson), Sixth Man of the Year (Crenshaw), and the best scoring guard in the conference (O’Conner), can you say loaded? The Hawks have the talent and the coaching to not only repeat as regular season champs, but also advance to a regional final if things break right. With players like Phillips and Damien Reid (who led the A-10 in shooting percentage) down low, the Hawks have the inside-outside game that only Temple and Xavier can match. If the Hawks don’t get too full of themselves after last year’s tourney run, they should win the division over Temple.
Team: Dayton Flyers
2001 Record: 21-13 (lost to Detroit in NIT quarter finals)
Head Coach: Oliver Purnell (110-99, 7 years)
Key Players: Keith Wasleskowski, C (11.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg); Nate Green, F (9.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg); Brooks Hall, F/G (9.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
Key Player Lost: Tony Stanley, G (15.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
Outlook: With no seniors in key roles, the Flyers return with a strong nucleus that will only get better with experience. With size in the middle, and the best home court advantage in the conference, the Flyers will beat one or two teams they aren’t supposed to, putting them in the top half of the division.
Team: Duquesne Dukes
2001 Record: 9-21
Head Coach: Danny Nee (First season)
Key Players: Wayne Smith, F (15.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg); Kevin Forney, G (9.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
Key Player Lost: Courtney Wallace, G (16.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Outlook: Duquesne, looking for its first winning season since 1994, is under the leadership of Nee, who comes over from Robert Morris. While Smith will improve on his numbers from an injury-filled junior season, the biggest area of concern will be finding someone to replace Wallace’s offense.
Team: George Washington Colonials
2001 Record: 14-18
Head Coach: Karl Hobbs (First season)
Key Players: Chris Monroe, G (18.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg); Jaason Smith, F (5.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
Key Players Lost: SirValiant Brown, G (17.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg); Mike King, F (11.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg); Bernard Barrow, G (5.2 ppg, 3.9 apg)
Outlook: The early departure of Brown (he declared for the NBA draft) might not be as bad as it looks. The offense, without Brown’s random shots and indifference to playing defense, will flow better with Monroe as the unquestioned go-to-guy. Hobbs will try to stress the importance of defense and rebounding to win games, as opposed to the “run and gun” philosophy.
Team: La Salle Explorers
2001 Record: 12-17
Head Coach: Billy Hahn (First season)
Key Players: Rasual Butler, F (22.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg); Julian Blanks, G (12.2 ppg, 6.0 apg)
Key Player Lost: Victor Thomas, F (19.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
Outlook: Hahn, who replaced longtime Coach Speedy Morris, has the task of turning La Salle into a winner, something they haven’t done in nine seasons.
To help the longtime Maryland assistant in his quest is Butler, arguably the best player in the conference. Butler, a Philadelphia native who led the A-10 in scoring last year, doesn’t have much help. There are only four returning players who averaged more than six minutes a game last season.
Team: Richmond Spiders
2001 Record: 22-7 (lost to Dayton in NIT second round)
Head Coach: John Beilein (77-39, 4 years)
Key Players: Reggie Brown, G (10.1 ppg); Eric Zwayer, C (7.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg); Scott Ungerer, G/F (6.4 ppg, 4.4 apg)
Key Player Lost: Greg Stevenson, F (19.1 ppg)
Outlook: This is the Spiders’ first year in the A-10. They left the Colonial conference on top, winning the regular season title and making the post season for the second time in four years. Richmond wins with defense, as they ranked 10th in the country last season.
Team: Xavier Musketeers
2001 Record: 21-8 (lost to Notre Dame in NCAA first round)
Head Coach: Thad Matta (First season)
Key Players: David West, F (17.8 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg); Kevin Frey, F (11.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg); Romain Sato, G (10.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg)
Key Players Lost: Maurice McAfee, G (9.6 ppg, 4.8 apg); Lloyd Price, G (9.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
Outlook: If the Musketeers can replace the outside scoring of McAfee and Price, they should win the division easily. West, the reigning Atlantic 10 player of the year, led Xavier in rebounding and Matta, formerly of Butler, knows a thing or two about the NCAA tournament, having taken the Bulldogs there just last year. Look for Xavier and Matta to make a return appearance.