Atlantic 10 fans --believe it or not, it's practice time! Basketball is back!
Last May the NCAA made a rule change that affected when its men's basketball teams can begin practice. The result was that while practice can begin this weekend (which this year is a few weeks earlier than previously), not everyone begins practice this weekend.
It sounds confusing, but really it's simple --- teams can begin practice 42 days prior to their first game. If a team opens its season on the first day of allowable competition, Nov. 8, then they were clear to practice Friday. If another tream starts their season a few days after Nov. 8, then that team's practice begins a few days later.
But no matter what the exact start date is, Atlantic 10 men's basketball teams have been given the green light to begin practicing this weekend. This marks the start of the buzz around college basketball, as teams begin the long journey to March Madness.
As Jim Crews prepares to lead Saint Louis on a quest for a second straight A-10 title, read about how Shaka Smart and Jim Ferry view the new practice start date. Smart has VCU poised to make another strong run this year after losing to Crews' Billikens in the A-10 title game at Barclays Center. Duquesne's Ferry, starting his second year, is working to bring the Dukes back to the top of the league.
La Salle coach Dr. John Giannini, who had the Explorers in the Sweet 16 and one of the NCAA Tournament darlings last March, has a different take on the practice dates. He and Saint Joseph's, led by a group of experienced uppperclassmen like Langston Galloway and Ronald Roberts expect to have long-time bench boss Phil Martelli, will both be in contention for A-10 and Big Five titles.
So as practice gets underway, questions begin to fill the room. How will league newcomer George Mason fare in their first season in the A-10? Will popular sleeper pick Rhode Island prove the pundant's prognostication prowess? Will Chaz Williams lead UMass back to the Big Dance by winning an Atlantic 10 Championship in his home town of Brooklyn at Barclays Center in 2014?
As of yet, all unanswered questions, but as practice begins, those answers are right around the corner.