By Chris DiSano
The Atlantic 10 is in my blood, so I’m pleased to be writing this column during conference play. Its aim is to spotlight a handful of teams, players, and storylines each week, keep it moving along, and share a little A-10 knowledge with you all. This week:
Mr. Inside the Arc
There are mind-boggling stats and then there are mind-boggling stats. This is the latter. It’s no secret that George Mason’s Marquise Moore is trending towards a First-Team All-League season, collecting multiple Player of the Week honors already while averaging 18.1 points and 10.8 rebounds a contest. He’s a veteran stabilizer - along with Jalen Jenkins - on an upstart, youthful team.
But now the stat. Moore does all of his destruction inside the arc, making his numbers that much more impressive. He’s made exactly zero three point shots on the season, only attempting seven. He ranks sixth in the league in scoring and is the only player in the top 10 to not have made at least 20 three-point shots. Moore combines his ability to score in and around the lane, whether off the bounce or via the pull-up, with opportunistic buckets fueled by his motor. He also has converted on 99 free throw attempts this season and made 144 trips to the line, already four more than he made in 2015-16. And as far as the board-work, he’s plus-50 on his closest Atlantic 10 competitor. Not bad for a 6-2 guard.
Most pleasant surprise?
Well, according to my high-tech Twitter survey it’s Richmond over La Salle through the first six league contests. Not much to argue about as both teams are 5-1. Chris Mooney’s team, with a renewed commitment to defense, the infusion provided by talented freshman De’Monte Buckingham, and the productive duo of T.J. Cline and ShawnDre’ Jones, won its first five before falling at UD Arena Thursday night. La Salle, behind B.J. Johnson, Jordan Price and Pookie Powell boasts the same record, with its only conference loss also at the hands of the Flyers. The Explorers have won five straight. Price, buoyed by a better supporting cast, has elevated his shooting percentage from 39 percent to nearly 48 percent this season.
With 376 votes cast in 24 hours, here’s what A-10 fans had to say:
Which A10 team is most pleasant surprise early in conf. play? Results will appear in my Friday column on https://t.co/s6G5NFEFOW— Chris DiSano (@CDiSano44) January 18, 2017
Firepower in Olean
After losing Marcus Posley a year ago many wondered how Mark Schmidt would fill the void at shooting guard. As it turns out, he had an ace up his sleeve all along in Central Connecticut State transfer Matt Mobley. Mobley (19.9 points, 6.0 rebounds) is fifth in scoring in his debut A-10 campaign. Pair him with Jaylen Adams (21.8 points) and you have two of the league’s top five scorers and a top three scoring tandem in America.
What makes them click? I checked in with Ian Nolan, who previously worked under Mark Schmidt and is the editor of the well-respected Bona Blog. Here’s what Nolan had to say:
“Well, to start both stretch a defense to their limits... shooting 40% and 39% from deep,” Nolan said. “From there, Mobley can really make a defense move with his ability to get to the rim and that perfectly sets up Adams’ patented high-arcing 3-pointer on kick-outs. Conversely, Adams excels at running the offense from the perimeter at a more deliberate pace; a master of picking apart a defense with a single pass. Adams is first in the A-10 in assists, (6.7 per game) and in his last three games has 26 helpers to just seven turnovers.”
Text of the week
“We are playing better because we have good players with good attitudes who are benefiting from game experience. The guys who didn’t play last year [transfers] are more comfortable than they were a month or two ago.”
- La Salle Coach Dr. John Giannini on his Explorers, winners of five straight
Name you should know
As Travis Ford rebuilds in his first year down in Saint Louis, wins won’t pile up like they figure to in the coming seasons. But in 6-9 redshirt freshman Elliott Welmer, Ford has a good one. Welmer is averaging 7.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, shooting nearly 40 percent from deep. He moves well, is quick to the glass on both ends, and demonstrates a quiet confidence not always present in young players. He’s a perfect sidekick in the pick-and-pop game and will continue to develop playing close to 25 minutes per night for the Billikens.
So who’s playing this weekend?
Fordham at UMass: 12:30pm (NBCSN)
Rhode Island at Duquesne: 2:30 (NBCSN)
Saint Joseph’s at Penn: 7:00pm
George Mason at Richmond: 1:00pm
Saint Louis at Dayton: 2:00pm (CBSSN)
La Salle at VCU (NBCSN)
● DVR alert on this last one folks… if you can’t watch it live.
We’ll wrap up with this...
Nine A-10 teams rank in the Top 125 of the RPI, led by Dayton at 26.
See you next week...
Chris DiSano, is an Atlantic 10 television analyst and writer. He has served as the host of A-10 Live! at Men's Basketball Media Day for the past three seasons. DiSano, who was named an NBC Sports top Atlantic 10 basketball follow, can be found on Twitter at @CDiSano44