35th Anniversary - Feature 9
Click to Play: John Chaney
After achieving great success in the 1990's and making the transition into the upper echelon of NCAA Division I conferences, the Atlantic 10 ushered in the new century in style.
The early 2000's saw additional growth for the league, adding the University of Richmond to the A-10's already thriving line-up, while garnering even more national attention with Xavier women's basketball's trip to the Elite Eight, a pair of stellar men's hoopsters in Jameer Nelson and David West and John Chaney's induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The Atlantic 10 saw a significant increase in individual and teams honors during this time period, a sign of what was sure to be another prosperous era for the league.
The individual accolades came easily to a trio of Atlantic 10 Conference hoopsters in 2000, as Temple's Pepe Sanchez, George Washington's SirValiant Brown and Angela Zampella of Saint Joseph's garnered Associated Press All-America honors. Sanchez, the Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Player of the Year, was tabbed a third-team All-American after averaging 8.0 assists, 5.5 rebounds and 3.4 steals in his final season with the Owls. Brown earned honorable mention All-America recognition as a freshman, after leading the nation with his 24.6 points per game average and setting a new Colonials' single-season scoring record with 738 points. Zampella also garnered AP honorable mention honors, as she finished the 1999-2000 campaign ranked second in the nation in assists (7.8), while setting a new Hawks' single-season assist record (241).
Richmond, a highly-competitive academic and athletic institution, joined the league during the 2001-02 academic year, expanding the A-10 to a 12-school entity. UR made an immediate impact in its first year in the league, as the Spiders' baseball program set eight team and 11 individual Conference records on their way to the 2002 NCAA Super Regional. Richmond posted an impressive 46-8 regular season mark and 22-2 record against Atlantic 10 competition that spring, claimed the regular-season Atlantic 10 West Division title and made its seventh overall trip to the NCAA Tournament.
"On the heels of UR's stellar season, Spider hurler Tim Stauffer, a first-team All-American (2003) and finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, was selected fourth overall in the 2003 Major League Baseball Draft by the San Diego Padres. Stauffer, one of 11 A-10 baseball standouts to be drafted at the end of the 2003 campaign, is the highest baseball draft choice in A-10 history.
|Richmond's Tim Stauffer|
2003 First-Team All-American
The diamond was not the only place the A-10 experienced success during the beginning of the century. The hardwood, home to the league's flagship sport, provided the dramatics, produced the honors, and continued to keep the A-10 in the national spotlight. On the men's side, Jameer Nelson of Saint Joseph's was tabbed the unanimous 2001 National Freshman of the Year by Sports Illustrated. The Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year and future NBA first round draft choice, averaged 12.5 points, shooting 46-percent from the field, while dishing 6.5 assists per game.
That same year, veteran head coach John Chaney of Temple was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. At the time of his induction, Chaney was the winningest coach in both number of wins and winning percentage at Temple (431-179, .707) and in the Atlantic 10 (284-83, .774). He ranked in the top 10 in both categories among active coaches nationally. Under Chaney, the Owls were crowned Atlantic 10 Champions seven times and made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, compiling 23 wins and advancing to the regional finals five times.
|2001 Xavier Women's Basketball Team|
upset Tennessee to advance to the Elite 8
The Xavier women's basketball team was also making headlines of its own during the 2000-01 season. The Musketeers, who posted a remarkable record of 31-3, including a 15-1 mark in A-10 play, defeated perennial powerhouse Tennessee and advanced to the Elite Eight of the 2001 NCAA Tournament. XU head coach Melanie Balcomb was named A-10 Coach of the Year, while Jennifer Phillips and Nicole Levandusky were honored as the league's Player and Defensive Player of the Year, respectively.
Phillips, who was inducted into the Xavier Hall of Fame in 2006, closed out her four-year career with 1,633 points, good for sixth on the program's all-time list. She ended her senior season ranked fifth nationally in field-goal shooting percentage.
|Xavier's David West|
3-time Atlantic 10 Player of the Year
Levandusky, also a two-time All-Atlantic 10 first team member and 2009 XU Hall of Fame inductee, finished her tenure at Xavier fourth on the all-time scoring list with 1,755 points and as the school's record holder in steals (364). During XU's run to the 2001 Elite Eight, she averaged 18.7 points, including a 19-point, six-rebound effort in the Musketeers' 80-65 victory over No. 3 Tennessee in the Sweet 16.
Xavier and the Atlantic 10 remained in the forefront during the 2002-03 campaign thanks in part to three-time Atlantic 10 Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Year, David West. West capped off the A-10's surge during the early 2000's when he was named the 2003 National Player of the Year by the Associated Press, the United States Basketball Writers Association and Basketball Times magazine. West was also honored as a First Team All-America by the AP, USBWA, ESPN and Basketball Times. He finished his all-star senior season averaging a double-double of 20.1 points and 11.8 rebounds a game, shooting 51 percent from the floor and leading his team in points, rebounds, blocks (52) and steals (42).
West was the first XU player to have his number retired while still playing for the Musketeers, in which he led Xavier to a Top 10 national ranking and a number-three seed in the NCAA Tournament. West, currently in his eighth season in the NBA, was drafted in the first round - 18th overall -- by the New Orleans Hornets in 2003.
With players like West, Nelson and Zampella, coaches like Chaney and programs like the Xavier women's basketball team, the Atlantic 10 roared into the 21st century. With what began as just an eight-team basketball conference in 1975-76, the A-10 has continued to develop into a national contender in collegiate athletics, paving its own way with hard work, dedication and a strong commitment to excellence.
Scroll through and click the icons below for the membership history of each institution.