Nov. 15, 2008
The Atlantic 10 is tied (with Conference USA) for second nationally among Division I conferences with five active head coaches with 300 or more career victories. The ACC leads all Division I conferences with seven active head coaches with at least 300 career wins.
Rick Majerus, Saint Louis - 439
Bobby Lutz, Charlotte - 369
John Giannini, La Salle - 346
Fran Dunphy, Temple - 344
Jim Baron, Rhode Island - 315
Temple senior guard Dionte Christmas and junior forward Derrick Brown of Xavier are among 50 candidates for the John R. Wooden Award All-American Team and Player of the Year trophy.
For the 14th time in Conference history and fifth since 2000, the Atlantic 10 Conference earned multiple at-large berths to the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament last season as league champion Temple was joined by Xavier and Saint Joseph's in the field of 65. The A-10 earned two of the six at-large bids awarded to non-BCS conferences.
The Atlantic 10 had a league record seven teams win at least 20 games in 2007-08 and all seven earned postseason berths. Only the Big East (eight) had more 20-win teams. In addition, 11 of the Conference's 14 teams reached the 15-win mark a year ago, the most in league history.
NICE START: UMass forward Tony Gaffney has opened his senior year in grand style with his first career double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds) in the Minutemen's 90-71 win over Arkansas-Monticello on Nov. 11 and a career-high seven blocks versus Southern Illinois on Nov. 12.
THREE-SPEAK: Jimmy Baron of Rhode Island has 246 career three-pointers, the most among active players in the Atlantic 10. The 6-3 senior guard is one of eight returning players in the league who drained at least 60 field goals from beyond the arc a year ago.
Name - 3FG (2007-08)
Dionte Christmas, Temple - 104
Ricky Harris, Massachusetts - 104
Jimmy Baron, Rhode Island - 99
B.J. Raymond, Xavier - 82
Darrin Govens, Saint Joseph's - 68
Lamont Mack, Charlotte - 64
Kevin Lisch, Saint Louis - 63
David Gonzalvez, Richmond - 61
Temple guard Dionte Christmas
averaged a league-best 19.7 points last season to become just the third player in Conference history to lead the Atlantic 10 in scoring in successive years. The two other players to hold that distinction are John Battle of Rutgers (1984-85) and St. Bonaventure's Earl Belcher (1980-81). Christmas enters his senior campaign poised to become the first three-time scoring champion in league history. The Philadelphia, Pa., native scored a game-high 26 points in the Owls' 79-65 season-opening win versus East Tennessee State on Nov. 14.
START YOUR ENGINES: Forty-one starters are scheduled to return for the 2008-09 campaign. While no A-10 program welcomes back all five starters, five schools have four returning starters. Below is a look at which A-10 team has who back:
5 - None
4 - Charlotte, GW, La Salle, Richmond, Temple
3 - Dayton, Rhode Island, St. Joe's, Saint Louis
2 - Duquesne, UMass, St. Bonaventure, Xavier
1 - Fordham
STRAIGHT SHOOTER: Saint Joseph's senior forward Ahmad Nivins enters the 2008-09 season vying to join former George Washington standout Alexander Koul (1995-97) as the only players in A-10 history to lead the league in field goal percentage three consecutive years. Nivins shot .647 (165-of-255) from the field a year ago. In the Hawks' 69-57 win over Rider on Nov. 14, Nivins made nine of his 11 field goal attempts en route to scoring a game-high 25 points.
WELCOME BACK: The lone new head men's basketball coach in the Atlantic 10 this season is former Minuteman point guard and Springfield native Derek Kellogg, who was named the 21st head coach in Massachusetts men's basketball history on May 23 by Director of Athletics John McCutcheon. The 1995 UMass graduate returns to his alma mater for his first head coaching job after serving as an assistant coach for 12 years, the last eight at Memphis under former Massachusetts head coach John Calipari.
FEARLESS FRESHMAN: Kenny Frease has already proven he's tough as nails. Shortly before his Massillon Perry High School graduation, the prized XU recruit volunteered to lie on a bed of nails for a science experiment. The local newspaper covered the event, chronicling the laws of physics that enabled the 7-foot, 265-pound center to participate without incurring bodily harm. It didn't hurt, Frease said, and was actually like "lying on the floor." In his collegiate debut on Nov. 14, Frease scored 12 points and grabbed seven boards in the Musketeers' 71-43 win over IPFW.
WET BEHIND THE EARS: Duquesne and Saint Louis will among the youngest teams in the nation in 2008-09. Duquesne has eight scholarship freshmen and four sophomores on the 15-man roster. Three-year starter Aaron Jackson - the Dukes' lone senior - is also the team's only scholarship upperclassman. Saint Louis is the only other NCAA Division I school with eight scholarship freshmen and no school has more scholarship underclassmen than Duquesne's 11. In addition, Duquesne is tied with The Citadel, High Point and Saint Peter's for the most scholarship underclassmen in the country with 11.
PASSING THE ROCK: Senior guard Chris Lowe of Massachusetts led the A-10 and ranked 13th nationally in assists (6.2 apg.) a year ago. The Mount Vernon, N.Y., native registered at least ten assists on six different occasions, including a career-high 14 versus La Salle. By comparison, no other player in the Conference dished out ten or more assists in more than one game in 2007-08. Lowe, who also paced the A-10 in assists in 2006 (4.9 apg.), seeks to become the first player in league history to lead the Conference in assists three times. Carl Smith (UM - 1984, 86), Shandue McNeill (SBU - 1995, 97) and Jameer Nelson (SJU - 2001, 02) are the only other players to twice lead the A-10 in assists. Lowe opened his senior campaign with 11 assists in the Minutemen's 90-71 win over Arkansas-Monticello on
WRIGHT STUFF: Chris Wright looks to lead Dayton back to the postseason and continue his progression as a dynamic all-around player. The sophomore forward, a preseason All-Conference second-team selection, played in 15 games and led the team in rebounding (5.7 rpg.), and field goal percentage (.602) while averaging 10.4 points a year ago. The Flyers certainly missed the presence of Wright after he broke his ankle midway through the season. UD was 13-1 before his injury and 9-9 afterwards.
OPEN SESAME: Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus improved to 21-1 all-time in season openers as the Billikens downed Missouri-St. Louis on Nov. 14, 48-33.
REAL MEN WEAR PINK: Dayton's season opener against Wofford on Nov. 16 is the Flyers' annual "Real Men Wear Pink" game. The breast cancer awareness promotion is part of UD corporate sponsor National City's larger "Real Men Wear Pink" campaign. At halftime, UD and National City will honor breast cancer survivors during an on-court ceremony. The 10 survivors who will be recognized were chosen from more than 200 nominees. The honorees are nominated by family friends and co-workers. One of the this year's survivors will be Julie Fabrizius, the mother of Flyer freshman forward Luke Fabrizius.
RUNNING TO VICTORY: Duquesne and St. Bonaventure utilized large runs at the start of their season-opening victories on Nov. 14. Duquense scored the first 18 points of the game as it went on to rout High Point, 84-55, and improved to an astounding 73-4 when opening a season at home. The Bonnies jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the opening five minutes of their 72-62 win over Robert Morris.