A-10 Roundup Vol. 13: A Weekend of Upsets Shakes Up the Conference
Just when you thought the Atlantic 10 Standings would settle down for a bit...BOOM; this weekend happens, and I don't know what to think anymore. The only thing I know for certain is that I'm really going to have to think hard when making my Atlantic 10 Tournament Bracket next week.
Here are my biggest takeaways from the weekend, my team of the week, and updated rankings.
YOU get a win! YOU get a win! YOU get a win!
Upsets are nothing new for the Atlantic 10 this year, as teams from the middle of the table have no problem competing with some of the big boys. VCU has risen from 9th in the preseason poll to a serious title contender, and URI has no reservations in getting a few sneaky wins onto their resume, such as their instant classic comeback win against Dayton on Tuesday.
However, this past weekend saw some upsets that will surely be season-high performances for the teams that won. First, let's talk about Mason. I feel like I haven't covered them a ton in this column so far, and honestly, it's mostly because they just haven't been very remarkable this year, just a pretty middle-of-the-road kind of team. This win against VCU, however, definitely peaked my interest. VCU is a scrappy team, and they play best when they're in control of the glass. On Saturday, the Patriots hit them with a stake in the heart as they outrebounded the Rams 42-26. In their own end, Mason outrebounded VCU 27-3, pretty much eliminating any chance the Rams had at grabbing second chance points.
Aside from the upset, the biggest headline to come out of this game was in regards to Bones Hyland's injury. Late in the second, Hyland was carried off the court with an apparent foot sprain. No concrete update has been provided, but without Hyland, VCU will be entering the conference championship severely shorthanded.
Another team I rarely mention in a positive light, St. Joe's came away with their first conference win on Saturday, in a game that featured the return of star transfer Ryan Daly. Daly was the difference-maker against La Salle. In his first game since before Christmas, Daly had no trouble dropping 30 points, while a completely revitalized Hawks defense shut down the Explorers beyond the arc. Daly makes this return with time dwindling in his senior season, so St. Joe's main focus will be maintaining this momentum heading into the conference tournament.
Mooney Comments on Schedule Changes
As I outlined in my Friday column, the A-10 Tournament received a major shakeup when they conference announced that it would be moved up a week, with the final taking place on it's original date in Dayton. It looks like the A-10 made this move to ensure no cases popping up for the eventual conference champ, as well as a closer end point before heading to March Madness, but for some, it means less time to prepare.
Such is the case for Chris Mooney, who expressed his frustration with the move on Friday, who "didn't really understand how it benefits the conference." While I disagree with this specific statement, I can understand how the move would hurt a team like Richmond. While every team in the country has had to shuffle their schedule around at some point this year, Richmond can't seem to catch a break, and losing any more time to prepare is going to make a season that was supposed to end in a championship a bit rough towards the end.
Team of the Week
Sr. Grant Golden (RICH)- Even after all the pauses, Grant Golden remains one of the most versatile forwards in the country. Despite missing the double-double, Golden grabbed 8 boards and dished out 8 assists against a hot Duquesne team.
Fr. Jordan Hall (SJU)- Finally some love for the Hawks! While Daly stole the show, Hall was able to bring in some solid support with 22 points against La Salle.
Sr. Ryan Daly (SJU)- Daly made it seem like he was leading a top team in the conference to a late-season win on Saturday, dropping 30 against La Salle. Daly is looking to make up for a considerable amount of lost time, so expect him to make some noise as the season moves towards it's conclusion.
Sr. Fatts Russell (URI)- Russell was instrumental in leading an 18-point comeback for Rhody against Dayton on Tuesday, finishing the day with 20 points.
So. James Bishop (GWU)- GW's wins are a bit few and far between this year, but when James Bishop gets rolling, it's a sight to see. Bishop dropped 28 in a solid win over URI on Sunday.
Fordham and UMass did not play this week, so the most points a team can get is 12.
This Week's Ranking:
Bonnies (12 Pts.)
Mason (11 Pts.)
GW (10 Pts.)
St. Joe's (9 Pts.)
Dayton (8 Pts.)
Saint Louis (7 Pts.)
URI (6 Pts.)
VCU (5 Pts.)
Davidson (4 Pts.)
Richmond (3 Pts.)
Duquesne (2 Pts.)
La Salle (1 Pt.)
Season Aggregate Rankings:
VCU (100 Pts.)
Bonnies (83 Pts.)
Richmond (83 Pts.)
Dayton (78 Pts.)
Saint Louis (76 Pts.)
URI (72 Pts.)
Davidson (64 Pts.)
George Mason (51 Pts.)
UMass (49 Pts.)
La Salle (47 Pts.)
Duquesne (42 Pts.)
George Washington (39 Pts.)
St. Joe's (22 Pts.)
Fordham (15 Pts.)