Atlantic 10 Postseason action opened today, and it did not disappoint. Here's a recap of the two games we saw today.
Game 1: St. Joe's 72 La Salle 66
Following Saint Joe's regular season finale win over Richmond on Monday, head coach Billy Lange referred to Ryan Daly as the "Most Valuable Player in the league." Lange echoed that statement following today's win over La Salle, a win in which Daly scored 23 points. While his performance all the way through was commendable, his shining moment came late in the game, as he sank a clutch shot from deep to bring the Hawks lead to an uncatchable 7 points.
There's not argument against Daly's return being the catalyst for St. Joe's current hot streak. However, if I could pin it down to a specific quality of his, it's humility. Daly is the definition of a glue guy, able to take the heat when they come up short. Such was the case in the first half, in which Daly saw his team go into the break down 5 points.
"We weren’t rebounding well at all in the first half," Daly said postgame. "That was giving them extra possessions. We can’t give them 39 points in a half, and in part that's definitely on me."
Daly's second biggest quality is versatility. While it's due in part to his unique physicality as a 225-pound guard, it's also because of his drive to win. Daly talked about switching up his game to focus more on the paint.
"I am a guard, but I am pretty big," Daly said. "I know that I can rumble down there a little bit, and coach thought our best offense was to play off me in the post, whether that’s scoring or finding people to dish out my rebounds to."
Tomorrow, the Hawks take on UMass.
Game 2: George Washington 53 Fordham 49
Call me biased because I'm a Fordham alumni, but for a team that's coming off of a two-week shutdown, the Rams held their own against GW. It was a rough start, as Fordham bricked their first five shots and entered the second media timeout down 13-2. However, Fordham found their footing defensively shortly before the break, and after forcing consecutive GW scoring droughts, were able to bring their deficit down to just 3 at halftime.
The biggest standout for Fordham today was Chuba Ohams, who despite not putting up a great statline, hit the court for the first time since last January after going down with a knee injury. Coach DePaoli noted that Ohams' return for the Rams provided a huge morale boost for the team. While all eyes on Fordham turn to their ongoing head coach search, Coach DePaoli and his players pretty much deflected any reaction to the situation, emphasizing their priorities on their recent games.
While Fordham definitely brought the second half down to their tempo, they simply could not provide a solid answer to the Colonials' star combo in James Bishop and Jamison Battle. In a season that's brought in more issues than just the pandemic, these two guys have been accustomed to putting the team on their back and hitting some tough shots every game. Bishop and Battle finished with 9 and 17 respectively, while Ricky Lindo led the game with 21.
The Colonials will face George Mason tomorrow in the last game of the second round.
Quick Picks for Tomorrow
Duquesne vs. Richmond: Given Richmond's rough recent stretch, I'm going to give this one to Duquesne. Given recent news that Blake Francis might not play, as well as Grant Golden's on and off injury problems this year, I think Duquesne is going to take advantage of a depleted Spiders roster.
St. Joe's vs. UMass: The Hawks are absolutely rolling right now, and their biggest test so far will be in how they can shut down a guy like Tre Mitchell. If they can keep up with UMass diverse offense with some solid shooting of their own, I think they'll come out with a spot in the quarterfinals.
VCU vs. Dayton: Bones Hyland is the difference maker in this matchup, and he's currently day-to-day with a foot injury. If he doesn't hit the floor tomorrow, it's the Flyers' game to lose.
George Washington vs. George Mason: GW was forced to play down and dirty against Fordham today, and combining that with the fact that they'll be playing their fifth game in eleven days, I think Mason will make easy work against a very tired opponent.