It’s never too early to start evaluating Rhode Island’s competition within their own conference. Here’s a breakdown of each team so far this season.
Davidson – The Wildcats look like an offensive juggernaut, scoring over 100 points in both of their initial contests. Bob McKillop’s team is hitting threes like they are free throws, and they’re preventing offensive turnovers (only 3.5 per game). Davidson is a team to keep a close eye on this season.
Dayton – After seeing the Flyers beat Ball State on a buzzer beater and lose to Hofstra, it is not hard to see that Anthony Grant’s team is clearly in full rebuild mode. The Flyers could do worse than originally expected, as they were picked fifth in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll.
Duquesne – The Dukes have taken care of business in their first two games but they still have a long way to go.
Fordham – What’s worse, losing a buy game at home to Miami (Ohio) or losing by 24 on a neutral court to Florida State? Ask Fordham because they did both.
George Mason – The Patriots gave Louisville a decent run for their money while playing on the road. GMU could emerge from the middle of the pack, but the jury’s still out on them.
George Washington – The Colonials lost by 20 at Florida State and they had first half struggles versus Hampton at home. Maurice Joseph’s team may very well finish in the lower half of the conference standings, like anticipated.
La Salle – After watching the Explorers against #20 Northwestern, I see that they love shooting bricks. And they can’t stop drives into the paint.
Massachusetts – Like many other A-10 teams, UMass is clearly trying to start over from square one. They lost 70-67 in overtime to Ivy League favorite Harvard. At the time, the game appeared to be a positive sign for the Minutemen. But after losses to Holy Cross and Manhattan, Harvard looks over-hyped.
Richmond – Cross off the Spiders as a team that will contend in the conference for anything more than mediocrity. The team that was picked to finish eighth in the Atlantic 10 lost 76-63 to Delaware. And then they lost 94-61 to Jacksonville State. Bye bye Spiders.
Saint Bonaventure – The Bonnies lost 77-75 in their opening game at home versus Niagara. I don’t care that it was a two-point loss or that Jaylen Adams wasn’t playing. That’s completely unacceptable for Mark Schmidt’s team. Their first game showed me why I never expected Bonaventure to finish in second place (after Rhode Island) in the Atlantic 10 this season.
Saint Louis – The Billikens pulled off an impressive 77-71 victory during the 2K Classic over Virginia Tech that will help themselves and the conference. In the championship game, they were ultimately exposed on both ends of the floor by Providence. With that said, Travis Ford’s team is still a work in progress but they are a team that can do serious damage.
Saint Joseph’s – With Lamarr Kimble out for the rest of the year, the Hawks are likely going to go through some of the same struggles as last season. Taylor Funk can light it up from beyond the arc but Shavar Newkirk is still recovering from his torn ACL. Additionally, the Hawks lost a road game to Toledo where they were favored. Phil Martelli’s team is awful at the charity stripe and their defensive rotations are less than ideal.
VCU – The (other) Rams had little to no problems in their first two games to start their season. Then on November 17, they took a relatively close loss to Virginia at the Siegel Center. Mike Rhoades still needs to figure out why Justin Tillman is intent on taking ill-advised three pointers, but Issac Vann looks great to start the season. Also, the Rams had their fair share of defensive struggles at home versus UVA, but if they can fix their initial problems, they’ll be around the top of the league standings again.