St. Joseph's picked as preseason favorite in A-10

C.J. Aiken, who averaged 10.9 points last season, returns as a starting forward.
C.J. Aiken, who averaged 10.9 points last season, returns as a starting forward. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff)
Posted: October 06, 2012

NEW YORK - Although a scorecard is needed to keep track of the shifting teams in the Atlantic Ten men's basketball conference, one thing that remained the same is the quality of the competition.

The league's coaches and media members think St. Joseph's is the class of that competition. The Hawks were picked as the preseason favorite in the 16-team league, which, at least for this year, may be as strong as it has ever been.

It is a remarkable resurgence for the Hawks, who were 11-22 two seasons ago and 20-14 last year while earning an NIT bid.

With all five starters back, plus A-10 sixth man of the year Ronald Roberts Jr., one can see why there is so much optimism.

When asked how he would keep his players' heads from swelling, St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli had a direct answer.

"Twenty and 14," he said, referring to last year's record. "We led in 11 of our 14 losses, so our execution has to be sharper."

This will be Temple's final season in the A-10, where it has enjoyed tremendous success and is the defending regular-season champion. After this season Temple heads to the Big East. In addition, Charlotte will leave the A-10 after this season for Conference USA.

Yet the league is welcoming two teams that have made names for themselves in the NCAA tournament, Butler and Virginia Commonwealth.

Last season, VCU beat Drexel in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game to earn that league's automatic NCAA bid. In 2011, VCU reached the Final Four.

Butler, coming from the Horizon League, trumped that by being a national finalist in both 2010 and 2011.

Last season, the Atlantic Ten had four NCAA and four NIT teams. With Butler and VCU, and Temple playing one more season in the league, this is definitely a deeper conference.

"For us to have eight in the NCAA and NIT, and for many of those teams to have their best players back and adding VCU and Butler, this is an extremely difficult conference," La Salle coach John Giannini said during Thursday's basketball media day at the Barclays Center, the home of the Brooklyn Nets and the A-10 tournament. "I think there are eight to nine teams that legitimately have a chance at the NCAA tournament."

La Salle, coming off a season in which it earned an NIT berth, was picked seventh in the preseason poll.

Temple was picked fourth, but the Owls were among six teams to receive two or more first-place votes, demonstrating the expected parity in a league that offers few breathers.


St Joseph's was chosen as the Atlantic Ten Conference men's basketball preseason favorite by a panel of the league's head coaches and media members.

The Hawks got 434 total points and 11 first-place votes to edge out second-place St. Louis.

The Hawks finished 20-14 overall and 9-7 in the A-10 last season and return all five starters.

Here is the poll:

1.  St. Joseph's (11 first-place votes)

2. St. Louis (10)

3. VCU (3)

4.  Temple (2)

5. Massachusetts (2)

6. Butler (2)

7.  La Salle

8. Dayton

9. Xavier

10. Richmond

11. St. Bonaventure

12. Charlotte

13. George Washington

14. Fordham

15. Rhode Island

16. Duquesne


St. Joseph's Profile

Coach: Phil Martelli (320-223)

Last year: 20-14, 9-7 A-10, fifth.

Key returning players: Carl Jones, 5-11, Sr., G, (17.0 ppg.), Lanston Galloway, 6-2, Jr., G, (15.5 ppg.), C.J. Aiken, 6-9, Jr., F-C, (10.9 ppg., 5.1 rpg); Halil Kanacevic, 6-8, Jr., F, (8.3 ppg., 8.3 rpg.); Ronald Roberts, Jr, 6-8, Jr., F, (10.9 ppg., 5.9 rpg.), Daryus Quarles, 6-6, Jr., F, (4.7 ppg.), Chris Wilson, 6-3, So. G, (3.3 ppg.); Papa Ndao, 6-8, So., F.

Newcomers: Two freshmen head up the newcomers - 6-foot-7 forward Isaiah Miles and 6-8 forward Javon Baumann, the first player Martelli has recruited from Germany.

Key losses: None.

Coach's quote: "The foundation of our program is daily improvement. We need daily improvement as a person."

Did you know? Aiken, the Atlantic Ten defensive player of the year, was fourth in the nation with 3.5 blocked shots per game and Galloway was fourth in the nation in three-point field goal percentage (.466).


Temple Profile

Coach: Fran Dunphy (134-65 at Temple, 444-228 overall)

Last year: 24-8, 13-3 A-10 (first).

Key returning players: Khalif Wyatt, 6-4, Sr., G, (17.1 ppg.); Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, 6-6, Sr. F, (9.3 ppg., 6.6 rpg.), T.J. DiLeo, 6-3, Sr., G, (55.4 field- goal percentage), Anthony Lee, 6-9, So. F, (5.0 ppg., 5.2 rpg.). Will Cummings, a sophomore point guard who saw limited time, is poised to play more minutes.

Newcomers: Jake O'Brien is a 6-9 senior graduate student from Boston University who missed last year due to injury. Scootie Randall, a 6-6 senior, returns after missing last season due to a foot injury. Dalton Pepper is a 6-5 junior transfer from West Virginia who played at Pennsbury. Three freshmen are 6-10 Devontae Watson, 6-7 forward Daniel Dingle, and 6-6 G-F Quenton DeCorsey.

Key losses: Guards Juan Fernandez (11.1 ppg.) and Ramone Moore (17.3 ppg.), and center Micheal Eric (9.0 ppg., 8.8 rpg.) will be difficult to replace.

Coach's quote: "We need to be the best member of the Atlantic Ten this year and when it is our time to go in the Big East we have to be a great member there."

Did you know? This will be Temple's final season in the Atlantic Ten before joining the Big East. The Owls have won more A-10 regular- season titles (10) and tournament championships (nine) than any other team in league history.


La Salle Profile

Coach: John Giannini (119-128 at La Salle, 416-277 overall)

Last year: 21-13, 9-7 A-10, tied for fifth.

Key returning players: Tyreek Duren, 6-1, Jr., G (13.2 ppg.); Ramon Galloway, 6-3, Sr., G, (14.1 ppg.); Sam Mills, 6-2, Jr. G., (10.6 ppg., team-high 35.6 minutes per game); Jerrell Wright, 6-8, So. F. (9.8 ppg., 5.6 rpg.),

Newcomers: Tyrone Garland, a 6-1 junior guard, is a transfer from Virginia Tech who attended Bartram. He will be eligible following the conclusion of the fall semester (Dec. 15 vs. Bucknell). Others are 6-6 redshirt freshman Rohan Brown; 6-9 freshman Jermaine Davis, and 6-10 redshirt senior Garvin Hunt, who previously played one season at Penn.

Key losses: Guard Earl Pettis averaged 15.4 points and shot .358 from beyond the arc.

Coach's quote: "Whoever comes out of Philadelphia as the best team will be probably nationally ranked and capable of a deep run in the NCAA tournament. It would be great if it is us. It will be very hard to do, but we think we have a chance and are excited about it."

Did you know? With 281 assists, Duren has the most assists by an Explorer after the first two seasons since Doug Overton from 1987 to 1989.


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @sjnard.

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