Last Season: 26-7, 14-2 in A-10 (1st)
Head Coach: Phil Martelli (7th season)
Plays GW: Jan. 19 at St. Joseph’s
After losing to Stanford in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, St. Joseph’s comes into the 2001-02 season with more experience and higher expectations. Ranked 9th in the nation by ESPN.com, the Hawks are among the favorites to win the A-10, and Jameer Nelson and Marvin O’Connor lead a team that has the talent to go deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Nelson has become an outstanding pure point guard in only his sophomore year, and O’Connor showed the country what an offensive threat he can be when he scored 37 against Stanford in last year’s tournament.
Forward Bill Phillips and center Damian Reid lead a front-court that ranked second in rebounds in the conference last season. If Phillips, Reid or anyone else up front can effectively create second-shot opportunities, the Hawks are going to be very tough to defend.
Last Season: 24-13, 12-4 in A-10 (t-2nd)
Head Coach: John Chaney (20th season)
Plays GW: Feb. 9 at Smith Center
Ranked 14th in the nation by ESPN.com, Temple will begin its quest to defend its A-10 title. With five seniors, including Player of the Year Candidate Lynn Greer, the Owls have been picked to win the A-10 West in pre-season polls.
David Hawkins should be a solid replacement for the departed Quincy Wadley, as the sophomore guard can make the grade. Wadley is academically ineligible until January.
At 240 pounds, center Kevin Lyde finished third in the A-10 in both rebounding and blocked shots last season and will give the team a strong inside presence this year. Forward Alex Wesby posted 30 percent shooting from beyond the arc last year. He’ll open up the lane for Greer and Hawkins by drawing defenders on the perimeter.
Last Season: 15-15, 11-5 in A-10 (4th)
Head Coach: Steve Lappas (1st season)
Plays GW: Jan. 23 at UMass
UMass led the A-10 in blocked shots last season but failed to make the post-season. The Minutemen return just as tough inside this year. Centers Kitwana Rhymer and Micah Brand and forwards Jackie Rogers and Eric Williams give UMass the biggest front-court in the conference.
With key guards Anthony Anderson and Raheim Lamb returning after missing all of last season, the team’s big men should have some more support on the perimeter. Even with Anderson and Lamb returning,
UMass lacks strong perimeter
players. It will be up to a new coach to push the team for a post-season run.
Last Season: 22-7, 12-4 in Colonial Athletic Association (1st)
Head Coach: John Beilein (5th season)
Plays GW: Jan. 30 at Richmond, Feb. 23 at Smith Center
Richmond will have a difficult time matching last year’s 20-win season. The Spiders lost two starters to graduation and find themselves competing in a conference more difficult than the Colonial Athletic Association.
Reggie Brown and Tony Dobbins, a Virginia Tech transfer who was ineligible last season, combine to give the Spiders a tough back-court. Brown is the team’s main offensive threat and Dobbins is expected to be a solid contributor after finishing his freshman year averaging 3.8 points a game.
The key factor for this year’s team will be getting production out of its front-court. The Spiders have enough depth at the forward and center positions, led by Scott Ungerer and Eric Zwayer, but will need quality more than quantity in a tougher A-10 conference.
Last Season: 18-12, 9-7 in A-10 (T-5th)
Head Coach: Jan
van Breda Kolff (1st season)
Plays GW: Jan. 3 at Smith Center
St. Bonaventure will not be able to replace Kevin Houston and Peter Van Paassen, two forwards who scored nearly half of the team’s points last season, with any combination of players this year and will go through a difficult rebuilding season under new head coach Jan van Breda Kolff.
Senior guard J.R. Bremer will have to carry much of the scoring load, and forward Vidal Massiah must make his senior year his best. Sophomore Marques Green could develop into a respectable perimeter threat either this season or in years to come.
If the team’s new coach is a good fit and some of the younger players improve, the team could be more respectable in a year or two. This season, however, will be undoubtedly a long one for the Bonnies.
Last Season: 12-12, 4-12 in A-10 (9th)
Head Coach: Bob Hill (3rd season)
Plays GW: March 2 at Fordham
Fordham won once in its final 12 games last season, putting a damper on an 11-6 start that included wins over St. John’s and Iona. While the team is relieved head coach Bob Hill turned down an offer to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Rams do not put out a solid front-court. Adding to the troubles, the starting back-court from last season is gone and none of the returning guards averaged more than five points a game last year.
The key to success for Fordham is simple: develop guards into solid players to balance the formidable front-court. If returning guards do not improve, Fordham will be a one-dimensional team that will continue on the path that it finished last season.
Last Season: 7-23, 3-13 in A-10 (11th)
Head Coach: Jim Barron (1st season)
Plays GW: Jan. 26 at Smith Center
Last year’s Rams produced three conference wins. Now, after losing four of five leading scorers, Rhode Island fans can only wonder where the team will finish. The Rams won’t have to worry about Andre Scott or Marcus Evans graduating any time soon. Those two big men will be academically ineligible for the first semester.