Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
The St. Joseph’s Hawks were picked by a panel of coaches and media members to win the 2012-13 Atlantic 10 Conference, the league announced on Thursday before its annual Media Day.
The Hawks, the only team in the league to return every scholarship player from last season, received 434 total points and 11 first-place votes, beating out Saint Louis University by a single first-place vote and a single overall point. A-10 newcomer VCU (410 points, 3 first-place votes) was third, followed by Temple (394/2), Massachusetts (389/2), Butler (347/2) and La Salle (281). This is the highest preseason ranking for SJU since they were picked to win the conference East Division back in 2003-04 and 2004-05.
This could be the strongest year ever for the premier basketball-only conference in the nation, with 16 members for the first year ever following the addition of two schools who have made the Final Four at some point over the last three seasons.
League newcomers Virginia Commonwealth and Butler also fared well in the preseason polls, coming in third and sixth, respectively. The Rams, led by head coach Shaka Smart, lost senior Bradford Burgess from last year’s CAA championship squad but return third team All-Conference forward Juvonte Reddic, PG Darius Theus and sophomore defensive stopper Briante Weber and should challenge for the league title. The Bulldogs add senior SG Rotnei Clarke, an Arkansas transfer and one of the country’s top 3-point shooters, to a roster that includes 6-11 senior Andrew Smith and 6-6 junior Khyle Marshall.
Last year, coach Phil Martelli and St. Joseph’s went 20-14, losing 71-68 to St. Bonventure in the quarterfinals of the A-10 tournament before falling 67-65 to Northern Iowa in the first round of the postseason National Invitation Tournament (NIT). An extremely talented junior class has a number of All-Conference selections, including high-scoring guard Langston Galloway (second team), extremely athletic forward C.J. Aiken (third team, as well as All-Defensive) and point-forward Halil Kanacevic (third team), who led the team in both rebounding and assists last year. Senior Carl ‘Tay’ Jones, the only fourth-year scholarship player on the roster, was also a second-team selection after scoring 17.0 points per game last season.
St. Joseph’s was the only team in the conference to have four players named to All-Conference first, second or third teams; Temple (Khalif Wyatt and Scootie Randall) was the only other school to have multiple selections among the league’s top 15 players. Wyatt was a first-team selection after scoring more than 17 points per game last season, Randall was a third-team pick even though he hasn’t played since February 2011 due to a broken foot and subsequent knee injury that summer. This is the final year that Temple is in the league, they leave to join the football team in the rapidly-changing Big East in 2013-14.
The Owls also saw Daniel Dingle, a 6-7 forward from St. Raymond’s (NY), named to the All-Rookie team. La Salle wasn’t left off the preseason awards list either, as South Carolina transfer Ramon Galloway made the All-Conference second team in his second and final year as an Explorer after helping the team to a 21-13 record–a six-win improvement over the previous season–and an NIT berth last year.
The season officially begins on November 9; Saint Joseph’s plays their first game on Nov. 12 when they host Yale as part of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. La Salle gets their season underway on Nov. 10 when they host Delaware; Temple’s season starts on Nov. 13 when they visit Kent State.
Atlantic 10 Predicted Order of Finish
1. St. Joseph’s (434 points, 11 first-place votes)
2. Saint Louis (432/10)
3. Virginia Commonwealth (410/2)
4. Temple (394/2)
5. Massachusetts (389/2)
6. Butler (347/2)
7. La Salle (281)
8. Dayton (265)
9. Xavier (239)
10. Richmond (235)
11. St. Bonaventure (170)
12. Charlotte (145)
13. George Washington (112)
14. Fordham (84)
15. Rhode Island (76)
16. Duquesne (68)
All-Conference First Team (2011-12 stats given unless otherwise noted)
Kevin Dillard (Sr., PG, Dayton): 13.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg 6.0 apg
Chris Gaston (Sr., PF, Fordham): 17.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 1.1 apg
Chaz Williams (Jr., PG, UMass): 16.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 6.2 apg
Kwamain Mitchell (Sr., G, SLU): 12.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 3.7 apg
Khalif Wyatt (Sr., SG, Temple): 17.1 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3.3 apg
All-Conference Second Team
Rotnei Clarke (Sr., SG, Butler): 15.2 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.6 apg (stats from 2010-11)
Chris Braswell (Sr., PF, Charlotte): 15.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.2 apg
Ramon Galloway (Sr., SG, La Salle): 14.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 3.5 apg
Langston Galloway (Jr., SG, St. Joseph’s): 15.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.2 apg
Carl Jones (Sr., G, St. Joseph’s): 17.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.3 apg
All-Conference Third Team
Darien Brothers (Sr., G, Richmond): 14.6 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.7 apg
C.J. Aiken (Jr., F, St. Joseph’s): 10.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.2 apg
Halil Kanacevic (Jr., F, St. Joseph’s): 8.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 3.7 apg
Scootie Randall (Sr., G/F, Temple): 10.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.4 apg (stats from 2010-11)
Juvonte Reddic (Jr., F, Va. Commonwealth): 10.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 0.5 apg
Roosevelt Jones (So., F, Butler): 7.8 ppg, 1.0 spg, 0.4 bpg
Pierria Henry (So., G, Charlotte): 7.2 ppg, 2.6 spg, 0.4 bpg
C.J. Aiken (Jr., F, St. Joseph’s): 10.9 ppg, 0.4 spg, 3.5 bpg
Jordair Jett (Jr., G, Saint Louis): 6.5 ppg, 1.2 spg, 0.2 bpg
Briante Weber (So., G, Va. Commonwealth): 4.8 ppg, 2.2 spg, 0.2 bpg
Kellen Dunham (G, Butler)
Jordan Hare (F, Rhode Island)
Daniel Dingle (F, Temple)
Melvin Johnson (G, Va. Commonwealth)
Semaj Christon (G, Xavier)