Each Wednesday until the college basketball season starts, an ex-player will help The Dagger preview his former conference. Ex-Richmond point guard and current Spiders radio analyst Greg Beckwith was kind enough to join us this week to provide a scouting report on the Atlantic 10:
1. Who's your pick to win the Atlantic 10 next season?
I expect the conference to be very competitive, but I still say the usual suspects will be at the top of the league. The upper echelon, consistently you've got to look at Xavier, Dayton and Temple to always be in the mix. And then that second tier you've got Richmond, Saint Louis and then Rhode Island should be pretty good as well.
Other Voices Worth Your Attention
Fifteen players, coaches, reporters or bloggers worth following on Twitter for your daily Atlantic 10 basketball fix.
• Shannon Russell, Cincinnati Enquirer Xavier beat writer: @slrussell
• Karl Hobbs, George Washington coach: @GWCoachHobbs
• Kwamain Mitchell, Saint Louis guard: @kmitch23
• Tim Parker, publisher of Rivals.com
site, NinerReport.com: @Niner_Report
• Matthew Schwade, publisher of FlyerHoops.net: @FlyerHoops
• Juan Fernandez, Temple guard: @juanfernandez4
• Chris Mack, Xavier coach: @CoachChrisMack
• Josh Carpenter, Sports Editor for the University Times newspaper
• Jonathan Tannenwald, Philadelphia Inquirer writer, blogger: @jtannenwald
• MinutemenNation, a blog covering UMass athletics: @MinutemenNation
• Chris DiSano, Founder and President of College Chalktalk @chris_chalktalk
• OwlScoop.com, a blog covering Temple athletics: @OwlScoop_com
• Anthony Gurley, UMass guard: @Hoopsta512
• Aaric Murray, LaSalle forward: @Aaric24
• Brian Gregory, Dayton coach: @UDCoachBG
2. Is there a team you like as a dark horse in the league race?
I would say Saint Louis would be the dark horse team. It will be interesting to see if they build on what they did last year now with the higher expectations. You kind of overlook them because they're a great defensive team, but they don't do anything sexy. Nowadays in college basketball it's up-and-down and run-and-gun, but they don't do that. They beat you with good fundamental basketball, especially on the defensive end, and make you play their game.
3. What team do you expect to struggle more than usual?
Xavier's losing a lot, but they always seem to rebound so it's hard to say them. So if there's anyone, I would say Dayton. Even though they've got athleticism and they've got Chris Wright
, they lost a lot of seniors and they lost a lot of leadership. They went 8-8 with a really senior-laden team last year. They won the NIT, but can they maintain what they were without that backcourt?
4. Who's your pick for preseason Atlantic 10 player of the year?
I think Kevin Anderson (from Richmond) will have a phenomenal year again. He lost his backcourt mate (David) Gonzalves, but I think he'll pick up where he left off. And let's put it this way, he has the green light to shoot as many times as he wants, so he'll rise to the occasion and be a very strong candidate to win it again. From there you have Lavoy Allen from Temple who could be a good candidate and Chris Wright of course could be a big-time candidate.
5. Which incoming freshman will make the biggest impact?
Dayton has a really good guard in Juwan Staten. And I'm close to Richmond and there's a really good player I saw the other day (forward Derrick Williams) from Saint Anthony's. His body looks like he's a senior and I know they're really high on that kid. I would think that he would be able to make some noise, but the kid from Dayton is probably the strongest rookie of the year candidate.
6. Which Atlantic 10 player is the most underrated?
I like the kid at Saint Bonaventure, Andrew Nicholson. I think he's an underrated player. He's a really good player for them. He's a great rebounder, very athletic, a great shot blocker. I really like him and he doesn't get a lot of press. They've knocked off some teams at times at home and everything really centers around how he plays.
7. Who is the best defender in the Atlantic 10?
I think Chris Wright is a heck of a defender because of his athleticism. He can change the game. I've seen him have some ferocious blocks that really got the crowd involved. I also like, Kwamain Mitchell, (from Saint Louis). I think he plays tremendous defense on the ball.
8. If you could go back in time, what Atlantic 10 coach would you most like to play for?
I really like (Temple's) Fran Dunphy. I really like what he does, how he coaches and his demeanor with his kids. I've always admired him as a coach and I think he'd be a lot of fun to have a chance to play for.