Even college basketball coaches have a hard time keeping straight the schools in their own league these days.
George Mason coach Paul Hewitt told reporters at Atlantic 10 media day on Tuesday about a conversation he and Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli had while scouting prospects at a summer circuit event in July. Martelli said the NCAA needed to consider moving one of the recruiting evaluation periods to May, but Hewitt noted that might conflict with league meetings.
"He turned to me and asked when my league meetings were," Hewitt said. "I was like, 'Phil, we’re in the same league now.'"
Few leagues have endured more turnover recently than the Atlantic 10, which lost four notable programs this offseason. Longtime flagship programs Xavier and Temple left for the Big East and American Athletic Conference, respectively. Newcomer Butler bolted for the Big East too after only one season as an Atlantic 10 member. And Charlotte also exited, joining Conference USA.
The replacements lack the sizzle of some of the programs departing, but they're powerful enough to keep the league just a tick or two behind the Big East, which was about where it was before realignment. Longtime CAA power George Mason joins the Atlantic 10 this season and perennial Southern Conference contender Davidson comes aboard at the start of the 2014-15 school year.
It will surely take the league's coaches some time to get used to the changes, especially the longest-tenured coach in the Atlantic 10. When Martelli was waiting at 30th Street Station to catch the train to Penn Station on Tuesday, he told the Philadelphia Inquirer he caught himself thinking, "Wonder where Dunph is?"
Of course, Fran Dunphy wasn't on the train to Brooklyn for Atlantic 10 media day. His Temple Owls will begin play in the American Athletic Conference this season.
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