Northwestern Wins: A College Hoops Blog

An ode to Verne Lundquist’s calls and everything college basketball

Posts Tagged ‘Ahmad Nivins’

Atlantic 10 Preview

Posted by Zach on October 9, 2008

To say the Atlantic 10 had an unusual season in 2007-08 would be the understatement of the century. The league raced to a phenomenal start in non-conference play with Massachusetts and Rhode Island stunning Syracuse, Dayton taking down Louisville in Freedom Hall and Pitt at home, and perennial A-10 powerhouse Xavier bullying their way past Kansas State and Virginia. Unfortunately, the conference season started, beginning the downfall for a team like Dayton. They finished with an impressive RPI of 31 due to their remarkable non-conference slate of victories, but failed to make the NCAA Tournament due to a flurry of devastating injuries and subsequent 8-8 record in the Atlantic 10. Rhode Island is another example of a team that found themselves in the Top 25 in November and an 11 seed in the A-10 tournament in March. Xavier ended up representing the conference well with their march to the Elite Eight.

1. Xavier Musketeers:
Shocking, right? Coach Sean Miller and the Musketeers once again find themselves the near-unanimous favorites to win another Atlantic 10 title. The losses of key seniors and floor leaders like Drew Lavender, Stanley Burrell and Josh Duncan are subtractions hard to stomach, but Miller has enough talent returning to win the conference. The frontcourt will be led by two double-digit scorers, Derrick Brown and C.J. Anderson, who just may be the two best frontcourt players in the conference. Keep an eye on 7’0 freshman Kenny Frease in the middle as someone who will improve mightily with development. Replacing Burrell and Lavender in the backcourt isn’t an easy task, but Miller has a slew of point guards to work with. Jordan Crawford won’t be eligible till next season, but former Indiana mate Terrell Holloway is. Shooter B.J. Raymond and speedster Dante Jackson lead the way for Xavier, teaming up with Brad Redford, Michigan’s Mr. Basketball. A difficult non-conference slate will test this untested Musketeer core right out of the gate.



2. Temple Owls:
The Owls over-achieved last season more than any other Atlantic-10 team, going from a middle-of-the-pack sneaky team to conference tournament champion under coach Frank Dunphy. The Owls will definitely miss their primary ball handler in Mark Tyndale, but return their best player: Dionte Christmas. Christmas is attempting to become the first three-time conference scoring champion in A-10 history after finishing with 19.7 PPG last season and shooting 37% from behind the arc. Three other starters return along with Christmas, including forwards Lavoy Allen and Sergio Olmos, the defensive shot blocker extraordinaire. Allen is more prone to be effective on the offensive end, where he finished with 8.1 PPG on an efficient 56% from the floor. Point guard is the one main concern. Dunphy is hoping either junior Luis Guzman or senior Semaj Inge to emerge in practice and take over for Tyndale. Temple could very well find themselves on the bubble by the time March rolls around.

3. Massachusetts Minutemen:
The loss of coach Travis Ford to Oklahoma State stings, but the Minutemen found a capable replacement in Derek Kellogg, the former UMass point guard and recruiting mastermind at Memphis. That strong suit will be immediately put to the test in normally-barren New England high school basketball. Their best player and 19 PPG scorer, Gary Forbes, is gone, but Massachusetts returns two studs: blossoming Ricky Harris and outstanding senior point guard Chris Lowe. Lowe (6.3 APG) molded into one of the top point guards in the nation, finding three-point specialist Harris behind the arc enough times so he could drain 104 threes. Wake Forest transfer Anthony Gurley also helps immediately, but the offense will clearly revolve around Lowe finding Harris outside with the newly instituted dribble-drive motion offense, or doing most of the scoring on his own. The frontcourt is the clear weakness. It’s possible 7-foot Luke Bonner emerges as he becomes more aggressive inside.

4. Dayton Flyers: As I pointed out in the intro, Dayton’s season was a roller coaster ride last year. They went from defeating Pitt by 25 at home in December to needing to win their last three games just to finish .500 in the conference. Chris Wright appeared to be the next big-time Atlantic 10 player before breaking his ankle in the opener against Rhode Island and missing the rest of the regular season. Having Wright for a full season scoring and rebounding will boost the Flyers immensely. Losing star Brian Roberts hurts dramatically in the backcourt, so they’ll turn to an improved frontcourt at their strength. Marcus Johnson is a personal favorite, an athletic and long forward who could emerge as a 13-7 threat this season.  Senior Charles Little took a step back last year and is hoping to repeat his double-digit scoring output of his sophomore year. Dayton won’t find themselves #14 in the nation any time this year (or 12th in the conference), and the NIT is a likely destination.



5. Charlotte 49ers:
Coach Bobby Lutz has plenty to work with this upcoming season. He returns nine of his top ten players from a group that shocked Clemson OOC and beat Temple and Saint Joe’s. The one player missing happens to be their best from 07-08: Leemire Goldwire, who averaged 18.6 PPG last year starring at shooting guard. Rather than guards, Charlotte’s strength will be in the frontcourt this year. They’re led by a pair of senior forwards, Lamont Mack- who scored 15+ points in 11 of the final 17 games of last season (including 27 at defensively-strong Richmond)- and Charlie Coley- an athletic, scoring forward who also happens to be the team’s most capable rebounding presence. Charlotte has always focused on shooting plenty of three-pointers under Lutz’s tenure. They won’t have any trouble finding open jumpers with the focus on Coley and Mack, along with boasting hoisters such as newcomer Shamarr Bowden and junior transfer Rashad Coleman. While the frontcourt is strong, Lutz may have a difficult time finding an impact player in the backcourt this season.

6. Saint Joseph’s Hawks: Nick Calathes and Rob Ferguson shouldered 29 points and 12 rebounds per game last season for Phil Martelli and Saint Joe’s. Both are gone, so it’s up to all-league forward Ahmad Nivins to take over as a dominant big man for the Hawks. Nivins is a legitimate draft prospect with an exceptional offensive game facing the basket. To help Saint Joe’s contend for a postseason bid, Nivins will have to compliment his scoring with improved defense and rebounding. The backcourt will be led by two returning starters- Tasheed Carr and Darrin Govens. Carr is a strong candidate to improve on his 10.8 PPG from last season with his shooting potential and Govens is more of the steady point guard type. The strengths of Saint Joe’s will be Nivins, coaching, balance, and an impressive freshman class.

7. Richmond Spiders: Richmond and coach Chris Mooney defied expectations and finished in a tie for fourth in the conference, earning a trip to the CBI. Any plans for a postseason tournament were put in serious jeopardy when potential first-team forward Dan Geriot tore his ACL in a summer league game. This is an extremely tough blow for Mooney, who planned on Richmond to sneak up on Xavier, Temple and UMass in the conference. The Spiders do boast 2007-08 Rookie of the Year Kevin Anderson, an excellent scoring guard who also happens to be the team’s strongest passer and defensive player. They hope that sophomore guard Justin Harper can emerge and Richmond can surprise some folks in the Atlantic 10.

8. La Salle Explorers: Could La Salle be the dark horse of the conference? Not unless their defense improves under John Giannini, but they certainly have a chance. Losing the Atlantic 10’s all time leading three point shooter in Darnell Harris is a significant blow. Returning is super-athletic guard/forward Rodney Green, a quick and playmaking wing who led the team in APG and SPG along with 13+ PPG. Vernon Goodridge could be Newcomer of the Year in the A-10. The transfer from Mississippi State will prove a valuable compliment to sophomore Jerrell Williams in the paint. Local Philly star Devon White will see playing time immediately at the forward position.

9. Rhode Island Rams:
Much like Dayton, URI’s season was a roller coaster ride. They began the year defeating three Big East schools, nearly knocking off BC on the road, and entering the Top 25 with a 19-3 record. They ended up losing to Creighton in the NIT. Coach Jim Baron has to be feeling some pressure. URI has never danced under his tutelage and have made the NIT just three times. Losing all-league forward Will Daniels doesn’t help. One of the top players for Baron this season will be Jimmy Baron. Yes, you guessed right, he is the coaches son. He drained 99 three pointers last season. Also leading the way is senior Kahiem Seawright, the team’s leading rebounder who must take on a bigger scoring load with Daniels no longer aiding the effort.

10. Saint Louis Billikens: Other than Kevin Lisch and Tommie Liddell, Rick Majerus and the Billikens are extremely young once again. They move to a new arena with less fanfare, and this could be a profound welcome to a team that finished last in the conference in scoring and managed just 20 points in a stunning loss to George Washington. Lisch and Liddell form a very strong backcourt, but Majerus knows he needs more from other pieces. He hopes freshman point guard Kwamain Mitchell emerges. I saw Mitchell in high school a few times and I think he can develop into a steady player for Saint Louis. An extremely young frontcourt appears to be the clear weakness.

11. Duquesne: Damian Saunders, a top A-10 newcomer last year, looks to emerge in a lean frontcourt
12. George Washington: 27-3 seems like decades ago; hopes ride with a healthy Taylor King at point guard
13. St. Bonaventure: Return of two starters and a promising class give hope to the future, present is ugly
14. Fordham: Rams lost all five of their starting seniors who finished just 6-10 in the conference

First Team All Atlantic-10:
G- Dionte Christmas, Temple
G- Ricky Harris, Massachusetts
F- Derrick Brown, Xavier
F- Chris Wright, Dayton
F- Ahmad Nivins, Saint Joe’s

Coach of the Year- Sean Miller, Xavier
Newcomer of the Year- Vernon Goodridge, La Salle
Sleeper Team- Saint Joseph’s Hawks
NCAA- Xavier
NIT- Temple, Massachusetts, Dayton, Charlotte

Posted in Conference Previews, Predictions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

NCAA Position Rankings: Top 10 PF

Posted by Tommy on August 4, 2008

Power forwards are the tough guys on the court. They bang bodies down low, battle for rebounds and jump on loose balls. This year’s class of power forwards is very top-heavy with three potential Naismith candidates and other players that will see increased offensive roles. The players on this list not only do the little things for their respective teams, they can fill the stat columns as well.

1. Tyler Hansbrough: No surprises here. The reigning Naismith Award winner returns to the Tar Heels for his senior season and looks to lead them to a National Title. He not only fills the stat sheet with 22.6 PPG and 10.2 RPG last season, but he brings hustle and intensity to the floor and believes that every loose ball belongs to him. Barring injury, Hansbrough should put up similar numbers this year and is the front-runner for the Naismith again this year. What he really wants is a national championship.

2. Luke Harangody: Harangody exploded onto the scene last season and won a much-deserved Big East Player of the Year as a sophomore. The big man used his great combination of power and touch around the rim and averaged 20.4 PPG and 10.6 RPG in only 29 min./game. The Irish have a lot of the same faces around for the upcoming season, so defenses can’t give Harangody too much attention. I think Harangody can improve on last year’s numbers and perhaps even make a push with Hansbrough for National Player of the Year.

3. Blake Griffin: Like Harangody, Griffin has the potential to throw himself into Naismith Award conversation. He had a good freshman season with 14.7 PPG and 9.1 RPG and showed us he has the potential to become a superstar. He shot a 56.8% from the field last season, showing that he is very tough to stop down low. One chink in Griffin’s armor is his free throw shooting. He shot 58.9% from the line last season, which is one reason he doesn’t have a higher PPG average. If he improves his free throw shooting ability and takes more shots from the floor, Griffin’s point numbers will sky-rocket during his sophomore season and will probably end up being next year’s number one pick in the NBA Draft.

4. Jon Brockman: After testing the NBA waters, Brockman returns to Washington to improve his draft stock. His numbers were very impressive last year with 17.8 PPG and 11.6 RPG while shooting 53.6% from the field. He plays tough down low and has a very good variety of post moves. With the departure of the Lopez twins and Kevin Love, the Pac-10 is pretty small this year, so look for Brockman to really beat up on his opponents and put up big numbers throughout the season.

5. Jeff Adrien: UConn’s leading scorer is back for his senior season and looks to improve on last year’s 14.8 PPG and 9.1 RPG. What I like most about Adrien is his toughness and strength; finesse is not a word in his vocabulary. He brings energy to the game every second he’s on the court and doesn’t mind doing the dirty work down low. Since he plays in a conference with the a lot of the best frontcourts in the nation, it’s tough for Adrien to put up huge numbers, but he plays his role well and knows what he’s capable of.

6. Raymar Morgan: Morgan hasn’t really seen a big scoring role for Tom Izzo in his first two years as a Spartan. With the departure of their main offensive threat Drew Neitzel, Morgan is going to play a much bigger offensive role this season. He averaged 14 PPG and 6.1 RPG last season which isn’t too impressive, but he shot 55.8% from the field. If Morgan polishes his jumper and improves on his scoring ability down low a little bit, Morgan could average around 20 PPG in a conference that isn’t exactly known for it’s scoring.

7. Jeff Pendergraph: Much like Brockman, Pendergraph will benefit from the lack of size in the Pac-10. He shot nearly 60% from the field last season but only averaged 12.4 PPG. There were plenty of games in which Pendergraph only took 3 to 5 shots. Another interesting thing is that his rebounding dropped 3 RPG from his sophomore season. He has shown he has the ability to take over a game, but he just needs to be involved in the offense every time he steps onto the court. If he scores and rebounds like he is capable of doing, he is a First Team Pac-10 player.

8. Dior Lowhorn: Lowhorn saw his scoring increase from 7.2 PPG for Texas Tech during the 05-06 season to 20.5 PPG last year after he transferred to San Francisco. Lowhorn’s consistency is remarkable, scoring no less than 10 points in every game and he can score against anybody. Last year, he had a 26 point performance against Blake Griffin and Oklahoma, scored 20 points against Luke Harangody and Notre Dame and dropped 29 against Oregon. Lowhorn is a force to be reckoned with in the WCC and can put up big numbers versus larger non-conference opponents as well.

9. Greg Monroe: As a lengthy 6’10” freshman, Monroe is going to be a great talent for the Hoyas. He’s a great rebounder and shot blocker and has a good mid-range game for a player his size. If he develops his scoring ability from the block and gets tougher down low, Monroe can be an instant contributor for John Thompson III. If he decides to stay at Georgetown for a couple of years in order to improve his game, he could be a top 3 NBA draft pick.

10. Ahmad Nivins: Nivins shot an incredible 64.7% from the field last season, and has never shot worse than 60% as a Hawk. Despite Nivins’ shooting percentage, his numbers dropped from 16.2 PPG and 7.4 RPG his sophomore season to 14.4 PPG and 5.8 RPG last year, and he saw one less min./game. Why this is I don’t know, but I do know that his numbers will be higher than they ever were for his senior season. St. Joe’s lost their leading scorer in Pat Calathes, so more of the scoring load will fall on Nivins’ shoulders. I think Nivins has the ability to fill the shoes of Calathes and could very well be the A-10 Player of the Year.

Also Considered: Kyle Singler, Damion James, Samardo Samuels, Mike Cook, Marcus Landry, Arinze Onuaku.

Posted in Player Rankings | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »