Kevin Anderson again was spectacular as the Richmond Spiders were crowned Atlantic-10 conference champions beating the Dayton Flyers 67-54. Anderson scored a game high 23 points and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
The win gives Richmond the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
As the tournament concludes I have pieced together an SB Nation award ceremony for the best and worst performances.
Best Team: Temple University. Surprise! Temple, as I mentioned before, is the most consistent team in the A-10. A poor shooting night prevented them from reaching the conference final for the fourth straight year. Come NCAA tournament time, few mid majors have a chance to excel like the Owls.
Best Overall Player: Kevin Anderson, University of Richmond. Anderson is the quickest player in the A-10 and MVP of the conference tournament. He put on a show this weekend, attacking the rim and knocking down big shot after big shot. His speed makes him nearly impossible to trap.
Unfortunately his size limits him in terms of draftability. Listed at a generous 6’0” he may lack the height needed to compete with the “new breed” of NBA point guards. His quickness and ability to finish will definitely give him a shot.
Best Coach: I have to go with Chris Mooney of Richmond on this one. Mooney, a Phelan Coach of the Year finalist guided the Spiders to an A-10 Championship. Along with his ability to win big games, Mooney has the respect and admiration of his players. This was no more evident then it was at the end of the A-10 Final when player after player walked off the floor and embraced their coach.
Since I am a ridiculous homer, I am giving an honorable mention to Temple coach Fran Dunphy.
From my vantage point I could see directly into the huddles of several teams. Some were disorganized with players and coaches yelling at each other. Others were calm and disciplined, with a coach speaking while the players listened.
Temple’s huddle was the latter.
Best Coaching Staff: I’m going with Dayton here, based strictly on pure volume. I think Brian Gregory is a great coach and his staff does a terrific job…And by staff I mean STAFF! It looked like there were two of everything on Dayton’s coaching staff. Two coaches standing up, two coaches sitting down, two writing down stats, two checking stats, and four managers standing a foot away from my ears yelling instructions for the full 40 minutes.
Annoying? Yes…Very. However, they do not realize I will be heading to Dayton during final exams with a megaphone to yell “RED,” “MAYDAY,” and “HIGH HAND” at 2am in front of their dorm rooms.
Best NBA Prospect: Chris Wright. Wright has the height, athleticism, and explosiveness to succeed at the NBA level. Not to mention the way he fills out a stat sheet. He led Dayton this year with 13 points and 8 rebounds per game.
He needs to work on his ability to finish the ball if he wants scouts to stand up and take notice, but his attributes alone make him a desirable NBA prospect.
Justin Harper of Richmond deserves an honorable mention in this category. Harper, another high flying senior wing, has exploded onto the draft scene this year and his play at the A-10 tournament certainly will help his NBA status.
Best Story: This one could have been between two teams; St. Joseph’s and Dayton. Both were underdogs coming into the tournament needing a win on their opponent’s home floor in order to advance to Atlantic City. I have to give the edge to St. Joe’s.
Dayton did enter the A-10 Tournament as the 9th seed, however they were 19-12 this season. In most conferences that‘s a 1st-3rd seed. St. Joe’s entered the tournament as the 12th and final seed, after a 9-21 regular season.
Six of the seven players who contributed most this season are underclassmen. Of those six only one is a sophomore. That is what makes their run to the semi-finals all the more impressive. St. Joe’s are young, talented, and now experienced. They are a team to look out for in college basketball next year.
Best Fans: Temple. The prop “big heads” were a hot commodity for the Temple Owls fans this year in Atlantic City. Everyone from coaches to the last player on the bench had a giant head floating around the student section. From hilarious signs, (Vamos Juan!) to dancing trombone players, the student section was the largest and loudest.
Best Mascot: “Duke” the mascot for Duquesne University. Duke took center stage during the Dukes only game of the tournament impressing the crowd with his wide array of dance moves. I believe at one point I saw him doing the “Dougie”. (Before John Wall, I had no idea what the “Dougie” was. I still don’t…Someone please tell me. It’s an energy drink right?)
Worst Mascot: I was not going to give out any negative awards until I saw “Spidey”, the mascot for Richmond. Throughout the weekend some mascots were good, some decent and just one…the void of rhythm. Spiders are known for their agility and quickness. Spidey would make his arachnid brethren wince. His jerky motions made Elaine Benes look like J-Lo. He reminded me of that drunk guy you see dancing horribly at a wedding and saying to yourself, “Wow that guy is hammered!” (Is that you in there Matt?)
The costume itself also left a little to be desired. Not many folks can pull off a cape with a sideways hat and converse, and Spidey was no exception.
(Dayton’s mascot receives honorable mention in the “poor dancing ability” category as well.)
So there you have it. A final recap of an exciting week of basketball at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Be sure to follow the action next weekend as several A-10 teams look to win the grand prize, NCAA Championship.