When Nucky Thompson (Enuch Johnson) built Boardwalk Hall with his bare hands, (Also incorrect) I'm sure he envisioned a day like today. (This statement has no historical accuracy whatsoever. My knowledge of the "Prohibition Era" consists of episodes of Boardwalk Empire.) The Atlantic-10 tournament arrived at this historic hall and did not disappoint.
With all three Philadelphia teams advancing to the second round, this had the makings of a possible Big Five showdown in the final. Although, for this to happen there would need to be upsets. And this Friday, upsets set the tone.
Xavier the top seed in the A-10 were caught off guard early by the Flyers of Dayton who took a nine point lead into the half. Xavier improved their play in the second half, but not enough as they were downed to 9th seed Dayton 68-67.
The key to Dayton's victory came on the glass. Dayton out rebounded the bigger Xavier 32-24. This was puzzling to me considering the size of Xavier forward Kenny Frease. As big as he looks on TV...he looks bigger in person. He is listed at 7'0" and 269 lbs, but with a neck he might pass for 7'2".
Junior forward Luke Fabrizius ended up being the hero for the Flyers as he buried two free throws with six seconds remaining to give Dayton a one point lead. And that is how it ended.
Continuing with the upset trend that dominated the early going of this tournament, 12 seeded St. Joe's knocked off #4 Duquesne 93-90.
Within the first five minutes I was calling my wife and asking her to schedule a chiropractor appointment for me. The two teams combined for 10 turnovers during that stretch.
The game settled into a back and forth battle for the remainder of the game. St. Joe's had nothing to lose and played like it. Every Duquesne run was met with an off-balance, shot-clock beating basket by St. Joes.
In the win head coach Phil Martelli recorded his 300th career victory.
The upset wagon then headed out of Boardwalk Hall for the evening as cross town rivals Temple and La Salle took the court. Temple jumped out to an early lead and did not look back as they went on to win 96-76. It was one of Temple's best offensive showings of the year as five players scored in double figures.
I have not hid my devotion to Temple basketball very well. I am supposed to remain impartial, however I am a fan of the Owls. Understand...my brother played for Fran Dunphy at U Penn and Ramone Moore is the starting two guard on my summer league team. If I wasn't partial to them I'd be turning my back on family...and the Unum summer league team of the Delco Pro Am.
The final game of the evening was a gritty affair. I'm not sure if it was because of the late start, or the distance both teams traveled, but the players from Richmond and Rhode Island were MAAAAAD.
Between players yelling at the refs, coaches yelling at the refs, refs yelling at the coaches, players yelling at the coaches, players yelling at the opponents, players yelling at each other and players yelling at me, (kidding) I was sure the angry looking security officer with the mustache may be needed to breakup a scrum.
This game was a sloppy, hard nosed affair that saw the Spiders of Richmond advance to the semi finals with a 55-45 victory. Senior guard Kevin Anderson led the Spiders with 21 points.
Tomorrow St. Joe's plays Dayton and Temple will take on Richmond. Philadelphia has a chance to send two teams into the A-10 final for the first time since 2008.