Thursday, October 22, 2009

Lead dogs...

AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower
Phil Martelli, Jameer Nelson and the Hawks
made national headlines while going 30-2 and
earning a No. 1 seed during the 2003-04 season.

Is it better for the Atlantic 10 to have a runaway champ? - ESPN

Will an A-10 team break away from the pack?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Atlantic 10 needs a runaway champ, someone to distance itself from the rest of the pack.

Saint Joseph's may have been the best example in recent years, earning a No. 1 seed in 2004 and coasting into the A-10 tournament with a 27-0 record before eventually losing in the Elite Eight.

Xavier has had its runs of note. The Muskeeters went to the Elite Eight that same season, even though it wasn't as dominant in the league (10-6). XU also had A-10 runs of 15-1 (2003) and 14-2 (2008), the latter of which resulted in a 30-win season and another Elite Eight.

George Washington had one of those runs as well, going 16-0 in 2006 (27-3 overall).
Dayton is the favorite to win the A-10 this season. The Flyers return the projected top player in the league in Chris Wright. The Flyers won a first-round NCAA tournament game last season by beating West Virginia. But the talk among the coaches during Thursday's A-10 preseason media conference call was that this could be the most balanced season the league has seen.

"I don't think teams will go on a four or five-game winning streak in this league," George Washington coach Karl Hobbs said of the balance this season.

That's great for a competitive flavor every night, but is it good for the league's national profile?

"If you look at the history of our league, when we've had a lead dog, that team has been like a monster," Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli said. "When we had that lead dog, everyone is chasing that team and you're chasing a national team in the top 15 in the country. Every night that lead dog plays in 16 nights in the league. The league is being talked about."

Martelli said Dayton could be that team this season, but he drew more similarities to the George Washington squad than the Saint Joe's or Xavier teams of the past. The difference could be that Dayton is playing more of a national schedule than the Colonials did in 2006, a main reason that ticked-off GW ended up with an 8-seed in the NCAAs.

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