Jon Severe, shown here in high school playoff game at Rose Hill Gym, will now call nation's oldest venue his home as Fordham freshman will help lead Rams into strong Atlantic 10 schedule. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)
Last week, the Atlantic 10 revealed its 2013-14 basketball schedule, which provided Fordham with several high-profile home games as the A-10 downsizes from a 16-team conference to a 13-team league that adds 2006 Final Four participant George Mason. As we mentioned when highlighting the Rams' conference ledger, we would have a breakdown of their Atlantic 10 opponents, which is provided in detail here:
Duquesne: Jim Ferry's Dukes gave Fordham a stern test on January 9th at Rose Hill in a matchup the Rams were able to win behind one of Branden Frazier's best games in a Fordham uniform. This year, the competition between these two will be just as intense, and will make for yet another close matchup at the Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh. Duquesne will more than likely still project toward the bottom of the conference standings, but Ferry picks up the services of UAB transfer Ovie Soko going into next season to replace Andre Marhold up front, and sophomore point guard Derrick Colter is a mid-major version of LIU Brooklyn's Jason Brickman, a proficient passer who can score equally as well.
UMass: The good news for Fordham is that former Tom Pecora recruit Chaz Williams graduates after next season. The bad news for Fordham is that Williams, whose explosiveness was too much for the Rams to handle in the first half on January 13th at Rose Hill before a late comeback turned a double-digit deficit into a four-point loss, graduates after next season. The Minutemen also lose swingmen Freddie Riley and Terrell Vinson, both of whom burned the Rams from long range last year, and will be much more reliant upon Trey Davis to provide a second scoring punch beside Williams in the backcourt. Western Kentucky transfer Derrick Gordon is also eligible for UMass next season as Derek Kellogg's team attempts to make the jump from two consecutive NIT appearances to the NCAA Tournament.
Saint Joseph's: Phil Martelli's Hawks were among the bigger disappointments of the conference last year after being picked to win the Atlantic 10 in the preseason poll, only to finish tenth in the league despite giving VCU all it could handle at the Barclays Center. Carl Jones has graduated, leaving Langston Galloway and Chris Wilson to anchor the backcourt for St. Joe's, while former Pecora recruit Halil Kanacevic becomes a bigger part of the Hawks' offensive game plan; along with Ron Roberts Jr., as C.J. Aiken has left for a professional career. In Fordham's two meetings with the Hawks last season, they were soundly defeated on the road at Hagan Arena, but nearly upset St. Joe's on January 30th at Rose Hill before a costly Branden Frazier turnover in the final seconds sealed the win for the Philadelphians.
Saint Louis: The reigning conference champions do not lose much from their rotation other than guard Kwamain Mitchell and sharpshooting forward Cody Ellis, (much to the satisfaction of our friend Chris "Pav" Crowley) but return with the preseason Player of the Year favorite in forward Dwayne Evans, who took his game to another level in the A-10 Tournament last March in Brooklyn. Guards Mike McCall and Jordair Jett provide the trademark offense/defense punch that the late Rick Majerus recruited to perfection over the years, giving head coach Jim Crews the ammunition he needs to defend his title.
Dayton: The Flyers are certain to sell out Rose Hill just as they did in 2012 with their enthusiastic and passionate fan base, a group who takes over every game they travel to. Archie Miller's team loses Kevin Dillard and Josh Benson, and will probably be projected within the bottom five in the standings this season as Georgetown expatriate Vee Sanford becomes the de facto team leader. Senior forward Devin Oliver will likely grow into a double-double per night player, and outside shooting threat Dyshawn Pierre takes a 46 percent clip from beyond the arc into his sophomore campaign on a somewhat undersized Dayton team, with no player on the current roster taller than 6-9.
George Mason: The newcomers to the A-10 bring a young and deceptively talented roster to their new conference, along with a coach in Paul Hewitt who has a proven track record at both the mid-major and high-major levels from his tenure at Siena and Georgia Tech, the latter of whom he took to the national championship game in 2004. Local guards Sherrod Wright and Corey Edwards, who played for well-known coaches Bob Cimmino and Joe Arbitello at powerhouse programs Mount Vernon and Christ the King, respectively, anchor the Patriots' backcourt, with senior forward Jonathan Arledge on the precipice of a big year in the George Mason frontcourt. Point guard Bryon Allen returns after leading the Patriots in assists as a junior last year, as does leading rebounder Erik Copes, who enters his junior season.
La Salle: The Cinderella story of the conference after their improbable run to the Sweet 16 last season returns nearly everyone from Dr. John Giannini's regular rotation, save for Ramon Galloway, after D.J. Peterson announced he would remain with the Explorers despite announcing earlier in the offseason that he intended to transfer. Peterson will join Tyreek Duren and Sam Mills alongside Tyrone Garland (he of the "Southwest Philly floater" that defeated Mississippi in the NCAA Tournament) in the backcourt, while Steve Zack and Jerrell Wright come back to a front line spiced with local flavor. La Salle will likely be among the favorites in the Atlantic 10 this season, and dealt Fordham one of their more lopsided defeats on the road last February. However, the Rams defeated the Explorers the last time La Salle invaded Rose Hill.
St. Bonaventure: The alma mater of our own Ray Floriani will be looking to avenge a bitter defeat on their home floor to the Rams on the last day of the regular season, a result that sent Chris Gaston out a winner, but knocked the Bonnies out of the A-10 Tournament. This year, head coach Mark Schmidt still retains most of the core from his NCAA Tournament team of two seasons ago, led by guards Charlon Kloof and sharpshooting Canadian Matthew Wright. Senior forward Marquise Simmons and seven-footer Youssou Ndoye should make a bigger impact on the Bonnies this season as the western New Yorkers look to improve on a 14-15 campaign.
George Washington: Mike Lonergan's Colonials nearly upset UMass in the Atlantic 10 Tournament, and brings a younger group into the nation's capital this season. Former Villanova forward Isaiah Armwood has one more year remaining after transferring from the Main Line, while Argentine swingman Patricio Garino is primed for a breakout campaign following a rookie season in which he and fellow freshman Kevin Larsen of Denmark were the Colonials' third and fourth-leading scorers. George Washington will be banking on an improved offensive game from Nemanja Mikic as he and point guard Joe McDonald will be counted on to increase their productivity on both sides of the three-point line.
Rhode Island: Dan Hurley was realistic and brutally honest last season when he replaced Jim Baron in the Ocean State, understanding that it would be a multi-year process to turn the Rams around. Rhode Island only won eight games last season with an undermanned roster, but the three transfers that Hurley signed last season are all eligible this year, starting with Rutgers castoff Gilvydas Biruta, who returns to the court for his junior season alongside sophomores Jordan Hare and Mike Aaman. Rice expatriate Jarelle Reischel should step into the small forward position instantly, while Mike Powell and leading scorer Xavier Munford anchor a backcourt that welcomes Texas Tech transplant Deshon "Biggie" Minnis to its ranks.
Richmond: Chris Mooney's Spiders lose the services of last year's starters Darien Brothers and Greg Robbins, but still return a competitive core of players, including one of the league's best backcourts in Cedrick Lindsay and Kendall Anthony. Derrick Williams, who played for Bob Hurley in high school at St. Anthony's in Jersey City, patrols the paint for the Spiders and will serve as a mentor to burgeoning big man Alonzo Nelson-Ododa, who made headlines early in the season by boldly predicting Richmond would defeat Butler, Saint Louis and VCU in a tweet that has since been deleted.
VCU: Shaka Smart and the patented "Havoc" defense loses its on-court leader in Darius Theus, but will not miss a beat with Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year Briante Weber replacing him and Jordan Burgess (younger brother of former VCU star Bradford) stepping into Weber's former role on the bench. Long-range marksman Troy Daniels has departed, but Rob Brandenberg is still around to make clutch shots as he enters his senior season, and Melvin Johnson only adds to the Rams' guard depth as he enters his sophomore campaign. Up front, Juvonte Reddic and Treveon Graham will continue to provide VCU with the same physicality and athleticism that makes the front line a threat on both sides of the ball, on a team that looks like the strongest in the league on paper from top to bottom.