A-10 Men's Basketball Notebook, Nov. 16, 2008

This is the Atlantic 10 Conference's men's basketball notebook for Nov., 16, 2008, following the first week of regular season competition. Temple's Dionte Christmas and St. Joe's Ahman Nivins are the co-players of the week and Fordhman's Trey Blue gets the rookie of the week citation.


PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

Dionte Christmas - Temple
Senior, Guard, 6-5, 190 lbs.
Philadelphia, Pa./Philadelphia Lutheran Christian Academy

Christmas averaged 26 points and nine rebounds in leading Temple to pair of victories at the Charleston Classic...had 26 points and 11 boards on Nov. 14 in the Owls' 79-65 win versus East Tennessee State...scored 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Temple's 70-65 victory over College of Charleston on Nov. 15...shot 16-of-32 from the field and added seven assists over the two games...named the A-10 Player of the Week for the eighth time in his career....TU opened its season with a pair of victories for the first time since the 2000-01 campaign.

Ahmad Nivins - Saint Joseph's
Senior, Forward, 6-9, 235 lbs.
Jersey City, N.J./St. Anthony's

Nivins scored a game-high 25 points and tied his career-high with 13 rebounds in Saint Joseph's 69-57 win over Rider on Nov. 14...made his first eight shots and finished the evening 9-of-11 from the field...added four blocks...marks his first career A-10 Player of the Week honor.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

Trey Blue - Fordham
Freshman, Guard, 6-3, 190 lbs.
South Holland, Ill./Brewster (N.H.) Academy

Blue scored a game-high 24 points on 8-of-15 shooting in Fordham's 65-62 loss to Columbia on Nov. 14...shot 6-for-11 from three-point range...added four rebounds and four assists...marked the most-ever points scored by Rams freshman in his collegiate debut, eclipsing Bryant Dunston's (2004) previous record of 20 points.


HONOR ROLL

  • Charlotte senior Lamont Mack had 18 points and 10 rebounds on Nov. 14 in the 49ers' 77-59 win over UNC Greensboro
  • Sophomore Damian Saunders set career highs in points (21) and steals (six) as Duquesne turned aside High Point on Nov. 14, 84-55
  • GW senior Rob Diggs scored 12 points and grabbed 14 boards in the Colonials' 63-58 (OT) victory at Boston University on Nov. 14
  • Sophomore Jerrell Williams had 12 points and 11 rebounds on Nov. 15 as La Salle edged Morgan State, 64-61
  • Massachusetts senior forward Tony Gaffney averaged 11 points, 11 rebounds and 4.5 blocks in a pair of contests in the 2K Sports Classic
  • Senior guard Jimmy Baron scored all 17 of his points in the second half as Rhode Island earned a 76-74 win versus Brown on Nov. 14
  • Richmond freshman Josh Duinker came off the bench to score 13 points and added nine rebounds in the Spiders' 81-57 victory over Randolph-Macon
  • Junior guard Chris Matthews knocked down five field goals from beyond the arc en route to scoring 18 points as St. Bonaventure turned aside Robert Morris on Nov. 14, 72-62
  • Saint Louis freshman guard Kwamain Mitchell scored a game-high 16 points and added five assists on Nov. 14 in the Billikens' 48-33 victory over Missouri-St. Louis
  • Freshman Ramone Moore had 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench in Temple's 70-65 win at College of Charleston on Nov. 15
  • Xavier senior C.J. Anderson scored 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds on Nov. 14 in the Musketeers' 71-43 victory over IPFW ... freshman teammate Kenny Frease had 12 points, seven boards and three blocks in just 20 minutes of action.

SELECT COMPANY

Temple senior guard Dionte Christmas averaged a league-best 19.7 points last season to become just the third player in Conference history to lead the Atlantic 10 in scoring in successive years. The two other players to hold that distinction are John Battle of Rutgers (1984-85) and St. Bonaventure's Earl Belcher (1980-81). Christmas is poised to become the first three-time scoring champion in league history. The Philadelphia, Pa., native scored 26 points in each of the Owls' first two contests. In addition, with eight career A-10 Player of the Week honors, Christmas trails only Xavier's David West (14), Jameer Nelson of Saint Joseph's (13) and Massachusetts' Marcus Camby (nine) for the most in league history.

FEARLESS FRESHMAN

Freshman Kenny Frease has already proven he's tough as nails. Shortly before his Massillon Perry High School graduation, the prized XU recruit volunteered to lie on a bed of nails for a science experiment. The local newspaper covered the event, chronicling the laws of physics that enabled the 7-foot, 265-pound center to participate without incurring bodily harm. It didn't hurt, Frease said, and was actually like "lying on the floor." In his collegiate debut on Nov. 14, Frease scored 12 points and grabbed seven boards in the Musketeers' 71-43 win over IPFW.

STRAIGHT SHOOTER

Saint Joseph's senior forward Ahmad Nivins seeks to join former George Washington standout Alexander Koul (1995-97) as the only players in A-10 history to lead the league in field goal percentage three consecutive years. Nivins shot .647 (165-of-255) from the field a year ago. In the Hawks' 69-57 win over Rider on Nov. 14, Nivins made nine of his 11 field goal attempts en route to scoring a game-high 25 points.

BIRTHDAY WISHES

Fifth-year Xavier head coach Sean Miller will celebrate his 40th birthday on Nov. 17 when the Musketeers take on Toledo. Miller boasts a record of 94-39 during his XU tenure.

WET BEHIND THE EARS

Duquesne and Saint Louis will be among the youngest teams in the nation in 2008-09. Duquesne has eight scholarship freshmen and four sophomores on the 15-man roster. Three-year starter Aaron Jackson - the Dukes' lone senior - is also the team's only scholarship upperclassman. Saint Louis is the only other NCAA Division I school with eight scholarship freshmen and no school has more scholarship underclassmen than Duquesne's 11. In addition, Duquesne is tied with The Citadel, High Point and Saint Peter's for the most scholarship underclassmen in the country with 11.

PASSING THE ROCK

Senior guard Chris Lowe of Massachusetts led the A-10 and ranked 13th nationally in assists (6.2 apg.) a year ago. The Mount Vernon, N.Y., native registered at least ten assists on six different occasions. By comparison, no other player in the Conference dished out ten or more assists in more than one game in 2007-08. Lowe, who also paced the A-10 in assists in 2006 (4.9 apg.), seeks to become the first player in league history to lead the Conference in assists three times. Carl Smith (UM - 1984, 86), Shandue McNeill (SBU - 1995, 97) and Jameer Nelson (SJU - 2001, 02) are the only other players to twice lead the A-10 in assists. Lowe opened his senior campaign with 11 assists in the Minutemen's 90-71 win over Arkansas-Monticello on Nov. 11.

WRIGHT STUFF

Chris Wright looks to lead Dayton back to the postseason and continue his progression as a dynamic all-around player. The sophomore forward, a preseason All-Conference second-team selection, played in 15 games and led the team in rebounding (5.7 rpg.), and field goal percentage (.602) while averaging 10.4 points a year ago. The Flyers certainly missed the presence of Wright after he broke his ankle midway through the season. UD was 13-1 before his injury and 9-9 afterwards.

NICE START

UMass forward Tony Gaffney has opened his senior year in grand style with his first career double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds) in the Minutemen's 90-71 win over Arkansas-Monticello on Nov. 11 and a career-high seven blocks versus Southern Illinois Edwardsville on Nov. 12. Meanwhile, Xavier sophomore forward Jamel McLean, a transfer from Tulsa who sat out last season, had 10 points and 10 rebounds versus IPFW on Nov. 14 to become the first Musketeer to record a double-double in a Xavier season-opener since Brian Thornton in 2004-05.

REAL MEN WEAR PINK

Dayton's season opener against Wofford on Nov. 16 is the Flyers' annual "Real Men Wear Pink" game. The breast cancer awareness promotion is part of UD corporate sponsor National City's larger "Real Men Wear Pink" campaign. At halftime, UD and National City will honor breast cancer survivors during an on-court ceremony. The 10 survivors who will be recognized were chosen from more than 200 nominees. The honorees are nominated by family friends and co-workers. One of the survivors will be Julie Fabrizius, the mother of Flyer freshman forward Luke Fabrizius.

RUNNING TO VICTORY

Duquesne and St. Bonaventure utilized large runs at the start of their season-opening victories on Nov. 14. Duquesne scored the first 18 points of the game as it went on to rout High Point, 84-55, and improved to an astounding 73-4 when opening a season at home. The Bonnies jumped out to a 16-0 lead in the opening five minutes of their 72-62 win over Robert Morris.

WELCOME BACK

The lone new head men's basketball coach in the Atlantic 10 this season is former Minuteman point guard and Springfield native Derek Kellogg, who was named the 21st head coach in Massachusetts men's basketball history on May 23 by Director of Athletics John McCutcheon. The 1995 UMass graduate returns to his alma mater for his first head coaching job after serving as an assistant coach for 12 years, the last eight at Memphis under former Massachusetts head coach John Calipari.

DYNAMIC DUO

Temple senior guard Dionte Christmas and junior forward Derrick Brown of Xavier are among 50 candidates for the John R. Wooden Award All-American Team and Player of the Year trophy.

ALL-TIME WINNERS

Below is a list of the current student-athletes who have garnered A-10 Player of the Week honors prior to the 2008-09 season (number of selections in parentheses):

    Dionte Christmas, TU (8)
    Ricky Harris, UM (2)
    Aaron Jackson, DUQ (2)
    Kevin Lisch, SLU (2)
    Jimmy Baron, URI (1)
    Rob Diggs, GW (1)
    Dan Geriot, UR (1)
    Chris Lowe, UM (1)
    Ahmad Nivins, SJU (1)

TEAM LEADERS

Two A-10 schools welcome back a player who led his team in two of the three statistical categories (point-rebounds-assists) last season:

  • Rob Diggs, GW (13.9 ppg., 7.7 rpg.)
  • Kevin Lisch, SLU (14.6 ppg., 3.1 apg.)

OPEN SESAME

Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus improved to 21-1 all-time in season openers as the Billikens downed Missouri-St. Louis on Nov. 14, 48-33.

WINNING WAYS

The Atlantic 10 is tied (with Conference USA) for second nationally among Division I conferences with five active head coaches with 300 or more career victories. The ACC leads all Division I conferences with seven active head coaches with at least 300 career wins.

    438 - Rick Majerus, Saint Louis
    368 - Bobby Lutz, Charlotte
    346 - John Giannini, La Salle
    343 - Fran Dunphy, Temple
    314 - Jim Baron, Rhode Island

START YOUR ENGINES

Forty-one starters are scheduled to return for the 2008-09 campaign. While no A-10 program welcomes back all five starters, five schools have four returning starters. Below is a look at which A-10 team has who back:

    5 - None
    4 - Charlotte, GW, La Salle, Richmond, Temple
    3 - Dayton, Rhode Island, St. Joe's, Saint Louis
    2 - Duquesne, UMass, St. Bonaventure, Xavier
    1 - Fordham
    


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