A-10 Men's Basketball Notebook, Jan. 4, 2009

This is the Atlantic 10 Conference's men's basketball notebook for the week ending January 3, 2009. Aaron Jackson of Duquesne is the Player of the Week and Saint Louis's Willie Reed is the Rookie of the Week.


PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Aaron Jackson - Duquesne
Senior, Guard, 6-4, 185 lbs.
Hartford, Conn./Worcester (Mass.) Academy

Jackson averaged 16.5 points, seven assists, six rebounds and three steals in leading Duquesne to a pair of wins...shot 10-for-19 from the floor and 11-of-13 from the line...scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds in just 27 minutes of action on Dec. 28 in the Dukes' 88-62 win over Robert Morris...scored 15 points, dished out nine assists and added four steals as Duquesne turned aside Bowling Green on Dec. 31, 76-65...earns his second A-10 Player of the Week honor of the season and fourth of his career.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK

Willie Reed - Saint Louis
Freshman, Forward, 6-9, 195 lbs.
Kansas City, Mo./Bishop Miege HS

Reed averaged 15 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 78.6 percent (11-of-14) from the field in two victories for Saint Louis...made all seven of his field goal attempts en route to scoring a season-best 18 points and added three blocks in the Billikens' 81-60 win over Maryland-Baltimore County on Dec. 30...scored 12 points and equaled his season-high with eight rebounds on Jan. 2 as Saint Louis downed North Carolina A&T, 60-52.


HONOR ROLL

  • Charlotte junior guard DiJuan Harris averaged 14 points and eight assists over two contests
  • Junior guard Marcus Johnson averaged 17 points and 3.5 rebounds while sinking 6-of-10 shots from beyond the arc in leading Dayton to a pair of victories
  • Fordham freshman guard Jio Fontan averaged 14.7 points and three rebounds over three games
  • Junior guard Ruben Guillandeaux of La Salle averaged 17 points, six rebounds and five assists in leading the Explorers to wins over Manhattan and Howard
  • Rhode Island junior guard Keith Cothran averaged 18 points and 4.5 assists while shooting 52.1 percent as the Rams turned aside Fairleigh Dickinson and Akron
  • Junior guard Jonathan Hall of St. Bonaventure averaged 15 points and 8.5 rebounds and recorded his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 boards in the Bonnies' 68-58 win at Central Arkansas on Jan. 3
  • Saint Louis senior guard Tommie Liddell averaged 18 points and 3.5 rebounds in the Billikens' victories over Maryland-Baltimore County and North Carolina A&T
  • Senior guard B.J. Raymond averaged 18.5 points and four rebounds, while freshman guard Brian Redford averaged 10.5 points in leading Xavier to wins versus Robert Morris and Virginia

BIG D IN DAYTON

Dayton has held opponents to 22 points or less in a half eight times thru its first 14 games. Last year, the Flyers accomplished that feat just six times. UD ranks among the national leaders in both scoring defense (56.3 ppg.) and field goal defense (.352). In the Flyers' 62-50 win over Marshall on Dec. 23, UD forced 15 turnovers and yielded just 15 made field goals. It marked the seventh time this season the Flyers forced as many turnovers as made field goals by their opponent. One of the keys to Dayton's success has been its improved depth as 12 players average at least 8.7 minutes of action per game. Junior Marcus Johnson leads the team in minutes with an average of just 28.6 per contest.

EXPLORING NEW TERRITORY

Rodney Green scored 21 points in La Salle's 81-66 win over Manhattan on Jan. 3. It marked the junior guard's third 20-point performance of the season. By comparison, the Philadelphia, Pa., native scored 20 or more points just three times all of last season. Green is averaging 15.4 ppg., up from 13.4 ppg. a year ago.

STREAKIN'

St. Bonaventure turned aside Central Arkansas on Jan. 3, 68-58, to improve to 5-0 on the road for the first time since the 1967-68 campaign. With a record of 9-4 overall, the Bonnies have already surpassed their win total from all of last season. The SBU bench has won the scoring battle in each of the team's 13 games this season, with junior super-sub Ray Blackburn's 14 points at Central Arkansas marking his seventh-straight contest with at least 10 points.

PINT-SIZED PLAYMAKER

One of the more improved players in the A-10 thus far this season is Charlotte junior DiJuan Harris, who recorded his first career double-double with 13 points and 10 assists in the 49ers' 79-68 win over Long Island on Dec. 30. The 5-9 guard is averaging 5.92 apg., up from 3.2 a year ago, and has already registered 21 steals.

PUTTING UP THEIR DUKES

Despite having the services of just eight scholarship players, Duquesne turned aside Bowling Green on Dec. 31, 76-65, to improve to 9-4 on the year. It is the second consecutive season the Dukes posted nine wins prior to Jan. 1 (9-3 last year). The last time DUQ had nine pre-January wins prior to third-year head coach Ron Everhart's arrival was in 1968-69 (9-1). The school record for pre-January wins is 10 (10-0 in 1953-54). Moreover, this is the first time since 1993 & 1994 that Duquesne has posted consecutive winning records in non-conference play.

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. The Jersey City, N.J., native has made 89-of-130 shots through the Hawks' first 13 contests and shares the league-lead with six double-doubles. Nivins has scored in double figures in 70 of his 106 career games and has reached double figures in rebounds 19 times, including six times this season, which is good for second in the A-10. He also boasts 16 career double-doubles.

MAYBE TAKE IT INSIDE

Saint Louis held Maryland-Baltimore County without a three-pointer in its 81-60 victory on Dec. 30. It marked the first time SLU did not allow a trey in a game since Southern Miss missed all four of its shots from behind the arc on Jan. 29, 2002. The Billikens lead the A-10 in three-point defense, holding opponents to a startling 22.5 percent (43-of-191) from beyond the arc.

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). With nine career A-10 Player of the Week honors, Christmas trails only Xavier's David West (14) and Jameer Nelson of Saint Joseph's (13) and is tied with Massachusetts' Marcus Camby for the third-most in league history.

MUSCLING UP

According to RealTime RPI, the Atlantic 10 ranks fourth among Division I conferences in Strength of Schedule. In addition, A-10 teams have already faced 18 ranked opponents thru games of Jan. 4. Temple and Xavier are ranked first and second in the nation, respectively, in the Strength of Schedule ratings thru games of Jan. 3 according to CollegeRPI.com. The Owls have already played four teams who reached the NCAA Tournament a year ago, while XU boasts five wins over BCS-conference teams thus far.

MILESTONE MATCHUP

Rhode Island's 79-50 home win over Akron marked its 100th game played at the Thomas M. Ryan Center. Since opening the doors on Nov. 26, 2002, with a buzzer-beating overtime win over USC, the Rams have posted a 66-34 (.660) overall record. In addition, URI extended its home-winning streak over non-conference foes to 13 games.

STEPPING OUT

Derrick Brown of Xavier entered this season with 114 career dunks. This season, the junior forward has more three-pointers (17) than dunks (16) and is second on the team in three-point field goal percentage at 45.9 percent (17-of-37). Brown's 17 three-pointers are more than his total from his first two seasons combined (15 in 71 games).

DANDY ANDY

St. Bonaventure freshman forward Andrew Nicholson blocked a program-record nine shots in the Bonnies' 90-82 (2OT) win at Bucknell on Dec. 30. The first player in SBU annals to be named A-10 Rookie of the Week three times, Nicholson's nine blocks marks the highest single-game total in Division I this season. UMass senior forward Tony Gaffney also registered nine blocks on Dec. 6 versus Boston College.

INTERNATIONAL EXPOSURE

Charlotte sophomore Charles Dewhurst has earned a spot on the U.S. open men's basketball team that will compete at the 18th World Maccabiah Games, July 12-23, in Israel. More than 9,000 of the world's best Jewish athletes from 54 countries will compete at the Games. Dewhurst is one of eight NCAA student-athletes who have made the U.S. Maccabi Team, which will be coached by Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl.

NOTHIN' BUT NET

Saint Louis freshman Willie Reed made all seven of his field goal attempts in the Billikens' 81-60 win over UMBC on Dec. 30. It marked the best "perfect" performance by a Billiken since Erwin Claggett set the school record by hitting all 10 of his shots against UMKC on Dec. 7, 1994.


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