Nov. 19, 2003
Conference Previews: ACC | A-10 | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Pac-10 | SEC
In the next week-plus, I'm identifying three key questions for each of the eight major conferences. We're going in alphabetical order, and now it's time for the Atlantic 10 ...
1. Will Temple bounce back after missing the NCAA Tournament?
Coach John Chaney's program doesn't play a Cupcake City schedule, yet the Owls still finished with 18 wins last season (they lost to Minnesota in the NIT quarterfinals).
The Owls play the best of the best, and Chaney's preconference schedule usually features the nation's finest. That will always give you some L's...
Senior guard David Hawkins, an outstanding scorer, will lead the Owls. Sophomores Keith Butler (a 7-foot center) and Maurice "Mardy" Collins (a 6-5 guard) will be called on to contribute. Freshman guard Dustin Salisbery, the 6-5 diaper dandy, was impressive in preseason action.
You always have to respect Chaney's teams. He is the stabilizing factor -- and as long as he's there, I will have the ultimate respect for Temple.
2. Does Saint Joseph's have the nation's best backcourt?
You can certainly make a strong case for the tandem of senior Jameer Nelson and junior Delonte West when West is healthy (he was bothered by a stress fracture last season). They are capable of playing with anyone in America.
There are certainly other teams that would make a case for their backcourt tandems. For instance, Duke could challenge for the best backcourt title with Chris Duhon, J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing. Duos at Connecticut, Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina could put up a fight, too.
Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli also has depth in his backcourt. Junior Pat Carroll adds another dimension with his ability to shoot the trifecta.
The Nelson-West tandem is definitely among the top five in America.
3. How will Xavier fare without David West?
Obviously, it's a major loss anytime you lose a player the caliber of big man David West, who provided important senior leadership last season (20.1 ppg, 11.8 rpg). West is now on the roster of the New Orleans Hornets.
Xavier will make up for his absence with the team concept.
Coach Thad Matta's Musketeers have outstanding personnel, led by senior guard Romain Sato, who should enjoy a breakthrough season. He will be a legitimate All-America candidate. Sato teams up with fellow senior guard Lionel Chalmers, giving Xavier a strong backcourt.
Senior forward Anthony Myles will have an opportunity to show something up front, helping fill the void left by West's absence.
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