December 30, 2020
Checking in on how every Atlantic 10 team finished 2020
While some teams found early success, several will restart in 2021 after long program pauses
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As the world gets ready to change the calendar to 2021, the Atlantic 10 is preparing to begin its full slate of conference games. While four conference matchups have already happened, the rest of the A-10 matchups will begin Jan. 1.
In 2021 Dayton, Saint Louis and Saint Joseph’s will be playing their first games in nearly a month after pausing all team activities, while UMass and Rhode Island had extended breaks after the teams did not schedule games after mid-December.
Several players impressed in their last few games of 2020 including Suzi-Rose Deegan, Amanda Kalin, Anna DeWolfe, and Claire Jacobs. Let’s take a closer look.
Davidson finished nonconference play with a win against ETSU and opened up A-10 play with a win at Fordham. Suzi-Rose Deegan returned to the court for the first time this season, playing one minute against ETSU. However, against the Rams, the reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year scored 23 points, added three rebounds and one steal, a performance that earned her A-10 Player of the Week.
The Wildcats bench posted 34 points and the team’s scoring options will continue to benefit the team as the season continues. The team shot a season-high 53.8 percent from the floor, continuing to correct early shooting woes, something that helped Davidson end 2020 with a 4-game winning streak after starting the season 0-3.
Davidson opens 2021 by hosting GW and Mason on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3.
Dayton enters conference play and 2021 not having played a game since Dec. 6 due to COVID-19 concerns within the Flyers’ program.
The Flyers are currently scheduled to play their first game in 26 days against St. Bonaventure on Jan. 1, with a matchup against Duquesne on Jan. 3.
Duquesne finished its nonconference slate with two losses, to Toledo and Kent State, falling to 2-3 on the season.
Against Toledo, Amanda Kalin scored a career-high 32 points, improving upon her previous career-high of 25 points. Kalin has emerged this season as the top scorer for the Dukes. But the team will need to work to develop more than two double-digit scorers per game. In all three of Duquesne’s losses, the team had two or fewer double-digit scorers, and more than two in the team’s two wins, something the team will need to fix as the team opens up its full conference season with a difficult pair of games.
The Dukes are scheduled to begin 2021 by hosting Saint Louis and Dayton on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3.
Fordham finished 2020 3-2, adding wins against Hofstra and Albany and a loss to Davidson. In both wins, the Rams never trailed.
Anna DeWolfe led Fordham in all three games Fordham played in its final stretch, scoring 34, 15 and 21 points. She is currently ranked second in the conference in points per game, averaging 23.0. No other Ram averages more than 10 points per game. Working to develop multiple scoring threats may lead to more wins in conference play.
The Rams are scheduled to begin 2021 by hosting Mason and GW on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3.
Mason finished nonconference play with a record of 3-4 after a loss to Ole Miss and a win against Delaware State. The team’s defense was the highlight of the final two games of 2020. The Patriots allowed just one Ole Miss player, Shakira Austin, to score in double figures. Against the Lady Hornets, the Patriots allowed a season-low 46 points.
While Mason made just 11 field goals against Ole Miss, the team was able to restart its offense again. Redshirt freshman Rachel Balzer broke out for a career-high 16 points, going 4-for-6 from behind the arc, earning her A-10 Rookie of the Week honors. Balzer was Mason’s sixth different leading scorer in seven games.
With the departure of Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, Mason has developed several more key scorers to keep defenses on their toes, which will continue to help the team in conference play.
The Patriots are scheduled to start conference play with trips to Fordham and Davidson on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3.
GW finished nonconference play with a win against Delaware on Dec. 20 and enter 2021 with a record of 3-3.
Though the Colonials started off slowly, with just seven first quarter points, GW scored 23 in the fourth to complete the comeback. The comeback was led by Jasmine Whitney, a graduate transfer from Pitt. Whitney scored 16 points and added five rebounds, three assists and three steals. While she averages just 8.8 points per game, Whitney is fifth in the conference in steals at 2.3 per game.
Heading into conference play, GW needs to shoot better from beyond the arc. The team averages just 2.2 made threes per game. The team with the next fewest made threes per game is St. Bonaventure who averages 5.0 per game. The Colonials have made no more than four threes per game and only Faith Blethen has made more than two threes on the season.
The Colonials are scheduled to begin conference play with road trips to Davidson and Fordham on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3.
With a win over Coppin State on Dec. 28 La Salle finished nonconference play 3-3.
Claire Jacobs once again led the Explorers with 26 points, five rebounds and a career-high five steals in just 24 minutes. Freshman Jaye Haynes was the only other player in double figures, reaching that mark for the second time in her career.
Despite having just two players in double figures 11 Explorers made a basket. If La Salle can remain this deep and versatile during conference play the team has the potential to continue to improve its standing in the conference.
The Explorers are scheduled to begin conference play by hosting Rhode Island and UMass on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3.
UMass finished 2020 with a record of 5-1, including 1-0, having last played on Dec. 13. The Minutewomen are scheduled to begin 2021 with a trip to Philadelphia to take on Saint Joseph’s and La Salle beginning on Jan. 1.
Rhode Island finished 2020 with a record of 0-4, including 0-1 in A-10 play, having last played on Dec. 11. The Rams are scheduled to begin 2021 with a road trip to Philadelphia to play La Salle and Saint Joseph’s on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3.
Richmond finished 2020 with a record of 3-3, including 0-1 in conference play after a loss to VCU. The Spiders struggled offensively in their final two games of 2020, scoring just 49 points against VCU and 54 points against Howard.
One adjustment the Spiders should aim to do is reduce turnovers, as they are last in the league in that stat, averaging 21.5 per game, and have not had a game with fewer than 16 turnovers. The Bison were able to turn 25 Richmond turnovers into 17 points.
Richmond begins their 2021 slate with trips to St. Bonaventure and Duquesne on Jan. 8 and 10.
St. Bonaventure finished 2020 with a record of 1-3 after a win against Binghamton and losses to Buffalo and St. John’s.
Asianae Johnson has provided the Bonnies with consistency, averaging 13.0 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
As St. Bonaventure begins its full slate of conference games, it will need to work to improve its free throw shooting. The team is fourth in the conference in free throw shooting, making just 64.1 percent of them.
The Bonnies are scheduled to begin 2021 with road trips to Dayton and Saint Louis on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3 respectively.
Saint Joseph’s finished 2020 with a 2-0 record after postponing two matchups due to a second pause of team activities due to COVID-19 protocols involving a previous opponent.
The Hawks are scheduled to begin conference play by hosting UMass and Rhode Island on Jan. 1 and Jan. 3, respectively.
Saint Louis enters conference play with a record of 2-0, having not played a game since Dec. 6 due to a positive COVID-19 test within the program.
The Billikens are currently scheduled to play their first game in 26 days against Duquesne on Jan. 1.
VCU is ending 2020 with a 3-5 overall record, including 1-0 in conference play, after a loss at Vanderbilt and a win across town at Richmond.
While the Rams have struggled offensively at times this season, in its last two games VCU averaged 77 points per game, including a first quarter against Richmond in which it outscored the Spiders 25-4, something that will continue to help the team in conference play.
The Rams have six players that average at least eight points per game, something that will make the team hard to defend, especially on the short turnarounds created by the two games in three days format that can be found in this season’s schedule.
The Rams are scheduled to travel to Duquesne and St. Bonaventure to begin the 2021 chunk of their season on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10.