November 10, 2020 

VCU picked to win the Atlantic 10 conference by coaches

2020-2021 A-10 preseason poll and awards released

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VCU and Dayton met in the conference championship eight months ago, with Dayton ultimately winning, in addition to their regular-season title. However, with several key departures at Dayton, VCU received 10 first-place votes among the league’s 14 coaches to earn first place in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll.

The Rams return the 2019 Coach of the Year Beth O’Boyle, and 34.5 points per game in scoring in Tera Reed, Taya Robinson and Madison Hattix-Covington. 

Additionally, the Flyers received two, Saint Louis received one, and Duquesne received one. 

Dayton returns just one player who averaged more than eight points per game and has eight players who have not seen action in a Dayton uniform. The team will need to rely heavily on redshirt senior Erin Whalen and several players will need to step up in order to meet expectations. 

Saint Louis has a lot of players in the middle of their collegiate career and is poised to make a run in the next few seasons. However, the Billikens lost 2020 Most Improved Player Kendra Wilkens, who graduated in May. In order to make a run at the top spot, the team will need to add a consistent offensive presence to match their continued success on defense. 

Duquesne, who was picked to finish fourth, has the potential to be better than predicted. The Dukes carry 17 players on the roster, which could prove to be advantageous this season as injuries and COVID-19 may impact a team’s roster more than other years. The team usually redshirts all of their freshmen but will not this season, as the NCAA is granting an extra year of eligibility to winter sports athletes.  

Saint Joseph’s and Mason finished at the bottom of last year’s regular-season standings and that is where the coaches believe both teams will finish this season. 

The full preseason poll can be found below. 

PRESEASON POLL

  1. VCU (10)

  2. Dayton (2)

  3. Saint Louis (1)

  4. Davidson

    Duquesne (1)
    Fordham

  1. Massachusetts

  2. Richmond

  3. George Washington

  4. La Salle

  5. Rhode Island

  6. St. Bonaventure

  7. Saint Joseph’s

  8. George Mason

Number in parentheses indicates the number of first-place votes

With Nicole Cardaño-Hillary transferring to Indiana and Bryson Cavanaugh graduating and leaving Fordham, the race for player of the year race is wide open. 

Six top contenders for that award this year are the members of the preseason all-conference team: Sophomore Suzi-Rose Deegan (Davidson), redshirt senior Erin Whalen (Dayton), senior Libby Bazelak (Duquesne), senior Sam Breen (UMass), junior Ciaja Harbison (Saint Louis) and senior Tera Reed (VCU)

The rest of the preseason all-conference teams can be found here

The A-10 schedule has not yet been released. 

Written by Natalie Heavren

Natalie Heavren has been covering women’s basketball since February 2019 and currently covers both the Atlantic 10 and the WNBA.

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