March 16, 2022
What to watch for from Atlantic 10 teams in the postseason
A-10 teams featured in NCAA, WNIT and WBI tournaments
According to my calendar, it is March. Do you know what that means? Madness—the NCAA Tournament, the WNIT and the Women’s Basketball Invitational (WBI). This year each tournament features one or more teams from the Atlantic 10 (A-10) conference.
Here are six things to watch for as A-10 teams take on the postseason:
Dayton brings a combination of youth and experience
By now, Dayton and the postseason are nearly synonymous. The program is making its 15th straight postseason appearance, entering the NCAA Tournament with a 25-5 record on the season.
The team will be playing in an NCAA Tournament game for the first time since 2018, when it also made the tournament as an at-large, due to the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament.
Araion Bradshaw, who has not played in an NCAA Tournament game since South Carolina’s 2017 title run, is using that experience to fuel her preparation this season.
“It’s been in the back of my mind, just to get back on this stage and perform at a high level,” Bradshaw said. “So definitely something I’ve thought about and [winning a national championship] definitely will be a memory I’ll never forget, but I think it helps me prepare for stuff like this knowing that I’ve been here and kind of knowing what to do and what’s expected of a team to make a deep run in the tournament.”
The Flyers are looking for their first postseason win since the team’s 2015 Elite Eight run and first with head coach Shauna Green at the helm. Dayton will need to rely on both its veterans and young stars to do so.
Despite the team’s veteran presence—seven players have at least three years of playing experience at Dayton—this season’s A-10’s Most Improved Player, sophomore Makira Cook, leads the team in scoring. Cook averages 14.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Dayton also relies on veterans Erin Whalen and Jenna Giacone. Both average double-digit figures, scoring 13.3 points and 12.4 points per game respectively.
Bradshaw, the 2020-21 A-10 Defensive Player of the Year averages 1.6 steals per game. Though she averages 6.1 points per game, Bradshaw gets to the free-throw line on 40.2 percent of her two-point shooting attempts, which is 15th in Division I this season. She averages 4.1 assists per game, which ranks in the top 3 percent of the country.
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Dayton ranks 14th in the country in defensive rebounding. This will be key when the Flyers take on the top scoring offense in the country in DePaul on March 16 in the first-ever First Four of the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament at 9 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Head coach Shauna Green doesn’t mind the earlier start to the tournament. Her team hasn’t played since March 6 when it lost to UMass in the A-10 title game.
“I think our players and myself, we practiced a week straight and I don’t know, I’m sure they would tell you the same, they probably didn’t want to practice another week,” Green said.
UMass looks to continue making history
For the first time since 1998, the Minutewomen are in the NCAA Tournament after winning the program’s first A-10 championship. The team is on the hunt for its first NCAA Tournament win. UMass currently sits at a record of 26-6 and has already broken the program record for wins in a season, which was 20.
The team relies on a short rotation, in part due to transfers (Stefanie Kuleszahas been cleared to play). A-10 Player of the Year Sam Breen will continue to be critical for the team’s success in the tournament. Breen is one of just two players this season averaging at least 15 points, 10 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. She is the only player also averaging at least 0.5 blocks per game).
The Minutewomen are scheduled to take on Notre Dame at 7:30 p.m. ET on March 19 on ESPN2. During this game UMass head coach Tory Verdi noted it will be important for his team to “weather the storm” and maintain their composure. He also noted several things he wanted his team to do against Notre Dame.
“We got to do a great job of boxing out and rebounding…We got to match their physicality,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “And what’s good is that we just played Dayton and it’s very similar to where they have big guards, they’re 6’1. And so we just got to match the physicality…We got to control all the little things and if we do those things, we’ll put ourselves in the position, I’ve said this all year long, to be successful. And I expect to be successful.”
Fordham continues their postseason streak
For the sixth year in a row, Fordham is heading to postseason play, making its fifth trip to the WNIT during that period of time. The Rams enter the WNIT with a record of 18-10. Despite their sustained regular-season success the team is searching for their first postseason victory since the 2018 WNIT.
“It is really hard to be still playing at this time of year, but this team took the challenges of an aggressive out-of-conference schedule and proved we are one of the top teams still playing,” Stephanie Gaitley said in a team-issued press release.
The Rams are led by Anna DeWolfe, who averages 18.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game. She averaged 14.2 points per game in the team’s 10 losses this season, which includes two of her three single-digit scoring efforts this season.
DeWolfe is not the only scorer on Fordham. Asiah Dingle and Kendell Heremaia are also averaging in double figures (14.5 and 11.4 points per game respectively). Kaitlyn Downey leads the team in three-point percentage (for players with at least 25 attempts), shooting 37.9 percent from behind the arc.
Three-point shooting will be important for the Rams, whose three-point rate (34.3%) is 61st in the country.
Fordham is scheduled to host Bucknell on March 18 at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ESPN+ and WFUV.
Rhode Island looks for first ever postseason win
After an early exit in the A-10 tournament, falling in the quarterfinals to Saint Joseph’s, the Rams are looking to continue their historic season in the team’s first WNIT berth and second overall postseason appearance. The other was the 1996 NCAA Tournament.
In just three seasons under Tammi Reiss, Rhode Island went from 13-16 to a program record for wins in a season (22-6). The Rams will try to earn the program’s first postseason win when it hosts Quinnipiac on March 18 at 6 p.m. ET.
Two players to watch out for are Emmanuelle Tahane and Dez Elmore.
Tahane is the 2021 A-10 Co-Player of the Year and leads the team with 13.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.1 steals per game.
Elmore has made her presence known everywhere on the court in her lone season at Rhode Island. She averages 12.0 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Elmore also leads the Rams with 24 blocks on the season (1.0 per game) despite being listed at 5’10.
The WNIT will serve as a final run for Rhode Island’s five players honored on Senior Night: Elmore, Marie-Paule Foppossi, Tahane, Marta Vargas and Chanell Williams. The quintet accounts for an average of 47.9 points per game (the team averages 63.8 points per game this season).
VCU punches their ticket to the 2022 WNIT
The VCU Rams enter the WNIT with a record of 15-11, earning their 12th postseason appearance, including the 2020 WNIT, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Not turning over the ball has been a strength for the Rams this season. The team commits just 12.4 turnovers per game, ranked 15th in the country.
This WNIT trip is a final run for Taya Robinson and Madison Hattix-Covington who were on the team during the 2017-18 season when the Rams won just seven games. Robinson leads VCU averaging 16.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
Shot selection and accuracy will be key for the Rams who were 11th in the A-10 in field goal percentage, shooting an average of 38.4 percent from the floor. The Rams have not won multiple postseason games since 2012 when the team defeated Bowling Green and Saint Joseph’s in the WNIT.
Keowa Walters is a player to watch in her first season with the Rams. She leads the team in field goal percentage (48.2% from the floor). After making her debut for VCU in mid-December, Walters is averaging 7.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game.
VCU is scheduled to host Stony Brook on March 18 at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
Davidson heads to the WBI for the second time
With a 16-14 record and a 9th place finish in the A-10, Davidson was selected to participate in the 2022 WBI, its first postseason appearance since the 2019 WBI and sixth overall.
Only six players played in all 30 games for the Wildcats, each averaging at least 20 minutes per game. The team was led by Elle Sutphin who averaged 13.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
Sutphin has provided a spark in her first season at Davidson, something she will need to continue to do to get the Wildcats their first postseason win since defeating Old Dominion in the 2013 WNIT.
Three-point shooting and free throws will be key for the Wildcats in the postseason. Davidson is 6-3 when shooting at least 40.0 percent from behind the arc. The team was first in the A-10 this season in free throw shooting percentage and 42nd in the nation. The Wildcats will need to get to the line more often than they did during the regular season, ranking 302nd in the nation in free throw rate.
Davidson is scheduled to travel to Lexington, KY to take on Nevada on March 18 at 5 p.m. ET and are guaranteed to play at least two games after that.