October 20, 2022 

UMass selected as unanimous Atlantic 10 favorites

La Salle-Rhode Island-Fordham and VCU round out the top five selected by the coaches

In less than three weeks, the college basketball season will begin. On Oct. 18, the Atlantic 10 conference announced its preseason poll and preseason awards that the conference’s head coaches voted on. 

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Though UMass and Dayton met back in March in the conference championship game, the two teams find themselves in different places in the preseason poll. UMass was the unanimous first-place team, while Dayton was chosen 10th after losing more than 90% of its scoring from last year (five seniors/graduate students and five transfers). 

The Minutewomen return their top six scorers from last season and brought in several newcomers, including Laila Fair from Saint Joseph’s and Piath Gabriel from UConn. 

Last year La Salle finished fifth in the conference but returns six players that averaged at least 5.5 points per game last season. And did not have any key departures in the offseason. Rhode Island, Fordham and VCU, the preseason third through fifth teams, all had at least one significant departure in the offseason. 

This year the Explorers look to manage the expectations of their success and win games they are favored in, something the team struggled to do last season. 

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At A-10 media day on Oct. 18, La Salle head coach Mountain MacGillivray said,” he hopes the team can handle the pressure of being the favorite team in some of our games a lot better. Because really, when we go out and take the court, it’s about being the best version of ourselves. It’s not about who we’re playing against.”

Loyola Chicago joined the conference on July 1 and was chosen 13th in the preseason poll. The most recent three teams to join the conference (Davidson in 2014, George Mason in 2013 and VCU in 2012) finished last, second to last and last respectively, in their first season in the A-10 after moving from the Southern Conference, the CAA and the CAA respectively. 

Duquesne was chosen ninth in the preseason poll after finishing tenth last season and ninth in the 2020-21 season. The Dukes lost two of its top three scorers from last season but welcome six new faces and return three players that averaged at least eight points per game last season. 

Dan Burt, Duquesne’s head coach, was adamant at media day that the Dukes would be above their preseason poll position at the end of the season. 

“We feel like we have a very good basketball team, and we’re certainly not happy nor satisfied — we’re not happy with where we were selected and we won’t be finishing there.”

The full preseason poll can be found below:    

  1. UMass (15 first-place votes) 
  2. La Salle 
  3. Rhode Island
  4. Fordham 
  5. VCU 
  6. Saint Joseph’s 
  7. Davidson  
  8. Richmond 
  9. Duquesne 
  10. Dayton 
  11. George Washington 
  12. Saint Louis 
  13. Loyola Chicago 
  14. Mason 
  15. St. Bonaventure 

Last season’s A-10 Player of the Year and conference tournament Most Outstanding Player Sam Breen returns from UMass and was named to the preseason first team. Also on the team is Breen’s teammate Sydney Taylor, Anna DeWolfe of Fordham, Kayla Spurill of La Salle, Addie Budnik of Richmond and Sarah Te-Biasu of VCU. 

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Other highlights of preseason awards include Brooke Flowers, last season’s Defensive Player of the Year, who was named to the preseason all-defensive team and preseason second team. Intraconference transfers Tenin Magassa (transferred from Dayton) and Emma Squires (transferred from Richmond) of Rhode Island were named to the preseason third team. In addition, Kyla McMakin from Saint Louis was the only newcomer to the A-10 to garner preseason recognition, making the third team. 

Overall, 11 teams from the conference had players named to preseason teams. The four teams that did not have a player named to a preseason all-conference team were Loyola Chicago, Mason, St. Bonaventure and Dayton — four of the six bottom teams in the preseason poll.

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

A-10 conference play tips off on Dec. 28 when Loyola Chicago visits Saint Louis. 

Written by Natalie Heavren

Natalie Heavren has been a contributor to The Next since February 2019 and currently writes about the Atlantic 10 conference, the WNBA and the WBL.

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