A-10 Men's Basketball Notebook, Dec. 28, 2008

A-10 Men's Basketball Notebook, Dec. 28, 2008

This is the Atlantic 10 Conference's men's basketball notebook for the week ending December 27, 2008. Ahmad Nivins of Saint Joseph's is the Player of the Week and Duquesne's Eric Evans and Fordham's Jio Fontan are the Rookies of the Week.


PLAYER OF THE WEEK

Ahmad Nivins - Saint Joseph's
Senior, Forward, 6-9, 235 lbs.
Jersey City, N.J./St. Anthony's HS

Nivins scored a season-high 26 points and pulled down 16 rebounds on Dec. 23 as Saint Joseph's earned a 71-67 win over Cornell in its lone contest of the week...shot 10-of-13 from the field and 6-for-8 from the line...added two steals and a block...marked his sixth double-double of the year...named the A-10 Player of the Week for the third time this season.

ROOKIES OF THE WEEK

Eric Evans - Duquesne
Freshman, Guard, 5-11, 195 lbs.
Detroit, Mich./Northwestern HS

Evans scored a season-high 19 points and added five steals in just 23 minutes of action on Dec. 22 as Duquesne turned aside North Carolina Central, 97-79...knocked down three field goals from beyond the arc and added two rebounds and two assists...named the A-10 Rookie of the Week for the second consecutive week and third time this season.

Jio Fontan - Fordham
Freshman, Guard, 6-0, 170 lbs.
Paterson, N.J./St. Anthony's HS

Fontan scored 18 points, including the game-winning basket with 43 seconds remaining, as Fordham edged New Hampshire on Dec. 23, 60-56...made 6-of-10 shots from the field and 6-of-7 from the line...added three assists and two rebounds...tabbed the A-10 Rookie of the Week for the second time.


HONOR ROLL

  • Charlotte junior guard DiJuan Harris scored a career-high 20 points and added eight assists on Dec. 21 in the 49ers' 100-80 victory over Youngstown State
  • Sophomore forward Chris Wright of Dayton scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Flyers' 62-50 win versus Marshall on Dec. 23
  • Duquesne sophomore forward Damian Saunders scored 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting and pulled down 10 boards on Dec. 22 in the Dukes' 97-79 win over North Carolina Central
  • Senior forward Rob Diggs averaged 19.5 points and 11 rebounds over a pair of contests for George Washington
  • La Salle junior guard Rodney Green scored 17 points and added six rebounds in the Explorers' 65-59 victory over Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 23
  • Junior guard Ricky Harris scored 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting and pulled down seven boards on Dec. 27 in Massachusetts' 64-57 win versus IUPUI
  • Richmond sophomore forward Justin Harper made 7-of-9 shots en route to scoring a team-high 18 points in the Spiders' 79-57 victory over Bucknell on Dec. 22
  • Freshman forward Andrew Nicholson scored 23 points and added three blocks on Dec. 23 as St. Bonaventure dropped an 83-65 decision to Niagara
  • Saint Louis senior guard Kevin Lisch was named to the all-tournament team at the Las Vegas Classic after scoring 15 points in the Billikens' 56-52 win over Fresno State on Dec. 23. Freshman teammate Kwamain Mitchell matched his season high with 16 points on Dec. 22 in the Billikens' 65-61 loss to DePaul
  • Senior guard Dionte Christmas scored all 19 of his points in the second half of Temple's 76-71 setback at Long Beach State on Dec. 22
  • Xavier junior forward Derrick Brown scored 17 points in the Musketeers' 74-65 loss to Butler on Dec. 23

BIG D IN DAYTON

Dayton has held opponents to 22 points or less in a half eight times thru its first 12 games. Last year, the Flyers accomplished that feat just six times. UD leads the A-10 and ranks among the national leaders in both scoring defense (55.2 ppg.) and field goal defense (.335). In the Flyers' 62-50 win over Marshall on Dec. 23, UD forced 15 turnovers and yielded just 15 made field goals. It marked the seventh time this season the Flyers forced as many turnovers as made field goals by their opponent. One of the keys to Dayton's success has been its improved depth as 11 players average at least 10 minutes of action per game. Junior Marcus Johnson leads the team in minutes with an average of just 28.4 per contest.

PASSING THE ROCK

Senior guard Chris Lowe of Massachusetts led the A-10 and ranked 13th nationally in assists (6.2 apg.) a year ago. The Mount Vernon, N.Y., native registered at least ten assists on six different occasions. By comparison, no other player in the Conference dished out 10 or more assists more than once in 2007-08. Lowe, who also paced the A-10 in assists in 2006 (4.9 apg.), seeks to become the first player in league history to lead the Conference in assists three times. Carl Smith (UM - 1984, 86), Shandue McNeill (SBU - 1995, 97) and Jameer Nelson (SJU - 2001, 02) are the only other players to twice lead the A-10. Lowe recorded his league-leading fifth double-digit assist performance of the season on Dec. 27 in the Minutemen's 64-57 win over IUPUI. He leads the A-10 with an average of 6.20 apg.

PUTTING UP THEIR DUKES

Duquesne's 97-79 victory over North Carolina Central on Dec. 22 upped its record to 7-4, ensuring the school's second consecutive winning non-conference record. Last year, the Dukes posted a mark of 10-3 in non-league play. It is the first time since 1992-93 and 1993-94 that Duquesne has registered winning non-conference records in back-to-back seasons. Moreover, the Dukes' 17 non-conference wins over the past two years are the most in a two-year span since 1980 (11-6) and 1981 (8-8). DU has non-conference games remaining at Robert Morris on Dec. 28 and at home versus Bowling Green on Dec. 31.

STRAIGHT SHOOTER

Saint Joseph's senior forward Ahmad Nivins seeks to join former George Washington standout Alexander Koul (1995-97) as the only players in A-10 history to lead the league in field goal percentage three consecutive years. Nivins shot .647 (165-of-255) from the field a year ago. The Jersey City, N.J., native has made 69-of-101 shots through the Hawks' first 10 contests and shares the league-lead with six double-doubles.

WINNING WITH A CUSHION

All six of Richmond's victories this season have come by double-digit margins. A year ago, just three of the Spiders' 16 victories came by double digits.

SPREADING CHRISTMAS CHEER

For the 14th consecutive year, the Saint Joseph's men's basketball team undertook its annual Christmas charity project, "Hawks Helping Others," to aid needy families in West Philadelphia. With contributions from fans collected at the Creighton game on Dec. 6, the Hawks shopped at Target in nearby Bala Cynwyd on Dec. 13. The players were divided into groups and received a list of items needed by their "family." SJU's Campus Ministry assisted in the project, identifying the families in need. The Hawks wrapped all of the gifts and delivered them to their families on Dec. 20. "The players and coaches in this program have each been given a special gift, or talent, in life. This is a way that we, as a group, can give back to the community," said head coach Phil Martelli. "The experience that each of our guys will have when they deliver these gifts is something that I know they will cherish forever."

SENIORS WITH STYLE

Temple's Dionte Christmas and Jimmy Baron of Rhode Island are among 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, the award was launched during the 2001-02 season to honor the attributes of college basketball seniors who remain committed to their university and pursue the many rewards that a senior season and complete college education brings. Based on criteria focusing on the "Four C's" of classroom, character, community and competition, the award winners will be selected by national balloting of head basketball coaches, national media and college basketball fans. Previous A-10 recipients include Xavier's David West (2003) and Jameer Nelson of Saint Joseph's (2004).

STREAKIN

St. Bonaventure has won its first three true road contests to begin a season for the first time since the 1967-68 campaign. The Bonnies seek their fourth consecutive road victory on Dec. 30 at Bucknell. In addition, St. Bonaventure's bench has won the scoring battle in each of the team's 11 games this season. With a record of 7-4 overall, the Bonnies are one victory shy of matching their total from all of last season.

STEPPING UP

UMass forward Tony Gaffney has opened his senior year in grand style. He has recorded six double-double performances - the first of his career - thru the Minutemen's first 11 games and blocked a career-best nine shots versus Boston College on Dec. 6. Gaffney leads the A-10 in rebounding (11.9 rpg.) and blocks (5.09 bpg.).

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