College Basketball: Sorry La Salle, But Atlantic 10 Should Trim The Fat

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College Basketball:  Sorry La Salle, But Atlantic 10 Should Trim The Fat
The Atlantic 10 could be greatly improved by trimming the fat.

The Atlantic 10 is one of the best mid-major basketball conferences in the nation.

Temple and Xavier are among the premiere mid-major college basketball teams in the nation.  Calling Temple or Xavier mid-major is a bit unfair.

Dayton packs 12,000 fans in their gym per game, and has finished in the RPI top 75 in ten of the last thirteen seasons.

George Washington is a bit of a mess now, but the Colonials spent most of the 2006 season ranked in the top 10.

Saint Joseph's (PA) celebrated a Perfect Season in 2004, going 30-2 and missing out on the Final Four on a Jameer Nelson choked three point attempt.

Dr. Julius Erving went to UMass, and John Calipari led UMass to a Final Four that was later vacated due to violation of NCAA rules.

University of Rhode Island was a top 50 team last year, and their trip to the Elite 8 in 1998 was more recent than any of their Rhode Island Big East rival Providence College's NCAA Tournament wins.

Richmond was in the NCAA Tournament last year.

Charlotte has been to the NCAA Tournament in eight of the past 15 seasons.

St. Louis is coached by the legendary Rick Majerus and has shown improvement.

So why is the Atlantic 10 looked upon with such disdain?  Why don't outsiders respect Atlantic 10 basketball?  Why does the Atlantic 10 have a television contract that would embarrass low major conferences such as the NEAC or the MAC?

The answer is simple, the bottom of the Atlantic 10 is a pitiful collection of pathetic basketball programs that put no effort into their programs and ultimately cause great damage to those Atlantic 10 schools that do try to put a respectable product on the court.  The bottom of the conference is littered with RPI poison and schools that have no fans or following.

The Pathetic Four

La Salle, Fordham, St. Bonaventure and Duquesne are selfish schools.  They take their Atlantic 10 paycheck, which is not very large to begin with, and then give the finger to the rest of the schools in the conference. 

La Salle laughs as they drag down Temple and Saint Joseph's (PA)'s reputation.  Duquesne smiles as a high quality program like Xavier is pushed back to second page status.  Do St. Bonaventure and Fordham even offer scholarships anymore?

Here is a closer look at how pathetic these four schools are in their product:

La Salle

The RPI became a public index in 1994.  La Salle has never finished in the top 100.  La Salle has only finished in the top 140 twice.

Since 1955, La Salle has won a total of two NCAA Tournament games.  Baseball pitcher Nolan Ryan has pitched a no hitter more recently than La Salle's most recent NCAA Tournament win.

Last season, La Salle was picked to finish at the top of the Atlantic 10.  Many doubted the predictions, they wanted to see the results first, but the talent was there.  Rodney Green had NBA potential, and Aaric Murray may leave for the NBA after his sophomore year as he attempts to be the next Yinka Dare.

So how did La Salle finish with all this talent?  How does 12-18 (4-12) sound?  They lost to Binghamton.  They lost to Duquesne.  They lost to St. Bonaventure.  They missed the Atlantic 10 tournament!  That's right, a team that was picked to possibly win the league, a team that had its top players Green and Murray healthy all season, missed the Atlantic 10 tournament. 

Let that soak in a bit.

So how did La Salle respond to one of the poorest coaching efforts in the history of Atlantic 10 conference?  They gave their coach, Dr. John Giannini a contract extension.

Nice commitment to winning. 

La Salle's attendance last season, in their most highly anticipated season in decades, was an impressive 2,171 fans per game.

Duquesne

Duquesne is another horrible basketball program.  In March 1969, Duquesne won their last NCAA Tournament game.  In July 1969, the United States put a man on the moon.

Duquesne has not played a NCAA Tournament game since March 1977.  The Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners played their first Major League Baseball games in April 1977. 

Duquesne has spent seven of the past twelve seasons in the RPI 200 plus.  That means a win against Duquesne is likely to make a top tier Atlantic 10 team drop in the rankings.  Temple fans must love going on the road, beating Duquesne, and then watching their RPI drop in a bad way.

St. Bonaventure

St. Bonaventure has spent the past 7 seasons ranked outside of the RPI 150.  They are frequently ranked 200+ and a 300+ ranking is not unheard of. 

St. Bonaventure last won a NCAA Tournament game in 1970.  Willie Mays hit 28 HRs for the San Francisco Giants in 1970.

The only reason anybody outside of upstate New York has heard about Saint Bonaventure basketball is because of an academic scandal.  An academic scandal so bad that not only was the basketball coach fired, but the university president was pink slipped.  The scandal was so embarrassing that one university trustee committed suicide after the sharp criticism he received.

Fordham

Fordham is the definition of RPI poison.  Fordham finished 306 last year in the RPI, and 291 in 2009.

Fordham last won a NCAA Tournament game in 1971, and has only made the NCAA Tournament once since that time.

Last season Fordham went 0-16 in conference play.  Fordham was the first team to go winless in the Atlantic 10 since St. Bonaventure in 1993.

The Solution

The solution for the Atlantic 10 is simple.  Trim the fat.  Temple, Xavier, Saint Joseph's (PA), Dayton and the rest of the Atlantic 10 should no longer allow themselves to be taken advantage of by the Pathetic Four.

New look Atlantic 10:

1.  Temple

2.  Xavier

3.  Dayton

4.  Saint Joseph's (PA)

5.  UMass

6.  URI

7.  St. Louis

8.  Richmond

9.  George Washington

10.  Charlotte

Not a bad conference.  The conference RPI would greatly improve, allowing more bubble teams to make the NCAA Tournament, meaning more money for the schools in NCAA tournament win shares, more exposure for an improved television contract, more prestige and better recruiting, and fewer teams to split the increased revenue.

They could even add a couple of teams that actually try.  Butler interested?  Davidson?  Creighton?  Wagner?  Drake?  Western Kentucky?

As reported on Bleacher Report, Seton Hall may be leaving the Big East.  http://bleacherreport.com/articles/481737-big-east-expansion-villanova-tcu-and-how-seton-hall-can-open-the-door-for-more  Maybe they could be one of the new additions to the new look Atlantic 10?

If somebody can provide a good reason for the Atlantic 10 maintaining a relationship with the Pathetic Four, I would love to hear it.  I cannot think of one.

—  TJ Corbs, tackling the hard hitting issues of the northeast corridor.

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