If things go very well for Duquesne, it’s possible that they’re not resigned to the bottom three. I’m not suggesting they will surpass expectations, I’m just suggesting they could. I’ll shift my focus in this series to look at the low hanging fruit in the A-10’s gooey 5-10 middle. The first team I’ll evaluate who the Dukes could end up passing is George Washington.
As I mentioned when it was posted, my feelings on why the Dukes could be better than the Colonials is based on player efficiency data I calculated. If you missed the piece where I explain my system, you can find it here.
I hear the name Derrick Colter pretty often when I hear pundits talking about up and coming A-10 point guards, but I hear Joe McDonald of GW mentioned more often. I’m not sure if that’s fair. While Colter is a high volume point, McDonald tends to play the position in a more traditional manner. That said, Colter still had a better year in terms of assist to turnover and he was a huge part of the Duquesne offense. In terms of efficiency, Colter ranked a mere 11th out of 16 A-10 point guards last year with a 7.01 score but McDonald was 15th with a 4.38. That’s a full standard deviation between the two. McDonald was more selective with his shots, but didn’t shoot much better than Colter. Right now, I’m going with advantage Duquesne at the point.
Here is where I think a lot of people would rate the Colonials much higher. Indiana grad transfer Maurice Creek joins the Colonials this year after his injury riddled career for the Hoosiers. I like his addition and it could pay huge dividends for GW. However, Creek is yet to play more than 400 minutes in a season. While he is oozing with the potential to become a top guard in the A-10, he’s yet to stay on the court in his college career for long enough to make a real impact on a season.
The Dukes will also rely on a transfer, but theirs comes with a lot less hype. Tra’Vaughn White did lead all of junior college in scoring last year, but he was largely overlooked on the recruiting trail. If he is half as efficient as he was last year in junior college, he’d be a well above average two.
While I think Creek could be the better player, I don’t feel good about his chances of staying healthy the entire season. If he does play, I think the advantage goes to GW. If he’s limited, it’s advantage Duquesne.
I hear a lot about Patricio Garino of the Colonials as well. He looks like a prototypical A-10 small forward. 6’5”, decently built, a little feisty and a solid playmaker. He checked in with a very good freshman campaign, though probably not as efficient as many seem to think. He received a score of 5.19 dragged down by his high turnover rate. Conversely, I’ve heard virtually nothing about Jeremiah Jones who finished the year with a 5.04 score. That’s the difference of one made three pointer over the entire season. In my opinion, these two are very close in terms of value add. While Garino also has the advantage in the nice and measurable steals department, Jeremiah was likely the Dukes best defender last year. I might be the only person who follows the A-10 who would call these two a push, but I call them a push.
Isaiah Armwood was a highly regarded transfer who enjoyed success for the Colonials after being underused at Vilanova. Ovie Soko is a highly regarded transfer who I expect will enjoy success for the Dukes after being misused at UAB. The tale of the tape is similar between these two and I have high hopes for Soko. That said, I have to give Isaiah Armwood the advantage here because he’s already gotten it done in the league. However, Soko could easily be better.
The young GW player who I really like is Kevin Larsen. He’s tall, wide bodied and most of all, he’s efficient. In fact, he was most efficient freshman in the league last year with a score of 8.51. He just doesn’t seem to have many holes in his game offensively. Good footwork, good hands, nice scoring touch, and he takes care of the ball. He also got better during the year. The big concern for me is that over half his rebounds were the offensive variety. Still to find a big man with as much offensive upside as he has in the A-10 is not an easy thing to do. Duquesne hopes that one of three incoming players, Dominique McKoy, Jordan Robinson or Isaiah Watkins, are as equipped to play immediately as Larsen. For me this is a clear advantage for the Colonials.
I don’t know much about who will come off the bench for the Colonials but I do know a lot of their veteran holdovers are gone. Dwayne Smith and Bryan Bynes graduated while Lasan Kromah transferred. The only returning player recruited by Karl Hobbs is Nemanja Mikic. Kethan Savage will need to be ready in case Creek is injured and John Kopriva needs to step up. Freshman Nick Griffin is highly regarded, but the prize of the last recruiting class, Nigel Johnson, decommitted late before ending up at Kansas St. I like the Dukes depth but its hard for me to determine if that’s because I’m simply more familiar with them. Jerry Jones will be a nice boost and if Micah Mason is ruled eligible, I think the Dukes have the better bench. For now, I’ll call it a push.
I have to give this edge to the George Washington. They’re a little more experienced and are entering their third year with head coach Mike Lonergan. Most of the team has played in the system for at least one full season and a couple of guys have been around longer.
I think more credit is given to the overall talent level in Foggy Bottom than it deserves relative to the Dukes. I think we have the clear advantage at the point guard and possibly at power forward and on the bench. The only position where I see George Washington decidedly better is center. For me the intangibles separate the teams and I think GW is better right now. However, it’s not absurd to think the Dukes could finish ahead of the Colonials if a couple of factors break Duquesne’s way and a couple go against GW. That said, I think the Dukes should move past them in 2014-15. Both Armwood and Soko will graduate, but I think the Dukes have more internal options available to replace Soko. White should also be considerably better than whomever the Colonials play at the two.