As you already know, we recently resurrected We Wear the Ring and part of my motivation for jump starting it revolved around how my basketball material didn’t always translate to a The Point of Pittsburgh format. I couldn’t produce enough Dukes content there to keep it relevant for our old readers. In the end, it wasn’t a fit and my coverage often got lost in the variety of articles. This is what I hope will be the first of several of WWTR / TPOP crossover articles where I post a beefed up Duquesne article on both sites. It was posted on TPOP.
Saddened by the fact that his alma mater Virginia Tech no longer plays in the Atlantic 10, our own Kevin Creagh has become something of closeted Duquesne fan. I wouldn’t say he loves the Dukes just yet, but he almost always loves their stat stuffers. The Dukes new freshman Duquesne point guard, Sincere Carry, stuffs with the best of them. Through 6 games, he’s averaged ten points and leads the conference in assists with 6.6 per contest. If he continues that pace the rest of the season or even falls off a little, he’ll pass (no pun intended) Norm Nixon for the most assists per game in a season.
Carry isn’t the only freshman helping the Dukes. Austin Rotroff has shown great poise in the paint. Carry has overshadowed his backup, Brandon Wade, who has performed well enough for a freshman. Lamar Norman, Jr. has been incredibly efficient in a small sample size while we’ve seen some growth from Amari Kelly. Gavin Bizeau has really yet to have much of an opportunity, not an uncommon experience for freshman bigs.
Kevin was curious how I thought Carry stacked up with the rest of the Atlantic 10’s freshmen point guards, but since the Dukes basically have a player at every position, I figured we’d look at how each fits into their league cohort.
The Atlantic 10’s freshman crop of point guards has some early returns at the top end and some depth to match. Fordham’s Nick Honor has garnered league honors for Rookie of the Week twice in three opportunities. He’s leading the Rams in both points and assists. Fordham also have two other combos capable of running an offense in Jalen Cobb and Ty Perry, both averaging double figures early. Kyle Loften looks like one half of St. Bonaventure’s next great backcourt. Jared Bynum snuck into St. Joe’s vacancy at the point guard and has performed very well, averaging roughly 11 points and 4 assists. Tre Woods of the Minutemen isn’t starting, but he’s tied for the second most assists per game on the team in sixteen fewer minutes than Curtis Cobb, with whom he shares that honor.
Shooting Guard / Small Forward
There really haven’t been a ton of freshmen making an impact on the wing so far in the Atlantic 10 though you could certainly add Fordham’s Cobb and Perry into this category if you wished to beef it up. Jake Wojcik has averaged over 31 minutes a game for the Richmond Spiders and has chipped in around seven per game. Highly recruited Dwayne Cohill hasn’t gotten into much of the rhythm for Dayton so far, but he is playing every game. Redshirt Luke Frampton has started all six games for Davidson averaging a shade over seven points in a game. There hasn’t been much room at the table for VCU’s Vince Williams, but he’s making good use of what he gets by finishing at better than 60% around the basket. Allentown native Tyrese Martin has looked solid but not spectacular for Rhode Island.
Power Forward / Center
This year’s A10 freshman crop looks heavy on the points and posts just as it did in its glory days roughly a decade ago. La Salle commit turned St. Bonaventure player, Osun Osunniyi, started one game for the Bonnies. While he’s averaging five points a game, he’s swatting 2.5 shots per contest good for the conference lead. Obi Topin of Dayton has gotten off to the best offensive start of any power forward averaging 11.5 points after sitting out last season for a redshirt. Luka Brajkovic has gotten off to an excellent start for Davidson as well. He’s averaging double figures and leading the team in rebounding while playing less than twenty-five minutes a game. Arguably the league’s most heralded recruit in the class of 2018, the Billikens’ Carte’are Gordan has averaged a shade over eight points early. He got into foul trouble against Pitt and only played 12 minutes. Jersey product Jared Kimbrough has started five games for La Salle and he’s posted an admirable 8 points and 5 boards. Sy Chatman is making the biggest impact for the freshman class of UMass. While he’s averaging under six points per game, he’s got a hyper efficient 130.5 O-rating. Of course, Duquesne’s Rotroff has the highest offensive rating of any post player to appear in all of his teams games at 146.9.
As I reviewed rosters for freshmen making an impact on their respective Atlantic 10 program, it’s a cheap reminder of how few of them are making a major impact from the jump. When we see players like Honor drop 20 points or Carry nearly go double-double with points and assists, we assume those are the normal for freshman performances. Truth is they are the exception. For every player I mentioned above for having even marginal production, there is at least another that I either overlooked or decided not to bother with because they’ve barely played. A lot of those guys will become impact players. Kids who haven’t even made their debut ye,t either sitting out for injury or redshirt, will become impact players.
Point guard is no question the best and most college ready group out of all the freshmen in the league this year. There are a number doing big things and I’d put Carry right among them. Wade hasn’t fit into this tier, but all of those players have gotten significantly more minutes than he has. Not one of the conference’s young wings have stood out, so I wouldn’t say it’s damning that Lamar Norman, Jr. hasn’t played much. In the post Austin Rotroff is the most efficient in the league, but not one post player is a complete package just yet. The collective strength of this group of interior players is impressive and bodes well for the future of the conference.