It’s Xavier and Temple, and the rest of the pack. That’s how the Atlantic 10 looks to shake out this season.
The Owls were projected second in the preseason poll behind Xavier, the only two teams to receive first-place votes in the poll revealed at Thursday’s Atlantic 10 Media Day.
The Owls return an experienced, guard-heavy team coming off its first NCAA tournament victory since 2001. Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore, both named A-10 Preseason All-Conference First Team, lead one of the top backcourts in college hoops.
“It’s a certainly a big help when you can have great faith and trust in the guys that are going to have the ball most of the time,” Dunphy said. “It’s comforting to know you have a backcourt like we have.”
Dunphy revealed that Scootie Randall, his fourth-leading scorer last year, will miss the beginning of the season rehabbing from a torn meniscus. He had surgery in June and is rehabbing. Dunphy doesn’t know when he’ll return.
Without Randall, and with the loss of four-year starting big man Lavoy Allen, the Owls will need the likes of Khalif Wyatt, Rahlir Jefferson and Micheal Eric to step up. If those key contributors progress and the backcourt lives up to expectations, the Owls should return to the NCAA tournament for the fifth straight year.
“It’s fabulous to get to the tournament,” Dunphy said. “We’re just so thrilled to be there the last couple of years. We just hope to get back there again.”