On the court. In the classroom. Then, now, and tomorrow. In the Atlantic 10, hard work always comes first. That’s what makes us undeniable. Whether it’s the kind of work that leads to a record number of NCAA Tournament invites over the last three seasons (14, to be exact), or the hours spent studying behind our years of high graduation rates.
When you put in the work—on the court, 40 minutes at a time, and off the court for 40 years straight—well, that’s what makes for the kind of performance that is undeniable.
40 years of highlights
In honor of the atlantic 10’s 40th anniversary, we’re celebrating the memorable moments that show what this conference is made of. discover the stories that lit up scoreboards and faces across the nation. relive the history of our membership that got us to where we are, and where we’re going.
Despite being only 72 miles apart, Dayton and Ohio State hadn’t been matched up in the regular season for 26 years. They met in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, and with 3.8 seconds left, Vee Sanford’s layup meant a 60-59 victory for the Flyers. In a game that switched leads 15 times, Dayton’s determination never once wavered.
In 1977, Duquesne prevailed in the first-ever Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Championship, known then as the Eastern 8 Tournament. The championship was held at The Spectrum in Philadelphia, Pa., where the Dukes reigned victorious over Villanova, 57-54.
During his eight seasons as head coach at George Washington, Mike Jarvis led the Colonials to the NCAA Tournament four times. 1993 was a big year for GW, with freshman #33 Yinka Dare coming in at 7’1.5”. But it only went up from there, as that was the season Dare helped lead the team to the Sweet 16—their best ever performance in an NCAA Tournament.
At 27-0, Saint Joseph’s perfect regular season in 2004 goes down as one of the best in A-10 history. Led by Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, the Hawks’ performance earned them a #1 national ranking and a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where they made it to the Elite Eight. Phil Martelli was named the NCAA Coach of the Year and Nelson earned National Player of the Year.
The Eastern Collegiate Basketball League, or Eastern 8, was founded in 1975. In 1982, the conference officially changed its name to the “Atlantic 10 Conference,” as it’s known today. Three current schools—Duquesne, GW, and UMass—were founding members, and Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, and Saint Joseph’s have played every season since we’ve been called the A-10.
1998 was a monumental year for Rhode Island. Led by guards Tyson Wheeler and Cuttino Mobley, and forward Antonio Reynolds-Dean, the Rams made it all the way to the Elite Eight, taking out top-seeded Kansas along the way. Their game against Stanford left them three points shy of the Final Four, but the pride of the greatest run in URI history lives on.
In 2014, Davidson became the A-10’s 14th member, and they came to play hard. The Wildcats went 14-4 in conference play to claim the regular season title and the top seed for the A-10 Championship, where they made it to the semifinals and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Everyone’s expecting Davidson to stay true to their strong first impression in their second season.
The A-10 knows great coaching. Five active A-10 coaches have recorded at least 400 career wins, including Davidson’s Bob McKillop, George Mason’s Dave Paulsen, George Washington’s Mike Lonergan, La Salle’s Dr. John Giannini, and Saint Louis’ Jim Crews—with Saint Joseph’s Phil Martelli fast approaching that impressive figure.
Lionel “L-Train” Simmons will forever be a La Salle legend. As an Explorer from 1986-90, he racked up 3,217 career points—third all-time in the NCAA. He also set an NCAA record by scoring in double digits for 115 consecutive games. It’s no surprise La Salle retired his #22 jersey after he broke the Explorer scoring record on January 12, 1990.
In 2013, the A-10 Men’s Basketball Championship moved to the epicenter of culture: Brooklyn. Our home at Barclays Center—a world-class pro sports facility—puts the A-10 in the company of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets and the NHL’s New York Islanders, and dozens of A-list musicians and entertainers. The iconic arena will again host the A-10 Championship in 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2021.
2012 A-10 MVP and Player of the Year Andrew Nicholson led St. Bonaventure to the A-10 Championship title—a first for the Bonnies—stirring national buzz as they defeated Saint Joseph’s, UMass, and Xavier. After an unforgettable season, after graduating, Nicholson’s #44 jersey was retired by St. Bonaventure and he was picked 19th overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2012 NBA Draft.
It’s the first season as head coach at VCU for Will Wade, but he’s helped lead the team to victory before. He was an assistant coach for the Rams from 2009-2013, including their unforgettable run from First Four to Final Four in 2011. Under the guidance of Coach Wade, VCU is looking to make history yet again.
Derek Kellogg has been head coach at UMass since 2008, but he made his first appearance for the Minutemen as a point guard in 1991. He was even named captain his junior and senior year. Along with current UMass basketball staffer and A-10 Legend Lou Roe, Kellogg led the team on its Elite Eight run in 1995.
In the Atlantic 10, our performance isn’t just measured by points on a scoreboard. It’s also about the points on our transcripts, and our men’s basketball student-athletes boast years of high graduation success rates to prove it.
In 2006, George Mason was seeded 11th in the NCAA Tournament. That didn’t stop them from playing at the top of their game. Led by Lamar Butler and Jai Lewis, the Patriots advanced to the Final Four. Ten years later, the Patriots are bound for glory under new coach Dave Paulsen, who has already led the team to notable early season victories against Ole Miss and Oklahoma State.
The A-10 received six NCAA bids in 2013-14—a record for the conference. One of those bids went to Saint Louis, who notched an impressive 14-point comeback against NC State during overtime in the second round (one of three consecutive second-round wins for the Billikens). They also claimed three conference titles from 2012 to 2014—two regular season and one championship.
In 2011, Richmond made it to the Sweet Sixteen after eliminating Vanderbilt and Morehead State. Notable Spiders from that season included 2010 A-10 Player of the Year Kevin Anderson, first-team All-Atlantic 10 player Justin Harper, and Darrius Garrett—whose 14 blocks in a single game on January 13, 2010 still ranks in a tie for second-most in NCAA history.
On January 22, 2015, Fordham’s Rose Hill Gym celebrated its 90th birthday. Not only is it the second-oldest gym in Division I basketball, it is one of just 14 arenas to have seen more than 600 wins. In a place so full of history, the Rams are looking to create much more of it themselves in the future.