A-10: Greetings From America's Playground

By - October 24, 2006

Perhaps my guiltiest pleasure this side of Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor album is my lifelong affinity for Atlantic City -- which, for whatever quirks it may have, is one of my three or four favorite towns in the United States. So I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my Tuesday morning than paying a rare autumn visit to America's Playground and attending Atlantic 10 media day at Boardwalk Hall, where the conference will hold its 2007 and 2008 postseason tournaments.

With the Rolling Stones prepping the arena proper for their concert Friday night, the media event was held in an adjacent practice gym. (Commissioner Linda Bruno quipped that Mick Jagger sent his apologies for not attending in her opening remarks.) Though I’ve never seen an actual basketball game played at Boardwalk Hall, I can’t imagine a more beautiful room for a sporting event from a purely aesthetic standpoint. As the last major structure remaining from the city’s heyday as a seaside resort, Boardwalk Hall was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. Ornate columns and a lavish, barrel-vaulted ceiling give the room a unique and museum-like feel and will make for a unique hoop experience -- starting with the Atlantic City Lenape Trail Classic game between Temple and Cincinnati on Dec. 9 and culminating in March with the A-10 tournament, back on the east coast following a four-year jaunt in Ohio.

Xavier is the overwhelming favorite to win the conference in a poll of the league’s head coaches and media, collecting 59 of the 64 first-place votes. The Musketeers return all five starters, including all-conference first-teamer Stanley Burrell, from last year’s A-10 tournament champs.

The complete predicted order of finish is as follows:

1. Xavier (59 first-place votes)
2. Massachusetts (4)
3. Saint Louis
4. Charlotte (1)
5. George Washington
6. Dayton
7. Fordham
8. Saint Joseph’s
9. Temple
10. La Salle
11. Rhode Island
12. Richmond
13. Duquesne
14. St. Bonaventure

More to come from A.C., including interviews with Xavier coach Sean Miller, UMass coach Travis Ford and irrepressible and follically challenged St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli.

Posted by at 01:24 PM on October 24, 2006

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