Archie Miller didn’t wear a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey to Atlantic 10 Media Day at PPG Paints Arena. When asked if he considered it, he laughed and admitted it hasn’t been a good week for his hometown team, which lost to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
Anyway, this was a suit-and-tie day for A-10 coaches, who gathered at the home of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 2016 Stanley Cup championship banner hung over the ice Tuesday as the coaches talked to the media. They will return to the building in March for the Atlantic 10 tournament.
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For the second straight year, Miller’s Flyers begin the season as the preseason favorite. They received 16 of 28 first-place votes from a panel of head coaches and select media members. Last season, Dayton finished 25-8 and shared the regular-season championship at 14-4 with Virginia Commonwealth and St. Bonaventure. The Flyers return four starters.
Miller took the sign of respect as a good thing because his teams haven’t always been so highly regarded in the preseason poll. In Miller’s first three seasons, they were picked sixth in 2011, eighth in 2012 and seventh in 2013.
“We don’t get really caught up in the preseason predictions and all that,” Miller said. “We were picked to finish first last year and (third) the year before. I’m proud of that. There’s great coaches in this league I’ve got a lot of respect for. The media members who cover our league really know our league. If you’re picked at the top, to me you have to have a sense of pride and feel good about that because there’s some people who really know what’s going on within our league who feel we’re pretty good.”
Rhode Island received the other 12 first-place votes and was picked to finish second. VCU, Davidson, St. Bonaventure, Richmond, La Salle, George Washington, St. Joseph’s, Massachusetts, Fordham, George Mason, Duquesne and Saint Louis followed.
Miller also liked the individual accolades three of his seniors received in preseason voting. Guard Charles Cooke was named to the first team along with Davidson’s Jack Gibbs, George Washington’s Tyler Cavanaugh, Richmond’s T.J. Cline and St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams.
Point guard Scoochie Smith received his first all-conference honor of any sort. He was named to the second team along with La Salle’s Jordan Price, Rhode Island’s Hassan Martin and E.C. Matthews and VCU’s Mo Alie-Cox.
Cooke and guard Kyle Davis made the all-defensive team. Martin, Alie-Cox and VCU’s JeQuan Lewis joined them.
Cooke and Smith know how hard it will be to bring home the trophy.
“When it comes to conference play, everybody wants to win, including us,” said Cooke, who was back in Dayton with the rest of the players for the unveiling of new uniforms at UD Arena.
“I think it shows a good testimony of how good our team is,” Smith said, “and what we did last year in the conference and how good we can be this year.”