CAA Tourney PreviewPosted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2009
Ryan Kish of George Mason Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the CAA. He will be reporting from the CAA Tournament this weekend in Richmond, Va.
Having the privilege of attending this weekend’s CAA conference tournament, I’d like to share the fact that it’s probably going to be one of the most exciting in the country. Starting this Saturday I will be liveblogging the most intriguing game from the sidelines for the CAA faithful (see RTC Live sidebar). Choosing which game will be very difficult as almost any match-up will be worthy. This weekend you will get an in-depth hands-on look into the tournament and some insight on what to expect.
The term “favorite” is kind of a loose term this season in the CAA, and even though VCU was picked by the coaches and media to be where they are now, any CAA fan will tell you that #1 seed won’t guarantee a championship visit. The Rams have ridden the success of Eric Maynor as he guided his young squad through the CAA schedule but not without their share of bumps and bruises. Nearly every team in the top of the conference has lost a game or two to the bottom dwellers and much can be said about the fact that VCU only had to face George Mason and Northeastern once each. But despite that the Rams have shown more consistency in an unstable CAA and they have the tools to run the table in Richmond. Head coach Anthony Grant has been here before and Eric Maynor is continuing to make his teammates better even with scoring 25+ a night. Forward Larry Sanders has been having a sensational season to date, on both ends of the court. His play in the front court will be huge for the Rams. VCU plays an aggressive, rough, in-your-face kind of game and that’s exactly the kind of squad I’d like to avoid in a single elimination tournament. At times this season that same aggressiveness has led to trouble but if they can keep it under control and they will be the most dangerous team this weekend.
Dark horse: Hofstra
Although outside of the top 4, the Pride of Hofstra could be a team surprisingly in the semi-finals. Head coach Tom Pecora is one of the best coaches in the CAA and knows how to get the most out of his players during tournament time. Hofstra has been playing their best basketball leading up to this weekend and getting hot at the right time is always key in the post season. They have one of the league’s best offensive players in Charles Jenkins, who has the ability to give you 30 points and 10 assists on any given day. What they lack in front court strength they make up for with exceptional defense and have been keeping teams under 65 points all season.
Team that could bust your bracket: George Mason
This year’s George Mason squad is probably the team out of the CAA that could do the most damage in the NCAA tournament, should they reach it. The Patriots sport a scoring defense that is atop the NCAA and have an experienced coach who knows a thing or two about winning in March. They are not the most talented squad in the CAA but they are the most balanced. A balanced, defensively-minded squad can get it done in March, even against the high-majors.