Checking in on… the CAAPosted by rtmsf on February 16th, 2010
Standings (as of 2/15)
- Northeastern (17-9, 12-3)
- Old Dominion (20-7, 12-3)
- George Mason (16-10, 11-4)
- William & Mary (18-7, 10-5)
- Drexel (15-12, 10-5)
- VCU (17-7, 9-6)
- Hofstra (14-13, 7-8)
- James Madison (11-15, 4-11)
- Georgia State (10-17, 4-11)
- UNC Wilmington (8-18, 4-11)
- Towson (7-18, 4-11)
- Delaware (7-19, 3-12)
Another snowy week struck the CAA schedule. This is not a bold prediction but I guarantee we’re going to get games in the conference tournament that are the caliber of George Mason’s 82-77 overtime win over VCU on Tuesday night. Anyone who caught that game on ESPNU saw a real treat. Despite the snow, Hofstra drew a modest 893 in their game against Drexel Wednesday night. CAA Rookie and co-Player of the Week Drexel’s Chris Fouch left with an injury. Will he miss the rest of the season? Towson postponed its Wednesday night game to Thursday afternoon and gave interim-coach Brooks Lee his first career win as coach of UNC Wilmington. Meanwhile, James Madison walk-on redshirt freshman Ryan Knight was arrested for allegedly throwing snowballs at vehicles that were described as “missiles.” Meanwhile Old Dominion turned in another 20-win season, their fifth in the last six years. Unless there is more snow, the entire league will play on Tuesday night before heading into their weekend BracketBuster matchups in an effort to boost the league RPI.
Important Games This Week
Drexel @ VCU (7pm TCN). VCU has a chance to build some momentum on a three-game homestand starting tonight against Drexel after playing themselves out of the race this week. Drexel, meanwhile, can play themselves further in to gaining a first-round bye with a win but will have to do it without talented redshirt freshman Chris Fouch.
William & Mary @ George Mason (7pm MASN). The Patriots will be without Mike Morrison due to a suspension from Saturday’s game. The Patriot Center is a tough home atmosphere and erupted in their ESPNU win over VCU. It will be interesting to see if the Tribe can come out and get another signature road win.
Last week’s co-Player of the Week Matt Janning scored 29 points this past week on 10-23 shooting (43%) but the Huskies struggled in a road loss at William & Mary on Saturday. Janning had one of his worst road performances of the year, scoring eight points and going 0-5 from long range in a one-point loss. A team with Nkem Ojougbouh and Manny Adako in the frontcourt was outrebounded in both of their games this week. Grabbing open boards has been a problem this year as the Huskies rank 10th in the CAA in rebounding margin and last in offensive rebounds. The three-point shot was off this week as well, as the top CAA three-point shooting team shot just 13-40 (33%) this week. The conference schedule will continue to have winnable games at UNC Wilmington and a home game against Hofstra sandwiched between a BracketBuster against Louisiana Tech.
Old Dominion (12-3)
Despite the snow, the Monarchs crushed the Dukes on the road by 20. Gerald Lee is making his play for first team CAA, scoring 34 points on 12-24 (50%) shooting this week. A sold out Constant Convocation Center saw the Monarchs disrupt the Patriots in a 16-point win where Mason player Mike Morrison get ejected. The Monarchs improved this week from behind the arc. Junior Ben Finney turned in a 19-point, seven assist and seven rebound game. Currently the team ninth in the CAA in three-point field goal percentage shot 15-37 (41%). The one weakness that might be exploited, especially in the road BracketBuster game at Northern Iowa, is their 10th ranked free throw percentage of 65%. A home game against Towson should ensure some momentum going into the week and a road game at Georgia State will be their last conference road test before the conference tournament. A tiebreaker holds the Monarchs in second, as they lost their only game to Northeastern, but they still have a good chance to lock up the top seed.
George Mason (11-4)
Mike Morrison might not have the prettiest shooting stroke, but his basket with 2:46 left tied the game as the Patriot Center exploded in their 82-77 ESPNU televised win over VCU. The Patriots had not won at Old Dominion since 2004 and lost more than that on Saturday when the same Morrison drew two technical fouls and an ejection for yelling at officials. He drew a mandatory one-game suspension and George Mason added on another game so Morrison will be out the whole week for the Patriots. It will be interesting to see if they can keep in the race without him against William & Mary Tuesday night. George Mason has lost its last three road games, two of them by double digits to Drexel and Old Dominion.
William & Mary (10-5)
Kendrix Brown’s jumper with seven seconds left gave the Tribe a 53-52 win over Northeastern. David Schenider has struggled shooting, just 18-73 (25%) since mid-January. Despite that, the Tribe still ranks second in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (36%). One underlying problem that has plagued William & Mary has been turnovers. The Tribe turned over the ball 34 times last week, their highest in a two-game week since the first week of the season. While they had a great performance, making seven threes in a win over Delaware, the Tribe have continued to struggle this month shooting 24-89 (27%) from behind the arc. They will have a chance to carry that momentum to Fairfax against the Patriots and then into a road BracketBuster matchup in New Rochelle against the MAAC’s Iona Gaels.
Redshirt Freshman Chris Fouch returned to his native New York but hurt his left shoulder in the Wednesday night loss at Hofstra. Head coach Bruiser Flint said Fouch’s injury might be a season-ender but he will try to rehab and make it back for the CAA Tournament. Three of the Dragons’ final four games are on the road and we’ll see if the Dragons can keep up their third best defense in the league, holding teams to 39% FG, which they did in a 68-60 win Sunday over Delaware. Jamie Harris scored 16 of his team-high 21 points in the first half to lead the Dragons without Fouch. Look for Harris to step up Tuesday night at VCU, as it will be crucial to their remaining hopes for a first round bye in the conference tournament.
VCU head coach Shaka Smart got his first name in memory of a 19th-century Zulu king who united southern Africa. However, his leadership will be tested this week in the wake of two tough losses. Joey Rodriguez did all he could on Tuesday night, turning in a career high 24 points, but George Mason dealt them an emotional 82-77 overtime loss. In the loss VCU blew another double-digit lead on the road: this time it was as high as 15. VCU ranks third in three point field goal percentage but failed to convert Saturday night at James Madison, making a season-low three from distance in a 76-71 loss. The Rams host the tough Drexel defense on Tuesday before hosting Akron in a BracketBuster game.
As they currently stand, Hofstra can do no worse than their current seed since they hold a three-game lead and every head-to-head tiebreaker over the teams behind them. They are probably locked into the #6 seed since they cannot break a tiebreaker with VCU, who they lost to by 13 at home in their only meeting. There was at least a foot of snow but the show went on at the Mack Sports Arena in a big win over Drexel Wendesday. Junior Charles Jenkins, still working on his argument for Player of the Year, poured in 32 points and fellow junior Greg Washington set Hofstra’s all-time record for career blocks. Senior Cornelius Vines scored a career-high 24 points and tied a school record seven three pointers in a 17-point road win at UNC Wilmington. Jenkins nabbed co-Player of the Week honors and Chaz Williams, who could now be the favorite with Chris Fouch out, won Rookie of the Week. The Pride have a chance to build some momentum in conference at Delaware before hosting the disappointing Rider Broncs in their BracketBuster game.
James Madison (4-11)
Denzel Bowles led the Dukes this week with a team high 29 points and 13 rebounds but the Dukes fell in a makeup game loss at Towson by 4 on Monday. The school was closed but James Madison played the game Wednesday night: it didn’t help as Old Dominion crushed the Dukes at home. The Dukes made a season-low one three-pointer and shot 8% from behind the arc in a 20-point loss. The Dukes went on a 19-2 run early in the second half and Bowles tried to power his Dukes over VCU but fouled out with 7:56 to go. However the Dukes only committed three second half turnovers and held on to win at home by five. The win snapped a four game losing streak. This is one of the two best wins for JMU this year, with VCU (#66 RPI) and a home win over William & Mary (#51).
Georgia State (4-11)
The Panthers have won three games in 2010 and failed to win their second road game of the season, falling at Northeastern and at cellar dwellar Towson in overtime. What let down the Panthers this past week? Georgia State’s defense, which has held teams to 42% from the field and is sixth in conference, let both teams shoot a combined 49% (47-95) despite outrebounding both in each loss. A home game against James Madison is winnable as the bottom five scramble for positioning in the conference tournament.
UNC Wilmington (4-11)
Interim head coach Brooks Lee won his first game after an extra day delay due to snow. The Seahawks have been plagued by all their shortcomings this year. They rank third in free throws attempted at 555 but are the worst in the CAA at 64%. They haven’t been able to generate turnovers, ranking in the bottom of the conference in steals and assist to turnover ratio. Chad Tomko, with two sprained ankles, came out and scored a season high 22 at Towson to get Lee his first win as interim coach. The 17-point loss to Hofstra was a failure to hold the Pride on defense. One bright light to take into next year is the play of Ahmad Grant. Grant scored a career-high 23 points and 48 points on the week on 16-37 (43%) shooting. Grant has improved to where Lee said, “When he gets into the lane off the dribble, his arms are so long and he has a very good vertical, he can jump up and get his shot off over guys. Now that he’s added that to his game, it makes him more difficult to guard at the 3-point line. Now when a defender closes out on him, they have to honor drive and shot as well.”
The Tigers had a two-win week, with two close wins over bottom of the pack teams in the CAA. Tony Franklin made two free throws with 4.8 seconds left for a three-point win Monday over James Madison. Saturday’s three-pointer from Rashawn Polk with 17 seconds left in overtime gave the Tigers a five-point win. Towson has improved over the past week, shooting better than 48% in three straight games. The last time the Tigers shot better than 43% in three straight games was in December. Towson also benefitted from the free throw line, making a season-high 22 free throws in Monday’s win and converting 83% in Saturday’s overtime win. The Tigers hit a rough road trip which will take them from Williamsburg to Riverdale to play the MAAC’s Manhattan Jaspers after a mid-week matchup at William & Mary.
The Blue Hens could only generate enough offense to win one game this week as they fell to last place in the CAA. Delaware shot 63-178 (35%) on the week. Jawan Carter led Delaware with 54 points on the week but the Blue Hens struggled with perimeter defense, allowing 18 three-pointers in three games. The Blue Hens rank last in the conference in field goal percentage; three point field goal percentage and blocked shots.