Checking in on… the CAA

Posted by jstevrtc on January 11th, 2010

Ryan Restivo of the MAAC-based SienaSaintsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association.

Standings (as of 1/10):

  1. William & Mary (12-3, 4-1)
  2. Old Dominion (12-5, 4-1)
  3. George Mason (9-7, 4-1)
  4. Northeastern (9-7, 4-1)
  5. Drexel (8-9, 3-2)
  6. VCU (10-4, 2-3)
  7. James Madison (8-7, 2-3)
  8. Hofstra (9-8, 2-3)
  9. Georgia State (8-9, 2-3)
  10. UNC Wilmington (6-9, 2-3)
  11. Delaware (5-11, 1-4)
  12. Towson (3-11, 0-5)

Important Games This Week:

Wed 1/13

  • Delaware @ Northeastern — Northeastern will likely run their winning streak to eight matching a winning streak from five years ago.
  • Old Dominion @ UNC Wilmington — Wilmington is a good sleeper candidate, they face a tough week playing ODU and then going to hot Northeastern.

Sat 1/16

  • George Mason @ James Madison — Another tough road test for the Patriots, who only have one road win all season. They’ve lost their last two road games by 25 and 27 and the Dukes are 5-1 at home this season.

Team Reviews:

William & Mary (4-1)

Monday night The Tribe snapped their school-record tying 10 game win streak on a John Fields tip in with 3.4 seconds to go. The Tribe tied a 1929-30 record with that 10 game win streak. Not only were they outrebounded in the second half, 29-16, but they gave up 13 offensive rebounds in the second half alone. William & Mary senior forward Steven Hess put it best, “I think teams are going to come after us on the boards now. We just kind of got manhandled inside.” On Wednesday senior David Schneider nailed a three pointer with 2.8 seconds left to give the Tribe a 74-73 overtime win at Delaware. Schneider scored 11 of his season-high 26 points in overtime. His first three pointer set a new school record for threes with 224. Saturday the Tribe shot 65.2% in the second half and the defense held Drexel to a 24.1% field goal percentage in a 73-48 rout. Sophomore Quinn McDowell led all scorers with 20 points and has scored at least one point in every single game in his career.

Old Dominion (4-1)

The Monarchs made a position switch Monday night moving sophomore Kent Bazemore to point guard, senior Gerald Lee to small forward and junior Darius James came off the bench to play shooting guard. All of the switches paid off this week. Lee scored a team-high 19, Bazemore set career highs in points (14) and assists (9) as Old Dominion cruised to a 16 point win over Towson. Wednesday night wasn’t as easy. After a crucial block with the game tied, ODU went on a two-on-one break leading to Ben Finney’s layup with 13 seconds to go to beat the Dukes, 74-72. Bazemore beat his career high again with 19 points and had only one turnover. On Saturday, the Monarchs shot a season-low 33.3% from the field but held on to a lead as large as 15 in a 57-46 win over Hofstra. Making 14-34 free throws, (41.2%) the Monarchs struggled to barely beat their season worst free throw percentage when they made just 2-5 at Georgetown.

George Mason (4-1)

Sophomore Ryan Pearson scored 10 of his team-high 17 points in the final 5:40 in a hard fought 67-63 win over Hofstra  on Monday. The Patriots made 14-18 free throws in the second half, making eight in the final three minutes to seal the win. Sophomore Andre Cornelius and freshman Luke Hancock scored 21 of their combined 24 points in the second half. On Wednesday the Patriots got run over by Northeastern’s three-point barrage in a blowout loss,  71-46. The Huskies went on a 14-3 run to secure a double-digit lead. Ryan Pearson led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds.  On Saturday, the Patriots reversed their performance by using runs of 16-1 and 10-3 to take a double-digit lead they would never give up in a 13-point win over UNC Wilmington. Sophomore Mike Morrison led the way with a team-high 15 points.

Northeastern (4-1)

Northeastern, the only team to beat the Rams in their last 23 home games, won by forcing the Rams to take outside shots and playing tough defense in a 62-57 win. Manny Adako scored a season-high 23 points on 11-14 shooting. Chaisson Allen followed up Thursday, tying a career-high making six three-pointers in a 71-46 win over George Mason. The Huskies stifled the young Patriots at home committing a season-low eight turnovers to a season-high 16 assists. To cap it off Saturday, Matt Janning led the way with a season-high 23 points on 8-15 shooting as the Huskies shot 51.2% in a 66-54 victory at Georgia State. The Huskies are currently on a seven game winning streak, their best since their eight game win streak in the 2004-05 season.

Drexel (3-2)

The Dragons started out hot and never surrendered the lead at Georgia State, shooting a season high 68% in the first half and getting a career-high 32 points from Jamie Harris, in a 72-57 win Monday night. Wednesday, Drexel snapped a seven game losing streak against VCU with a 75-72 win. Gerald Colds and Chris Fouch each scored 19 points. Harris helped stifle VCU’s aggressive defense with 15 points and 8 assists. Saturday was a completely different story as Drexel shot a season-low 24.1% from the field in a 25 point home loss to William & Mary. Gerald Colds led the way for the Dragons with 15 points.

VCU (2-3)

The Rams started out with a 21-4 run, but went cold making just four of their next 21 shots and Northeastern grinded out baskets dealing the Rams a 62-57 loss. Larry Sanders (10 points) was forced to take outside shots and made his first field goal with 17:25 left. Northeastern never let VCU get to the bonus, a team that averaged 17.8 free throws made per game going into the game, forcing them into a season-low four free throws (they hit three). The last time VCU made three or fewer free throws in a game was a February 17, 2007 loss against Bradley (3 for 8), a span of 84 games. On Wednesday, VCU made 20 of 21 free throws but Sanders missed the only one with a chance tie the game with 13.1 seconds left in a 75-72 road loss to Drexel. VCU’s best defender Ed Nixon played only one minute and that played into the hands of Drexel’s hot shooting (10-17) from behind the arc. Derek Burgess scored a career high 30 points on 9-14 shooting. Saturday the Rams had to go without Larry Sanders due to a one game suspension for hitting Drexel’s Evan Neisler but junior Brandon Rozzell led the way scoring a career-high 19 points as VCU was able to coast past Delaware 77-64.

James Madison (2-3)

The Dukes found out sophomore Andrey Semenov’s lingering back issue will cost him the season. Last Saturday’s one game suspension for Denzel Bowles was for three alcohol-related misdemeanors on New Year’s Day. Bowles and Julius Wells combined to shoot 22-41 (53.6%) while the rest of the team combined to take only 18 shots in the Dukes’ 71-65 win over Delaware. Wells, however, could not hit a three pointer with time expiring in a 74-72 loss at Old Dominion. The Dukes made one field goal in the final four and a half minutes. A clutch Ben Louis three pointer with 1.5 seconds left gave the Dukes a 69-66 win over Towson. Wells went for 23 points, scoring 20+ points in each game this week, and Bowles added 21. The star power of Wells (76 points) and Bowles (64 points) combined for two-thirds of the Dukes scoring (212 points) this week.

Hofstra (2-3)

Freshman Chaz Williams scored a career-high 20 points but junior Charles Jenkins was held to 11 points as Hofstra lost 67-63 to George Mason. Halil Kanacevic had a career-high 18 points, 10 rebounds and career-high 5 blocks in Hofstra’s 77-61 Wednesday win over Towson. Williams scored 14 of his 16 points in the first half, leading Hofstra on a 20-6 run to close out the first half. Hofstra could not keep the momentum, struggling in the half court and could not close the gap late in a 57-46 Saturday loss at Old Dominion. Jenkins, their only double-digit scorer on the night, led the way with 18 points. The Pride turned the ball over 21 times, one off their season-high.

Georgia State (2-3)

Head coach Ron Barnes said the Panthers got a wake up call Monday night, but he needed one for the whole week. The Panthers struggled, trailing by as many as 21 points in a 72-57 home loss to Drexel, snapping an eight game home win streak. Wednesday night, Trae Goldston missed a potential game-tying three with 24 seconds left in a 57-50 loss to UNC Wilmington. Joe Dukes had a team-high 21 points on 8-23 shooting but the rest of the team shot 30.7% for the game. Georgia State saw an early lead evaporate Saturday versus Northeastern, and an 11-0 Huskies run put them in control in a 12-point home loss. The Panthers had closed the Northeastern lead to two at halftime, but the Huskies stormed out on a 16-3 run to put the game out of reach. Dukes (15 points) led the way on 5-13 shooting. The Panthers have been plagued by poor shooting and have shot under 40% in 10 of their 17 games this season. The Panthers were outrebounded this week by 17 (106-91).

UNC Wilmington (2-3)

Chad Tomko’s layup missed but John Fields fought successfully for the tip in with 3.5 seconds left to beat William & Mary, 62-61. UNC Wilmington had the lead only three times, twice with under a minute to go. They beat the Tribe on the glass by outrebounding William & Mary 45-34, which included 19 offensive rebounds. On Wednesday, Fields scored 13 points and grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds to lift UNC Wilmington in a 57-50 win over Georgia State, despite the Seahawks shooting 34.6% in the second half. Tomko, cousin of major league pitcher Brett Tomko, added 6 of his 10 points in the second half. Saturday was a different story. Fields got frustrated against swarming George Mason defenders and the Seahawks struggled to score, falling at George Mason, 59-46. Fields, constantly double- and triple-teamed, scored only four points as they disrupted his post game and tempted him to go to his weak side. Turnovers plagued the Seahawks as they have turned the ball over 20 times or more in four of their last five games.

Delaware  (1-4)

Jawan Carter had a career-high 11 assists and scored double digit points (18) for the seventh straight game but the Blue Hens could not extend their two-game win streak, falling 71-65 at James Madison on Monday. Wednesday was an even better chance for their second CAA win; Jawan Carter made a three pointer with 22 seconds left to send the game to overtime but the Blue Hens could not hold their largest lead of the game — up by seven with 32 seconds left — in a tough 74-73 loss to William & Mary. The Blue Hens shot a season-best 12-26 from three-point range. Sophomore Adam Pegg scored ten at James Madison and set a new career high of 13 against the Tribe. On Saturday, Delaware missed their first eight shots of the second half and could not recover as VCU put them away, 77-64.  Carter, the only double-digit scorer for the Blue Hens, scored 22 points. Delaware has lost 14 straight conference road games.

Towson (0-5)

Head Coach Pat Kennedy notched his second career ejection in 893 games when he drew two straight technical fouls with 8:56 to go as Old Dominion blew out his Tigers, 87-71, on Monday night. Towson shot 48.3% against a tough defense, their best since their season-opening win over Miami (Ohio) when they shot 52.6%, but they were outrebounded by 21. Wednesday, Robert Nwankwo had his fourth double-double of the season (14 points, 10 rebounds) while recording a team-high six blocks but the Tigers could not close the gap, losing 77-61 at Hofstra. The Tigers tied a team high in free throws made (20) but tied a team low in field goals made (19). On Saturday, the Tigers held the lead twice in the last two and half minutes but JMU got a three pointer from Ben Louis to deal the Tigers a 69-66 loss. The Tigers are on a six game losing streak and are the only team yet to record a win in the CAA.

When not covering the CAA for Rush The Court, Ryan writes about Fantasy Baseball on and writes on his own website: Ryan is busy being immersed in baseball draft prep and has a very cool Fantasy Baseball project for drafts. You can contact him here.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #13 – CAA

Posted by rtmsf on October 24th, 2009


Ryan Kish of George Mason Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Old Dominion (14-4)
  2. Northeastern (13-5)
  3. George Mason (12-6)
  4. Virginia Commonwealth (12-6)
  5. James Madison (11-7)
  6. Hofstra (10-8)
  7. Georgia State (9-9)
  8. Drexel (8-10)
  9. Delaware (6-12)
  10. Towson (5-13)
  11. UNC-Wilmington (5-13)
  12. William & Mary (3-15)

All-Conference Team:

  • Charles Jenkins (G), Hofstra
  • Matt Janning (G), Northeastern
  • Cam Long (G), George Mason
  • Gerald Lee (F), ODU
  • Larry Sanders (F), VCU

6th Man. Sherrod Wright, George Mason

Impact Newcomer. Rashanti Harris, Georgia State

caa logoWhat You Need to Know:

  • The CAA returns 73 percent of last year’s starters (44 of 60).
  • Last season the CAA sent five teams to the postseason.
  • Fifteen of the league’s top twenty scorers return.
  • ESPN ranked George Mason’s recruiting class #1 amongst mid-majors.
  • Six teams finished with 18 or more wins last season.
  • VCU’s Larry Sanders already picking up nation preseason honors here, here, and here.

Predicted ChampionOld Dominion (NCAA Seed:  #9). The Monarchs return six players who made 13 or more starts last season, including All-CAA Gerald Lee, who is my vote for preseason POY.  Lee stepped up as a leader last season, especially late in the year at the CAA tournament. Along side Lee forward Frank Hassell gives them probably the best one-two punch frontcourt in the league. Guard Darius James is poised for a breakout season and was deadly from 3-pt land last year, so his growth could be the key to ODU being the league’s most balanced squad.  Add freshman stud Josh Hicks to the mix and you got a whole lot of talent walking into CAA arenas this season.  Will it be the right mix of talent and experience to run through the competitive CAA regular season?  Head coach Blaine Taylor has lived in the shadow of George Mason and VCU lately despite winning 119 games over the last five years. This is his best squad on paper since 2005.

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2008-09 Season Primers: #12 – Colonial

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2008

Ryan Kish of George Mason Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Conference (CAA).

Predicted order of finish:

  1. VCU
  2. Northeastern
  3. George Mason
  4. Old Dominion
  5. Delaware
  6. Georgia State
  7. Hofstra
  8. James Madison
  9. William & Mary
  10. UNC-Wilmington
  11. Towson
  12. Drexel

WYN2K.  Last season was a letdown for the CAA faithful after two seasons of multiple bids and tournament wins over historical powerhouses to becoming a single bid conference with that team losing in a first round rout.  The 2006 and 2007 NCAA tournament victories from George Mason and VCU have set the bar for this conference so that now just getting to the NCAA tournament and avoiding a blowout isn’t the criteria for a successful season anymore.  Last season George Mason looked as if they were riding that magic carpet again, running through the CAA tournament and snagging that automatic bid after a rollercoaster season, only to be sent home early from the Big Dance by the three point onslaught of Notre Dame.  This conference returns 65% of its starters and has some exciting freshmen and transfers entering the mix, but are they poised for another successful March?

Predicted Champion.  VCU (#10 Seed NCAA).  Tough call this season, as always in the competitive CAA, but the pick has to go VCU. Last season the Rams were atop the conference standings all season, only to stumble in the conference tournament. The selection comes mostly because of the experience of head coach Anthony Grant and reigning conference MVP Eric Maynor, whose slaying of Duke in the 2007 NCAA Tournament might have just been a preview of things to come as he enters his senior year.  Sophomore Larry Sanders is another name to watch for this Rams squad as a defensive force in the front court.  Last season Sanders only started half of the season’s games yet led the team in rebounding (5.2) and blocked shots (3.0).  Speaking of Maynor…


Others Considered. Not to be overlooked are the Huskies of Northeastern who return their entire starting lineup and top nine scorers from last season including Matt Janning who could challenge Eric Maynor for conference MVP.  Old Dominion and George Mason have been very successful programs for the conference in recent history as both are well coached and can potentially challenge the likes of VCU and Northeastern.  Make no mistake that this could be another season for the CAA in which an ankle sprain or two in March could determine the conference champion. 

Newcomers.  Last season Delaware was atop the standings for most of the season with the success brought on by transfers Marc Egerson (Georgetown) and Jim Ledsome (Nebraska) becoming eligible.  Look for the same thing to happen at Georgia State this season.  Head coach Rod Barnes (2001 Naismith Coach of the Year), who had to endure a season watching his reserve team of transfer players best his team’s current starters each practice, could be the CAA’s hot new coach this season.  Georgia State returns all-CAA guard Leonard Mendez (16 ppg) who will be surrounded by big school talent with the additions of Trey Hampton and Xavier Hansbro (former player of Barnes at Ole Miss), point guard Joe Dukes (Wake Forest), forward Bernard Rimmer (Mississippi State) and guard Dante Curry (South Florida).  George Mason and UNCW had the best recruiting success this past off-season.  Mason was able to nab point guard Andre Cornelius and forward Ryan Pearson from the lure of the BCS schools while UNCW locked up forward Kevon Moore and guard Jerel Stephson.  All of these are players that could be playing in bigger conferences and are likely the most Division I ready freshmen entering the CAA this year.

Games to Watch. 

  • George Mason at VCU  (01.24.09)
  • Northeastern at VCU  (01.28.09)
  • VCU at Old Dominion  (02.14.09)
  • Northeastern at George Mason  (02.14.09)
  • Old Dominion at Northeastern  (02.28.09)

RPI Booster Games.  The CAA has had success in recent years against out of conferences foes, both mid-major and BCS. This season the conference favorites don’t have a whole lot of opportunity to make a splash early on but their definitely is some winnable games against some notable programs that could start the multiple bid talk early.

  • James Madison at Davidson  (11.17.08)
  • Georgia State at Georgia Tech (12.17.08)
  • VCU at Oklahoma (12.20.08)
  • Winthrop at Old Dominion  (12.20.08)
  • Northeastern at Indiana  (12.22.08)
  • George Mason at Dayton  (12.30.08)
  • Northeastern at Memphis (12.31.08)

Odds of Multiple NCAA Bids.  Fairly likely.  VCU has a real chance of winning an at-large bid this season should they not grab the automatic bid from the conference tournament.  Northeastern’s tough schedule could hinder them from a possible at-large birth. Starting at the end of November the Huskies are on the road five of six games before heading into conference play. Ouch.  George Mason and Old Dominion don’t have much on the OOC slate which would mean they don’t have a lot of margin for error in the early part of their schedules.  With the bottom half of the conference steadily improving, the RPI numbers could be good enough to get a team an at-large bid if they have between 14-16 conference wins. 

65 Team Era.  From 1987-2005, the CAA was a one-bid league.  Of course, that changed in a big way in 2006, when two teams were invited to the NCAA Tournament and George Mason became the greatest Cinderella to make the F4 in history.  Two more teams were invited in 2007, and while only George Mason was invited in 2008, there’s no reason to think that the CAA is not a conference generally on the rise.  The CAA is 15-27 (.357) in the era, which definitely ranks it as one of the higher mid-major conferences.  Hey, we gotta throw it in – this never gets old…

Final Thoughts.  Last season proved that the depth of this conference is improving as annual bottom-feeders James Madison, Delaware and William & Mary all made noise at some point in the season. Look for that trend to continue as even the newest CAA members Georgia State and Northeastern could be contending for the top of the standings come March.  That is not to say the big boys of the conference have declined. George Mason, VCU, Old Dominion, and UNCW all bring more talent this season than the conference has ever seen.  The experience of the coaches on the sideline this season is a big asset for this conference and could spell trouble for opposing teams at the Big Dance. The team(s) that make it to the Big Dance this season could be poised for some not-so-much of an upset victories.

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