RTC Championship Previews: Colonial Athletic Association

Posted by CNguon on March 8th, 2013

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Mark Selig is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. You can find more of his written work at jamesmadison.rivals.com or on Twitter @MarkRSelig.

CAA Tournament Matchups/Predictions

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QUARTERFINALS

#4 George Mason vs. #5Drexel, Saturday, 3:30 p.m. — If you were to tell me last March that Mason and Drexel would meet in the first round of the CAA tournament, I would have said, “Really? What happened? Did four teams become ineligible for the tournament while the Patriots and Dragons underperformed?” And the March 2012 version of me would have been strangely prescient. But this is a heavyweight bout in Round 1, and the winner could certainly take the whole fruit basket. The teams split two regular season matchups, with each road team winning. Mason blew a 20-point first-half lead in its loss, but for the most part, both games came down to the final eight minutes, when the teams traded leads. This one should also go to the wire —and I’ve got Mason barely holding on in a thrilling opener to the weekend.

Pick: George Mason 62, Drexel 61

#2 Delaware vs. #7 Hofstra, Saturday, 6 p.m. — Hofstra, in this writer’s opinion, is the only team of the seven incapable of winning the tournament. Which means that Delaware, which hasn’t reached the semifinals since 2003, should finally make the final four. The Hens have weapons all over the court, while Hofstra counts on the same few players to log big minutes and try to make something happen. There won’t be many blowouts this weekend, but this game has a chance to be over quickly if Delaware shoots the ball well in the first half. Hofstra’s best gameplan is to limit possessions, remain within striking distance, and catch some second-half breaks. The Pride can hang around, but won’t seriously threaten.

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CIO…the Colonial Athletic Association

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 2nd, 2013

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Mark Selig is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. You can also find more of his written work at jamesmadison.rivals.com or on Twitter @MarkRSelig.

Conference POY Race

  1. Sherrod Wright, George Mason: If Mason is the top team in the CAA, then Wright is the league’s top player. He’s led the unbalanced Patriots in scoring in nine of the first 12 games, averaging 17.5 PPG a night. Wright has been super-efficient, too. He’s making 54.5 percent of his field goals, 45.5 percent of his threes, and his 61.9 percent effective field goal average ranks second in the league. The junior guard has scored 20-plus points in each of Mason’s last four games.
  2. Jerrelle Benimon, Towson: The Georgetown transfer is sixth in the league in scoring (16.2 PPG) and second in rebounding (11.6 RPG). Forget about the stats, though. Benimon’s toughness has transformed Towson into a competitor overnight. He’s a 6’8”, 245-pound pick-up truck that has hauled the Tigers to five wins already after a season in which they won just one game. Most impressive was his performance against Oregon State, in which Benimon played all 45 minutes of the overtime road win.
  3. Marcus Thornton, William & Mary: The Tribe’s point guard has made the sophomore leap, and is now an elite backcourt player in the CAA. While W&M’s schedule has been soft, Thornton has still led his team to wins. Until that stops, he’ll be among the front-runners for POY honors. The Upper Marlboro, Maryland, native is averaging 18.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
  4. Keith Rendleman, UNC-Wilmington: Five double-doubles through 12 games is par for the course for the senior forward who’s been doing this since his breakout sophomore year. Maybe the most gifted all-around forward in the league, Rendleman inspires hope on an otherwise inconsistent roster. His 16.2 points per game are a career best, and his 9.7 rebounds per contest aren’t far behind last year’s average of 10 RPG.
  5. Damion Lee, Drexel: Lee’s teammate, junior point guard Frantz Massenat, was the preseason pick for this award, but Lee has been the most impressive member of the Dragons’ backcourt. The sophomore is averaging 18.8 points per game, and just finished off a December in which he averaged 21.5 PPG. Lee is asked to do more this year, and his shooting percentages have dipped a bit, but that doesn’t diminish his value. The 6’6” Baltimore native is also averaging 5.4 rebounds per contest.

Reader’s Take 



Power Rankings

With the start of the conference play gearing up for (mostly) everyone this week, today’s power poll will discuss the best non-conference win for each team:

  1. George Mason: The Patriots beat Virginia to start the season, but that’s become commonplace for the CAA (which is 3-0 against UVA this year). More impressive was their 67-64 win over Richmond at the Richmond Coliseum on December 22. Mason has struggled a bit on the road this year, but that victory – capped by a Sherrod Wright buzzer-beating three-pointer – shows its ability to take care of business outside the Patriot Center.
  2. Drexel: This is a no-brainer for the Dragons, whose only other wins were against two Ivy League schools and Rice. Drexel finally notched a quality win on December 22 when it imposed its defensive will on Southern Conference favorite Davidson, and sophomore guard Damion Lee poured in 26 points en route to a 69-58 win. The Wildcats have a top-100 RPI, and have been impressive amidst a super-tough non-conference schedule. But Drexel, at home, was able to limit them.

    Damion Lee Is One Of The CAA's Top Scorers, But Drexel Struggled In Non-Conference Play.

    Damion Lee Is One Of The CAA’s Top Scorers, But Drexel Struggled In Non-Conference Play.

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CIO… the Colonial Athletic Association

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 12th, 2012

Mark Selig is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. You can also find more of his written work at jamesmadison.rivals.com or on Twitter @MarkRSelig.

Looking Back

  • Future Tournaments In Charm City: After 24 straight years at the Richmond Coliseum, the annual CAA Tournament is uprooting and moving north. Beginning next season and running through 2016, Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena (basketball capacity: 11,800) will host the league’s crown jewel event. When VCU left the CAA for the Atlantic 10, a significant chunk of the tournament’s Richmond fan base left with it. That opened the door for the CAA to negotiate a new venue – something the league’s northern schools have clamored for, citing the Rams’ unfair home court advantage. Baltimore quickly made an aggressive push to host, and the CAA announced Wednesday that its tournament would feast on crab cakes for three years, beginning in 2014. While the league office is located in Richmond, and the city is roughly centralized geographically, the projected drop-off in attendance from VCU’s departure made the location and its dingy arena a bit less appealing. Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena (opened in 1962 as the Baltimore Civic Center) is no state-of-the-art building, but it will at least help showcase the Colonial to a new town.

bmore charm city

  • Remember When We Used To Do This More Often?: VCU and Old Dominion, two teams that combined to win the last four CAA championships, met up again in Norfolk, Virginia, for their first non-conference game. VCU left last summer for the Atlantic 10, while Old Dominion announced its plans to defect this summer for Conference USA. Meanwhile, the teams gave us another chance to pine for the days of Frank Hassell battling Jamie Skeen on the low block. This match-up had appeal but not much on the line. The Rams cruised to a 13-point halftime lead and maintained it throughout the second half, sending the Monarchs deeper into their early-season slump. Au revoir, ODU and VCU.
  • Tigers Roar, At Last: Towson earned its first win over a plus-.500 team since February 2010, beating Vermont, 68-64. Its next game, though a loss, was just as impressive. The Tigers went to the wire against Georgetown in a slug-it-out defensive battle. Before the season we predicted in this space that Towson would be the CAA team no one wants to play, even if it isn’t in the top tier. That appears to be true. The Tigers have won the rebounding battle in their last eight games, and have a genuine star in forward Jerrelle Benimon.
  • Another Losing Week: The CAA conglomerate once again failed to reach .500 last week. But its 9-12 record actually brought the league’s season-long non-conference winning percentage up to .385. That’s mark ranks 21st among all conferences. The league’s RPI (#24) is even worse. The CAA has taken a fast nose-dive after losing VCU. Last year the league held the 14th-best RPI, and the previous season it was ninth, one spot ahead of the Atlantic 10 (the league to which VCU defected in a strictly basketball move).

Reader’s Take

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CIO… the Colonial Athletic Association

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2012

Mark Selig is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. You can also find more of his written work at jamesmadison.rivals.com or on Twitter @MarkRSelig.

Looking Back

  • A Sunny New CAA Destination: After more than a month of negotiations, the CAA announced Friday that it will add the College of Charleston as a full-time member beginning next July. C of C, located in a prime tourism spot, will be the Colonial’s 10th full member once Old Dominion and Georgia State are gone (it will also be the southernmost, and strangely enough, the westernmost in longitude). Charleston, coached by Doug Wojcik, went 19-12 last season, and should fit into the top half of CAA basketball after leaving the weaker Southern Conference. Commissioner Tom Yeager said he isn’t necessarily done shopping for new members, but won’t pull the trigger on any school unless it’s the right fit.
  • Four Hofstra Players Arrested, Suspended: Hours after the Charleston announcement was made, this less cheerful news broke: Jimmy Hall, Shaquille Stokes, Kentrell Washington and Dallas Anglin were arrested and charged in six burglaries that took place on Hofstra’s campus. They are charged with stealing laptops, cell phones, and money in October and November. All players pled not guilty, but each is suspended from school until the case is resolved. Putting aside the more important societal issues, it’s a big blow to coach Mo Cassara’s team. Hall, an early Rookie of the Year favorite, was the Pride’s second leading scorer and top rebounder. Stokes, a Hawaii transfer, averaged 10 points per game in his first year with the Pride.
  • Another Weak Week: The CAA continued its brutal non-conference stretch by going 3-13 this week (not including the one intra-conference game between William & Mary and Old Dominion). The CAA has won just 40 percent of its games this year (32-47 combined record outside the conference) and looks like a definite one-bid league. Who’ll get that bid? No one has stood out thus far. While there’s still plenty of season left, the majority of the non-conference portion will wind down at the end of the month. The CAA has done nothing through November, though, to earn it much respect nationally.

Tim Rusthoven is putting together an excellent junior season for William & Mary, but without winning the conference tournament, he may not get a chance to play on the big stage.

Reader’s Take

 

Power Rankings

  1. George Mason (5-3) – Maryland was just a bit too big, fast, and defensively imposing for George Mason, who played the Terrapins tight in a neutral-site game last weekend. Still, the Patriots can build on some things from that defeat. They turned the Terps over 19 times and limited future first-round draft pick Alex Len to 12 points. Freshman Patrick Holloway has emerged as a wild card for the Pats, hitting four threes and scoring 17 points in that game against Maryland. Unfortunately for Holloway, his three double-digit scoring games have come in the Patriots’ three losses. Still, the skinny hometown guard is stealing minutes from more veteran players and could really flourish once CAA play comes around. Holloway had announcers comparing him to Stephen Curry . Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the CAA

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 28th, 2011

Michael Litos is the RTC correspondent for the CAA. You can also find his musings online at caahoops.com or on Twitter @caahoops.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • From GSU To JMU: Georgia State is being lauded for its ninth straight win, a school record. But the Panthers aren’t alone in their high quality play. VCU has won six in a row and seven of its last eight. The Rams’ six victories have all been by double digits, which is the first time they have accomplished that feat since 1973-74. Drexel has captured its last four games, George Mason has claimed six of its last eight contests, and James Madison has won five of its last six, including three in a row on the road.
  • From CAA To NBA: Since it was a light week for the current CAA players and the NBA season beginning stole headlines, this is a good time to spotlight recent grads. The CAA is well-represented with five players on NBA roster. Former CAA players include Northeastern’s J.J. Barea (Minnesota Timberwolves), Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins (Golden State Warriors), VCU’s Eric Maynor (Oklahoma City Thunder), Towson’s Gary Neal (San Antonio Spurs) and VCU’s Larry Sanders (Milwaukee Bucks). The Association has had a player drafted into the Association the past three years (Maynor, Sanders, and Jenkins).
  • From HS SR To NCAA FR: Freshmen are seeing significant playing time around the CAA this season. All 12 teams have at least one freshman who is averaging better than 16 minutes per game and JMU is the only team that hasn’t had a freshman start at least one game. Four freshmen are among the CAA’s top 30 in scoring: UNCWs Adam Smith, Drexel’s Damion Lee, William & Mary’s Marcus Thornton, and ODUs Dimitri Batten. Four are among the top 15 in assists: Towson’s Kris Walden, Mason’s Corey Edwards, Delaware’s Khalid Lewis, and Drexel’s Lee. Three are in the top 10 in steals: VCU’s Briante Weber, Northeastern’s Quincy Ford, and Mason’s Edwards. Three are also three in the top 20 in rebounding: UNCW’s Cedrick Williams and Northeastern teammates Ford and Reggie Spencer.

Ryan Pearson (center) Is Brimming With Confidence For The Patriots. (Getty)

Power Rankings

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Checking In On… the CAA

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 30th, 2011

Michael Litos is the RTC correspondent for the CAA. You can also find his musings online at caahoops.com or on Twitter @caahoops.

Reader’s Take

The Week That Was

  • Whew: Order was restored last week, when CAA teams went 12-10 and looked like The Association we’ve come to know. The 12 wins included several notable performances. Northeastern rolled St. John’s in Queens 78-64, and it wasn’t that close. The Huskies led all but 37 seconds of the game. Hofstra used a 20-4 second half spree to down previously unbeaten Cleveland State, 63-53. The win is doubly-notable because leading scorer Mike Moore was held to five points. Both James Madison and George Mason won their final two games of early exempt tournaments, and Georgia State (3-0) and Delaware (2-0) had undefeated weeks. Finally, VCU gave 13th-ranked Alabama all it could handle on Sunday night before dropping a 72-64 decision. The Rams led most of the second half before the Tide stepped on the gas pedal late.
  • Who? AJ Davis was 5-50 from three in two seasons at Wyoming, but hit eight of nine threes in a win over Rider and went 3-5 against Penn. Davis has now made 16-27 (59.3%) from three in five games for JMU. Davis scored the first 14 points of the second half for the Dukes in its win over Penn. Interestingly, Davis has scored 87 points in the second half of games this season and 27 points in the first half. His accuracy seems to be catching on. JMU as a team is hitting threes third-best nationally (46.9%). Predictably, that makes head coach Matt Brady nervous.
  • Wow: Delaware’s Devon Saddler is leading the country in scoring (24.5 PPG), but the CAA has seen many amazing individual performances. In fact, it forced the conference pooh-bahs to select tri-players of the week. Saddler, who averaged 26.5 points , five rebounds, and four assists in a pair of Delaware wins, was joined in the honor by JMUs Davis (23.3  and 5.7 RPG, hit 16 of 22 from three-point range) and Joel Smith from Northeastern (29 points and 10 rebounds in the St. John’s win, including 7 of 12 from three-point range) in the honor.
  • What? Why?  Non-conference gives way, temporarily, to conference play this week. It’s weird to jam in conference games just before exams, but it’s necessary.  Because there’s eight weekends in January and February and one Saturday is betrothed to Bracketbusters, the CAA is forced to play one week of Saturday-Monday-Wednesday-Saturday action, as well as play one conference game in December. This is that weekend. Ten of the CAA’s 12 teams open conference play. UNCW and VCU will face each other on Dec. 17. The move was made to allow VCU to play George Washington in the BB&T Classic this Sunday.

It's Tough To Find Anyone In The Country Stroking The Three Better Than James Madison's A.J. Davis. (CAASports.com)

Power Rankings

  1. Drexel (2-2): The Dragons played just one game, but it was telling. Drexel thumped Winthrop and had the look of a top-tier CAA team. The Dragons grabbed a lead and didn’t rest—they played harder and better. The result was a coach’s dream—a 10-point lead became an 18-point lead, not a four-point lead. Guard Frantz Massenat scored a career-high 23 points and hit 6-8 threes while directing the attack, and freshman Damion Lee continued to play well, contributing nine points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. What’s more, Drexel is close to getting leading scorer and top gunner Chris Fouch back from injury.
  2. Northeastern (3-1): For lack of flowery language, the Huskies just plain look different. They are big, long, and attack gaps.  They beat teams up and beat up St. John’s in every facet of the game including grabbing 53.8% of their misses on offense. The Huskies don’t give opponents the easy energy baskets, forcing opponents to shoot 21.8% from three (ninth nationally), and blocking shots on 16.8% of defensive possessions, good for 12th nationally. Because he a basketball coach, Bill Coen wants them to focus on taking better taking care of the basketball and fouling less often.
  3. George Mason (4-2): It’s impossible to figure out what to make of the Patriots. First, they took the weekend off. Second, while they’ve improved markedly since their first game we’re not sure what we know—the schedule strength is an abysmal 322th. Still, Paul Hewitt has one of the conference’s best players playing well—Ryan Pearson has three double-doubles and scored a team-high 23 points against Brown and 24 points against Albany He is third in the CAA in scoring (21.3 PPG) and second in rebounds (9.0 RPG). It’s worth repeating that freshman Corey Edwards is beginning to look awfully comfy in the point guard spot, and incumbent Andre Cornelius—one of the conference’s best defenders—returns from a ten-game suspension in less than three weeks.
  4. James Madison (3-2): The Dukes are firepower personified. You have read about AJ Davis and you know how well Humpty Hitchens is playing, but Matt Brady is getting yeoman’s work from Andrey Semenov. What’s more, senior Julius Wells is making a difference in stats other than FGA and Alioune Diouf passed up a redshirt to join the rotation this weekend to help defensively. All of this and their best player, Devon Moore, is still two weeks from becoming eligible. Of note, Rayshawn Goins opted for surgery and will miss the season, taking a redshirt.
  5. VCU (3-3): The Rams have almost imperceptibly improved in every game they’ve played this season. One key has been the exuberant play of freshman Briante Weber, who plays with as much energy as anyone in the country. His defense energizes the team defense. To wit, Western Kentucky was held to one field goal and committed nine turnovers in the last 13 minutes against VCU. Shaka Smart is getting unspectacular but steady play from point guard Darius Theus, and Brad Burgess is beginning to grow into his superstar. The Rams were in control of their game against Alabama on Sunday for 34 minutes before letting it slip away. To a man they know they need 40 minutes of effort.
  6. Old Dominion (4-3): The story of Old Dominion’s topsy-turvy season can be summed up by its last two games. The Monarchs built a 12-point second half lead against Vermont but gave it up and lost in overtime. The cause? The Monarchs were beaten on the backboards (48-37). Old Dominion just does not get killed on the boards by teams named Vermont. Next game was a brutal rock fight victory over East Carolina. Star guard Kent Bazemore is clearly pressing, and it’s impacting everyone. Bazemore is 8-37 from the field in his past three games, and when you tack on point guard Marquel DeLancey’s 1-15 you can see ODU isn’t exactly overwhelming anybody. ODU players will have to guard against standing around waiting for Bazemore–who still clearly doesn’t have the same explosion due to an injured foot–to make a play. On the bright side, Nick Wright returned from suspension and gives Blaine Taylor a different look. Wright can play high post and trigger the offense, but he can score—Wright put a 24/10 double-double on Vermont. Plus, Dmitri Batten had a confidence-booster in the East Carolina win.
  7. Hofstra (3-4): The Dutchmen accomplished something nobody—including Vanderbilt—has done. They beat Cleveland State. The Pride got a lot of little things from a lot of players, and none were named Mike Moore. It’s significant because Hofstra has to prove to itself can beat quality competition without Moore pouring in 23 points. That’s exactly what they got. Bryant Crowder returned over the weekend from coach’s exile and gave the Pride more versatility in the post. Still, it seems like this team will rise and fall with senior Nat Lester. It seems Hofstra wins when he plays well, and struggles when he doesn’t.
  8. Delaware (2-2): The Hens boast the nation’s leading scorer in Devon Saddler, but honestly the team is looking better and better because Saddler has tempered his shooting ways and gotten more Hens involved in the offense. To wit: Saddler had scored 32 points against Lafayette on Saturday, but in a tie game with less than a minute to play penetrated the lane and kicked the ball to freshman Kyle Anderson, who promptly buried a back-breaking three. And Jamelle Hagins played his best game of the year, a 13/14/3 block masterpiece. There is a very tangible meshing feel to this team.
  9. Georgia State (4-3): Though the competition has been McNeese State, Samford, Liberty, and South Carolina State, the Panthers won all four games last week to even their record after the 0-3 disaster in Washington. Ron Hunter still is not playing as fast as he’d like–65.9 possessions per game is 248th nationally—but they are getting contributions that are complimentary. Jihad Ali scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and went six-for-six from the floor, including four three-pointers in the Liberty win. That’s worth mention because if Hunter can get enough scoring from Ali and Devonta White, it frees superman Eric Buckner to make athletic plays without having to worry about carrying an offensive load. Buckner blocked a career-high seven shots against Liberty
  10. UNCW (0-4): Point guard Craig Ponder was hobbled all season by an ankle injury and finally gave up the ghost—he is undergoing season-ending surgery.  That forces Buzz Peterson to begin a revolving door approach to his point guard play. Tanner Milson, Freddie Jackson, and KK Simmons (two freshmen and a sophomore) will all take turns. We knew UNCW was young and Peterson would play the kiddies, but this stat bears out just how reliant they are on youth: freshmen have accounted for 145 of the Seahawks’ 242 points (59.9%) this season. Side note: UNCW was 0-3 from three in a loss to Davidson, marking the first time since 1996 it didn’t hit a trey
  11. William & Mary (1-6): It’s almost Bizarro World to consider Quinn McDowell—a first team All-CAA honoree and in the conversation for player of the year—took one field goal attempt in 33 minutes against Howard on Saturday. However, that sums up the slow start for the Tribe. Brandon Britt is playing better after his awful start, and freshman sensation Marcus Thornton is starting to figure out “good shots” in college. Most importantly for Tony Shaver is that Beasthoven made his first appearance of the year. Sophomore Tim Rusthoven hit went 4-5 from the floor in 21 minutes, scoring 13 points and grabbing six rebounds (four on offensive end). In the words of someone who was there: he was the best player on the floor. Shaver could not have dreamed of a worse start to the season, but the pieces are beginning to come together.
  12. Towson (0-5): The Tigers can say they played in front of the President, losing 66-46 in their home opener against Oregon State, coached by Barack Obama’s brother-in-law. However they are doing what Pat Skerry asks—continue to play hard and improve every night. Towson is actually a +4.8 rebound margin against the ninth-toughest schedule in the country. Sophomore Marcus Damas recorded a double-double against Oregon State with career-highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds. Skerry is near begging his team to cut down on turnovers, which continue to plague them.

Looking Ahead

  • Drexel at St. Joseph’s (Wednesday): The Dragons are 9-42 lifetime against the Hawks and have not won up at Hawk Hill since 1978. Drexel won this game last year and walks to the jump circle having never—ever—beaten St. Joseph’s in consecutive games. The Hawks will test them, as they’ve built a 4-2 record against a tough schedule. That said, Drexel may get Chris Fouch back and still have not played to their potential. This has all the makings of a rock fight.
  • Old Dominion at Northeastern (Saturday): The Huskies have a decidedly ODU look. They grabbed 21 offensive rebounds against St. John’s, while ODU was busy being outrebounded by Vermont. Matthews Arena is a tough place to play for CAA foes—it’s a hockey arena co-opted for basketball. Northeastrn has won two of the last three against ODU in the building. This is a match-up of minds: Bill Coen and Blaine Taylor are X/O, white board maniacs; and Northeastern is feeling good about itself while ODU is not, which probably puts ODU exactly where they want to be.
  • James Madison at Hofstra (Saturday): This game pits two of CAA teams that are outpacing expectations and this game will surely have tiebreaker ramifications come late February. Matt Brady has practically begged for defense. The old saying is that good teams win on the road, and they do so by playing defense. There you go.
  • Drexel at Delaware (Saturday): Drexel is a great defensive team, and I read somewhere that good teams win on the road by playing great defense. Delaware is preaching turn the corner this year, so what better opportunity to put on your turn signal than to beat the conference favorites at home? This is also the conference’s second most-hated rivalry. It’s worth noting that last season Delaware beat the CAA favorite Old Dominion in a December home game as well.

 Spotlight On…Northeastern

Bill Coen graduated four senior starters and the Huskies predictably lost their first eight conference games last season. However, they rallied late, winning six of their final ten games as sophomores Jon Lee, Joel Smith, and Kauri Black gained experience. Those three are bringing along a talented freshman class quickly and results are positive. NU is leading the CAA in rebounding—something they did poorly last year—and are aggressive with the basketball.

“Those guys have played here for three years,” says Coen. “They just have a different sense of confidence and a feel for one another that can only develop by playing together.”

The scary part for CAA opponents is that Ryan Pierson and Alwayne Bigby, two of Coen’s go-to players in the past two seasons, have yet to make a significant impact. What’s more, the Huskies’s biggest deficiencies are correctable: they turn the ball over and foul too much. Both are products of their aggressive play, and both can be mitigated by smart aggression.

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Checking in on… the Colonial

Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 2010

Ryan Restivo of the MAAC-based SienaSaintsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. SienaSaintsBlog now features exclusive video!

Standings (as of 2/22)

  1. Northeastern (18-10, 13-3)
  2. Old Dominion (21-8, 13-3)
  3. George Mason (16-12, 11-5)
  4. William & Mary (19-8, 11-5)
  5. Drexel (15-14, 10-6)
  6. VCU (19-7, 10-6)
  7. Hofstra (16-13, 8-8)
  8. Georgia State (12-17, 4-12)
  9. UNC Wilmington (8-20, 4-12)
  10. Towson (7-20, 4-12)
  11. James Madison (12-17, 4-12)
  12. Delaware (7-21, 3-13)

Did BracketBusters help the CAA? Probably not. The conference started out losing their first five games in the event, including the first two nationally televised games. Northeastern bumbled their chances trying for a three-pointer instead of getting a quick two when down three to Louisiana Tech. George Mason could not convert late, an offensive foul late ruined the Patriots chances of winning over Charleston. Towson started down 20-0 at Manhattan. The CAA went 3-9 overall in BracketBusters, and only 1-4 on the ESPN family of networks.

A Quick Look at the Bracket Today

If we were to start the CAA Basketball Championship today here is what the schedule would look like.

Friday 3/5

  • Noon – #8 Georgia State vs. #9 UNC-Wilmington
  • 2:30 - #5 Drexel vs. #12 Delaware
  • 6 – #7 Hofstra vs. #10 Towson
  • 8:30 – #6 VCU vs. #11 James Madison

Saturday 3/6

  • Noon – #1 Northeastern vs. #8/#9
  • 2:30 – #4 George Mason vs. #5/#12
  • 6 – #2 Old Dominion vs. #7/#10
  • 8:30 – #3 William & Mary vs. #6/#11

Tiebreakers

  • Northeastern’s win over Old Dominion gives them the break for the top seed. Both Northeastern and Old Dominion have clinched a first-round bye.
  • William & Mary gets a tiebreaker for the #3 seed with their win over George Mason
  • Drexel’s two wins over Northeastern give them the tiebreaker for the #5 seed over VCU
  • UNC-Wilmington gets the three team tiebreaker with a 2-1 record against the group, Towson’s 2-2 record edges James Madison’s 1-2 record against the group.
  • Hofstra has clinched the #7 seed.

Important Games This Week

Tue 2/23              

  • Hofstra at Northeastern  (9pm ESPNU).  The Pride, who have won seven of their last eight, have a chance to play spoiler to the Huskies’ chances at a regular season championship. The Pride have clinched the #7 seed and if they are swept by the Huskies, they will likely see them should they play in Saturday’s CAA Tournament Quarterfinals next week.

Wed 2/24

  • George Mason at Delaware 7pm.  Why is this game important? The last road win from the Patriots came over a month ago. Add to that their 1-3 record against the top three teams, they need a win to give them momentum going into Saturday’s game.

Sat 2/27

  • Northeastern at George Mason Noon.  The conference regular season championship will likely be decided in this, the first game of the day. The Patriots will get a chance to rebound from two tough home losses last week.

Team Reviews

Northeastern (13-3).  The Huskies made a lot of history on Tuesday night in their win over UNC Wilmington. Junior Chaisson Allen went over the 1,000 point mark, the Huskies won their first game ever at Trask Coliseum and they will have a chance this week to set a new school record for CAA conference victories. While the Huskies came back from as many down as 14 to win on the road, they squandered a home lead.  Late in this game, what seemed to be the final possession, the Huskies struggled to establish their plan. It appeared like the strategy was to play for a game-tying three, despite the fact that a quick two and fouling seemed like a good decision. However their final three-pointers could not tie the game and gave Louisiana Tech a 70-67 win. Manny Adako had a solid week for the Huskies, making 57% of his shots and scoring 36 points this week.  If the Huskies are to set the new school record for conference victories, they will clinch no worse than the #2 seed.

Old Dominion (13-3).  The Monarchs took care of business against Towson, who had just seven players dressed, but could not bring their A game on national television against Northern Iowa and lost in the first of four BracketBusters TV losses by the CAA. The Panthers exploited the second-best three-point field goal percentage defense in the conference, and 17th nationally, downing 7-12 threes in the second half on way to a nine-point win. They did not have an answer for Ali Farokhmanesh either who scored all of his 23 points in the second half and made 5-9 threes. The Monarchs’ path to the top seed will need a Northeastern slip-up and two wins in their final two games this week.

George Mason (11-5).  The Patriots went without Mike Morrison for the week and they could have used his 8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. This gave freshman Kevin Foster a chance to play and he took advantage, putting up a career high 22 Tuesday and then racked up his first career double-double Saturday. Other than Foster’s performance, it was a difficult week to be a Patriots fan as they dropped a conference game at home to the Tribe and then had a chance to come back against College of Charleston but fell by two. Ryan Pearson’s dribble-drive and bucket to tie the game was called a charge. After a look at the replay, it appears the refs got the call right to negate the bucket. One good sign this week is that George Mason is starting to make shots, this week shooting 49% from the field. However the downfall has been free throw shooting.  They shot just 60% from the line and had a stretch Saturday of missing seven straight from the line, losing both games this week by two points. There is no doubt that the Patriots are an extremely talented group and will likely be better next year; however, if they get into any postseason play that will only help them moving forward.

William & Mary (11-5).  In a game that will probably mirror those in Richmond in March, the Tribe overcame an 11-point deficit to beat George Mason at the Patriot Center by three. The importance of this game will hold in tiebreaking since this is the only game between the two. The Tribe struggled in New Rochelle, as Iona blistered past them shooting 65% from the field in the first half. Defending the Gaels wasn’t the only problem, as the Tribe could not make contested shots either and were held to 36% from the field. A 16-point loss at Iona probably tarnishes what was an impressive tournament resume that included wins at Wake Forest, at Maryland and home wins over Northeastern, Virginia Commonwealth and Richmond. Senior David Schneider did not have an awesome week, scoring 32 points but shooting only 5-16 (31%) from three-point range.

Drexel (10-6).  Chris Fouch returned Saturday from a two-game respite to score 16 points but the Dragons turned the ball over 14 times in a 16-point loss to Bradley in the BracketBusters game. Drexel did not have an answer for Bradley’s four-guard oriented offense. This week was not a good week for the Dragons stingy defense, ranked third in the Colonial, let its opponents shoot 52% from the field. When Fouch was out junior Jamie Harris has stepped up to score 51 points over the last three games while shooting 37% from the field. Meanwhile, Virginia Commonwealth exposed the Dragons’ ability, or lack thereof, on the inside as they outrebounded Drexel by 19 and let Larry Sanders go 13-15 for 29 points. Drexel will have to fix the holes in their defense to try and salvage a bye in next weekend’s conference tournament. What they have on their side is their schedule: home against UNC Wilmington and a road game at James Madison, and two wins over first-place Northeastern.

VCU (10-6).  Junior Larry Sanders went off for 29 points against Drexel but his biggest contribution was his 13 rebounds and 5 blocks. The Rams are starting to find their offensive groove, shooting 54% from the field this week and making 11 three pointers. Sanders scored 44 points and grabbed 22 rebounds for the Rams this week in his dominant performances this week. After losing two on the road, the Rams righted the ship and won two games at home by resounding margins. VCU did not let up in the BracketBuster either. Coming out of halftime leading by 12, the Rams shot 64% in the second half and proceeded to win by 17. VCU, which ranks sixth in field goal percentage defense at 41%, held their opponents this week to 34% shooting. A home revenge game against James Madison comes up on Wednesday and then a tough road game at Old Dominion for a chance to improve their seeding. It’s unfortunate because they have played so well as of late, but their 1-3 start in conference probably cost them a chance at a bye in the CAA tournament.

Hofstra (8-8).  The Pride is quietly making their run, winning seven of their last eight games in the easier portion of their schedule. All of the wins came over the bottom half of the league. Junior Charles Jenkins has gone off, making a run at locking up a spot on the CAA first team, with 61 points this week shooting 46% from the field. Jenkins reached 100 career three pointers making him the 17th player in school history to do so. Seven of their last eight wins have been by double digits except for the overtime win Saturday against Rider. Only problem is Hofstra could not contain Broncs star Ryan Thompson who went off for a season-high 38 points on 11-23 shooting. The Pride could play spoiler to Northeastern’s chances at the regular season championship on Tuesday and then host Senior Day against Georgia State, who they still might see in the first round on Friday.

James Madison (4-12).  Denzel Bowles has been a force so far but Canisius might have found the answer to defend him in the BracketBuster game Saturday. The Golden Griffins constantly double-teamed Bowles when he touched the ball and held him to a season low 11 points. Meanwhile Frank Turner exploited the Dukes’ failure to contain the dribble-drive and went for a double-double scoring 16 points and dishing out 13 assists while handing the Dukes a four-point loss. The Dukes are 2-12 on the road and have one more chance to win a conference game on the road Wednesday at Virginia Commonwealth before their Senior Day date with Drexel. The Dukes will be good next year with Devon Moore and Andrey Semenov coming back from injuries and will have a fair shot to win 20 games.

Georgia State (4-12).  Trey Hampton drove the Panthers this week, scoring 33 points on 55% shooting, as Georgia State won two straight this past week. Another good sign? Georgia State, which ranks sixth in free throw percentage, shot 74% from the free throw line. The Panthers seized control in their BracketBuster game, notching one of the three wins for the CAA in a 15-point win over South Carolina State. Senior Joe Dukes has to get going for the Panthers to make a CAA Tournament run. He scored 25 points on Tuesday on 9-15 shooting but he has hit some cold spells against the top tier of teams in conference play. Dukes shot just 3-14 against William & Mary and Northeastern two weeks ago and has not improved on last year’s numbers except for free throw shooting, and needs to make more shots for the Panthers to advance to Quarterfinal Saturday in Richmond. We will see how he and the Panthers respond as they try for their first three-game win streak since the start of the new year against Old Dominion.

UNC Wilmington (4-12).  Senior Montez Downey got his chance and he didn’t waste it Saturday, scoring a season high 23 points but the Seahawks have lost three in a row. Ousted coach Benny Moss was at the game against Northeastern and watched the Seahawks blow a 14-point lead. Saturday, UNC Wilmington faced one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the country in Radford and let them make more free throws than the Seahawks attempted. Downey finished strong last year and, in what are likely his final two or three games in his career, will likely do the same. Junior Chad Tomko has struggled and shot just 24% last week, probably a sign of his lingering ankle injury. Junior John Fields has been hurt as well and did not travel to Radford Saturday, this was only the second game this season where Fields did not play.

Towson (4-12).  Towson dressed only seven players in their loss to Old Dominion earlier in the week, letting Kenyon Carter and Frank Hassell muscle them inside. The Monarchs almost doubled the Tigers’ points in the paint on Tuesday night. Josh Thornton, Jimmy Smith and Jarrel Smith all came back on Saturday but it didn’t help in the BracketBuster game. Manhattan jumped out to a 20-0 lead and crushed the Tigers by 16. The Tigers got handled by another frontcourt again, letting the three big men for the Jaspers combine for 44 of the team’s 78 points and grab half the team’s offensive rebounds. The only bracket the Tigers will have to worry about is the CAA bracket in March, a win over Delaware on Saturday will likely ensure they don’t finish in last place.

Delaware  (3-13).  In the same week women’s basketball star Elena Delle Donne went for 54 points for Delaware in a victory, the Men’s team let Boston University’s John Holland go for 43 points on 70% shooting. The Blue Hens have had a problem with big time scorers, as they let Holland and Hofstra star Charles Jenkins go off for a combined 73 points, nine more points than Delaware averages per game. Meanwhile head coach Monte Ross, who has gone 39-83 at Delaware, is optimistic about the roster next year with a freshman impact player in Devon Saddler, a Charlotte transfer in Shamarr Bowden and the return of point guard Brian Johnson from injury. Ross said, “I can’t express enough that, when you’re building a program, you need time. That’s why I think we’ll be able to get to where we want to get to. And it takes time. We can absolutely get there.”

When not covering the CAA for Rush The Court, Ryan writes about Fantasy Baseball on Rotosavants.com, on his own website RyanRestivo.com and at SienaSaintsBlog.com.  Ryan will take your questions here.

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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 Rotosavants.com and writes on his own website: RyanRestivo.com. 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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