Nick Cammarota is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. With the CAA Tournament tipping on Friday, get up to speed on the conference and gain a leg up on your Big Dance Cinderella candidate research.
A Look Ahead… Postseason Style
First-Round Game to Watch: No. 8 UNC-Wilmington vs. No. 9 Georgia State. It’s not the sexiest matchup out there, but then again, what first-round game is? The teams split the season series and always seem to play one another close. This one should be pretty interesting, too, in that whichever team wins will have to turn around and face the team with the longest winning streak in the nation: George Mason.
First-Round Player To Watch: Northeastern’s Chaisson Allen. One of the more underrated guards in the conference, Allen has a strong build doesn’t seem to break under pressure. There will be no greater pressure than this weekend, so look for Allen to have a decent showing.
Team Most Likely to Pull an Upset: William & Mary. If only because they beat their first-round opponent, James Madison, during the regular season. That and junior Quinn McDowell is a threat from anywhere on the floor.
Team Most Likely to be Upset: Virginia Commonwealth. The Rams are really struggling coming into the CAA Tournament and unlike years past, they don’t seem to have the right demeanor about them to turn it around and make a run. Then again, that’s what this time of year is all about.
Team Most Likely to Win it All: George Mason. The Patriots have thoroughly dominated the league in the second half of the season and are playing their best basketball of the year at the perfect time. Look for this to be a two-bid conference, with both George Mason and Old Dominion capable of making some noise in the Big Dance.
A Look Back
It has been a banner year for the CAA on many levels, and still (barring some upsets in the conference tournament) it looks as though the league will be sending only two teams to the NCAA tournament. That said, the CAA can boast that it’s one of two leagues, along with the Big East, to have six 20-game winners. It also finished with one team ranked in the Top 25 (George Mason), has the nation’s fourth-leading scorer (Charles Jenkins). There’s a lot to get to in the check-in/postseason preview, so follow along as we recap the regular season that was and look ahead to the postseason that will be.
Nick Cammarota is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association.
A Look Back
This week in Colonial Athletic Association action is for those who enjoy it when ABC Family starts showing holiday programming the day after Halloween. It’s a dandy little taste of what everyone knows is coming, but for which the wait seems interminable. Yes, the first batch of conference games was held Saturday, and already there’s plenty to talk about. Namely…
Delaware’s 75-67 upset victory against Old Dominion. The Blue Hens were paced by senior guard Jawan Carter’s 29-point effort – his third straight 20-plus point performance. This one was special. Not only did it help Delaware to its first three-game winning streak since December of the 2008-09 season, but sent a message to the rest of the conference that, perhaps, things are not as clear-cut as some may have thought. Especially considering that the Monarchs were riding a five-game winning streak that included back-to-back-to-back victories against Clemson, Xavier and Richmond. And in the opening game of the season, Old Dominion hung with #16 Georgetown before falling late, 62-59. This, however, was the first true road game for the Monarchs after three at the Constant Convocation Center and three at a neutral site. What seems most impressive about the Blue Hens’ victory is that they only turned the ball over six times to ODU’s 14. And while Ben Finney and Kent Bazemore did their usual duty on the glass – 12 and 10 rebounds, respectively – Delaware was able to build and maintain a narrow lead for the majority of the contest. There’s little doubt Old Dominion is still the favorite to win the conference, but this game simply tells us that on a nightly basis, anything can happen. Which, at its essence, is really what college basketball is all about.
Player of the Week
Chris Fouch, G, Drexel: The 6’2 sophomore is beginning to prove his early-season points averages weren’t an aberration. In three games, Fouch scored 74 points, pulled down seven rebounds and assisted five baskets. The New York native began his week with a career-high 30-point outburst against Binghamton, came back to net 17 against city rival St. Joseph’s and then scored 27 in the CAA opener at Northeastern. Perhaps more impressive than his scoring efficiency (26-of-47, 61.7 percent) is that Fouch committed just one turnover in 93 minutes of playing time.
Team of the Week
Delaware Blue Hens: Apparently, all it took for Delaware to snap its seemingly annual December loss against Old Dominion was a change of scenery. Bob Carpenter Arena provided the perfect backdrop for the Blue Hens to score the first true upset in conference play. This was a big win, not only for the obvious reasons, but because it could help propel the Blue Hens to a few more victories in a fairly easy week coming up (strength of schedule-wise, at least). Following the victory against ODU, Delaware coach Monte Rosstold the Delaware News Journal that the Blue Hens were the best defensive team in the league.
Stat of the Week
One: That’s the number of free throws Richmond attempted against Old Dominion in ODU’s 77-70 victory December 1. Conversely, the Monarchs attempted 20 shots from the charity stripe, hitting 15 of them. This is more than likely a statistical anomaly, but even so, it speaks to Old Dominion’s discipline and ability to limit the number of ways its opponents can score. Then again, discipline – in any facet of the game – is something that should be expected of such a veteran team.
1. Old Dominion
(5-2, 0-1 CAA – RPI 18, SOS 9)
Last week: W 77-70 vs. Richmond, L 75-67 @ Delaware
This week: 12.7 @ East Carolina, 12.9 vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore, 12.11 vs. Dayton
Granted, this is a bad loss for a program that was ranked No. 1 in the Mid-Major Top 25, and it certainly takes a significant jab at the hearts of those hoping that the CAA might be a two-bid conference this season. But there’s no reason for Old Dominion to panic. They’ve got plenty of opportunities to rebound in the coming week, starting with a trip to East Carolina (7-2) on Tuesday.
2. George Mason
(6-2, 1-0 CAA – RPI 128, SOS 191)
Last week: W 60-46 vs. George Washington, W 80-52 UNC-Wilmington
This week: 12.8 vs. Loyola-Maryland, 12.11 @ Liberty
Not only are the Patriots on a four-game winning streak, but the way they’ve been beating people is impressive – by an average of 19.7 points per game. Then again, in their only close game of the season, they lost to Wofford in overtime. Still, if George Mason can continue beating teams at even close to this pace, it’s going to be a fun season in Fairfax.
3. Virginia Commonwealth
(5-2, 1-0 CAA – RPI 52, SOS 104)
Last week: L 60-59 @ South Florida, W 59-55 vs. William & Mary
This week: vs. 12.8 vs. Virginia Military, 12.11 @ Richmond
Hopefully, it doesn’t cause too much of an uproar that VCU is listed third. It’s not as much a slight to the Rams as it is a compliment to the Patriots. VCU beat a very talented UCLA team and hung with Tennessee, but until their rebounding and interior defense numbers normalize, George Mason gets the nod. For reference’s sake, VCU is three spots ahead of GMU in the Mid-Major Top 25 (No. 6 vs. No. 9).
4. Drexel Dragons
(5-1, 1-0 CAA – RPI 48, SOS 156)
Last week: W 79-39 vs. Binghamton, W 62-50 vs. St. Joseph’s, W 63-58 @ Northeastern
This week: 12.11 vs. Rider, 12.14 @ Louisville
Rebounding and Chris Fouch. There’s your formula for Drexel’s early-season success, with a little freshman phenom Dartaye Ruffin thrown in. The Dragons are on a three-game winning streak and scored an impressive road victory against a Northeastern team that is better than its record. For the stat heads out there, KenPom.com ranks Drexel’s offensive rebounding percentage at 44.5 – second in the nation. If the Dragons keep that up, they’ll be a force no matter how many Fouch scores.
5. James Madison
(6-2, 0-1 CAA – RPI 114, SOS 249)
Last week: W 88-78 @ Longwood, L 64-63 @ Georgia State
This week: 12.7 @ Marshall, 12.11 @ Radford
The fourth CAA team to receive votes in the Mid-Major Top 25 poll (about 15 votes out of making the cut), the Dukes have only played one team with an RPI above 125 this season, but their six-game winning streak masked that well, until… they lost to Georgia State in the CAA opener. While this 64-63 upset wasn’t quite on the scale of ODU-Delaware, it once again speaks to the parity in the league.
(3-2, 1-0 CAA – RPI 172, SOS 270)
Last week: W 75-67 vs. Old Dominion
This week: 12.8 @ Hampton, 12.11 vs. Delaware State
While in the long run, the Blue Hens might not end up better than some of teams below them in this version of the power rankings, they claim the number six spot on the strength of their victory against the Monarchs. Any time a struggling program can beat a Top-20 RPI team, they deserve a little love. Sophomore forward Jamelle Hagins leads the conference in blocks per game (3.8) by more than a full block.
(4-3, 1-0 CAA – RPI 153, SOS 124)
Last week: W 58-48 @ Rider, W 74-62 vs. Towson
This week: 12.8 @ Binghamton, 12.11 vs. Florida Atlantic
The Pride are coming off a two-win week with the potential for something far greater. The next four games for Hofstra appear very winnable, and if that happens to be the case, it would extend the Pride’s winning streak to eight games. Having senior guard Charles Jenkins doesn’t hurt, either. He’s leading the conference in scoring with 22.3 points per game and hasn’t netted less than 15 all year.
(2-4, 0-1 CAA – RPI 154, SOS 68)
Last week: L 77-72 @ Providence, L 63-58 vs. Drexel
This week: 12.8 vs. Rhode Island
Unfortunately for the Huskies, senior guard Chaisson Allen (18.5 points per game) can only do so much. Despite Allen’s double-double against Drexel (19 points, 10 rebounds), the Huskies turned the ball over 10 times and shot 15.7 percent from beyond the arc. This is the time of year where the graduation of Matt Janning is really impacting coach Bill Coen’s team, which has lost four in a row. Rhode Island looms as a sizable test.
9. UNC Wilmington
(3-4, 0-1 CAA – RPI 79, SOS 45)
Last week: W 73-69 @ George Washington, L 80-52 @ George Mason
This week: Idle
This is where it starts to become the “best of the rest.” None of these bottom four teams have accomplished much early in the season, aside from helping the CAA nab a few out-of-conference wins against mediocre programs. The Seahawks rank near the bottom of the nation in turnover percentage (26.5) and steal percentage (13.7). Senior guard Chad Tomko is good, but it’s doubtful he’ll be able to post a favorable assist-to-turnover ratio against some of the better teams in the league.
10. Georgia State
(3-3, 1-0 CAA – RPI 230, SOS 210)
Last week: L 60-56 (OT) @ Hampton, W 64-63 James Madison
This week: 12.11 vs. Western Michigan
When things looked bleak for the Panthers following a four-point overtime loss to Hampton (MEAC), they rebounded with one heck of a nail-biting win against James Madison. Still, Georgia State hasn’t been particularly impressive in its wins (Troy, Utah State, JMU), and without the presence of a starter who averages double figures in scoring – junior forward Eric Buckner leads the team at 9.3 points per game – it could be a long season for the Panthers.
11. William & Mary
(3-5, 0-1 CAA – RPI 237, SOS 167)
Last week: L 64-39 vs. Western Carolina, W 76-62 vs. Howard, L 59-55 @ Virginia Commonwealth
This week: Idle
Say what you will about the Tribe’s inability to hold onto the basketball, or create turnovers, but coach Tony Shaver challenged his team with its early schedule. In its first three games, William & Mary played Virginia, Richmond and Syracuse. That’s a tall order for any club, let alone a team that only has one senior on the roster.
(2-4, 0-1 CAA – RPI 324, SOS 325)
Last week: W 75-73 vs. Western Michigan, L 74-62 @ Hofstra
This week: 12.8 @ George Washington, 12.11 @ University of Maryland-Baltimore County
Don’t fret, Towson fans – two bits of good news coming your way. 1) In the coming week, the Tigers are staying ultra-local with games at George Washington and UMBC, so go out and see them. 2) Junior forward Braxton Dupree isn’t just the conference leader in rebounding (11.0 per game), he’s 11th in the nation. As for the bits of bad news? UMBC is the only team with a lower RPI than the Tigers that Towson plays until Jan. 19 against William & Mary.
A Look Ahead
We interrupt that tasty preview of CAA conference play for this regularly-scheduled slate of non-conference battles. So far, the Colonial has fared pretty well against the other conferences, boasting a 41-28 record. No team in the conference has less than two wins. That said, it’ll be interesting to see if this conference play blip has any impact on play moving forward. Here’s a look at some of the top games on the docket for the coming week, Road Rules style:
12/7 – James Madison at Marshall (5-2): You’re probably thinking, Marshall? There’s another Conference USA school to watch that doesn’t begin with “Mem” and end with “phis?” Yep. There is. James Madison will have its hands full. Not only can the Thundering Herd score (76.9 points per game – good for 67th in the nation), but they average 38.4 rebounds per game and boast four players who average 11.0 points per game or better. Player to watch: Marshall sophomore guard DeAndre Kane. The 6’4 wingman is averaging a team-high 17.6 points per game, but has proven turnover prone. If the Dukes can rattle him early, it could hold the key to victory.
12/11 – Virginia Commonwealth at Richmond (6-2): More than anything, this game might take on an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better complex for the Rams. Old Dominion already has beaten Richmond this season. If Virginia Commonwealth could not only beat the A-10 Spiders, but do it on the road, that’d go a long way toward showing how powerful the top of this conference has the potential to be. Player to watch: Richmond senior forward Justin Harper. The Spiders are seventh in the nation in field goal percentage. A large part of that is because Harper’s shooting a cool 59.7 percent from the floor. And they’re not all bunnies either; Harper has made 12 of his 20 3-pointers (48.0 percent) this year.
12/14 – Drexel at Louisville (6-0): This game has the potential to gain plenty of attention for the CAA. What kind of attention, however, remains to be seen. Naturally, Louisville is a premiere team in the Big East, and will more than likely enter this game undefeated. If the Dragons can find a way to deal with the intimidating atmosphere, they next must find a way to slow an offense that averages 87.5 points per game and an astounding 19.2 assists per game. The Dragons’ one saving grace could be its rebounding (42.2 per game) and the fact that this will be the Cardinals’ third match of three on the week. Player to watch: Louisville sophomore forward Rakeem Buckles. This 6’8 powerhouse will no doubt present a challenge to Drexel’s bigs. How Samme Givens and Daryl McCoy handle the test should go a long way toward determining the result.
The CAA puts together these fantastic videos that recap conference action. Naturally, the December 4 one is of particular interest.
This video is mostly Richmond-oriented, but at least it’ll give you a chance to see ODU in action on defense. People always forget about defense…
For the third year in a row, ESPN is bringing us what we consider one of the great television events on the sports television calendar, the 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon. That means that for the third year in a row, I’ll be live-blogging the whole thing from start to finish — and this year, we’re climbing this hoops blogger’s Everest without supplemental oxygen. That is to say…I’m going caffeine-free. More importantly, here is the schedule of games for this year’s marathon (all times Eastern):
12:00 midnight — Miami (FL) at Memphis (ESPN)
2:00 am — St. John’s at St. Mary’s (ESPN)
4:00 am — Central Michigan at Hawaii (ESPN)
6:00 am — Stony Brook at Monmouth (ESPN)
8:00 am — Robert Morris at Kent State (ESPN)
10:00 am — Northeastern at Southern Illinois (ESPN)
12 noon — Oral Roberts at Tulsa (ESPN)
2:00 pm — La Salle at Baylor (ESPN)
4:00 pm — Virginia Tech at Kansas State (ESPN)
5:30 pm — Marist at Villanova (ESPNU)
6:00 pm — Ohio State at Florida (ESPN)
7:30 pm — Miami (OH) at Duke (ESPNU)
8:00 pm — Butler at Louisville (ESPN)
9:30 pm — Belmont at Tennessee (ESPNU)
10:00 pm — South Carolina at Michigan State (ESPN)
11:00 pm — San Diego State at Gonzaga (ESPN2)
11:30 pm — Pacific at UCLA (ESPNU)
The first attempt at this resulted in some hallucinations and arrhythmias as the hour got late (I had been up for 16 hours before starting the live blog) and I required a few caffeine-laden beverages. Last year, we had a technical glitch that kept us on our toes, but the live blog survived. This time, to raise the standard yet again, I’ll be sans caffeine. I know that without a webcam (we’re not that kind of site) you have no reason to believe that I’m not pounding sodas and cappuccinos and Five Hour Energy drinks by the blender-full. Since I believe RTC is the only site that’s done this all three years, well…you’ll just have to trust me. After two years, I think our relationship is in that kind of place. I hope you’ll join us right here (the live blog will continue in this post) a few minutes before midnight. Now, for my pre-live-blog meal. How’s a little turkey and wine sound?
11:47 PM Monday — Here we go. The high-def at the RTC Southern Compound is rockin’. We’ve checked the router and the internet connection to the building (which bit us in zee buttocks last year), and it appears solid. The football game is all but over (as it has been since halftime). Let’s go.
Game #3. RTC Live makes its first-ever visit to Matthews Arena at Northeastern for a battle of two local rivals with something to prove this season.
Crosstown rivals Boston University and Northeastern open their seasons at Matthews Arena. The overall series favors the Terriers who lead 71-66 after winning the last two matchups, including last year’s epic overtime battle. This year the Terriers should be favored to win as predicted champions in the America East Conference. Boston is a very young, talented team lead by preseason all-Atlantic East players John Holland and Jake O’Brien–who iced last year’s game for the Terriers with a turnaround jumper in overtime. But don’t count the Huskies out. Northeastern will have homecourt advantage (not to mention they want to avenge last year’s loss), and Chaisson Allen is a very good player (he averaged 13.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last season). The Terriers might be more talented, but they’re also very young and on the road. This should be a great game.
After opening with four games apiece on Monday and Wednesday night, college basketball really starts to pick up this evening with 16 of the top 25 teams in action including Georgetown traveling to play a tough Old Dominion team. By Sunday night, 24 of the top 25 teams will have played with Missouri being the lone exception, as they do not play their first game until November 18th. Even though there are only a few games that I would deem particularly compelling in isolation it will be interesting to see how the new pieces on these teams work with the returning parts.
We will have more about each day’s game with our Set Your Tivofeature, but in addition to those games you can watch on TV, we will also be coming to you courtside from nine games on RTC Live this weekend. Check back throughout the weekend for more (somewhat) instant analysis and join us on RTC Live for action from across the nation.
Boston University at Northeastern, 7 PM – One of the early battles of Boston will occur in Matthews Arena as the Terriers come to play the Huskies, who will be significantly weaker this year after losing four of their top five scorers. Chaisson Allen and the Huskies will be tested against a promising Terrier team led by John Holland, the leading scorer in America East, who has support from a team that includes four transfers.
East Tennessee State at #10 Kentucky, 7 PM on Big Blue Sports and ESPN Full Court – This game will be interesting if only for the reaction of the Wildcats and their fans a day after learning that Enes Kanter, whom many said would be the key to their season, would never play in a Wildcat uniform. On the other sideline, the Buccaneers will be without Tommy Hubbard, their leading scorer and rebounder. Ok, technically Hubbard will be on the sideline, but you get my point…
Cornell at Albany, 7:30 PM – While the Great Danes should be improved with Tim Ambrose returning for his senior season, most of the college basketball world will be focused on the Big Red, who lost eight seniors, including Ryan Whitman, Louis Dale, and Jeff Foote along with their coach Steve Donahue, who headed to Boston College. New coach Bill Courtney will be relying on Chris Wroblewski as one of the few known elements of his team to help guide the Big Red in the early season while they try to establish a new identity.
North Florida at #5 Pittsburgh, 4 PMon The Big East Network and ESPN Full Court – We aren’t expecting this to be a particularly competitive game, but it will be worth following to see the co-favorites in the Big East (along with Villanova and Syracuse). The Panthers have one of the best backcourts in America with Ashton Gibbs, Brad Wanamaker,and Gilbert Brown, but the success of the team could well depend on the interior play of Gary McGhee, who has been quiet so far this season.
Harvard at George Mason, 4 PM – Jeremy Lin is gone, but Tommy Amaker returns with a solid squad–led by Kyle Casey and Keith Wright–that is good enough to win the school’s first Ivy League title. [Ed. Note: The Crimson are the only historic Division 1 program to have never won a league championship. And the answer is no, we do not count schools that joined recently in the discussion.] They will have their hands full, however, as they travel down to Fairfax, Virginia to take on Jim Larranaga‘s squad that is led by Cam Long and Ryan Pearson and could very easily end up winning the CAA.
#23 San Diego State at Long Beach State, 7 PM – This game should be all about the Aztecs who return all five starters from a team that challenged Tennessee in a close game in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament last March. The Aztecs, who are led by sophomore sensation Kawhi Leonard, should challenge BYU for the Mountain West title this season, but Steve Fisher has higher aspirations for what’s certainly a Sweet 16-level team. Look for Casper White to make his mark for the 49ers, but the Aztecs should win this one fairly easily.
Weber State at Utah State, 9:05 PM – An early season Bracket Buster match-up that might be the most interesting game of the weekend. The Wildcats will have the best player on the court in Damian Lillard, projected as a potential first round pick in 2012, but they will have to travel to Logan to take on a Aggie team that returns four of five starters but will really miss Jared Quayle as they have to break in a new point guard against Lillard.
Cornell at Seton Hall, Noon on The Big East Network and ESPN Full Court – Their second game of the weekend should be significantly more challenging for the Big Red as they travel to play a Pirate team that has a new coach in Kevin Willard and returns two stars in Jeremy Hazell and Herb Pope. We know what to expect from Hazell (shooting, lots of shooting), but we aren’t sure what to expect from Pope who underwent cardiac surgery in the off-season to repair a congenital abnormality. Pope looked pretty good in some exhibition games, but we expect it will be a while before he gets back to the level where he was last year. A year ago, the Pirates won a tight game over the Big Red on the road. Don’t expect this year to be as close.
Princeton at #1 Duke, 5 PM on ESPNU – That’s right. We will be courtside for the opening game of Duke’s title defense. Nothing against the Tigers, but this should be one of those 40-50 point blowouts. Still, we will be interested to see how Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry fit into an already loaded perimeter attack for the Blue Devils that features Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler.
Frank Hassell (F) – Old Dominion (9.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG)
Denzel Bowles (F) – James Madison (20.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG)
Cam Long (G) – George Mason (12.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.3 SPG)
Mike Moore – Hofstra
While Blaine Taylor and ODU are the early favorites in the CAA, they can also do damage against quality non-conference opponents.
What You Need to Know
A league record six CAA teams made the postseason last year. For the conference to match that number this season, squads such as Northeasternand William & Mary will need to retool on the fly after suffering heavy losses, and up-and-comers such as James Madison andDelaware will need to take a big step forward in 2011.
The aforementioned James Madison Dukes and Delaware Blue Hens both lost at least 20 games in 2009-10 and combined to win just seven conference games, but hopes are high for both programs. James Madison has the most explosive offensive duo in the CAA with Texas A&M transferDenzel Bowles and Julius Wells, both of whom averaged over 15 PPG last year. Delaware returns its top seven scorers, including an explosive duo in its own right with seniors Jawan Carter and Alphonso Dawson.
The predicted struggles of UNC Wilmington and Georgia State could end up costing the Colonial Athletic Association an NCAA Tournament berth in March. Both teams had a final RPI in the mid-200s last season and neither team should be much improved this season. The Colonial desperately needs its bottom-level teams to avoid dragging down the conference’s overall RPI in order to successfully secure two NCAA Tournament bids.
Old Dominion (NCAA Seed #9) – The CAA’s defending champions have the potential to be even better this season with four starters returning, including senior forward Frank Hassell and breakout candidateKent Bazemore. Even with the loss of leading scorer Gerald Lee, Old Dominion is still a physical team that wins with defense under coach Blaine Taylor, who has led the Monarchs to seven straight winning seasons and six straight postseason appearances. This year should be no different. Read the rest of this entry »
In 2010, the Colonial Athletic Association represented itself well in March, sending a league-record six teams to the postseason. That group was led by league champion Old Dominion, who advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32 after upending Notre Dame. Both second-place Northeastern and third-place William & Mary fell in the first round of the NIT in a pair of close road losses at Connecticut and North Carolina, respectively. Fifth-place VCU swept Saint Louis in a best-of-three final to win the third annual CBI tournament, while seventh-place Hofstra fell in the CBI’s first round, and fourth-place George Mason lost its first game in the CIT.
Two of the CAA’s twelve teams will be under the direction of a new coach in 2010-11. Tom Pecora left Hofstra after nine seasons to lead the rebuilding effort at Fordham. Replacing Pecora is not Tim Welsh, like it was originally intended, but rather Mo Cassara, a first-time head coach who spent the last four seasons under Al Skinner at Boston College. UNC-Wilmington also made a coaching change, “reassigning” four-year head coach Benny Moss within the athletic department. The Seahawks’ new head man is the well-traveled Buzz Peterson, who has already made stops at Appalachian State (twice), Tulsa, Tennessee, and Coastal Carolina.
For the second consecutive year, a Virginia Commonwealth Ram was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, this time being First Team All-CAA center Larry Sanders, who elected to forgo his senior season at VCU. Even with the loss of Sanders, the Colonial boasts a wealth of returning talent, especially at the guard spots. Two members of last year’s First Team are back, led by 2010 CAA Player of the Year and senior Charles Jenkins. Northeastern’s senior guard Chaisson Allen is also back, along with four seniors who made the 2010 Second Team: Delaware guard Jawan Carter, George Mason guard Cam Long, VCU guard Joey Rodriguez, and James Madison forward Denzel Bowles.
Larry Sanders brought the CAA a ton of pub last season, but skipped his senior season to go pro. (VCUAthletics.tv)
Power Rankings (last year’s overall and conference standings in brackets)
Old Dominion [27-9 (15-3)] – The Monarchs look to make it back-to-back Colonial Athletic Association championships this season. Leading scorer and First Team All-CAA forward Gerald Lee is gone, but four starters from last year’s title team are back, led by 6’8 senior forward Frank Hassell (9.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG). Hassell anchors a frontline that will once again be Old Dominion’s strength, a luxury in a league that doesn’t feature much frontcourt depth. Teaming with Hassell are a pair of seniors: the versatile Ben Finney (8.8 PPG, 5.8 RPG) and Keyon Carter (7.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG). There are question marks about the guard play, but there are worse alternatives in this league than junior Kent Bazemore (8.4 PPG, 4.2 RPG), a defensive specialist, and senior Darius James (7.0 PPG). Head coach Blaine Taylor has done a great job in leading the Monarchs to seven straight winning seasons and six straight postseason appearances, and while a number of teams are capable of winning the Colonial this year, Old Dominion is once again the team to beat until someone knocks them off.
VCU [27-9 (11-7)] – In year one of the post-Anthony Grant & Eric Maynor era, VCU won 27 games, second-most in school history, reached the postseason for the fourth consecutive year, and won the CBI tournament. Not bad for what was supposed to be a “transition year” at Virginia Commonwealth. This year, the Rams have to deal with the heavy loss of First Team All-CAA center Larry Sanders, who finished in the top five in the league in rebounding, blocked shots, and field goal percentage. The burden of some of that production will fall on the shoulders of 6’9 senior Jamie Skeen (8.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG), but expect the 2010-11 Rams to be a guard-oriented squad. Second Team All-CAA senior Joey Rodriguez is the top returning scorer (12.9 per game), but also led the CAA in assists (5.8 per game) and steals (1.9 per game). Seniors Brandon Rozzell (8.8 PPG), Ed Nixon (7.9 PPG), and wing Bradford Burgess (10.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG) should all see increased production this year. VCU was a bit unfortunate in close games last year, as all eight conference losses were by five points or fewer, including a four-point overtime loss to Old Dominion in the CAA Tournament semifinals. If a few of those close losses go the other way in Shaka Smart’s second year, VCU could very well be headed back to the NCAA Tournament.
George Mason [17-15 (12-6)] – In 2010, George Mason showed flashes of being a league contender; a seven-game win streak last January left the Patriots with a 15-7 (10-1) record, but they lost eight of their last ten games, and subsequently bowed out in the CAA quarterfinals. But all five starters are back this season, led by senior guard Cam Long (12.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.3 SPG), a 2010 Second-Team All-CAA performer and 2011 Player of the Year candidate. Long will be complemented by a trio of juniors in forward Ryan Pearson (11.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG), guard Andre Cornelius (9.4 PPG), and forward Mike Morrison (8.5 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.6 BPG). If forward Luke Hancock (7.7 PPG, 3.5 RPG) and guard Sherrod Wright (5.5 PPG) can both blossom as sophomores, this could be one of Jim Larranaga‘s most talented teams and the most talented team in the CAA. As is, George Mason will likely be more consistent in 2011, and with that, the Patriots should be considered one of the favorites. Read the rest of this entry »
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)
Northeastern (18-10, 13-3)
Old Dominion (21-8, 13-3)
George Mason (16-12, 11-5)
William & Mary (19-8, 11-5)
Drexel (15-14, 10-6)
VCU (19-7, 10-6)
Hofstra (16-13, 8-8)
Georgia State (12-17, 4-12)
UNC Wilmington (8-20, 4-12)
Towson (7-20, 4-12)
James Madison (12-17, 4-12)
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Special to RushTheCourt. Ryan Restivo of the MAAC-based SienaSaintsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. SienaSaintsBlog now features exclusive video!
The BracketBuster matchups are out, and as promised, RTC is here with some analysis of some of the top games! Five Colonial Athletic Association teams lead the pack into these February weekend matchups. The Western Athletic Conference drew four bids and the Missouri Valley drew three. One problem with the BracketBusters? Five of the television games will be on ESPNU, which of course means they’re not available on ESPN360. However I’d say there are five games where you must, to quote another piece here, “quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live.”
Friday 2/19 (RPI)
Old Dominion (#46) @ Northern Iowa (#17) – 7 pm on ESPN2/ESPN360
Get to Know Gerald Lee
The Monarchs will travel to Cedar Rapids to play where the Panthers have won every home game by an average of 14 points per game entering this week. 6’8 UNI senior Adam Koch is a tough-to-contain inside presence, scoring a team high 12.7 points per game. 6’10 ODU senior Gerald Lee will likely be assigned to the task of guarding Koch, an he has been a beast this year for the Monarchs, shooting 53% from the field and leading the team with 14.3 points per game. The matchup to watch in this game will be to see if Old Dominion can defend Koch on the inside while keeping their shooters, junior Kwadzo Ahelegbe (11.1 ppg) and Senior Ali Farokhmanesh (team high 42 3-pointers made), at bay. Both teams are first in their respective conferences in FG percentage defense at eerily similar numbers: Old Dominion’s 39.5% FG-defense is 21st while Northern Iowa’s 39.9% ranks 37th nationally. The Monarchs have had some defensive trouble lately, trying zones at Northeastern on Saturday when facing a team with similar size and offensive weapons as the Panthers, to give up a season high 59.5% field goal percentage.
Saturday 2/20 (RPI)
Siena (#44) @ Butler (#19) – 11 am on ESPN2/ESPN360
The owner of the nation’s longest winning streak, Siena at thirteen straight, will go into an extremely tough environment at Butler in Saturday’s first Bracketbuster game. The Saints are led by 6’5 senior Edwin Ubiles and his 15.8 points per game as he makes his case for MAAC Player of the Year despite some lingering shoulder issues. Alex Franklin plays bigger than his 6’5 frame to lead the Saints down low with 16.1 points per game. On the other side, Butler’s Gordon Hayward has been a beast for the Bulldogs this year, scoring 16.1 points per game and tying a season-high 25 in Sunday’s comeback win over UW-Milwaukee. Hayward, a sophomore, is already attracting the attention of NBA scouts. Fellow sophomore Shelvin Mack has scored 15 points per game and Matt Howard, when not in foul trouble, scores 11 points per game. Howard has been tough to defend inside, going off for 23 points in Butler’s nine-point loss to Minnesota, but has had issues with foul trouble, getting disqualified in three of the Bulldogs’ four losses. It will be interesting to see how Siena defends Hayward and Howard and how this veteran Saints team led by seniors Ubiles, Franklin and Ronald Moore can contain this explosive offense on the road.
Ryan Restivo of the MAAC-based SienaSaintsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. SienaSaintsBlog now features exclusive video!
Standings (as of 2/1)
George Mason (15-7, 10-1)
Old Dominion (17-6, 9-2)
Northeastern (14-8, 9-2)
VCU (15-5, 7-4)
William & Mary (15-6, 7-4)
Drexel (12-11, 7-4)
Hofstra (11-12, 4-7)
James Madison (10-12, 3-8)
Georgia State (9-14, 3-8)
UNC Wilmington (7-15, 3-8)
Delaware (6-16, 2-9)
Towson (5-16, 2-9)
Important Games This Week
Wed 2/3 – William & Mary @ Old Dominion. This will be the Tribe’s chance to get back into the conference title hunt. William & Mary lost in their first meeting with Old Dominion by three in a game that had ten lead changes. If the Tribe can pull off a road win it will be another notch to a resume that includes wins at Wake Forest and at Maryland.
Sat 2/6 – George Mason @ Drexel. Coming into this week the Dragons have won four of five of their conference home games. Their top-flight defense will go up against the first-place Patriots for the only time this season, a team that has won seven in a row and 12 of its last 13 games. Ryan Pearson appears to be back for the Patriots and they are starting to hit on all cylinders. If the Dragons want to contend for a top 4 seed, a win would go a long way towards that goal.
George Mason (10-1)
Cam Long, battled and overcame serious cramping problems (Washington Post), and has found his groove as he scored a team-high 18 in a dominant 77-66 win over Delaware Wednesday night. Long made 8-9 free throws and helped propel a 17-0 first half run to take control, leading by as many as 21 early in the first half over the Blue Hens. The Patriots were without Ryan Pearson due to a tight hamstring but senior Louis Birdsong stepped in and scored 11 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, tying the team high with Mike Morrison. Saturday, the Patriots needed all 23 points from Cam Long as the Patriots held on to win 70-68 over James Madison. Long has scored 20 or more in four of George Mason’s last five games and help extend their season-high win streak to seven. Ryan Pearson returned to score 7 points and grab a team-high 8 rebounds.
Old Dominion (9-2)
The Monarchs coasted to their eighth straight win with a 56-40 win over Georgia State Thursday night. Gerald Lee led the Monarchs with 16 points and Trian Iliadis nailed three treys off the bench as the Monarchs got off to a hot start, shooting 50% from the field. However, Lee was frustrated with the team’s play. Northeastern made nine threes over all the zones the Monarchs threw at them Saturday, knocking the Monarchs out of first place in a 10-point road loss. Kenyon Carter, who grabbed 7 rebounds, said they had their chances. “When a team is hitting shots like that, you’ve just got to weather the storm.”
The Huskies shot a season-low 31% from the field as Drexel dealt Northeastern their first loss in the new year, falling 61-48 at home Wednesday night. Nkem Ojougbough led the Huskies with 14 points and five blocks but NU could not keep up early with the Dragons, who went on a 14-0 run early to keep the game in control. Chaisson Allen led the charge Saturday afternoon, making 7-10 shots and scoring a team-high 19 in Northeastern’s 74-64 win over Old Dominion. The Huskies led by as many as 19 in the second half as they shot a season high 59.5% from the field. Matt Janning scored 17 points and dished out a team-high 7 assists.
The Rams found their statement win, tying a CAA record with 20 three pointers in a 112-53 win over Towson on Wednesday night. Larry Sanders, who went for 17 points and 14 rebounds, said he was sick of losing and the Rams did not let up: shooting a season high 63.1% from the field, dishing the fourth most assists in CAA history (30) and scoring the most points in Rams history since 1978. Joey Rodriguez scored a season-high 22 points as the Rams coasted late by Georgia State 78-62 on Saturday night. The game was not without some anxious moments as the Rams scored just nine points in the first twelve and a half minutes of the second half, only to see get a three-point play from Ed Nixon to help keep the lead. Rodriguez made 12-13 free throws and dished out 9 assists.
William & Mary (7-4)
The Tribe was dealt their third straight loss, unable to score in the final 2:52 in a two-point loss at James Madison Wednesday night. Quinn McDowell made 5-6 three-point field goals on his way to a team-high 23 points. The Tribe came back from an eight-point halftime deficit and had many chances to tie or win but the Tribe missed their final six shots. David Schneider’s two free throws with 9 seconds left gave W&M breathing room in their 54-51 win over Drexel Sunday afternoon. Schneider made just 1-8 shots but his 11 points from free throws helped William & Mary snap a three game losing streak. Quinn McDowell scored 12 points on 3-8 shooting.
Chris Fouch and Jamie Harris both scored 13 as Drexel swept the season series at Northeastern Wednesday night. The Dragons led by as much as 15 and outrebounded the Huskies by 16. Jamie Harris scored 13 points but Drexel could not keep their three-game win streak alive, falling 54-51 at William & Mary Sunday. The Dragons could not come back even while holding the Tribe without a field goal in the final 6:21. Sammie Givens and Chris Fouch each had 11 points, Evan Neisler pulled down a team-high 9 rebounds.
Head Coach Tom Pecora took a different approach to his team’s losing streak. Pecora banned his players from wearing any “Hofstra” gear to practice until they broke out of their skid. It appeared to work Wednesday night, scoring the most points in a first half under Pecora on their way to a 93-54 win over UNC Wilmington. Greg Washington set a career-high 10 blocks and scored 14 points. Charles Jenkins scored 16 of his team-high 24 points in the first half as the Pride shot a season high 56.7%. Charles Jenkins scored 21 of his team-high 27 points in the second half and Chaz Williams added 18 points and 8 boards to beat Delaware by 10 at home Saturday. Tom Pecora moved to third on the Hofstra all-time wins list with his 147th win.
James Madison (3-8)
Denzel Bowles racked up another double-double — 17 points and 15 rebounds — in a comeback win over Radford Monday night. The Dukes came back on a 9-0 run to turn a one-point deficit with 3:12 left to an eight point lead. Radford tied a record for fewest free throws made and fewest attempted going 0-2 from the line. Pierre Curtis’ two made free throws with 2:08 to go broke the sixth tie of the game and gave the Dukes a 65-63 win over the Tribe Wednesday night. Despite not making a field goal in the final 4:11, Curtis made the only two free throws the Dukes made in the half to give them the win. Denzel Bowles led the Dukes with 21 points on 7-13 shooting and a team-high 8 boards. Denzel Bowles notched a double-double with 20 points and a team-high 13 rebounds but James Madison was unable to come back Saturday afternoon and fell 70-68 to George Mason. The Dukes could not overcome a deficit as large as 12 in the second half even shooting 69.6% from the field and making four threes. The Patriots forced 20 turnovers and scored 20 points off of them.
Georgia State (3-8)
Georgia State shot its worst percentage since 2003 in a 16-point loss at Old Dominion Thursday night. The Panthers got down big, shooting just 27.6% from the field and ending up behind 13 at halftime. Joe Dukes and Trae Goldston led the Panthers with 11 points each. The Panthers have lost five straight road games. Joe Dukes scored 20 points but the Panthers could not make baskets late, and shot 29.4% from the field in the second half, as they fell at Virgina Commonwealth by 16 Saturday night. James Fields’ three pointer with 6:27 left cut the VCU lead to three but the Rams went on a 9-2 run to close out the Panthers chances for good.
UNC Wilmington (3-8)
The Seahawks’ sixth straight loss would be Benny Moss’ last. UNC Wilmington suffered its second worst loss in the Seahawks’ history in the CAA, losing by 39 to Hofstra. Johnny Wolf led the Seahawks with 14 points but Chad Tomko, playing with a lingering sprained right ankle, did not score a point in 17 minutes. Tomko said, “We didn’t show any emotion or any pride.” Soon enough Moss was told that he was “reassigned” in the athletic department and assistant Brooks Lee will serve as the interim coach. Moss went 41-74 in four seasons, 23-45 in the CAA. … The Brooks Lee era did not start as planned Saturday. The Seahawks were frustrated by a zone and made just 5-34 shots from behind the arc and squandered a lead as large as eight early in a 58-53 loss to Towson. Matt Wilson, who scored 2 points and grabbed 2 rebounds is out indefinitely with a broken clavicle. John Fields scored a team-high 13 points and pulled down 21 of UNC Wilmington’s 47 rebounds. The Seahawks have lost seven of their last eight games.
The Blue Hens were doomed by poor shooting early as the Blue Hens got down by as many as 21 in a 77-66 loss at George Mason Wednesday night. Jawan Carter, Alphonso Dawson and D.J. Boney combined to shoot 1-17 early as the Patriots dominated on the floor and on the glass, outrebounding the Blue Hens by seven and blocking seven shots. Carter led the Blue Hens with 23 points on 8-18 shooting, making three of the Blue Hens’ four three point field goals. The Blue Hens started out slow, making just one of their first 16 shots, and getting down by as many as 13 in a 77-67 loss at Hofstra Saturday. Jawan Carter scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed 9 rebounds but the Blue Hens couldn’t rebound from making just seven field goals in the first half.
The Tigers, playing without Robert Nwankwo and Brian Morris, never stayed in the game with the Rams and fell to an embarrassing 112-53 loss at Virginia Commonwealth Wednesday night. This loss was the worst in the Tigers 30 year history of Division I play and the most since giving up 120 to Maryland in 1994. Jarrel Smith and Josh Thornton led the Tigers with a team-high 12 points. The Tigers got a team-high 13 from Josh Thornton and, as a team, made 14-15 free throws in a 58-53 win at UNC Wilmington. Their zone stifled the Seahawks as they made just 2 of their last 27 three pointers in the game. Calvin Lee recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Robert Nwankwo returned after a two game respite with a shoulder injury to score 2 points and grab 5 rebounds. Brian Morris is expected to be back for the Tigers’ next game Wednesday at Drexel.
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.