Summer School in the CAA

Posted by Brian Goodman on September 8th, 2010


Alex Varone of College Basketball Daily is the RTC correspondent for the CAA and MAC.

Around the CAA

  • 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)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 »
Share this story

Second Round Game Analysis: Saturday

Posted by rtmsf on March 19th, 2010

Over the next two days in a series of separate posts, RTC will break down all 16 of the second round games using our best analytical efforts to understand these teams, the matchups and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Our hope is that you’ll let us know in the comments where you agree, disagree or otherwise think we’ve lost our collective minds.  Here are the Saturday games.

1:05 pm – #2 Villanova vs. #10 St. Mary’s  (Providence pod)

A great opening game of the day for the group of teams that produced the best opening day of the NCAA Tournament ever. A lot of experts are going to be calling for an upset here and based on the way these two teams are playing we can’t say that we blame them. The Wildcats came into the NCAA Tournament having lost five of seven games and nearly lost to Robert Morris (down by 7 with less than 4 minutes left before some controversial calls went ‘Nova’s way). On the other side, the Gaels stormed through the West Coast Conference Tournament and knocked off Richmond, a team that a lot of people had as a potential sleeper, in the first round. The key to this game will be how Reggie Redding handles Omar Samhan. After watching Samhan rip apart the Spiders, Jay Wright has to be concerned about his interior players going against one of the best low-post players in the country. On the other side, Saint Mary’s has to figure out how to deal with Scottie Reynolds and the rest of the Wildcat backcourt. They are certainly better equipped to match-up with Villanova’s perimeter players with Mickey McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova than the Wildcats are to handle Samhan. Saint Mary’s perimeter players pack enough offensive punch to make keep up with Villanova’s guards, but Mouphtaou Yarou and Redding shouldn’t challenge Samhan too much defensively. The one wildcard here is Reynolds. Will he “learn” from Wright’s “teaching moment” and become the Scottie Reynolds we knew for most of the past two seasons or will be the 2-15 from the field Reynolds?

The Skinny: Samhan overwhelms the Wildcats on the inside and advance into the Sweet 16 as this year’s Cinderella.

3:20 pm – #5 Butler vs. #13 Murray State  (San Jose pod)

The second game of the second round will feature the top mid-major program in the east versus an upstart who would love to get there themselves.  In their first round game, if you haven’t heard, the Racers’ Danero Thomas hit a shot at the buzzer to knock Vanderbilt out of the Tournament, but what you may not know about that game is that Murray State pretty much controlled it throughout.  It was very late when Vandy regained the lead and set the stage for Thomas’ game winner.  The point: Murray is better than your typical #13 seed Cinderella.  Butler, on the other hand, had a weak first half and a superb second half to put away UTEP.  It was two of the staples of Butler’s attack — relentless halfcourt defense and the three-ball — that allowed the Bulldogs to quickly take the lead and never look back against the Miners.  As for this game, Murray State does many of the same things that Butler does, it’s just that Brad Stevens’ team does those things better.  It will certainly be interesting to see how Butler responds to being the Big (Bull)Dog in an NCAA Tournament game, as they’re usually the upstart taking on some higher-seeded Kansas or Florida type of team.

The Skinny: We’d love to take Murray State here, but Butler isn’t going to let a johnny-come-lately out-Butler them en route to the Sweet Sixteen, so we expect Butler to hang on and win by 6-8 points.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Bracket Prep: Northern Iowa, Old Dominion, Siena, St. Mary’s

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

As we move through the next few days when automatic bids will be handed out on a regular basis, we’re going to break down the teams for you so that you can start thinking about your bracket ahead of time.  The pearls of wisdom are meant to help you better understand what these teams are good at and how to make fair comparisons between them — all too often, the capsules you see have a lot of information in them, but very little of it is actually helpful.  If you have additional ideas, leave them in the comments.  For the good/bad matchups, we’re not necessarily saying that Team X will win; we’re simply pointing out that in an ideal situation, some of that team’s strengths will be more likely to manifest against those particular opponents — so save the emails.  We’re still catching up, but these should be the teams through the early part of the week.

#5. Northern Iowa Panthers (28-4, 15-3 MVC) – automatic qualifier

NCAA Seed Range: #7-#9

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom:

  1. It’s all about methodical offense and sticky defense for the Panthers.  This team will not beat themselves with mistakes, so you’d better be disciplined in your approach if you hope to beat them.  Sixty points is the magic number — the Panthers were 16-0 this year when reaching that score.  Possession basketball is the key; a 10-point deficit in the last five minutes against UNI is nearly impossible to recover from, as they take care of the ball (only 10.5 turnovers/game) and hit free throws (75.5%).
  2. Not many mid-majors have a legitimate seven-footer but UNI’s Jordan Eglseder is one such player.  He only plays about 22 minutes per game, but he’s an effective scorer in the low post, draws a lot of fouls and is one of the best per-minute rebounders in the nation on both ends.  He’s not a game-changer in the sense that he will own the paint, but he is a tough wrinkle to prepare for in the game plan.
  3. The Panthers beat up on some bad major conference teams this year (Iowa, Iowa State, BC) in addition to knocking off some mid-major powers in Old Dominion and Siena.  The one confounding loss was to DePaul in the Virgin Islands early in the year where Mac Koshwal (12/19) dominated Eglseder (2/6) inside.  Don’t assume that as a trend, though, as Eglseder played well against ISU’s Craig Brackins (20/14) and Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson last season (13/5).

Good Matchups:  Wake Forest, Clemson

Bad Matchups: Marquette, UNLV

#6. Old Dominion (26-8, 15-3 CAA) – automatic qualifier

NCAA Seed Range: #9-#11

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom:

  1. There’s no one player you have to stop to beat ODU, but if you can slow down 6’10 center Gerald Lee, you’ll have a better chance.  The versatile big man was seen in the CAA Tournament taking the ball upcourt against pressure on occasion, in addition to lending his usual 15/5 and 54% shooting from the field.  He has six teammates who contribute between six and nine points per game, so keying on any one of them is precarious because the Monarchs share the wealth.  They only had six occasions where a player scored 20+ points in a game this year, and five of those were Lee (Marsharee Neely was the other).
  2. ODU is another one of those mid-majors that thrives on possession basketball.  They limit your possessions by defending and rebounding among the best in the nation.  They also gang-rebound on the offensive glass, giving themselves an extra chance on nearly half of their scoring opportunities.  Those extra chances help to make up for what is a fairly lousy three-point (31.5%) and two-point shooting percentage (49.4%).
  3. ODU’s signature win was at Georgetown during Snowpacalypse I in December.  They did it by forcing GU point guard Chris Wright into a difficult game (2-8 FG; 4 pts) and collecting eighteen Hoya turnovers.  It should be noted that if you can turn over the Monarchs, as Missouri, Northern Iowa and Dayton successfully did in the nonconference slate, they struggle scoring enough points to win.

Good Matchups:  Oklahoma State, Texas

Bad Matchups: Clemson, Richmond

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

ATB: Nobody Wants to Play These Middies

Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2010

Championship Monday Night.  Four middies had their conference tourneys tonight, and we’ll be damned if we didn’t see at least a couple of RTCs out there (and a half-RTC in the WCC just for good measure).  Make no mistake, though, the four mid-major teams that won their leagues tonight are all excellent teams that nobody, we repeat, NOBODY, is going to want to see opposite their name in the brackets next week.  Every one of these four squads are seasoned, experienced and battle-tested units that won’t get rattled by seeing some bright lights, a big arena and a brand-name team standing at the other end of the court.  If none of these four teams pulls a first-round upset, then we don’t know anything about this game.

WCC ChampionshipSt. Mary’s 81, Gonzaga 62.  This game came down to a team that looked like it was playing for its NCAA life versus a team that was just happy going through the motions.  It was a complete mismatch in the second half of the WCC title game, as St. Mary’s confirmed its bona fides in a cathartic victory over its biggest rival and in the process serving notice that there are two powers coming out of the WCC this season.  The Gaels broke up a close game at halftime with a 51-point second half that included 68% shooting in the second half led by multiple threes from Mickey McConnell (26/6 assts/4 stls) and Ben Allen (20/9/4 assts).  Essentially it was a do-no-wrong kind of half for Randy Bennett’s team to the point where his team didn’t even need a big offensive night from their superstar center Omar Samhan (9/7/6 blks).  As for Gonzaga, this was the latest in a series of disappointing no-shows during the last six weeks where Mark Few’s team looked largely uninterested and apathetic — losses to San Francisco and LMU were similar occurrences.  Elias Harris in particular was miserable tonight, shooting 3-13 for eight points, and the entire team seemed to have grease on their hands with fourteen TOs in the game.  We realize that the Zags are always a threat to do some damage in March, but we’re just not convinced that this is one of Mark Few’s better teams, so it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if it was St. Mary’s that sticks around a little longer next week than their better-known counterparts in the NCAA Tournament.

Nope, SMC Didn't Surprise Us (AP/I. Brekken)

MAAC ChampionshipSiena 72, Fairfield 65 (OT). For an oh-so-brief moment, every bubble team in America held its collective breath.  Colin Nickerson’s three-pointer from the left corner was in the air to win the MAAC title for Fairfield, and if it had dropped, the weak bubble would have suddenly gotten a little more crowded with Siena joining the party.  Of course, it didn’t fall, and instead Siena capped off its title game comeback by dominating the overtime period and capturing its third straight MAAC championship to return to the NCAA Tournament.  For the third straight night, Siena found itself down at the half (this time by eleven) but as appropriate for a seasoned team, they never panicked, instead keeping their cool and eventually working their way back.  Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin, veterans of four NCAA Tournament games in their careers, combined for 49/19 to lead the Saints, but it was Ubiles’ 360-dunk in the second half that signaled to Fairfield and the rest of the building that Siena was not going to leave without a victory tonight.  Forget about the six losses on Siena’s record this year — five of those were away games, and the last we checked, the Tournament is played on neutral floors, and we know what this group is capable of in that respect.  Ask Vanderbilt or Ohio State: nobody wants to play this team next Thursday or Friday.  To close out the MAAC, check out this video from SienaSaintsBlog of the RTC tonight.  Great stuff.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

RTC Live: CAA Finals – Old Dominion vs. William & Mary

Posted by rtmsf on March 8th, 2010

RTC Live will be back at the Richmond Coliseum tonight for the CAA championship game between top seed Old Dominion and #3 seed William & Mary.  The two tidewater Virginia schools, both located within an hour of the venue, should make for a raucous environment tonight with hordes of fans in attendance and ESPN in the house as a part of Championship Week.  In yesterday’s semifinal round, ODU scrambled from down nearly ten in the home stretch of the game to push local favorite VCU into overtime, where the Monarch’s prevailed behind Gerald Lee’s 26/4 on 10-13 FGs.  William & Mary had the opposite problem — instead of coming from behind, they had to hold off a surging Northeastern squad using a key David Schneider trey late to re-take the lead and standing tough on the last Husky possession as NU missed seven shots that would have tied the game.  Both of these teams are capable of pulling an upset in the NCAAs next week, with the scalps of Georgetown (ODU), Maryland (W&M) and Wake Forest (W&M) already on their resumes this year, so this game should serve as a primer to a tremendous #5/#12 matchup next week.  It should be a great one tonight, so join us for all the action as our correspondent will live-blog all of the action in the CAA championship.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Set Your Tivo: 03.08.10

Posted by THager on March 8th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

CAA Championship: Old Dominion vs. William & Mary – 7:00 pm on ESPN (****)

This neutral site game will feature two of the better mid-major teams in the country, but neither team is likely to make the Tournament without a win here.  William & Mary was at one time the top ranked team in the RPI in the country, with early wins over Maryland, Wake Forest, and Richmond.   Old Dominion is no slouch either, with OOC wins over Marshall, Georgetown, and Charlotte.  The Monarchs feature a solid defense at #18 in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings.  Their offense ranks only #83, though, and they are one of the only teams in the country that has just one scorer in the 10-15 PPG range.  However, that offensive weapon, Gerald Lee, is coming off a 26-point performance against VCU in which he went 10-13 from the field.  The Tribe, on the other hand, struggles at #187 on defense, but they make up for it with an offense that features three players who average in double figures.  Their leading scorer, David Schneider, had only three points in his last game, and has shot only 7-29 in their two games against the Monarchs, but he’s shown an ability to step up in the clutch even when he’s not shooting well in general.  If he doesn’t get back on track tonight, though, it could spell trouble for the Tribe as they seek their first NCAA Tournament bid in history.

MAAC Championship: Fairfield vs. Siena – 7:00 pm on ESPN2 (***)

Siena has put together a great season, but they may be on the outside looking in if they lose in the MAAC Championship tonight.  They were 17-1 in the MAAC, and they are ranked #28 in the RPI, but the general consensus is that they need a win against Fairfield if they want to make the NCAAs for the third straight season.  They have good losses against Temple, Georgia Tech, Northern Iowa and Butler, but they have failed to win any big OOC games the entire year.  The Saints swept the season series between the two teams, but Fairfield was one of the only teams in the conference to play them close, and the Stags did so both times.  On January 16, they trailed Siena by just one point at halftime, thanks to 50% shooting from beyond the arc.  In their February 8 matchup, the Stags lost by just two points, and they outscored the Saints 39-33 in the second half.  One of the most interesting elements of both teams is their lack of depth, as Siena played only three reserves in the first game, none of whom scored over three points, and Fairfield had only one bench player who scored.  In the rematch, Fairfield’s bench scored six points, and Siena’s reserves scored two points.  The Stags don’t rank in the top 100 in either offensive or defensive efficiency, but if they can shoot over 61% from inside the arc like they did in their rematch, they may steal a bid from a great Siena team.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

CAA Tournament Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2010

Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the CAA and an occasional contributor.

There is a lot at stake for what appears to be a one-bid league. BracketBusters did not help (3-9) and the CAA could not capitalize on TV games, winning just one of five. William & Mary used the non-conference slate, winning at Wake Forest and Maryland, to boost their chances as an at-large. Old Dominion won at Georgetown and crushed Charlotte as home to boost their at-large chances early. Northeastern and George Mason are likely to reach other postseason tournaments but have a good chance at making a run at the CAA automatic bid. Ken Pomeroy’s tournament odds give Old Dominion a 45.7% chance, followed by #5 seed VCU (24.4%).  No team has ever won four games in four days to win the conference tournament in CAA history. If you are within the viewing area or able to watch on Sunday, the CAA semifinals of this tournament guarantee to be a great spectacle. However before eleven teams’ hopes are dashed Monday night, the themes that bring these teams together will dominate the tournament talk.

#1 Old Dominion would have to be considered the favorite. They are second in the CAA in offensive efficiency and first in defensive efficiency and have won five of their last six, their only loss in that span at Northern Iowa in the BracketBusters. Gerald Lee has been the focal point of their late season streak, shooting 54% from the field in the last six games. However, they will have a lot tougher path to the championship than ever because of a potential re-match with Virginia Commonwealth. The Monarchs escaped last Saturday with a three-point win at home and were beaten by VCU by 12 on the road earlier in February. There’s a chance the Monarchs’ semifinal game will be their toughest yet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Checking in on… the CAA

Posted by rtmsf on February 16th, 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 2/15)

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

Another snowy week struck the CAA schedule. This is not a bold prediction but I guarantee we’re going to get games in the conference tournament that are the caliber of George Mason’s 82-77 overtime win over VCU on Tuesday night. Anyone who caught that game on ESPNU saw a real treat. Despite the snow, Hofstra drew a modest 893 in their game against Drexel Wednesday night. CAA Rookie and co-Player of the Week Drexel’s Chris Fouch left with an injury. Will he miss the rest of the season? Towson postponed its Wednesday night game to Thursday afternoon and gave interim-coach Brooks Lee his first career win as coach of UNC Wilmington. Meanwhile, James Madison walk-on redshirt freshman Ryan Knight was arrested for allegedly throwing snowballs at vehicles that were described as “missiles.” Meanwhile Old Dominion turned in another 20-win season, their fifth in the last six years. Unless there is more snow, the entire league will play on Tuesday night before heading into their weekend BracketBuster matchups in an effort to boost the league RPI.

Important Games This Week

Tuesday 2/16             

  • Drexel @ VCU  (7pm TCN).  VCU has a chance to build some momentum on a three-game homestand starting tonight against Drexel after playing themselves out of the race this week. Drexel, meanwhile, can play themselves further in to gaining a first-round bye with a win but will have to do it without talented redshirt freshman Chris Fouch.
  • William & Mary @ George Mason (7pm MASN).  The Patriots will be without Mike Morrison due to a suspension from Saturday’s game. The Patriot Center is a tough home atmosphere and erupted in their ESPNU win over VCU. It will be interesting to see if the Tribe can come out and get another signature road win.

Team Reviews

Northeastern (12-3)

Last week’s co-Player of the Week Matt Janning scored 29 points this past week on 10-23 shooting (43%) but the Huskies struggled in a road loss at William & Mary on Saturday. Janning had one of his worst road performances of the year, scoring eight points and going 0-5 from long range in a one-point loss. A team with Nkem Ojougbouh and Manny Adako in the frontcourt was outrebounded in both of their games this week. Grabbing open boards has been a problem this year as the Huskies rank 10th in the CAA in rebounding margin and last in offensive rebounds. The three-point shot was off this week as well, as the top CAA three-point shooting team shot just 13-40 (33%) this week. The conference schedule will continue to have winnable games at UNC Wilmington and a home game against Hofstra sandwiched between a BracketBuster against Louisiana Tech.

Old Dominion (12-3) 

Despite the snow, the Monarchs crushed the Dukes on the road by 20. Gerald Lee is making his play for first team CAA, scoring 34 points on 12-24 (50%) shooting this week. A sold out Constant Convocation Center saw the Monarchs disrupt the Patriots in a 16-point win where Mason player Mike Morrison get ejected. The Monarchs improved this week from behind the arc. Junior Ben Finney turned in a 19-point, seven assist and seven rebound game. Currently the team ninth in the CAA in three-point field goal percentage shot 15-37 (41%). The one weakness that might be exploited, especially in the road BracketBuster game at Northern Iowa, is their 10th ranked free throw percentage of 65%. A home game against Towson should ensure some momentum going into the week and a road game at Georgia State will be their last conference road test before the conference tournament. A tiebreaker holds the Monarchs in second, as they lost their only game to Northeastern, but they still have a good chance to lock up the top seed.

George Mason (11-4)

Mike Morrison might not have the prettiest shooting stroke, but his basket with 2:46 left tied the game as the Patriot Center exploded in their 82-77 ESPNU televised win over VCU. The Patriots had not won at Old Dominion since 2004 and lost more than that on Saturday when the same Morrison drew two technical fouls and an ejection for yelling at officials. He drew a mandatory one-game suspension and George Mason added on another game so Morrison will be out the whole week for the Patriots. It will be interesting to see if they can keep in the race without him against William & Mary Tuesday night. George Mason has lost its last three road games, two of them by double digits to Drexel and Old Dominion.

William & Mary (10-5)

Kendrix Brown’s jumper with seven seconds left gave the Tribe a 53-52 win over Northeastern. David Schenider has struggled shooting, just 18-73 (25%) since mid-January. Despite that, the Tribe still ranks second in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (36%). One underlying problem that has plagued William & Mary has been turnovers. The Tribe turned over the ball 34 times last week, their highest in a two-game week since the first week of the season. While they had a great performance, making seven threes in a win over Delaware, the Tribe have continued to struggle this month shooting 24-89 (27%) from behind the arc. They will have a chance to carry that momentum to Fairfax against the Patriots and then into a road BracketBuster matchup in New Rochelle against the MAAC’s Iona Gaels.

Drexel (10-5)

Redshirt Freshman Chris Fouch returned to his native New York but hurt his left shoulder in the Wednesday night loss at Hofstra. Head coach Bruiser Flint said Fouch’s injury might be a season-ender but he will try to rehab and make it back for the CAA Tournament. Three of the Dragons’ final four games are on the road and we’ll see if the Dragons can keep up their third best defense in the league, holding teams to 39% FG, which they did in a 68-60 win Sunday over Delaware. Jamie Harris scored 16 of his team-high 21 points in the first half to lead the Dragons without Fouch. Look for Harris to step up Tuesday night at VCU, as it will be crucial to their remaining hopes for a first round bye in the conference tournament.

VCU (9-6)

VCU head coach Shaka Smart got his first name in memory of a 19th-century Zulu king who united southern Africa. However, his leadership will be tested this week in the wake of two tough losses. Joey Rodriguez did all he could on Tuesday night, turning in a career high 24 points, but George Mason dealt them an emotional 82-77 overtime loss. In the loss VCU blew another double-digit lead on the road: this time it was as high as 15. VCU ranks third in three point field goal percentage but failed to convert Saturday night at James Madison, making a season-low three from distance in a 76-71 loss. The Rams host the tough Drexel defense on Tuesday before hosting Akron in a BracketBuster game.

Hofstra (7-8)

As they currently stand, Hofstra can do no worse than their current seed since they hold a three-game lead and every head-to-head tiebreaker over the teams behind them. They are probably locked into the #6 seed since they cannot break a tiebreaker with VCU, who they lost to by 13 at home in their only meeting. There was at least a foot of snow but the show went on at the Mack Sports Arena in a big win over Drexel Wendesday. Junior Charles Jenkins, still working on his argument for Player of the Year, poured in 32 points and fellow junior Greg Washington set Hofstra’s all-time record for career blocks. Senior Cornelius Vines scored a career-high 24 points and tied a school record seven three pointers in a 17-point road win at UNC Wilmington. Jenkins nabbed co-Player of the Week honors and Chaz Williams, who could now be the favorite with Chris Fouch out, won Rookie of the Week. The Pride have a chance to build some momentum in conference at Delaware before hosting the disappointing Rider Broncs in their BracketBuster game.

James Madison (4-11)

Denzel Bowles led the Dukes this week with a team high 29 points and 13 rebounds but the Dukes fell in a makeup game loss at Towson by 4 on Monday. The school was closed but James Madison played the game Wednesday night: it didn’t help as Old Dominion crushed the Dukes at home. The Dukes made a season-low one three-pointer and shot 8% from behind the arc in a 20-point loss. The Dukes went on a 19-2 run early in the second half and Bowles tried to power his Dukes over VCU but fouled out with 7:56 to go. However the Dukes only committed three second half turnovers and held on to win at home by five. The win snapped a four game losing streak. This is one of the two best wins for JMU this year, with VCU (#66 RPI) and a home win over William & Mary (#51).

Georgia State (4-11)

The Panthers have won three games in 2010 and failed to win their second road game of the season, falling at Northeastern and at cellar dwellar Towson in overtime. What let down the Panthers this past week? Georgia State’s defense, which has held teams to 42% from the field and is sixth in conference, let both teams shoot a combined 49% (47-95) despite outrebounding both in each loss. A home game against James Madison is winnable as the bottom five scramble for positioning in the conference tournament.

UNC Wilmington (4-11)

Interim head coach Brooks Lee won his first game after an extra day delay due to snow. The Seahawks have been plagued by all their shortcomings this year. They rank third in free throws attempted at 555 but are the worst in the CAA at 64%. They haven’t been able to generate turnovers, ranking in the bottom of the conference in steals and assist to turnover ratio. Chad Tomko, with two sprained ankles, came out and scored a season high 22 at Towson to get Lee his first win as interim coach. The 17-point loss to Hofstra was a failure to hold the Pride on defense. One bright light to take into next year is the play of Ahmad Grant. Grant scored a career-high 23 points and 48 points on the week on 16-37 (43%) shooting. Grant has improved to where Lee said, “When he gets into the lane off the dribble, his arms are so long and he has a very good vertical, he can jump up and get his shot off over guys. Now that he’s added that to his game, it makes him more difficult to guard at the 3-point line. Now when a defender closes out on him, they have to honor drive and shot as well.”

Towson (4-11)

The Tigers had a two-win week, with two close wins over bottom of the pack teams in the CAA. Tony Franklin made two free throws with 4.8 seconds left for a three-point win Monday over James Madison. Saturday’s three-pointer from Rashawn Polk with 17 seconds left in overtime gave the Tigers a five-point win. Towson has improved over the past week, shooting better than 48% in three straight games. The last time the Tigers shot better than 43% in three straight games was in December. Towson also benefitted from the free throw line,  making a season-high 22 free throws in Monday’s win and converting 83% in Saturday’s overtime win. The Tigers hit a rough road trip which will take them from Williamsburg to Riverdale to play the MAAC’s Manhattan Jaspers after a mid-week matchup at William & Mary.

Delaware  (3-12)                                                                                           

The Blue Hens could only generate enough offense to win one game this week as they fell to last place in the CAA. Delaware shot 63-178 (35%) on the week. Jawan Carter led Delaware with 54 points on the week but the Blue Hens struggled with perimeter defense, allowing 18 three-pointers in three games. The Blue Hens rank last in the conference in field goal percentage; three point field goal percentage and blocked shots.

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.

Share this story

Breaking Down the Bracketbusters…

Posted by rtmsf on February 2nd, 2010

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Checking in on… the Colonial

Posted by rtmsf on February 1st, 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 2/1)

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

Team Reviews

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.”

Northeastern (9-2)

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.

VCU (7-4)

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.

Drexel (7-4)

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.

Hofstra (4-7)

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.

Delaware  (2-9)

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.

Towson (2-9)

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.

Share this story

Ten Tuesday Scribbles…

Posted by zhayes9 on January 26th, 2010

RTC contributor and bracketologist Zach Hayes will deliver ten permeating thoughts every Tuesday as the season progresses.

1. I’d be fairly shocked if Gonzaga is any lower than a #3 seed when the brackets are unveiled in March. In fact, I’d be fairly shocked if the Zags lost again this season. Think about it: they’ve already notched wins on the road against the three teams most likely to shock Mark Few’s team by dispatching Portland, Saint Mary’s and San Diego on a single road trip. They have one challenging non-conference game left against a rebuilding Memphis team in which Gonzaga will surely be favored. The only team I could see possibly stunning the Zags is Pepperdine and their explosive guard Keion Bell. The Waves only fell by seven in the Kennel this past week behind Bell’s 37 points, but they’re still 7-13 on the season and I highly doubt Bell is going to post 37 again on a stingier Gonzaga defense. Win out and Mark Few is looking at 27-3 (16-0) heading into the WCC tournament where they could finish with a 29-3 (18-0) overall record and an RPI in the top-20 with their only losses at Michigan State, at home against Wake Forest and Duke in MSG. That sets up Gonzaga for a #3 seed in the Spokane regional, meaning two quasi-home games until the regional (and they could be in the Salt Lake City regional). German import Elias Harris has spear-headed the Zags hot streak. He’s averaging 16/8 and shooting nearly 60% in a tremendous debut campaign.

Vasquez heating up for the Terps

2. Remember that Greivis Vasquez guy on Maryland who’s had a pretty damn good career? After scoring in the single digits in his first four games and struggling mightily with his jump shot in Maui, the brash and often polarizing emotional sparkplug for the Terps is heating up in a big way. And that’s bad news for the rest of the wide-open ACC. Vasquez has now scored in double figures his last 14 games including a 30-point outburst at Wake Forest and 22 in a big home win over Florida State. He played his most efficient game Saturday in the blowout win over NC State, notching 19 points on 7-11 FG and 3-4 3pt. Despite the concerning start, Vasquez is now playing like the ACC POY contender he truly is. His 43% FG is only second to his 44% as a freshman (but he only needs three more shots to match the amount taken that season), his 39% 3pt is far and away a career best, and he’s also contributing with 6.1 APG and 4.6 RPG, solid totals for a 6’6 guard. I fully expect Duke to win the ACC- they’ve already played two of their three most difficult ACC games- but Maryland is absolutely a contender to finish second behind Vasquez, the continued improved play of Landon Milbourne and Eric Hayes (46% 3pt), plus the superb coaching of Gary Williams.

3. Other than maybe Georgetown or Notre Dame, the most disappointing team in the nation last season may have been Baylor. The Bears entered the season fresh off reaching the NCAA Tournament just a few years following the Dave Bliss fallout with Scott Drew being lauded as one of the best young coaches in the game. Even though a late-season Big 12 Tournament and NIT push healed some wounds, the 5-11 Big 12 mark a season ago was still a campaign to forget. What led to the downfall? For one, Baylor ranked #103 in defensive efficiency in 2008-09. During their crippling six game Big 12 losing streak, the Bears surrendered 95 points to Oklahoma, 89 to Missouri and 83 to Texas Tech. In a related story, Baylor is ranked in the top 25 this week and ranks 41st in defensive efficiency. What has sparked the change? A big reason is the human eraser Ekpe Udoh in the post, a Michigan transfer who ranks sixth in college basketball in block percentage (Baylor ranks first in the nation in the same category). Baylor as a unit has also turned up the intensity on the defensive end, ranking third in the nation in opponents two-point FG% behind just Mississippi State and Florida State. Baylor hasn’t forgotten how to score, either. They rank 15th in offensive efficiency and eighth in effective FG%. Anyone who watched the Bears go toe-to-toe with Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse last Monday knows this team can play.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Checking in on… the CAA

Posted by jstevrtc on January 26th, 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 1/24):

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

Important Games This Week:

Wed 1/27

Drexel @ Northeastern

The Dragons have won three of their last four games and they beat Northeastern in December. Since then, the Huskies have been on a roll and are going for their twelfth straight win Wednesday night.

Sat 1/30

Old Dominion @ Northeastern

Northeastern, with a win Wednesday against Drexel, would have a chance to tie the school record 13-game win streak against Old Dominion. Northeastern has won five in a row at home entering the week. With a win Wednesday, Old Dominion would put an eight game win streak on the line as well.

Drexel @ William & Mary

Right now it appears these two could be fighting it out for the #4 seed in the conference tournament and this is a huge game for tiebreakers since William & Mary won the first game, 73-48. If the Dragons want to contend for a bye, which the top four seeds receive, this game would be crucial to their chances.

Team Reviews:

Old Dominion (8-1)

The Monarchs held Delaware to just 36% shooting in an easy 68-49 road win over the last-place Blue Hens Wednesday. Ben Finney followed up his season-high 19 from Saturday to lead the Monarchs with 17 on 6-9 shooting. The surprise was Darius James who scored a season-high 15 points coming off the bench. Old Dominion made nine three-point field goals, one short of their season high. The Monarchs and Tribe changed leads four times in the final 2:05 and Gerald Lee made two free throws with 43 seconds to go to give the Monarchs the lead and a 58-55 win at William & Mary on Saturday night. Lee led the Monarchs with 15 points and the Monarchs out rebounded the Tribe, 40-32. The Monarchs have won 10 of their last 11 games.

Northeastern (8-1)

The Huskies went on a 23-6 run to start the second half and close out a 25-point win at Towson on Wednesday night. The Huskies shot 62.1% in the second half to score 47 second half points, one shy of the Tigers’ total in two halves. Chaisson Allen led the Huskies with a team-high 16 points. Ten was the key number as the Huskies tied a season-high for three pointers (10) and extended their winning streak to ten. Nkem Ojougboh led the Huskies with 18 points on 6-7 shooting as Northeastern dominated VCU in a 74-62 win Saturday night. Allen scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half as the Huskies shot a season-high 58.5% from the field. Northeastern’s record for a win streak is 13, set in the 1985-86 season.

George Mason (8-1)

Cam Long set a new career-high for the second straight game, scoring 17 of his  27 in the second half as the Patriots beat Hofstra 90-72. The Patriots scored a season-high 90 by shooting 66.7% in the second half for their third road win of the year. George Mason has won four of their five games on the road in the CAA this year. The Patriots went on a 15-5 run to rally from a brief deficit to pull out a nine-point road win over Towson Saturday. Long led the Patriots with 21 points on 7-11 shooting. The Patriots shot 55.2% from the floor in the second half and every starter scored double-digit points in the victory. “My teammates are yelling ‘shoot!’ when they throw me the ball because they know I am making shots and capable of making my three-pointers,” Long said.

William & Mary (6-3)

Quinn McDowell was shut down and the Tribe were forced into 14 turnovers in a blowout 81-59 loss at Virginia Commonwealth Wednesday night. The Rams went on a 12-4 run to start the second half and held a double-digit lead for all but one minute of the half. Danny Sumner led the Tribe with 20 points on 8-12 shooting. A game that lived up to all the hype, the Tribe drew their biggest crowd to ever watch a CAA game and there were a combined ten lead changes, but they could not hold off the Monarchs, who made clutch free throws and resulted in a 58-55 home loss for the Tribe on Saturday. Head Coach Tony Shaver said, “Great atmosphere, well-played ball game. I don’t think I can ask our guys to compete any harder than we did tonight, and I’m very proud of that. Tough one to lose, but a great one to be a part of.” McDowell led the Tribe with 16 points on 5-13 shooting, but the Tribe were held to 29.6% second half shooting as Old Dominion used clutch free throws to take a late lead.

Drexel (6-3)

The Dragons went on an 11-0 second half run and scored a season-high 51 second half points in a 21 point home win over James Madison Wednesday. Jamie Harris led the Dragons with a team-high 20 points, 16 in the second half, on 8-12 shooting. Drexel turned the game around with three point shooting. The Dragons made 8-11 threes in the second half, coming off of making 3-32 (9.3%) over the last five halves of basketball. Led by Chris Fouch’s career-high 29 points on 10-15 shooting, the Dragons pulled away early in a 13 point win over Hofstra Saturday. Drexel took a halftime lead of 18 spurred by 51.7% shooting and opened the game up by as many as 30 in the second half.

VCU (5-4)

The Rams dominated the second half in front of a sold out crowd and had a dominant 22 point victory over William & Mary Wednesday. The Rams were able to hold the Tribe, the best three point shooting team in the CAA, to just 25.9% from three point range. Larry Sanders, who shared a team-high 18 with Joey Rodriguez, said he’s confident in his team’s identity. “This is the time we should be finding ourselves. That way, come March, we’ll be playing our best basketball”, Sanders said. Rodriguez collected 10 assists for his first career double-double. Sanders scored a team-high 22 points but the Rams could not keep pace with the hot-shooting Huskies in a 12-point loss at Northeastern on Saturday. The Rams shot 37.9% for the game and fell to 2-3 on the road in conference play. The Rams have not been swept in the regular season since 2005-06. The loss likely ensures the Rams will not win a fourth straight regular season title.

Georgia State (3-6)

The Panthers overcame a 12-point deficit to earn a home win over UNC Wilmington Wednesday night. Joe Dukes and Trey Hampton both scored 17 points to lead the Panthers. Coach Rod Barnes said his team’s adjustments at halftime helped curb the nine-point deficit. “Our guys really responded to the change we made at halftime to press and push the ball up the floor. The pressure made us more aggressive and it slowed them (UNCW) down, got them back on their heels and gave us an opportunity to get some steals,” Barnes said. The Panthers responded by shooting 55.6% from the field and shooting their best percentage in CAA play this year (50.9%). Dukes led the Panthers with 23 on  Saturday but the Blue Hens got a clutch three to beat Georgia State 76-74 in overtime. Ousman Krubally scored a career-high 16 points off the bench as the Panthers outscored the Blue Hens off the bench 36-18.  The Panthers have lost six of their last seven and four straight on the road.

UNC Wilmington (3-6)

Virginia needed a jumper with 2.2 seconds left to avoid being upset by the Seahawks on Monday night, as they fell 69-67. UNC Wilmington made a season-high 11 three pointers to close a deficit as high as 16 in the second half to tie the game with 4:52 to go.  It appears that the Seahawks are finding their shot; however, they couldn’t find an answer for Georgia State’s hot shooting and lost their fifth straight ,79-74, on Wednesday night. Head Coach Benny Moss said, “We were not able to guard them the way we had previously up at our place.” Johnny Wolf led the Seahawks with 19, who had three others in double figures. John Fields had his sixth double-double of the year, 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead UNC Wilmington to a comeback victory on Saturday over James Madison. The Seahawks had many chances at the free throw line, shooting just 54.3% of 35 free throws, and that included making just 5-16 in the final 4:43. The win over the Dukes snapped a five game losing streak.

Hofstra (2-7)

The NCAA declared Brad Kelleher ineligible for this season because he signed an application with an Australian pro team five years ago.  Despite 26 points from Charles Jenkins and 20 points from Chaz Williams Tuesday night, Hofstra could not contain the Patriots in the second half in an 18-point loss to George Mason. Hofstra struggled mightily Saturday, falling behind early and getting blown out in Philadelphia in a 75-62 loss to Drexel. Williams struggled, scoring only 9 points on 3-11 shooting. Miklos Szabo led the Pride with 14 points on 6-12 shooting. The rest of the Pride, without Szabo, combined to shoot 32% from the field. The Pride have lost five in a row.

James Madison (2-7)

The Dukes could not contain a barrage from the Drexel Dragons, who went on to shoot 61.2% from the field in a 21-point loss in Philadelphia Wednesday night. Head Coach Matt Brady said, “Drexel dominated the second half in just about every way conceivable. It seemed like the roof caved in on us.” Denzel Bowles led the Dukes with 19 points but Julius Wells, 11 points but 1-7 from three point range, could not get the downtown shots going. The Dukes tied a season-low with 2 three-point field goals and shot 2-13 from three-point range (15.4%). James Madison could not hold on to a six-point halftime lead Saturday, watching it evaporate at the hands of the Seahawks in a tough 67-64 loss. The Dukes have lost four straight games and have shot 27.8% from three-point range during the losing streak.

Delaware  (2-7)

The Blue Hens could not hold a brief first half lead and were dominated in the second half in a 68-49 loss to Old Dominion on Wednesday night. Alphonso Dawson led the Blue Hens with 13 points. Delaware came back late, trailing by as many as nine in the final minutes, to force overtime and came through with a Jawan Carter three pointer with 13 seconds left to give the Blue Hens a 76-74 win. Carter led the Blue Hens with 21 points, scoring four of the Blue Hens’ six points in overtime Saturday. The Blue Hens have won three of their five overtime games this season.

Towson (1-8)

The Tigers could not hold a six-point halftime lead as they shot just 26.9% from the field in the second half in a 64-57 loss at St. Joseph’s Monday night. Josh Thornton led the Tigers with 23 points on 8-19 shooting. Starting point guard Brian Morris left the game early and did not return. The Tigers could not contain the Northeastern Huskies, falling behind early in the second half Wednesday, losing 73-48 at home. Head Coach Pat Kennedy said his team just ran out of gas. “In the first half, I thought our zone defense was working well. The way we played in the first half is the way we have to play,” Kennedy said. Josh Brown led the Tigers with 14 points, 10 of which were scored in the first half. Jarrel Smith carried the Tigers with 23 points and Calvin Lee had a 15 point 13 rebound double-double but the Tigers could not get any closer in the final minute and fell at home 80-71 to George Mason on Saturday. The loss marks the 16th straight loss to the Patriots, a streak that dates back as far as 1993.

 

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.

Share this story