RTC Conference Primers: #11 – Colonial

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 26th, 2010

Alex Varone is the RTC Correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association and the MAC.

Predicted Order of Finish

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

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Charles Jenkins (G) - Hofstra (20.6 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.9 APG, 1.8 SPG)
  • Chaisson Allen (G) - Northeastern (13.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 3.6 APG)
  • Joey Rodriguez (G) - VCU (12.9 PPG, 5.8 APG, 1.9 SPG)
  • Frank Hassell (F) - Old Dominion (9.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG)
  • Denzel Bowles (F) - James Madison (20.8 PPG, 9.2 RPG)

Sixth Man

Cam Long (G) - George Mason (12.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.3 SPG)

Impact Newcomer

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 Northeastern and William & Mary will need to retool on the fly after suffering heavy losses, and up-and-comers such as James Madison and Delaware 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 transfer Denzel 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.

Predicted Champion

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 candidate Kent 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 »

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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 »
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Morning Five: 07.28.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 28th, 2010

  1. From the we are completely and utterly shocked, shocked we tell you, department, the two Drexel players who were arrested on Monday on suspicion of armed robbery were suspended indefinitely from the team yesterday Jamie Harris and Kevin Phillip will find it awfully tough to play basketball next year while in lockup anyway.
  2. Additional information from the WVU program yesterday revealed that head coach Bob Huggins actually broke seven ribs (#3-#9), not four as was originally reported.  He is still having trouble breathing without pain and will continue to be held in a Las Vegas hospital until that pain subsides.
  3. Northwestern’s Kevin Coble indicated yesterday that he is retiring from basketball after a summer of worse-than-expected rehabilitation on the foot he injured prior to last season’s first game.  This is obviously very sad news for Coble and Northwestern in their hopes that the all-Big Ten second-teamer in 2008-09 would be back next season to lead the Wildcats to their first-ever NCAA Tournament.  The silver lining for Wildcat fans: Coble is on track to graduate from the elite school in December, and four starters including star John Shurna (18/6) will return from an NIT team next year.
  4. Day two of the Karen Sypher extortion trial was Tuesday in Louisville, and jurors were rewarded with a previously unseen video of her making allegations of rape to authorities in April 2009 after the extortion plan fell through when Rick Pitino reported her to the feds.  Testimony was also given by patrons and workers on the infamous night at Porcini’s that suggest Sypher and Pitino were getting along very well throughout the encounter.  Pitino could testify as to his side of the story as soon as today.
  5. Seth Davis checks in with a summer report from Las Vegas, where he spoke to eleven prominent coaches about the status of their programs going into next season.  Always good stuff from one of the class acts in the business.
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Drexel’s Leading Scorer Busted For Armed Robbery

Posted by rtmsf on July 26th, 2010

We know that Philadelphia is a tough town, but this is ridiculous.  Stories like this always amaze us given the risk/reward matrix, but Drexel University’s starting point guard (Jamie Harris) and a backup forward (Kevin Phillip) spent the weekend as fugitives from justice while Philly police searched for them in light of a videotape showing the pair leaving an apartment after an armed robbery (with a third accomplice named Devon Bond) last Wednesday night.  The two surrendered to the authorities today, and if the allegations that the Dragon teammates were involved in the robbery turn out to be true, it’s two more lives destroyed in an incomprehensible way. 

Bonehead Brothers (AP/M. Perez)

As the story goes, the pair (along with Bond) allegedly busted in on a woman (also a Drexel student) in her apartment whom they thought was holding a “big stash of cash.”  They brandished handguns and ordered the woman to hand over the money, but it turns out that their carefully-begotten information was bad — the woman was not in fact flush with cash, so they instead stole her iPhone (and another cell phone of unknown origin).  Based on information later supplied by the woman to the police, Bond was arrested last Thursday, and she then fingered Harris and Phillip from a photographic lineup over the weekend. 

So we ask, again — what kind of mental processes must go through people’s heads to ever think that this was a good idea?  The victim saw the players’ faces during the robbery.  Bond, Harris and Phillip all live in the same apartment complex.  The entire thing is caught on videotape (including Bonds’ ridiculous attempt to act as one of the victims by lying on the floor during the robbery).  Not to encourage criminal behavior of any kind, but it is shocking that people will put their entire lives on the line with such limited forethought. 

Drexel coach Bruiser Flint commented that he’s “trying to figure this thing out,” but there doesn’t seem all that much to figure other than the fact that his top returning player (Harris), a rising senior and the anticipated centerpiece of a team looking to move into the top echelon of the CAA next season, will likely not be available to him.  Nor will he have the rising junior Phillip, a hustle guy who fit nicely into the rotation last season.  What he does know for certain is this: his two knuckleheads combined for 44 steals last year while on the playing court, but it’ll be two steals from last week on a hot, dark night in Philly that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. 

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