Checking In On… the CAA

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 18th, 2012

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

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • D-D-D-Defense: In the CAA we call them rock fights, but the rest of the country calls 58-54 victories “defense-oriented basketball.” No matter the nomenclature, defense is reigning supreme in the Association so far. Five teams have held its opposition to less than 60 points per game in conference play, led by Georgia State. The Panthers, despite Ron Hunter’s desire to run, run and run some more, are holding CAA opponents to 49.2 points per game and an astounding 0.73 points per possession. Teams are shooting 30.9% against Georgia State, made impressive when you consider 11 of the 12 teams are shooting greater than 38% for the season. You want a specific example? Fine. Over the course of two games, VCU hurled boulders. The Rams didn’t allow a field goal over a stretch of 16:57 last week — the last eight minutes of the James Madison game and the first nine minutes of the Delaware game. Want even more? See below.
  • We’ve Got Spirit, Yes We Do: VCU is working on a string of 11 straight sellouts in its 7,600-seat Stu, already a CAA record. The Rams are one of six teams in the nation (Gonzaga, Duke, Michigan State, Kansas, and Kansas State) to have sold out every game this season. The fans of Georgia State have taken notice of the team’s success. The Panthers drew a tad shy of 3,000 for its win over UNCW—three times their average from last season. What’s more, a student named Nick Bray created Hunterville, a tent city modeled after Duke’s Krzyzewskiville. Old Dominion has played before eight crowds of better than 7,000 at the Ted this season, including a sellout crowd of 8,460 versus nationally ranked Missouri, and Drexel has had sellout crowds for its past two games against VCU and George Mason.
  • Be. Aggressive. Be Aggressive: Freshmen are seeing significant playing time and making a huge difference around the CAA this season. All 12 CAA teams have at least one freshman on their team who is averaging better than 16 minutes per game and each CAA team has had a freshman start at least two games. Four freshmen are among the CAA’s top 30 in scoring: UNCW’s Adam Smith, Drexel’s Damion Lee, W&M’s Marcus Thornton and UD’s Kyle Anderson. Two are among the top 15 in assists: Towson’s Kris Walden and Delaware’s Khalid Lewis; and two are in the top 15 in steals: VCU’s Briante Weber, and NU’s Quincy Ford. UNCW’s Cedrick Williams is ranked 14th in the league in rebounding (5.9 RPG) and Ford is 17th (5.4 RPG).
  • Maybe You Should Bring Your Cheerleaders On The Road: Visiting teams went 6-6 last week, continuing an early-season trend of success by the road warriors. Through the first 36 conference contests, home teams are only 19-17 (.528). Old Dominion moved to 3-0 on the road in CAA play after edging Delaware 68-66 in overtime last Wednesday, while Northeastern also improved to 3-0 on the road after winning 64-62 at Hofstra. George Mason also has three CAA road victories (3-1). Six of the league’s 12 teams are .500 or better on the road in CAA play.

Frantz Massenat's Emergence As A Floor General Has Paid Dividends For The Dragons. (Scott K. Brown/AP)

Power Rankings

  1. Drexel (4-2, 12-5): The Dragons have won 10 of its past 11 games and swept VCU, Mason, and UNCW in the past week — combined conference record 12-6 (or 12-3 against teams not named Drexel). Frantz Massenat has blossomed as a floor general and is averaging a team-high 12.5 points per game. He ranks third in the CAA in assists (3.7 APG) and first in three-point FG% (46.9%). However the biggest tell that Drexel is scary: Chris Fouch and Samme Givens, Bruiser Flint’s two most productive players, scored a combined 26 points in the wins over VCU and Mason. The Dragons are also leading the CAA in three-point field goal percentage, led by freshman Damion Lee. But the defense, Drexel’s calling card, is still there: Drexel has held its past six opponents to just 49.2 points per game. All have scored fewer than 60 points. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the CAA

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 22nd, 2011

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

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Welcome Back, Kotter: Several players who will see significant playing time are now eligible—their dreams are their ticket in. Of note, Devon Moore is back running Matt Brady’s Bunch. The star point guard and preseason second team All-CAA pick made an immediate impact in his 33-minute opening act. Old Dominion has received much-needed help and solid play from both Clemson transfer Donte Hill and freshman Richard Ross. The duo has Blaine Taylor pondering a smaller lineup. And last night George Mason welcomed back Andre Cornelius from suspension. Cornelius is one of the best defenders in the conference and a lights-out (but streaky) shooter.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: They’re just two good ol’ boys who don’t mean harm, and were not selected as one of the CAAs top ten players in preseason voting. But James Madison’s Humpty Hitchens and Delaware’s Jamelle Hagins have been the best two players in the Association this year. Hagins has dominated the lane. He is eighth in the CAA in scoring (14.6 PPG), first in rebounding (11.5 RPG), second in field goal percentage (60.9%), 10th in free throw percentage (76.7%), and second in blocked shots (2.5 BPG). Meanwhile, Hitchens has been an inspiring player in Moore’s absence. The numbers are impressive, too–17.0 points per contest, a conference leading five helpers, he ranks fifth in steals, second in three-pointers made and percentage and is second in assist-to-turnover ratio.
  • The Facts of Life: VCU senior Bradford Burgess and James Madison senior Julius Wells have each taken the good and taken the bad, and in their fourth seasons carry impressive streaks. Burgess has made 121 consecutive starts, the longest active streak in Division I basketball and tied for the most all-time at VCU. Wells hasn’t had a bad career himself. He’s started 108 straight games, second on the Dukes’ career list.

Andre Cornelius' Return Couldn't Come At A Better Time

Power Rankings

  1. VCU (8-3): The Rams are simply devastating opponents with their defense. In the past three games, VCU  has outscored opponents 92-21 in points off turnovers. After a 14-steal night in their Tuesday win over UAB, the Rams now lead the country in opponent’s turnover rate at 29.1% and are second in steal percentage (16.0%).
  2. George Mason (7-4): One up, one down. On the night the Patriots got hyper-quick point guard Andre Cornelius back from suspension, they announced reserve big man Paris Bennett was being suspended for two games. You can bet Paul Hewitt is ready for the start of conference season. The Duquesne game represented the end of an 11-day layoff for Mason, and it didn’t go well. Old problems surfaced even with Cornelius’s 11 points. They didn’t defend on inbounds plays and in open court, and were outplayed by Duquesne in an 11-point home loss. It broke an 18-game home winning streak. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the CAA

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 7th, 2011

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

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Changing of the Seasons: Logistics dictate that in order to get all 18 games in by March, the CAA has to play one conference game in December. Last Saturday was slated for five matchups, and UNCW plays at VCU on December 17. Road teams went 3-2, with George Mason winning 65-53 at Towson, James Madison a 62-60 victor at Hofstra, and Old Dominion gutting out a 69-59 win at Northeastern. Delaware held serve at home, beating rival Drexel, 71-60, and Georgia State cruised by William & Mary in Atlanta, 66-34. The full conference slate begins January 2.
  • Changing Of The Guards: Freshmen, especially guards, are seeing significant playing time around the CAA this season. All 12 CAA teams have at least one freshman on their team who is averaging better than 16 minutes per game and JMU and Northeastern are the only teams who haven’t had a freshman start at least one game. Four freshmen are among the CAA’s top 30 in scoring: UNCW’s Adam Smith, Drexel’s Damion Lee, William & Mary’s Marcus Thornton and Delaware’s Kyle Anderson. Three others–Towson’s Kris Walden, Mason’s Corey Edwards and Delaware’s Khalid Lewis – are among the top 15 in assists, while VCU’s Briante Weber and ODU’s Dimitri Batten are among the top 11 in steals.
  • Changing of the Discussion: CAA fans are used to seeing Old Dominion, VCU, and George Mason lead the “teams playing well in non-conference action” conversation. And while those three are certainly doing fine, James Madison and Georgia State are turning heads with high quality play too. The Dukes continue to play well offensively but have won three in a row behind a staunch defense, something Matt Brady has never had the luxury of coaching. Ron Hunter’s Panthers have won six straight contests and are giving up just 47.0 points per game and limiting opponents to 30.7% FG shooting during the run.  The 34 points allowed to William & Mary were the second-fewest allowed in school history.
  • Changing of the Spotlight: It’s been a year of change around the CAA as many returning players have stepped into new roles and several newcomers are making an impact. Of the top 20 scoring leaders in the conference, 13 of them weren’t even among the top 30 in the league in scoring a year ago. The seven who were on last year’s top 30 list are Hofstra’s Mike Moore, Mason’s Ryan Pearson, VCU’s Bradford Burgess, ODU’s Kent Bazemore, UNCW’s Keith Rendleman and Northeastern’s Jonathan Lee and Joel Smith.

Bradford Burgess Is Smoother Than Silk For The Rams, And VCU's Defense Is Getting It Done At The Other End. (AP)

Power Rankings

  1. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the CAA

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 30th, 2011

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

Reader’s Take

The Week That Was

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

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

Power Rankings

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

Looking Ahead

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

 Spotlight On…Northeastern

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

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

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

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Checking In On… the CAA

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 24th, 2011

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

Reader’s Take

 

Caught On Film

Check this clip out to see why William & Mary’s Quinn McDowell has earned the Twitter hashtag #quinntowin. Trailing by three, McDowell hits a game-tying bomb; trailing by two he converts a natural three-point play and then boxes out to get the deciding rebound on a missed free throw:

The Week That Was

  • Thud: Coming off its greatest season ever, the CAA is sporting a hangover. The league is 20-30 and lacks a notable win. (Old Dominion beating South Florida qualifies as the conference’s best.) What’s more, the early season has featured head-scratching losses. Preseason favorite Drexel lost to Norfolk State, Delaware lost to Radford (five wins last season), William & Mary lost to Lehigh by 25 points, and George Mason lost to Florida International. The CAA is a collective 0-3 against Florida Atlantic. While it seems silly to discount the notion of an at-large bid this early in the season, the conference has likely burned up any wiggle room it had come March.
  • Give It Up: Coaches have their clichés, and for good reason, but “value the basketball” has taken on a special meaning in early CAA action. The relative inexperience of CAA guards is taking its toll. James Madison is the only CAA team with more assists than turnovers (and that number is just 41/36). Seven of the CAAs 12 teams are in the bottom 100 in the nation in turnover percentage (the number of possessions that end in a turnover). Last season, seven CAA teams were in the top 100 of this category. Though they have played an impossible schedule, Towson sports an almost unbelievable 27 assists and 95 turnovers.
  • Frank Who? Old Dominion annually plays with a dominant big man, but coming into the season there were questions about whether or not Chris Cooper had the chops to continue the tradition. Early returns bode well. Cooper recorded double-doubles in three of ODUs four games, tallying a career-high 17 points and 12 boards against Kentucky, 13 points and 10 rebounds in a win over Howard, and 10 points and 11 caroms in a victory over Long Island. The senior forward also blocked seven shots and made six steals last week. Importantly, Cooper got his frontcourt mate Nick Wright back from suspension this week.
  • B-B-B-Baby You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet: Bumpy starts from banner players has contributed to the burgeoning  bummer of a season. Bradford Burgess, Rob Brandenberg, Kent Bazemore, Eric Buckner, Brandon Britt, and Julian Boatner are all expected to be team and conference leaders. For one reason or another, none have provided that beacon. The list includes Tim Rusthoven, nicknamed Beasthoven.
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Set Your Tivo: 01.19.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 19th, 2011

***** – 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 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

Three interesting contests headline tonight’s schedule, including NC State’s endeavor to pull a shocker of its own over now-#4 Duke. All rankings from RTC and all times eastern.

#25 Cincinnati @ #16 Notre Dame – 7 pm on ESPN2 (****)

Abromaitis Plays the Most MPG for the Irish But Has Been Held Under His Season Average for Three Straight Games

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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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Summer School in the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 10th, 2010


Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and the NEC.

Around The MAAC:

  • Changes at the Helm: Fran McCaffery, off his outstanding run at Siena, is in Big Ten country at Iowa. The Siena administration did the right thing in promoting assistant Mitch Buonaguro to take his spot. Buonaguro recently added Craig Carter, who was on Fred Hill’s Rutgers staff, as an assistant.
  • Iona replaced Seton Hall-bound Kevin Willard with Tim Cluess. At Division-II CW Post, Cluess made himself quite a name in just four seasons. He is revered as an outstanding tactician. Realizing other facets of the game have to be covered to succeed at the Division-I level, Cluess made outstanding hires in John Morton and Jared Grasso. Morton, formerly of John Dunne’s St. Peter’s staff, knows the MAAC extremely well. Grasso did a commendable job in a tough situation as a Fordham interim head coach last winter. He knows the area and has outstanding contacts with AAU and high school coaches which will serve well in recruiting.
  • Picking Up the Pieces: The MAAC also was in the news regarding a coaching move of three years ago. The Matt Brady exit from Marist to James Madison is still a point of contention and debate in Poughkeepsie. Marist is still trying to recover on the men’s side, and their leadership filed suit against Brady alleging that he breached his contract by asking prospective and then-current Marist players to accompany him to JMU. A hearing is set for December.
  • On The Tube: On the women’s side, it was announced the conference championship will be televised nationally on ESPNU. The change of the women’s championship from a Sunday to Monday afternoon time slot was crucial in securing the national audience. The possibility of another finals appearance by Marist, one of the most celebrated and successful mid-majors in the women’s game, didn’t hurt, either. If a viewer tunes in has an opportunity to learn a little more about the MAAC, that exposure should benefit the men’s side as well. Getting your name and product out there is the thing. And this can only help the conference.

Marist looks to recover from its ugly divorce with Matt Brady. (jmusports.com)

Power Rankings

  1. Siena: Recent glory years appear to be at an end with the departure of Edwin Ubiles, Ronald Moore and Alex Franklin. Despite losing that trio and weathering a coaching change, it would be wise not to write the Saints off as of yet. Junior guard Kyle Downey, senior Clarence Jackson, a dangerous outside shooter, senior forward Ryan Rossiter and junior forward Owen Wignot are all proven players who have experienced success. Siena is not the program they were the past two seasons, but they are very good and won’t give up the title without a fight.
  2. Iona: Twenty-one wins, 12-6 and third place in the MAAC — it was a fine showing by the Gaels last season and things should keep headed in a similar direction this year. Scott Machado, an outstanding performer at guard, and Jermel Jenkins are two of the headliners back for Iona. The Gaels did lose some inside presence with the graduation of Jonathan Huffman. At 7’0, Huffman was more apt to shoot a three but still afforded a respectable presence in the paint. In his absence, there’s a stocked cupboard for new coach Tim Cluess to work with, a rarity for new coaches at this level.
  3. St.Peter’s: AD John Dunne brought in veteran coach Bruce Hamburger to replace John Morton, who exited for Iona. Marlon Guild was also promoted to full-time assistant, along with Dalip Bhatia, who makes the leap from video coordinator. On the floor, everyone is back from a surprising 11-7 MAAC finish last season. There’s no sneaking up on anyone this season and there’s a strong veteran cast to meet the challenge. Ryan Bacon returns in the low post, Nick Leon is a tough three-point shooting and penetrating guard and Wesley Jenkins is a proven offensive threat. This is a team that should contend. Read the rest of this entry »
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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.

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Checking in on… the Colonial

Posted by rtmsf on February 8th, 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 2/7)

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

The league had an interesting schedule change due to pending and impending snowstorms. Towson’s home game against James Madison was postponed on Thursday. UNC Wilmington pushed their game one-day against Delaware to Sunday and then to Monday after the snow fell. James Madison will travel to play Towson tonight. Meanwhile the team off to the best start in conference play, George Mason, hit an unexpected rough patch. However, should it have been expected? The young Patriot squad’s seven-game winning streak came against every sub-.500 team in conference. This strength of schedule will change soon enough with a game against heating up VCU, traveling to Old Dominion before a clash with William & Mary. With Northeastern and VCU starting to heat up, not even mentioning Drexel’s strong push, there’s still a race to the top in the CAA.

Important Games This Week

Tue 2/9               

VCU @ George Mason  (7pm ESPNU).  George Mason lost their seven-game winning streak this week. However, all but one win comes over a CAA team that’s over .500. They have won their last eight home games and this only game with VCU may prove to have tiebreaker implications.

Wed 2/10

UNC Wilmington @ Towson (7pm ESPN360.com).  You might not watch this one, but I will. I want to see how the Brooks Lee era continues as the Seahawks battle the Tigers. Towson has struggled immensely and will likely have a second straight 20-loss season. It will be interesting to see the energy of both teams: How will the Seahawks play for their interim coach on TV and how will the Tigers respond to their recent struggles?

Sat 2/13

Northeastern @ William & Mary (7pm).  There will be no love lost on this Valentine’s Day eve matchup between the Huskies and Tribe. The Huskies could be on the path to the top seed in the conference by this time but the Tribe, who have won four out of their last five at home, will have something to say about that. With this being their only meeting, a loss would likely kill the Tribe’s chances at a top seed.

Team Reviews

  • Northeastern (11-2).  The Huskies went on their first true road trip in conference and came out with two wins on the week and increasing their road/neutral win streak to eight with wins over Delaware and Hofstra, each by double digits. The offense has been clicking lately as the Huskies have shot better than 50% in six of their last eight games and have won five of their last six games, all by double digits or more. Matt Janning led this week for Northeastern, shooting 42.8% from the field and making 5-10 three pointers to lead the Huskies with game highs of 17 in each win this week. They get a home test against Georgia State, who has not won an in-conference road game since December, followed by a trip to William & Mary that might decide the top four seeds in the CAA.
  • George Mason (10-3).  The Patriots were stifled Wednesday night by the box-and-one, triangle-and-two defenses that the Panthers threw at them, being shut out in the final 2:52, as Mason fell 61-57. Cam Long scored just two points and made just one of nine shots on the night.  Heading into Drexel, George Mason could not hold off the Dragons as they went on a 23-6 run and beat the Patriots by 13. The Patriots have struggled in their last three games from behind the arc, making just 12-47 (25.5%) in the last three games.
  • Old Dominion (10-3).  The Monarchs used this week to stretch their home win streak to 20 but also saw their road losing streak stretch to two. The Monarchs elite defense, ranked sixth in efficiency entering Sunday, shut down the William & Mary and outrebounded them by 23 in a 19 point win over the Tribe. However, the Monarchs could not dish it out on the road, losing a halftime lead and falling to the VCU Rams by 12. Every loss this season for the Monarchs has been at a road/neutral site, which does not bode well for their BracketBuster game where they will face a Northern Iowa team that is undefeated at home.
  • VCU (9-4).  The Rams continued their impressive trek through the conference with wins over UNC Wilmington and a 12-point win over Old Dominion to propel them back into the race for a top seed in the CAA Tournament. Larry Sanders was benched to start the game against Old Dominion and his backup, Kirill Pishchalnikov responded with 14 points and five rebounds. Sanders chipped in 14 of his own and a game-high 12 rebounds. VCU’s 51.4% effective field goal percentage is second to Northeastern’s in the CAA. After an amazing 20 three pointers in a win over Towson, VCU has come back to average making 4.3 three pointers in the last three games.  Meanwhile, Sophomore Jay Gavin left the team for personal reasons. Gavin saw reduced playing time, playing just 11 minutes in the last seven games. Gavin transferred from Marist, where he was MAAC Co-Rookie of the Year, to Virginia Commonwealth after his coach Matt Brady went to James Madison.
  • Drexel (9-4).  This is the team to watch out for down the stretch. Redshirt Freshman Chris Fouch has made a great impression scoring 28 and 17 in Drexel’s two wins this week. Fouch has scored double-digit points in the last seven games shooting 47.5% from the field. The Dragons have a chance to solidify their contention this week with games against Hofstra and Delaware. They have won five out of their last six, are third in field goal percentage defense and held their opponents to under 40% shooting in five of their last six games, this team is a definite contender for the conference title. They travel to Hofstra in a winnable game and then host Delaware before a crucial road date to Virginia Commonwealth on the 16th.
  • William & Mary (8-5).  The Tribe were dealt a dose of reality in the Constant Convocation Center with a 19 point loss to Old Dominion. Their cold three point shooting hit a low, making just 5-25 attempts in the loss, and every player for the Tribe were held under nine points. In no other game has that happened before this season. That low point appeared to continue in the first half but the Tribe fought through it and prevailed in a tough environment in Atlanta to beat Georgia State by three. Credit should go to the defense, which held the Panthers to two points over the final three and a half minutes even while generating just seven turnovers. They start a homestand this week against Delaware and then a crucial game against Northeastern on Saturday.
  • Hofstra (5-8).  The Pride blew out James Madison on the road by 20 but could not bring the same energy against top team Northeastern, shooting just under a season-low in their 20 point home loss to the Huskies Saturday. One problem this week for the Pride were turnovers, dishing out 35 of them on the week. Chaz Williams had a tough time, making just 4-19 and scoring just 9 points this week. Charles Jenkins is working on his Player of the Year candidacy still with 34 points on 10-22 shooting. The junior star has scored 20 points or more in four of the Pride’s last six games. One of their remaining tests comes this week at home against Drexel and a Saturday road date to UNC Wilmington looms ahead.
  • Georgia State (4-9).  Jihad Ali’s career high 22 points and knocked down a clutch three with 42 seconds left to give the Panthers a win over first-place George Mason. This was just Ali’s fourth double digit scoring game of the season, doubling his previous high of 11. “I worked hard all week with Coach Barnes,” Ali said after the game. “They told me to stay in the gym and my time would come.” The Panthers’ threw a box-and-one and a triangle-and-two at the Patriots and it stifled them late, not allowing them a point over the final 2:52. The Panthers challenged the Tribe at home as well but were unable to make a field goal in the final 3:13, scoring just one point in that span, in a 59-56 loss to William & Mary. Head Coach Rod Barnes said they got good looks in the second half but could not make enough shots to contend with the best three-point shooting team in the conference. They will be embarking on a road trip this week to Northeastern and then a more winnable game at Towson.
  • James Madison (3-9).  Following a two-point loss at George Mason, Head Coach Matt Brady wanted to send a message the team leadership needs to step up. Brady threw his team out of practice Monday but his tactic did not work as Hofstra dealt the Dukes their worst loss in almost eight years. A 20 point loss at home to the Pride drove them a step even further back. Senior Pierre Curtis tried to lead (7.9 ppg, 4 assists per game) but the freshmen have not responded, resulting in their worst shooting percentage since their second game of the year. They have not been able to control the game from the three point line either, shooting 26.5% from behind the arc in the last seven games. Texas A&M transfer Denzel Bowles has done well but it hasn’t been enough, scoring 20.6 points per game in 15 games. Brady has told locals that he plans to sign at least two more junior college players in order to try to contend quickly as Bowles will be a Senior and Julius Wells (16.8 ppg) will be a Junior.
  • UNC Wilmington (3-9).  The search is on for a new head coach at UNC Wilmington. As for the fired Head Coach Benny Moss? He has been reassigned as a special assistant to the athletic director. The school would have to pay the difference if he moved to a lower paying job so keeping him on in a role is cost-effective, since he was terminated with three years left on his deal. They are willing to spend around $250,000 per season, which might not be enough for some of the top major assistants in the country. Rumors have circulated that Vermont’s Mike Lonergan, 90-57 at Vermont, could be a candidate for any open CAA coaching job.
  • Delaware  (2-10).  This week the Blue Hens learned that forwards redshirt freshman Kelvin McNeil and Josh Brinkley will miss the rest of the season. Brinkley was the team’s leading rebounder with 6.2 rebounds per game and started 18 of the Blue Hens first 20 games. McNeil will go under arthroscopic surgery Wednesday. Meanwhile the Blue Hens were held to a season-low 30% field goal percentage in a 16-point loss at home to Northestern. The Blue Hens rank 11th in the conference in effective field goal percentage, and 310th in the country, at 44.7%. It will not get easier this week with trips planned to William & Mary and Drexel.
  • Towson (2-10).  Brian Morris and Robert Nwankwo came back but it did not help as Towson lost their second of three road games on Tuesday by falling at Drexel by 42. Calvin Lee scored eight points but fouled out with just over 15 minutes left in the game. The problem this year has been the defense, and that’s an understatement. In their last four road losses, the Tigers have lost by 25, 9, 59 and 42. They grabbed a road win over a reeling UNC Wilmington team that just fired its coach but this team cannot take care of the glass. They were out rebounded in each of the last six games and have been out rebounded this year by five boards per game which helps lead to league lows in Field Goal percentage defense and scoring defense. The Tigers have not had a winning season under Pat Kennedy and the circles around a potential firing are starting to surface as they approach their third 20-loss season under Kennedy. Snow delayed their weekend game with James Madison and they will have a chance this week to pick up wins at home before traveling to Old Dominion and William & Mary in mid-February.

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

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Checking in on… the CAA

Posted by jstevrtc on January 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.

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Checking in on… the CAA

Posted by jstevrtc on January 4th, 2010

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

Standings (as of 1/2):

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

Important Games This Week

Monday 1/4:

UNC Wilmington @ William & Mary — One of the best three point shooting teams (W&M) versus one of the best three point defenses (UNC-W).  Can UNC Wilmington snap W & M’s ten game win streak?

Northeastern @ Virginia Commonwealth — Northeastern has disappointed so far this season amid lofty expectations, will they turn it around against one of the CAA’s hottest teams?

Saturday 1/9:

Hofstra @ Old Dominion — Old Dominion is undefeated at home this season, the Pride and Monarchs are both very good defensive teams.  Expect a battle in the 40-50 range in Norfolk.

Team Reviews

William & Mary is on a Roll. The Tribe have won ten straight, a new school record, and won 48-47 at Hofstra on a Kendrix Brown three point play to continue their historic season.  William & Mary is 2-0 in the CAA for the first time since 1997-98.  The Tribe have not started this well since 1948-49 when they started 14-2.

More impressively, the Tribe never gave up the lead at Maryland after the 4:44 mark in the first half in a convincing 83-77 win in College Park.  After dropping their first two games to Connecticut by nine and Harvard in triple-overtime, the Tribe have racked up impressive statement wins over Richmond, Wake Forest and Maryland.  According to Kenpom.com, their Offensive efficiency is tops in the nation (124.2).

Georgia State is a Mystery.   With no impressive wins on the schedule so far, Georgia State enters conference play at 8-6, and kind of a mystery.  An example:  they took a lead as high as 15 on Saturday against Towson (3-8) only to trail by two with 6:27 to go in the game.  Trey Hampton led the way with 22 points on 9-10 shooting from the field as they showed no rust from a ten-day layoff.

George Mason Starts Off New Decade Right. After posting a one of their worst losses, a 27-point loss to Radford, to close the decade, the Patriots started off the new decade right.  George Mason went on an 18-4 run to take what was a one point game and push it to a 16 point victory.  Ryan Pearson led the way for the Patriots with 17 points and tied a season-high eight field goals made.

VCU…New Decade, No Problem.  Every single VCU player scored at least two points in a 91-57 blowout over UNC Wilmington.  VCU led by as many as 46 and Larry Sanders scored a team-high 16 points in only 19 minutes.  Sanders and the Rams haven’t been tested since grinding out a one point win on December 19th over Tulane.  Sanders has scored in double-digits in every game but one this season and has improved his scoring as well as his field goal and free throw percentages in his junior year.

Defensive Letdown in Fairfax. The Old Dominion Monarchs did not show up in the second half in a double-digit loss to George Mason, and snapped a three game win streak.  The Monarchs have played a tough non-conference schedule and were finally reaping the benefits of their defensive prowess with wins over Georgetown and the Atlantic 10’s Charlotte and Duquesne.

ODU had won five out of its last six entering the game but did not bring the defense that has held opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 42.3% entering Saturday.  They allowed George Mason to dominate inside going 22-41 (53.6%) from inside the arc.  The last time ODU allowed a team to score over 70 points was January 31, 2009 — a span of 28 games.

Hofstra’s Train is Delayed.  What was supposed to be Charles Jenkins’ coming out party this season has been a slight disappointment.  Jenkins has not scored over 20 points in his last three games and was stifled, along with the entire Hofstra offense, in a tough one point loss to William & Mary.  Jenkins scored 23 points on national television at Kansas and followed that up later in November with 38 points against Fairfield at home but otherwise teams have been able to contain him, and the Pride have yet to develop any other threats for their CAA counterparts to guard.  Their next leading scorer, Nathaniel Lester, has two more three-point attempts (24) than turnovers (22) and has regressed from his three point field goal percentage last season.  Hofstra’s best win out of conference might be their four point win over Fairfield, a middling team in the MAAC; they have yet to show that they can compete with the upper echelon of the conference.

Northeastern Managing Expectations. The Huskies entered the 2009-10 season as the preseason #2 team, second only to Old Dominion.  Behind preseason first team all-CAA Matt Janning’s senior leadership, they were expected to rack up quality wins in the non-conference.  The Huskies, however, got on a five game losing streak which included a home loss to Providence and ended with a 15 point loss to Western Michigan.  They were able to recover in Honolulu and win on Christmas over Southern Methodist and showed on Saturday why they have the offense to be a force in the CAA.

The Huskies shot 60% from the floor and scored a season-high 47 points in the first half to blow out James Madison, 73-61.  To put it in perspective, they matched their lowest point total in a game (47 in a two point loss to Drexel) in one half to even their record at 1-1.

Drexel Looking to Rebound.  The Dragons have managed to play many close games but have ended up n the wrong side of all but one this season.  Saturday at Delaware was an enigma.  Having a lead as large as 13 in the first half only to squander it in under six minutes out of the break.  Drexel went cold from the field, shooting 35% in the second half. Leading scorer Jamie Harris scored 11 of his team-high 18 points in the first half.

The Dragons have been on two separate three game win streaks this year for all six of their wins.  They have been led by Harris, who has scored in double-digits in every win but one this season.  Drexel’s offense has not impressed this year and shooting has been the problem.  Shooting less than 30% behind the arc and just over 45% inside it has not helped a team that shoots free throws at 63.3%, good for 303rd in the nation.

Blue Hen Win Streak. Delaware has a two game win streak for the first time since the start of last year.  Led by St. Joseph’s transfer Jawan Carter, who has scored double digits in every game but one, Delaware looks poised to improve on last year’s six CAA wins.  Their problem is that they’ve taken too many three-pointers and shot only 27.1% (324th in the country, last in the CAA) from behind the arc.

James Madison Starting to Come Alive. Texas A&M transfer Denzel Bowles fits the Matt Brady trend of players he can give the ball to and just let them go.  Bowles has averaged over 20 points since debuting in December but sat out a one game suspension for violating team rules on Saturday.  Bowles will probably be given the reins for the rest of the year when he is in the lineup (expected back on Monday night against Delaware).  He has taken double-digit shots in every game but one; he took nine shots in their four-point loss at Stanford.  The proclaimed shot doctor Brady has fixed the Dukes’ two point shooting to where it’s the best in the league (50.7%, 85th in the nation).  They have a chance Monday to snap a two game losing streak against Delaware but then travel to Old Dominion, a team Brady has not beaten on the road in his two tries (0-2 with Marist & James Madison).

UNC Wilmington’s Good and Bad News. The positives for the Seahawks?  They notched an early non-conference win over Penn State on a neutral floor and have one of the best perimeter defenses in the country.  The bad news?  Their offense has struggled mightily, shooting only 16% in the first half and getting down 29-4 in a 91-57 loss at VCU.  The Seahawks have turned the ball over at least 15 times in every game but one this season.  They turned the ball over a season-high 28 times Saturday, 15 in the first half alone.  Monday night doesn’t promise to be any better at conference leader William & Mary, either.

Towson Continues to Struggle.  The Tigers shot a season low 33.9% in losing at Georgia State, 70-61.  The problems this season have been mostly on the defensive end for the Tigers, ranking last among CAA teams in FG% defense and rebounding margin.  Towson will embark on attempting to break some bad trends this week.  Towson has yet to win a road game (0-4) this season and will get two chances at Hofstra and James Madison.  They will also try to break a record against Old Dominion, as eighth-year head coach Pat Kennedy has yet to beat the Monarchs.  The last time the Tigers beat Old Dominion was a 67-55 win in 2002, their only win in the 12-game series history.

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