Morning Five: 03.08.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on March 8th, 2011

  1. He’ll coach in the Big 12 Tournament, but after that, you can run down the curtain on the Pat Knight era at Texas Tech. The school released Knight on Monday after a three-year run that resulted in no NCAA Tournament trips and an overall 50-60 record. Now, we know in terms of basketball tradition, Texas Tech is not Indiana, but following Bobby Knight at any coaching job is certainly an unenviable position, and we’re intrigued to see how Pat does as the top dog someplace where his father’s influence never reached, a place where he can stake his own claim and not be known simply as the default-hire son of the legend who preceded him. The linked article also explains how Knight the Younger knew this was coming.
  2. Knight is unfortunately not the only coach to endure the fall of the axe (or at least the prod in the back) on Monday. Pat Kennedy resigned at Towson after seven seasons; Kirk Earlywine was dismissed from Eastern Washington; and Kennesaw State released Tom Ingle, citing academic shortcomings of Ingle’s players rather than the 8-20 record posted by the Owls this season (Ingle was 248-215 overall). That’s the only negative about March: coaches lose jobs, and the coaching carousel begins.
  3. On a much lighter note, for any coach who finds him/herself without employment over the next few weeks, for renewal of purpose, we submit this story from Jeff Goodman about Greg Lansing. He’s headed to the Tournament as the honcho at Indiana State, tournament champions from the Missouri Valley Conference. Just a few years ago, he was fired from his  assistant position by Steve Alford when the two were at Iowa. There’s also an interesting tidbit in there about the positive omen Lansing received on Saturday, the day before his squad beat Missouri State for the MVC tournament title.
  4. Texas is taking some punches from hoops fans everywhere, these days. Not surprising, when you consider that they dropped three of their last five games this season, and upon remembering that Hindenberg of a stretch run last year. A burnt child shuns fire, after all. But if you think the late-season missteps this year indicate a return of last season’s problems, senior Gary Johnson says it’s a mistake, but invites you keep on thinking that if you wish. Others within the Texas basketball family evidently join him in that sentiment, and contend that UT is still a national title contender.
  5. Big game in the Ivy League tonight, as Princeton travels to Penn for the last game of the Ancient Eight’s regular season. If Penn wins, Harvard clinches the Ivy title and goes to their first NCAA Tournament in 65 years. If Princeton wins, the Tigers would sit tied atop the league table with Harvard and force a one game playoff (which would be played at Yale) on Saturday. If that’s not cool enough for you, tonight’s Princeton-Penn game is at The Palestra — the home of the Quakers, and one of the most regal, venerable buildings in our sport (P.S.: we can’t wait to get there!).
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Checking in on… the Atlantic 10

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 8th, 2010

Joe Dzuback of Villanova By The Numbers is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic-10.

A Look Back – Side-by-Side Analyses

A simple method to project winners and losers in conference play involves comparing scores against common opponents. It is crude, but, if timing and conditions are roughly equal, potentially effective for developing a rough sense on how the teams will match up. While the out of conference schedule features 189 games over (roughly) three months, there are quite a few common opponents. The problem with score and margin of victory comparisons is that they do not control for pace. I wanted to match teams that are projected to finish relatively close to each other in the conference rankings, and while this is very early in the season, two side-by-sides looked fairly interesting…

Temple side-by-side with Xavier

Both Temple and Xavier played (and beat) Seton Hall within a nine-day period. Temple may have had a slight advantage on November 12 in that they played the Hall at home, but given it was the season opener, the advantage may not have been that great. The Hall’s leading scorer, Jeremy Hazell, was injured before the Xavier game, another factor to consider in the comparison (that would go against the Musketeers’ defense). As the offensive and defensive efficiencies suggest, defense is decidedly ahead of offense in the first fortnight of D-I play, at least for these two A-10 teams. Seton Hall’s defensive efficiency is, however, consistent with the offensive numbers posted by the A-10 teams. What can the side-by-side tell us about the Owls and Musketeers, particularly when they meet each other? If things progress, probably not volumes, since their appointed time is about six weeks away. Several elements are worth noting though. Temple will probably control the offensive boards, they did a better job matching up with the Hall bigs than did the X-men. Temple will block shots on defense, while Xavier will steal the ball. Neither is particularly adept at getting to the line, and while both turned the ball over quite a bit, that was uncharacteristic of either squad (and neither squad forced turnovers either). The Owls’ shot conversion efficiency (eFG%) has not improved much over the past six (or so) games, and if that element of their offense remains a problem for the next month, expect them to have to compensate for lack of efficiency by grabbing offensive rebounds and limiting. For Xavier, rebounding will no doubt be an issue in a matchup with Temple. The X-men will have problems matching up with Eric Michael and Lavoy Allen, particularly if the Owls’ Allen overcomes his slow start. While pace, according to Pomeroy, can be overrated as a deciding element, Temple showed it can play fast or slow. The SHU game was played for approximately 72 possessions on a neutral floor, about 10% higher than Temple usually plays the game. Xavier played slower than usual, possibly pace dictated by a undermanned SHU squad, and the Musketeers were still successful. Against each other, if the common opponent game is a good predictor, expect a slightly lower than usual possession game — about 65 — with Temple taking a close (one-to-four point) decision.

Fordham side-by-side with George Washington

These are two teams that, according to preseason projections, may not see the first round of the A-10 Conference Tournament. True to form, both lost to the Hampton Pirates of the Mid-East Athletic Conference (MEAC). Hampton, it turns out, is on something of a tear, going 6-0 after dropping their season-opener against Wake Forest. Kyle Whelliston analyzes elements of Hampton’s success in an Unfiltered posting over at Basketball Prospectus. According to Whelliston’s analysis, the Pirates are terrible shooters but great shot defenders. Checking out GWU’s shot defense — that has to be very good news for Fordham (and anyone else who plays the Colonials). Hampton, true to Whelliston’s post, did not turn the ball over much, but Fordham’s turnovers, the Rams’ lost one in three possessions without taking a shot, a very high hurdle to clear if you want to win (Fordham lost by 10 points). Fordham and GW are scheduled to meet January 12, about a month from now. How would the two A-10 teams do against each other? Fordham actually looks pretty good in this comparison. Against a very good shot defender they converted in the high 30s (nothing to write home about), but better than the Colonials who appear to be searching for a scorer (or scorers) to replace the lost Lasan Kromah. Both rebounded well (offensively) against the Pirates, and I would expect Fordham to (again) do a bit better based on the side-by-side. If Fordham can get turnovers under control they should do very well against GW, though given that Chris Gaston and Alberto Estwick are two of Fordham’s principal options on offense and they seem to be contributors, this may be problematic, especially with a seven game lead time. Given the elements though, this one, based on the side-by-side, looks like a close win for Fordham.

Power Rankings

The rankings are jumbled again by a series of unexpected losses (and a few unexpected wins). Next week I will take a closer look at how the conference has fared against some traditional rival conferences.

1. Richmond (7-2)

Last Week: 12/1 @ Old Dominion 70-77, 12/5 @ Arizona State 67-61

Next Week: 12/11 vs. Virginia Commonwealth

The second week in December turned out to be another 1-1 week for coach Chris Mooney’s Spiders. Richmond’s loss to Old Dominion, featured an outstanding effort by senior guard Kevin Anderson who scored a game-high 23 points, while logging a very efficient 76.7% eFG% and 1.53 PPWS. Junior wing Justin Harper’s 14 points and freshman Cedrick Lindsay’s 15 points (70.7% eFG%, 1.44 PPWS coming off the bench) provided strong compliments to Anderson’s efforts. The Spiders led at the 36 minute mark, but 12-0 run by the Monarchs over four and a half minutes dug a nine point hole that Richmond could not climb out of in the remaining 1:45 of play. Two stats that stood out in the loss were the 23.5% offensive rebounding rate, below Richmond’s usually very low 27.4% (ranked #291) and the 1.6% FTA/FGA rate. No, that is not a typo; the Spiders had a single free throw on 63 field goal attempts. They made the most of their opportunity going 1-1 from the line.

Richmond’s bounce-back road win over Arizona State featured an outstanding performance by Harper, who was given an Honorable Mention for his game-high 23 points on a very efficient 10-14 (3-4, 7-10) and 0-0 shooting . Harper garnered an 82.1% eFG% and 1.64 PPWS, outstandingly efficient shooting. The Spiders did a much better job on the boards, grabbing 32.0% of their misses, while limiting the Sun Devils to 34.1% of their misses. Richmond’s FTA/FGA was 37.3%, a significant improvement over their performance against the Monarchs.

2. Temple (5-2) AP #21

Last Week: 12/1 @ Central Michigan 65-53, 12/5 @ Maryland 64-61

Next Week: 12/9 vs. Georgetown, 12/12 vs. Akron

The Owls recovered from their disastrous Old Spice experience with two wins last week. Senior forward Lavoy Allen, who had struggled through Temple’s first five games, broke through with his first two double-doubles of the season, performances which earned him his first Player of the Week citation from the A-10. Allen posted 13 points and 10 rebounds in the win, but junior guard Juan Fernandez scored the team-high 18 points, shooting a 66.7% eFG% with a 1.34 PPWS. Wing Ramone Moore 16 points on a volume shooting night, posting a 40.0% eFG% and 0.90 PPWS. The star of the night, however, was the Owl defense, which limited the Chippewas to a very stingy 0.88 points per possession.

Allen followed with another 13 and 10 performance against Maryland in the BB&T Classic on Sunday. Like the CMU game, Moore provided points (16 points, the team-high) on another volume shooting night, while Fernandez chipped in 14 points and 3 dimes in 38 minutes. Coach Fran Dunphy’s squad limited the Terps to 0.91 points per possession with a sterling defensive effort that limited Maryland to 45.5% eFG%. But uncharacteristic of those earlier losses against California and Texas A&M, the Owl front court contingent of Allen, Eric Michael and Rahir Jefferson, along with wing/forward Scootie Randall, controlled the boards, snagging a strong 37.8% of their missed field goal attempts, while limiting Maryland’s second chance points by collecting 75.7% of the Terp’s missed field goal attempts.

3. Dayton (6-2)

Last Week: 12/1 vs. East Tennessee State 68-73, 12/4 vs. Miami (OH) 70-58

Next Week: 12/7 vs. Central Connecticut, 12/11 @Virginia Commonwealth

Coach Brian Gregory’s squad recorded a 1-1 week, like the balance of the conference elites. At least the Flyers came out on top of a head-to-head with cross-state (and conference) rival Xavier with a win over the RedHawks of Miami (OH). Freshman point guard Juwan Staten continues to impress the conference front office and fans around the conference, as he earned his second citation (co-owned with La Salle’s Tyreek Dureen) as Rookie of the Week for his performances against both opponents. Staten earned 14 points against East Tennessee State, while posting eight points and dishing five dimes as the Flyers overcome a second half deficit against Miami. The freshman sank every on of his eight free throw attempts in the last 2:30 of that game. Senior forward Chris Wright drew a conference Honorable Mention for averaging a double-double for the week. His 15 rebounds against East Tennessee State was a career-high. Though the Flyers lost that game, they had four players, junior forward Chris Johnson (15), senior guard Paul Williams (11), Staten (14) and Wright (13) score in double figures. The fan concerned that the ETSU result hints at a regression to last season’s inconsistent outings can probably relax and chalk it up to a learning curve that caught the new point guards off balance. In an odd turn, the game saw Staten, Williams, transfer point guard Josh Parker and rotation front court player Luke Fabrizius take larger-than-normal roles in the offense. Staten, Williams and Fabrizius took 32.8%, 24.3% and 29.8% of the possessions when they were on the court, the higher than normal possession rate due in some measure to the turnovers each committed (five, four and one) during their playing time.

Possessions returned to a more typical distribution with the Saturday game versus Miami, as Johnson and Wright took most of the possessions and shots, while Staten and Parker stepped back into the background and concentrated on distributing the ball.

4. Xavier (5-2)

Last Week: 12/1 @ Miami (OH) 64-75

Next Week:  12/9 vs. Butler

What happened at Miami on Wednesday is anyone’s guess, but mark this one down as a “what the heck?” game. The official recap chalked it up to a “slow start”, but I bet coach Chris Mack filed a “Missing Persons Report” after the game, because the Musketeers’ defense definitely did not show up at the game.  Xavier gave up an appalling 1.14 points per possession (ppp) to the RedHawks, while garnering about 0.98 ppp for themselves. Miami OH shot an efficient 51.8% (eFG%) while tallying a PPWS of 1.16. Miami OH scored on 34 of their (estimated) 66 possessions, just north of the 50% mark. Tu Holloway led Xavier scorers with 18 points, matched by sophomore guard Mark Lyons’ 18, but the lead guard, taking 30% of the possessions and 24.4% of the shots when he was on the floor, simply made it too easy for the RedHawk defense. Holloway’s 18 points was scored by volume shooting, 5-13 (1-4, 4-9) and 7-9, an inefficient 42.3% conversion rate (eFG%). Lyons managed to shoot an equally unimpressive 4-11 (0-3, 4-8) and 10-11, yielding a 36.4% eFG%. Senior forward Jamel McLean did turn in a double-double (13 points, 11 rebounds), but the scoring was neither efficient enough (McLean excepted) nor distributed enough to make the Miami defense work. Going into the season, the question was how the squad would make up Jordan Crawford’s production. As of this week, the question is still unanswered.

5. Massachusetts (7-1)

Last Week: 12/1 @ Quinnipiac 66-64, 12/4 vs. Boston College 71-76

Next Week: 12/8 vs. Maine, 12/11 vs. Seton Hall

Senior guard Anthony Gurley made the conference Honorable Mention list for the third time in four weeks as he posted an average of 20.5 points in the two games played last week. Poised to move up again in the rankings, coach Derek Kellogg’s squad fell five points short against Boston College (ACC) on a semi-neutral floor, the TD Arena, in Boston. Gurley scored 19 points on 8-13 (1-2, 7-11) and 2-2 shooting against Quinnipiac for an eFG% of 65.4% from a player known more for quantity the past few games. The surprise of the Quinnipiac game was high-scorer Javorn Farrell, a 6’5 swingman who scored 25 points on 9-16 (1-2, 8-14) and 6-7 shooting. Gurley scored 22 against Boston College, on 10-20 (0-4, 10-16) and 2-4 shooting. Sophomore guard Freddie Riley is struggling, placing a good deal of the scoring load on Gurley.

6. Rhode Island (5-3)

Last Week: 12/4 @ Providence 74-87

Next Week: 12/8 @ Northeastern, 12/11 @ Quinnipiac

College coaching is not an especially good career path for a curmudgeon. If you are going to be irascible, then you better win consistently, at least beat your biggest rivals. The disgruntled elements of the Rams’ fan-base grew a bit louder last week when Jim Baron’s squad dropped a double-digit decision against their biggest in state rival, Providence. This is supposed to be another rebuilding year for the Friars, so the 13 point margin was especially disappointing. Delroy James scored a team-high 25 points while three other Rams, Marquis Jones (15), Daniel West (13) and Nikola Malesevic (10) scored in double-digits as well.

7. La Salle (5-3)

Last Week: 12/4 vs. Oklahoma State 87-92 (2 OT)

Next Week: 12/9 @ Boston University, 12/11 vs. Villanova

Both sophomore center Aaric Murray and freshman guard Tyreek Dureen drew conference nods for their work in games on November 29 (Delaware State, a 65-61 win) and December 4 (the two overtime loss to Oklahoma State). This gives me some idea of how far the conference believes this Explorer program has come this season. Murray, a Conference Honorable Mention, was one of five La Salle players to score double digit points in their 65-61 win over Delaware State. The 6’10 big man tied with senior forward Jerrell Williams for a team-high 23 points against the Cowboys on Saturday. Dureen was cited for his scoring and assists (and steals) in the Delaware State game, and for the amount of time he played (43 minutes) in the Ok State game.

8. St. Bonaventure (4-2)

Last Week: 12/4 vs. Buffalo 76-74

Next Week: 12/7 @ St. John’s, 12/11 vs. Niagara

Bonnie point guard Ogo Adegboye drew Player of the Week honors with his performance against Buffalo. Andrew Nicholson may not have drawn his third Honorable Mention (in the three week old season) but his double-double effort will be noted here. The junior #5 scored 16 points (0-1, 6-10 and 4-6) and grabbed 10 (2-8-10) rebounds in the win. Junior forward Da’Quan Cook and sophomore guard Demetrius Conger continue to be efficient second and third options on offense as they take about 21.6% and 17.2% of the shots, converting at rates of (eFG%) 58.8% and 58.3% respectively. If Adegboye can keep his assist to turnover ratio above 1:1 (and get Conger the ball a bit more often), the Bonnies could beat the preseason projections.

9. Duquesne (3-3)

Last Week: 12/1 vs. Pittsburgh 66-80, 12/4 @ Penn State 73-77

Next Week:  12/8 @ Wisconsin-Green Bay, 12/11 vs. West Virginia

The Dukes suffered through an 0-2 week, though senior forward Damian Saunders recorded a double-double (20 points and 11 rebounds) in the Pittsburgh loss and another 23 in Duquesne’s loss to Penn State and draw an Honorable Mention from the league office. Fellow senior wing Bill Clark matched Saunders point production in the Pitt loss, while freshman guard B.J. McConnell chipped in 14 points on 6-11 (2-5, 4-6) and 0-0 shooting. The key stat for Pittsburgh was rebounding; the Panthers outrebounded the Dukes by a 56-35 margin. The Pitt bigs simply overpowered the smaller Duquesne front line. Clark logged the double-double against Penn State, scoring 19 points and grabbing 10 (6-4-10) rebounds. The Dukes had no answer for the Nits’ Talor Battle though, as the senior guard torched Ron Everhart’s squad for 31 points on 12-18 (5-8, 7-10) and 2-4 shooting.

10. Saint Louis (3-3)

Last Week: 11/30 @ Portland 60-69

Next Week: 12/11 @ Duke

The pace was deliberate, about 59 per side, as most Rick Majerus games tend to be, but the defense was very un-Majerus, as the Billikens gave up a whopping 1.15 points per possession to the Portland Pilots. The Pilots’ conversion efficiency (eFG%) was a discouraging 61.7%. Cobbling together a defense for Duke on Saturday will be tough, as the Pilots have logged a Ken Pomeroy adjusted offensive rate of 108.1 good for a #57 ranking in D-I basketball. Duke, by contrast, is 121.9, good for a #1 ranking. Problems for the Billikens however, tend to occur more on the offensive side of the ball, a problem that has persisted for several seasons now, due in part to roster turnover. Saint Louis is (by Ken Pomeroy) currently ranked #157, very middle-of-the-division, with a 100.5 offensive rating (1.005 points per possession). This edition of the Billikens has been a bit of a mulligan stew, which has relatively prominent roles in the offense going to freshmen, while the more experienced players are either struggling (sophomore Cody Ellis), stepping back into minor roles in the offense (junior Kyle Cassidy) or both (sophomores Christian Salecich and Corey Remekun and junior Paul Eckerle). The “reliable” nucleus appears, at this point, to consist of Cassidy, junior Brian Conklin and freshmen guards Dwayne Evans and Mike McCall.

Why McCall has been ignored by the conference front office is the mystery of the season so far. The freshmen scored an extremely efficient 14 points against Portland, converting at a 66.7% (eFG%) rate, good for a 1.41 PPWS. In his last three games, McCall has maintained a 3:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

11. Charlotte (3-5)

Last Week: 12/1 @ East Carolina 61-62

Next Week: 12/7 vs. Winthrop, 12/11 @Davidson

After being declared “probable” for the Winthrop game, graduate senior Charlie Dewhurst broke his finger and is out again, this time indefinitely, pending diagnosis. Charlotte dropped a one point decision at East Carolina, though 49er high-scorer Phil Jones drew an Honorable Mention from the conference for his 14 points and 10 rebounds. The only other Charlotte double digit scorer was Darrio Green with 11 points. Life after Spears is proving tough, at least on the court. With a week to practice and reform the offense, the Winthrop game should tell the fans where the team is headed this season.

12. Saint Joseph‘s (3-5)

Last Week: 12/1 @ Drexel 50-62, 12/3 @ Villanova 71-60, 12/5 @ Princeton 65-74

Next Week: 12/8 vs. Minnesota, 12/11 @ Creighton

Phil Martelli’s Hawks drew an oh-fer last week, losing all three scheduled games. If Drexel was regrettable (but expected) and Villanova predictable (but regretted), the Princeton game had to frustrate the Hawk faithful. While projected as a contender for the Ivy League title this season, the Princeton squad should not match-up well against Saint Joseph’s. The Tigers do not have a power forward to stop CJ Aiken, and their backcourt, the strongest area of their squad, should not match-up with Carl Jones and Langston Galloway. And yet SJU dropped a nine point road game largely on lack of defense. They allowed Princeton to score 1.12 points per possession and shoot a very efficient team-wide 60.0 eFG%, while mustering only a 0.98 ppp and 50.9 eFG%. Princeton had players in double-digits, while Saint Joseph’s guard Carl Jones scored 24 and only one other, freshman forward Ronald Roberts, scored more than nine points (10 points on 4-7 and 2-3 shooting). Such are the growing pains with freshmen-dominated rosters.

13. George Washington (2-5)

Last Week: 12/1 @ George Mason 46-60, 12/5 vs. Navy (BB&T Classic) 57-64

Next Week: 12/8 vs. Towson

Lacking a consistent shooter/scorer, the Colonials are riding a four game slide through the weekend, the last two coming in December. They dropped the over card match at the BB&T Classic to a 4-6 Navy team (out of the Patriot League) which Pomeroy ranks #316 in D-I for offense. Ouch. Of the 11 players identified (and rated) by Ken Pomeroy who have a possession rate equal to or greater than 12.4 (very limited role player), only three (junior Tony Taylor, along with freshmen Chris Fitzgerald and Nemanja Mikic) have offensive ratings of 101 or better. Two (Taylor and Fitzgerald) have ratings of about 101. The Towson game should be very interesting for both teams, as Tiger coach Pat Kennedy is under the gun with a team that has struggled for the past three seasons and currently sports a 2-4 record.

14. Fordham (3-4)

Last Week: 12/1 @ Harvard 57-80, 12/4 @ Lehigh 74-67

Next Week: 12/8 vs. Manhattan, 12/11 vs. St. John’s

The Rams are on a roll! Coach Tom Pecora has recorded his third win of the season, and a road win, the first win not in Rose Hill since 2009, to boot. The sky is probably not the limit, but the prospects for several conference wins this season have improved dramatically. The Lehigh game delivered other good news – Chris Gaston, who logged his sixth double-double of the season was not the high-scorer for Fordham. That honor went to senior guard Brent Butler. While that may sound odd, the sophomore forward draws a good deal of defensive attention whenever he is on the court, and with some justification as he accounted for over 1/3 of the Rams’ possessions and 29.3% of the Rams’ turnovers when he is on the court. Butler, combined with junior guard Alberto Estwick (and occasionally freshman guard Branden Frazier), give three to four legitimate scoring threats for Pecora to throw at an opponent’s defenses.

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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. (

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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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  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, on his own website and at  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 and writes on his own website: 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, 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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