Colonial Tournament Notebook
Seahawks are Conference Champions
With a headline like that, you know for sure that you’re not reading an article on NFL.com. Yes, Jerry Wainwright’s UNCW team returns to the dance for the first time since 2000. Their road to the NCAA’s featured victories over James Madison and Delaware, with a tourney-culminating W over VCU in the final, 66-51. CAA Player of the Year Brett Blizzard had 22 points for the 22-9 Seahawks.
The story of the CAA tounament was, arguably, Hofstra. Before traveling to Richmond for the postseason affair, HU was on an 8-game losing streak and dead last in the conference. But the 10th and last-seeded Pride became the first team in the CAA’s 20-year history to go from a play-in game to the semifinals. Tom Pecora’s senior-less club beat Towson in the opening round, then upset second-seeded George Mason. Hofstra’s magical run ended on Sunday in the semifinals with a 70-54 loss to eventual runner-up VCU. The Pride, who went 12-20, 5-13 in their first year of CAA play, have a lot to look forward to for next year. They return conference rookie of the year Kenny Adeleke, as well as the team’s leading scorer Rick Apodaca (17.7 ppg), a second team all-CAA selection.
The Battle of Philadelphia
Philly native Robert Battle finished the season as the CAA’s top rebounder, with 9 rpg. The first-team, all-CAA selection from hometown Drexel was the leading rebounder in 18 of his team’s 28 games this season. Scary thought for the rest of the league: He’s only a junior and will return next season.
UNC-Wilmington has their dance card punched, but what about the other nine schools in the CAA? A lot of question marks loom for this talent-stacked conference. Had George Mason given a better showing in the CAA tourney, they would have been a shoo-in for the NIT. But the Patriots were upset early by Hofstra and boast only 19 wins. 19 may sound like a big enough number for an NIT bid, but there are sure to be a whole mess o’bubble teams from better conferences that won’t go to the Big Dance. The NIT does have an expanded field this year, so that might work in favor of Jim Larranga’s team.
VCU, at 21-11, looks to be the best bet for college basketball’s “other tournament.”