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CAA Awards Recap

March 7, 2008 Columns No Comments

Maynor Gets top Honor but Lefty Steals Show, at CAA Dinner

by Jay Pearlman

RICHMOND, Va. – It was not unexpected that Virginia Commonwealth junior guard Eric Maynor was named Player of the Year tonight in the CAA. Maynor was joined on the First Team All-Conference by Antoine Agudio of Hofstra, T.J. Carter of North Carolina-Wilmington, Jamal Shuler of VCU and Will Thomas of George Mason. Also predictably, Hofstra guard Charles Jenkins was named conference Rookie of the Year, joined on the CAA All-Rookie team by Chaisson Allen of Northeastern, Alphonso Dawson of Delaware, Larry Sanders of VCU, and Will Tomko of Wilmington.

In an outcome much more difficult to predict, Delaware guard Brandon Johnson was named Defensive Player of the Year, and joined on the All-Defensive Team by Frank Elegar of Drexel, Sanders, Shuler and Thomas. Tony Shaver of tournament 6th seed William and Mary was named conference Coach of the Year.

The All-Conference Second Team was made up of Folarin Campbell, Elegar, Matt Janning, Vladimir Kuljanin and Gerald Lee. The Third Team included six: Herb Courtney, Mark Egerson, Junior Hairston, Abdullah Jalloh, Laimis Kisielius and Leonard Mendez. Todd Hendley of Wilmington was awarded the conference’s Dean Ehlers Leadership Award, presented by the former James Madison University Athletic Director along with veteran Commissioner Tom Yeager.

Other than some inspiring remarks from Commissioner Yeager – who quoted a moving Bo Schembechler pregame speech recently replayed on ESPN Radio – the star of the evening was 45-year Division I Head Coach Lefty Driesell, honored as one of twelve CAA Legends, one from each school. (While he coached at both JMU and Georgia State – the latter before it joined the conference, and even had the court at GSU named in his honor, and has a grandson playing for current coach Rod Barnes there – the long-time Maryland coach was honored last night as a James Madison legend). Prefacing that he wouldn’t speak for nearly the hour and a half Bill Walton did at the same event a few years ago, and announcing at least twice that he wouldn’t give the audience much because he wasn’t being paid to speak (and yes, inviting corporate speaking engagements), the Lefthander proceeded to wow the audience with light-hearted stories about players, games and eras gone by. He even was able to pull off the delicate chore of describing one of his greatest players – Buck Williams of Maryland – as one of the meanest players who ever played, yet also as fair-minded and a “good kid.” The audience laughed incessantly as Driesell spoke, as the old coach kept players fifty years his junior captivated for a wonderful half hour.

Well, now the games begin here in Richmond, first up Hofstra-Towson at noon.


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