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2014-15 CAA Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
colonial

Times continue to change in the CAA, and while there is still good basketball, it’s definitely a new era. Last season saw just two CAA teams reach postseason play. In prior years, the conference had sent more. Plenty of teams have challenging non-conference slates this year, so opportunities for quality wins will be there – but whether or not they come is another story. Another membership change comes this season as Elon joins to bring the conference to ten teams. For now, it seems stable, but conference realignment never seems to really take a break, so enjoy it while it lasts.

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College of Charleston Cougars 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
charleston

College of Charleston Cougars (14-18 overall, 6-10 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Anthony Stitt
So. G Joe Chealey
So. G Canyon Barry
Sr. F Adjehi Baru
Fr. F Donovan Gilmore

Important departures:

G Nori Johnson, F Willis Hall and F Anthony Thomas have all departed.

Returning:

55.1 percent of scoring and 43.6 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Evan Bailey
Fr. F Donovan Gilmore
Fr. F-C Nick Harris
Fr. G Cameron Johnson

Schedule Highlights:

The Cougars have five home games in a challenging non-conference slate. Notable opponents at home include Gardner-Webb and former Southern Conference rival Davidson. They will play in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off against defending national champion Connecticut, then either Texas A&M or Dayton in the second game with one more to follow. Additional road games are at West Virginia, Charlotte, LSU and Miami. Early in CAA play, they have a three-game homestand, followed by a stretch with five of six on the road.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Cougars had a more eventful off-season than anyone imagined, as the saga of now former head coach Doug Wojcik dominated the headlines. The plus is that this team has really come together, which makes part of new head coach Earl Grant’s job easier. There is talent here, and some reason to believe this team can finish higher than many might project. Stitt is a talented, seasoned veteran, while Chealey and Barry both had the kinds of ups and downs freshmen usually go through but appear ready to harness some of their potential. Baru will anchor the frontcourt, a solid rebounder who they will look to for more offense. If the guards make a good jump from freshman to sophomore year, that will go a long way towards this team contending.

Next: Delaware Blue Hens

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Delaware Blue Hens 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
delaware

Delaware Blue Hens (25-10 overall, 14-2 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Fr. G Kory Holden
Sr. G Kyle Anderson
Fr. G-F Chivarsky Corbett
Jr. F Marvin King-Davis
So. F Devonne Pinkard

Important departures:

Gone from last season’s championship team are G Devon Saddler, G Jarvis Threatt (dismissed from team), F Davon User and C Carl Baptiste.

Returning:

25 percent of scoring and 29.6 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Eric Carter
Fr. G Chivarsky Corbett
Fr. G Kory Holden
Fr. F Skye Johnson
Fr. G Anthony Mosley

Schedule Highlights:

The Blue Hens played some very tough non-conference slates the last couple of years, but this one is a bit lighter while still having some tough contests. They open with five straight on the road, including a west coast swing with games at Cal Poly, CSU Bakersfield and Stanford before coming back east to play at Villanova and later going to Northeast contender Robert Morris. They have two good home games with Temple and St. Bonaventure to highlight their four home non-conference games. CAA play has a tough start, as they host Northeastern before going on the road for three straight. Fortunately, they come home for three in a row right after that.

Projected finish and outlook:

Everything came together last year for Delaware as they won the conference championship. Now it’s a whole new team, especially since they had to dismiss Jarvis Threatt after too many off-court problems. They don’t lack talent, but they are a very green team, especially on the perimeter aside from Anderson, who is a good starting point. Anderson was slowed in the preseason by an injury, and then he needed surgery that will cost him about a month. They’ll hang their hat on him when he returns, but his absence early on likely means serious growing pains. Holden looks to be the likely starter at the point, but that’s never easy for a freshman. Mosley will get minutes backing him up, and Corbett may be the most ready to join Anderson on the wing. Early on, sophomore Cazmon Hayes will have a golden opportunity to earn a significant role. King-Davis and Pinkard are the most likely players to lead the way up front, though Monte Ross says that entire unit is, like the team, a work in progress. Barnett Harris also returns, and he can be an energy guy. The Blue Hens keep things simple, so the learning curve should be manageable for the young players, but this will be a very different group than the one Ross had and greatly trusted last year. The challenging non-conference slate will prepare them well for conference play, but with the youth on this team, managing confidence may come into play as it’s possible that the losses could add up.

Next: Drexel Dragons

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Drexel Dragons 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
drexel

Drexel Dragons (16-14 overall, 8-8 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Fr. G Rashann London
Jr. G Damion Lee
Jr. F Tavon Allen
So. F Rodney Williams
So. F-C Mohamed Bah

Important departures:

Three key starters have graduated: G Frantz Massenat, G Chris Fouch, F-C Dartaye Ruffin.

Returning:

34.7 percent of scoring and 45.8 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Rashann London
Fr. G Sam Mojica
Fr. F Tyshawn Myles
Fr. F Austin Williams

Schedule Highlights:

The Dragons will play a tough non-conference schedule with five home games, highlighted by visits from Saint Joseph’s, Southern Miss, La Salle and MAAC contender Iona. They open at Colorado, play Miami and USC or Akron in the first two games at the Charleston Classic, and later travel to Penn State. After opening CAA play with two straight at home, the Dragons go on the road for four of the next five games.

Projected finish and outlook:

Injuries have struck again for the Dragons, as they have already lost two likely starters for the season. Add that to the prduction they already lost with three starters having departed, and normally it would look like a major rebuilding season. But there’s still something to work with, and the Dragons are the only team to finish with a .500 or better record in CAA play each of the past six seasons, so you can’t dismiss this team at all. Lee is one of the best players in the conference, and so far so good in his return. Allen has to go from being a complement to one of the conference’s better players, which he’s certainly capable of doing, and his former travel teammate Freddie Wilson should contribute more in his second season at the school. Williams showed potential as a freshman last year, and he has the physical gifts to turn into a star. With Canady out for the year, London seems the most likely candidate at the point. There is sure to be a learning curve there, so the Dragons are likely to take some lumps during the tough non-conference schedule. Bah should step in where Abif would have, and there will still be some growing pains with sophomores up front. The Dragons will guard you all day and make you grind games out, which means they’ll never be out of games and can break through and win. If London and the other freshmen grow up fast, the Dragons could be in contention in a wide open conference.

Next: Elon Phoenix

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Elon Phoenix 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
elon

Elon Phoenix (18-14 overall, 11-5 Southern Conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Austin Hamilton
Jr. G Tanner Samson
Fr. G Elijah Bryant
Sr. F Ryan Winters
So. F Christian Harrison

Important departures:

Three key starters – G Sebastian Koch, F Lucas Troutman and F Ryley Beaumont – have all graduated.

Returning:

39.1 percent of scoring and 45.9 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Jack Anton
Fr. G Elijah Bryant
Fr. F-C Jack George
Fr. F Collin Luther
Fr. G Dmitri Thompson

Schedule Highlights:

The Phoenix have four home games in a tough non-conference slate, highlighted by a visit from Charlotte. After traveling to play at Northwestern, they play in the Cancun Challenge against Morgan State and either North Florida or Liberty, then later hit the road to play at Missouri, Duke and UNCG. After opening their CAA history at Drexel and Towson, they come home for five of the next six.

Projected finish and outlook:

Elon is in a whole new world this season, as they enter a new conference with a lot of experience having walked out the door after last season. Gone are their top three scorers and rebounders, as well as their top assist man in Koch. But Hamilton and Samson are a solid backcourt to regroup with, as the former had a better than 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio last season. Bryant is a nice addition to the backcourt, and he should impact them right away, though they also return Kevin Blake. Thompson could also help right away, so they’ll be plenty deep on the perimeter. Winters is a solid holdover up front who must give them more, and Harrison and Sabato will likely be pressed into bigger roles as well, though all three freshmen will have a shot at minutes right away.

Next: Hofstra Pride

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Hofstra Pride 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
hofstra

Hofstra Pride (10-23 overall, 5-11 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Dion Nesmith
Jr. G Juan’ya Green
So. G-F Jamall Robinson
Jr. F Ameen Tanksley
Sr. F-C Moussa Kone

Important departures:

G Zeke Upshaw, G-F Jordan Allen (transferred) and F Stephen Nwaukoni are gone from last season’s team.

Returning:

41.9 percent of scoring and 42.5 percent of rebounding

Additions:

So. G Brian Bernardi (transfer from SMU)
Fr. G Eliel Gonzalez (redshirted)
Jr. G Juan’ya Green (transfer from Niagara)
Fr. F Rokas Gustys
Jr. G-F Ameen Tanksley (transfer from Niagara)
Fr. F-C Andre Walker

Schedule Highlights:

The Pride won’t play a loaded non-conference schedule, though it’s not going to be a breeze, either. Five home games, including visits from America East favorite Stony Brook, Northeast Conference contender Wagner, MEAC contender Norfolk State and La Salle. The tough road games will be at NC State and South Florida, though Ivy League contender Columbia won’t be an easy cross-town visit, either. CAA play challenges them right out of the gate as four of the first five games are on the road. Five of the next seven are at home once they get through that stretch.

Projected finish and outlook:

Ever since the three transfers announced their intentions before last season, there was much anticipation about year two under Joe Mihalich. That time is here, and the Pride look ready to make a big jump in the standings. With long-time friends Green and Tanksley in the fold, Nesmith’s job is much easier, while Robinson showed last season that he’s a terrific competitor. He’ll be too good not to have a prime role with this team, while Bernardi gives them a shooter with some other skills. The staff was high on Gonzalez, and he should help at the point. Kone came along last season when pressed into a bigger role. The Pride have a lot more talent and depth this time around, and they won’t sneak up on anyone.

Next: James Madison Dukes

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James Madison Dukes 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
jamesmadison

James Madison Dukes (11-20 overall, 6-10 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Andre Nation
Jr. G Ron Curry
So. G-F Jackson Kent
So. F Paulius Satkus
S0. F Yohanny Dalembert

Important departures:

The Dukes lost three starters, two of whom they didn’t initially expect to lose: F Taylor Bessick (transferred to Iona), F Andrey Semenov and G Charles Cooke (transferred to Dayton)

Returning:

52.2 percent of scoring and 48.9 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Jr. G Winston Grays (transfer from Cincinnati State)
Fr. F Hari Hall
Fr. G Joey McLean
Fr. G Matt Risse
Fr. G Dante Sterling
So. G Shawn Wilborne

Schedule Highlights:

A year after playing just two non-conference home games, the Dukes will play ten at home, including the first five of the season. They open with a visit from Virginia, then host Big South contender Radford and later host Richmond, MEAC contender Norfolk State and Valparaiso. Three of the home games are in the Buckeye Classic, an event where they will travel to Columbus to play Ohio State as well. About halfway through CAA play, the Dukes play three straight at home before going on the road for the next three games.

Projected finish and outlook:

At first glance, it doesn’t look promising for head coach Matt Brady. He’s in the second year of a two-year contract, and transfers and disciplinary matters are not helping from a personnel standpoint. The Dukes lost their exhibition game, which could be a sign of major growing pains ahead. Nation and Tom Vodanovich have each been suspended for early games, and Nation is on thin ice as this is not his first suspension. The Dukes have a lot of room for growth, and they don’t have much time, especially since the non-conference slate, while home-heavy, has some land mines. Curry has become one of the conference’s best guards, and when Nation is with him they are a solid combination, especially defensively. Kent showed promise, but now must turn that into some production, as must Dalembert. Satkus might be the most ready for a bigger role among the sophomores. The Dukes were a reasonably good defensive team last season, though they weren’t as good in the latter part of the season. They can’t afford a slip like that this time around.

Next: Northeastern Huskies

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Northeastern Huskies 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
northeastern

Northeastern Huskies (11-21 overall, 7-9 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G T.J. Williams
Jro. G David Walker
Jr. F Quincy Ford
Sr. F Reggie Spencer
Sr. F Scott Eatherton

Important departures:

Demetrius Pollard (left team) and Marco Banegas-Flores (transferred to Umass-Lowell) both left the team, with the latter having graduated.

Returning:

78.2 percent of scoring and 86.8 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Devon Begley

Schedule Highlights:

Bill Coen has been known to challenge his team in non-conference play, and this season is no exception with a team that should contend. They open once again at the Boston Garden against arch-rival Boston University, then play four games as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, going to Florida State and UMass while playing Navy and either at Mohegan Sun Arena. They go across town to play at Harvard and later have road dates with St. Mary’s and Richmond after they play Cal Poly and Santa Clara at the Cable Car Classic. Only three home games are on tap, including a mid-January date with Detroit as part of a four-game homestand. CAA play opens up with three of four on the road, but they have two stretches with three straight conference games at home as well.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Huskies bring back more than any other team in the conference, especially with the return of Ford from an injury that shelved him for much of last season. The sudden departure of Pollard in October hurts because they don’t have another shooter like him, but the Huskies remain favorites. Eatherton should be a double-double machine again, and he teams with Spencer in a frontcourt that should help them once again beat opponents on the glass. If Ford is what he was two seasons ago, the Huskies have another first team all-conference caliber player, while Walker is steady and just knows how to play. Williams is the key; after hitting a wall and also getting nicked up last year, he finished strong and looks like he’ll continue to run the show for the next three years. The Huskies had a lot of tough losses in non-conference play last season, but could turn some of those into wins this time around, and if that happens, there’s every reason to think they can be the top team in the conference heading into the conference tournament.

Next: Towson Tigers

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Towson Tigers 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
towson

Towson Tigers (25-11 overall, 13-3 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Josh Ivory
Jr. G Four McGlynn
Jr. F Timajh Parker-Rivera
So. F John Davis
So. F Walter Foster

Important departures:

Four big pieces to last season’s team have graduated: F Jerrelle Benimon, F Rafriel Guthrie, F Marcus Damas and G Mike Burwell,

Returning:

26.3 percent of scoring and 30.6 percent of rebounding

Additions:

So. G Alex Astroth (transfer from Vanderbilt)
Sr. F Alex Gavrilovic (transfer from Dayton)
Fr. G Byron Hawkins
Jr. G Josh Ivory (junior college transfer)
Fr. G-F Eddie Keith

Schedule Highlights:

The non-conference schedule has plenty of land mines, as Skerry is challenging them right away. They open at Alabama in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, which then takes them to Monmouth for three games. They travel to play Georgetown and Temple while welcoming La Salle to SECU Arena. After opening CAA play at James Madison, they play three straight at home, then go over a month before they have back-to-back home games. During that time, they play back-to-back road games three separate times.

Projected finish and outlook:

Only Delaware lost nearly as much from last season as the Tigers, who lost the two-time Player of the Year and three other starters. There is still good talent, but the lack of experience means they’re likely to have some growing pains early on. The backcourt is almost entirely new, as McGlynn is the only returning guard, and his shooting is well-suited to coming off the bench. Ivory is more likely to start at the point over Hawkins, largely because he’s more seasoned, but Hawkins will be very much in the mix. Astroth will compete for minutes on the wing along with Davis, who they are high on but was in and out of practice last season due to illness and injury. Up front, they will hang their hat on Parker-Rivera, their top returning rebounder, and Foster is healthier as well. Gavrilovic and Jamel Flash should be in the mix up front as well, giving them experience. In short order, Pat Skerry has rebuilt this program, and now comes a big challenge with a mostly new cast of characters.

Next: UNC Wilmington Seahawks

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UNCW Seahawks 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes
uncwilmington

UNCW Seahawks (9-23 overall, 3-13 conference)

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Craig Ponder
Sr. G Freddie Jackson
Sr. G Addison Spruill
Sr. F Cedrick Williams
Jr. C Yemi Makanujuola

Important departures:

G Chris Dixon and F Shane Reybold are key players who have graduated.

Returning:

59.4 percent of scoring and 52.7 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Jr. C Yemi Makanujuola (transfer from Tennessee)
Fr. G Malik Pugh
Fr. G Jordan Talley

Schedule Highlights:

The non-conference slate features just three home games, all coming in a stretch of four games with a trip to Louisville being the only other game. They also have trips to Old Dominion, UNCG, Minnesota and Ohio on tap. CAA play begins with three of four at home, followed by three straight on the road.

Projected finish and outlook:

Buzz Peterson certainly tried to get the program going again, but couldn’t do it in the time he was given, aided in part by APR issues when he started. New head coach Kevin Keatts inherits a better situation, but not by much at first. He has solid coaching and recruiting credentials, in addition to being a high-character man like Peterson, so there’s a lot to like if you’re a Seahawk fan. Keatts coached Ponder at Hargrave Military Academy, so there’s some familiarity there, and his likely running mates in Jackson and Spruill can score, though none of the three has been a great three-point threat. Williams is a three-year starter and should anchor them up front. He’s been a good player, but one gets the impression he can be better than he’s shown thus far. The Seahawks had hoped to have Makanujuola last year, but they get him now and he should boost them up front. There’s a lot of room to improve, and with two players gone who had more assists than turnovers, taking care of the ball could be even more of a challenge this year.

Next: William & Mary Tribe

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