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Wichita State Shockers 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 10, 2011 in Conference Notes

Wichita State Shockers (29-8, 14-4)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Toure’ Murry
Sr. G David Kyles
Sr. C Garrett Stutz
Sr. G Joe Ragland
Sr. F Ben Smith

Important departures:

Jake J.T. Durley: 11.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Gabe Blair: 6.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg
Graham Hatch: 6.1 ppg

Percent returning:

Starts: 44.3 percent
Minutes: 57.0 percent
Scoring: 58.9 percent
Rebounding: 47.8 percent

Additions:

Freshman guard Evan Wessel was a first-team all-state for class 6-A at Heights High School in Kansas.

Toughest nonconference match ups:

Nov. 17 vs. Colorado
Dec. 4 vs. UNLV
Dec. 10 vs. Utah State

Outlook:

Wichita State has seen other teams capture the MVC crown the past two seasons even though it was predicted to win. The target is off the Shockers’ backs this season, but they still return a potent lineup capable of making a run for this season’s title again. Five of WSU’s top six scorers return this season, all of whom averaged 6.7 to 9.4 points per contest in 2010-11. Problems might occur on the boards though, with the losses of J.T. Durley and Gabe Blair. A very inexperienced bench might also force the Shockers to watch another team celebrate this season again. As of now, it appears WSU will have the opportunity to defend its NIT title.

Prediction: Third

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Delaware Blue Hens 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 9, 2011 in Conference Notes

Delaware Blue Hens (14-17, 8-10)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G Devon Saddler
So. G Kaleb Clyburn
Fr. G Jarvis Threatt
Jr. F-C Jamelle Hagins
Jr. F Josh Brinkley

Important departures:

G Jawan Carter (16.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg), G Brian Johnson (3.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg), G D.J. Boney (3.3 ppg, 1.6 rpg)

Returning:

55 percent of scoring and 71.9 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. G Kyle Anderson
Fr. F Marvin King-Davis
Fr. G Khalid Lewis
Fr. F Larry Savage
Fr. G Jarvis Threatt

Schedule highlights:

The nonconference slate isn’t full of world-beaters, but tough trips to Villanova and Boston University are on tap as well as a home date with Temple. Notable in the CAA slate is that they play Drexel and George Mason twice and have James Madison only on the road, although they only get Old Dominion at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Blue Hens lost a lot with the departures of Carter and Johnson, although the latter was never the same player after his torn ACL two years ago. They have two of the best players in the conference in Saddler and Hagins, and some good pieces up front, so the cupboard isn’t bare. Hagins is one of the conference’s best defensive players, and he’ll be needed more at that end this year with the inexperience in the backcourt. Offensively, he looks improved thus far, and if he became a more reliable post scorer it would really help the offense this time around.

Brinkley was playing well last year before injuries conspired to bring his season downhill, while the X-factors are Kelvin McNeil and Hakim McCullar, especially McNeil as he can be a live body making plays. Where they need someone to emerge is in the backcourt alongside Saddler, a talented, tough leader who already has the idea that this is his team. Clyburn is a capable floor leader who came back in better shape, while Anderson, Lewis and Threatt will all have chances to play right away and it wouldn’t be a surprise if one of them supplants Clyburn in the starting lineup. Delaware became a better defensive team last season, and that helped them progress. They’ll need to keep that up unless a couple of solid complements emerge at the offensive end, as this team might miss Carter at the times where they really need a basket.

Next: Drexel Dragons

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Drexel Dragons 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 9, 2011 in Conference Notes

Drexel Dragons (21-10, 11-7)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G Frantz Massenat
Jr. G Chris Fouch (out until December due to injury)
Jr. G Derrick Thomas
Sr. F Samme Givens
So. F Dartaye Ruffin

Important departures:

G Gerald Colds (9.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 2.4 apg) is the only starter gone from last season’s team.

Returning:

83.9 percent of scoring and 89.9 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Fr. F Kazembe Abif
Fr. G-F Tavon Allen
Fr. F Casey Carroll
Fr. G-F Damion Lee
Fr. G Aquil Younger

Schedule highlights:

While not an overwhelming nonconference slate, the Dragons will be challenged with their season opener at Rider in a 6 a.m. tip as part of ESPN’s 24-hour marathon, and they could play Virginia in the Paradise Jam. They also head across town to play Saint Joseph’s and host Ivy League contender Princeton and MAAC contender Fairfield. In CAA play, they get George Mason and VCU only at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Dragons were picked first in a vote of the conference’s coaches, sports information directors and media, and it’s a selection that makes sense. Colds is the only significant departure from last season’s team, and they welcome an excellent recruiting class that will add depth and play good minutes right away. Massenat settled the point guard spot last season after it was a question mark, while Fouch will give them a proven scorer once he comes back from an injury that will keep him out past the start of the season. Thomas is one of the best players no one knows about mainly because he earns his keep defensively, while Givens and Ruffin will lead the way as this team beats up opponents on the backboards once again, something junior Daryl McCoy and Abif, the latter of whom has a great motor, will also help right away. Don’t be surprised if Lee and Allen make an impact right away as well, especially while Fouch is out of action. The Dragons will remain a tough team to score on, and that should get to another level with this group, while the offense should be better as Massenat improves and other players become scoring threats before Fouch comes back.

Next: George Mason Colonials

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George Mason Colonials 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 9, 2011 in Conference Notes

George Mason Patriots (27-7, 16-2)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Sr. G Andre Cornelius (eligible Dec. 21)
So. G Sherrod Wright
Sr. F Ryan Pearson
Sr. F-C Mike Morrison
Fr. F Erik Copes

Important departures:

Head coach Jim Larranaga left to take the head coaching position at Miami, and he took his entire staff with him. Three starters departed: Cam Long (15.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.9 apg) and Isaiah Tate (6.2 ppg, 2.4 rpg) graduated and Luke Hancock (10.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.3 apg) transferred to Louisville.

Returning:

55.5 percent of scoring and 65.7 percent of rebounding

Additions:

New head coach Paul Hewitt has three newcomers on the roster:

Fr. F Erik Copes
Fr. G Corey Edwards
Fr. F Vaughn Gray

Schedule highlights:

The Patriots have some challenges in nonconference play, a slate almost entirely inherited by Hewitt. They open with Rhode Island at home before playing in Virginia Tech’s pod in the NIT Season Tip-Off, with a chance to get to New York for two more. They head on the road to play at Virginia and Sun Belt contender Florida Atlantic, while welcoming Patriot League favorite Bucknell. In CAA play, they get a break during the stretch of four games in eight days in that three of those games are at home.

Projected finish and outlook:

George Mason might have as much talent as any team in the conference at first glance, although they took a pretty good hit when glue guy extraordinaire Luke Hancock transferred to Louisville. They took another big hit for the first month in point guard Andre Cornelius, part of a senior core that has won a lot of games. Cornelius pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of credit card fraud and was suspended for the first 10 games of the season. That makes the all-important point guard spot a major question mark in nonconference play, meaning Vertrail Vaughns, who new head coach Paul Hewitt has said looks good so far, may have to be this team’s quarterback.

Pearson is a Player of the Year candidate and will do a lot of things for this team, while Morrison is the emotional leader and the frontcourt gets a good boost from the addition of Copes, who could start right away although sophomore Jonathan Arledge will be in the mix for minutes up front as well if he improves on the glass.

The perimeter has no shortage of talent, and no one will be more important there than Sherrod Wright, who is working his way back from an injury. Bryon Allen has a chance to emerge, while junior Paris Bennett should also get more of a chance depending on the lineup as he is really more of a combo forward and Johnny Williams is likely to miss the season due to injury. If Cornelius returns seamlessly and the perimeter questions are answered, there’s no reason this team shouldn’t be competing for the top spot in the conference.

Next: Georgia State Panthers

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Georgia State Panthers 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 9, 2011 in Conference Notes

Georgia State Panthers (12-19, 6-12)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

So. G Devonta White
Sr. G James Fields
Sr. G Jihad Ali
Sr. F Eric Buckner
Sr. F Brandon McGee

Important departures:

G Marques Johnson (5.2 ppg, 2.6 rpg) is the only starter to depart, while Dante Curry (6.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg) and Javonte Maynor (5.9 ppg, 1.1 rpg) also graduated.

Returning:

69.6 percent of scoring and 81.7 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Ron Hunter takes over as the head coach, replacing Rod Barnes, who was fired just before the CAA Tournament last season.

Schedule highlights:

The Panthers open with their toughest game, as they play Washington in Seattle in the first of three in the Basketball Travelers Invitational. They also play Portland and Florida Atlantic out there, and later host Rhode Island in what is not the toughest nonconference slate. In CAA play, they take on Drexel, VCU and James Madison twice and have George Mason only on the road.

Projected finish and outlook:

Hunter might be known more for his work off the court as the proprietor of Samaritan’s Feet, but he’s a good coach and is full of energy. He is ready to make this team run, saying that the Panthers will play “a lot faster” this year. They will surely have some growing pains because the Panther guards didn’t take good care of the ball last season, although Hunter is very high on White and will likely hand him the ball to run the team. He feels Ali could be primed for a big year, and likes that he has a veteran team with a lot of seniors, which means this team could finish higher than people expect in a year where not many teams in the conference have as much experience as the Panthers.

There’s good talent with Buckner, McGee and Josh Micheaux, and Hunter also feels Rashaad Richardson could make a big leap this year as well. The Panthers aren’t lacking talent or experience, but as Hunter acknowledged, the experience they have isn’t that of winning, so success won’t come easily. They will need to take better care of the ball first and foremost, and if they do that, they have a chance to surprise some people. Hunter has had a lot of success in his prior stops, and there’s reason to believe he will have more here. The only question is if some of it will come this season.

Next: Hofstra Pride

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Hofstra Pride 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 9, 2011 in Conference Notes

Hofstra Pride (21-12, 14-4)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Stevie Mejia
Sr. G Nat Lester
Sr. G Mike Moore
Jr. F David Imes
Fr. F Moussa Kone

Important departures:

Three starters are gone from last season’s team: Charles Jenkins (22.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 4.8 apg), Greg Washington (7.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.2 bpg) and Brad Kelleher (7.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.3 apg).

Returning:

46.3 percent of scoring and 64.7 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Jr. PG Stevie Mejia, a transfer from Rhode Island
Jr. F-C Bryant Crowder, a junior college transfer
Fr. F Moussa Kone
Fr. F Jordan Allen

Schedule highlights:

The Pride has a nonconference schedule that is tougher that it might first look. They open with Northeast contender Long Island at home, then head to Oregon State, return home to play Sun Belt contender Florida Atlantic before heading to Rhode Island for three games, a couple of which will be tough contests. They also play MAAC contender Iona, although they get the Gaels at home. In CAA play, it doesn’t get any easier, as the only team picked ahead of them that they don’t play twice is Old Dominion, and their only contest against the Monarchs is in Norfolk.

Projected finish and outlook:

To say Jenkins was the heart and soul of last season’s team would be a great understatement, although the Pride will also miss Greg Washington more than many think as well. While those are not small losses, the cupboard is not bare for Mo Cassara’s second season at the helm as they get back Nat Lester after he had to redshirt last year and add Stevie Mejia to run the show alongside Moore, the conference’s second-leading returning scorer. That means the perimeter should be in pretty good shape, especially since there appears to be more depth there than last year with Dwan McMillan and Shemiye McLendon being key parts of that.

The frontcourt is where the uncertainty is aside from Imes, who came along well last season. They like Kone thus far, and Crowder will give them more size there. This will be a different team, but this time around the team comes in not off a topsy-turvy off-season, so there’s more stability and still a good veteran presence in the backcourt. And after the top couple of teams, it’s wide open, so it would be no more of a surprise to see the Pride in third than it would to see them in ninth place when it comes time to seed the teams for the conference tournament.

Next: James Madison Dukes

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James Madison Dukes 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 9, 2011 in Conference Notes

James Madison Dukes (21-12, 10-8)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Devon Moore
Sr. G Humpty Hitchens
Sr. G-F Julius Wells
Jr. F Andrey Semenov
Sr. F Rayshawn Goins

Important departures:

Starting C Denzel Bowles (17.6 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and reserve guards Chad Jackson (2.8 ppg, 2.6 rpg) and Ben Louis (1.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg) are gone from last season’s team.

Returning:

68.9 percent of scoring and 65.2 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Jr. C Gene Swindle, a Virginia Tech transfer
Sr. G James Millen, a transfer from Cincinnati State
Fr. F Enoch Hood
Fr. G Arman Marks
Fr. F Keynan Pittman

Schedule highlights:

The nonconference slate is a manageable one for this team, with their toughest games likely to be Kent State, Rhode Island in the UCF Holiday Classic (and possible the host school after that), as well as Rider in Philadelphia. When CAA play begins in earnest, the Dukes play three of four at home. They play Drexel and George Mason twice each, and get VCU only on the road.

Projected finish and outlook:

On paper, this team should be a contender. Even with the personnel losses, the Dukes have plenty of talent, but whether or not they’ll put it all together is an open question. Moore is academically ineligible for the first semester, which means Hitchens will have to be the primary ball handler although he’s more of a scorer. That also means Marks will need to give them good minutes right away. If Goins and/or Swindle can become an inside scorer, they won’t miss Bowles as much as his numbers suggest as he wasn’t a great defensive player.

The Dukes need to be a more consistent defensive team, as the core of this team has been part of a good defensive team at times in their careers but also part of a team that looks more like the ones before Matt Brady became the head coach. Brady emphasizes defense and knows that it’s a key to winning, and will continue to try to get consistency out of this team at that end of the floor.

Next: Northeastern Huskies

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Northeastern Huskies 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 9, 2011 in Conference Notes

Northeastern Huskies (11-20, 6-12)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Jr. G Jonathan Lee
Jr. G Joel Smith
So. G-F Alwayne Bigby
So. F Ryan Pierson
Jr. F Kauri Black

Important departures:

G Chaisson Allen (16.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg) graduated and G Alex Harris (6.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg) transferred.

Returning:

64.3 percent of scoring and 69.2 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Sr. G/F Kashief Edwards, a transfer from Niagara
Fr. G Marco Banegas-Flores
Fr. F Quincy Ford
Fr. G Demetrius Pollard
Fr. F Reggie Spencer

Schedule highlights:

The Huskies open at cross-town rival Boston University and have just three home games in nonconference plus a BracketBusters game. The most notable home games are against Southern Illinois and Ivy League contender Princeton, while they’ll travel far and wide: St. John’s, La Salle, Bradley, Louisiana Tech, North Carolina State and Vermont. As if that’s not enough, when CAA play begins in earnest in January, three of the first four are on the road and they have three straight on the road in February.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Huskies are a tough team to project, as they lost their leader and perhaps their most talented player with Harris’ transfer. But Harris also had a very up-and-down season, and with four starters back and the return of Alwayne Bigby after having to redshirt, this team won’t be lacking in experience as was the case last season. Add in Edwards, who will certainly contribute and might start on the wing, and the Huskies could be a sleeper even though they appear to be a year away from contending.

Lee and Smith, the former of whom is a solid defender, made nice strides last year but must be leaders this year in addition to repeating that improvement. Black has potential and has had his moments but has often seemed to need a push, and he’ll get that from the talented newcomers up front. Pierson showed he can be a steady glue guy, and Bigby is a competitor who will lead the defense. The Huskies struggled at the defensive end and on the glass last year, so that’s the main area that needs strengthening if they are to jump in the standings.

Next: Old Dominion Monarchs

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Old Dominion Monarchs 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 9, 2011 in Conference Notes

Old Dominion Monarchs (27-7, 14-4)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Fr. G Dimitri Batten
Sr. G Kent Bazemore (out at least the first month due to injury)
Sr. G Trian Iliadis
Sr. F Chris Cooper
Jr. F Nick Wright

Important departures:

Three starters — F Frank Hassell (15.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg), F Ben Finney (9.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.0 apg), G Darius James (7.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.2 apg) — are gone from last season’s team, as is key reserve Keyon Carter (7.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg).

Returning:

41.1 percent of scoring and 44.9 percent of rebounding

Additions:

Jr. F Nayquann Mitchell, a junior college transfer
So. G Donte Hill, a Clemson transfer eligible in the second semester
Fr. G Dimitri Batten
Fr. G Breon Key
Fr. F Jason Pimentel
Fr. F Richard Ross (eligible second semester)

Schedule highlights:

As is usually the case, the Monarchs will play a very tough nonconference schedule. They are in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off, where they open with South Florida and could play Kentucky, head to Richmond, Fairfield and UCF and welcome Missouri, Northern Iowa and Long Island. While they don’t have to go to Drexel, they get no other breaks as they play George Mason, VCU and James Madison twice each.

Projected finish and outlook:

The Monarchs are right there with archrival VCU when it comes to the question of who lost the most from last season’s team. This team lost a great deal of talent, size and winning experience, as that group won a lot of games and tournaments in their careers. They are left with a collection of largely talented but unproven players, save for Bazemore, who will miss at least the first month after fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot. As if that’s not enough, Hill and Ross, both of whom figure to give this team a boost among the newcomers, will not be eligible until the second semester, with Ross in that situation due to academics.

That means players like Iliadis, Cooper and Wright need to make big leaps to become major contributors, while newcomers like Mitchell have to help right away, especially with the tough nonconference schedule that is in front of this team. The Monarchs are also likely to play a little differently since they don’t have the length that helped them succeed with their zone defense and was a big reason they owned the boards.

In all, it’s fair to say that there is a lot of newness to this team, and while they aren’t lacking talent, the Monarchs also aren’t lacking question marks entering this season. That said, the last time they weren’t clear-cut contenders, they did well, so Blaine Taylor has done well before with a team that lost a lot from the prior season.

Next: Towson Tigers

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Towson Tigers 2011-12 Preview

by - Published November 9, 2011 in Conference Notes

Towson Tigers (4-26, 0-18)

 

 

 

 

Projected starting five:

Fr. G Kris Walden
Sr. G RaShawn Polk
Fr. F Jervon Pressley
Sr. C Robert Nwankwo
So. F Erique Gumbs

Returning:

21.6 percent of scoring and 18.7 percent of rebounding

Additions:

So. Marcus Damas, a junior college transfer
Fr. G Will Adams
Fr. C Jamel Flash
Fr. F Alex Giergen
Fr. F Deon Jones
Fr. F Jervon Pressley
Fr. G Kris Walden

Schedule highlights:

The Tigers open up with a bang after taking on Virginia State in their season opener, as they head to Kansas and Michigan before playing Belmont at a neutral site in Tennessee as part of the Maui Invitational. They also have to travel to Virginia and UMass while getting a home date with Oregon State just after Thanksgiving. They won’t have it easy in CAA play, either, as they play all of the top five teams twice.

Projected finish and outlook:

Simply put, the Tigers are starting over. New head coach Pat Skerry summed up the team quite well in talking about how there is a lot that’s new — a new coach, new team and new way of practicing and playing. The Tigers don’t have a great deal of talent or experience, but Skerry and the staff will work on that for the future and try to get as much as they can out of this team.

Polk gives them a proven scorer on the perimeter, while Nwankwo returns and should anchor the team inside while Gumbs tries to grow. They are the only holdovers, so it’s all newcomers after that, and Skerry thus far seems highest on Pressley. Flash gives them some size at 6’11”, and Walden and Adams will each get a chance to run the show. The Tigers enter this season with no external expectations, as well as the reality that after last season, about the only way to go is up.

Next: UNC Wilmington Seahawks

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