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2014-15 CAA Post-Mortem

by - Published June 9, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

In a year full of competitive conference races, the Colonial Athletic Association fit right in while still being under the radar. It didn’t have a seven-way tie at the top at one point, like the Big South did or three games separating first from tenth like the Patriot League did for a lot of the season, but it did produce its own great result: a four-way tie for the regular season title.

The conference wasn’t top-heavy, either. Another team was two games back of the top four and two more teams another game back. The six losses by the top four teams were tied for the most by a regular season champion in CAA history and marked the first time in 18 years that the regular season champion had more than four losses. Drexel was 9-9 in CAA play and had to play on opening night of the conference tournament. The other 9-9 team, Delaware, knocked off three of the four teams that tied for first during the season.

… Continue Reading

2014-15 CAA Preview

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

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.

… Continue Reading

James Madison Dukes 2014-15 Preview

by - Published November 14, 2014 in Conference Notes

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)


52.2 percent of scoring and 48.9 percent of rebounding


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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2013-14 CAA Post-Mortem

by - Published May 9, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes

The new era in the Colonial Athletic Association has begun. While there was plenty of competitiveness, as expected, the conference is in a very different time now with arguably its three signature programs having left over the past two years.

Conference champion Delaware was a study in overcoming adversity all season long. The Blue Hens certainly had enough talent and experience to compete for the title, but suspensions of multiple players, including long ones to Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt, could have scuttled this magical season. They were challenged in the conference tournament, including in the title game, but as they did all year, they found a way to win.

… Continue Reading

James Madison Dukes 2013-14 Preview

by - Published November 5, 2013 in Conference Notes

James Madison Dukes (21-15 overall, 11-7 conference)




Projected starting five:

So. G Andre Nation
So. G Ron Curry
So. G Charles Cooke
Sr. F Andrey Semenov
S0. F Taylor Bessick

Important departures:

The Dukes were a very experienced team last season, and gone from that team are four starters: G Devon Moore (11.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.3 spg), G A.J. Davis (12.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.3 spg), F Rayshawn Goins (12.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and G-F Alioune Diouf (4.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg)


36.2 percent of scoring and 30.4 percent of rebounding


Fr. F Yohanny Dalembert
Fr. G-F Kent Jackson
Fr. F Ivan Lukic
Fr. F Tom Rivard
Fr. F Paulius Satkus
Fr. F Tom Vodanovich

Schedule Highlights:

Dukes fans had best enjoy non-conference home games while they can, because there are only two of them plus an exhibition game: Detroit in mid-November and Ball State to close out 2013. They hit the road for games at Virginia, Valparaiso and Richmond, while playing in three in-season events: Northern Illinois Tournament (three games), E-Tech Lumberjack Classic (two games) and the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic against Hampton at the Richmond Coliseum. In CAA play, they have a brutal stretch of four games in eight days in February: at Towson, at Drexel, Hofstra and at Delaware.

Projected finish and outlook:

Last year, things finally broke in James Madison’s favor just enough, and a very experienced team took home the CAA title. Now the Dukes basically start over with a team that has 12 freshmen and sophomores and no true seniors (Semenov is a graduate student who got a sixth year of eligibility). With Nation suspended for the first 15 games, players like Lukic and Kent Jackson will get more of an opportunity right away than they would have otherwise. While that won’t help early on, it could help down the road as they develop another player or two earlier than they might have planned. It also means Cooke, who improved nicely at the end of last season, and Curry will have to lead the way on the perimeter. Bessick should slide into a starting spot up front, as he has improved greatly since last season, and other freshmen will back him up. Semenov offers tangibles such as shooting and intangibles such as his experience with adversity and success in his career, and this team will need every bit of both. They will also need to take better care of the ball, and early practice has borne that out as a major concern. There will be some serious growing pains for this team, especially early on, but there are a lot of options with all the size they have and a good talent base, so while the outlook isn’t good overall this season, the future looks brighter and it wouldn’t shock anyone if the Dukes knock off someone they shouldn’t late in the season.

Next: Northeastern Huskies

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James Madison Dukes 2012-13 Preview

by - Published November 7, 2012 in Conference Notes

James Madison Dukes (12-20 overall, 5-13 conference)




Projected starting five:

Sr. G Devon Moore
Sr. G A.J. Davis
Sr. F Andrey Semenov
Sr. F Rayshawn Goins
Sr. C Gene Swindle

Important departures:

Two starters are gone from last season’s team: G Humpty Hitchens (14.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 3.7 apg) and F Julius Wells (8.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg)


73.6 percent of scoring and 85.4 percent of rebounding


Fr. F Taylor Bessick
Fr. F Dimitrije Cabarkapa
Fr. G Charles Cooke
Fr. G Ron Curry
Fr. G Andre Nation

Schedule Highlights:

The non-conference slate has some challenges but also some winnable games that would get this veteran team going. They open with the Legends Classic at UCLA and at Duquesne and later play in the Las Vegas Classic against San Jose State and San Diego. The Dukes also take on Richmond at home and head to Miami (Ohio), and they close the non-conference slate at Florida Atlantic. They will be challenged at the end of CAA play as three of the last four are on the road, but a three-game homestand in the middle of the slate could help.

Projected finish and outlook:

Last year was one to forget for the Dukes, and Matt Brady will get at least one more year to get this team going. He comes back with a veteran team, and that term isn’t being used lightly as they have five fifth-year seniors. As Brady noted at media day, they have to use that experience to their advantage. The perimeter can be excellent, as Moore has shown himself to be a good player and leader but now has to take that to another level, while Davis can score and Semenov has battled injuries constantly through his career but is as tough and competitive as they come. Goins and Swindle can give them production inside, with Goins now in better shape. Curry, Cooke and Nation will be too good to keep on the bench for long, and perhaps one benefit of all the injuries last season is that some of the projected reserves this season (Enoch Hood and Arman Marks come to mind) are better since they will be more experienced than had the injuries not happened. The Dukes are a true wild card in that one doesn’t know what to expect based on a lot of conflicting data; this is a team that could wind up in the top three just as easily as they could be in tenth place, but the veteran makeup of this team is reason to think they’re more likely to wind up near the former and quite possibly higher than this selection.

Next: Northeastern Huskies

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James Madison fights the injury bug together and to the end

by - Published March 3, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

RICHMOND, Va. – Perhaps it’s amazing that James Madison had any fight in the first place on Friday. A team torn apart by injuries, the Dukes started off Friday’s first round game well, but once they got behind it seemed like their will was taken away from them. Given what they’ve been through this season, it’s hard to blame them as their season ended with a 70-59 loss to UNCW in the first round of the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament.

“This season hasn’t been the season that we wanted,” senior guard Humpty Hitchens said in what was surely an understatement.

… Continue Reading

2012 CAA Tournament – First Round Notes

by - Published March 3, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

RICHMOND, Va. – The first round of the CAA Tournament is in the books.  The seeds held to form save for the first game of the day, although Towson had a chance to change that before Delaware was able to hold them off.  William & Mary also made a charge at Northeastern, but to no avail, and the best team performance of the day came in the last game as Georgia State dominated Hofstra, playing like a team on a mission as head coach Ron Hunter described after the game.

Here are some quick hitters on what happened Friday:

… Continue Reading

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.


68.9 percent of scoring and 65.2 percent of rebounding


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

Back to CAA preview

Talented James Madison Hopes For Postseason Play

by - Published March 7, 2011 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

RICHMOND, Va. – James Madison wasn’t likely to surprise too many people at the CAA Tournament. Talented though they are, the feeling among many was that the Dukes could just as easily win the tournament as they could lose on Friday night. Sure enough, one of those results came as they were eliminated on Friday night by William & Mary.

There were some high expectations for this team, and to a degree they were understandable. The Dukes brought back the conference’s best post player in Denzel Bowles and also got Devon Moore and Andrey Semenov back after they had to redshirt last season. Add in a few others who were young last year, as well as newcomers that would raise the talent level like Akron transfer Humpty Hitchens and Cincinnati State transfer Rayshawn Goins, and you can see why some thought this team could contend if it all came together. But head coach Matt Brady knows one reason why it was hardly a given that this team would be that good. … Continue Reading

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