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Colonial Athletic Association 2010-11 Preview

by - Published November 11, 2010 in Conference Notes

Although the Colonial Athletic Association didn’t produce multiple NCAA Tournament bids as was hoped before the season, the postseason was a very successful one for the conference. Six teams played in the postseason, with Old Dominion knocking off Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament and VCU winning the College Basketball Invitational. With much of the talent returning from last season, including many from projected top teams, there is reason to believe this year could be even better.

Nine All-CAA players return, including the reigning Player of the Year. 40 of 60 regular starters return, along with 12 of the top 20 scorers and rebounders. Around the conference, there are some solid newcomers as well, and a couple of players who missed last season due to injury also return.

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2010 Colonial Athletic Association Post-Mortem

by - Published May 20, 2010 in Conference Notes

The Colonial Athletic Association’s 25th anniversary season saw something that rarely happens these days: the team picked to win actually won. Old Dominion, the preseason favorite, was the top seed in the conference tournament and took home the title and lone NCAA Tournament bid. They proceeded to beat Notre Dame in the first round before bowing out to Baylor in the second round.

What the season didn’t see is a second team in the NCAA Tournament. Although a couple of teams had good non-conference wins and relatively good profiles, no one joined Old Dominion in the NCAA Tournament. Northeastern and William & Mary made the NIT, while VCU and Hofstra made the CBI (VCU won it) and George Mason made the Collegeinsider.com Tournament. The general feeling was that the Monarchs had a good chance at an at-large bid if someone knocked them off in the CAA Tournament.

The CAA set a record with the six postseason teams, one more than the five from last season.

The conference had a clear top seven teams and a good drop-off to the five teams behind them in the standings. All seven teams won at least 10 CAA games, the first time that has ever happened. Hofstra, who finished seventh, got there largely from a great month of February. There wasn’t a dominant team among the top seven, and while the bottom five were clearly a notch below them, every one of those teams scored a win over a team in the top seven. All five teams were there for a reason: Towson lacked any semblance of frontcourt play, Georgia State was consistently inconsistent, UNC Wilmington could never get their offense going, and injuries hit James Madison and Delaware hard.

This year was one where juniors fared well, which lends some hope for next year. Nine of the 15 all-conference players were juniors, with seven of them placing on the first or second team. One will not be back, as VCU big man Larry Sanders declared for the NBA Draft and signed with an agent, but having eight all-conference juniors return for one more year bodes well.

One subject of discussion around the conference tournament centered on the future of it. Right now, the CAA Tournament is set through 2012 in Richmond, but the condition of the Richmond Coliseum is the elephant in the proverbial room. Sources say the city is likely to put some money into it, but commissioner Tom Yeager had a long list of issues with the facility and it’s unlikely enough money will be put into it to resolve an appreciable number of them. The current economic conditions have something to do with it, but there’s also a question of the bang for the buck the city would get as the Coliseum is used for more than just the CAA Tournament. For a lot of reasons, it’s hard to imagine the tournament being held outside of Richmond, and that was the general sentiment expressed, but that possibility may be explored more in the months ahead as the conference looks for where it will be held following 2012.

Final Standings

Overall Colonial
Old Dominion 27-9 15-3
Northeastern 20-13 14-4
William & Mary 22-11 12-6
George Mason 17-15 12-6
VCU 27-9 11-7
Drexel 16-16 11-7
Hofstra 19-15 10-8
Towson 10-21 6-12
Georgia State 12-20 5-13
UNC Wilmington 9-22 5-13
James Madison 13-20 4-14
Delaware 7-24 3-15

Conference Tournament

The first round saw just one upset, with No. 11 James Madison sending Drexel home early. A night later, the Dukes threatened to do the same thing to William & Mary before a big second half by Danny Sumner and a clutch shot late by David Schneider put the favorites in the semifinals. Hofstra narrowly escaped in the first round against Georgia State, then took Northeastern to the brink in the quarterfinals in a double overtime loss. The semifinals were terrific games, with Old Dominion knocking off arch-rival VCU and William & Mary handing Northestern a heart-breaking loss to set up the title game matchup. William & Mary made it a game after a slow start, but the favorites had too much and took home the title and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It marked eighth time in the last nine years that the top seed has won the tournament.

Postseason Awards

Player of the Year: Charles Jenkins, Hofstra

Rookie of the Year: Chris Fouch, Drexel

Defensive Player of the Year: Larry Sanders, VCU

Coach of the Year: Tony Shaver, William & Mary

All-Conference Team

Chaisson Allen, Jr. G, Northeastern

Matt Janning, Sr. G, Northeastern

Charles Jenkins, Jr. G, Hofstra

Gerald Lee, Sr. F, Old Dominion

Larry Sanders, Jr. F-C, VCU

Season Highlights

  • CAA teams were 80-76 in non-conference play, highlighted by seven wins over teams from the six power conferences, nine more against Atlantic 10 teams and a 4-1 mark against Conference USA opponents.
  • Old Dominion became the third CAA team in the last five years to win at least one NCAA Tournament game. It was the first time since 2007 that happened, and coincidentally, all three teams were a No. 11 seed.
  • William & Mary had the best non-conference run of any CAA school. The Tribe had a difficult schedule, but pulled off wins at Wake Forest and Maryland and also beat Richmond at home.
  • Northeastern had a tough non-conference slate, and early on they lost a lot of close games. But late in December, they started an 11-game winning streak that carried them well into CAA play.
  • Charles Jenkins could always score, he rebounded well for his size and people knew he was unselfish. But this year, he found a consistent jump shot, especially from long range as he was fourth in the conference at 40.9 percent, and that helped him become the conference’s Player of the Year.
  • In a bad year for James Madison, Denzel Bowles was the big bright spot as he led the conference in scoring and rebounding.

What we expected, and it happened: Old Dominion was the conference’s best team. They were the preseason favorites, and for much of the conference season was on top in the standings. The Monarchs rode the leadership of Gerald Lee and a well-balanced lineup to the NCAA Tournament and a first round win.

What we expected, and it didn’t happen: James Madison finished near the bottom. A torn ACL ended Devon Moore’s season before it began, and that didn’t help since he was a big reason the Dukes surprised many last year. The Dukes never really got untracked, and head coach Matt Brady felt the team didn’t improve over the course of the season the way he hoped they would.

What we didn’t expect, and it happened: William & Mary was a contender and in the discussion for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. Certainly, one had to figure the Tribe would be closer to the team of two seasons ago than that of last season, but surely no one had them picking up the aforementioned non-conference wins and then getting to the conference championship game for the second time in three years.

Team(s) on the rise: George Mason and VCU. The Patriots showed their youth at times this season and might have overachieved a little, although they certainly weren’t lacking talent. The Rams had some growing pains at first adjusting to new head coach Shaka Smart and life without Eric Maynor, but they took advantage of the CBI to grow as a team and improve from the regular season. Larry Sanders is gone a year early, but the Rams have a year under Smart and will return a lot next season.

Team(s) on the decline: Georgia State. It’s hard to put anyone in this category with so many teams having a lot of players back, and if we’re talking about projections for next season, it would be easy to put Northeastern here because the Huskies lose so much. But the Huskies are in a good position looking a little past next year even if they take a step back. Georgia State, on the other hand, doesn’t appear to be getting better. They looked to be a team on the rise before 2008-09 and didn’t hit their stride until late in the season, and never seemed to get untracked this season. What next season holds is anyone’s guess, but most figured this team would be off and running by now after all the promise Rod Barnes’ first season had.

2010-11 CAA Outlook

2010-11 could be a banner year for the conference just based on returning talent. Of the 15 all-conference players, 10 will return next season, including the Player of the Year, and all but one from the All-Defensive team will return. But go to the statistical leaders and it gets better, because the top four scorers and six of the top ten all return, along with 11 of the top 13 rebounders and eight of the top ten assist men. For good measure, the top five marksmen from long range will return as well.

It doesn’t stop there, as many teams will return a high percentage of starters and key players, while the two bottom teams in the conference will each return a starter who missed this season due to injury. Old Dominion will have a strong chance to repeat as champions with only two departing seniors, although Gerald Lee will not be a small loss. George Mason and VCU will bring back most of their teams and should be contenders, and Hofstra will also return much of its team but has not had a smooth off-season in the coaching department. Northeastern and William & Mary will take hits in the personnel department, but neither should fall far and both are in good positions long-term.

It all adds up to reason for optimism in the conference next season. Coaches expressed plenty of that at Media Day last October, and chances are there will be even more of it five months from now.

CAA Tournament Quick Hitters

by - Published March 9, 2010 in Columns

RICHMOND, Va. – Some additional quick hitters from the CAA Tournament:

  • William & Mary is not likely to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but the Tribe should at least be in the discussion.  Just look at their three big non-conference wins and realize how much shelf life they still have.  Maryland tied Duke for the ACC regular season title, Wake Forest is now a lock in some NCAA Tournament projections, and Richmond finished third in the Atlantic 10 and won 24 games.  A couple of losses knocked their RPI back into the 50s, but the Tribe beat some quality opponents, and the teams that are on the bubble have proven they can lose but not necessarily win against top teams.
  • After the loss to Old Dominion, Pat Kennedy said that Towson‘s frontcourt issues will be addressed with who the Tigers have coming in next season, which includes Maryland transfer Braxton Dupree as he will be eligible.  Whether or not he will coach them is an open question.  Speculation that he may be out as coach has been out there, especially since Towson is planning to open a new arena.  Since a five-game winning streak early in the 2000-01 season, the Tigers have never won more than three games in a row, which they have done three times.  In six seasons at Towson, Kennedy’s record is 68-115, with no season at .500 or better.
  • Although they had a nice season, one must remember that George Mason is still a young team.  The Patriots looked it in the grand scheme of things, as they had clear ups and downs.  They were hot in January, winning eight in a row after being blown out at Northeastern, but they went 2-6 in February.
    “I told the team after the game I thought we were really building something very, very good in January, and we somehow lost that magic,” said head coach Jim Larranaga.  “We were 8-1 at the time, we had four or five guys in double figures every night, and we were playing good team defense.  As February rolled around, I don’t know if it was fatigue, we’ve got a young team, I don’t know if we just lost our focus or shooting touch, or quite frankly, the opponents.  We played some very good teams – Old Dominion, William & Mary, Northeastern – in the month of February and lost to each of those guys.”
  • When Chaz Williams fouled out on Saturday, Hofstra was a different team.  Charles Jenkins may be their best player and the Player of the Year, but Williams is a jet and can make this team go.  Tom Pecora knew that meant Jenkins and others who are better off the ball now had to handle the ball, and there was certainly a difference.
  • Pecora added that if a postseason tournament comes calling, there’s a good chance the Pride will accept.  The Pride finished seventh, but won 19 games with only two losses to Northeastern after a January 23 loss at Drexel.  An important consideration, based on Pecora’s comments, is the chance for his underclassmen to play more.
    “We passed (on the CollegeInsider Tournament) because we had six seniors,” Pecora noted.  “I think this year, with five freshmen, if we get that opportunity, we might do it.  That’s something we’ll look into.”
  • James Madison finished the season with a 13-20 record, one certainly not helped by injuries.  But one injury in particular probably hurt more than others, the loss of Devon Moore to a torn ACL in October.  He was the main man among the young players who quickly helped change the culture last year.  While he alone might not have meant 10-15 more wins for the Dukes, a few things might have been different.  Instead, head coach Matt Brady didn’t have fond recollections of the season after their season-ending loss on Saturday night.
    “This was a frustrating group for a lot of reasons,” the second-year head coach said.  “As a basketball coach, all you want your team to do is improve, have steady improvement.  This team didn’t show steady improvement.”
    In adding that his team didn’t always play hard, Brady didn’t leave himself or his staff out of the loop of accountability for the way the season went.  He feels he and his staff could have done a better job getting more out of this team.
    “It doesn’t change my thinking going forward as the head coach of this program that we’ve got to be able to push more buttons with this group next year,” he added.  “We’ve got to play harder, because this league is too good.”

William & Mary Fights Back Again to Advance

by - Published March 7, 2010 in Columns

RICHMOND, Va. – Perhaps William & Mary saw a good deal of the game that was played right before theirs.  The Tribe struggled out of the gates and didn’t play a good first half against James Madison, but some veterans had the idea that the second half wouldn’t be more of the same even though the first few minutes suggested otherwise.

“We didn’t want to go out like that,” said senior guard David Schneider, who hit a key shot that many will talk about for a while.  “I think a lot of it had to do with team chemistry.  We battled back pretty much every game this entire season, and it really showed tonight just how close we are.  It wasn’t one single person bringing us back, it was all of us.”

Although Schneider said the entire team did, there was one player who sparked a lot of it.  Senior Danny Sumner, arguably the team’s most talented player, has had his ups and downs in his career.  But on Saturday night, he came alive in the second half when the team needed him the most.  It was not unlike the way Northeastern made tough plays to pull off a double overtime win in the game right before this one.

James Madison started the second half well, at one point running their lead up to 44-30 with under 16 minutes to go.  Sumner hit a three-pointer, and Schneider followed suit before a short jumper by Sumner and two free throws by Quinn McDowell brought the Tribe within four.  Later, another three-pointer by Sumner brought the Tribe within two, and with 5:06 left he hit another to give William & Mary its first lead since they were up 10-9 in the early going.

“We were down by 14 and I was thinking we had to make a run,” Sumner said.

Even with all of that, the play that might have made the big difference came less than two minutes later.  With the shot clock running down after a shot was blocked, the Tribe tracked down a loose ball and they got it to Schneider, who beat the shot clock with a deep three-pointer that found the bottom of the net for a 58-54 lead.  Those who have seen the Tribe this year probably found it fitting, and while Sumner said he never doubted it was going once it left his hand, there was another who did and saw its impact.

“When he caught it, quite frankly, I thought it was going in because those plays happen,” said James Madison head coach Matt Brady.  “Broken plays, with a senior taking the basketball, those plays change games.”

It certainly did that, as the Tribe would score five more to go up 63-54 before closing it out.

William & Mary surprised many with the regular season they had, as they were picked 10th in the preseason poll of CAA coaches, sports information directors and media.  They picked up big wins in non-conference play and earned a bye in the tournament for the first time since it expanded to 12 teams.  They’re happy to pull out the win in a manner similar to some others they have had this year, but they’re not content just yet.

“We want to win this thing,” said head coach Tony Shaver.  “We’re not happy that we have a bye, we’re not happy to win the first game.  A couple of years ago we knocked on the door of this thing, and one of these days we’re going to knock it down.”

Shaver talked about how resilient this team is and how they never give up, something Schneider cited as well.  The Tribe had a target on their backs when they entered CAA play, and there were doubters after a home loss to UNC-Wilmington in early January and three straight losses later that month.  Some may have wondered if wins over Wake Forest, Maryland and Richmond were flukes.  But they battled back to earn the No. 3 seed, and now they hope to take more steps forward in what has already been a historic and record-setting season.  Their seniors don’t want to go out any differently.

Bracket Breakdown: Mock Tournament 3.0

by - Published February 26, 2010 in Columns

What a difference two weeks can make. Less than 14 days ago, Connecticut was left for dead after Cincinnati completed a season sweep of the Huskies with a 60-48 win in Storrs. But just when everyone was ready to relegate Connecticut to the NIT, the Huskies flipped the switch and started beating the Big East’s beasts.

Almost two weeks later, Connecticut has wins against Villanova and West Virginia — two marquee wins to brag about, in addition to the No. 2 toughest schedule. As a result of the Huskies’ recent hot streak, Connecticut makes its debut in the tournament as a No. 8 seed. Yes, teams can go from the wrong side of the bubble to a solid middle-of-the-road seed in less than two weeks. With remaining games against Louisville, Notre Dame and South Florida, Connecticut has an opportunity to build a six-game winning streak heading into the Big East Tournament and move up the seed chart.

While Connecticut rises, William & Mary continues to falter. After dropping a must-win BracketBusters game at Iona, the Tribe returned home to lose to Towson, ranked No. 273 in the RPI. That loss gives William & Mary three losses to teams in the bottom 150 of the RPI. That’s just too many losses to bad teams, which neutralizes the strength of quality wins against Wake Forest, Richmond and Maryland. Unless the Tribe make a run to capture the Colonial Athletic Association’s automatic bid, the Tribe will once again fail to reach the NCAA Tournament. The team has never gone to the Big Dance since it started in 1939.

Here are some of the other highlights of Mock Tournament 3.0.

  • The No. 1 seeds remain the same, but watch Purdue’s performance without Robbie Hummel.
  • Baylor and Missouri inch higher in seeding, which reflects the strength of the Big 12 Conference this season.
  • Florida State and Virginia Tech are entering bubble trouble, while Louisville can start to feel a little more secure.
  • Florida is coming on strong at the right time of year, and Utah State and UTEP are getting closer to earning an at-large bid if they don’t win their conferences’ automatic bids.

Without further ado, here are the Mock Tournament 3.0 seeds. UAB and Cincinnati in the tournament? Florida and Charlotte out? Am I crazy or right on point? Submit a comment to share your thoughts and opinions.

For comparison, also check out Mock Tournament 1.0 and Mock Tournament 2.0. Also, check out a map of NCAA Tournament sites and the schedule for all rounds of the tournament.

1

Kansas

Syracuse

Purdue

Kentucky

2

Georgetown

Duke

Villanova

Kansas State

3

Wisconsin

Pittsburgh

West Virginia

Temple

4

Ohio State

New Mexico

Texas

Tennessee

5

Wake Forest

Richmond

Vanderbilt

Michigan State

6

Baylor

Xavier

Butler (Horizon)

Texas A&M

7

BYU

Georgia Tech

Oklahoma State

Missouri

8

Old Dominion (CAA)

UNLV

Gonzaga (West Coast)

Connecticut

9

Maryland

Dayton

Clemson

Illinois

10

Louisville

Florida State

Northern Iowa (Missouri Valley)

Virginia Tech

11

Rhode Island

UAB

Marquette

Saint Mary’s

12

Cincinnati

California (Pac-10)

Utah State (WAC)

UTEP (Conference USA)

13

Siena (Metro Atlantic)

Kent State (MAC)

Cornell (Ivy)

Weber State (Big Sky)

14

Oakland (Summit)

Murray State (Ohio Valley)

Sam Houston State (Southland)

Wofford (Southern)

15

Santa Barbara (Big West)

Jacksonville (Atlantic Sun)

Morgan State (MEAC)

North Texas (Sun Belt)

16

Stony Brook (America East)

Coastal Carolina (Big South)

Robert Morris (Northeast)

Lehigh (Patriot)

Jackson State (SWAC)


Last Eight In:

Florida State

Northern Iowa (if needed)

Virginia Tech

Rhode Island

UAB

Marquette

Saint Mary’s

Cincinnati

First Eight Out:

Utah State (if needed)

Florida

Charlotte

South Florida

Seton Hall

William & Mary

Mississippi

UTEP (if needed)

Conference
Breakdown:

Big East: 9
ACC: 7

Big 12: 7

Atlantic 10: 5

Big Ten: 5

Mountain West: 3

SEC: 3

Conference USA: 2

West Coast: 2

22 one-bid conferences

CAA: Colonial Teams Get Bracket Busted

by - Published February 21, 2010 in Conference Notes

Entering the ESPN BracketBusters event this weekend, the Colonial Athletic Association had possibly the most to gain. Twelve games later, the CAA lost more ground in race for the NCAA Tournament than any other conference.

According to the RPI, the CAA is the 12th best conference in the country. But the conference’s top teams lost to the cream of the crop from the Missouri Valley Conference, Southern Conference and Western Athletic Conference. William & Mary, which has one of the CAA’s best profiles for an at-large bid, suffered the most damaging loss in a road game against Iona, ranked No. 92 in the RPI, by 16 points. The only elite CAA team to win was VCU, which won a home game against Akron, ranked No. 100 in the RPI. The rest of the CAA pack didn’t fare much better as the conference ended BracketBusters with a 3-9 record.

Old Dominion, Northeastern and William & Mary had the most to gain in their BracketBusters match ups. But Old Dominion couldn’t solve Northern Iowa’s suffocating defense en route to a 71-62 loss. Despite the defeat, the Monarchs have a solid résumé anchored by a marquee win at Georgetown. Old Dominion doesn’t have too many other great wins to brag about, but the Moncarchs have notched good wins against Charlotte, William & Mary (twice) and Marshall. As co-leader of the CAA, Old Dominion should receive an invitation to the NCAA Tournament even if the Monarchs lose early in the CAA Tournament.

Unfortunately for the CAA, the Monarchs are the only team that can feel comfortable about their NCAA Tournament prospects. William & Mary has stumbled too many times since racking up non-conference victories against Richmond, Wake Forest and Maryland. The Tribe has two ugly losses to James Madison and UNC-Wilmington, both of which have RPIs worse than 200. The loss to Iona in the BracketBusters event, which was televised on ESPNU, might be the death knell for the Tribe’s tournament aspirations.

After starting 2-7, Northeastern had won 16 of 18 games heading into its home match up against Louisiana Tech in the BracketBusters event. The best wins were against Kent State and CAA-foes like Old Dominion and VCU. The Huskies likely needed to beat Louisiana Tech to prove that their turnaround was complete. However, a three-point loss drops Northeastern to 18-10 and likely in need of the CAA’s automatic bid to reach the NCAA Tournament.

The lone member of the CAA elite to win a BracketBusters game was VCU, which stands at No. 61 in the RPI. The Rams have a couple of quality wins against Rhode Island and Old Dominion. But those are offset by bad losses to James Madison and Western Michigan. VCU closes the regular season at Old Dominion, which is an opportunity to pick up a quality road win. That would be the team’s fifth win against the RPI top 50. Even if the Rams enter the CAA Tournament with a 21-7 record, VCU almost certainly would need to win the automatic bid to reach the Big Dance.

Come Selection Sunday, the second-to-last weekend of February will likely be one of the big reasons why the CAA remains a one-bid conference when the selection committee reveals the brackets at the end of the second weekend of March.

William & Mary: A Tribe Called on a Quest

by - Published February 17, 2010 in Conference Notes

William & Mary has been playing basketball for 104 years and never received an invitation to the Big Dance, one of 32 Division I teams that haven’t made it. With a few more wins and a little bubble love, the Tribe will set school history this season with a trip to the promised land of the NCAA Tournament.

At 19-7 as of Feb. 17, William & Mary will enter the CAA Tournament as one of the favorites to score the conference’s automatic bid, which would make Selection Sunday far less stressful for coach Tony Shaver and his Tribe. William & Mary’s biggest competition will come from Old Dominion, which claims two of the Tribe’s five CAA losses. Two of those conferences losses could jeopardize an otherwise spectacular season.

Entering conference play, William & Mary sported a top 35 RPI on the strength of three huge wins against Richmond, Wake Forest and Maryland. The Tribe took out the two ACC foes on the road, too, to goose the RPI even higher. In addition, William & Mary served notice in its first CAA game by taking out VCU, a perennial CAA favorite.

However, the Tribe sputtered against UNC-Wilmington and James Madison, two teams with an RPI below 200. Those are ugly losses that might stick out like a sore thumb to selection committee members. But that would be a disservice to William & Mary and trivialize the team’s fantastic non-conference wins. And the Tribe hasn’t slacked off much in conference play. As of Feb. 17, the Tribe remains in the RPI top 50, ranked No. 48, and are 3-3 against the four other top CAA teams.

Before William & Mary starts thinking about setting school history with its first trip to the NCAA Tournament, the Tribe will likely celebrate another rare feat. With one more win, the Tribe will notch its 20th win of the season, which would be only the third time in team history they reached that total. With Iona, Towson and a revenge game at UNC-Wilmington, the Tribe could easily have 22 wins entering the conference tournament.

If William & Mary reaches the semifinals of the conference tournament and loses to Old Dominion for a third time this season, the second week of March will seem like an eternity leading to Selection Sunday. The Tribe has a profile that looks better than bubble teams like Wichita State, Mississippi and Seton Hall. However, some bubble teams, like Connecticut, Louisville and Marquette, have the luxury of notching a marquee win against top 10 competition. Will the selection committee dock William & Mary because the Tribe don’t play in the Big East? If the Tribe can get to 23 wins, committee members would be making a huge mistake in taking a middle-of-the-pack major conference team over a mid-major powerhouse that has proven it can hang with the big boys from power conferences.

Colonial Notebook: Symmetry in the Standings and Change of Pace for Tribe

by - Published January 5, 2009 in Conference Notes

CAA play has begun in earnest, and already it’s gotten interesting.

As we enter the middle of the big five-day stretch with three games for each team (save for Drexel and VCU, who play their third game of the stretch on Thursday), there is some symmetry in the standings as three teams are 2-0, six are 1-1 and three are 0-2. But that’s not all. After five of the six games played in December went to the road team, the home teams had their revenge on Saturday as only Drexel pulled out a road win at Hofstra.

On Monday, the earliest game of the day is the only matchup of 2-0 teams as Georgia State visits George Mason at 5 p.m.

Husky Guards Lead Them to 2-0

BOSTON – It’s not a surprise that Northeastern is likely to go as their guards go, especially since that can be said of a lot of teams. On Saturday, we saw Exhibit A of that as Matt Janning and Chaisson Allen led the Huskies to a 60-44 win over William & Mary.

Janning had an excellent shooting game as he scored a game-high 22 points on 7-9 shooting, including 5-7 from long range. He did most of the damage in a couple of stretches, most notably in the first half when he scored the last 12 points of a 16-0 run that saw the Huskies take the lead for good. The first nine came on three shots from deep, then a conventional three-point play finished it.

Janning didn’t get a shot off in the second half until 13 minutes in, but it was a big three-pointer that put the Huskies up by double digits for the remainder of the game.

“He had a couple of shots in that second half that were just daggers,” William & Mary head coach Tony Shaver said of Janning.

The other player Shaver was quick to mention, Allen, came through in the interim. Allen is starting to show the improved jump shot that was evident in early practice, and had it on display at a couple of key moments in the second half when the shot clock ran down. That helped them fend off the Tribe until they could pull away in the final minutes.

“I thought he played a terrific game,” head coach Bill Coen said of Allen, who had 12 points and eight rebounds. “From a defensive perspective, he really guarded for us and set the tempo, and then on the backboard. When you get eight rebounds from the point guard spot, that’s a bonus.”

The Huskies need both players to lead the way if they are to win. Coen said if that happens, other players can do what they do best and things have a better chance to fall into place from there. The captain can see the confidence Allen is developing with his jumper, as well as its importance.

“It’s the biggest thing for the whole team, if he can knock down that shot, it’s going to open up everything else,” said Janning. “If he’s playing well, that’s going to get us going.”

Tribe Faces Difficult Change of Pace

William & Mary played just four games in December, closing the month out with two games in the last 25 days. It’s partly due to having to schedule around the school’s two weeks of final exams, whereas most schools have one week. As a result, November was a packed month, and now they go from that long stretch without much game action to playing four games in eight days.

The Tribe didn’t begin it well, losing 60-44 at Northeastern in a game where they struggled offensively. They shot 34 percent, and Shaver was quick to note that their top two scorers, Danny Sumner and David Schneider, combined to go 3-16. Chris Darnell and Peter Stein didn’t do much in the frontcourt as well, getting just seven shots combined. Stein had a solid four-game stretch heading into Saturday’s game where he was finally coming alive offensively, something Shaver thought would happen this season.

One player they got a good game from is emerging freshman Quinn McDowell. He followed up a double-double against Harvard with 12 points on 4-5 shooting on Saturday, and his minutes look like they will continue to go up as he has now posted double figures in scoring in the last two games.

“We expected great things out of Quinn, really,” Shaver said. “He’s what we need a little bit more of right now, he’s good in all phases of the game.”

The Tribe’s first CAA game came against VCU last month, and after playing at Northeastern, they return home to play Old Dominion, which was also projected by many to finish in the top three, on Monday before a visit to UNC-Wilmington and a return home against James Madison. While the VCU game came last month, it’s nonetheless a challenging stretch to start, especially when the Northeastern game changes up the pace of games played.

“We have to be mentally tough enough to deal with it,” said Shaver. “Our first three conference games are against probably the best three teams in our league. It’ll be a great measuring stick for us, and we’re going to see what we’ve got to get better at to get back to the top.”

Other Notes

  • Shaver added that the Tribe may sit Sean McCurdy, who has been hit with multiple injuries, for a couple of weeks in the interest of getting more from him at the right time. The junior guard, who transferred from Arkansas, played in just his sixth game of the season against Northeastern on Saturday and had his struggles, scoring five points on 2-6 shooting with four turnovers. Then he got hurt again in the final minute.   “It’s killed him, it’s killed us,” said Shaver of the injuries. “We may just have to sit him down for 2-3 weeks to get his body healthy and help us down the stretch.”
  • Georgia State had lost four in a row and seven of eight before knocking off Old Dominion on Saturday. The Panthers’ lone wins in the last nine games have been against CAA teams, and it will be interesting to see if they are now rounding into form as there are some bad losses in the non-conference slate.
  • Delaware’s win over VCU was the team’s fifth in six games and the first in five against VCU for head coach Monte Ross. Jawan Carter has now scored in double figures in 13 straight games after he didn’t in the first game of the season.
  • In Towson’s win over James Madison, it was an unexpected player who came up big. Senior Rocky Coleman, who is basically a bit player as he averages nine minutes per game, scored 12 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
  • UNC-Wilmington has lost eight straight games after Saturday’s blowout loss at George Mason, which is their biggest CAA loss ever. The trouble spot was defense again: the Patriots shot nearly 70 percent from the floor in the second half to blow open what was a 10-point game at the half, and they shot nearly 62 percent for the game. What bothered head coach Benny Moss was what led to the number.  “This team has been competing hard, but tonight’s effort was not up to par,” said Moss. “We didn’t give it everything we had and that’s inexcusable.”

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Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
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Oct. 14: The Master's School
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