It’s crazy how often Towson is featured in the matchup of the night (versus George Mason). Luckily, that’s not the only important game tonight. I’ll tweet out links to video streams close to game time, if they’re available.
William and Mary (7-10, 1-5) at Northeastern (11-7, 6-0) – 7:00 – video
It would be difficult to find two teams trending in more opposite directions. After securing its first CAA win back in December, the Tribe has dropped five-straight conference games, and its last seven overall. It’s been a rough road for the Tribe, who probably just can’t wait for February so it can finally play some home games. We said it in an earlier post, but it’s worth reiterating: In the 59-48 loss to Drexel, 46 of the points came from Brandon Britt, Tim Rusthoven, and Marcus Thornton. Kyle Gaillard scored the other two points, so it’s pretty easy to see that the Tribe needs production from other players to be successful. With Matt Rum still struggling to find his shot, I’d like to see Julian Boatner get a few extra opportunities.
If I had to sum up the Huskies 6-0 start with one stat, it would be their 125-57 advantage in points from turnovers. Last year the Huskies shot themselves in the paw with their own turnovers, but this year they’re making the other CAA teams pay for their mistakes. You already know that Ford, Lee, Smith, and Spencer are the primary reasons for success, but I’ve been impressed with Dinko Marshavelski’s play. He didn’t play much in the first three conference games, but he’s played double-digit minutes in the last three. In those three, he’s averaging six points, four boards, and a block, and he’s shot an efficient 9-of-13 from the floor. He played season-high 17 minutes against Delaware, and didn’t back down from the imposing Jamelle Hagins. It’s really important that he can give solid minutes at center.
The Tribe is more than capable of escaping Mathews with a win, but I’m not brave enough to pick it. The Huskies are coming together, and I expect them to keep getting better and better.
Huskies 72, Pugs 56
Delaware (8-10, 3-2) at James Madison (9-10, 3-3)
JMU’s offense was looking pretty good before Christmas. Then, Andrey Semenov went down in the first conference game, and the Dukes have struggled since. They’re still forcing turnovers, so they’ll have a chance against a Delaware team that struggles in that department. Containing Jamelle Hagins is another story. Expect Coach Brady to mix-and-match Taylor Bessick, Gene Swindle and Enoch Hood to find a combination to slow down the big man.
Instead of trying to outscore everyone, I wish Delaware played defense. There was an encouraging stretch Saturday against Northeastern when the Blue Hens held the Huskies’ offense in check, and got back into the game. I’d like to see more of that, because if they can force some missed shots, their rebounding prowess will help them limit the second-chance opportunities (something Coach Ross harped on in Tuesday’s teleconference). This team is abundantly talented on offense, evidenced by Kyle Anderson’s big game on Saturday.
This should be a good game, but I think the Hagins factor will be too much for Madison to overcome. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he pulled down 15+ boards tonight.
Hens 68, Dukes 62
Drexel (6-11, 2-3) at Hofstra (5-13, 2-3)
Coach Flint on the matchup with Hofstra: “I think they are the hardest playing team in the league.” That’s all you can really ask of a short-handed squad. The Pride has proven it will defend its home court, evidenced by its 2-0 CAA record at The Mack. Drexel is similarly short-handed, although Damion Lee’s return to the court on Saturday was a positive. Coach Flint was unsure if Daryl McCoy would be available today, so Stephen Nwaukoni may be in for an even bigger game if McCoy is inactive.
I don’t have much to say about this one, but it’s important for both teams. Despite their less-than-stellar records, they perservere with the hope of rattling off three in a row at the Coliseum. This game might be similarly ugly to the Steelers-Dolphins 2007. Actually, I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with low-scoring, protect the basketball type of games. First one to 55 wins.
Drexel 56, Hofstra 54
George Mason (11-7, 4-2) at Towson (10-10, 5-2) – 7:00 – MASN
Big, big game. Towson is playing its third game in five days. Starting tonight, George Mason plays four of its next five on the road. Nothing would be more validating for the Tigers than a win over one of the CAA’s powerhouses. George Mason needs to start its road swing on the right foot, especially with Northeastern looming large on Sunday. Jerrelle Benimon is tied for first in the nation (with this Hagins fellow) in rebounds per game with 11.7. He’s posted six straight double-doubles, and has 14 double-doubles (tied with Bucknell’s Mike Muscala for the national lead). Marcus Damas averaged 22 points and six rebounds in his two meetings against Mason last year.
Mason continues to be Sherrod Wright and Co., but Coach Hewitt said he’s okay with that. When you defend and rebound as well as the Patriots can, you don’t need a bunch of guys getting into double figures. Corey Edwards continues to be the model of efficiency at the point guard. He’s shooting 54.5% from the field and 64.7% (11-of-17) from three. Those numbers are beautiful, so I don’t want to say he should shoot more, but he only attempted five shots from the field in Mason’s two games last week. I think he could still be efficient taking about five each game.
Matchup of the night, so tune into MASN and enjoy. A win over Mason would be huge for Towson, but playing three games in five days is rough. I have a feeling we’ll see some inspired defense after Monday night’s loss.
Tigers 65, Patriots 63
UNCW (7-10, 2-3) at Georgia State (9-11, 4-3) – 7:00
Georgia State and UNCW are both in good spirits as they enter their Wednesday duel in Atlanta. Both own conference win streaks for the first time in almost a calendar year. As you’re probably aware, both teams are ineligible for the CAA tournament and will be looking for the best possible finish during the regular season, which grows closer with each passing day. Georgia State can technically make the postseason, though it seems unlikely.
The Panthers three-game win streak includes two road wins, which is a good recipe for finishing in the Top 5. The three-headed monster of RJ Hunter (who was dynamite in the Monday night win against Towson), Manny Atkins and Devonta White allows the team to hang with any team in the conference, and even run circles around a few. The difference, though, is Rashaad Richardson. He’s hit two game-winning shots this year, and (although this may be a bit of a reach) Georgia State is 6-1 when Richardson nets at least nine points.
Meanwhile for the Seahawks, a major factor in the recent success is a trimmed down rotation. The same names show up in the box score, but the distribution of minutes (especially in the second half) is highly concentrated. The player with the most notable reduction in minutes is Tanner Milson. Milson spent a bit of the nonconference schedule running the point. Transfer Chris Dixon and freshman Craig Ponder now seem to have adjusted to the speed of play at this level, and Milson is now primarily a catch-and-shoot threat from behind the arc.
The road has not been kind to the Seahawks, as they’re still searching for their first road win in over a year. The team has stayed close in a number of tough road games, including games at Marshall, Georgia Tech, Towson, and Northeastern. For the team to finish where they think they can in the final standings, it is going to take a couple of road wins. But they need to get the first one under the belt.
The key for Georgia State will be containing Keith Rendleman. UNCW guards have been in the spotlight recently, for good reason, but every coach in the league still knows that they are much more likely to win by making the guards hit tough shots than by giving Rendleman one-on-one opportunities down low. Keeping Rendleman off the glass, especially the offensive boards, will be a huge test. Rendleman rebounds almost 14% of missed shots while he is on the court, and missing box outs could allow the Seahawks to rack up the second-chance points.
The Seahawks need to apply smart pressure on the ball. The team has made great strides on the defensive end, and is communicating much better as a group. The team does not apply pressure on every possession, but when they have the chance to trap in the half court it has led to some good opportunities the past couple of weeks.
That said, they were showing the same signs of improvement before the Christmas break and came back flat in a road loss against Campbell. This break was not as long, and they practiced over this one as well, so hopefully they won’t see any regression. But if there is, RJ Hunter and company may be in for a big night.
Georgia State 68, UNCW 65