Overall, it’s hard to argue with these selections. Jerrelle Benimon repeated as the Player of the Year, which was absolutely fitting, and Monté Ross did an excellent job of keeping Delaware on track throughout the myriad of suspensions. That made him an easy pick for Coach of the Year.
The hardest part was leaving Scott Eatherton off the First Team, but I think the voters were right to include two Blue Hens. You give a little edge to seniority (11 of the 16 All-CAA selections were seniors) while also knowing Eatherton will be a potential Player of the Year candidate next season.
Outside of the First, Second, and Third Team selections, 13 other players received votes for All-CAA honors, and only two of them (Mike Burwell and Brandon Britt) will graduate. That’s your next group of stars. Couple that with the return of Quincy Ford and Damion Lee, and the magnitude of the losses doesn’t seem quite as severe.
- Robert Canady enlightens us on the challenges facing the McGlynn family. Four had surgery on his brain in high school, and now his younger brother is recovering from brain surgery as well.
- Josh Verlin and Jeff Neiburg wrote an extensive two-part Tournament preview, found here and here.
- Over the past week, Jake Fischer has checked in in a big way with a) a thorough CAA Tournament Preview, b) predictions for CAA Awards , and c) a Q&A with Frantz Massenat.
- Whether you’re in the play-in game or you’re the number one seed, you head into Baltimore with the same mentality. Monté Ross and Joe Mihalich understand this.
- For a team like Charleston, Baltimore is a shot at redemption.
- Matt Leon provides some quotes on the mindsets of Massenat and Fouch
- Kevin Tresolini details Delaware’s rise as a CAA contender.
- Dan Crain says that Drexel’s studs guards must be aware and share. He also says thanks for supporting Dragons Speak.
- As you know, the CAAT will be played in Baltimore for the first time ever. That’s a hot topic.
- King Kresse’s previews the first round. I’m not quite sure who he picked in that last matchup…
- Dave Fairbank comments on William & Mary’s chances to make a run on Baltimore.
- Kevin Rossi previews Drexel-Northeastern.
- Eric Detweiler previews UNCW-Hofstra.
- The guys at JMU Sports Blog know the Dukes are up against the wall in their first round matchup, but they remain optimistic.
- I’m just going to link to the Baltimore Sun’s men’s basketball homepage. In preparation of the weekend, those guys are churning out articles.
And now, the previews…
Hofstra-UNCW (March 7th) – 7:00 – Comcast SportsNet
Hofstra and UNCW play tonight, and the winner will continue playing on Saturday. Hofstra won both of the previous two meetings, with the latter victory coming as the final loss in UNCW’s 14-game losing streak. Since that day nearly four weeks ago, UNCW’s played .500 ball, which included home wins over Towson and Northeastern.
Hofstra is neck-and-neck with William & Mary in the race to be the worst defensive team in the league. That’s partially a product of the pace at which Joe Mihalich wants to play. Nevertheless, the offensively-challenged Seahawks will find open looks against the CAA’s worst three-point defense (HU allowed opponents to shoot 39.7% from three in conference play). It’s up to Milson, Sherwood, and Sons to knock them down.
Ultimately, you just feel better about Hofstra’s primary offensive options. The Pride knows where the offense should come from, but its porous defense can also make a poor offense look good. This game is a true tossup — were it not for a win against Andre Nation-less JMU, Hofstra would come into this one ice cold.
Senior Zeke Upshaw shoots the Pride into Saturday.
Pride 67, Seahawks 64
Delaware-Hofstra/UNCW – noon – Comcast SportsNet
I think this Doug Wojcik quote gives you a pretty good idea of Delaware’s Jarvis Threatt’s value:
“They played a little differently than the last time we saw them and everything now is played through him. He shoots 14 free throws and he gets 13 assists. The difference in the game was really (Kyle) Anderson’s threes. Also, can you defend (Carl) Baptiste with three guys? He has big hands and he rolls to the basket. They have really good players with four seniors out there. I’m really impressed by (Davon) Usher. He jump switches all the time. Usher is the difference in why they are conference champs. He is an unbelievable piece for them which they added last July as a transfer from Mississippi Valley State. They are plugged in and have the right chemistry going right now.”
That came after Jarvis had 13 points, 13 assists, six boards, and five steals at Charleston. Those five steals keyed a 17-3 advantage in points off turnovers. As a team, the YoUDees committed just five turnovers.
Both Hofstra and UNCW gave Delaware tough games, though one could argue that only one of those games (the conference opener versus Hofstra) was one in which Threatt was fully integrated into the offense. The Fightins’ just dropped 89 points on the league’s most efficient defense, which should put those Threatt concerns to rest.
If it’s UNCW…
I think UNCW’s slower pace, deeper bench and ability to create turnovers would pose more of a challenge to Delaware. UNCW matched Delaware stride for stride in the first three-quarters of the game (and nearly all the way in the first game) but couldn’t prevail.
If it’s Hofstra…
The Pride could get hot from three against a suspect defense while keeping the Blue Hens from getting too many second-chance opportunities.
I can’t pick against Delaware.
Blue Hens score 70-plus and win by 10.
Northeastern-Drexel – 2:30 – Comcast SportsNet
It’s a good thing there’s a big gap between the second and third games on Saturday. The way Bill Coen and Bruiser Flint’s squads get after it, that 6:00 game could still get pushed back.
Honestly, did any two teams play each other tougher this season? This will be an absolute battle. After 90 minutes of basketball, Drexel holds a slim 145-142 advantage. The big thing though, is that the teams split in the regular season, and Drexel needed two overtimes to earn that first victory. Dragon fans must really hate Demetrius Pollard.
After winning three consecutive roadies to pull to 4-3 in conference play, Northeastern dropped six of its final nine games. Having played just one game in the past two weeks, the Huskies come in well rested. That’s important, as it seemed like heavy minutes started to weigh on the Northeastern starters (particularly Scott Eatherton) down the stretch.
One thing that sticks out is the Huskies’ successes away from Matthews – they were 4-4 on the road in CAA play, and picked up their biggest win in Baltimore. Couple that with the fact that they own the CAA’s biggest nonconference win (versus Georgetown in Puerto Rico) and it’s obvious that this young team has the talent to beat anyone in Baltimore.
I’ve already got a headache just thinking about making a prediction for this game. I feel safe saying it’s probably going down to the final minute. Last season, Frantz Massenat’s final shot at the Coliseum was an airball.
Different city, different team, different result.
Drexel 58, Northeastern 57
James Madison-Towson – 6:00 – Comcast SportsNet
Remember last year when Towson went 8-1 in the second half of conference play, and concluded a postseason-less year as the CAA’s hottest team? This year, we won’t have to wonder what sort of damage the Tigers can do in the tournament. It’s all in front of them now, and they were one road debacle away from rolling into 1st Mariner Arena with an 11-game winning streak and the tournament’s one seed.
Towson won both games against JMU, but the Dukes made undeniable strides between games (the Tigers’ 80-71 win on February 4th really wasn’t that close). The most noticeable difference was the play of Andrey Semenov, who dropped a goose egg in the first game before exploding for 22 points on Senior Night.
JMU doesn’t need the 22-point Semenov to stay competitive, but it sure can’t have the zero-point rendition. JMU was the the worst three-point shooting team in conference play, and Towson had the CAA’s best three-point defense (30.4%, 23rd in D-I). If Semenov starts knocking down threes, and JMU makes Towson pays for its turnovers, the Tigers will be on upset alert.
Ultimately, Towson just has too many things going in its favor. In the second meeting between these two, a 69-66 win at the Convo, the Tigers shot 30-of-31 from the charity stripe. It’s unlikely Towson can hit that other-worldly number again, but JMU lacks the senior horses to pull the big upset.
Benimon and Co. used a big advantage on the glass to get it done.
Towson 72, JMU 66
The College of William & Mary- The College of Charleston – 8:30 – Comcast SportsNet
When considering that this matchup pits the CAA’s most efficient offense versus its most efficient defense, this game brings as much intrigue as any other first round matchup. Not to be forgotten is that this is our third installment of The Battle to be deemed “The College”.
It doesn’t surprise you that William & Mary shot the highest percentage (40.9%) from beyond the arc during conference play. It might shock you to realize that Charleston was the CAA’s second-best three-point shooting team (38.2%) from downtown in conference play. Nori Johnson’s resurgence (44.6% from deep) was a big part of that, and Canyon Barry’s return helped make that area a strength for the Cougars.
When the Cougars visited Kaplan, the Tribe hit 7-of-13 treys and won by 11. In the second leg, the Tribe shot 2-of-16 from three while allowing the Cougars to connect of 14-of-22 attempts, and lost by 33. Obviously long-range shooting will be big here, but I also worry that the Tribe will struggle with the Cougars’ physicality.
Beasthoven’s only 20-point game of conference play came in the final game, which definitely inspires confidence. He needs to be aggressive, and keep a hungry Cougar team off the glass. The Tribe will need to take a gang-rebounding mentality against Wojcik’s physical team. W&M can get to the line with ease here.
We’ve grown accustomed to seeing Tony Shaver’s team make runs in even-numbered years (excluding 2012), but that 33-point beatdown is fresh in my mind. Ultimately, I worry about Charleston’s tendency to be foul-prone. In the first two games, the Tribe has attempted more than three times as many total foul shots (39) as the Cougars (12). We’ve seen what happens with Nori and AT pick up early fouls, and it isn’t good. I hate to say that it will come down to how the referees officiate the game, but it will come down to how the referees officiate the game.
I’m going with the Thorntons, but it should be known that I changed my mind mid-paragraph.
Tribe 68, Cougars 66