CAA Prevew: James Madison Dukes
Last Year: 12-20 Overall 5-13 (CAA) 8th place in the CAA
What Happened: The 2011-2012 season went as many predicted it would for the Dukes. James Madison played well out of conference, going 7-7, but the CAA was just too much for the Dukes. They had only one win of note during conference play, taking down UNC-Wilmington on January 18th. That win also represented their only victory over a team that finished ahead of them in the standings. JMU ended the season going 3-14 in their last 17 games, with two of those wins coming against last place Towson. James Madison was a top-five CAA team in offense last year, averaging 66.1 points per game in 2011-12. But defense was an issue for the Dukes, as they allowed almost 70 points a game on average.
- Humpty Hitchens: The team’s second leading scorer at 15 ppg, Hitchens was also a playmaker. He finished in the top 10 in three statistical categories in the CAA, leading the conference in minutes played and three pointers made per game. Hitchens will be a huge loss for this team, as he was their best all around player last year and grabbed third-team All-CAA honors. The Dukes will have to find a new way to create offense in his absence.
- Julius Wells: Wells ended up being one of the most missed players for JMU last year and he will be missed just as much with his graduation this coming season. Missing time last year due to a viral infection and only playing 12 games, Wells still led the team in rebounding at 5.6 boards per game. Two years removed from averaging over 16 points per game, his production and leadership will be missed. He finished his career in the top ten all-time for scoring at JMU in scoring and also second in three pointers made in a career.
- A.J. Davis: The Dukes will not need anyone to step up more this year than Davis. After sitting out a year due to NCAA transfer regulations, Davis was a key part of the Dukes offense last year. He averaged 16 ppg, Davis ranked fourth in the CAA in scoring. With a mix of size and shooting ability, Davis is your prototypical shooting guard who can slash through the middle but also shoot the three when needed. Look for Davis to be more consistent through the year and have many strong performances.
- Andrey Semenov: Semenov brings a unique style of basketball to the Dukes. Standing at 6-7 and 205, pounds he is undersized for a forward but he makes up for it in his ability to spread the defense. He causes match-up problems against bigger, slower forwards which lets him to be able to get space and hit the open jump shot. Last year, Semenov was second in the CAA in three point percentage hitting 44% of his shots from beyond the arc.
Outlook: James Madison shows some promise for 2012-13, but without any improvement on defense it will likely still be a long season in Harrisonburg. The Dukes will be able to spread most defenses with their ability to shoot the three. The thing they need to work on is crashing the offensive boards and limiting the chances for other teams to fast break. If Semenov and Davis continue to progress and excel as seniors, the Dukes may have a chance to make a splash in a weakened CAA. But unless they can get their defense on the level with the rest of the CAA look for them to have a very similar year in 2012-13 compared to what they had in 2011-12.
- Chris Tramontozzi