CAA Preview: James Madison

jmuHead Coach: Louis Rowe (2nd Season)

Last Season: 10-23 (7-11 CAA T-8th place; lost in Quarterfinals of CAA Tournament to College of Charleston)

Projected Finish: 10th

Preseason All Conference Selections: None

 

Departures:

  • G Jackson Kent (14.0 ppg, 2.3 apg)
  • F Yohanny Dalembert (9.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg)
  • G Shakir Brown (9.0 ppg)
  • F Tom Vodanovich
  • F Paulius Satkus

Newcomers:

  • G Darius Banks (Saint Petersburg High School, Saint Petersburg, FL)
  • G Matt Lewis (Bishop O’Connell High School, Arlington, VA)
  • F Greg Jones (John Marshall High School, Richmond, VA)
  • F Dwight Wilson (Lincoln High School, Tallahassee, FL)
  • F Zach Jacobs (Trinity Episcopal School, Richmond, VA)

by Christian Skroce

It was an up and down year for the Dukes in Louis Rowe’s first season at the helm as the team could never gain its footing in a competitive CAA. Now in his second year as head coach, Rowe aims to truly make his mark on the program by adding nine new players for the 2017-2018 season, including an impressive freshmen class.

After struggling during their non-conference schedule (3-12 record in such games) to start the season, the Dukes rebounded during their CAA schedule, posting a 7-11 record in conference play. Even though the team finished strong to end last season, how James Madison will fair this upcoming year is still a mystery, as the Dukes lost several key players this offseason, including three senior leaders in Jackson Kent, Yohanny Dalembert, and Shakir Brown. Kent started every game for the Dukes last season and led the team in scoring with 14 points per game. However, the impact of these losses will be most felt on the defensive side of the ball, which ranked third in scoring in the CAA last season. The three seniors combined to account for 77 steals and 32 blocks last season, which will be greatly missed on the defensive end.  

Although Dalembert and Brown battled injuries during significant parts of last season, the duo still provided crucial veteran leadership that will be missed this season. Seniors Joey McLean and Ramone Snowden, the only two players on the roster with in-game experience for James Madison, will attempt to fill these leadership roles and help prepare the freshman class for future campaigns. Sophomore forward Gerron Scissum and junior guard Stucky Mosley will also aim to provide a spark after redshirting this past year after transferring from VCU and Toledo, respectively.

Rowe will hope that his strong incoming freshmen class will be able to aid the few upperclassmen on the roster by gelling quickly and contributing once the conference slate begins. Leading the new crop of freshmen is talented guard Darius Banks. Coming in at 6’4, Banks brings good length and athleticism that should benefit the Dukes on defense. In addition to his strength and size, Banks’ well-balanced jump shot will allow him to provide consistent offensive output, something the Dukes were lacking in last season. Despite his lack of experience, Banks could have the opportunity to help Joey McLean run the point for Rowe’s team this season. Alongside Banks in this class is forward Greg Jones who hopes to provide versatility on the offensive end throughout this season and his career at James Madison. Jones has been described as physically gifted and his high motor could make a significant impact for the Dukes immediately.

Bottom Line: After not having any incoming freshmen last season, Rowe is clearly aiming to build for the future with the new group of players he brought in for this campaign. Although several of the newcomers have the talent to contribute right away, most of the incoming class will need close to a full season to adjust to the higher level of play, and it is too early to tell how the new-look squad will play together. On paper, James Madison has the capacity and coaching ability to finish in the middle of the pack in the CAA this year. However, the team’s lack of experience and loss of significant senior leadership could doom the Dukes this year. JMU will most likely finish closer to the bottom of the standings this season as the team continues to figure things out, though the future looks bright for Louis Rowe’s squad.

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