CAA Preview: Towson Tigers

towsontigersHead Coach: Pat Skerry (7th season)

2016-2017 Record: 20-13 (11-7 CAA)

Projected Finish: 2

Preseason All-Conference Selections: G Mike Morsell (Second Team), G Deshaun Morman (Honorable Mention)

 

Key Additons

  • G Travis Ingram (I.C. Norcom, Suffolk, Va.)
  • G Jeffrey Prophete (Fort Lauderdale, Sunrise, Fla.)
  • G Quinton Drayton (Bowie/Bowie, Md.)

Key Losses:

  • F William Adala Moto (12.8 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
  • F John Davis (11.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg)

by Kyle Williams

For better and for worse, Towson was the quintessential CAA basketball team last season. They were competent, but not great; they had talent, but not an overwhelming amount; and they won, but they won ugly. Lead by William Adala Moto and John Davis, the Tigers grit-and-grinded their way to a third place finish and the semifinals of the CAA conference tournaments.

This season will be one of change for Towson. Their imposing frontcourt is no more, with Adala Moto and Davis both gone. They were largely responsible for Towson’s league leading rebounding numbers, averaging 14.2 rebounds per game, including 4.3 offensive. The success of this team was largely predicated on these second chance opportunities and playing stifling interior defense; that is no longer the case. The Tigers find themselves guard-heavy, and will have to rely more on scoring from the perimeter. Mike Morsell returns as the de-facto leader of this team, averaging a team best 13.4 points per game. He will be joined in the backcourt by returning CAA all-defense point guard Deshaun Morman, who averaged 10 points and 2 assists per game, along with 1.5 steals, good for fourth in the conference. While he is a great on ball defender, his distribution numbers have to go up for this team to compete. Without reliable big men to clean up the paint, ball movement will be more important for this team to score, and Morman is a key to that. He’ll have to feed Morsell, along with returning shooters Eddie Keith II and Jordan McNeil (42% and 36% from beyond the arc, respectively) for Towson to keep up with the top teams in the conference. Down low, the Tigers will have to rely on Alex Thomas and Justin Gorham for buckets, and although they won’t come close to matching the frontcourt production from last year, they are big bodies to clog the paint and help keep Towson among the top defenses in the conference.

This offseason, Towson added some depth to their guard rotation by brining in a triumvirate of recruits. Travis Ingram is explosive and showed good finishing in transition, and should be able to take advantage of the turnovers this defense forces. Quinton Drayton is a long guard at 6’5 and showed good rebounding instincts for a guard. The most intriguing of their young guards is Jeffrey Prophete; he can finish at the rim, has decent passing vision, and has some range to his jump shot. If he can develop into a secondary ball handler for this team, it provides a much needed second dimension to the offense.

This year’s Towson team feels wildly variable. On the one hand, they lost their two best players and a big part of their identity with them. However, Pat Skerry is a damn good coach, and has pulled this team back from much worse. Towson has been quietly consistent in his tenure, winning more conference games in the last five years (42) than anyone else in the CAA over that period of time. They are always near the top of the conference in scoring defense (1st last year), and that should continue. There is an infrastructure in place that can help this team to at least reach 0.500 in conference play regardless of circumstance.

Bottom Line: Towson is a team no one in the CAA is going to want to play come January. They play hard, defend well, and somehow make just enough shots to win. They excel at the so-called “rock fights” the CAA is partially known for, and there will be nights when they grind people to dust. This team has a higher floor than others in the conference because of their defensive scheming and general style of play; their offense is the x-factor that will determine the course of their season. Morsell is really good; if Morman takes a step forward as a passer and at least one of their freshman hit, then this could be a team fighting for a top 4 spot. As it stands right now, expect Towson to play a lot of semi-unwatchable games and finish in the middle of the conference.  

CAA Preview: Elon University Phoenix

elonHead Coach: Matt Matheny

Last Season: 18-14 (10-8), 5th in CAA

Projected Finish: 3rd

Preseason All-Conference Selections: F Tyler Seibring (First-Team), F Brian Dawkins (Second-Team)

 

Losses:

  • G Luke Eddy (7.3 ppg, 3.2 rpg)
  • F Christian Hairston (2.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
  • G Ryder Bowline (0.0 ppg, 0.5 rpg)
  • G Patrick Ryan (1.8 ppg, 0.5 rpg)

Newcomers:

  • F Duje Radja (Fr./Split, Croatia/Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshiref)
  • G Nathan Priddy (Fr./Argyle, Texas/Argyle High)
  • F Simon Wright (Fr./Minneapolis, Minn./Hopkins)

by P.J. Wright

With just one freshman, last season’s fourth-place Elon squad was already pretty experienced. The Phoenix finished in the middle of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) with a 10-8 conference record.

Now, with all five starters returning, Elon is poised to make some noise in their fourth year of CAA play.  The Phoenix play a smart, fundamental style of basketball — and with their core another year older, there is reason to believe they will be able to challenge defending champion, College of Charleston.

Last season, Elon was first in the CAA in field goal percentage defense (.417), defensive rebounding (29.1 per game), and second in free throw shooting percentage (.732). And despite their fifth-place conference finish, they were third in scoring margin at +2.4.

The main losses from last year’s team are guard Luke Eddy and forward Christian Hairston, who both graduated in the spring. Eddy found himself in a lesser role than his junior year, but finished his career at Elon with 296 career assists, which ranks 8th in program history. Hairston was one of the most efficient scorers on the team, shooting 56.9 percent from the field in his four years.

This season, the Phoenix will be led by Second Team All-CAA junior forward Tyler Seibring (14.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and senior forward Brian Dawkins (12.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg). The two shot 39.5 and 44.6 percent, respectively, from beyond the arc a season ago.

The x-factor for this year’s team might just be junior Steven Santa Ana (11.7 ppg, 3.8 rpg). The 6-foot-4 junior hit a team-high 71 triples last season but only on 32.7 percent shooting. Improved three-point efficiency from Santa Ana to go along with Seibring and Dawkin’s scoring could be exactly what Elon needs to put them over the top.

Returning junior guard Dainan Swoope was the fourth player on the Phoenix to average double figures last season at 11.7 points per game to go along with a team-high 37 steals. He was second on the team in minutes a year ago (31.7 mpg), so expect Elon to continue to rely on his playmaking and defense.

Also expected to play a key role this season will be senior guard Dmitri Thompson, who started in 30 of Elon’s 32 games last year. He was the only Phoenix player to record back-to-back 20-point games during the season and was third on the team in rebounding at 5.0 per contest.

The Phoenix will be challenged right away when they travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium for their season opener against the No. 1-ranked Duke Blue Devils in Durham, N.C. The Phoenix then play a schedule without any currently-ranked opponents before beginning CAA play on Dec. 30  at home against Drexel.

Bottom Line: Continuity will play a major role in Elon’s success this season. The Phoenix have the experience and chemistry, and if they can string together a strong offensive attack to go along with last season’s stifling defense with an improved backcourt of Santa Ana and Swoope, watch out. Expect Elon to finish near the top of the CAA and potentially make a run of the title if all the pieces come together.

Fall Roundup: Women’s soccer seeks second straight CAA championship

(Image Credit: GoNU)
(Image Credit: GoNU)

by Alex Bensley and Rachel Santo

Northeastern’s Nathalie Nidetch shut out both opponents of the CAA Tournament so far, setting her team up to play No. 1 Hofstra for the conference championship on Sunday. The Huskies’ offense also excelled, scoring 6 goals at home versus the College of Charleston in the quarterfinals, then posting 2 points versus Drexel in Hempstead, NY. Seniors Taylor Caparo, Kayla Cappuzzo, Hannah Lopiccolo, Mollie Rosen, and Carly Wilhelm look to close their careers as champions.

Sunday: Nathalie Nidetch made 6 saves in the 6-0 win over Charleston. Both Nicole Gorman and Hannah Lopiccolo notched 2 goals for the Huskies, and Emily Evangelista netted one off of a rebound. Hannah Rosenblatt scored her 20th career goal – the fourth Husky to ever reach this milestone in her junior season. Kayla Cappuzzo also had a noteworthy performance with 3 assists on the night.

Friday: Nidetch posted 6 saves again to shutout the Drexel Dragons by a score of 2-0. Carly Wilhelm found Lizzie George who was then able to find the net. Hannah Rosenblatt added a goal off of an assist from Taylor Caparo. The CAA Championship will be played at Hofstra on Sunday, 11/5.

Cross-Country:

The men and women raced in the CAA Championship on October 28th in Richmond, Va. Second-year Louiza Wise finished in second place while the leading the women to a fifth place finish and an average time of 22:30. Fourth-year Dan Romano and second-year Chance Lamberth led the way for the men, finishing in 5th and 6th place to lead the Huskies to second overall. They fell victim to the dominance of William & Mary, who has won the CAA Championships for 18 consecutive seasons. Cross-country travels to Buffalo, NY for NCAA regionals on Nov. 10th.

Field Hockey:

Sunday/Friday: Northeastern fell behind 4-0, with their only goal coming from Laura MacLachlan in a 5-1 defeat at the hands of top-10 Delaware on Senior Day. Goalie Julia Gluyas made 11 saves, a career best.

Five days later, the Huskies played Delaware again in the first round of the CAA tournament. Jamie Bartucca gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead with 30 minutes into the first half. However, Delaware added two more to begin the second half, netting the goals within 36 seconds of each other. The Blue Hens added another midway through the second half to steal Northeastern’s hopes of advancing in the CAA tournament. The Huskies finished the season with an 8-12 record.

Men’s Hockey:

Saturday: The Huskies grabbed the lead against BU early and never looked back. Bobby Hampton scored to make it 1-0 and Nolan Stevens scored his third goal of the season to make it 2-0 with 0.1 seconds left in the first period. Stevens’ night was just getting started. After BU scored a power-play goal early in the second, Stevens netted another midway through the period and a third with just over 2 minutes remaining in the period. It was the senior’s first career hat trick, giving him five points in the last two games. Towards the end of the first period, Huskies’ goalie Ryan Ruck suffered a concussion but remained in the game before being replaced in the second by Cayden Primeau. Primeau was outstanding, not allowing a goal on the 19 shots that came his way. Together, Ruck and Primeau accounted for 33 saves. With the win over the Terriers, the Huskies are 3-0-0 in Hockey East play for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The Huskies host BU on Friday.

Women’s Hockey:

Sunday: The Huskies hoped for revenge against Providence but couldn’t come away with the victory in a back-and-forth game. The Friars took a 2-0 lead in the first that McKenna Brand cut in half seven seconds later. Early in the second, Providence extended the lead to 3-1 and tallied another goal later in the period. But Northeastern struck back, as Kasidy Anderson netted two consecutive power-play goals to cut the lead to 4-3. Providence made it 5-3 in the latter part of the third period before Northeastern’s Skylar Fontaine scored less than two minutes later. However, the rally stopped short, as the Huskies couldn’t find the back of the net again. Providence sealed Northeastern’s fate with an empty-net goal under a minute play. Lauren Kelly had two assists and Aerin Frankel had 17 saves in set. The Huskies face Maine on Tuesday, November 7th.

Women’s Volleyball:

Sunday: Northeastern lost their match versus Towson on Senior Day, 3-1. After honoring seniors Brigette Burcescu, Carmen Costa, and Kristen Walding, the Huskies battled the Tigers, losing the first two sets 30-28 and 25-21, respectively. Northeastern came back to win the third set 25-20, but fell in the fourth and final set by a score of 25-23. Sophomore Amy Underdown ended the match with 24 kills and 12 digs for her fifteenth double-double this season. Burcescu recorded 11 kills, including her 1,223th, moving to the sixth spot on the list of most career kills in school history.

Friday: Underdown fell just short of another double-double in Northeastern’s 3-1 victory over William and Mary, with 13 kills, 9 digs and 2 aces. Freshman Gabrielle Tschannen recorded 14 kills for a new career game-high. She also had 5 blocks on the night. The Huskies will travel to Elon on Sunday 11/5.

Women’s Rowing:

Thursday: The women’s rowing first varsity placed 10th at the Princeton chase with Madison Mailey in the stroke seat and Samantha Shulman as the coxswain. Northeastern’s second and third varsities took 21st and 35th places, respectively. Their final action of the season will be at the Foot of the Charles here in Boston on Nov. 11.

CAA Preview: Hofstra Pride

hofstraHead Coach: Joe Mihalich (5th Season at Hofstra, 20th Overall)

Last Season: 15-17 Overall, (7-11 CAA), T-7th Place, Lost in First Round

Projected Finish: 4th

 

Preseason All-Conference Selections: G Justin Wright-Foreman (First Team), C Rokas Gustys (Second Team), G Eli Pemberton (Honorable Mention)

Additions:

  • G Kenny Wormley (Junior, JUCO/Siena)
  • F Joel Angus III (Graduate Senior, Southeast Missouri State)
  • F Matija Radovic (Montverde Academy/Beograd, Serbia)
  • F/C Kevin Schutte (CSE Zwolle, The Netherlands)
  • G Jalen Ray (Hampton, VA)

Losses:

  • G Deron Powers (13 ppg, 5.2 apg)
  • G Brian Bernardi (12 ppg, 36% 3PT)
  • F Ty Greer (5.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
  • G/F Jamall Robinson (3.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
  • F/C Andre Walker
  • F Tommy Ros

by Justin Littman

Following the departure of three senior starters, including CAA Player of the Year Juan’ya Green, last season presented an opportunity for new talent to step to center stage and prove themselves. Nobody took advantage of this opportunity more than 6’0” sophomore guard Justin Wright-Foreman, who emerged from the shadows unlike anyone else in the nation. Wright-Foreman, who played just four minutes per game during his freshman season, averaged 18.1 ppg overall, and 23.2 ppg during conference play. This included a streak of ten consecutive games scoring at least 20 points, and he rightfully earned his way to Second Team All-CAA honors.

Wright-Foreman led a dangerous four-guard offensive attack that thrived on perimeter shooting. Senior Point guard Deron Powers was third in the CAA in assists, and was surrounded by a trio of shooters that also included senior Brian Bernardi (12 ppg) and freshman Eli Pemberton (12.8 ppg, 40% 3PT). They efficiently knocked down triples to help Hofstra place second in the CAA in three-point percentage. The Pride took comfort firing away often, knowing that their elite man in the middle would be there to recover the misses. Rokas Gustys, one of the key contributors remaining from the previous era of Hofstra basketball, finished fourth in the nation in rebounding last season (12.1 rpg). Collectively, Hofstra rebounded nearly one-third of their own misses.

Hofstra will remain an offensive-oriented team this season. Although they will need to find a way to make up for the playmaking ability of Powers, they may have a solution in 6’4” junior point guard Kenny Wormley. Wormley, a transfer who spent last season in Junior College after spending his freshman year at Siena, shot over 40 percent from three in each of his first two college seasons. Alongside backup point guard Desure Buie, who missed most last season with an ACL injury, and another year of development for Wright-Foreman and Pemberton, Hofstra should have enough talent on offense to figure it out. As for the loss of Bernardi, look no further than 6’7” freshman forward Matija Radovic. Radovic, who arrives at Hofstra from prestigious Montverde Academy, was the team’s fourth leading scorer on a recent four-game trip to Canada, including a game where he made five of his six three-point attempts.

The big question for Hofstra remains their defense. While the Pride’s up-tempo offensive attack is a joy to watch, this team will need to seriously improve upon their second-to-last finishes in both field-goal percentage defense and defensive rebounding if they hope to climb the CAA ladder. This team simply did not have the personnel to keep up last season. Wormley will likely represent a slight upgrade over Powers on this side, but without significant improvement from other starters Hofstra will fall in danger of a repeat performance. A clear area for improvement is defensive rebounding, which they should be better at given their prowess on the offensive glass. However, Rokas Gustys has had issues staying out of foul trouble since he arrived at Hofstra, and Coach Mihalich has not had many other options when Gustys comes out of the game. Coach Mihalich’s attraction to an up-tempo style doesn’t leave much room for depth up front. There simply aren’t many rim-running centers that will find their way to the CAA.  If Gustys can show significant progress in this area, it may shore up their issues on the defensive glass. However, if Gustys continues to struggle with foul trouble, the spotlight for rebounds and rim protection may turn to sophomore Hunter Sabety, who showed promise last season, or graduate transfer Joel Angus III.

Bottom Line: Hofstra is a well-coached program, and this team has top-level talent to push forward in the CAA this year. Justin Wright-Foreman is an incredible talent, and will garner serious consideration for CAA Player of the Year at the end of the season. Rokas Gustys has the rebounding ability to control games, and could be in for a monster senior season if he can manage to stay on the court. However, Hofstra will need to find a way to show significant improvement on the defensive end. They may not have the right personnel to be a great defensive team, but significant improvement on the defensive glass does not seem out of the question. An improvement in defensive rebounding could be enough to make this defense passable. Combined with an effective run-and-gun offense, Hofstra will once again be regarded as a formidable foe. If the Pride stay healthy, they should be able to avoid another bottom four finish in the CAA. This is a group that will likely finish in the middle of the pack, but they have the upside to become one of the best teams in league if they can figure out how to put it all together.

CAA Preview: UNCW Seahawks

uncwCoach: C.B. McGrath (1st Season)

Last Season: 29-6 Overall, (15-3 CAA), 1st Place, CAA Tournament Champions

Projected Finish: 5th

Preseason All-Conference Selections: Devontae Cacock (First Team), Jordon Talley (Honorable Mention)

 

 

Additions:

  • G Tyrone Taylor (Sophomore, Wichita State)
  • C Trey Kalina (Junior, JUCO/Chattanooga)
  • G Jacque Brown (Junior, Cape Fear CC)
  • G Daniel Etoroma (Junior, Lewis and Clark Community College)
  • G Jeffrey Gary (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sand Creek)
  • G Jay Estimé (Lilburn, Ga./Berkmar)

Losses:

  • G C.J. Bryce (17.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.0 apg)
  • G Chris Flemmings (15.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg)
  • G Denzel Ingram (14.6 ppg, 5.4 apg)
  • G Ambrose Mosely (8.2 ppg, 42% 3PT PCT)
  • C Chuck Ogbodo

by Justin Littman

Last season was another incredible success for the UNC Wilmington Seahawks. They finished atop the CAA for the third consecutive season, and plenty of players received accolades for their performance. Senior guards Chris Flemmings (15.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg) and Denzel Ingram (14.6 ppg, 5.4 apg) rounded out their illustrious careers by earning First and Second Team All-CAA Honors, respectively. Sophomore forward Devontae Cacok evolved into a threat on both sides of the court, leading the nation in field-goal percentage (80%) and earning the CAA Defensive Player of the Year award. If that was not enough, they also happened to have the runner-up for CAA Player of the Year, and CAA Tournament MVP, C.J. Bryce. Bryce, only a sophomore last season, led the team in scoring with over 17 points per game, and showed dynamic offensive ability.

UNCW managed to capture the hearts of every mid-major college basketball fan. They played with passion and energy, and pulled fans in with an attitude that reflected the mentality of head coach Kevin Keatts. The Seahawks ran through the CAA, and earned their second consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. Led by a rising superstar head coach, and armed with experience, the Seahawks appeared ready to take the nation by storm. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of the NCAA Tournament set in, and the Seahawks joined an unfortunate group of many potential Cinderellas before, unable to earn their shining moment in the Big Dance. A magical season came to a premature end with an opening round loss to Virginia. Fans who saw even greater potential for UNCW learned a painful lesson: Not every magical story turns into a fairytale.

Less than 24 hours after their season ended, NC State announced that Kevin Keatts had agreed to terms to become their new head coach. Following the success that Keatts had with UNCW, it seemed to be only a matter of time before he left for a position of more prestige. It only took a few more months for C.J. Bryce to decide that he wanted to continue playing for his coach, and he followed suit to NC State. Kevin Keatts helped return UNCW to prominence, and even though Cacok is the only starter that will return next season, this program has a lot of momentum to build off.

It is for this reason that new head coach C.B. McGrath felt UNCW was the right situation for him to finally depart from his role as an assistant for the UNC Tar Heels. McGrath played at Kansas under Roy Williams, and continued to serve as his assistant coach at North Carolina for 14 years. He will implement new philosophies as a first-year head coach, and will look to establish a new identity for the Seahawks. With the departure of four starters, there will be various players ready to assume larger roles with the team. To learn more about what to expect this season, I reached out to Noah J. Thomas, sports editor of UNCW’s student newspaper, The Seahawk.  

Justin: UNCW was an up-tempo, offensive juggernaut under Keatts. How will their identity change with a new head coach?

Noah: As far as the change in identity goes, don’t expect the UNCW offense to dip too far in production this season. Will the Seahawks average nearly 90 points per game in 2018? No. But the “Run. Defend. Win.” mentality is still very much alive in Wilmington. The key difference between Keatts’ system and McGrath’s will be what position becomes the focal point of the offense. Keatts used a variety of small lineups to keep opposing defenses guessing and guard play was always the top priority. If McGrath attempts to emulate Roy Williams’ system, expect the big men to become the focal point. That means reigning CAA Defensive POTY Devontae Cacok may see a rise in production in his junior year.

Justin: Coming from the Roy Williams coaching tree, C.B. McGrath appears to be a good hire.

Noah: You’re right. This is the second head coach in a row UNCW has hired who is coming from a Hall-of-Fame coaching tree (Kevin Keatts was an assistant at Louisville under Rick Pitino). On paper, this seems to be the perfect hire for the Seahawks. In his first head coaching gig, McGrath brings in an up-temp mentality similar to what Keatts brought when he arrived in 2014.

Justin: Where will production come from? Are there any players you think will have a breakout season?

Noah: As I said before, look for Devontae Cacok to possibly become the focal point of this offense. He already averaged a near double-double in his sophomore season, and he only has room to improve as he masters his touch around the rim and attempts to raise his free-throw shooting percentage.

UNCW’s breakout star for 2018? Look no further than Jaylen Fornes. The sophomore out of Raleigh, N.C., showed flashes of brilliance at times during his freshman year. There were multiple occasions during last CAA season in which he either 1. Made the difference for UNCW in a tight game or 2. Helped swing the momentum in the Seahawks’ direction. Increased playing time this season and a potential role as the starting shooting guard will only allow him to flourish. Expect Fornes to be the big surprise out of Wilmington this season.

Jordan Talley will contribute a lot, as he will likely become the starting point guard. Expect Ty Taylor, a transfer from Wichita State, to step into a supporting role.

Justin: Where do you see UNCW finishing in the CAA this season?

Noah: Oh boy. I’ve thought about this a lot over the last few months. Let me say this: I don’t think anyone in the CAA will be able to touch College of Charleston this season. The Cougars returned virtually everything that made them great a year ago, so I don’t the Seahawks or any CAA team will be able to match their experience and drive to win.

That being said: I don’t believe UNCW will have a bad year in 2017-2018. It will be a rebuilding year with some growing pains and a fair amount of rebuilding. A new-look team and a first-year head coach doesn’t help in that department, but you never know. McGrath and his guys could surprise us like Kevin Keatts did three years ago. My prediction is UNCW finishes in the top five in the conference — possibly as high as third or fourth — and maybe wins a game in the CAA Tournament if the Seahawks hit their stride. That’s about all UNCW fans can hope for this year, I’m afraid.

Bottom Line: The Seahawks are losing four starters who combined to average over 55 points per game. They simply will not be able to make up that production overnight. However, there is an influx of talent that will be joining UNCW this season. Ty Taylor represents one of four transfers who will enter the program. The other three all spent time playing college basketball outside of Division I, following in the footsteps of Chris Flemmings. In total, the Seahawks will add six new players this season. Combined with a new head coach, they will likely need time to gel. UNCW may be in a rebuilding year, but the term rebuilding means something different in Wilmington than it does for most CAA teams. This team will be competitive in conference play and likely finish in the middle of the pack, setting a strong foundation for continued success in the future.

CAA Preview: Delaware Blue Hens

delawareHead Coach: Martin Ingelsby (second season)

Last Season: 13-20 (5-13), 9th in CAA

Projected Finish: 7th

Preseason All-Conference Selections: G Ryan Daly; All-CAA 2nd Team

 

Losses:

  • G Cazmon Hayes (8.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
  • F Chivarsky Corbett (6.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
  • F Devonne Pinkard (6.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
  • F Barnett Harris (1.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg)
  • G Curtis McRoy (0.0 ppg, 0.4 rpg)

Newcomers:

  • G Kevin Anderson (Fr., Williamsport, Pa./St. John Neumann)
  • G Ryan Allen (Fr., Bowie, Md./DeMatha Catholic)
  • G Connor Rufo (Fr., Hockessin, De./Sanford)
  • F Chyree Walker (Fr., Fairfax, VA/Bullis School in Md.)
  • F Collin Goss (Jr., 1.5 ppg, 1.1 rpg at George Washington in 2016-17)

by P.J. Wright

My, how the mighty have fallen. After Delaware was crowned as the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) champion in 2014, the Blue Hens have failed to put together a winning record in each of the past three seasons. In two of those three, Delaware has been at the very cellar of the conference in 10th place.

Heading into last fall with a new coach in Martin Ingelsby, Delaware had lost their two leading scorers from the prior season. 2nd team All-CAA guard Kory Holden transferred to South Carolina while 3rd team All-CAA forward Marvin King-Davis was lost to graduation. The two accounted for 32.5 points per game in the 2015-16 season.

The Blue Hens finished the season 13-20 (5-13) and ninth in the CAA.

However, the team’s lack of offensive weapons opened up an opportunity for Ryan Daly. The 6-foot-4 guard led all CAA freshman in minutes (33.5), points (16.0), and rebounds (7.4) per game. Daly’s remarkable freshman year earned him CAA Rookie of the Year honors, making him only the second Blue Hens’ player to be win the award and first since Devon Saddler in 2010-11. Look for Delaware to rely heavily on his offense this season.

Delaware loses three key players from last year’s rotation. Guard Cazmon Hayes (8.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg) and forward Devonne Pinkard (6.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg) graduated while forward Chivarsky Corbett transferred and will play his senior season at Bellarmine University in Kentucky.

Corbett had planned to transfer to Texas-San Antonio in the wake of Monte Ross firing as head coach in the spring of 2016, but after Martin Ingelsby’s hiring in May, Corbett reconsidered and returned. As last season progressed, Corbett saw his playing time tail off significantly and his role reduced. When the season concluded, the 6-foot-7 forward publicly stated that we wanted out.

Perhaps filling the hole will be newcomer Collin Goss, a transfer from George Washington University. The junior forward only appeared in 13 games last season for the Colonials, but could provide a spark with increased responsibility in Delaware.

Goss’ former teammate, junior guard Darian Bryant, transferred from George Washington last season and became the fourth leading scorer for the Blue Hens at 7.6 points per game in 27.5 minutes per game.

Another big part of Delaware’s offensive attack will be returning senior Anthony Mosley. The 6-foot-1 guard has been a starter on the team in each of the past three seasons and will provide the Blue Hens with some experience to go along with his speed and athleticism. Mosley led the team in assists per game (2.5) and was second in scoring (10.0 ppg) last season.

Bottom Line: Delaware returns four starters of its five top scorers from last year’s 13-20 team. With Ryan Daly back after a tremendous freshman season and Anthony Mosley looking to make a mark in his senior year, the Blue Hens have some intrigue. That intrigue, however, probably won’t lead to many more wins, if any. Their skilled backcourt could steal some games, but expect Delaware to be near the bottom of the CAA once again.

Stevens hat trick leads No. 15 Northeastern to 4-1 win over No. 12 Boston University

By: Dan McLoone

BOSTON – The high-powered Northeastern offense showed up once again on Saturday night, as a Nolan Stevens hat trick paced the No. 15 Huskies to a 4-1 win over No.12 Boston University at Agganis Arena.

Bobby Hampton got the scoring going for the Huskies (5-2-1, 3-0-0 Hockey East), poking home a puck in the crease to make it 1-0 at the 11:44 mark. It was the second career goal for the freshman, who has now scored in consecutive contests. The Huskies doubled the lead as the horn sounded, as Nolan Stevens took skated in all alone and slotted the puck five-hole past BU netminder Jake Oettinger (28 saves) to make it 2-0 with .1 seconds left in the period.

The Terriers (4-5-1, 2-2-1 HE) cut the lead in half just 2:09 into the second period when Jordan Greenway got a stick on a loose puck in the crease to make it 2-1. Stevens made it a two-goal cushion for the Huskies once again at the 9:23 mark with a finish in the slot off of a rebound before completing the hat trick on a redirected tip off of a Ryan Shea slot from the point. The hat trick was the first of Stevens’ collegiate career.

Things got chippy throughout the matchup, as Ryan Ruck suffered a concussion from an incidental hit to the head from Patrick Harper late in the first period. Ruck, who made 14 saves, was originally cleared by trainers before being pulled midway through the second period. Cayden Primeau replaced him in net, standing tall through multiple BU offensive chances while making 19 saves. Biagio Lerario also exited the game early after taking a hit from Nikolas Olsson that led to his ejection. Lerario did not return, and is considered day-to-day.

The win moves the Huskies to 3-0-0 in Hockey East play for the first time since the 2008-09 season. It also snaps an eight-game winless streak against the Terriers that dates back to 2015 and ends a tough 1-11-1 stretch against the Terriers since 2013.

Northeastern will look to continue its strong start in Hockey East play next weekend. The Huskies host BU on Friday night before traveling North to take on UMass Lowell on Saturday night. Both games are slated for 7 p.m. starts, with pregame beginning at 6:45 p.m. on WRBB.

 

CAA Preview: William & Mary Tribe

tribeHead Coach: Tony Shaver

Last Season: 17-14 (10-8, 5th in CAA)

Projected Finish: 8

Preseason Honorable Mentions: G David Cohn and F Nathan Knight

Additions:

  • Jihar Williams, G (Friends School of Baltimore/Baltimore, Md.)
  • Luke Loewe, G (Fond du Lac/Fond du Lac, Wis.)
  • Cole Harrison, F (Montrose Christian (Md.)/Brentwood, Tenn.)

Losses:

  • Daniel Dixon, G (19.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, CAA All-First Team)
  • Omar Prewitt, G/F (15.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, CAA All-Second Team) 
  • Jack Whitman, F (10.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg)
  • Michael Schlotman, G
  • Greg Malinowsky, G/F

by Mack Krell

In his 14th season as the head coach of William and Mary, Coach Tony Shaver led the Tribe to the semifinals of the CAA men’s basketball tournament. Following a 17-14 regular season record, WM’s 2016-17 season ultimately came to a close with a shootout loss to CAA Champion and clear CAA top dog, UNCW.

Despite shooting 56 percent from the field, the Tribe couldn’t overcome the dominance of UNCW and lost the semi-final matchup 105-94. The Tribe look to rebound this season despite losing their three leading scorers in Omar Prewitt, Daniel Dixon, and Jack Whitman. Dixon and Prewitt graduated following the season while Whitman transferred to play at Kansas before deciding to retire from college basketball all together.  

As the two leading scorers on the Tribe and two of the top ten scorers in the CAA, Prewitt and Dixon lead the fast paced offense to over 81 points per game and over 17 assists per game. With 19.2 ppg, Dixon lead the Tribe in scoring and finished the season number two in scoring in the CAA; only Northeastern’s TJ Williams scored more points than Dixon.

Coach Shaver has not shied away from the effect losing players like Dixon and Prewitt will have on the Tribe.

“I’m not sure people realize how good they’ve been at times,” he said at the end of last season.

“I hope we don’t realize that next year when we’re playing without them.”

However, that’s exactly what the Tribe will be doing as they head into the 2017-18 season, relying on David Cohn to be a veteran leader.  

Cohn, a redshirt senior point guard from Elmhurst, Illinois, will look to build off his 6.2 ppg and 4.5 apg 2016-17 season. He is a quick guard who likes to push the ball in transition and find his teammates for open shots. Without Prewitt, Dixon, or Malinowsky (a 40& 3-point shooter last season) Cohn will have to rely on other guys to knock down big shots.

One of those guys is fellow senior Connor Burchfield. Last season Burchfield shot 47 percent from three by knocking down 40 of 84 threes. Although only seeing 14.4 minutes per game last year, the Tribe will likely have to rely on Burchfield playing more minutes heading into this season. During the Tribe’s recent exhibition trip to Jamaica, Burchfield tallied three double digit games including a 4-6 effort from 3-point rage in their final contest. The Tribe will hope for more of that from Burchfield this season.

William and Mary will likely round out their starting guard play with true freshman Jihar Williams. Williams, a 6-5 guard from Baltimore, is a player who likes to get up and down the court and is a knock-down shooter. He believes he will fit in perfectly with the Tribe’s style of play, saying “They play a game style like mine, so I fit in perfectly. They get up and down, they shoot a lot of 3’s. They move the ball.”

Last season, the Tribe struggle in rebounding offensively when they finished ninth in the CAA in offensive rebounds at just 8.7 per game. The Tribe will rely on a pair of sophomores in the front court to improve on this important aspect of the game for a team that likes to push the ball and take quick shots.

Nathan Knight, a member of the CAA All-Freshman team a year ago, will be look to improve on his 8.2 ppg, 4.4 rpg season last year.  He will be joined by Justin Pierce who the Tribe will hope can play even bigger than his 6’6’’, 205-pound frame would suggest. During one of the team’s recent exhibition games, the two combined for 25 total rebounds. With a lack of veteran talent in the front court, the Tribe will hope for more efforts like that throughout the season.

Bottom Line: Despite losing their two star seniors from last season, expect the Tribe to play a similar style of basketball as in recent years under Coach Shaver. They tend to struggle defensively, giving up the second most points in the CAA last season. However, they make up for that my pushing the ball off defensive rebounds and hitting open shots in transition. This strategy worked well for them last season when they led the CAA in 3-point percentage at 38.4 percent. With David Cohn controlling the tempo, he will get to the basketball early in the shot clock and kick out for open shots from Jihar Williams and Connor Burchfield. William and Mary will need strong shooting performances each game and an increase in their number of offensive rebounds from their sophomore forwards to make a consistent run in the CAA. However, because of their offensive fire-power and the ability to shoot from deep they could beat any team in the conference on any given night.

CAA Preview: Drexel Dragons

drexelHead Coach: Zach Spiker (2nd season)

Last Season: 9-23 (3-15), 10th place CAA

Projected Finish: 9th

Preseason All-Conference Selections: G Kurk Lee; All-CAA Second Team

 

Departures:

  • F Rodney Williams (15.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
  • F/C Mohamed Bah (4.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
  • G Kari Jonsson (10.1 ppg, 43.6% 3 pt)
  • G John Moran
  • F Jeremy Peck
  • G Major Canady

Newcomers:

  • F Alihan Demir (Central Wyoming College/Ankara, Turkey)
  • F James Butler (Navy/Burke, VA)
  • F Jarvis Doles (Mount Zion/Columbia, MD)
  • F Tim Perry (The Phelps School/Cherry Hill, NJ)

by Michael Petillo 

Despite a difficult 2016-17 campaign and the graduation of star forward Rodney Williams, Drexel fans have reason to be optimistic heading into the upcoming season.  Head coach Zach Spiker enters his second year at the helm after guiding the Dragons to a meager 3-15 conference record in what was always going to be a rebuilding year.  This year’s team features a nice mix of young talent and reliable veterans as Drexel looks to begin its ascension up the ranks of the CAA.

In order to begin that climb, Drexel is relying on their young star ball handler, Kurk Lee. Lee, who was Spiker’s first recruit at Drexel, is coming off a stellar freshman year in which he finished in the top 10 in the conference in scoring at (14.9 ppg) and was 4th in assists (5.0 apg) while converting on 40% of his threes.  The diminutive point guard ( 5’10, 150 lbs) runs the show for the Dragons and is their most important player.  Lee’s ability to create for himself and others will be essential to keeping Spiker’s offense running smoothly, and look for him to assume more of the scoring load now that Williams is gone.

Drexel’s season prospectus took a blow when sophomore guard Kari Jonsson announced he was returning to his native Iceland, and wouldn’t be rejoining the. Dragons. Jonsson knocked down a scorching 43.6% of his shots from long range last year, good for 1st in the conference. Pairing the knockdown shooting of Jonsson with the drive-and-kick ability of Lee would have been exciting, but alas, the Dragons will have to look elsewhere for complementary production. 

The lack of depth in the frontcourt leaves many skeptical that Drexel can make a serious leap this year.  Losing Rodney Williams and Mohamed Bah leaves the Dragons with little experience down low outside of senior forward Austin Williams.  Williams chipped in 7.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game last year in just 21 minutes a night, and his physicality and presence on the glass will be essential to Drexel’s success.  

Aside from him, however, Drexel will be relying on senior swingman Sammy Mojica and a myriad of young bigs to get the job done on the backboards.  Mojica is a jack of all trades type of player who rebounds well (5.3 rpg) for his 6’3 frame, but doesn’t bring the type of physical presence Drexel will need when Williams is off the floor.  That responsibility lies with an intriguing yet unproven group of young big men.  

The team brought in Jarvis Doles and Tim Perry Jr. as freshman and acquired Alihan Demir as a JUCO transfer from Central Wyoming College.  Doles is the most intriguing prospect; mix his 6’8 size and length with good handles for a big man, range out to the three point line, and a pretty fall-away jumper from the baseline and you’ve got the makings of a prototypical stretch four.  But there are questions about his strength and athleticism which must be answered before he can become the interior presence Drexel needs.  Perry Jr. is the more traditional big out of the two, with a mean streak on the glass and some solid post moves, and he has a decent chance to step in and play spot minutes when Spiker wants to go big or when Williams needs a rest.  Demir was a standout at the JUCO level, notching 13.6 points and 7.3 rebounds a night in just a shade over 20 minutes a game.  He’s a sound rebounder and with work could develop into a three point threat as well.  Look for him to find a way into Spiker’s rotation and maybe turn some heads with his energy and scoring touch.

Bottom Line: With a dynamic young point guard and an energetic young coach, Drexel is a team on the rise in the CAA.  They’ll without a doubt have to overcome the significant challenge of replacing the shooting of Jonson, as well as Williams and (to a lesser extent) Bah in the frontcourt. But, if one or more of the new additions steps up this could be an exciting team to watch and one to keep an eye on come tournament time.

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.