Roland, Walker Win All-CAA Awards

By Milton Posner

Reminder: Northeastern begins their CAA Tournament play against Towson Sunday at 6:30 PM EST. Michael Petillo, Matt Neiser, and Milton Posner will have the call from Washington D.C., with coverage beginning at 6:15.

It was hard to know what to expect from Jordan Roland and Tyson Walker before the season started.

Everyone knew Roland could shoot. He spent all of last season sprinting around screens and letting shots fly from downtown en route to 99 three-pointers, a school record. But how would he adjust to being the focal point of the offense and having the ball in his hands more often?

Everyone knew Walker was quick, a good driver, and could handle the ball. But how would he adjust from his high school team to playing point guard for a Division I program?

Both spent the year exceeding expectations and were recognized for it. On Friday, the CAA announced its postseason awards, the results of voting by the league’s head coaches, media relations directors, and media members (including your favorite Northeastern student-run radio station).

First TeamDesure Buie, Hofstra
Nate Darling, Delaware
Nathan Knight, William & Mary (PoY)
Grant Riller, Charleston
Jordan Roland, Northeastern
Second TeamBrian Fobbs, Towson
Matt Lewis, James Madison
Eli Pemberton, Hofstra
Marcus Sheffield II, Elon
Camren Wynter, Drexel
Third TeamKevin Anderson, Delaware
Allen Betrand, Towson
James Butler, Drexel
Isaac Kante, Hofstra
Andy Van Vliet, William & Mary

Roland was tops in the conference — and seventh in the nation — with 22.7 points per game. His white-hot start — best encapsulated by a school-record 42-point explosion against Harvard — placed him atop the national scoring leaderboard to begin the season and garnered him national attention. His 87 three-pointers rank second in the CAA, with only Delaware’s Nate Darling making more.

Roland keyed the Husky offense all season with superb, often unbelievable shot making. His unorthodox shooting style, hesitation-heavy movement, and supreme concentration made him a nightmare for the conference’s best defensive guards and forced opposing coaches to gear up on him.

As expected, Nathan Knight took home the Player of the Year Award. Though Grant Riller was the preseason favorite for the trophy, Knight quickly established himself as the man to beat, averaging more than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game despite the arrival of star center Andy Van Vliet in the William & Mary frontcourt. Knight’s size, quickness, shooting touch, leaping ability, spatial awareness, and basketball IQ made him a terror to guard on the block.

They also made him a terror on the other side of the ball, as he led the league in blocks, defensive rebounds, and won Defensive Player of the Year as well. Only Knight and George Evans (1999, 2001) have ever won both awards in the same season.

William & Mary’s awards weren’t limited to Knight. Andy Van Vliet took home Third Team honors, Luke Loewe joined Knight on the All-Defensive Team, and first-year head coach Dane Fischer earned Coach of the Year recognition. The Tribe finished seventh in the preseason poll, and many expected this to be a rebuilding year for them after the firing of head coach Tony Shaver and the transfer of four of their top five scorers. But under Fischer, the Tribe won more regular season games than they had in 70 years and tied their record for conference wins with 13.

While Tyson Walker’s hot start to the season and numerous Rookie of the Week Awards appeared to establish him as the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year, he ultimately lost to Elon’s Hunter McIntosh, who averaged 11.5 points per game and made 41 percent of his threes. McIntosh torched the Huskies in the teams’ meeting last month, dropping 24 points on near-perfect shooting.

All-Rookie TeamJason Gibson, Towson
Hunter McIntosh, Elon (RoY)
Shykeim Phillips, UNCW
Tyson Walker, Northeastern
Hunter Woods, Elon

Walker carved up defenses like a hot butter knife this season, using crossovers, hesitations, and raw speed and quickness to earn himself layups. After the graduation of All-CAA First Team point guard Vasa Pusica, when there were serious doubts about who would carry on the Huskies’ point guard tradition, Walker didn’t blink. He took the keys to the offense from the opening game and never looked back.

As the season progressed, Walker displayed an increasingly deft, alert, and creative passing touch, something he will undoubtedly build on next season after the graduations of Roland and Bolden Brace.

His best game was January 2 against Elon and eventual Rookie of the Year McIntosh. The Huskies as a team had a tough time getting their offense going, so Walker came to the rescue again and again, torching the Phoenix with a diverse array of moves and buckets.

All-Defensive TeamDesure Buie, Hofstra
Brevin Galloway, Charleston
Nathan Knight, William & Mary (DPoY)
Luke Loewe, William & Mary
Dennis Tunstall, Towson

Notably absent from the All-Defensive team was Northeastern forward Max Boursiquot, who started every conference game as an undersized center and held his own against the league’s best big men, including Nathan Knight. Perhaps it’s more a case of statistics; Boursiquot’s defense is best understood and appreciated through watching him every night, while the players on the Defensive Team have statistics like blocks and rebounds to back up their cases.

Sixth Man of the Year Nicolas Timberlake (Towson), Dean Ehlers Leadership Award winner Desure Buie (Hofstra), and Scholar-Athlete of the Year Tareq Coburn (Hofstra) rounded out the awards.