Another week has gone by in the CAA and the standings are getting a little clearer. There are now three teams with a 5-1 record; Georgia State, George Mason and Old Dominion. Another three teams have a 4-2 record; VCU, Drexel and Northeastern. There is the middle of the road; UNCW and Delaware both 3-3. Finally, the bottom tier is becoming pretty apparent; William and Mary is 2-4, James Madison is 1-5, Hofstra and Towson are both 0-6.
The next eleven days are critical as Dave Fairbank points out in which CAA teams are about "to dive into the competitive equivalent of running around to multiple holiday meals at various in-laws, step-families and blood relatives who may or may not be playing with a full deck." Most Coloinal teams will play five games in eleven days. The only exceptions are William and Mary and VCU who will play five games in ten days, which includes their game on ESPNU Thursday night at the Siegel Center (Tribe=Sacrificial Lambs).
With all this in mind, "I'm Lookin Out My Backdoor" at the latest Colossal Colonial Ratings, aka the CCR.
- Georgia State (13-4. 5-1 CAA) - Yes, we perfectly know that if the season ended today, George Mason would finish first since they have beaten both Georgia State and Old Dominion. However, the season doesn't end today, so we give the number one ranking to the Panthers. They are the team that's first in the CAA in both field goal percentage defense and assists to turnover ratio, two categories statistically proven to be the mark of championship teams in the CAA.
Plus, we have to give props to a coach, Ron Hunter, who, despite having his team hold the opposition (Towson) to forty two points, was so unhappy with his team's effort he tweeted "I love my basketball team, but tomorrow, practice will be epic. Bring your lunch pail." I can't wait to see Georgia State in person when they play Hofstra on February 4th at the Mack Center.
- George Mason (13-4, 5-1 CAA) - The Patriots finally suffered their first loss in conference at Drexel last week. Based on their schedule, they may not lose another game until their last two games of the regular season; road games at Northeastern and VCU and they don't play Georgia State again. The Patriots are first in the CAA in field goal percentage offense and second in field goal percentage defense. They also lead the CAA in blocks per game (having Erik Copes and Mike Morrison helps) and assists per game.
Interesting statistic; George Mason is only one of four teams in the CAA with not a single player in the top ten in minutes played (the others are Old Dominion, UNCW and William and Mary). Yet while averaging only 30.6 minutes per game, Ryan Pearson is third in the CAA in scoring at 17.4 points per game. Both Mike Moore, 20.4 points per game and Devon Saddler, 18.6 points per game average 35.5 minutes per game, basically five minutes more per game than Pearson.
- VCU (13-5, 4-2 CAA) - I got to see the Rams live again at Newark this past Saturday and once again, I left very impressed. The Rams are third in the CAA in scoring defense, allowing only 59.7 points per game. Of course, "Havoc" plays a large part in their play, as they are first in steals in 9.6 per game. Finally, in Shaka Smart's favorite category, turnover margin, VCU is again first in the CAA with + 5.67.
Briante Weber makes the most of his minutes played. Weber averages twenty minutes per game, yet leads the CAA in steals at 2.5 steals per game. The other top fourteen players in the steals category rounded off average thirty or minutes with the exceptions of Quincy Ford (twenty six minutes) and Josh Micheaux (nearly twenty nine minutes).
- Drexel (12-5, 4-2 CAA) - The Dragons have rebounded nicely winning three games in a row against good competition; VCU, George Mason and UNCW. Damion Lee, Frantz Massenat, Chris Fouch and Samme Givens usually get the most attention, but Derrick Thomas has played well of late. In his last three games, Thomas has averaged twelve points a game and has shot thirteen of twenty five from the field and seven of nine from the free throw line.
Perhaps this is "The Year of the Dragon" because Drexel is first in the CAA in free throw shooting percentage at 73.1 percent. Yes, the team that's since it has been in the CAA has never finished shooting from the line higher than 68.3 percent (2006-07 season) is shooting 73.1 percent on the season.
- Old Dominion (10-8, 5-1 CAA) - The Monarchs have played only two teams above .500 in conference so far and they have split those games; won at Northeastern and lost at George Mason. Still ODU is winning with its trademark defense as the Monarchs are fourth in the CAA in scoring defense at 62.9 points per game, third in steals at nine per game and second in rebounding margin.
Trian Iliadis has stepped up his game for the Monarchs. Once considered mainly a three point shooter, Iliadis has added to his game. He averages 3.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and is one of the leaders in the CAA in steals at 1.7 steals per game. Strangely, he is only shooting twenty five percent from beyond the arc this season.
- Northeastern (8-8, 4-2 CAA) - The Huskies had a nice week, winning both their games over Hofstra and William and Mary. The most impressive stat is the team averaging the second most turnovers in the CAA at nearly sixteen per game had only one turnover in the last fifteen minutes versus the Pride. They also create turnovers as they are fourth in the CAA in steals, averaging eight per game.
Jonathan Lee has been huge the past four games for the Huskies. Lee is averaging nearly eighteen points per game and has shot twenty five for forty three from the field (fifty eight percent). Lee is also averaging nearly five rebounds per game. Lee is only six foot two inches tall.
- UNCW ( 7-9, 3-3 CAA) - The Seahawks faced stiff competition the past week which saw both opponents score in the mid to high seventies and the Seahawks lost both games handily. UNC Wilimington defends the three pointer well as the Seahawks are second in the CAA in three point field goal percentage defense. It's been their two point field goal percentage defense that has been a problem. Opponents are shooting two point field goals at a fifty two percent clip.
Adam Smith gets most of the press of the UNCW freshman class, but K.K. Simmons is having an impressive rookie season as well. Simmons has averaged thirteen points per game over his last four games. Simmons also shoots eighty two percent from the line and has hit eighteen of his last twenty one free throws.
- Delaware (7-9,3-3 CAA) - The Blue Hens were another team that went 0-2 for the week. Delaware lost two games at home; in overtime to Old Dominion and by thirteen to VCU. The Blue Hens have been successful largely due to their field goal percentage defense, third in the CAA at 38.4 percent. The Blue Hens' problem has been turnovers as they are tenth in the CAA in turnover margin at -3.5.
Jamelle Hagins and Devon Saddler are the two main reasons why Delaware has been competitive in the CAA this season. But Josh Brinkley has been a force lately. Over his last three games, Brinkley has averaged fourteen points and ten rebounds per game. He is shooting fifty five percent from the field on the season.
- William and Mary (4-14, 2-4 CAA) - The Tribe went 1-1 last week as part of their three game road trip that concludes at VCU tomorrow night. Yes, their win was over Towson, but they were ahead early against Northeastern before the Huskies rallied. W&M is at the bottom of most CAA categories sans free throw shooting. The Tribe are fourth in the CAA at 71.9 percent.
I am starting to really wonder if Quinn McDowell is playing hurt. After his record setting performance in the first round of the CAA Tournament last season, McDowell has struggled since. His average points per game is down three points from last season. McDowell's field goal percentage is way down ; it was 47.5 percent last season, this season it's 39.4 percent. His shooting from three point range is also significantly down; 45.5 percent last season, this season 37.2 percent. The Tribe need the re-emergence of the Mighty Quinn.
- James Madison (8-9,1-5 CAA) - The Dukes went 0-2 last week. They were drubbed at VCU and outscored at home by George Mason. They dug themselves holes in both games. The Dukes were down nine at the half to the Rams and down by fifteen at the half at home to the Patriots. Part of that has to do with rebounding. They were outrebounded 42-26 to VCU as the Rams had fourteen offensive rebounds. JMU is tenth in the CAA in rebounding margin.
A.J. Davis is doing his best to help out the Dukes. Davis has averaged seventeen points and three steals in his last three games. He is also sixteen of twenty one from the free throw line in his last three games.
- Hofstra (6-11, 0-6 CAA) - The Pride had leads in the second half of both of their games against Northeastern and Old Dominion last week, only to lose both games. Offensively, the two halves were completely dissimilar. Hofstra shot sixty percent against Northeastern in the second half, but only shot twenty seven percent vs. ODU in the second half. What was consistent was their lack of defense in the second half. The Huskies shot fifty eight percent in the second half while the Monarchs shot fifty percent in the second half.
Nathaniel Lester has played much more consistently lately. In his last three games, Lester has averaged nineteen points per game and has shot twenty of twenty four from the line. Lester has scored in double figures in ten straight games and has three double doubles in those ten games.
- Towson (0-18, 0-6 CAA) - The Tigers played quite respectably in both their losses last week. Towson actually had leads against both William and Mary and Georgia State before losing. Ron Hunter commended the Tigers on their play saying that Towson came out with more effort than his own team.
Robert Nwankwo continues to play hard for Towson. Against the big front line of Georgia State, Nwakwo had seventeen points, thirteen rebounds, six blocks and four steals. He also had eleven points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals against William and Mary. Nwankwo is doing everything he can to help Towson find that elusive first win.