2008-09 Team Capsules
The Blue Hens have a lot to cluck about with returnees Marc Egerson
(13.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg), all-rookie team guard Alphonso Dawson
(11.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and lead guard Brian Johnson
(9.5 ppg, 5.2 apg) leading the way. The Hens lose solid forward Herb Courtney
, although he was better as a junior than as a senior, and the roster has the quality and depth now to potentially replace what he provided. The biggest question will be on the glass, where the Hens were below average on both ends.
The Dragons finished tied for last at 5-13, but they didn't look like a last-place team
until you saw them on offense. Head coach Bruiser Flint's nickname was apropos for his shooters, who bruised the rim to the tune of a 45.6 percent effective FG percentage (316th in D-I). Combine that with a high turnover rate (23.3 percent; 292nd in D-I) and you can easily see why Drexel's offense was statistically one of the 10 worst in the nation. That doesn't mean the team didn't get after it on the defensive end, but the Dragons will have to maintain that same type of effort this season without lanky big man Frank Elegar
and fellow forward Randy Oveneke
. The search for scoring probably begins with Tramayne Hawthorne
, who finished third in the CAA with 81 3s to go with 60 steals.
Without the physicality and skill of Will Thomas
and flexibility of Folarin Campbell
, it will be interesting to see if the Patriots can maintain their three-year defensive plan: defend well, don't gamble for turnovers and rebound like fiends on the defensive glass. As good as Campbell was, Thomas is really the irreplaceable guy. Overshadowed by gregarious post partner Jai Lewis during the 2006 Final Four run, Thomas was great last season (16.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 64.2 percent shooting, 1.69 points per shot). Most of the size on this season's roster comes from the freshman class, so Mason could have a hard time replacing Thomas' production.
Lost in the shuffle of the influx of eligible transfers this season is the return of leading rebounder Rashad Chase
, who finished fifth in the CAA last season at 7.6 rpg. Along with 3-point shooting, rebounding at both ends of the floor is the thing that Georgia State actually did well last season. The Panthers finished in the top 75 in both offensive and defensive rebounding rate. When you return two solid contributors -- including all-league guard Leonard Mendez
and Trae Goldston
-- and they might become the first two guys off your bench come league season, you can see why there is ample enthusiasm in Atlanta for this club.
Why should coach Tom Pecora feel good about things despite losing Antoine Agudio
, the school's all-time leading scorer who poured in 22.7 ppg last season? The other four starters are back, including CAA Rookie of the Year Charles Jenkins
, who averaged 15.0 ppg and 4.6 rpg last season. And lest you forget, this is a program that went 69-26 over the three seasons before last season's 12-18 campaign. If the Pride want to step back into league contention, they are going to have to improve offensively. Even with Agudio in the fold, the Pride were below par offensively last season, not shooting well from either 2- or 3-point range and turning the ball over at one of the highest rates in the country.
Matt Brady has made the leap from Marist in the MAAC and inherits a JMU squad with some decent talent returning. The Dukes lose Terrance Carter
's 13.1 ppg but return just about everyone else, including leading scorer Abdulai Jalloh
(15.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg), a former Saint Joseph's Hawk. The first thing Brady needs to figure out is who can handle the ball besides guard Pierre Curtis
. If the Dukes can avoid some of the injuries that plagued them last season, they have a chance to make a strong impression in Brady's first campaign.
If the Huskies are going to challenge for the league crown this season, they are going to have to shoot the ball better. After Matt Janning
and Manny Adako
, there wasn't a player on the roster who had even an average campaign from an efficiency standpoint. The Huskies ranked 311th in 3-point shooting (31.3 percent) and 286th in effective FG percentage (46.7 percent). After Janning's 37.6 percent mark from the arc, no other NU player with at least 20 attempts shot better than 30 percent. So while it's a good thing that all five starters are returning and have matured, Bill Coen will have to hope they spent some of their offseason working on their jumpers
or their offensive rebounding.
Rebounding played an important part on both ends for ODU. Despite pedestrian shooting numbers, the Monarchs managed an above-average offensive efficiency because of how well they hit the offensive glass (37.7 percent; 25th in D-I). Defensively, they stopped teams from making shots more often than not but had some trouble keeping opponents from claiming the misses. Coach Blaine Taylor has the interesting dichotomy of five underclassmen returning with significant playing time from last season and very little experience behind them.
The Tigers nailed a school-record 220 3s last season, with the considerable help of Georgetown transfer Josh Thornton
, who made 67 in just 22 games after becoming eligible after the fall semester. The problem, though, is that the Tigers only made 32.9 percent of their 3s and didn't hit the offensive glass (28.4 percent; 301st in D-I). Towson has some talent to build around, though. Junior Hairston
(12.0 ppg, 8.9 rpg) and Tony Durant
(Kevin's brother) make up a formidable frontcourt pairing. The Tigers also welcome three transfers of their own, including brothers Jimmy and Jarrel Smith from Colorado State. Towson will have to find a replacement for C.C. Williams
, the leading assist man at 4.7 apg who helped the Tigers to one of the lowest turnover rates in the nation (17.3 percent; 16th in D-I).
The Seahawks posted the nation's biggest turnaround in Benny Moss' first season as head coach, going from 7-22 in 2006-07 to 20-13 in 2007-08. Similar success might be difficult to find this season as the Seahawks are the CAA team hit hardest by graduation. Gone are all four double-digit scorers from last season, a foursome that represented nearly 75 percent of the team's scoring. All-rookie point guard Chad Tomko
is back along with several other underclassmen who saw solid minutes last season, but coming anywhere close to the 20 wins from last season might be an equal accomplishment to what Moss pulled off last season.
Is the Rams' excellent defensive performance last season repeatable? VCU held opponents to just 42.9 percent shooting on 2s, the 15th best rate in the land, and 26.9 percent shooting on 3s, the best in the country. Offensively, with Jamal Shuler
gone, it will be interesting to see where his 12 shots a game go.
William & Mary
The Tribe had a breakout season, making the CAA title game for the first time and winning at least 15 games in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1984 and '85. Can they keep it up? Multipurpose junior David Schneider
is a nice start. He finished second on the team in scoring (10.9 ppg) and rebounding (4.5 rpg) while also leading the Tribe in assists (3.8 apg) and steals (1.7 spg). But the team will need to make up for the loss of Laimis Kisielius
(11.3 ppg) and Nathan Mann