After previewing all 11 of this season’s CAA Mens’ Basketball teams, here are CAA Correspondent Jake Fischer’s CAA preseason rankings for the upcoming 2012-2013 season.
1. Drexel Dragons- In 2011-2012, The Dragons won a school record 29 games; including another record 19 straight. After winning the CAA regular season title but falling just short of the post-season crown, Drexel failed to earn a NCAA Tourney bid and eventually went on to the NIT Quarterfinals. This year, the Dragons are returning 4 of their 5 top scorers from last season and have chemistry to the nines. Since chemistry should probably push this team to similar heights as last season, look for the Dragons to compete for the conference crown once again in 2012-2013.
2. Delaware Blue Hens- The Fighting Blue Hens enter the 2012-2013 season with appropriate high hopes. Their team, which will be featuring 4 seniors, is loaded with experience and star power. What should set Delaware apart from its CAA foes is its expected inside-out game, which will consist of senior forward Jamelle Hagins and 6-2 junior Guard Devon Saddler. After finishing 5th in the Conference last season, look for the Blue Hens to grow together this season and compete for the conference championship and maybe even a bid to the big dance.
3. Northeastern Huskies- Behind offensive firepower of senior guards Jonathon Lee and 6-4 G Joel Smith, the Huskies should definitely improve on their 9-9 Conference record from last season. Reports from the Northeastern locker room are also hinting that losing Alwayne Bigby and Kauri Black might actually be in a blessing in disguise for the team’s morale. Under Coach Bill Coen, the Huskies will most likely work they way into the upper echelon of the CAA this season and a maybe a chance at winning the conference’s postseason tournament.
4. Georgia State Panthers- Technically, Georgia State will be in the CAA and play a league schedule this year, but the Panthers are not eligible for the CAA Tournament. In a move more revolved around the school’s football program, GSU will be joining the Sun Belt conference in 2013. If the Panthers want to compete in any postseason play, it will have to be in the NCAA, NIT or CBI tournaments. With that being said, Georgia State could use this as motivation, but it is unlikely they will receive an invitation to a postseason tournament. However, The Panthers should finish in the top 5 of CAA conference play.
5. Old Dominion Monarchs- Similar to Georgia State, Old Dominion play a CAA league schedule but will not be eligible for the conference tournament. The Monarchs will be joining Conference USA in 2013-2014 but will most likely try to go out of the CAA with a bang. In order to compete in the postseason, the Monarchs have to qualify at large for the NCAA Tournament or be invited NIT or CBI tournaments. Don’t expect the Monarchs to have something to hope for on Selection Sunday, but they will be able to compete in the CAA.
6. George Mason Patriots- Coach Paul Hewitt led his squad to a successful season during his first year at the helm of Patriots last season. Losing three of his starters won’t help his fortunes, but he does have formidable replacements. As other teams in the conference like Delaware and Northeastern are improving, look for George Mason struggle a little bit in the early going of the season. However, this club should earn a rightful spot around the top 5 of the conference by season’s end.
7. Hofstra Pride- The Pride are undergoing somewhat of a youth movement this season, as the majority of their team has not even celebrated their 20th birthday yet. Head Coach Mo Cassara has a sub-.500 record at the school thus far in his short career and I expect that can change this winter. Hofstra should find themselves floating in the middle of the CAA standings once February and March come around.
8. James Madison Dukes- In 2011-2012, the Dukes are losing a leading scorer from last season in Humpty Hitchens. However, the team has a large senior class that is ready to go out with a bang. Along with Davis, returning starters 6-4 G Devon Moore and 6-7 F Andrey Semenov and company should be somewhat f a force to be reckoned with in the Conference. Expect an improvement in this season’s Dukes squad
9. UNCW Seahawks- The Seahawks have size and experience all across their roster. Unfortunately, they are losing their second leading scorer from last season in Smith, but they should be able to replace him. UNCW may actually be the oldest and most experienced team in the entire conference. Watch for them to use that experience to beat out favorite opponents in slower and longer games. Coach Buzz Peterson’s team should have a chance to compete against the top CAA teams this season.
10. William & Mary Tribe- Last season, William & Mary struggled to compete in the CAA and in their non-conference games as well. They’ve lost one of the greatest players in their program’s history in Quinn McDowell, but they are replacing him with some solid players. However, don’t expect the Tribe to skyrocket up the CAA standings this season. They should be in the bottom of the group once again.
11. Towson Tigers- It’s truly unfortunate that the Tigers are disqualified from postseason tournament this season. Towson has gained a lot of impressive additions and the Tigers should be well led by Marcus Damas and 6-1 sophomore G Kris Walden. They’re definitely bigger, longer and more talented this season but it will probably be for nothing. Towson will face a one-year ban from all NCAA and CAA postseason play due to the team’s past cumulative NCAA Academic Performance Rate (APR) scores. Hopefully, Coach Pat Skerry can continue to see an improvement in his team’s collective grades this season like he did last year.
If you disagree with Jake’s rankings, comment on the story or send him a tweet.