Preseason Edition CAA Power Rankings
Who Will Be This Season's CAA Conference Champion?
As the opening of the 2012-2013 men’s college basketball season draws closer and closer with each day this week, it’s time to power rank the teams of the Colonial Athletic Association one last time before five of the conference’s clubs enter regular season play on Friday.
Thus far, Rant Sports CAA Correspondent, Jake Fischer, has published two previous conference power rankings, based off of general offseason activity and strength of schedule. Now, a third preseason edition of the conference’s rankings has been written to reflect the team’s successes and failures during exhibition play.
There have been no changes at the very top of the conference, as the Drexel Dragons and Delaware Blue Hens possess some of the most talented and cohesive rosters the CAA has seen over the past five years. Both teams are led by top coaches and two Preseason All-CAA 1st Team selections respectively.
Following these top two clubs, there are six teams who could possibly contend for a top-5 spot in the conference standings. To look and see how each team fares against their fellow conference competition heading into opening day, follow the slideshow buttons.
Jake Fischer is the CAA Correspondent for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. Throughout this 2012-2013 men’s basketball season, he will be contributing weekly CAA Power Rankings every Thursday. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @fischsportsline.
No. 11- William & Mary Tribe
The William & Mary Tribe really only have one goal this season: to win double-digit games. The Tribe’s head coach, Tony Shaver, has only three winning seasons since joining the W&M staff, and this season shouldn’t be much different. His roster is full of experienced players, however only Tim Rusthoven and Marcus Thornton truly possess game-changing talent. If that inside-out combo’s support cast can step up in any way, shape, or form, the Tribe may be able to be better than this next team, but that’s about it.
No. 10- UNCW Seahawks
Head coach Buzz Peterson doesn’t have too much to smile about down in Wilmington. He does have a superstar big in Keith Rendleman, who will contend to break many school and conference records this winter, but the buck really stops there. Rendleman does have a few solid running mates in Tanner Milson, Chris Dixon and Matt Wilson, but Rendleman will probably have a chance to break more records that win games in 2012-2013.
No. 9- Towson Tigers
Even though theTowson Tigers are building towards a better future like both Presidential candidates say they will do over the next four years, their time to seriously compete in the CAA is not now. For now, the highlight of this program is truly the new billion-dollar stadium they’re constructing down in Maryland. The Tigers do have some solid pieces in Marcus Damas, Jerome Hairstand and Bilal Dixon, but they aren’t the likes of some other school’s talented stars.
No. 8- Hofstra Pride
Very unfortunately for the Hofstra Pride, they enter this 2012-2013 men’s basketball season at an extreme disadvantage than their CAA rivals. The Pride were forced to miss over three weeks of practice time due to hosting the second Presidential debate and the immense impact of superstorm Sandy. But, even with all of their setbacks, the Pride are still led by an up-and-coming coach, Mo Cassara, and have outstanding leadership on the court as well. Senior captains, Stevie Mejia and David Imes, showed just how much on court leadership they can exhibit this season, with their 16 and 13 points respectively in the team’s exhibition victory over Queens College. When they’re teamed up with talented transfers Taran Buie and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel, the Pride could move up in the standings as well. But, for now, they’re still stuck towards the bottom.
No. 7- George Mason Patriots
The George Mason Patriots won their exhibition contest, so why are thy ranked sixth in the conference? Because they have a slight identity crisis without last season’s stars Ryan Pearson and Mike Morrison. They struggled to outlast a Division II Bowie State team. Additionally, the team has just suspended Erik Copes and Vaughn Gray for three games. But, fortunately for the Mason faithful, the Patriots still have an extremely talented coach in Paul Hewitt and a rising star in Sherrod Wright to keep them in the competition.
No. 6- James Madison Dukes
Whenever you talk about the James Madison Dukes men’s basketball team, the conversation usually talks about head coach Matt Brady’s high-scoring and multi-talented guards. A.J. Davis, a Preseason All-CAA 2nd Team selection, along with freshman Ron Curry and Charles Cookie highlight this year’s crop of guards for Brady, but they can only do so much. If the Dukes hope to be successful this season, they will also need a substantial effort from a few bigs. In the team’s exhibtion victory over Philadelphia University, Rayshawn Goins put in an outstanding 16-point, 8-rebound effort for the Dukes, and if he can continue to contribute, JMU might be appearing in the top-5 some point down the road.
No. 5- Georgia State Panthers
Despite a large amount of the media doubting the their talent and potential this winter, the Georgia State Panthers should be primed to compete at a high level during their last season in the CAA. Under head coach, Ron Hunter, the Panthers suddenly now have a very electric, high scoring backcourt combination of Stevie Mejia and Devonta White. If GSU’s big men can become a formidable frontcourt, this team might be in a very good position to prove all their haters wrong.
No. 4- Northeastern Huskies
The Northeastern Huskies have been a very popular pick all offseason as the up-and-coming darling of the CAA. After building an incredible amount of team chemistry while dominating competition in Canada this summer, the Huskies were prepared to hit the ground running starting Friday when they welcome Boston University to Matthews Arena. The Huskies should still be able to hang in the Top-5 of the conference, but they will lose a lot not having senior guard and Preseason All-CAA 1st Team selection, Jonathan Lee for the first few weeks of the season. Lee’s absence is the primary reason the Huskies don’t rank about the No. 3 team in the conference…
No. 3- Old Dominion Monarchs
Also entering their last season as a member of the CAA, the Old Dominion Monarchs are looking to go out with a bang. They are led by one of the most prolific coaches in the conference’s history, Blaine Taylor, and boast a roster full of experienced and talented players nicely mixed with a few energetic freshmen. Look out for transfer center DeShawn Painter to make a big impact in his namesake: the paint.
No. 2- Delaware Blue Hens
The Delaware Blue Hens are the top challengers to last season’s regular season conference champs. Featuring a deadly inside-out attack with big-man Jamelle Hagins and high-scoring guards, Devon Saddler and Javaris Threatt, the Hens could potentially make a run at the CAA championship and may even be able to contend for a ticket to the Big Dance.
No. 1- Drexel Dragons
Nothing has changed atop the CAA since Media Day. And, the Dragons most likely won’t fall any lower than No. 2 this season—if they ever let go of the top spot. With coach young, smart, energetic Bruiser Flint at head coach, Drexel will be pointed in the right direction all season. On the court, their led by CAA Preseason Player of the Year, Fratz Massenat, and All-CAA Preseason 1st team selection, Damion Lee, the Dragons are hands down the class of the conference and look to once again contend for a 30-win season.