When the James Madison Dukes triumphantly earned the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament championship down in Richmond two weeks ago, head coach Matt Brady saw his seniors lead his team to three crucial victories. Behind strong performances from Devon Moore, Rayshawn Goins and A.J. Davis, the Dukes were able to defeat the Northeastern Huskies in the CAA title game and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
But, when they got to the tournament, the Dukes’ youngsters were the ones that carried the Purple and Gold.
While Moore, Goins and Davis earned All-CAA Tournament honors, with Davis being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, JMU’s two freshmen starters set the tone early for the Dukes and persistently produced on both ends of the floor in the team’s NCAA Tourney First Round victory over LIU Brooklyn.
Those who followed the CAA all year long, and even just during the conference tournament, were well aware of freshman guard Andre Nation’s defensive prowess. That aggressiveness and tenacious defense continued in Dayton, as Nation swatted five Blackbirds’ shots, grabbed seven rebounds, while also swiping one steal. Charles Cooke, who was plugged into the starting lineup to replace Goins, also contributed on the defensive end as well, adding two blocks and six rebounds of his own.
“Our freshman were really great on both ends of the court,” Matt Brady told TruTV following the game. “They really flew to the rim and challenged every shot.”
James Madison has played with a defense-first philosophy all season long. It was clearly evident against LIU, as the Dukes combined for 10 blocks as a team.
Cooke was instrumental in setting the tone offensively for JMU as well. The freshmen out of Trenton, NJ, started the game 3-4 from the field with eight points and finished with 15 points.
The Dukes’ victory allows them to advance to the Second Round of the tournament, where they will face No. 1 seed Indiana.