2013-2014 CAA Basketball Preseason Power Rankings 1.0

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JMU Danced From The CAA In 2013, Who Will In 2014?

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2012-2013 NCAA basketball season officially over, it’s of course automatically time look forward to the 2013-2014 season. In the Colonial Athletics Association, people are desperately looking for a ray of positive sunshine in a dark cloud that is now hanging over what was once the most prestigious mid-major basketball conference in America.

But, with a new season on the horizon, it’s time to look past Old Dominion, George Mason and Georgia State fleeing the conference for apparently greener pastures. The reigning regular season CAA champs, Northeastern Huskies, and postseason champs, James Madison Dukes, are still in the league with exciting young players. And, the surging Towson Tigers, the offensive-minded William & Mary Tribe, and the guard-dominated Drexel Dragons are all bringing back some very key pieces.

So, despite many media members and long-time fans of the Association saying that the league had a, frankly, boring season last year and is heading down the tubes, we might just be spectators to a very competitive season the CAA that features several stars.

Honestly, how can a league that has the likes of Jerrelle Benimon, Marcus Thornton, Andre Nation, Devon Saddler, Quincy Ford and Damion Lee not have its share of exciting moments?

With that, let’s take a look at how the teams stand entering next season as of now. Which team will follow in JMU’s footsteps and be raising the CAA championship trophy over their heads next March?

Jake Fischer is the CAA Columnist for Rant Sports-NCAA Basketball. He also hosts the CAA Relay Podcast. Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter @JakeLFischer.

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No. 9- Hofstra Pride

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2012-2013: (7-25, 4-14) 1st Round CAA Tournament

Losses: Stevie Mejia, David Imes, Jamaal Coombs-McDaniel, Daquan Brown, Taran Buie (Transfer)

Key Returns: Stephen Nwaukoni, Moussa Kone, Jordan Allen

Additions: Travis Hester, Amadi Udenyi, Gabe Levin, Gervelle Kidd, Marquise Moore

Coach: Joe Mihalich (Expected to be announce Wednesday)

Comments: In the wake of a plethora of injuries and scandal, the Hofstra basketball program is in flux. Very contrastingly to the optimism that surrounded the team entering last season, Hofstra now has a new coach with an incomplete roster. If this team doesn’t finish last in the conference standings, something monumental will have happened.

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No. 8 UNCW Seahawks

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2012-2013: (10-20, 5-13)

Losses: Keith Rendleman

Key Returns: Chris Dixon, Craig Ponder, Cedrick Williams, Tanner Milson, Freddie Jackson

Additions: Tyler Ptacek, Chuck Ogbodo

Coach: Buzz Peteson

Comments: The Seahawks are only losing one starter and are bringing in freshmen that help fill their needs. They should be improving right? Wrong. UNCW has lost arguably their greatest player in program history, outside of Brett Blizzard, in Rendleman and he was basically the entire team in 2012-2013. Peterson does have a nice crop of backcourt players to develop over the next two years but they will have an enormous hole to fill in their frontcourt.

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No. 7 James Madison Dukes

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

2012-2013: (21-15, 11-7) 2nd Round NCAA Tournament

Losses: Devon Moore, A.J. Davis, Rayshawn Goins, Alioune Diouf

Key Returns: Andre Nation, Charles Cooke, Andrey Semenov, Ron Curry, Taylor Bessick

Additions: Jackson Kent, Tom Rivard, Paulius Satkus, Ivan Lukic, Tom Vodanovich

Coach: N/A

Comments: In JMU’s second round loss to Indiana in the NCAA Tournament, Andre Nation stormed onto the national college basketball scene. The rising sophomore is the leading candidate to make the big jump from his freshman season to his sophomore year in 2013-2014 and will now become the face of this program. If head coach Matt Brady returns and Semenov is granted a sixth year of eligibility, only time will tell how far Nation can lead this team in the CAA However, they are losing the three players that won them the conference championship.

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No. 6 Delaware Blue Hens

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2012-2013: (19-14, 13-5) 2nd Round CAA Tournament

Losses: Jamelle Hagines, Josh Brinkley

Key Returns: Devon Saddler, Jarvis Threatt, Carl Baptiste, Kyle Anderson

Additions: Zacarry Douglas, Barnett Harris, Cazmon Hayes, DeVarte Watson

Coach: Monte Ross

Comments: The Delaware Blue Hens are losing their entire starting frontcourt from this past season, and that should be something Saddler and Threat will struggle to overcome. It will be a tall task for Ross’ freshmen and returning 6-5 F Larry Savage to fill the void left by Haggins and Brinkley. Saddler and Threat are extremely talented and Baptise and Anderson will fill their roles sufficiently, but this team won’t be anywhere deep enough to compete with the top teams in the conference throughout the entire course of conference play. Good teams aren't four or five players deep. They are seven or eight players deep.

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No. 5 Northeastern Huskies

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2012-2013: (20-13, 14-1) CAA Regular Season Champs, NIT 1st Round

Losses: Jonathan Lee, Joel Smith, Dinko Marshavelski

Key Returns: Quincy Ford, Reggie Spencer, David Walker, Demetrius Pollard

Additions: Scott Eatherton (St. Francis (Pa.)), T.J. Williams

Coach: Bill Coen

Comments: On the surface, many will look at the 2013 CAA Regular Season champs’ roster for next season and expect Coen’s club to have a drop off from last year. The Huskies will be losing their two senior guards and co-captains that led also were the top two scorers last season. How could they possibly remain relevant atop the conference? Well, if Ford can add around 10-15 pounds of muscle and Pollard can effectively become the team’s second-option offensively, the Huskies could actually replace everything Smith and Lee did on the offensive end of the floor. And, when you and an athletic 6-10 forward in Eatherton to a team that struggled mightily rebounding the ball last season, Northeastern might have the formula to again receive a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

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No. 4 College of Charleston Cougars

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2012-2013: (24-11, 14-4 Southern) 1st Round CBI

Losses: Andrew Lawrence, Trent Weideman (Transfer)

Key Returns: Adjehi Baru, Anthony Stitt, Anthony Thomas, Willis Hall

Additions: Joseph Chealey, Terrence O’Donohue

Coach: Doug Wojcik

Comments: The Cougars are a huge team that is going to wreck havoc on the glass in the Association. 2013-2014 will be Charleston’s first campaign as a member of the suddenly dwindling CAA, but it should be a very successful one for Wojcik and company. The Cougars are losing their leading scorer in Lawrence, but return back the five other of their top six scorers from last season. The Cougars will also feature a rotation that mostly features upperclassmen that are ready to make the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1999.

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No. 3 Drexel Dragons

Christopher Szagola-USA TODAY Sports

2012-2013: (13-8, 9-9) 1st Round CAA Tournament

Losses: Derrick Thomas, Daryl McCoy, Aquil Younger (Transfer)

Returns: Frantz Massenat, Damion Lee, Chris Fouch, Tavon Allen, Kazembe Abif

Additions: Freddie Wilson (Seton Hall), Rodney Williams, Mohamed Bah, Major Canady

Coach: Bruiser Flint

Comments: The Dragons entered last season the consensus pick for the CAA crown and a shoe-in to represent the league in the NCAA Tournament. But then, senior Chris Fouch got injured and the team was never able to replace the production of Samme Givens. But, despite a nightmare year in Philadelphia, the Dragons might be able to have a successful season in 2013-2014. With Frantz Massenat and Damion Lee, both 2nd Team All-CAA, returning and Fouch looking like he will receive a 6th year of eligibility AND Wilson coming over from Seton Hall, Flint might just have the most dynamic backcourt in the conference.

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No. 2 William & Mary Tribe

Sandra Dukes-USA TODAY Sports

2012-2013: (13-17, 7-11)

Losses: N/A

Returns: Tim Rusthoven, Marcus Thornton, Brandon Britt, Kyle Gaillard

Additions: Jack Whitman, Mike Schlotman, Omar Prewitt, Daniel Dixon

Coach: Tony Shaver

Comments: The Tribe are returning every significant role player from last season’s team, a club that was just a Thornton three away from tying the eventual CAA Tourney champs with seconds to go. If Shaver can organize his troops and shift the program’s mindset from optimistic to confident, W&M has a great chance to truly compete at the top of this conference with one of the best inside-out combinations in league.

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No. 1 Towson Tigers

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2012-2013: (18-13, 13-5)

Losses: Bilal Dixon

Returns: Jerrelle Benimon, Marcus Damas, Jerome Hairston, Mike Burwell, Rafriel Guthrie

Additions: Johnnie Davis, Shamiek Sheppard, Walter Foster

Coach: Pat Skerry

Comments: The Tigers have the best player in the league, reigning CAA Player of the Year, in Benimon. They have the reigning CAA Coach of the Year in Skerry. They’re returning their top five scorers—who all averaged above 8.1 points per game—and have some legit freshmen coming in as well. The Tigers are clearly the team to beat in the CAA next season and will most likely be the unanimous media preseason pick to win the league.

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