Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CAA Media Day: JMU picked to win; Evans, Delle Donne share top honor

The votes are in from CAA media day and we're shocked we tell you, shocked. Not exactly -- we'd just like you to keep reading.

Preseason polls mean absolutely nothing, but we share the CAA's because it's the thing to do this time of year. Here is how the coaches voted predicted order of finish and all-conference teams.
1. James Madison
2. Old Dominion
3. Delaware
4. Hofstra
5. VCU
6. Drexel
7. William & Mary
8. UNC Wilmington
9. Georgia State
10. George Mason
11. Towson
12. Northeastern

CAA first teamers:
Brittany Blackwell, UNCW
Elena Delle Donne, Delaware
Dawn Evans, JMU
Shante Evans, Hofstra
Taysha Pye, William and Mary

Second team:
Shadasia Green, ODU
Tia Lewis, ODU
Jasmine Parker, ODU
Tarik Hislop, James Madison
Courtney Hurt, VCU

CAA Preseason Co-Players of the Year: Elena Delle Donne, Delaware and Dawn Evans, James Madison

So what do we think, you ask? First of all, two preseason Players of the Year seems absolutely ludicrous. This year's voting was done by coaches only -- no media, no sports information directors -- and I suppose you could argue they were split downt the middle on the voting, but doesn't this kind of smell of, "OK, folks. Let's not decide."

Pick one. One player of the year. It's preseason. Make a decision. Nobody will remember come March. Had Marginean not graduated, would we have three?

We'd have given the nod to ODU's Parker over Blackwell for first team honors, also. Blackwell averaged 12.9 points and 7.7 rebounds for the 12-19 Seahawks. Parker was behind her in points (11.1), but nobody would argue she was the MVP of an ODU team that won the regular season and advanced to the CAA championship game.

As for the order of finish, we have no real qualms, though we're already sick of hearing about the parity in the conference before the first tipoff. We see a JMU team that looks like the clear favorite. ODU is a good bet for second, though the Lady Monarchs  lost a lot, including graduated senior Jessica Canady, who never rediscovered her form after injury last year but was still able to be a contributor. The Lady Monarchs are also without Carolann Cloutier (transferred to UMass) and Pryncess Tate-Dublin (working on her grades in community college with the intent of playing for UMBC). Neither was an impact player, though dismissing Cloutier's potential would be premature. Coach Wendy Larry noted that Mairi Buchan and Kquanise Byrd had significant summers. Let's hope, otherwise the Lady Monarchs will weather a similar season to last year's when yes, they won the regular season, but they also lost games they should have won (Towson at home, for example) and lacked the intensity of a Larry-coached group.

We like Delaware because of the obvious. Question for the Hens: Is EDD going to get some help this year? Senior Tesia Harris, their No. 2 scorer, transferred as a senior out of the program. Delaware needs some chemistry to go along with the best player in the league.

Hofstra behind Evans and a veteran backcourt is probably the most dangerous team in the league. Don't expect them to win it, but bet nobody is looking forward to a date with the Pride.

After that, we see a toss-up. Typically strong VCU and Drexel have a ton of talent to replace. The CAA race looks to be among the top four. Anything else would be a surprise. That's not exactly the parity coaches gush about every season at this time of year.

CAA is just getting cranked up. So are we. Stay tuned.

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