Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Getting set for more CAA play

With Colonial Athletic Association play set to resume tonight when Georgia State visits Old Dominion, here's a primer on what has happened so far in a league that looks to be, top to bottom, stronger than it's ever been: 

Preseason poll

1. Delaware; 2. VCU; 3.James Madison; 4. Hofstra; 5 (tie). Old Dominion, Drexel; 7. UNC Wilmington; 8. George Mason; 9. William and Mary; 10. Georgia State; 11. Towson; 12. Northeastern

If we were doing the poll today

1. Delaware (10-1, 1-0); 2. Hofstra (9-3, 1-0); 3. James Madison (9-3, 0-1); 4. VCU (8-4, 1-0); 5. Towson (10-2, 1-0); 6. Drexel (5-6, 1-0); 7. UNC Wilmington (7-5, 0-1); 8. William and Mary (7-5, 0-1); 9. George Mason (7-5, 1-0); 10.Old Dominion (3-10, 0-1); 11. Georgia State (6-6, 0-1); 12. Northeastern (2-10, 0-1)

Best non-conference wins

Delaware 80, No. 11 Penn State 71: In just their second game of the season, the Blue Hens emphatically announced themselves as Top-25 material.

Hofstra 65, Kansas State 54: A real resume-enhancer - K-State currently sits at No. 18 in the NCAA RPI.

James Madison 56, Duquesne 49: Superior defensive effort allowed JMU to survive this battle of the Dukes.

Toughest non-conference loss

Norfolk State 60, George Mason 57: The Spartans are much-improved from the team that lost by 27 at Mason last year, and this year's game was at NSU. Still, the Spartans have the lowest RPI (303) of any team to beat a CAA team.

At-large candidates

Delaware, Hofstra and JMU notched the kind of quality non-conference wins that should make the NCAA selection committee take notice. Of course, any league team that beats one of these teams moves into this category as well, so go ahead and add Towson, which upset JMU on Dec. 4, to this list.

Best individual performance

Elena Delle Donne fueled Delaware's historic win over Penn State with 40 points (on 15-of-23 shooting), 12 rebounds, 4 blocks and 0 turnovers. Two days after that game, VCU's Courtney Hurt also went for 40 points and added 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks in a win over Missouri-Kansas City.

Most improved performer

A year ago, George Mason's Taleia Moton finished 11th in the CAA in scoring (12.2 ppg). Today, she's at No. 12 - in the entire country (21.2).

Preseason All-CAA updates

First team

Elena Delle Donne, Delaware (Preseason Player of the Year) - National scoring leader and super-efficient all-around performer. Strong contender for National POY honors.

Courtney Hurt, VCU - Double-double machine has essentially picked up where she left off last season (24.6 ppg, 11.8 rpg).

Shante Evans, Hofstra - Scoring and rebounding numbers down slightly (16.5 ppg, 10.0 rpg) because of improved team, but can still go off when necessary (29 points, 18 rebounds vs. Marist)

Andrea Barbour, VCU - Fifth in the league in scoring (17.7 ppg)

Kamile Nacickaite, Drexel - Fourth in the league in scoring (17.8 ppg), shoots better from 3-point range (39.4 percent) than overall (38.7).

Second team

Alisha Andrews, UNCW - Only holder from last season's starting five (14.4 ppg, 5.4 apg); second to GMU's Moton in minutes played (35.7)

Chan Harris, Georgia State - Averaging 10.9 ppg and 8.6 rpg

Tarik Hislop, James Madison - Averaging a team-best 15.0 ppg despite just 32.8-percent shooting.

Tia Lewis, Old Dominion - Unquestioned leader and go-to player for the Lady Monarchs, is averaging 17.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg.

Taysha Pye, William and Mary - Sat out first three games (suspension) and has been coming off the bench. Averaging 12.1 ppg, third on team.

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