UNC Wilmington basketball players are being driven by massive chip on their shoulders

Addison Spruill. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Addison Spruill. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

UNC Wilmington basketball seniors Addison Spruill and Freddie Jackson shouldered most of the scoring load in Saturday’s 79-74 road win against Hofstra. It was surprising they had any room available considering the huge chip that also occupies a great deal of real estate on the shoulders of the seasoned veterans.

And rightfully so, Spruill and Jackson have reason to play with extra attitude after the Seahawks were picked to finish ninth in the CAA preseason coaches’ poll. Spruill dropped a game-high 23 points and Jackson added 21 to lead UNCW (9-8, 4-2) to a huge conference win over Hofstra (13-6, 4-2). The Seahawks are now in a three-way tie for second in the CAA along with the Pride and James Madison.

“We just play with a lot of confidence, we know that there are teams out there ranked higher than us so we just bring our ‘A’ game every night. We believe that we’re a good team and we show it in our play,” Jackson said.

While many may view this win as an upset, it comes as no surprise to the Seahawks, who also hold a win over CAA-favorite Northeastern.

“We feel like we match up very well with every team in the conference, from one to ten,” Spruill said. “We were picked ninth, but we’re gonna try to show people we’re better than a ninth-place team.”

Trailing 69-63 with a little over five minutes left, the Seahawks displayed a lot of grit and toughness as they closed out the game on a 16-5 run. Freshman point guard Jordan Talley knocked down a huge three-pointer with 1:27 left to give UNCW a two-point lead that wouldn’t be relinquished.

“We’re just a scrappy bunch,” Jackson said. “We had a freshman step up and hit the three that put us up two, and that just shows what kind of team we are.”

Jackson went down in pain early in the second half when he rolled his left ankle, but sat for just four minutes after realizing it was a minor twist. “It felt like something more serious,” he laughed. “I just shook it off.”

“It showed me a lot about him,” UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts said. “I never want to put a guy on the floor when he’s hurt, but he was tapping me on the shoulder saying, ‘Coach, I’m ready to go.’”

Even when a senior leader went down, the Seahawks didn’t blink at all.

“We were fine,” Spruill said. “We have some pretty good depth, if one goes down we feel like we can bring somebody in to match the same energy that Freddie brings.”

Ameen Tanksley led Hofstra with 19 points and eight boards. Moussa Kone added 14 points and seven rebounds. Juan’ya Green had 14 points but was held to 2-of-11 shooting from the field.

Talley finished with 17 points and C.J. Gettys added 10. UNCW outscored Hofstra 40-18 in the paint; the way the Seahawks pounded the ball inside would’ve made you think they were playing on Sunday with a spot in the Super Bowl on the line.

UNCW played with an edge on Saturday and will continue to do so going forward, with the players refusing to forget the way the preseason poll felt like a slap across each of their faces.

“Most definitely,” Spruill said emphatically when asked if they have a chip on their shoulders. “We feel like we can be number one in the conference. Being picked ninth, that’s basically taking shots at us. That’s just saying we can’t win this league, but I feel like we can win it.”

“Our whole team is dangerous because we play together and we believe, so I think that’s gonna be a huge positive in our favor down the stretch,” Jackson said. “I definitely don’t think that we’re the ninth-place team, so we’ve just been hustling and working had every day in practice just to try and prove ourselves. I think everything is starting to fall into place for us.”

 

T.J. Williams, Northeastern, win battle of point guards against Hofstra

Northeastern point guard T.J. Williams posted a double-double to help the Huskies down Hofstra in a battle of CAA favorites. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Northeastern point guard T.J. Williams posted a double-double to help the Huskies down Hofstra in a battle of CAA favorites. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

Hofstra’s Juan’ya Green may be a CAA Player of the Year candidate, but Northeastern’s T.J. Williams controlled the backboard – and ultimately the game – in the Husky’s 91-83 win in Wednesday’s Colonial heavyweight match.

Williams matched Green’s double double of 21 points (4-7 shooting_ and 11 assists with 16 points (7-11), 11 rebounds and six assists for his first career double double.

“Our fans really made a difference in the game,” the point guard said. “Their enthusiasm got us going and just as well we fed off of one another. Coach Coen and the coaching staff were there to help us along the way also.”

With all due respect to the Northeastern fans and coaching staff, Williams was the biggest difference in the game, especially since senior captain Reggie Spencer sat out of the game with a lower body injury.

The Huskies have had early success this season because their frontcourt of Scott Eatherton, Reggie Spencer and Zach Stahl dominates. The rebound battle would be even more important going up against a speedy Hofstra team that averages 79.4 point per game.

Stahl and Eatherton combined for 11 of the Huskies 37 rebounds. Did Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich expect TJ to be able to match their combined total?

“Yeah, oh yeah, it’s a good team,” Mihalich said. “…TJ Williams was Player of the Week one time wasn’t he?

“…No surprise at all those guys being that good.”

Williams didn’t seem surprised of Hofstra’s point guard’s abilities either.

“He’s definitely a good player also,” Williams said. “Going in to the game, the game plan was No. 1 stop him in transition before he gets a head of steam. He’s a really good playmaker so we wanted to stop him and tame him as much as we could from getting to the paint and creating for others.”

The responsibility of guarding the perennial scorer could have resulted in Williams soley focusing on the defensive end. Instead, he had one of his best all-around games of his career.

“I just try to focus on the next play. You know just like ‘One play at a time, one play at a time,’” Williams said. “To be able to transition from making a mistake, a turn over, to getting back to defense…It’s really just transitioning into one play into another.”

Williams wasn’t alone in the effort. David Walker led the team in scoring with 22 points and hit a 3-pointer late in the second half that ignited an 11-0 run. Scott Eatherton had 21 points and Zach Stahl had 14 points and seven rebounds.

But Coen said his sophomorepoint guard has bested the tear he went on towards the end of his rookie campaign.

“He’s got a better understanding of what the coaching staff wants,” Coen said. “He’s got a better understanding of time and score, he’s got a better understanding of his own capabilities, his teammates capabilities and he’s more confident in terms of what he can accomplish on the court.”

For more on T.J. Williams and the years of hard work and training that he shared with his father to reach Northeastern, read here.

OBW CAA Power Rankings v8

The Pride remain atop the OBW CAA Power Rankings. Courtesy photo / Hofstra Athletics
The Pride remain atop the OBW CAA Power Rankings. Courtesy photo / Hofstra Athletics

This is really shaping up to be one heck of a CAA season, at least for the league’s top-tier programs. Hofstra continues to pace the pack, powered by it’s trio of star guards and the return of bruising freshman forward Rokas Gustys, but Northeastern, William & Mary and even UNC-Wilmington have all shown that they have the fire power to play with anyone in the league. With huge Wednesday showdowns at Northeastern between the Huskies and the Hofstra Pride, and at UNC-Wilmington where the Seahawks host William & Mary, this week will tell a lot about how the cream of the CAA crop match up.

Here’s a look at how we see the league stacking up in our latest OBW CAA Power Rankings.

1. Hofstra (13-4, 4-0 in CAA)
Results: W 71-66 at College of Charleston; W 79-61 at Elon.
This week: Wednesday vs Northeastern; Saturday vs UNC-Wilmington.
There’s only two teams who stand a chance against the Pride’s offensive force and that’s Northeastern and William & Mary. The Cougars tried to make Juan’ya Green earn his points from the line but he went 13-14, while Ameen Tanksley hit four 3-pointers. Tanksley then lit the Phoenix for 25 points, after Elon had just upset William & Mary. The Pride have scoring threats throughout its starting line-up and its bench in Dion Nesmith.

2. Northeastern (11-5, 3-1 in CAA)
Results: W 65-59 at James Madison; W 52-49 at Towson.
This week: Wednesday vs Hofstra; Saturday vs College Charleston.
When in doubt, give the ball to Scott. After UNC-Wilmington shocked the Huskies on their home court, Eatherton posted 13 point and 13 rebounds against the Dukes and then followed it up with a perfect shooting night against Towson (21 points on 10-10 shooting). It’s a little troublesome that Northeastern allowed the Tigers to rally late in the game but Wednesday marks the true test for the Huskies.

3. William & Mary (9-6, 3-1 in CAA)
Results: L 85-79 at Elon; W 81-73 vs James Madison.
This week: Wednesday vs UNC-Wilmington; Saturday at Towson.
What a week for Terry Tarpey. Before posting the first triple-double in William & Mary history (18 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) against the Dukes, the junior guard recorded 22 points and 13 rebounds against Elon. If the Tribe could have stopped rookie Elijah Bryant, they would still be undefeated in the CAA.

4. UNC-Wilmington (8-7, 3-1 in CAA)
Results: W 74-73 vs Delaware; W 62-57 vs Drexel.
This week: Wednesday vs William & Mary; Saturday vs Hofstra.
The Seahawks may not hold the No. 4 spot for two long after all. After an outstanding effort against the Huskies, UNC-Wilmington nearly dropped one to a Kory Holden-led Blue Hens, the last-place team in the CAA. Freshman Jordon Talley, a key part of the Seahawks’ defense and offense was held to just 2 points in that game. When he plays well, UNC-W is on par with Northeastern and William & Mary – but good luck heavily relying on a freshman all season.

5. Elon (10-7, 2-2 in CAA)
Results: W 85-79 vs.William & Mary; L 79-61 vs Hofstra.
This week: Wednesday vs College of Charleston; Saturday at Hofstra.
Elon stood no chance against the Pride but had their most convincing win of the year against William & Mary. Elijah Bryant continued to impress with 25 points and Tanner Sampson had 20 points on 6-14 shooting – all makes and attempts from behind the line. Sampson lives and dies behind the arc and its becoming more of a problem for the Phoenix. When he only makes two 3-pointers Elon loses big (i.e. Saturday’s game against Drexel).

6. James Madison (9-8, 2-2 in CAA)
Results: L 65-59 vs. Northeastern; L 81-73 vs. William & Mary
This week: Thursday at Drexel; Saturday vs Elon
You can’t win games if you can’t play two halves of solid basketball. The Dukes closed the first half on a 21-9 run against the Huskies but allowed Northeastern to go on a 13-3 run and a 13-0 run in the second. If the Dukes can’t finish games, Drexel could have a chance to steal one from JMU.

7. Towson (8-9, 1-3 in CAA)
Results: L 55-41 vs. Drexel; L 52-49 vs. Northeastern
This week: Wednesday at Delaware; Saturday vs. William & Mary.
Towson has lost eight of its last nine, including a defeat to a completely downtrodden Delaware squad, and the trend isn’t going to stop anytime soon. This is what happens when you schedule Goucher in non-conference play.

8. Drexel (3-12, 1-3 in CAA)
Results: W 55-41 at Towson; L 64-57 at UNC-W.
This week: Thursday vs. JMU; Saturday at Delaware.
The Dragons’ loss against UNC-Wilmington encapsulated their season. Damion Lee scores a career-high 32 and no other player scores above eight.

9. Delaware (2-13, 1-3 in CAA)
Results: L 74-73 OT @ UNC-W; W 64-58 @ Charleston
This week: Wednesday vs. Towson; Saturday vs. Drexel.
The Kory Holden-led Blue Hens may very well send the Tigers and the Dragons home with losses this week. Delaware is playing with a spark after taking the Seahawks to overtime and taking their first CAA victory over the Cougars.

10. College of Charleston (5-12, 0-4 in CAA)
Results: L 71-66 vs Hofstra; L 64-58 vs Delaware.
This week: Wednesday at Elon; Saturday at Northeastern.
A loss against Delaware marked the Cougars’ ninth straight. With Elon and Northeastern coming up, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cougars claim the longest losing streak in the CAA.

OBW CAA Player of the Week
Terry Tarpey, G, JR, William & Mary

The Connecticut-native showed the nation there’s more to the Tribe than just Marcus Thornton. Thornton hit 3-pointers against JMU but Tarpey did a little bit of everything and made program history with a triple double.

OBW CAA Rookie of the Week
Kory Holden, G, FR, Delaware

Elijah Bryant made this one hard, but Holden has provided a spark for the Blue Hens that needs to be recognized. The rookie scores 25 and pulls down seven rebounds in a overtime win against UNC-W and then follows it with 14 points for the Blue Hens first win against the Cougars. I said a couple weeks ago that Bryant should just get the award now. I stand corrected.

OBW CAA Fab Five
Scott Eatherton, C, Northeastern
Juan’ya Green, G, Hofstra
Ameen Tanksley, G, Hofstra
Marcus Thornton, G, William & Mary
Terry Tarpey, G, William & Mary

OBW CAA Frosh Five
Kory Holden, G, Delaware
Elijah Bryant, G, Elon
Rokas Gustys, G, Hofstra
Donovan Gilmore, F, Charleston
Hari Hall, G, James Madison

OBW CAA Power Rankings v7

Addison Spruill and the UNC Wilmington Seahawks are soaring after a convincing win over CAA favorite Northeastern. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Addison Spruill and the UNC Wilmington Seahawks are soaring after a convincing win over CAA favorite Northeastern. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

Just two games into the two month long gauntlet that is the CAA conference schedule and the OBW CAA Power Rankings have already been thrown into a state of flux, with an upstart rapidly climbing the league ladder after thoroughly dismantling what had been the CAA top dog. Here’s a look at how we see the CAA teams stacking up right now.

1. Hofstra (11-4, 2-0)
Results: W 68-56 at UNC-W; W 71-58 vs. Delaware.
This week: Thursday at Charleston; Saturday at Elon.
The Pride started the New Year with a convincing win over a Seahawks team that would go on to knock off the championship-favored Huskies. After allowing UNC-W to score 36 points in the first half, Hofstra’s defense finally clamped down and held coach Kevin Keatts’ team to just 20 points in the second half. Even more promising was the performance by Rokas Gustys in the Pride’s win against Delaware. The rookie had his best game of the season with 11 points and 16 boards. With four of the best guards in the league, an emerging center and inconsistent play from Northeastern, Hofstra is the best team in the league at this point.

2. William & Mary (8-5, 2-0)
Results: W 75-45 vs. Charleston; W 73-47 at Drexel.
This week: Thursday at Elon; Saturday vs. James Madison.
The trio of Marcus Thornton (16 points), Omar Prewitt (18 points, six rebounds) and Terry Tarpey (12 points, 10 rebounds) expunged any prospective of the Cougars being a contender in the league. They shot 55 percent while holding Charleston to 35 percent. The Tribe followed with a massacre against the deplorable Dragons, in which Marcus Thornton recorded 23 points (7-12 shooting, 5-7 3-pointers) and six assists. They probably won’t beat Elon by 30 but a win should be in the books.

3. UNC-Wilmington (6-7, 1-1)
Results: L 68-56 vs. Hofstra; W 75-68 vs. Northeastern
This week: Thursday vs. Delaware; Saturday vs. Drexel
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. After an upset against the Huskies, the Seahawks proved they have of the best defensive front lines and some of the boldest guards in the league. Even with Cedrick Williams and Chuck Ogbodo coming off the bench, the Seahawks were still the more physical team than the championship-favored Huskies (UNC-W outscored Northeastern 42-26 in the paint). Jordon Talley (21 points 8-12 shooting) was the best player in the game and that’s with fellow guards Freddie Jackson and Addison Spruill scoring 18 and 20 points, respectively. If the Seahawks can consistently finish games – which they did not do against the Pride – they could make noise in early March.

4. Northeastern (9-5, 1-1)
Results: W at Delaware 72-53; L vs. UNC-W 75-68.
This week: Thursday at James Madison; Saturday at Towson.
Sorry Huskies but beating Delaware by 19 isn’t the least bit impressive. Much more telling was Northeastern’s loss to UNC-W in its first game at Matthews Arena this season. The Seahawks came into the game believing they were better than the Huskies and for good reason. Coach Kevin Keatts’ team matched up well against Northeastern and exposed them. If Northeastern is out-muscled, bullied or even fouled when attempting shots close to the basket, they aren’t the CAA-champion Huskies they were picked to be by the league’s coaches in preseason. The Huskies will rebound against James Madison and smack the Tigers but remember this game when Hofstra and William & Mary come to play.

5. James Madison (9-6, 2-0)
Results: W vs. Towson 61-52; W 61-50 at College of Charleston.
This week: Thursday vs. Northeastern; Saturday at William & Mary.
The Dukes had a rough end to non-conference play but are off to a hot start in CAA play. Yohanny Dalembert got them off to a hot start against Towson (14 points 4-4 shooting) and Ron Curry led the way against the Cougars (19 points 6-9 shooting). Andre Nation has also been a consistent force with 12 points in each game. Their winning ways should change with Northeastern and William & Mary coming up.

6. Towson (8-7, 1-1)
Results: L 61-52 at James Madison; W 57-53 vs. Elon.
This week: Thursday vs. Drexel; Saturday vs. Northeastern.
The Tigers rebounds from a loss at James Madison nicely with a win over what had been a red-hot Elon squad. The Phoenix, winners of four straight, were held to 35 percent shooting from the field and just 19 percent shooting from beyond the arc (Tanner Sampson did you really go 1-11 from beyond the arc?). The fact that the Tigers won a game with their defense is not only shocking but also promising.

7. Elon (9-6, 1-1)
Results: W 77-67 at Drexel; L 57-53 at Towson.
This week: Thursday vs. William & Mary; Saturday vs. Hofstra.
After six of their last seven games were on the road, the Phoenix will be happy to return to their home court – even if it means their facing one of the CAA’s best in William & Mary. Oh, and Elijah Bryant is absolutely filthy at basketball. Not many rookies would pour in a career-high 32 points in their inaugural CAA game.

8. College of Charleston (5-10, 0-2)
Results: L 75-45 William & Mary; L vs. James Madison 61-50.
This week: Thursday vs Hofstra; Saturday vs Delaware.
I gave the Cougars the benefit of doubt because their losing streak came against more competitive teams than most CAA teams have played but after getting embarrassed by the Tribe and allowing the Dukes to take a win on their home court, reality is starting to set in. Charleston may just not have enough scoring ability to thrive in this league.

9. Drexel (2-11, 0-2)
Results: L 77-67 vs. Elon; L 73-47 vs. William & Mary.
This week: Thursday at Towson; Saturday at UNC-W.
It’s a shame. Damion Lee is ninth in scoring in the nation, in yet he and his team just can’t seem to find a way to play a lick of defense. At this point, teams should expect to score a season-high in points when the Dragons are scheduled.

10. Delaware (1-12, 0-2)
Results: L 72-53 vs. Northeastern; L 71-58 at Hofstra.
This week: Thursday at UNC-Wilmington; Saturday at Charleston.
The Blue Hens need something to celebrate and Kyle Anderson provided it in a loss to the Pride. Three triples in the loss gave him 231 for his career, a new record for 3-pointers made in Delaware history.

OBW CAA Player of the Week
Marcus Thornton, SR., PG, William & Mary

The senior had 39 combined points in the first two games in conference play and led the Tribe in blowouts against College of Charleston and Drexel. Thornton is the second-leading scorer (19.2 ppg) and the fourth most efficient shooter (48 percent) in the league. He’s not too bad shooting the long ball either; the guard averaged three treys a game on 44 percent shooting.

OBW CAA Rookie of the Week
Elijah Bryant, FR, G, Elon

Just give him the award now. The kid scores a career-high 32 points and pulls down a season-best seven rebounds in a road win against Drexel and then follows it up with 12 points off the bench in a loss against Towson. Those 12 points were the highest among any Elon player in the loss.

OBW CAA Fab Five
Scott Eatherton, C, Northeastern
Juan’ya Green, G, Hofstra
Ameen Tanksley, G, Hofstra
Marcus Thornton, G, William & Mary
Omary Prewitt, G, William & Mary

OBW CAA Frosh Five
Kory Holden, G, Delaware
Elijah Bryant, G, Elon
Hari Hall, G, James Madison
Jordon Talley, G, UNC-W
Rokas Gustys, G, Hofstra

Hofstra’s Rokas Gustys getting his groove back

Rokas Gustys
Rokas Gustys

Hofstra big man Rokas Gustys said he was still feeling rusty after Monday’s game against Delaware. Pride head coach Joe Mihalich went even further and said the freshman center hasn’t been 100 percent even before he missed time with a hamstring injury.

If Gustys was rusty, and the amount of layups he missed would indicate he was, during Monday’s performance where he posted 11 points and career-highs of 16 rebounds and five blocks in Hofstra’s 71-58 win, opponents should shudder to think of what the polished product looks like. In just 20 minutes of action, Gustys was a beast in the paint as he recorded the first double-double of his career and it looks like the 6’9”, 260-pound Lithuanian bruiser is starting to get his groove back in his second game since returning from the injury.

“I think I’m getting better every day, every practice, and this is my second game so I’m trying to prove it every time,” Gustys said. “My offense didn’t go well, but I put up a good effort on defense.”

Hofstra (11-4, 2-0 CAA) is one of the best three-point shooting teams in the country but definitely had an off night against Delaware, shooting just 5-for-23 from beyond the arc. Juan’ya Green overcame a 1-for-9 start to post 16 points along with five rebounds and four assists. Ameen Tanksley added 15 points and nine rebounds and Brian Bernardi had 13 points.

“To not be as sharp as you’d like to be and still win the game, we’re proud of that,” Mihalich said. “I thought our defense was good. We got a big boost from ‘Rock’ and we’re glad to win the game.”

Gustys patrolled the paint on defense and made the Blue Hens think twice about driving to the basket while he was on the floor. It made up for the “bunnies” he missed right under the rim as he shot 5-for-13 from the floor, though the soft-spoken giant didn’t let it shake his confidence.

“I would say that’s just rust, it was hard for me to come back from injury and have a good feel for the basket,” he said. “[My defense] is my strongest side, so I try to do what I do best. Five blocks is pretty good, the best I ever had.”

“Defense and rebounding are the two biggest things I’ve seen so far, he helps tremendously on those. His offense will come, he’s a bit rusty but I think he’ll be alright,” Bernardi laughed.

Mihalich’s confidence in the big man hasn’t wavered, either, knowing that they haven’t yet scratched the surface as to how good he can be.

“Even when ‘Rock’ played, he just wasn’t himself,” Mihalich said. “I’m not even sure if he was 50 percent, we finally just shut him down… It wasn’t just that he didn’t play the games, we shut him down. So he missed the reps in practice, like the rhythm of catching the ball in game-speed and making those layups. There’s a lot of things I’m gonna be not sleeping about tonight, but one of them isn’t gonna be about him making layups, because we know he can do that.”

OBW CAA Power Rankings v5

Northeastern sophomore point guard T.J. Williams went off for 20 points in a 58-57 win over Richmond. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Northeastern sophomore point guard T.J. Williams went off for 20 points in a 58-57 win over Richmond. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

Northeastern and Hofstra, Hofstra and Northeastern. Back-and-fourth, neck and neck the two teams have gone during the non-conference slate, putting a lot of distance between themselves and the rest of the CAA pack but unable to gain separation from each other. We’ll have to wait through nearly two weeks of conference play — until Jan. 14 at the hallowed grounds of Matthews Arena – before we can see the two squads slug it out. Here’s a look at how we see the Huskies and Pride, along with the rest of the conference, stacking up on the eve of the start of league play with the latest edition of the OBW CAA Power Rankings .

1. Northeastern (8-4)
Results: W 58-57 at Richmond
This week: Saturday at Delaware; Monday vs UNC Wilmington; Thursday at James Madison.
Northeastern sure picked one hell of a way to close out the non-conference slate, with a last second, come from behind 58-57 win at Atlantic-10 foe Richmond – a very nice way to avenge their heart-breaking loss at St. Mary’s. We’ve known for some time that center Scott Eatherton is a beast on the blocks and an automatic double-double. We know forward Zach Stahl is going to scrap, scratch and claw with everything he has; forward Reggie Spencer is going to come off the bench and attack the glass; and that no matter how he is shooting, talented forward Quincy Ford is going to demand defenses pay attention to him. But what we didn’t know before New Year’s Eve, was that the Huskies could get dynamic, dominant play from the point guard position. That all changed when sophomore T.J. Williams went off for 20 points, scoring 15 after the intermission including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 18 seconds left. Northeastern with simply solid play from the point guard position is good enough to win the CAA. With dynamic play from the point, the Huskies could be special.

2. Hofstra (9-4)
Results: W 88-62 vs LIU Brooklyn; W 84-56 at CCSU.
This week: Saturday at UNC Wilmington; Monday vs Delaware; Thursday at College of Charleston.
The Pride put on a show in the Barclay’s center – it’s a shame Jay-Z and the royal family weren’t in attendance. They would’ve witnessed Ameen Tanksley score a career-high 32 points and Juan’ya Green post a 15 point, 10 rebound, 10 assist triple-double. Green followed his performance up with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists in a 28-point romp at CCSU while Tanksley added 15 points and seven boards. Tanksley and Green alone playing alongside a couple of grade schoolers from the local CYO league are enough to compete for a title, but considering the dynamic guards are playing alongside two more difference makers in the back court in Brian Bernardi and Dion Nesmith, this team is going to be fun to watch all season long.

3. William & Mary (6-5)
Results: L 86-64 at #19 North Carolina.
This week: Saturday at College of Charleston; Monday vs. Drexel; Thursday at Elon.
Coach Tony Shaver made a smart move scheduling his team’s hardest opponent for right before the conference play. No.19 UNC wiped the floor with the Tribe but Marcus Thornton and Daniel Dixon have continued to lead Shaver’s offense (combined for 37 points against UNC). Their CAA opener against Charleston might be the most interesting CAA game all week.

4. Charleston (5-8)
Results: L 67-40 at Miami.
This week: Saturday at William & Mary; Monday vs James Madison; Thursday vs Hofstra.
The Cougars didn’t end conference play the way they would want to but don’t expect Charleston to be under .500 as the first couple weeks of conference play go by. With Anthony Stitt, Canyon Barry and Adjehi Baru, the Cougars should see their wins increase as the competition of their opponent’s decreases with the start of CAA play.

5. Elon (8-5)
Results: W 69-63 vs Marist.
This week: Saturday at Drexel; Monday at Towson; Thursday vs William & Mary.
It’s a promising sign for Elon that Tanner Sampson scored under 10 points and they were still able to defeat Marist — granted that the Red Foxes were 1-11. Kevin Blake stepped up for Elon, scoring a career-high 20 points, while Elijah Bryant continues to be the best rookie in the CAA.

6. UNC Wilmington (5-6)
Results: L 108-82 at Minnesota; L 72-53 at Ohio.
This week: Saturday vs Hofstra; Monday at Northeastern; Thursday vs Delaware.
After two losses to great teams, I’m predicting a Seahawks upset over Northeastern. UNC-W has proven to have a formidable defensive frontcourt with Maurice Ndour, Cedrick Williams and Chuck Ogbodo. It’s the type of defensive line that can match-up with Scott Eatherton, Zach Stahl and Reggie Spencer.

7. Towson (7-6)
Results: L 85-84 (OT) vs Fairleigh Dickinson.
This week: Saturday at James Madison; Monday vs. Elon; Thursday vs Drexel.
Four McGlynn had the best individual performance of the year among Towson players, scoring 27 points while shooting a simply stupid 78 percent from the floor, but it wasn’t enough in an overtime thriller. The Tigers do have a confidence booster in their CAA opener with an inconsistent James Madison team as their opponent, but after losing five straight, the Tigers CAA opener could be a must win from a confidence perspective.

8. James Madison (7-6)
Results: L 79-52 vs Valparaiso.
This week: Saturday vs Towson; Monday at College of Charleston; Thursday vs Northeastern.
The Dukes third straight loss was cemented in the first half against Valparaiso. James Madison allowed the opponent to score 40 points on 51 percent shooting to jump out to a 24-point halftime lead. When Jackson Kent, Ron Curry and Andre Nation combine for 6-25 shooting, a loss is certain for the Dukes.

9. Drexel (2-9)
Results: L 81-62 vs Iona.
This week: Saturday vs Elon; Monday vs William & Mary; Thursday at Towson.
The Dragons simply are not good enough to fall behind by 15 in the first half against any opponent, let alone a respected Iona squad. The way they are playing now, Drexel might not have another win until they face the team shown below.

10. Delaware
Results: W 82-77 vs St. Bonaventure.
This week: Saturday vs Northeastern; Monday at Hofstra; Thursday at UNC Wilmington.
A sigh of relief. Delaware recorded its first win of the season behind the effort of – a freshman. The future is now for Kory Holden. If Delaware hopes to get any more wins, give this kid the rock.

OBW CAA Player of the Week
Juan’ya Green, G, R-Jr, Hofstra.

The guard messed around and got a triple-double and was the first guard to do so in Pride history. Green’s 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists against LIU Brooklyn was arguably the most impressive performance by a CAA player this season. His prolific scoring has under shadowed his playmaking ability. Green is averaging a CAA-best 6.8 assists-per-game.

OBW CAA Rookie of the Week
Kory Holden, G, Delaware

We might not see another breakout game from Holden for awhile. Despite torching St. Bonaventure for 27 points (11 in the second half), the freshman injured his leg in the final two minutes of the game. Still, getting Delaware win is more than enough to earn this honor.

OBW CAA Fab Five
Scott Eatherton, C, Northeastern
Juan’ya Green, G, Hofstra
Ameen Tanksley, G, Hofstra
Marcus Thornton, G, William & Mary
Four McGlynn, G, Towson.

OBW CAA Frosh Five
Kory Holden, G, Delaware
Elijah Bryant, G, Elon
Byron Hawkins, G, Towson
Chivarsky, Corbet, G, Delaware
Hari Hall, G, James Madison

CAA Power Rankings v5

David Walker and the Northeastern Huskies appear to be back in the CAA driver's seat, with Hofstra in hot pursuit. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
David Walker and the Northeastern Huskies appear to be back in the CAA driver’s seat, with Hofstra in hot pursuit. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

With the conference slate just around the corner, Northeastern and Hofstra continue to go back-and-fourth for the title of “CAA team to beat,” with the Huskies edging out in front as they head towards the second-half of the season. But if we’ve learned anything from the CAA thus far, it’s that everyone is beatable and the league still looks relatively wide open.

Well, unless you’re Delaware — the Blue Hens are just trying to win a game.

With that said, here’s a look at how the team’s stack up in the latest OBW CAA Power Rankings.

1. Northeastern (7-4)
Results: L 60-58 vs Cal Poly (Cable Car Classic); W 78-72 vs Santa Clara (Cable Car Classic); L 72-68 (OT) at St. Mary’s College.
This week: Off
A 1-2 record on the Huskies’ California trip does not encapsulate how much the Cable Car Classic and a game against St. Mary’s benefited this team. In a tough loss against Cal Poly, Northeastern played one of their best first halves of the season. Against Santa Clara, Northeastern exploded for an offensive outpour and coach Bill Coen’s defense was as active as it’s been all year in a overtime loss to St. Mary’s. Scott Eatherton continues to dominate, Quincy Ford looks comfortable and even Northeastern’s bench has come alive.

2. Hofstra (7-4)
Results: L 82-77 at Columbia; L 83-74 vs La Salle.
This week: Saturday at LIU Brooklyn.
Facing their hardest competition of the season exposed a major flaw for the Pride. Columbia and La Salle are fine teams but Hofstra can’t expect to survive if its defense continues to let up 80-plus points to competitive teams – unless coach Joe Mihalich expects Ameen Tanksley, Dion Nesmith and Juan’ya Green to combine for 50-plus points every night.

3. William & Mary (6-4)
Results: W 86-46 vs Washington College (Div. III); L 69-62 at Old Dominion
This week: Tuesday at #20 North Carolina
Marcus Thornton surpassed 1,700 point mark but the Tribe still couldn’t beat former CAA foe Old Dominion. Even with the talented players in the Tribe, William & Mary still goes on stretches when they can barely score a bucket. How do you go from beating a team by 40 to allowing Old Dominion to go on a 13-1 run in the second half?

4. UNC Wilmington (5-4)
Results: W 73-70 (OT) vs Liberty; W 66-54 vs East Carolina; L 69-63 at Campbell.
This week: Saturday at Minnesota; Tuesday at Ohio.
With Freddie Jackson and Craig Ponder leading the offense and Cedrick Williams hosting a block party, the Seahawks make a jump in this weeks power rankings. Ponder led UNC-W in a win against Liberty with 18 points but more importantly was the Seahawks’ defense against rival East Carolina. Williams and Chuck Obgobo each had 4 blocks and helped hold East Carolina to 28 percent shooting. That front court defense will be important when the Seahawks face off against Scott Eatherton and Northeastern at the start of CAA play.

5. College of Charleston (5-7)
Results: L 90-85 (OT) at Charlotte; L 80-68 vs Davidson; L 71-47 at LSU.
This week: Tuesday at Miami.
The Cougars may be in the midst of a losing streak but they are also competing in one of the harder non-conference schedules in the CAA. With one more non-conference game against Miami, Charleston will surely be ready for a William & Mary squad that’s been inconsistent as of late.

6. Elon (7-5)
Results: W 71-64 at UNC-Geensboro; W 68-65 at Kennesaw State.
This week: Sunday vs. Marist.
What a week for Elijah Bryant. In a win over UNC-Greensboro, the rookie exploded for a career-high 20 points and then followed it up by leading the Phoenix to a comeback win against Kennesaw State. Elon erased a 15-point deficit in the win and Bryant’s fourth 3-pointer gave them the lead late in the second half.

7. James Madison (7-5)
Results: Win 72-52 at Ball State; L 80-71 vs High Point; L 74-71 vs Norfolk State.
This week: Monday vs. Valparaiso.
The Dukes can’t seem to play 40 minutes of consistent, solid basketball. Against High Point, James Madison shot 43 percent and made a season-high 10 3-pointers, but then allowed a 10-0 High Point run late in the second half. In the final 25 minutes against Norfolk State, James Madison shot 27 percent compared to Norfolk State’s 64 percent.

8. Towson (7-5)
Results: L 67-53 vs La Salle; L 61-56 at Navy.
This week: Monday vs Farleigh Dickinson
As the Tigers’ competition rises so do their losses. Oh wait, they lost to Navy; scratch that, they have now shown the ability to lose to anyone. The loss at Navy made it four-straight for Towson and the streak couldn’t have come at a worse time with conference play right around the corner.

9. Drexel (2-8)
Results: L 80-70 at Buffalo; L 73-68 vs Penn State (PPL Center).
This week: Sunday: vs. Iona.
You’ve got to feel bad for Damion Lee, who had 37 points in the Dragons’ two games. The red shirt-junior guard has played outstanding after sitting out most of last year with an injury but unfortunately he’s stuck on another injury-plagued, young Drexel team.

10. Delaware (0-10)
Results: L 76-74 at Fairleigh Dickinson; L 84-81 at Robert Morris (84-81).
This week: Tuesday vs. St. Bonaventure.
Are the Blue Hens really facing Northeastern, Hofstra, UNC-Wilmongton and the Charleston to open up CAA play? If Delaware doesn’t beat St. Bonaventure, they have a strong chance of losing their next seven games.

OBW CAA Player of the Week
Scott Eatherton, R-Sr., C, Northeastern.

Eatherton was an absolute monster on the week, with double doubles in both of the Huskies game in the Cable Car Classic in California. The red shirt-senior has 20 and 10 in a win against Santa Clara and 17 and 12 in a loss to Cal Poly. Against St. Mary’s, Eatherton had 11 and five in a overtime loss. The reigning CAA defensive-player-of-the-year’s one-on-one post defense has also been stellar.

OBW CAA Rookie of the Week
Elijah Bryant, G, Elon

Bryant is ranked 12th in scoring (12.5 ppg), tied ninth in field goal percentage (39 percent) and fifth in free throw percentage (83 percent).

OBW CAA Fab Five
Scott Eatherton, R-Sr., C, Northeastern
Marcus Thornton, Sr., G, William & Mary
Juan’ya Green, R-Jr., G, Hofstra
Freddy Jackson, Sr., G, UNC Wilmington
Ameen Tanksley, R-Jr., G, Hofstra

OBW CAA Frosh Five
Donovan Gilmore, F, College of Charleston
Hari Hall, F, James Madison
Kory Holden, G, Delaware
Elijah Bryant, G, Elon
Jordon Talley, G, UNC Wilmington