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