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