2009-2010 Colonial conference Basketball Preview
The Colonial Athletic Association Conference is made up of 12 teams that include the Old Dominion Monarchs, the Northeastern Huskies and the Virginia Commonwealth Rams. This season, Old Dominion and Northeastern both look to be contenders for post-season spots. Virginia Commonwealth, which took the Colonial Conference last season and did better than expected at the Big Dance, is without top player Eric Maynor and their master head coach Anthony Grant.
The Old Dominion Monarchs (25-10 overall, 12-6 Colonial) took the third spot in the conference and then played in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT) last season. The team ran off four wins to take the CIT crown, including a 66- 62 final game win over Butler.
This season, the Monarchs, led by senior forward Gerald Lee and junior guard/forward Ben Finney, are poised to go to March Madness. Lee averaged 15.5 PPG and 5.7 RPG and earned All- Colonial honors last season. He’s a big man at six-foot-ten and 250 pounds and he can use that weight and bulk to command the paint. He’s also a first-rate passer. Finney put up good numbers too, hitting for 9.9 PPG and grabbing 6.0 RPG. Forward Frank Hassell, a junior, is another bulk of a man. These three make for a tough, powerful and commanding frontcourt.
The backcourt includes All-CIT guard Marsharee Neely. Neely, now a senior, was good for 7.8 PPG last year. This could be a big year for him. Trian Iliadas, a sophomore, could be a top downtown shooter this season and freshman Josh Hicks is also known as a solid three-point shooter. The downtown guys will give the Monarchs a weapon they didn’t have last season.
Coach Blaine Taylor has done a fine job assembling a big, skilled team. Last season, the Monarchs went on a streak at the end of the season where they won 14 of their final 16 games. It’s hoped that they can continue winning from the start in 2009- 2010. This could be a NCAA Tournament year for this team.
In 2008- 2009, the Northeastern Huskies (19- 13 overall, 12- 6 Colonial) ended the season in fourth-place. This year the Bill Coen coached club will be a contender for the top spot in the league and a bid for either the NCAA or NIT.
The team welcomes back four starters who offer points, rebounding and experience. This is a club last season that seemed like it could finish in the money. But they faded near the end and saw their March Madness hopes also fade. This year, the Huskies, led by swingman Matt Janning (14.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.7 APG), should not make that same mistake. Janning is considered to be the best shooting guard in the Colonial. Junior point man Chaisson Allen (10.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.1 APG) is a tough defender.
It’s hoped that senior forward Manny Adako (11.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 0.6 APG) can put in his best season yet. Overall, he’s been a solid frontcourt presence. Senior center Nkem Ojougboh was good for 7.4 PPG and 4.6 RPG. He’s good-sized at six-foot-nine and 222 pounds. This is a solid club with depth and experience. The Huskies will most likely finish second and go to the NIT.
Shaka Smart takes over from Grant as the head coach of the VCU Rams (24-10 overall, 14-4 Colonial). The Rams still have a talented team but they don’t have the go-to guy to take over for Maynor. Moving up a notch from fifth to fourth is the Hofstra Pride (21- 11 overall, 11- 7 Colonial). The Pride’s roster includes the conference’s top returning point scorer, guard Charles Jenkins. Last season, the George Mason Patriots (22- 11 overall, 13- 5 Colonial) finished second in the league. This year, they will struggle as coach Jim Larranaga works hard to make up for big time loses. The fact that he welcomes the best group of recruits in the league will help.
The good news for the Georgia State Panthers (12- 20 overall, 8- 10 Colonial) is that guard Joe Dukes, who hit for 12.8 PPG, is back. State has six seniors on the roster and that means a wealth of experience. James Madison Dukes’ (21- 15 overall, 9- 9 Colonial) coach Matt Brady has added athleticism on the wings and Texas A& M transfer Denzel Browles into the mix. The Dukes roster includes one of the best two-way players in the conference, guard Pierre Curtis. For the Drexel Dragons (15- 14 overall, 10- 8 Colonial) the winning margin always comes down to stout defense and rebounding. They averaged just 61.7 PPG last season. This year the Dragons look to once again have a tough time putting points up.
The final four clubs in the mix are Delaware (13- 19 overall, 6- 12 Colonial), Towson (12- 22 overall, 5- 13 Colonial), William & Mary (10- 20 overall, 5- 13 Colonial) and UNC Wilmington (7- 25 overall, 3- 15 Colonial). For these teams, none of which put in winning seasons, 2009- 2010 looks to be more of the same. They finished ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth respectively last year.
The Blue Hens of Delaware are without the athletic and aggressive Marc Egerson. Still, swingmen Jawan Carter and Alphonso Dawson, who put up 15.0 PPG and 14.1 PPG respectively, are back. The Towson Tigers welcome a talented incoming class. It’s hoped that Josh Thornton, who struggled to find consistency from downtown, can become more of a reliable sharpshooter.
The William and Mary Tribe have their top three scorers returning. For the Tribe, David Schneider hit for 14.1 PPG, Danny Sumner 13.4 PPG and Quinn McDowell, in his rookie season, averaged 9.3 PPG. The Seahawks of UNC Wilmington have seen some of their best players transfer but they will put some talented guys on the court, including Chad Tomko (15.6 PPG) and Dominque Lacy (10.4 PPG).
The two clubs that have a shot at the post-season are the Monarchs and Huskies. The Rams might be in the mix and Hofstra could be a true dark horse.
2009-2010 Colonial Conference Basketball Predictions
1. Old Dominion Monarchs
2. Northeastern Huskies
3. VCU Rams
4. Hofstra Pride
5. George Mason Patriots
6. George State Panthers
7. James Madison Dukes
8. Drexel Dragons
9. Delaware Blue Hens
10. Towson Tigers
11. William & Mary Tribe
12. UNC Wilmington Seahawks