Ed Note: It’s time to start thinking about the CAA again. Here’s Matt Schorr — making his Big Apple Buckets debut — on the ten best players in the conference. Next week in Part 2 he’ll do a team-by-team breakdown of the projected conference standings.
The CAA, once a mid-major powerhouse, has fallen on hard times. The teams that remain in the conference account for only three conference tournament champions since 2004 and zero NCAA tournament victories. The CAA was brought to prominence by the final four appearances of George Mason University (2006) and Virginia Commonwealth University (2011). Both teams have since left for greener pastures. The CAA, after its latest round of departures, dropped to nine teams last season. The conference’s attempts at replenishing have proven futile thus far; however, officials were able to lure Elon University from the Southern Conference.
Every team in the CAA brings back its head coach from last season except for UNCW, who gave Buzz Peterson his walking papers after losing 40 more games than he won over his four years at the helm. Peterson has been replaced by Kevin Keatts, who spent the last four years as an assistant to Rick Pitino at the University of Louisville. His experience should prove quite valuable in turning around UNCW’s floundering program.
Here are my pre-season first and second All-CAA teams. In parentheses, you will find my player rating based on last season’s statistics. In the case of transfers, their rating is for the last season played. The rating is a formula based on points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and turnovers.
(Note: Jarvis Threatt was by far the best returning player to the CAA; unfortunately for the CAA and for the University of Delaware, Threatt was thrown off the team for violating team rules.)
All-CAA First Team
- G – Andre Nation, James Madison (30.4 Rating)
- G – Marcus Thornton, William & Mary (25.7)
- G – Juan’ya Green, Hofstra (31.8)
- F – Scott Eatherton, Northeastern (30.0)
- F – Cedrick Williams, UNCW (23.8)
Two of the top-five non-seniors in the CAA — Jarvis Threatt and Charles Cooke (transferred to Dayton) — will not be returning to the CAA this season. With Threatt out of the picture, CAA Player of the Year could be Andre Nation’s to lose. Nation, only a junior, showed glimpses of brilliance last year and will need to avoid academic issues to stay on the court this season. Marcus Thornton and William & Mary fell just short of winning the CAA title last year and he will be a man on a mission, out for revenge.
Niagara transfer Juan’ya Green was the MAAC Rookie of the Year two seasons ago. When coach Joe Mihalich left Niagara, Green and teammate Ameen Tanksley followed him to Hofstra. Mihalich will lean heavily on Green this season.
Scott Eatherton shot 54% from the field last season and, more impressively, averaged a double-double last season with 15.9 ppg and 10.2 rpg. Eatherton is the man for Northeastern, and it would not be surprising to see those numbers rise a little higher.
Good forwards are tough to come by in the CAA this season. Cedrick Williams is not on Eatherton’s level, but he is the clear-cut second best returning forward in the conference. Williams averaged 11.5 ppg, 6.6 rpg, and 1.2 bpg last season for an underperforming Seahawks team.
All-CAA Second Team
- G – Ron Curry, James Madison (23.0)
- G – David Walker, Northeastern (21.9)
- G – Damion Lee, Drexel (21.2)
- F – Adjehi Baru, College of Charleston (21.1)
- F – Ameen Tanksley, Hofstra (21.9)
Damion Lee was a fringe first-team player. Coming off of a torn ACL and performing well isn’t a guarantee… not everyone is Adrian Peterson after all. But Lee, if he is fully recovered, could wind up being one of the best scoring guards in the conference. Of course, a repaired ACL is a big if.
Ron Curry lost his partner in crime in Charles Cooke. Without Cooke, Curry will likely suffer, as teams will be more focused on him. Curry proved last season that he was part of the CAA elite, as he scored and was also a great distributor of the ball, racking up more than 100 assists. He’ll of course still have the talented Nation though to work with him to try and get JMU back to the NCAA tournament.
The duo of David Walker and Scott Eatherton will be fun to watch at Northeastern. Walker did a little bit of everything last season. He was effective on both ends of the court last season and racked up 50 steals. Former top recruit Adjehi Baru is now a senior and should improve his averages of 9 ppg and 7.5 rpg into double-double territory. Baru will look to his point guard, Anthony Stitt, to set him up down low all season long.
Ameen Tanksley, the second Niagara transfer to Hofstra, has the tools to make an immediate impact in the CAA. Tanksley and Green were two of Niagara’s top players and there is no reason to doubt that the tandem will still produce big numbers after sitting out a season. Tanksley, who averaged 11.3 ppg and 6 rpg two seasons ago, can pick up right where he left off.
Disagree with my rankings or choices? Notice something inaccurate? Please let me know in the comments below!
Next week: Team previews and standings predictions for the CAA