IT’S MARCH, you know what that means: MADNESS! As the Tribe moves into the CAA Tournament, do you hear the knocking? It’s the simultaneous sound of William & Mary knocking at the door of its first ever NCAA Tournament, along with every Tribe fan out there knocking on wood.
Again, if you have not already bought tickets to this Saturday’s HUGE CAA Tournament game vs. in-state rival, James Madison University, BUY THEM HERE. You know JMU fans will show up in force in Baltimore–so we’ll have to do them one better. Turnout for last year’s games in Baltimore at Royal Farms Arena was amazing from Tribe faithful, and we expect nothing less this year. To get you ready for this weekend’s game, here’s a look at CAA happenings, and a CAA Tournament Preview, as it concerns TribeNation (compiled by Bill McDonald). LET’S GO TRIBE.
REGULAR-SEASON TITLE: Hofstra and UNCW shared the CAA regular-season title after both teams finished with 14-4 records. It’s the first CAA regular-season crown for the Pride, while the Seahawks won their second straight regular-season title and seventh overall. It’s the second year in a row that there has been a tie for the CAA regular-season title. Last season, there was a four-way tie for first for the first time in CAA history. Prior to 2014-15, there hadn’t been a tie for first place since 2005-06.
TOURNEY TIMES: In Friday’s opening round of the CAA Tournament, #8 Elon faces #9 Drexel at 6 p.m., followed by #7 College of Charleston against #10 Delaware at 8:30 pm.
In Saturday’s quarterfinals, #1 Hofstra meets the Elon/Drexel winner at Noon, followed by #4 James Madison versus #5 William & Mary (approximately 2:30 PM). At 6 p.m., #2 UNCW faces the CofC/Delaware winner, followed by #3 Towson against #6 Northeastern.
The semifinals are set for 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday and the CAA championship game will be played at 7 p.m. on Monday Both days will be shown on NBCSN.
EVENLY BALANCED: The CAA regular season was one of the most competitive in league history. Of the 20 games over the final two weeks, 13 were decided by six points or less. Over the final seven weeks, half (35-of-70) of all CAA games had margins of six points or less, including eight overtime contests.
RECORD # of WINS: Four CAA teams (Hofstra, UNCW, James Madison and Towson) have already reached the 20-win mark and eight squads have at least 16 victories. It’s the first time in the 31-year history of the CAA that the conference has had eight teams with at least 16 overall wins. Hofstra’s 22 wins are the most since 2006-07, while UNCW’s 22 wins are the most since 2005-06. James Madison reached 20 wins for the fourth time in eight years, while Towson hit 20 wins for the second time in the last three seasons.
CAA ROAD TEAMS FINISH 45-45: Road teams went 45-45 in CAA play this season. Seven of the league’s 10 teams had winning road records in CAA action, including four squads that had at least six wins. All 10 teams suffered at least one home loss in conference competition and only six had winning records. Visitors having success in CAA action continues a trend from last year when home teams finished barely over .500 at 47-43.
LATEST RPI: Four CAA teams are ranked among the Top 100 in the latest RPI report released by Collegiate Basketball News. Hofstra leads all CAA squads at #60, followed by UNCW at #66, The Tribe is at #70 and James Madison at #96. The CAA continues to be ranked #9 among the nation’s 32 Division I conferences, and is one of only nine conferences with four teams among the top 100 of the RPI.
NATIONAL LEADERS: Hofstra’s Rokas Gustys ranks 4th nationally in rebounding (12.7 rpg), 9th in FG percentage (65%) and 7th in double-doubles (19) through games of Feb. 28. Hofstra’s Juan’ya Green (7.2 apg) is 7th in assists, UNCW’s Jordon Talley is 24th (3.08) and the Tribe’s David Cohn is 37th (2.87) in assist/TO ratio and Terry Tarpey is 25th (2.07 spg) in steals. Delaware’s Marvin King-Davis is 41st in double-doubles (12) and 52nd in rebounding (9.0 rpg).
Tribe Disa & Data:
The Tribe lost a bit of momentum, finishing the regular season on a 2-4 run, after going 5-1 in the previous six games.
Junior Omar Prewitt scored a team-high 19 points at Elon and 17 points in the loss at JMU. He has hit double figures in 11 straight games and has been W&M’s leading scorer in seven of the past eight games. He has scored in double figs in 26 of the 29 Tribe contests, including 5 20 point efforts.
Senior Terry Tarpey averaged 13.5 ppg and 7.0 rpg last week, including 18 points and 7 rebounds at Elon. Terry has the most rebounds in a season for a W&M player since 1967.
Soph. David Cohn added 13 points at JMU and 10 at Elon. He’s averaging 12.4 ppg and 5.3 apg in CAA play.
Senior Sean Sheldon had 13 points on 4-of-5 FG shooting and 6 rebounds at JMU. He’s shooting 61.6% from the floor for the season.
Junior Daniel Dixon scored 10 points vs Elon. He tops W&M with 68 threes this season.
W&M got only an average of 10.6 ppg from their bench over the final 6 contests (2-4), being outscored by every other bench except Hofstra (who officially has no bench). During the 5-1 run, in the six previous games, the W&M bench contributed 21.0 ppg. [This will be HUGE in the CAA Tournament–the bench needs to show up.]
W&M picked up 7 road wins this season, 6th best in Tribe history (the David Schneider led 2009-2010 team won 10 road games)
The Tribe is in the Top 25 in the country in 5 different categories:
8th in Assist-to-Turnover Ratio (1.54)
18th in Defensive Rebounds Per Game (28.7)
20th in Field Goal Percentage (.484)
23rd in Fewest Fouls Per Game (16.6)
25th in Fewest Turnovers Per Game (10.7)
Notes on this Week’s First Opponent (CAA TOURNAMENT EDITION):
Went 1-1 last week, losing 69-67 at Towson before defeating W&M, 71-65.
Senior Guard Ron Curry scored a team-high 20 points at Towson and 21 points vs. W&M. He’s reached double digits in a league-best 22 straight games and has 12 20+-point outings. He’s 5th on JMU’s all-time scoring list.
Junior Forward Yohanny Dalembert put up 18 points and 6 rebounds vs. W&M and had 11 points and a team-high 8 boards at Towson. He was 12-of-17 from the floor last week.
Soph. Guard Joey McLean had 6 points vs. W&M and is averaging 9.3 ppg over his last 4 games.
Junior Guard Jackson Kent scored nine points at TU and had 10 against W&M. He’s hit 10 three-pointers over the past four games.
Junior Guard Shakir Brown (11.3 ppg) didn’t play against W&M due to a toe injury suffered at TU. He may be back for the Tourney opener vs, the Tribe.
JMU limited W&M to 4-of-24 shooting from 3-point range. The Dukes lead the league in FG% defense and 3-pt FG% defense in CAA games.
The Dukes defend their own glass very well. They are #1 in defensive rebounding in the CAA.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Time for the fire to be relit.
Coaches say they tend to break the season into three segments: Out of Conference, In-Conference and League Tournament Season. Well, #3 is here. Forget any falloff from the end of the season and focus on the 3-4 day season ahead.
As always, I’ll make a point about the importance of good defense and how it wins championships, etc, ad nauseum, but the real concern for me this week is confidence. We need to be very confident about our abilities as a good team.
As my buddy, Jay Colley said to me, people may say we played poorly the final week, but we lost by only a handful of points in one of those games and WON by 10 in the other! There are worse ways of playing poorly.
The man can, occasionally, be a source of great wisdom.
The Tribe needs to trust their offense a little more than they have in the past couple weeks, while digging down for a little of that defense that stopped Elon cold for the final 5 minutes of the game. They have to have confidence that the talent is there, then they just need to seize the opportunity.
It starts with JMU. Payback is hell.