The leaves are slowly turning, the humidity is finally dissipating, and several houses have suddenly turned spooky in preparation for Halloween. And you know what all of this means? IT’S ALMOST TIME FOR W&M BASKETBALL (which begins on November 7)! After finishing last season 19-12 (11-7 CAA) and turning in a CAA Semifinal appearance, we’re excited to see what this squad produces in 2018.
First, keep in mind that preseason rankings don’t mean too much. With the CAA as competitive as it is year after year, we’ve seen teams jump from the bottom half of preseason rankings to the top-3 of end-season standings. Referencing the graphic above, W&M was chosen #4 overall this preseason — not unexpected by any means. Charleston won the league last year, Northeastern nearly (and should have) beat them, Hofstra has last year’s CAA Player of the Year in sharpshooter Justin Wright-Foreman (who was also chosen as this year’s preseason CAA Player of the Year), and W&M has the talent and depth to beat anyone in the league on any given day.
Let’s also not forget that W&M is the only team in the CAA to have won 10 or more conference games in the past 5 seasons, finishing 4th or higher in each of those seasons. W&M returns 4 of 6 of the team’s leading scorers from last season, and yes, we still have Tony Shaver. This year, we like our chances.
In addition to the release of preseason rankings, the league released both preseason 1st and 2nd Team rosters. Again, these were not unexpected, but we did think that W&M’s Nathan Knight deserved to be recognized with a 1st-team selection. Ultimately, both Knight and Justin Pierce were chosen as preseason 2nd-team selections — no small feat in itself.
Ahead of the announcement, Knight, who averaged 18.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game last season, was quoted by CAAsports.com: “Our goals and expectations are pretty much the same. We want to win a title. We want to be the best in the league. The only thing that has changed…is the way we attack that goal (with new personnel)…Our goals and our dreams have stayed constant.”
Tony Shaver also weighed in on W&M’s prized junior Nathan Knight, “The thing that people don’t see about Nathan Knight…they don’t see him [in the offseason working] as hard as he works…He’s lost 50 pounds since his freshman year…His speed is better, his vertical jump has gone up, his ability to shoot the basketball from the perimeter has gone up…He had an all-conference season last year, and if he’s comfortable with that, he’s in the wrong place. He has to find other ways to help our team be successful.” We at the W&M Sports Blog can’t wait to see what type of performance he turns in this year.
With basketball just on the horizon, be on the lookout for W&M Sports Blog preview articles moving forward. We’ll profile W&M players, the CAA, W&M’s out of conference schedule and more. Are you excited? We know we are.
LET’S GO TRIBE.