ARLINGTON, VA (WWBT) VCU might have advanced to the Final Four last year, but they did not win the CAA. In fact, the Rams finished 4th in the conference. They're not expected to win it next year either.
Drexel, which returns six of its top seven players from last year's 21-10 squad, has been picked to win the CAA men's basketball championship in 2011-12 according to a vote of the league's coaches, media relations directors and media members. The results of the poll were announced during Tuesday's CAA Basketball Media Day at Champps-Pentagon Row in Arlington, VA.
The Dragons were followed in the voting by George Mason, VCU, Old Dominion and James Madison. Picked sixth was William & Mary, followed by Delaware, Hofstra, Northeastern, UNCW, Georgia State and Towson.
Drexel welcomes back four players who received postseason recognition a year ago. Senior forward Samme Givens, a second-team All-CAA pick, led the conference in rebounding and was the only player in the league to average a double-double (12.2 ppg/10.1 rpg). Junior guard Chris Fouch averaged a team-high 14.9 ppg off the bench and was named to the All-CAA third team. Forward Dartaye Ruffin (8.4 ppg/7.4 rpg) and point guard Frantz Massenat (5.5 ppg) were selected to the CAA All-Rookie squad. Also back in the starting lineup are junior guard Derrick Thomas (6.9 ppg) and junior forward Daryl McCoy (5.4 ppg/7.8 rpg).
George Mason, which begins its first season under coach Paul Hewitt, has a pair of starters returning from a 27-7 squad that advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The Patriots will build around senior forward Ryan Pearson, who tallied 14.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game to earn second-team All-CAA honors. He'll be joined up front by senior forward Mike Morrison (6.8 ppg/5.5 rpg). Mason's backcourt will get a lift from the return of sophomore Sherrod Wright (5.5 ppg), who missed last season with an injury. Also back at guard are sophomores Vertrail Vaughns (4.5 ppg) and Bryon Allen.
VCU is riding the momentum from last year's 28-12 campaign that culminated with a magical run to the Final Four. Back to lead the Rams is senior forward Bradford Burgess, who contributed 14.3 ppg and was among the CAA's top 10 in field goal, free throw and 3-point shooting percentage. Sophomore forwards D.J. Haley (1.1 ppg) and Juvonte Reddic (3.5 ppg) and guard Rob Brandenberg (4.9 ppg) will step into more prominent roles. VCU is also looking for increased contributions from junior guards Darius Theus (3.0 ppg) and Troy Daniels.
Old Dominion went 27-7 last season and became the first team in nearly a decade to capture back-to-back CAA championships. The Monarchs' top returnee is senior guard Kent Bazemore, who was a second-team all-conference pick after contributing 12.3 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. He also made a league-best 76 steals and was named the CAA Defensive Player of the Year. Also back are senior forward Chris Cooper (5.0 ppg/5.5 rpg) and senior guards Trian Iliadis (6.0 ppg) and Marquel DeLancey.
Bazemore is joined on the preseason All-CAA first team by VCU's Burgess, Drexel's Givens, Mason's Pearson and William & Mary senior guard/forward Quinn McDowell, who made the All-CAA third team a year ago after averaging 15.5 ppg and shooting 45.5% from 3-point range.
Voted to the preseason second team were Drexel's Fouch, James Madison junior guard Devon Moore (11.4 ppg/4.2 apg), Hofstra senior guard Mike Moore (14.9 ppg/5.4 rpg), UNCW junior forward Keith Rendleman (11.2 ppg/7.8 rpg) and Delaware sophomore guard Devon Saddler (13.3 ppg).
2011-12 CAA MEN'S BASKETBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
2. George Mason
4. Old Dominion
5. James Madison
6. William & Mary
11. Georgia State
2011-12 CAA MEN'S BASKETBALL PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMS
Cl. Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/Previous School
Kent Bazemore, Old Dominion Sr. G 6-5 195 Kelford, N.C./Bertie
Bradford Burgess, VCU Sr. G/F 6-6 225 Midlothian, Va./Benedictine
Samme Givens, Drexel Sr. F 6-5 220 Philadelphia, Pa./Acad. of the New Church
Quinn McDowell, William & Mary Sr. G/F 6-6 215 Mason, Ohio/Archbishop Moeller
Ryan Pearson, George Mason Sr. F 6-6 237 Far Rockaway, N.Y./Christ the King
Cl. Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown/Previous School
Chris Fouch, Drexel Jr. G 6-2 178 New York, N.Y./Rice
Devon Moore, James Madison Jr. G 6-4 180 Columbus, Ohio/Northland
Mike Moore, Hofstra Sr. G 6-5 200 New Haven, Conn./Hillhouse/Fordham
Keith Rendleman, UNCW Jr. F 6-7 215 Iron Station, N.C./East Lincoln
Devon Saddler, Delaware So. G 6-2 205 Aberdeen, Md./Aberdeen/Winchendon Prep
CAA Preseason Player of the Year: Kent Bazemore, Old Dominion
Honorable Mention: Eric Buckner, Sr., F, Georgia State; Jonathan Lee, Jr., G, Northeastern; Dartaye Ruffin, So., F, Drexel; Joel Smith, Jr., G, Northeastern; Julius Wells, Sr., F, James Madison