WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 22, 2008) – VCU, which returns three starters from last year’s 24-8 squad, is favored to win the Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball championship in 2008-09 according to a vote of the league’s coaches, sports information directors and media. The results of the poll were announced during Wednesday’s CAA Basketball Media Day at the ESPN Zone in Washington, D.C.
The Rams were followed in the voting by Northeastern, Old Dominion, defending CAA champion George Mason and Delaware. Picked sixth was Georgia State, followed by Hofstra, William and Mary, James Madison, Towson, UNC Wilmington and Drexel.
VCU has compiled a 31-5 record in CAA play over the past two seasons and has captured back-to-back regular-season crowns. Reigning CAA Player of the Year Eric Maynor is back to run the Rams’ attack after ranking second in the conference in scoring (17.9 ppg) and leading the league in assists (5.5 apg). The senior guard earned honorable mention All-America accolades a year ago. Also back in the VCU starting lineup are sophomore forward Larry Sanders (4.9 ppg/5.1 rpg), who blocked a league-high 95 shots and made the CAA All-Rookie and All-Defensive squads, and sophomore guard Joey Rodriguez (5.1 ppg).
Northeastern welcomes back all five starters and most of its top reserves from a squad that went 14-17 overall and 9-9 in the CAA. The Huskies are led by junior guard/forward Matt Janning, who was third in the league in scoring with 16.1 ppg and earned a spot on the All-CAA second team. He will be joined in the backcourt by sophomore Chaisson Allen (9.2 ppg), who was a member of the league’s All-Rookie squad. Among the returnees up front are junior forward Manny Adako (10.6 ppg) and junior center Nkem Ojougboh (9.9 ppg/6.4 rpg).
Old Dominion returns four starters from its 18-16 team that advanced to post-season play for the fourth year in a row. Junior center Gerald Lee (12.9 ppg/5.9 rpg) was a second team All-CAA selection in his first year as a starter. Also returning to the Monarchs’ lineup are a talented trio of sophomores – guard/forward Ben Finney (7.0 ppg/5.0 rpg), point guard Darius James (6.9 ppg) and forward Frank Hassell (5.3 ppg/5.0 rpg).
George Mason is coming off its fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the past decade after going 23-11 and winning the CAA championship. Three starters return for the Patriots, including senior guards John Vaughan (12.3 ppg) and Dre Smith (8.4 ppg).
Delaware welcomes back four starters from last year’s 14-17 unit, including third team All-CAA guard Marc Egerson (13.4 ppg/6.9 rpg) and CAA All-Rookie pick Alphonso Dawson (11.0 ppg).
VCU’s Maynor was chosen as the CAA Pre-Season Player of the Year. He was joined on the pre-season All-CAA first team by Delaware’s Egerson, Northeastern’s Janning, ODU’s Lee and Georgia State senior guard Leonard Mendez.
Voted to the pre-season second team were Towson senior forward Junior Hairston, James Madison senior guard Abdulai Jalloh, Hofstra sophomore guard Charles Jenkins, VCU’s Sanders and George Mason’s Vaughan.
2008-09 CAA MEN’S BASKETBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
||Old Dominion |
||George Mason |
||Georgia State |
||William & Mary|
2008-09 CAA MEN’S BASKETBALL PRE-SEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAMS
||Hometown/High School |
|Marc Egerson, Delaware^
|Matt Janning, Northeastern#
|Gerald Lee, Old Dominion#
|Eric Maynor, VCU*
|Leonard Mendez, Georgia State^
||Hometown/High School |
|Junior Hairston, Towson^
||Salisbury, N.C./West Rowan|
|Abdulai Jalloh, James Madison^
||District Heights, Md./National Christian Acad.|
|Charles Jenkins, Hofstra
||Queens, N.Y./Springfield Gardens|
|Larry Sanders, VCU
||Fort Pierce, Fla./Port St. Lucie|
|John Vaughan, George Mason
|Juwann James, Sr., F, James Madison
|David Schneider, Jr., G, William & Mary
|Josh Thornton, Jr., G, Towson
|CAA PRE-SEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
|Eric Maynor, VCU
|* 1st team All-CAA in 2007-08
# 2nd team All-CAA in 2007-08
^ 3rd team All-CAA in 2007-08