Several teams got off to good starts. Some however, did not.
George Mason - 80-79 win at Vermont, 89-52 win over Brown. The Patriots showed a lot of resilience in their overtime win over the Catamounts as Darryl Monroe hit two free throws with less than one second remaining. Monroe had 19 points and 17 rebounds to lead four Patriots in double figures. Most impressive was the regular season debut of two top GMU freshmen; Ryan Pearson and Andre Cornelius. Pearson had 13 points and 6 rebounds, while Cornelius had 9 points and 5 assists. The Patriots won despite 24 points and 8 rebounds from the highly touted forward Marcus Blakely. The Patriots then won easily over Brown as another freshman, Mike Morrison had 15 points in 12 minutes. John Vaughan led GMU with 18 points as the Patriots shot 55 percent from the field. If the Patriots can continue to get solid scoring from their freshmen bench, they will be a force to reckon with.
VCU - 82-59 win over Citadel in the Cancun Challenge. TJ Gwynn came off the bench to score 20 points to lead four Rams scorers in double figures. VCU shot 53 percent from the field and went 7 of 16 from three. The Rams had 12 steals in the game which led to 29 points. Eric Maynor only had 12 points on 4 of 13 shooting. But if VCU can continue to find scoring besides Maynor, so much better for the Rams. Larry Sanders had an off game for VCU with 0 points on 0 of 6 shooting and 1 rebound (though he had 3 blocks) in only 18 minutes. They need much more production for Sanders for the Rams to succeed.
UNCW - 108-101 OT win over Appalachian State, 107-95 win over Troy. Meet the Phoenix Suns of the CAA. The Seahawks overcame a 51-36 halftime deficit to beat the Mountaineers. Johnny Wolf and Chad Tomko each had 27 points as UNCW went 12 of 35 from three. Despite being outrebounded 53 -33, the Seahawks forced 27 Mountaineer turnovers to win the game. Then UNCW again came back from a first half deficit to beat the Trojans. Down 55-47 at half, the Seahawks shot nearly 55 percent from the field as Chad Tomko scored 33 points, while Dominique Lacy had 21 points and 12 rebounds. Johnny Wolf also had 20 for the Seahawks. The Seahawks shot 16 of 36 from three. Its very simple for the Seahawks, wide open, high scoring, shoot the three. However, the lack of defense will catch up to the Seahawks once they play better teams. But this is a much better start than anticipated.
ODU - 69-68 win over Charlotte. A big win for the Monarchs on the road as Jonathan Adams hit a three pointer with 5.5 seconds to win the game for ODU. Charlotte had been up 67-63 with 15 seconds left until Ben Finney hit a three for the Monarchs to cut it to one. Then after a missed free throw and turnover by 49er point guard DiJuan Harris, Adams did his heroics. Finney, Gerald Lee and Darius James each had 14 points. ODU went 9 of 18 from three and held Charlotte to 4 of 14 from three. If the Monarchs can continue to get good outside shooting it will only open up Lee’s game.
Hofstra - 98-69 loss to Clemson, 71-68 OT win over Western Michigan, 76-75 win over ETSU. The Pride had a nightmarish start to their Charleston Classic, getting drubbed by the eventual champions, the impressive Tigers. The lone bright spot was Charles Jenkins who scored 21 points. Hofstra then rebounded, literally, against Western Michigan, as they held a 53-45 advantage over the Broncos on the boards as two Pride forwards, Dane Johnson and Arminas Urbutis combined for 28 rebounds. With Jenkins in foul trouble for most of the game, the Pride found scoring from Tony Dennison (18 points) and Johnson had 14. Jenkins still lead the Pride with 19 points. The Pride won despite shooting 4 of 27 from the field in the first half. Jenkins would then add 31 points in the game against ETSU including two free throws with 1 second left as the Pride overcame a late four point deficit scoring the last five points. Marcus Szabo had 11 rebounds in his debut for the Pride after being suspended the first two games for NCAA infractions. Cornelius Vines had 16 points while Dennison added 13.
Northeastern - 73-60 win vs IUPUI, 76-56 loss to Michigan, 70-66 win vs. Providence. Despite the disappointing loss to Michigan, the Huskies look like they are over their road woes. In the win over the Friars, Matt Janning finally had a signature game with 24 points on 10 of 14 shooting. Before that, Janning had shot 8 of 25 in the two previous games. Eugene Spates has been solid, scoring 17 points vs the Friars and led the way with 14 vs IUPUI. The lone bright spot vs. Michigan was Manny Adako who had 16 points. The Huskies need to work the ball in more to Adako and Nkem Ojougboh. They were too content against the Wolverines’ 1-3-1 zone to shoot the three and it cost them dearly. We’ll know where the Huskies stand in their next game, a home contest vs. 2-0 Holy Cross who has a recent win over St Joseph’s.
Towson - 86-68 win over Navy. 79-62 loss to Niagara. With Junior Hairston out the first three games due to violating team policy, the Tigers needed to find other scoring options. The Tigers did just that with Josh Thornton scoring a career high 24 points and Jarrell Smith added 18 in the win over the Midshipmen. However, Thornton and Smith were held to a combined nine points on 4 of 18 shooting in the loss to the Purple Eagles. Troy Franklin and Brian Morris tried to make up for Thornton and Smith by combining for 34 points. Without Hairston, rebounding has been a major problem for the Tigers who were outrebounded 101-72 in the two games. The Tim Crossin Burial Watch continues as Crossin only played 1 minute in the first game against Navy and did not play at all vs. Niagara. Crossin, who was a member of the CAA all rookie team as a freshman (he averaged 5 assists and nearly a 2 to 1 assists to turnover ratio) has simply been made non existent since Pat Kennedy has taken over as coach.
Drexel - First game is today at 10:00 am vs. Penn. Should be interesting.
Georgia State - 77-76 OT loss vs. Bowling Green, 67-63 win over Concordia, 60-52 loss vs. Minnesota. The Panthers did not get off to the start coach Rod Barnes wanted, losing two of their first three games. However, it does look like the Panthers are no longer the Leonard Mendez show. In their loss to BGSU, Joe Dukes had 20 points and Xavier Hansbro had 16 to go along with Mendez’ 15. In the win over Concordia, others stepped up. Chris Echols came off the bench with 18 points and Bernard Rimmer added 11 to go with Mendez’ 12 and Dukes’ 11. However, in the loss to Minnesota, only Dukes and Mendez were in double figures. A troubling note is the Panthers’ three point shooting. In the three games of the NABC classic, the Panthers shot an atrocious 11 of 45 (less than 25 percent). Simply put, Georgia State, work it inside.
Delaware - 85-77 loss at Rutgers. The good news for the Fighting Blue Hens; Marc Egerson and Alphonso Dawson each had 28 points and Brian Johnson added 11. The bad news, the other seven players scored 10 points on THREE OF TWENTY FIVE shooting. That’s 12 percent folks. Even more troubling for the Blue Hens; they were outrebounded 40-23 by the Scarlet Knights. As noted in my preview, it looks like the Blue Hens are going to miss Herb Courtney big time up front. If they don’t get that corrected, its going to be a long season. Very long.
Update - I didn't know that my key player for Delaware in my preseason rankings for the CAA, freshman forward Kelvin McNeil was out for the season due to a shoulder injury. The season just got longer for Delaware.
James Madison - 99-64 loss to Davidson. Sing along...
Here’s the story.. of a man named Brady...who left Poughkeepsie for a big job in Virginia. He had five returning starters all of whom played no defense...
Yes, the Matt Brady era has started at JMU. The problem is that he has the same returning five who just don’t get the concept of defense. The Wildcats shot 58.5 percent from the field, including 40 percent, 10 of 25 from three. Stephen Curry lit up the Dukes with 31 points (along with 9 assists) on 14 of 19 shooting (that’s above 70 percent). The only bright note is that freshman forward Julius Wells scored 21 points in 23 minutes off the bench. Something tells me Juwann James and Kyle Swanston need to pick up their game or one of them is heading to the bench for Wells.
William and Mary - 65-51 loss to Penn State, 74-55 loss to Ohio. It was a rough week for the Mary on the road. First at Penn State, the Mary shot 7 of 28 from three and 38 percent overall as Peter Stein, David Schneider and Danny Sumner combined for 32 of the 51 points. Against Ohio, the numbers were worse from three, 3 of 13 compared to 18 of 36 from two. Perhaps the Mary needs to work it inside more. A hopeful note for the Tribe; freshman Quinn McDowell had 11 points off the bench against Ohio. The bad news, top freshman Kendrix Brown has struggled scoring only two points in the first two games. The Tribe was hoping for more production from him. Also David Schneider has struggled mightily shooting 4 of 16 so far for this season. As Schneider goes, so goes the Tribe. The 0-2 record speaks for itself.