So, I’m a little surprised that the College of Charleston was picked to finish third in the CAA preseason poll.
I understand that few people — media types and Sports Information Directors — from across the CAA have not seen the Cougars play in person. But to pick Towson as the No. 1 team over the Cougars was a bit strange to me.
The last time we saw the Tigers they were getting thumped by the Cougars by 17 points. It was 40-16 at halftime.
Yes, the Tigers are vastly improved from the opening game last year, but the 17-point margin of victory doesn’t indicate just how lopsided that game was overall. The Cougars led by 25-plus points throughout most of the second half.
Here’s a breakdown of the some of the top teams in the CAA:
Leading Towson is senior forward Jerrelle Benimon, who earned CAA Player of the Year and honorable mention All-America accolades after averaging 17.1 points per game and ranking third in the nation in rebounding with 11.2 rpg. He’ll be joined in the frontcourt by senior Marcus Damas, who contributed 11.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per contest. Returning in the backcourt is sophomore point guard Jerome Hairston (9.8 ppg), along with seniors Mike Burwell (9.0 ppg) and Rafriel Guthrie (8.1 ppg). The Tigers have also added sophomore guard Four McGlynn, who was the America East Rookie of the Year in 2011-12 at Vermont.
Drexel slipped to 13-18 last season as it dealt with numerous injuries to key players, but should be ready for a turnaround in 2012-13. The Dragons feature a pair of all-conference performers in the backcourt with senior Frantz Massenat and junior Damion Lee. Massenat averaged 14.7 points and 4.2 assists from the point, while Lee knocked down 62 three-pointers and was third in the CAA in scoring (17.1 ppg). Joining them is sixth-year guard Chris Fouch, who is one of the top three-point shooters in school history but missed nearly all of last season due to injury. Senior forward Dartaye Ruffin (6.9 ppg/6.8 rpg) anchors a frontcourt that also includes sophomore Tavon Allen (6.6 ppg) and junior Kazembe Abif (4.4 ppg).
College of Charleston welcome back four starters from a 24-11 squad that reached the Southern Conference title game. Running the show is junior Anthony Stitt, who poured in 11.0 ppg and dished out 109 assists a year ago. The Cougars are blessed with plenty of experience up front, led by 6-foot-9 junior Adjehi Baru, who scored 9.8 ppg and led the SoCon in rebounding (8.3 rpg). He’s flanked by senior forwards Anthony Thomas (8.5 ppg) and Willis Hall (7.7 ppg/6.4 rpg).
Delaware returns three backcourt starters from last year’s 19-14 team that finished tied for second in the CAA. Topping that trio is senior Devon Saddler, who received first-team All-CAA accolades after leading the league and ranking 18th nationally in scoring with 19.9 ppg. Junior Jarvis Threatt averaged 13.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists to earn a spot on the All-CAA third team last year. Junior Kyle Anderson made a team-high 62 three-pointers and chipped in 9.1 ppg.
Towson’s Benimon was voted as the CAA Preseason Player of the Year. He is joined on the preseason All-CAA first team by Drexel’s Lee and Massenat, Delaware’s Saddler, and William & Mary junior guard Marcus Thornton, who averaged 18.8 ppg and led the league in 3-point shooting last season to earn a spot on the All-CAA second team.
CAA Preseason Poll
3. College of Charleston
5. William & Mary
7. James Madison
First Team All-CAA
Jerrelle Benimon, Towson
Damion Lee, Drexel
Frantz Massenat, Drexel
Devon Saddler, Delaware
Marcus Thornton, William & Mary
Second Team All-CAA
Adjehi Baru, College of Charleston
Quincy Ford, Northeastern
Andre Nation, James Madison
Tim Rusthoven, William & Mary
Jarvis Threatt, Delaware
Anthony Stitt received honorable mention votes
Here’s a very cool video for Northwestern’s James Montgomery. Deadspin had this on their website.