The following is the 2013-14 Mid-Major Madness CAA Award Predictions with explanations of each pick. Enjoy.
Player of the Year: Jerrelle Benimon, Towson
This race was far closer than it was a year ago, but at the end of the day the award still has to go to Benimon. The former Georgetown Hoya was 4th in scoring in the conference, 1st in rebounding and 3rd in assists. No one else ranked in the top 10 in all three categories in the league, let alone the top 5.
Coach of the Year: Tony Shaver, William & Mary
Monte Ross coached the team with the best record this season. Pat Skerry, the reigning CAA Coach of the Year, coached the team with the second best record in the conference, and Towson had one of their most successful seasons in school history. William & Mary has had a losing record every season since 2010-11 both overall and in the conference. This season, the Tribe flipped the switch and finished 18-11, 10-6. Shaver's Princeton offense is the biggest reason for that improvement. Sure, he's got talented offensive players, but he's the one who put them in position to succeed.
Rookie of the Year: Omar Prewitt, William & Mary
Prewitt ranked first in the conference amongst rookies in scoring and second in rebounding. You cannot argue this one, even more than you can't argue Benimon's selection. Prewitt kept the Tribe super competitive when Brandon Britt was handed a long suspension as well.
Defensive Player of the Year: Scott Eatherton, Northeastern
The redshirt-junior ranked best in the conference in blocked shots and second in defensive rebounding while anchoring the third-best CAA defense in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. Northeastern's defense has kept them in almost every game this season, and Eatherton's been an enormous part of that.
All-Conference 1st Team:
Devon Saddler, Delaware
Marcus Thornton, William & Mary
Frantz Massenat, Drexel
Benimon and Eatherton have already been spoken for. Saddler is the conference's top scorer and ranks 7th all-time in conference career scoring leaders. But, his improved all-around game, also averaging 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists, is what made him have such a special senior year. Saddler was definitely the second best player in the league behind Benimon. Thornton ranked fifth in the conference in scoring and seventh in assists while shooting 39.9 percent from three-point range and leading the league in threes made per game. As Doug Wojick of College of Charleston said Tuesday, "he's the straw that stirs the drink" of Tony Shaver's offense. Massenat, like Saddler, improved his all-around game this season after Damion Lee tore his ACL. The senior point guard was 7th in scoring and tops in assisting all year long while grabbing 3.8 rebounds per game as well.
All-Conference 2nd Team:
Davon Usher, Delaware
Chris Fouch, Drexel
Zeke Upshaw, Hofstra
Carl Baptiste, Delaware
Willis Hall, College of Charleston
Usher, Massenat and Eatherton will probably be interchangeable on most voters' ballots. But it's fitting the All-Conference first team has reps from each of the league's five best teams, right? Usher was phenomenal for Delaware this season, ranking third in the conference in scoring and first in steals. He also grabbed 6.0 rebounds per game, but he didn't quite create plays for his teammates like everyone else on the first team. Following Usher are Fouch and Upshaw, two redshirt-seniors that went off on teams this year. Baptiste was enormous for Delaware this season, a year after losing two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Jamelle Hagins to graduation. Baptiste averaged 10.9 points per game while ranking fifth in rebounding and second in blocks. Lastly, Hall did it all for Charleston, ranking 11th in the conference in scoring, third in rebounding and cleaning up the defensive glass.
All-Conference 3rd Team:
Dion Nesmith, Hofstra
Charles Cooke, James Madison
David Walker, Northeastern
Marcus Damas, Towson
Tim Rusthoven, William & Mary
Dion Nesmith was tremendous for Joe Mihalich, ranking 10th in the conference in scoring, second in assists and also grabbing 2.6 rebounds per game at just 6-foot. Cooke stepped up for JMU big time this season as Andre Nation missed half the year with a suspension, averaging 14.3 points, 5.0 rebounds and ranking third the conference in steals per game. Walker was right ahead of Cooke in steals and upped his scoring average from 6.2 points per game to 11.5 while playing the fifth-most minutes in the league. Damas was key for Towson's perimeter attack that surrounded Benimon inside. The senior forward averaged 11.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per night for the 22-9 Tigers. Lastly, in a down year for the big man, Tim Rusthoven still ranked 12th in the league in scoring while averaging 4.9 rebounds per game. He's still a very central kog in all of what the Tribe do.
All-Conference Defensive Team:
Eatherton, Usher, Walker and Hall's defensive excellence has already been stressed above. For the case of Williams, he was third in the league in blocks and 9th in rebounding. We have to get one Seahawk on here somewhere.
All-Conference Rookie Team:
All of the above have ranked in the Top 10 in two of the three big categories —points, rebounds assist— among rookies in the conference. This is your next generation of conference stars.
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