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CAA Notebook: Keeping Up with the Colonial

How does the CAA stack up as non-conference play winds down?

NCAA Basketball: Northeastern at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Without a marquee upset or nationally-transcendent player, it can be easy to overlook the CAA this season. So far, Charleston, Hofstra and Northeastern have separated themselves as the contenders. They’ve taken down the likes of Alabama, Memphis and VCU, and have four of the CAA’s best offensive players.

But don’t overlook some #CAAHoops on Thursdays and Saturdays in 2019. Just about every team has something worth tuning in for, whether it be an individual player, home arena or style of play.

As the Colonial wraps up the non-conference season, let’s take a look at some of the storylines you may have missed over the past few weeks.

Northeastern Chugs Along Despite Injuries

The Huskies were a near-unanimous favorite to win the CAA this year, but a wrist injury to Vasa Pusica - our preseason pick for conference Player of the Year - has kept them from hitting their stride. The senior point guard has missed the last six games and isn’t expected to return until early January. Reigning Defensive Player of the Year Shawn Occeus has also missed nine games this year, and starting forward Maxime Boursiquot was lost for the season with a hip injury.

But Bill Coen has Northeastern chugging along. George Washington transfer Jordan Roland is pacing the team with 16 points per game, and the Hukies are 5-6 against a tough non-conference schedule. The team is a contender as is, and will be a lot more dangerous once they get healthy.

Star Sightings at the DAC

The Drexel Dragons are finding their footing under Coach Zach Spiker, and The City of Brotherly Love is taking notice. Ben Simmons, Kendall Jenner and TJ McConnell were on hand to watch Drexel play Robert Morris, which is something I never expected to write in my lifetime.

The Dragons are 6-5 after overcoming a 16-point deficit to beat Quinnipiac. Spiker’s squad leads the league in both scoring offense and rebounding margin.

Riller & Brantley Carrying Charleston

The defending champion Cougars haven’t missed a beat since last March, and are leaning heavily on the all-conference duo of Grant Riller and Jarrell Brantley. The two rank second and third in the conference in scoring, both putting up over 20 per game and hitting above 50% from the floor.

Charleston doesn’t have another double-digit scorer in the rotation, but they might not need one. In an 83-79 victory at VCU last Saturday, Riller and Brantley combined for 56. Riller dropped 30 on 10-14 field goals, and Brantley added a career-high 17 boards.

Elon Opens the Schar Center

Elon is struggling this season, but on the bright side... they might be playing at the nicest mid-major arena in the country. The brand new Schar Center opened this season with home games against North Carolina, Furman and UNCG, and instantly gives the Phoenix some influence in CAA recruiting.

Now they just need to win some games.

Wright-Foreman & Cacok’s Stat Dominance

For a second straight year, Hofstra’s Justin Wright-Foreman and UNCW’s Devontae Cacok are at the top of the NCAA scoring and rebounding leaderboards. Wright-Foreman is scoring over 25 per contest and has the Pride sitting at a very respectable 8-3 record.

Cacok, who already holds trophies for leading the country in field goal percentage and rebounding in separate seasons, is posting over 11 boards per game and has six double-doubles thus far. Both rank top ten nationally.

Youth Movement

Despite the CAA returning the majority of its all-conference players from last season, injuries and other circumstances have forced young players into the spotlight. Some of the underclassmen who have been impressive thus far include:

  • Kai Toews (UNCW) - The Seahawks’ true freshmen is the team’s best point guard, and leads the CAA with 6.5 assists per game.
  • Camren Wynter (Drexel) - Wynter has scored double figures in seven of eight games this season. Against Quinnipiac, he finished with 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and four steals.
  • Ithiel Horton (Delaware) - Missing reigning Rookie of the Year Ryan Allen for much of the season, the Blue Hens have gotten excellent play from Horton. He leads all CAA freshmen with 14.3 points per game and is shooting 46% from three. Delaware is 8-4.

Games to Watch This Week

Tuesday

Charleston at Siena
Drexel at UConn

Wednesday

Hofstra at Stony Brook
UNCW at Georgia State

Saturday

Temple at Drexel
William & Mary at Virginia