It’s been another season of parity in the Colonial Athletic Association. If the number of single digit victories in league play is any indication, fans are assured a slugfest in Baltimore this weekend. Before the on-court action tips off, however, the league will recognize its award recipients.
This is a mid-major conference that is rarely devoid of individual talent. Save for a few can’t-miss players, separating guys into first, second and third teams comes down to hair splitting and personal preference. Here’s who might leave Charm City with the hardware.
Player of the Year: Juan’ya Green, Hofstra
Heading into league play, the chase for POY was nearly dead even between Green (the preseason pick), Chris Flemmings, Ron Curry, Canyon Barry and the similar forwards of Quincy Ford and David Walker at Northeastern. Injuries took their toll on Barry and Ford, but Green separated himself from Flemmings down the stretch as the Pride snatched a top seed from the Seahawks. Hofstra's point guard is in rare company with his scoring and assists numbers, hardly ever exits the game and is one of just four players to accumulate 1,000+ points at two different programs.
First Team All-CAA:
Juan'ya Green - Hofstra (G)
Ron Curry - James Madison (G)
Chris Flemmings - UNC Wilmington (G/F)
Quincy Ford - Northeastern (F)
Rokas Gustys - Hofstra (F)
Joining Green on the First Team is teammate Rokas Gustys, a double-double machine whose field goal efficiency and rebounding numbers are among the best in the country. Flemmings is the do-it-all Division II transfer who has led UNCW’s surprisingly successful campaign. He leads the Seahawks in scoring and rebounding and has been the guy with the ball in his hands late in games.
Ron Curry, a four year starter, is the unquestioned engine of 21-10 JMU. Not only is he a volume scorer, but he’s an all-league defender who is tasked with guarding the CAA’s crop of speedy guards each night. The final name on the list might stir some controversy. Ford missed a four game stretch during conference play that cost defending champ Northeastern valuable seeding. The Huskies struggled without him, but his resurgence in the closing stretch won his team a valuable bye. Despite the missed time, Ford was still a four-time Player of the Week. He also sank the dagger against Miami that gave the CAA its best win of the year.
Second Team All-CAA
Kory Holden – Delaware (G)
Tanner Samson – Elon (G)
Omar Prewitt – William & Mary (F)
David Walker – Northeastern (F)
William Adala Moto - Towson (F)
Third Team All-CAA
Cameron Johnson – College of Charleston (G)
Denzel Ingram – UNC Wilmington (G)
Ameen Tanksley – Hofstra (G)
Terry Tarpey – William & Mary (F)
Rodney Williams – Drexel (F)
Freshman of the Year: Jarrell Brantley, College of Charleston
On a team with four underclassmen in the starting lineup, Jarrell Brantley has shown the most consistency and potential of Coach Earl Grant’s young Cougars. The Columbia, SC native and Montrose Christian grad have started every game at PF for Charleston this season. He is tied with teammate Marquise Pointer for the highest points per game among freshmen (11.6) and also leads his class in rebounding (7.2). The Cougars will look a lot different next year with the return of leading scorer Canyon Barry, along with guards Joe Chealey and Grant Riller (who both missed the season with injuries) plus prized recruit, Chevez Goodwin. Even with the additions, Brantley’s combination of size and skill lands him a spot in the rotation for a long time.
Marquise Pointer – College of Charleston (G)
Terrell Allen – Drexel (G)
CJ Bryce – UNC Wilmington (G)
Tyler Seibring – Elon (F)
Jarrell Brantley – College of Charleston (F)
With so many seniors expected to leave the CAA this summer, the freshmen class in 2015-16 was one of the strongest in recent memory. CJ Bryce is probably the most likely to challenge Brantley for POY, showing that he was a perfect fit in Kevin Keatts’ Louisville-inspired defense. Bryce also contributes double-digit scoring and 43% shooting from behind the arc.
After Damion Lee left Drexel, there were plenty of open shots left over and Terrell Allen was not afraid to take them. He hit a bit of a slump in early February but finished strong with 18 or more points in three of his last four games. Tyler Seibring put up some impressive numbers in Elon’s equal opportunity offense: 10 ppg, 4.7 rebounds, 40% shooting from three. Marquise Pointer got about 25 more minutes per game than anyone expected after the Cougars’ starting backcourt went down, but he stepped into the starting lineup after Barry’s injury and was depended on to score and distribute.
CAA Defensive Player of the Year: Terry Tarpey, William & Mary
Tarpey, now a senior, repeats as DPOY. Guys like Johnson and Parker-Rivera are essential cogs in the league’s best defenses, but Tarpey’s raw numbers (he ranks first in the CAA in steals, second in blocks and fourth in rebounds per game) are too tough to ignore.
CAA All-Defensive Team
Cameron Johnson – College of Charleston (G)
Ron Curry – James Madison (G)
Terry Tarpey – William & Mary (G/F)
Timajh Parker-Rivera – Towson (F)
Rokas Gustys – Hofstra (F)
Curry and Gustys prove their worth on both ends of the court with inclusion on the All-Defense team. Curry has for years checked the steady stream of talented guards that have come through the CAA. Cam Johnson is the best defensive player on a unit that ranks 9th in the country with just 61.8 points allowed per contest. Parker Rivera is a sneaky selection, but his instincts, awareness and toughness absolutely embody Coach Pat Skerry’s style of play. As for Gustys…there are those who block shots and those who alter shots. "Roknation" definitely falls into the latter category thanks to his lateral speed and wide positioning.
Coach of the Year: Joe Mihalich
With all due respect to Kevin Keatts, Pat Skerry and Earl Grant for overachieving this year, Mihalich deserves recognition for pushing the right buttons and winning a tight conference race. Hofstra plays one of the shortest benches in the country (four Pride players average more than 35 minutes per game) and won the close games down the stretch to capture a regular season title. Mihalich, now in his third season with Hofstra, has also developed Juan’ya Green into a legitimate NBA prospect and Rokas Gustys into one of the best big men in the country.