Saturday, December 24, 2011

Catching up on CAA Basketball

After a season of covering CAA football for and, I have the honor of covering CAA basketball for the rest of the season.  Now that college football is essentially over, it’s time to start following college basketball full-time.

While I followed the first month of college basketball, it was admittedly a view from afar.  Between work, family, traveling and football, my time to actually watch basketball was limited in November and early December.  I got to watch games involving ODU, UNCW and George Mason on TV but I was mostly relegated to reading game stories and box scores.

I preface this blog post with the above information so the reader understands the purpose of this post – to catch up a bit on CAA teams by analyzing detailed statistics.  It’s also a good time to do so as the non-conference schedules are mostly completed.  Statistics can tell a story that may not fully reflect reality, but there's only so much basketball I could watch until now.

I’ve seen only three games in person – two at Towson and one at Drexel.  However, I’ll get to attend one game every weekend until the CAA tournament, when I’ll be there for at least the quarter-and-semi-final rounds.  So what can be learned from reviewing statistics? 

University of Delaware (5-5, 1-0)

·        The Blue Hens have maintained their starting rotation most of the season – four players have started all ten games, while a fifth has started eight.  One of those four starters is Devon Saddler, last year’s CAA Rookie of the Year.  Saddler is second in the conference with an average of 20.2 points per game.
·        Two starters are hitting more than 56% of their shots – Josh Brinkley (56.5%) and Jamelle Hagins (56.3%).  Hagins averages a double-double with 14.3 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

Drexel University (6-4, 0-1)

·        Drexel is out-rebounding its opponents 35.2 to 31.6 per game.  They’ve accomplished this as a team rather than relying on one individual; four players average between 5.3-6.8 rebounds per game. 
·        The Dragons are one of three CAA teams with more assists than turnovers (Georgia State and Virginia Commonwealth are the others).  Three guards – Frantz Massenat, Damion Lee and Chris Fouch – have 68 assists against 44 turnovers.
·        Four players average double figures in points, led by Massenat’s 13.1 per game.

George Mason University (8-4, 1-0)

·        Paul Hewitt has made sure the right Patriots are taking the most shots.  The four players with the most shot attempts are also among their top five in shooting percentage.  Ryan Pearson leads the team in attempts (149) and shots made (82); he is also second in shooting percentage (55.0%).
·        Two of the conference’s top five shot blockers play for George Mason – Erik Copes (third with 2.3 blocks/game) and Mike Morrison (fifth with 1.8/game). 
·        Bryon Allen and Corey Edwards have connected on a combined four of 33 three point attempts (12.1%).  The rest of the team has hit 49 of 129 (38.0%) treys.  Allen has made 31 of 56 two pointers (55.4%).

Georgia State University (9-3, 1-0)

·        The only stat that matters – the Panthers’ win this week over rival Georgia Southern established the program’s longest winning streak at nine (and counting). 
·        Eric Bucker leads the CAA in blocked shots; he has blocked more shots (36) than he has committed personal fouls (31).
·        New coach Ron Hunter already has Georgia State playing at his preferred fast pace.  Five Panthers have double-digit steals, led by Devonta White’s 22; three Panthers are in the top ten in steals per game in the conference.

Hofstra University (5-7, 0-1)

·        The Pride have hit 58 of 151 three pointers as a team (38.4%).  Mike Moore has taken 70 of those 151 attempts, converting on 32 of them (45.7%).
·        Dwan McMillan leads the team with 54 assists, and has committed 30 turnovers.  All other Hofstra players have registered 80 assists against 149 turnovers.
·        Nathaniel Lester started the season on a high note, scoring 33 points against Long Island University.  Since then he has scored 117 points (10.6 points/game).

James Madison University (6-3, 1-0)

·        AJ Davis leads the conference by hitting 47.8% of his three pointers; Humpty Hitchens is third with a rate of 45.3%.  These two have attempted exactly half (99 of 198) of the team’s three point shots.
·        Either Davis or Hitchens have led JMU every game in scoring, though Julius Wells did tie Hitchens with twelve points against the Citadel.
·        The Dukes have played their opponents to a virtual draw in turnovers, committing one fewer than the teams they’ve played (126 against 127).  They and their opponents also have exactly the same number of assists (122).

Northeastern University (3-7, 0-1)

·        Three players have started all ten games to date, and two others have started six of them.  Of these five players, only Jonathan Lee has more assists than turnovers (37 to 32).
·        Northeastern is fifth in the conference in free throw percentage at 69.3%.  Joel Smith has converted on 21 of 22 free throw attempts (95.5%).  All other Huskies are a combined 119 of 180 (66.1%). 
·        The Huskies are out-rebounding their opponents 37.0 – 33.9 per game.  Similarly to Drexel, they are doing this as a team effort; five players average between 4.4 and 5.5 rebounds per game and a sixth averages almost four.

Old Dominion University (6-6, 1-0)

·        No Monarch has started every game this season.  Chris Cooper had started every game until ODU’s win over VMI this week.
·        Redshirt freshman Dimitri Batten currently averages 10.0 points per game.  The freshman with the highest PPG average in Blaine Taylor’s tenure in Norfolk is Arnaud Dahi (9.0) in 2003-2004.
·        After leading the country in rebounding margin last season (plus-11.7), the Monarchs are only fifth in their own conference this season (plus-3.1).  Cooper’s 50 offensive rebounds are double the next-closest Monarch (Nick Wright, with 25).

Towson University (0-12, 0-1)

·        Robert Nwankwo has grabbed more offensive rebounds (53) than defensive rebounds (52).  The senior post player is fourth in the conference with 1.9 blocks per game, and similarly to Buckner has more blocks (23) than personal fouls (20).
·        While nine CAA teams have more turnovers than assists, the Tigers are by far the most careless with the ball.  Their turnover margin is a conference-worst minus-9.83; the next closest is the College of William and Mary (minus-5.75).
·        A large part of Towson’s struggles is their lack of experience in the program.  Along with employing a first-year coach, the team returned only one letterman from last year’s team.  One sophomore (Marcus Damas) and two freshmen (Kris Walden and Deon Jones) have started all twelve games.

University of North Carolina – Wilmington (3-7, 0-1)

·        Freshman Adam Smith is fifth in the conference in scoring (17.0 PPG).  The next-closest freshman is Drexel’s Damion Lee, who is 15th (12.4 PPG).
·        Either Keith Rendleman (five times) or Smith (four times) has led the team in scoring in nine of the team’s ten games.  Rendleman has also led the team in rebounding in eight games and averages a double-double for the season (14.3 PPG, 10.1 RPG).
·        The Seahawks are out-rebounding their opponents 36.6 – 35.9 per game.  While Drexel and Northeastern do so with a gang-rebounding mindset, UNCW has only three players who average more than three rebounds.

Virginia Commonwealth University (9-3, 1-0)

·        The Rams lead the conference with an average turnover margin of plus-6.5, forcing 220 turnovers against just 144 of their own. 
·        VCU averages just over eight more FG attempts per game than their opponents (684 against 587 in total).  More than 38% of their shots (263 of 684) are three-point attempts, and they are third in the conference in three-point percentage (35.0%).
·        Riding the momentum of their Final Four appearance last season, the Rams lead the conference in average attendance at 7,631 fans per game.  While ODU’s attendance is close (7,312/game), VCU’s average more than doubles the third-highest average attendance to date (3,782 by George Mason).

The College of William and Mary (2-10, 0-1)

·        In its twelve games, no Tribe player has reached double-digits in rebounds.  Kendrix Brown is the only W&M player to reach nine.
·        Tim Rusthoven has played only six of his team’s twelve games, but leads the team with 17 total offensive rebounds.  His average of 6.3 rebounds per game also leads the team.
·        Seven different players have played all twelve games to date.  Among them, all but Marcus Thornton have started at least four games; Thornton has yet to start a single game.

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