- Jim Root
3MW’s All Conference Team:
Player of the Year: Justin Wright-Foreman, Sr., Hofstra
Coach of the Year: Bill Coen, Northeastern
Newcomer of the Year: Brian Fobbs, Jr., Towson
Freshman of the Year: Camren Wynter, Drexel
1. Offense >>>>> Defense
In perhaps the most Colonial Athletic Association statistic ever, every single team in the conference had a better offense than defense, per KenPom.com's adjusted efficiency rankings. My line is that you need two O's and zero D's to spell "Colonial," and I will continue to beat that dumb/delightful joke until it's no longer true (but let's hope it's true forever). Statistical proof: the Colonial was #1 in offensive efficiency out of all 32 leagues.
2. Who is the real Hofstra?
The Pride of Long Island looked to be a juggernaut through the first two and a half months of the season, bolting to a 19-3 (9-0) start that had some curious if an at-large bid might be a possibility. The defense looked semi-competent, and on 1/24, that unit ranked 186th in AdjDE per KenPom - not great, but middle of the pack nationally, good enough to allow the blistering offense to blister opponents with pinpoint shooting from everywhere. The bottom fell out on defense, though, and that same defense now ranks 265th in the same metric, helping to explain Hofstra's late season stumbles (and near-stumbles). so who will we see in the tournament? The world-beater from the first 22 games? Or the sieve from the last month? That answer will determine who represents the CAA in the Big Dance.
3. Coen's Infirmary Ward
My preseason title pick, Northeastern was the walking wounded for basically the entire season. Shawn Occeus, last year's CAA Defensive POY, managed to play in only 11 games all year thanks to a variety of maladies, fellow starting wing Maxime Boursiquot missed the entire season with a hip injury, and star point guard Vasa Pusica missed six games with a broken bone in his hand plus another with the flu. Most recently, forward Tomas Murphy has missed the last 3 games. With all of that adversity, the Huskies dropped all the way to...second? That’s it? Man, Bill Coen is an absolutely sensational coach, and Pusica's superb efforts in CAA play have helped keep Northeastern in the thick of the CAA's contenders.
4. Seahawks Take A Dive
Despite having the country's undisputed best rebounder in Devontae Cacok, UNC Wilmington plummeted into the Colonial cellar. Head coach CB McGrath, a former Roy Williams assistant, has struggled mightily to build a defense that is anything better than "abjectly disastrous." In two years, the Seahawks have gone from 29-6 to 9-22, and the trajectory is not terribly promising under the first-time boss.
Very simple here, same format as Arch Madness for the MVC - 10 teams, bottom four have to play a play-in game on Saturday, daily games at one site in Charleston, SC. Saturday to Tuesday is an odd timeframe, but it makes for fantastic “lounge around the house” quarterfinal viewing all day Sunday and gives us quality hoop in the absence of Big Monday, so no complaints from me.
Best Team and Projected NCAA Tournament Seed
Gotta go with the #1 seed Pride from Hofstra, despite the struggles to end the year. Justin Wright-Foreman is the premier bucket-getter in the CAA (and one of the best in the entire country), and Purdue grad transfer Jacquil Taylor has helped firm up the interior defense. The Pride is also 9th in the country in experience, starting 3 seniors and 2 juniors, all of whom will be eager to erase the sour memory of being upset in the quarterfinals last year (although Taylor wasn't on that roster). Hofstra shot 41% from deep in conference play en route to the league's best offense *by far*, but most of the deep backcourt is dangerous off the bounce as well.
The slight swoon towards the end of the year likely locked the Pride into a 13 seed, but the offense gives them plenty of potential to pull an upset should they make the NCAAs.
Dark Horse Team(s)
Two obvious candidates here. Charleston will be playing quasi-home games in North Charleston, and the inside/outside duo of Jarrell Brantley and Grant Riller gives the Cougars weaponry that few can withstand. Coach Earl Grant made a name for himself by building a phenomenal defense back in 2016, but this squad thrives on Riller's offensive creation and Brantley’s versatility.
Alternately, Northeastern and coach Bill Coen have a history of success in this event, and the Huskies are similarly led by an elite facilitator in Vasa Pusica. Northeastern also returns a ton of minutes from the team that blew a late lead to Charleston in the championship last year, ultimately losing overtime, and those bitter memories should help fuel a run for the 2 seed Huskies.
(9) Towson over (8) James Madison
(7) Elon over (10) UNC Wilmington
(1) Hofstra over (9) Towson
(4) William & Mary over (5) Delaware
(2) Northeastern over (7) Elon
(3) Charleston over (6) Drexel
(1) Hofstra over (4) William & Mary
(2) Northeastern over (3) Charleston
(2) Northeastern over (1) Hofstra
Northeastern gets the revenge they crave in the semis, and then uses the league’s best defense (relatively speaking here, folks) to frustrate the Pride in the championship game. They earn a 14 seed and Coen’s schemes give some poor 3 seed fits in a difficult first round battle.