Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Coming off the best single-season turnaround in NCAA Division I history, Towson has been picked as the preseason favorite for the 2013-14 Colonial Athletic Association championship, the league announced on Tuesday at its annual media day. The voting was done by a group of the league’s coaches, media relations directors and select media members.
Pat Skerry’s Tigers won just one game in 2011-12 but with eventual CAA Player of the Year Jerelle Benimon leading the way, Towson won 18 games last year, finishing second overall in the conference’s regular season. Towson received xx first-place votes and xx points overall, ahead of second-place Drexel.
The Dragons are coming off disappointing 13-18 season but return a lot of talent, including sixth-year guard Chris Fouch, back after a broken ankle forced him to the sideline three games into last year.
Following up Drexel were newcomer Charleston, who won 24 games as a member of the Southern Conference last year. Delaware was next, followed by William & Mary, defending champions Northeastern and then James Madison, the conference tournament winner a year ago, in seventh. Bringing up the rear were UNC-Wilmington and Hofstra.
Benimon, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, was not surprisingly selected preseason Player of the Year, coming off a season where he averaged a league-leading 11.2 rpg and 17.1 ppg, which was good enough for fourth in the CAA.
Joining him on the first team were a pair of Drexel Dragons in junior wing Damion Lee (17.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and senior point guard Frantz Massenat (14.7 ppg, 4.2 apg). The two highest-scoring players in the league a year ago, William & Mary junior Marcus Thornton (18.8 ppg) and Delaware senior guard Devon Saddler (19.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg), rounded out the squad.
The second team was led by one senior, William & Mary forward Tim Rusthoven (14.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg), who was joined by a trio of juniors in Charleston forward Adjeh Baru (9.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg), Northeastern’s Quincy Ford (12.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Delaware’s Jarvis Threatt (13.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg). The final honoree was James Madison sophomore Andre Nation, whose 15-game suspension to open the season was announced after ballots were in.
2013-14 CAA Preseason Poll
1. Towson (18-13, 13-5 CAA)
2. Drexel (13-18, 9-9 CAA)
3. Charleston (24-11, 14-4 Southern)
4. Delaware (19-15, 13-5 CAA)
5. William & Mary (13-17, 7-11 CAA)
6. Northeastern (20-13, 14-4 CAA)
7. James Madison (21-15, 11-7 CAA)
8. UNC-Wilmington (10-20, 5-13 CAA)
9. Hofstra (7-25, 4-14 CAA)
2013-14 CAA Preseason Player of the Year
Jerrelle Benimon (Sr., Towson)–23.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg
2013-14 Preseason All-CAA First Team
Jerrelle Benimon, (Sr., Towson)–23.2 ppg, 7.7 rpg
Frantz Massenat (Sr., Drexel)–14.7 ppg, 4.2 apg
Damion Lee (Jr., Drexel)–17.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg
Devon Saddler (Sr., Delaware)–19.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg
Marcus Thornton (Jr., William & Mary)–18.8 ppg, 2.8 apg
2013-14 Preseason All-CAA Second Team
Adjehi Baru, (Jr., Charleston)–9.8 ppg, 8.3 rpg
Qunicy Ford (Jr., Northeastern)–12.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg
Andre Nation (Soph., JMU)–9.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg
Tim Rusthoven (Sr., William & Mary)–14.4 ppg, 7.0 rpg
Jarvis Threatt (Jr., Delaware)–13.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.2 apg