Hey CAA fans, here’s a fun little game to play if you’ve got 10 minutes to waste. And if you want to waste another hour tinkering with your masterpiece. And still not feel satisfied.
Create the best roster 1 through 12, using just one player from each CAA team. Your team must consist of exactly three freshmen, three sophomores, three juniors and three seniors.
Obviously this is an imperfect exercise because coaches typically use just eight or nine players in their rotation – and in this ideal world, with an all-star team, they certainly wouldn’t need to be any deeper. But the goal here is to be strong top to bottom, and not just stack the best eight while merely filling the other slots with loose ends.
Pretend that at any given time, half your roster could miss the team flight. (It happens. Just ask UCLA’s frequent flaker Reeves Nelson).
Below is my roster. Feel free to debate it, ridicule it, and make one that’s better. Take to the message boards and give us your thoughts.
G- Briante Weber, 6-3, Freshman, VCU: The ultimate energy guy, when he harnesses all that athleticism, he can be darn good.
G- Marcus Thornton, 6-4, Freshman, William & Mary: On a team in which pretty much everyone is underachieving, Thornton is assuming more than an ordinary freshman role, and proving he’s a player, despite low shooting percentages.
G- Dimitri Batten, 6-3, Freshman, Old Dominion: Redshirt year seems to have done good for Batten, who has hit double-figures three times in seven games – downright Chamberlain numbers for an ODU rookie.
F- Marcus Damas, 6-7, Sophomore, Towson: The transfer from Cowley County Community College (that’s a lot of “C’s”) might still be mistake-prone, but he attacks the rim for rebounds and put-backs.
G- Devon Saddler, 6-2, Sophomore, Delaware: CharlesJenkins-lite just needs to become more efficient before he’s a true superstar. But he is leading the nation in scoring so far.
G- Frantz Massenat, 6-4, Sophomore, Drexel: As a freshman he took just over four shots per game. As a sophomore he’s taking close to 11. Shooting 48.8 percent from the field, Bruiser won’t shackle him any time soon.
G/F- A.J. Davis, 6-6, Junior, James Madison: Fellow JMU junior Devon Moore might be the smarter pick here, but he hasn’t played a game yet this season and my roster is starting to get a bit guard-heavy. Adding the versatile Davis and his 22.8 points per game is an easy concession to make.
G- Jonathan Lee, 6-2, Junior, Northeastern: Another coin-flip here: Lee or Joel Smith. Can’t go wrong with either, but I’ll side with Lee for his consistency.
F- Keith Rendleman, 6-8, Junior, UNC-Wilmington: One of the most skilled “4s” in the league, Rendleman is starting to heat up. On my team though, I’d ask him to get a haircut.
F- Ryan Pearson, 6-6, Senior, George Mason: Pearson might be undersized for a power forward, but he’s slapping up a Denzel Bowles-like stat-line every night (in addition to making some 3-pointers).
F- Eric Buckner, 6-7, Senior, Georgia State: A lay-up and dunk machine, he’s shooting 62.3 percent and also blocking three shots per game. The type of physical beast we need in the paint.
G- Mike Moore, 6-5, Senior, Hofstra: Charles who? Moore doesn’t have the overall impact on a game that former Pride guard Charles Jenkins did, but the smooth senior has scored 20-plus points in five of seven games.
Analysis: It’s no secret that the CAA is a guard-oriented league; this exercise surely highlights that. I would have liked more bigs on my roster, but I’ll take talent over height any day. One easy switch to make would be Drexel sophomore forward Dartaye Ruffin in place of Massenat. That might balance the roster better, but it would take away a guy who’s playing superb basketball right now.
Even though Old Dominion senior guard Kent Bazemore started slow, I would have liked to have had him on my team for his defense alone. But that would likely mean sacrificing Hofstra’s Moore for sophomore teammate Stephen Nwaukoni (I’d rather Batten and Moore than Bazemore and Nwaukoni).
Interestingly enough, four of the top six players on my Preseason All-CAA ballot – Quinn McDowell, Bradford Burgess, Samme Givens and Bazemore – didn’t crack my roster.
The other two in my top six were Pearson and Saddler. If you’re looking for guys who would probably appear on most anybody’s incarnation of this game, it’s that pair.
With that said, I was tempted to swap Saddler for Delaware junior forward Jamelle Hagins, figuring I already had enough scoring, and could instead use the size and post presence. Obviously not tempted enough. That would force me to change one of my juniors to a sophomore (or do some mass overhauling). JMU has no sophomores aside from walk-on Christian Pierce, changing my Husky from Lee to Alwayne Bigby/Ryan Pierson wouldn’t make much sense, and changing my Seahawk from Rendleman to Donte Morales/Tanner Milson would make even less sense.
I’ll live with this talented, guard-oriented bunch. And I’m sure any CAA coach would be satisfied with this roster as well.
Unfortunately, they have to form their teams through a tricky little thing called recruiting. Life as a basketball writer must be easy.
Thank you to everybody who followed and commented on this blog during the past couple months. As much fun as I had interacting with CAA fans across the east coast, the forum will have to change.
Due to a partnership between the Daily News-Record and Rivals.com, this blog – at least in its current form – will cease to exist.
When it opens its season Sunday, James Madison will host a team that was well-represented at the Final Four last year.
James Madison basketball coach Matt Brady made his first appearance of the new season Monday at Ham’s restaurant, for what will be a weekly press conference.
Here are the key talking points.
If this blog were ESPN Magazine, this post would be the “Back Issue.”
The last time a Big East men’s basketball team came to the Convocation Center, James Madison upset it 70-64. That was back in December of 2008 – Matt Brady’s first year with the Dukes – when Seton Hall rolled in with an 8-2 record and were outplayed by Juwann James, Devon Moore and Co.
This Saturday, another Big East team will drive through University Boulevard to take on the Dukes. OK, it won’t mean anything, and no spectators or media members will be permitted to watch, but John Thompson III’s Georgetown Hoyas will be in town for a closed scrimmage.