Some interesting CAA-related games in the vicinity on Tuesday …
FORTUNES RISING, TEAM
Delaware. The Blue Hens are about an out outside the Baltimore-Washington corridor. They played a team Tuesday that only sort of functions as a “local” team for D.C. purposes. But this is worth an exception, especially since Delaware will be seen again in this area (notably when it visits George Mason in February).
Yes, Delaware drew Virginia when it was down in the Preseason NIT, and no Malcolm Brogdon and very little Jontel Evans made life a bit easier for the Blue Hens in the 59-53 victory in Charlottesville. Still, it punched a ticket to New York, ensured a little bit of a spotlight on a long struggling program in Newark whose move to the CAA eventually turned a program that made four NCAA appearances in the 1990s into one with seven straight losing seasons before last year.
In its own way, the 18-14 mark stitched together a season ago was a breakthrough. This one game was arguably bigger. Picked to finish second in the CAA, Monte Ross‘ team (with its potent backcourt of Devon Saddler and Jarvis Threatt and rugged interior presence provided by Jamelle Hagins) demonstrated it will be in the conference title discussion. [Wilmington News Journal]
FORTUNES RISING, INDIVIDUAL
Jontel Evans, Virginia. It wasn’t an overwhelming season debut for the senior point guard, who underwent foot surgery in early October and basically returned on schedule, right around six weeks later. There would be no stat-stuffing: Three minutes, two turnovers, one rebound.
But Evans’ gradual return to greater minutes can only help the Cavaliers (1-2), who have losses to CAA contenders George Mason and Delaware in the first week of the season. It will eventually give Virginia its veteran point guard, and it will also provide arguably the ACC’s top on-ball defender to a defense already capable of keeping Virginia in games.
Evans made his cameo in the first half, and it will be curious to see how much he plays as Virginia crams three games into four days early next week as a result of its NIT loss.
“He wanted to try to get his feet wet,” coach Tony Bennett told Jeff White and other reporters. “Obviously he was a little rusty, but hopefully that helps him as we progress with him. I hope he can do more and more as we get going, because that’s going to mean something for us.” [Virginia Athletics]
George Mason’s margin of error. Let’s be clear: There’s no shame in losing by five at Bucknell. The Bison won the Patriot League regular season last year, toppled Arizona in the NIT and have an exceptional player (Mike Muscala) who could be playing beyond a one-bid league.
But let’s also be clear about something: The CAA, sans Virginia Commonwealth, is not going to provide as many opportunities for resume-building victories as it has in the past. Coach Paul Hewitt talked in the preseason about creating an avenue beyond three wins in Richmond to reach the NCAA tournament. Mason scheduled smartly, but it also has to take advantage of those opportunities.
This isn’t a crushing blow, not on its own. But Mason can only lose so often if it seriously wants to have its name in the at-large pool come March.
George Mason forwards who fouled out of a 61-56 loss at Bucknell. This wasn’t simply a matter of late fouls, either; Jonathan Arledge, Marko Gujanicic and Johnny Williams all had four fouls by the 6:17 mark (as did Bryon Allen).
The Patriots avoided getting hurt by the absence of Erik Copes in its opening victory over Virginia. It wasn’t so fortunate against the talented 2-0 Bison.
Former George Mason guard Rashad Whack scored 20 points as Mount St. Mary’s defeated Hartford in its home opener and gave coach Jamion Christian his first career victory. The Mountaineers (1-1) visit American on Thursday.
BEYOND THE CORRIDOR
Malcolm Armstead‘s jumper with 3.8 seconds left lifted Wichita State past VCU, 53-51, in a rematch of an NCAA tournament round of 64 game from last March. … Richmond shredded UNC Wilmington 101-58, scoring at least 50 points in both halves.
Per the Washington Examiner, Georgetown forward Otto Porter‘s status remains unknown entering tonight’s meeting with Liberty at Verizon Center. Porter suffered a head injury early in the first half of Sunday’s victory over Duquesne. … Navy won only three games last year, Binghamton just two. They meet in Annapolis at 7 p.m. … UMBC visits Loyola at 9 p.m. in a matchup of a pair of 1-1 teams.
—- Patrick Stevens