- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2009

2009 CAA TOURNAMENT

Friday through Monday, Richmond Coliseum

PLAYER TO WATCH

Eric Maynor, Virginia Commonwealth

Is it time for another round of Maynor Mania in March? It’s certainly possible. The senior guard led the CAA in scoring (22.4) and assists (6.2) and is the player best equipped to carry his team to a conference title - and potentially an NCAA tournament upset like the one he helped engineer against Duke in the first round in 2007.

BEST BET

Virginia Commonwealth

The Rams won the regular-season title, and only one of their nine losses (at Oklahoma) came by a double-digit margin. In short, they’re going to hang around even if they’re not playing well, and having Maynor essentially provides Anthony Grant’s team a trump card. The event will unfold only a few miles from the Rams’ campus, only enhancing their status as the pre-tournament favorite.

DARK HORSE

Hofstra

William & Mary made a run to the title game last year with close victories, and no one is better equipped to repeat the feat than the Pride. Sophomore Charles Jenkins (19.2 points) has helped Hofstra roll up a remarkable 13-2 record in games decided by five points or less. Perhaps that’s luck and perhaps it’s skill. Either way, the Pride are the best of the teams playing on the first day of the tournament.

MOST TO GAIN

Everyone

This isn’t 2006 or 2007, and there won’t be a CAA team finagling an NCAA tournament at-large berth as George Mason and Old Dominion did a few years back. Virginia Commonwealth is assured a spot at least in the NIT, but there’s a chance everyone else’s season will end this weekend. With no assurances beyond the present, there isn’t a team that needs to keep winning more than any other.

WHO’S HOT

George Mason

The Patriots won their final four conference games to edge out Northeastern and Old Dominion for the No. 2 seed. Senior starters Darryl Monroe, Dre Smith and John Vaughan all played crucial roles for last year’s CAA tournament champions, and sophomore Cam Long has emerged as a capable point guard and the top scorer on a balanced team. A second straight title would come as no surprise.

WHO’S NOT

Northeastern

It wasn’t long ago that the Huskies were 11-2 in the conference and headed for a No. 1 seed. But they lost four of their last five league games, with only one contest in that stretch decided by more than four points. The presence of veteran guard Matt Janning certainly helps, but it’s also conceivable the Huskies could lose in a potential quarterfinal matchup with pesky Drexel.

- Patrick Stevens

SCHEDULE

First round, Friday

(8) Georgia State (11-19, 8-10) vs. (9) Delaware (13-18, 6-12), noon

(5) Hofstra (20-10, 11-7) vs. (12) UNC Wilmington (7-24, 3-15), 2:30

(7) James Madison (18-13, 9-9) vs. (10) William & Mary (10-19, 5-13), 6

(6) Drexel (15-13, 10-8) vs. (11) Towson (10-21, 5-13), 8:30

Quarterfinals, Saturday

(1) Virginia Commonwealth (21-9, 14-4) vs. GSU/Delaware, noon

(4) Old Dominion (20-9, 12-6) vs. Hofstra/UNCW, 2:30

(2) George Mason (20-9, 13-5) vs. JMU/W&M, 6

(3) Northeastern (18-11, 12-6) vs. Drexel/Towson, 8:30

Semifinals, Sunday

Early quarterfinal winners, 3

Late quarterfinal winners, 5:30

Final, Monday

Semifinal winners, 7, ESPN


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