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2024 CAA Men's Basketball Tournament Recap

(CAA Sports)

 

 

13 games in 5 days were just completed in our nation’s capital. I was honored to be here representing Sidelines Sports Network throughout it all. Follow below for stats, post-game quotes, and analysis from each of the 14 teams.


 

First Round (March 8th)

(CAA Sports)

 

Game 1: #13 William & Mary 79, #12 NC A&T 62

William & Mary Tribe

Key Players

#2 Chase Lowe (So., 6’5” Guard) | 18 pts, 16 reb, 6 ast, 2 stl, 2 blk

#21 Gabe Dorsey (Jr., 6’6” Guard/Forward) | 18 pts, 5-15 3PT

#8 Trey Moss (So., 6’3” Guard) | 18 pts, 3 reb, 5-5 FT

#4 Mattheus Case (Jr., 6’5” Guard) | 11 pts, 4 reb

 

Quotes

Head Coach Dane Fischer - “Certainly pleased with the way we came out today and played, especially in the second half. I thought early on in the game, we were a little quick on offense and let the ball get to the rim a little more than we wanted in terms of how we wanted to guard these guys. But as the game went on, I just felt like we got more and more comfortable with our defensive scheme, shared the ball in the second half. Chase Lowe was obviously phenomenal today with what he did out there. But really pleased, that’s a tough team to cover with how good Glasper is. We talked about he’s probably going to get 20, we just got to make sure it’s on 20 shots. So, pleased with that and looking forward to playing tomorrow.”

 

Chase Lowe - “Coming into the game, we knew that they were going to try to sag off of me. So Coach Howland and Coach Fischer were telling me that I could be effective by dribbling, handing off and being a screener out there, trying to get others involved. As I did that and the game progressed, it started to open up more for me and then I was able to just get to the rim after that.”

 

Analysis

Chase Lowe put on the tournament’s first show Friday afternoon. He found a way to affect the game in all phases: scoring, facilitating, rebounding, defending. My favorite stat from him was his 6 offensive rebounds, maximizing possessions for the group. Gabe Dorsey led it fly, converting 5 of the team’s 11 3-pointers. Trey Moss, Sean Houpt also with some big shots for the Tribe. A season filled with injuries, Dane Fischer’s side still finds a way to pick up a tournament win.

 

NC A&T Aggies

Key Players

#7 Landon Glasper (So., 6’2” Guard) | 21 pts

#16 Nikolaos Chitikoudis (Fr., 6’9” Forward) | 16 pts, 10 reb, 3 blk

#15 Jalal McKie (Fr., 6’5” Guard) | 13 pts, 9 reb, 2 blk

 #5 Evan Joyner (R-So., 6’8” Forward) | 10 pts, 7 reb

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Monte Ross - “Congratulations to William & Mary for a well-played game and congratulations their moving on to the next round. We did what we typically do, we left it all out on the line, we just came up a lot of bit short tonight.”

 

Analysis:

Monte Ross’s first season back in the CAA with the Aggies of North Carolina A&T is complete. A team that only returned 9% of its scoring from 2023 and was picked to finish last in the conference, it was going to be an uphill battle for Ross to find his team’s identity. He found a true gem in All-CAA 3rd Team Landon Glasper, and no one on his roster is a senior. Stability in year 2 will be a great thing, as much as getting healthy will push the Aggies to seek a longer stay in DC next season.

 

 

Game 2: #14 Hampton 56, #11 Elon 55

Hampton Pirates

Key Players

#15 Jerry Deng (Fr., 6’9” Forward) | 16 pts, 3 reb

#21 Ja’Von Benson (Jr., 6’8” Forward) | 11 pts, 7 reb

#8 Jordan Nesbitt (Jr., 6’6” Guard) | 5 pts, 7 ast, 5 reb, 2 blk

#3 Kyrese Mullen (Fr., 6’7” Forward) | 6 pts, 5 reb

 

Quotes

Head Coach Edward Joyner Jr. - “40 minute effort. That’s the one thing I told the guys in the locker room. We’ve had a rough year, there isn’t any hiding behind any of that. But the one thing I would say about this group, and I don’t know if it’s funny or not, but they got the best piece of amnesia I’ve ever seen in my life because every time they come in and work hard. For some reason it feels like it doesn’t work our way and 95% of the time we’re shooting ourselves in the foot and that’s the hardest way to go down. Tonight the one message to them: if we were going to have any chance of winning this tournament, it’s not going to take one of us… it’s going to take all of us. And I think that’s what happened tonight. Everybody that played contributed somehow even if it was inspiration, picking up on defense, everybody around us contributed. And I think that’s what pulled out the win tonight.”

 

Kyrese Mullen - “We’ve been here last year, it’s tough going out in the first round. So the work we’ve put in, we just feel like we can get to the championship. It was that time and moment we needed to win, I feel like that was my perfect time to step up. I wasn’t scoring the whole game, they just need me right there. So that’s what coach is saying… everybody is going to be accounted for, so everybody contributed to this win tonight.”

 

Analysis

What a game for the Pirates. From leading through most of the game, up to as much as 14 in the first half, the door was left open for Elon to take this over. But a made layup from sophomore forward Kyrese Mullen put Hampton back up 1 with 6 seconds to go. Freshman Jerry Deng was impressive, and Jordan Nesbitt found ways to affect the game even when his shot wasn’t falling. After starting conference play 0-13, they won 4 of its last 6 to earn a spot into the second round of the tournament.

 

Elon Phoenix

Key Players

#4 Sam Sherry (Jr., 6’10” Forward) | 14 pts, 10 reb, 3 blk

#11 TK Simpkins (So., 6’4” Guard) | 18 pts, 4 ast, 3 reb, 3 stl

#12 Isaac Harrell (Fr., 6’8” Forward) | 2 pts, 10 reb

#3 Max Mackinnon (So., 6’6” Guard) | 5 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Billy Taylor - “Obviously heartbroken for our guys, tough way to end the season. You’ve got a one-point lead with 8 seconds to go, you’re just down to one stop… And we weren’t able to get that done. I was hoping we’d get a better look at it at the end, but credit to Hampton. They had 2 guys on TK, tried to take him out of the play and we didn’t get quite the look we wanted.”

 

TK Simpkins (on his go-ahead shot in the final minute) - “I saw a good shot, great opportunity to get us the lead to win but things didn’t go how we expected… so we go to that next season.”


Analysis:

Like Hampton, Elon started its conference play to a slow 1-6 start. While stringing late-season wins together, it wasn’t enough to receive a bye from the first round. Max Mackinnon, who was pivotal in scoring 20+ points in each upset against Delaware and UNCW, had a quiet day shooting 2-10 from the field and 0-6 from 3. Similarly to the other teams in the first round, the Phoenix on paper should return most of its core. Head coach Billy Taylor now turns to maintaining and building off of this group in hopes to earn his first conference tournament win in his third season with the program.

 


 

Second Round (March 9th)

(Monmouth Athletics)

 

Game 3: #8 Monmouth 90, #9 Campbell 67

Monmouth Hawks

Key Players

Jack Collins (So., 6’5” Guard) | 13 pts, 10 reb, 6 ast

Xander Rice (Gr., 6’3” Guard) | 12 pts, 8 ast, 3 reb

Nikita Konstantynovskyi (Gr., 6’10” Forward) | 15 pts, 9 reb

Jakari Spence (Sr., 6’2” Guard) | 14 pts, 4 ast, 3 stl

Jaret Valencia (R-Fr., 6’9” Forward) | 13 pts, 5 reb

 

Quotes

Head Coach King Rice - “First off, I want to give Campbell a lot of credit. Today we got away from them a little bit, but I remember last year, our first time in the tournament, and it was so much bigger than what we did in the league I was previously in. So all year you get ready for this, and I just have the upmost respect for their team, their players. I used to speak at their camp when I went to Carolina, so I know all about Buies Creek. But just a lot of respect for that program and that coaching staff, he was on the staff at Richmond when I was at Vanderbilt and we were a 3 seed and they were an 11 seed and they beat us… With that being said, I think my guys were super ready today, I think my staff did a good job our keeping our cool. Sometimes we get too emotional and that goes onto the kids and then they don’t play like themselves. So when they hit those threes early, we just tried to stay calm as a staff ad just keep talking about the things we had prepared for all week. And once we calmed down a little bit, I’ve been telling them our offense will be there with us. The only way we can win this thing is with our defense and I think our defense carried us today.”


Jack Collins (on his interior presence) - "I think it starts with Nikita. He's a massive presence in there, he's 6'10", 250... he's not easy to move around, he's really strong. We've been working in the weight room crazy and he's usually the one that lifts the most weight, so he moves people around like crazy. We have guys that give extra effort. Coach always talks about that... going after it over and over to keep going to the boards, especially when you have Nikita, Cornelius, Jarett, me just all crashing the boards all the time. I think that's the biggest part and when we're up offensive rebounds, getting extra possessions is really key in a game like this."

 

Analysis

It feels wrong to only highlight 4, even 5 of Monmouth’s rotation in this one as they had seven different scorers with 8 or more points and six scorers in double digits. Xander Rice didn’t score a point until 2:21 left in the first half, but Collins, Valencia, Spence, and Konstantynovskyi filled in for him. Abdi Bashir Jr. and Klemen Vuga also combined for 17 first half bench points. This group stayed composed falling down 9 in the first six minutes, and had quite an easy second half after finishing the first on a 12-2 run to put themselves up 15.


Campbell Fighting Camels

Key Players

#30 Anthony Dell’Orso (So., 6’6” Guard) | 23 pts, 5 reb, 2 blk, 2 stl

#13 Jasin Sinani (Jr., 6’3” Guard) | 21 pts, 4 reb

#22 Laurynas Vaistaras (Sr., 6’6” Forward) | 10 pts, 2 stl

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Kevin McGeehan - “Obviously disappointing performance... I think they were the better team today. We've shown toughness in a lot of games, but today they just had a little extra edge to them. Whether it's loose balls or offensive rebounds, they just seemed to beat us to the punch a little bit. We lack a little depth and I think that maybe is part of it, but for the most part when you're in elimination time you got to bring it and they just brought it a little harder than we did, and it worked in their favor. I thought we did a pretty good job on Xander for a good portion of the game, which was part of the game plan. But those other guys went off in the first half for 44 of the 46, so we have to be better defensively.”

 

Analysis:

Campbell didn’t shoot terribly in this one with 47% from the field. Their issues came down to the number of shots the teams had between each other: Campbell had 43 field goal attempts to Monmouth’s 67. They lost the rebound battle 37-21, leading the Hawks to 18 2nd chance points. Offensively, Anthony Dell’Orso had a quiet 23 point day, but outside of him, Sinani, and Vaistaras, the rest of this team shot 4-19 from the field. That’s just not going to be enough. On next season, the outlook all comes down to if Kevin McGeehan can keep Dell’Orso here for his junior year.

 

 

Game 4: #5 Towson, #13 William & Mary

Towson Tigers

Key Players

#24 Nendah Tarke (R-Jr., 6’4” Guard) | 14 pts, 8 reb, 3 stl

#32 Charles Thompson (Gr., 6’7” Forward) | 10 pts, 6 reb, 3 ast

#4 Dylan Williamson (R-Fr., 6’1” Guard) | 15 pts, 6-6 FT

#1 Tomiwa Sulaiman (Jr., 6’6” Forward) | 12 pts, 2 reb

 

Quotes

Head Coach Pat Skerry - “Proud of our guys. Dane (Fischer)’s a good coach and they’ve got some really good pieces on offense. I just thought we guarded well… It was about 14:40 left, we just talked about we’ve got to get connected defensively. We’ve had the number 1 defense in the league all year and that’s what we try to hang our hat on. I thought this guy to the left (Williamson) made some shots to give us a little separation. Happy for our guys.”

 

Dylan Williamson - “Defensively coach always harps on that, so we just came out, played hard, got the same old talk we always do at the time out. Offensively we just wanted to move the ball and get the best shot possible and we started knocking them down in the second half.”

 

Analysis

A confusing start to this one seeing Charles Thompson out of the starting lineup, but it was confirmed that Towson and the conference agreed to a one-half suspension for him after his second ejection of conference play. Having Thompson back allowed this team to do what it does best: defend at a high rate and slow the pace on offense. A 20-0 run by the Tigers turned this one from an upset watch to a comfortable victory. They will need more from Christian May (1-8 FG) and Tyler Tejada (2-6 FG) if they’re going to make it to Monday.

 

William & Mary Tribe

Key Players

#2 Chase Lowe (So., 6’5” Guard) | 12 pts, 7 reb, 5 ast

#21 Gabe Dorsey (Jr., 6’6” Guard/Forward) | 18 pts, 4-11 3pt

#7 Sean Houpt (Gr., 6’4” Guard) | 7 pts, 4 reb, 2 stl

#8 Trey Moss (So., 6’3” Guard) | 11 pts, 4 reb

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Dane Fischer - “Certainly proud of the way our team competed today and battled. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Towson, especially in that stretch where they made it really hard for us to get any kind of advantage. It was a lot of one-on-one and it wasn’t because our guys weren’t trying. It was just that they’re really good defensively and they made that stretch really tough for us. I thought we went to the rim a couple of times and just couldn’t get it to go. We had a couple of good looks, went to the foul line and missed a couple of free throws. And I said I think a lot of that’s credit to the way Towson defends because they do a great job there. I thought we did a really good job competing with them on the glass this afternoon, (Towson’s) the best offensive rebounding team in the league, I think they’re second-best in the country coming in. I just think we were out there competing and that stretch obviously was the difference in the game. But I’m really proud of the group and the way they stuck together and battled through it.”


Analysis:

The Tribe were in this one through the first half and early in the second. Then, they went through a 10 and a half minute scoring drought, a hole way too deep to dig out of. The physicality wasn’t matched for William and Mary, they had 10 less points in the paint and over half of their shots came from behind the arc. On the bright side, 9 of their 10 main rotational pieces are juniors or below. Add in healthy Pittsburgh forward transfer Noah Collier and Jack Karasinski back, the roster looks enticing next season. Dane Fischer and the school has announced that it’s parting ways. The question now sits… who will be his replacement? And will he be able to keep this group together?

 

 

Game 5: #7 Stony Brook 75, #10 Northeastern 65

Stony Brook Seawolves

Key Players

#13 Dean Noll (Gr., 6’2” Guard) | 23 pts, 7 reb, 3 ast, 3-6 3PT

#14 Tyler Stephenson-Moore (Gr., 6’3” Guard) | 21 pts, 5 reb, 3-7 3PT, 6-6 FT

#5 Aaron Clarke (Gr., 6’1” Guard) | 19 pts, 3 ast, 3-7 3PT, 6-7 FT

#21 Andre Snoddy (Jr., 6’6” Guard/Forward) | 4 pts, 11 reb, 3 stl

 

Quotes

Head Coach Geno Ford - “Hard-fought game, super proud of our guys. Northeastern is hard to play, everyone knows it’s hard to beat a team three times. Now there’s an exception to that if you’re significantly better than the other team I guess it’s not that hard, but that team is close to us. We had three dog fights… that was an absolute really good hard-fought game both ways, so thrilled we’re moving on. A lot of guys played well, obviously Dean was terrific, but we needed everybody today.”

 

Dean Noll (On what went right in his career high 23-point performance) - “Just getting a quick start to the game. Sometimes I just pass it too much and I was aggressive today and was making shots... Frankly, I didn’t want it to be my last college basketball game tonight.”

 

Analysis

Stony Brook really held the advantage in this one the entire way. Dean Noll was spectacular, Stephenson-Moore and Aaron Clarke both still scoring at elite levels. This group is old and the message is clear... they're not ready for this season to be over.


Northeastern Huskies

Key Players

#4 Rashad King (So., 6’6” Guard) | 12 pts, 11 ast, 4 reb, 2 stl

#45 Collin Metcalf (So., 6’9” Center) |14 pts, 9 reb

#13 Jared Turner (So., 6’8” Guard/Forward) | 13 pts, 7 reb, 3 stl, 3-6 3pt

#1 Masai Troutman (So., 6’6” Guard) | 16 pts, 6 reb

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Bill Coen - “First I just want to congratulate Coach Ford, his staff, and his program for moving on. Tournament time is always exciting for everybody and everybody works all year for this moment. So it’s disappointing for us, but I’m sure they’re really excited and a well-earned victory. In terms of tonight’s game, I thought we had a reasonable flow going in the first half. And then the second half,  we missed way too many shots around the rim, left points on the free throw line, and fouled too many jump shooters. Was a credit to them, they have a veteran group and veteran guards that really controlled the game. I felt badly for our seniors, they battled for us. When you talk about Chris Doherty over the years and Luka Sakota this year, they’ve been mainstays for us and it just wasn’t their night. But Masai had a terrific game, as well as a couple of the other sophomores and promising for the future.”

 

Analysis:

Bill Coen's group has been near the bottom of the CAA table for the third straight season. While Northeastern fans may be frustrated, the coaching staff really invested in the development for the 2022 high school recruiting class. You can see it as each of the four players listed above are in their sophomore year. My prediction is Coen really tries to see it out through this group, attempting to build a title contender through the next two seasons before deciding on retirement.

 


Game 6: #6 Delaware 80, #14 Hampton 50

Delaware Blue Hens

Key Players

#1 Gerald Drumgoole Jr. (Gr., 6’5” Guard) | 17 pts, 3 reb

#2 Jalun Trent (5Y, 6’4” Guard) | 12 pts, 7 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl

#3 Cavan Reilly (So., 6’4” Guard) | 14 pts, 2 ast, 2 reb, 3-6 3PT

#13 Jyare Davis (Sr., 6’7” Forward) | 9 pts, 5 reb

#5 Christian Ray (5Y, 6’6” Guard) | 4 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 3 blk

 

Quotes

Head Coach Martin Ingelsby - “Just happy with our group. I thought our focus was there all week with our preparation and we really challenged our group to get back to who we are on the defensive end. I thought the first half we were fabulous: we held them to 14%, we guarded the line, we did a great job playing them without fouling. We came down here to get one, we got one today and now we get a chance to compete against Hofstra tomorrow night.”

 

Gerald Drumgoole Jr. - “I think it’s just everybody else being active. Obviously there’s going to be a lot of attention on me when I have the ball in my hand, so everybody just executing, making the right plays. Ultimately, just knowing it’s not about me, it’s about everybody else. My teammates being able to play hard, set good screens for me, and just playing off the ball for me allowed me to ultimately have success today. Tomorrow might be somebody else and that’s the special thing about our team.”

 

Analysis

The Blue Hens finished the season 1-3 in their last 4, the Pirates were 4-2 in their last 6. Delaware had to make sure this contest was out of the hands of an “upset watch” with Hampton riding an emotional high in its win against Elon a night prior. And they did just that. The offense was flowing through Davis and Drumgoole, and Cavan Reilly found his stroke. The momentum of scoring and defending at a high rate will be important facing an offense centered around CAA Player of the Year Tyler Thomas.

 

Hampton Pirates

Key Players

#3 Kyrese Mullen (Fr., 6’7” Forward) | 17 pts, 9 reb, 6-6 FT

#15 Jerry Deng (Fr., 6’9” Forward) | 13 pts, 5 reb

#0 Ted Wilcox Jr. (Gr., 6’6” Guard) | 10 pts, 3 reb, 2 stl

#4 Joshua Lusane (Gr., 6’7” Forward) | 4 pts, 4 reb, 4 blk


Quotes:

Head Coach Edward Joyner Jr. - “Tough night… We were not mentally or physically prepared for what we ran into tonight. I think the beginning of that starts with me, obviously I did not have them prepared for what we ran into tonight. When adversity hit, we went out the window. Hopefully, we can learn from that and can grow as a team, but we were not prepared and we paid the price.”

 

Kyrese Mullen (on what was working for him tonight) - “The free throw line. Nothing was really falling, so I was going to the basket just so I can get contact because I knew that I was hitting my free throws.”


Analysis:

The Hampton Pirates got one on Friday, but they had no chance in this one. On Sunday morning, it was announced that Joyner parted ways with the program. He made the NCAA Tournament three times in fifteen seasons, all in the MEAC, so the school decided it was time to find a new face after finishing with only 9 CAA wins in 2 seasons. 



 

Quarterfinals (March 10th)

(CAA Sports)

 

Game 7: #1 Charleston 83, #8 Monmouth 59

Charleston Cougars

Key Players

#10 Ante Brzovic (Jr., 6’10” Forward) | 15 pts, 9 reb, 3 ast

#1 Frankie Policelli (Gr., 6’9” Guard) | 14 pts, 5 reb, 4-6 3pt

#11 Kobe Rodgers (Jr., 6’3” Guard) | 13 pts, 4 ast, 3 reb

#13 Ben Burnham (Jr., 6’7” Forward) | 16 pts, 3 reb

 

Quotes

Head Coach Pat Kelsey - “We’re excited and fortunate to advance. I have a lot of respect for King. Obviously growing up and watching basketball, first time I met him I was a little starstruck. But he’s a really good coach and he’s a great dude. He’s really gravitated to my son in our times that we played… How cool is that? Your son plays his final college game and comes off and hugs his dad. I’d be blessed to be able to do that someday. Proud of these guys, showed a lot of resilience. (Monmouth) made a run, cut it to 7/8 points, I got in the huddle and didn’t have to say much and it’s because of the leadership from guys like Kobe and Benny. To hold (Xander Rice) to 4-18 from the field and 4 free throws, Reyne Smith doesn’t get enough credit for his defense, he guarded him a big chunk of the game. And then Kobe Rodgers… it was one of the better single defensive performances I’ve ever seen. He was locked in. And Benny was a monster… he’s like feeding a gremlin after midnight when he starts seeing it go in and you keep feeding him. That’s why he’s got the nickname Benny Buckets.”

 

Ben Burnham (on Monmouth inching back in the game) - “It just starts with stops. We call them kills, three stops in a row. Just always trying to get those and that’s where runs come in when you get multiple stops.”

 

Kobe Rodgers (on how important it was to focus on Xander Rice) - “He’s a great player and he was a big part of our game plan. You’ve got to give credit to him he makes tough shots and that’s what we were kind of banking on. If he’s going to make tough shots then he’s going to make tough shots, we just got to make sure we’re physical with him. No easy looks, try to keep him off the free throw line because he gets there a lot. I think not only myself, but Reyne and our team honestly because you can’t really guard him one-on-one, so I give credit to my teammates as well being there in the gaps. And if he did game by me, I had (Ante Brzovic) and James (Scott) to have my back to contest.”

 

Analysis

It’s going to be difficult for any team to keep up with Charleston. If their 3-point shot isn’t falling, they can still come at you from many different ways. They scored 50 points in the paint, they had 12 offensive rebounds and scored 16 second chance points. They don’t lose momentum from any of the 10 rotational guys. Policelli fueled the group in the first half (11 points, 3-5 from 3) and Burnham put it away in the second half (12 points, 2-3 from 3).

 

Monmouth Hawks

Key Players

#2 Jaret Valencia (R-Fr., 6’9” Forward) | 15 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast, 2 blk, 6-6 FT

#21 Xander Rice (Gr., 6’3” Guard) | 16 pts, 3 ast

#13 Jack Collins (So., 6’5” Guard) | 9 pts, 5 reb

#25 Nikita Konstantynovskyi (Gr., 6’10” Forward) | 8 pts, 8 reb

 

Quotes:

Head Coach King Rice - “Tough day for us today and we’re going to give Charleston all the credit. They just outplayed us. We got it down to 7, I thought it was turning a bit but Pat does an incredible job. He called timeout, we guarded them for 29 seconds and then (Ben Burnham) comes in and makes that shot and puts it to 10 to give them a little breathing room. You have to give Pat and those kids a lot of credit. This was an incredible year for us, for my family personally. My little guy over there, Julian, was bawling on the bench and I remember the days when I was at Vanderbilt when Xander was the one crying. So you take it.”

 

Xander Rice - “It was a dream come true this whole year; it’s been a blessing. Obviously, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted, but just being able to be around my family… Honestly the off-the-court stuff has been the coolest part. Being able to go home and be around my little brother, I’ve been away for four years so being able to watch him grow up, be around my mom and my dad, it’s been a blessing.”

 

Analysis:

It looked early that Xander Rice found his form back, shooting 4-6 to start. But Charleston made it difficult for him, shooting 1-12 the rest of the way and only 2-10 from 3. It’s very difficult to prepare for Charleston with no rest. The only way to stay in it is to shoot with them and 37% from the field, 21% from 3 just won’t do it. No more Xander next season, but King Rice announced at the end of his press conference that the win against Campbell pushed 5-year extension with the school.

 

 

Game 8: #5 Towson 66, #4 UNCW 56

Towson Tigers

Key Players

#4 Dylan Williamson (R-Fr., 6’1” Guard) | 18 pts, 4 ast, 11-11 FT

#24 Nendah Tarke (R-Jr., 6’4” Guard) | 15 pts, 5 reb, 2 blk

#11 Mekhi Lowery (Fr., 6’6” Guard/Forward) | 10 pts, 7 reb, 2 blk

#15 Tyler Tejada (Fr., 6’8” Guard/Forward) | 8 pts, 3 reb

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Pat Skerry - “Just a great win for our program, our university, and our student athletes. Wilmington’s obviously one of the true gold standards at this level: well-coached, extremely talented, they have an NBA player in White. Just proud of our guys. Our defense was really good, our assistants did a really good job with the scout and really suggesting going four guards late in the second half. It was the difference in the game that certainly wasn’t something I thought of.”

 

Nendah Tarke (on limiting second half turnovers) - “Just trust what we do. We’re not really a high turnover team, we just try to let the defense dictate what we do and as long as we play our game and do our stuff, we know we’ll be good and we just have to settle down.”


Analysis:

As Nendah was asked, the Tigers had 11 first half turnovers. They were shooting 52.6% in the half, but only shot 19 attempts. They found themselves only down 1 at the half after a Tyler Tejada full-court buzzer beater. This one was a grind, but the players for Towson just wanted it more. After Shykeim Phillip’s dunk when UNCW had last week’s regular season game over with, the Tigers started the motto of “Towson versus everybody.”

 

UNC Wilmington Seahawks

Key Players

#13 Trazarien White (Jr., 6’7” Junior) | 24 pts, 3-3 3PT

#2 Shykeim Phillips (Gr., 6’2” Guard) | 16 pts, 7 reb, 3 stl

 

Quotes

Head Coach Takayo Siddle - “Give Towson all the credit. Just thinking back to last week when we played them, we knew they’re extremely tough, well-coached, and organized. (Pat Skerry) has a good culture, they do a really good job. We knew we were in for a dog fight, we were prepared. They did a really good job of attacking us on both ends and our shots weren’t falling tonight. Outside of (Trazarien White) and Shykeim, we just didn’t get much from anybody else. When you’re playing a really good team like that you have to have everybody clicking on all cylinders and we just didn’t.”

 

Trazarien White (on his season improvements) - “I just kept my head down and was grinding. During the offseason, what happens in the dark comes to light so the work obviously showed. They just wanted it more tonight. I feel like we let one slip away, but you got to go through a lot of hard times to get to where you want to be in life. So we’ll be back.”

 

Analysis

Trazarien White had 18 of the Seahawks’ 30 first half points. Outside of White and Phillips, the rest of the team shot 23% from the field and 0-15 from 3. This was a close game with 10 ties and 11 lead changes, but UNCW really needed KJ Jenkins, Maleeck Harden-Hayes, or anyone else to be that 3rd scoring option for them. The Seahawks finished the year losing 4 of its last 6. Now, we’ll wait and see if Trazarien returns for his senior season.

 

 

Game 9: #7 Stony Brook 91, #2 Drexel 88 (2OT)

Stony Brook Seawolves:

Key Players

#5 Aaron Clarke (Gr., 6’1” Guard) | 27 pts, 7 reb, 4 ast

#4 Chris Maidoh (Gr., 6’10” Forward) | 25 pts, 9 reb, 3 blk, 3 ast

#32 Keenan Fitzmorris (Gr., 7’0” Center) | 16 pts, 5 reb

#14 Tyler Stephenson-Moore (Gr., 6’3” Guard) | 12 pts, 7 reb

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Geno Ford - “This is the most fun I’ve ever had in 25 years because how (the team) is. Tyler, Dean… Dean’s playing with a meniscus tear, the guy can’t even walk bending his knee correctly. He throws that brace on and he just figures it out. He makes zero excuses. Aaron Clarke… winner, is a human being. Maidoh, Fitz, Sabry like they’re just fun to be around. It’s the most fun I’ve had and it had nothing to do with winning tonight. I mean I’m so thankful we did. I’ve said all year that this has been such a blessing to coach these guys because in today’s world where the roster changes over, in the old days where you get a guy, you get him better. We got lucky on that with Tyler, but you don’t get to hang on to these guys, you just end up losing a lot of them. So to go through it with a new team for the most part, I like them a lot more when we win but I like them a lot when we don’t too.”

 

Aaron Clarke (on this season) - “It’s been everything. Honestly, it’s probably been my favorite year of college basketball… With coaches, teammates, and getting a win like this, it’s everything we could have asked for.”

 

Chris Maidoh (on his career-high 25 point night) - “Just being aggressive. My team and coaches wanted me to be aggressive so that’s that I had to do from the jump. We didn’t want our season to end, we just had to keep fighting.”

 

Analysis:

I’ve seen it all year with this group, they have the talent to beat anyone in this conference. And that’s why I picked them in my bracket before the tournament started. Even though this team isn’t experienced together, they’re experienced in the collegiate atmosphere. Aaron Clarke, Chris Maidoh… wow. Keenan Fitzmorris did a lot for them too. On a night Tyler was down shooting, the team did what they had to do to move on.

 

Drexel Dragons

Key Players

#14 Luke House (Gr., 6’4” Guard/Forward) | 28 pts, 6 reb, 7-11 3pt

#13 Garfield Turner (Jr., 6’8” Forward) | 12 pts, 9 reb, 2 blk

#2 Lucas Monroe (Gr., 6’6” Forward) | 13 pts, 6 reb

#11 Justin Moore (So., 6’3” Guard) | 8 pts, 6 ast

 

Quotes

Head Coach Zach Spiker - “I couldn’t be prouder of that locker room. There’s a lot of pain right there for how well we played. For 50 minutes of basketball, I think we led for 47 of them and I thought we were deserving to lead. Got a tough group, we always talk about strong faces through adversity and that can come in different ways. I told our guys today that some stuff’s probably going to happen, we got to deal with it. Could I have predicted that the three-time defensive player of the year went down with an injury and only played what seemed like a small number of minutes? And I thought that we dealt with it pretty well, like Garfield Turner was awesome like (Luke House). I think this is probably the third or fourth time this season he’s had a career high if it just gives you an idea about the level that Luke House plays at. So I can talk about the game but I can tell you my heart is with our guys and I hurt for them.”

 

Luke House - “It stinks because we really thought we had a chance to make it to Tuesday and win it all, so obviously a disappointing feeling. Everybody’s upset but we love each other, we’re always there for each other as teammates, as coaches so I wouldn’t want to go war with anybody else regardless of the outcome today. We didn’t win it all, but I love those guys in there and I know they love me.”

 

Analysis

A team that returned 86% of its scoring from a year ago, you knew they would be dangerous. Like Coach Spiker said, losing Amari Williams was tough, but other players like Luke House stepped up. The Dragons are one of the only schools in the country who didn’t touch the transfer portal, they believed in what they had internally. A few plays and situations did not go their way, so unfortunately their season looks to be concluded. They will now have to find a new identity has Amari Williams has entered his name in the portal and House, Okros, and Monroe are out of eligibility.

 

 

Game 10: #3 Hofstra 73, #6 Delaware 58

Hofstra Pride

Key Players

#1 Darlinstone Dubar (Jr., 6’8” Guard) | 23 pts, 11 reb, 3 stl, 2 blk

#5 Jaquan Carlos (Jr., 6’0” Guard) | 18 pts, 5 ast, 5 reb, 2 stl

#23 Tyler Thomas (Gr., 6’3” Guard) | 20 pts, 4 reb, 3-9 3pt, 2 stl

#11 Jacco Fritz (Gr., 6’10” Forward) | 6 pts, 5 reb

 

Quotes

Head Coach Speedy Claxton - “Good job by the team tonight. I think we were really good on the defensive end, we let our defense carry our offense. In these type of tournaments and situations, your offense is going to come and go and you want your defense to remain the same. You know the old saying offense wins games, defense wins championships and we’re trying to win the championship. So it’s got to start and end of the defensive end.”

 

Jaquon Carlos - “After the first 11 minutes in the game, Coach Speedy told us let our defense carry our offense. When we guard teams like that and leave them on the 60s like our last eight wins, that’s got to be the goal for us in order to get three games in this tournament.”

 

Analysis

The three-headed monster of Dubar, Thomas, and Carlos was key in this one. They created a lot of turnovers defensively, and these three found ways to get buckets on the other end. Dubar naturally put the game out of reach to start the second half with a run of his own. As both Claxton and Carlos noted, the defense will be the difference on how long the Pride remain in DC.

 

Delaware Blue Hens

Key Players

#1 Gerald Drumgoole Jr. (Gr., 6’5” Guard) | 23 pts, 4 ast, 4-9 3pt

#13 Jyare Davis (Sr., 6’7” Forward) | 13 pts, 4 reb, 4 ast

#5 Christian Ray (5Y, 6’6” Guard) | 6 pts, 6 reb, 2 blk

#4 Niels Lane (Sr., 6’5” Guard) | 6 pts, 7 reb

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Martin Ingelsby - “All credit to Hofstra. I thought their defense was fabulous, they really disrupted us on the offensive end, they caused 9 turnovers in the first half. It was a back-and-forth game maybe the first 16 minutes and they got some separation at halftime up 6. And then we weren’t able to get into a great flow offensively, we only scored 58 points and thought we had some good looks. We also had some turnovers and credit to them for really guarding us.”

 

Jyare Davis (on Hofstra’s defensive gameplan) - “I always think it’s more so us, there’s definitely some things we could have done better in terms of taking care of the ball and trusting our offense a little better. They definitely switch coverages up a little bit, they do a good job and very well-coached team but at the end of the day we’re the ones out there and we could have made more plays tonight.”


Analysis:

Similar to really all of its recent games against Charleston, Drexel, and Stony Brook before the tournament, the Blue Hens kept pace with Hofstra but went cold for a long stretch of time in the middle third of the game. Once the hole is dug, it’s hard to pull out of it, especially against the trio of Thomas, Dubar, and Carlos. The program will miss everything Christian Ray brought, but needs are noticeable to build a strong identity in the half court offense and defense for next season.

 


 

Semifinals (March 11th)

(Stony Brook Athletics)

 

Game 11: #1 Charleston 61, #5 Towson 56

Charleston Cougars

Key Players

#2 Reyne Smith (Jr., 6’2” Guard) | 16 pts, 5 reb, 2 stl, 3-10 3-pt

#11 Kobe Rodgers (Jr., 6’3” Guard) | 9 pts, 4 reb, 4 stl

#4 Bryce Butler (Gr., 6’5” Guard) | 13 pts

#1 Frankie Policelli (Gr., 6’9” Forward) | 10 pts, 5 reb

 

Quotes

Head Coach Pat Kelsey - “That’s March, that’s what it looks like. That was a big-time college basketball game, you have to give Towson a ton of credit. They’re number 1 in the country in offensive rebounding for a reason and that’s how Pat’s teams play. They’re just nasty, physical and we just knew it was going to be a bloodbath and it always is and it was. We think we have a tough, nasty program too that competes all the time, so you hate a game like this that somebody’s got to lose because it was a big time college basketball game. Our guys were unbelievably resilient, the air came out of the arena at the 4:12 minute mark and we’re down 7. Our guys battled right, they responded to a whole lot of adversity at that point when the chips were down. So proud of our guys and we’re excited and fortunate to advance.”

 

Reyne Smith - “We were completely calm. I think we never panic… we don’t budge. We knew there was three minutes left and that’s a lot of time in basketball and you can do a lot in that. So I think we just kept playing hard, we got stops on the other end and just got some guys to step up and make some big plays. I think what we do great is we just don’t panic. I think we’re so locked in on just the next thing and not worrying about what’s happening in three possessions’ time. We just worried about that one possession, get a stop, and then the rest will take care of itself.”

 

Analysis

With the contrast of offensive playing styles, I thought to myself that if Charleston was going to drop any game in this tournament that it was going to be this one. The Cougars didn’t have their best night, but like Pat Kelsey said it best… it’s March. You have to do what you have to do to get to the next round. The balanced group made some huge plays down the stretch to win this won from behind.

 

Towson Tigers

Key Players

#32 Charles Thompson (Gr., 6’7” Forward) | 14 pts, 6 reb, 3 stl

#15 Tyler Tejada (Fr., 6’8” Guard/Forward) | 16 pts, 4 reb

#4 Dylan Williamson (R-Fr., 6’1” Guard) | 13 pts, 3 reb, 3-5 3pt

#5 Christian May (So., 6’5” Guard/Forward) | 7 pts, 2 ast

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Pat Skerry - “Obviously that one stings, but credit to Charleston. We struggled to score down the stretch, we went small and they turned up the pressure a little bit. Our offensive choppiness has been our Achilles heel. For us, usually we need to get on the glass and get to the foul line and we didn’t have great success in either of those areas, but a lot of that had to do with them. As I told our guys, it never comes down to one play. We got some young guys that are hurt and every player, whether it’s in the first minute of the game, last minute of the game, they count the same amount of points. So it’s how efficient you can be over 40 minutes.”

 

Analysis:

As coach put it best at the top of his opening statement, this one stings. After a 3-point make by Christian May, the Tigers had a 7 points lead with 4:12 to play, but Charleston went on a 13-1 run to win it. There’s no really other way to put it besides they should be playing Tuesday. Towson has a solid core of young players, but they will miss their best player Charles Thompson and need to find a player like him for both ends of the court.

 

 

Game 12: #7 Stony Brook 63, #3 Hofstra 59

Stony Brook Seawolves

Key Players

#14 Tyler Stephenson-Moore (Gr., 6’3” Guard) | 23 pts, 9 reb, 3 stl, 2 blk, 4-7 3pt

#4 Chris Maidoh (Gr., 6’10” Forward) | 13 pts, 3 reb, 2 blk

#5 Aaron Clarke (Gr., 6’1” Guard) | 12 pts, 5 reb

#13 Dean Noll (Gr., 6’2” Guard) | 8 pts, 5 reb

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Geno Ford - “We are the seven seed, but the league’s expanded and we’re not the seventh best team in the league. I think we’ve shown that, our guys don’t believe that and they’ve got a lot of grit to them. It was a great win for us, Hofstra has pounded on us for years. If you were to go look at the historic record, we have hardly beaten them ever so to play and beat them in such a meaningful game is huge for our players, the program, the community, the university. A lot goes into this and a lot people put a lot of resources into being competitive in hoops, so it’s always hard and thankful we won.”

 

Tyler Stephenson-Moore (on heavy minutes so far this tournament) - “I’ve done it before, did it all last year so it helped and big-time players just got to step up. (I) can’t come out of the game, I do things on both ends of the floor… just got to stay locked in.”


Analysis:

Stony Brook. America’s team. What a story for this team’s journey in DC. They went under the radar due to some close losses earlier in conference play. But they’re old and they have guys who can hit shots. Night 1 was Dean’s night, yesterday was Chris and Aaron’s nights, today was all Tyler’s. They are the first 7th seed to make the CAA final since 1993. Who’s turn will it be Tuesday against familiar transfer of the program Frankie Policelli.

 

Hofstra Pride

Key Players

#23 Tyler Thomas (Gr., 6’3” Guard) | 32 pts, 9 reb, 6 ast, 3 stl, 6-16 3pt

#5 Jaquan Carlos (Jr., 6’8” Guard) | 13 pts, 6 ast, 3 reb, 3 stl

#1 Darlinstone Dubar (Jr., 6’8” Guard) | 5 pts, 6 reb, 2 stl

 

Quotes

Head Coach Speedy Claxton - “Hats off to Stony Brook. They earned this one, made big shots after big shots when they needed to. So congrats to them, good luck to them into the finals. Hell of a year by my guys. Super proud of them, there’s no head handing here. They gave us all that we wanted game after game.”

 

Tyler Thomas (on what Claxton meant to him) - “It means everything. I came here, they set forth a plan for me and they believed in me from day one. That’s all you could ask for as a player. Speed taught me a lot… every detail matters and to win games and to become better at basketball.”

 

Analysis

Tyler Thomas, even through fighting an injury, proved why he was selected as the CAA Player of the Year. The trilogy we always list and talk about lead the way, but if one of them were to have an inefficient night like Dubar did, they are in trouble. This team didn’t have enough support down low to match Hofstra in points. Thomas will be hard to replace, but you must think Speedy knows what’s he can do to bring some onboard.

 


 

Championship (March 12th)

(CAA Sports)

 

Game 13: #1 Charleston 82, #7 Stony Brook 79 (OT)

Charleston Cougars

Key Players

#2 Reyne Smith (Jr., 6'2" Guard) | 23 pts, 5 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl, 6-15 3pt

#11 Kobe Rodgers (Jr., 6'3" Guard) | 10 pts, 6 reb, 4 ast

#13 Ben Burnham (Jr., 6'7" Forward) | 14 pts, 7 reb

#1 Frankie Policelli (Gr., 6'9" Forward) | 12 pts, 5 reb

 

Quotes

Head Coach Pat Kelsey - “First of all I want to give Geno and his team a lot of credit. That wasn't a seven seed, they've been an absolute beast of a team the last three weeks and he had those guys humming. They were playing desperate, I have so much respect for the way they turned it around. We're very fortunate, I want to give praise and glory to God, we give Him the glory for these achievements. Reyne Smith here is an absolute beast... that three in transition off of a steal, I can't believe there would be a bigger shot maybe in the history of our conference. I know that I'm embellishing a little bit, but that takes some you know what to do that and he's been "Big Game Reyne" for us ever since he got to campus. Just blessed to coach this team, very fortunate to advance and have an opportunity to represent our institution in the National Tournament.”

 

Reyne Smith (on the steal and 3-point make) - “Probably the beauty of it was nothing was going through my head. I've practiced transition threes off the dribble every day, so it was something that I just didn't over-complicate. I saw him back up and just step into it with rhythm. Just fortunate enough to knock it down. It's something you don't think of in the moment... you just shoot it and hope it goes in.”

 

Analysis

This, by any means, was not an easy game for them to win. The Cougars have won two straight titles, and Pat Kelsey is one of his kind. Reyne Smith is a special player, and he and the rest of the team will represent the CAA in the NCAA Tournament. Watch out for the Cougars to pull off an upset as they're on a 12-game winning streak and playing its best basketball all season.


Stony Brook Seawolves

Key Players

#14 Tyler Stephenson-Moore (Gr., 6’3” Guard) | 26 pts, 5 reb, 7-12 3pt

#32 Keenan Fitzmorris (Gr., 7’0” Center) | 16 pts, 7 reb, 3 blk

#5 Aaron Clarke (Gr., 6’1 Guard) | 11 pts, 7 ast, 3 reb

#21 Andre Snoddy (Jr., 6’6” Guard/Forward) | 9 pts, 7 reb

 

Quotes:

Head Coach Geno Ford - “Congrats to Charleston, they've got a great program. They deserved to win; the irony is I thought we deserved to win too. That's just how it works... Somehow that three spun out and we got a great look, Aaron's been so good at that. But sports are cruel. I feel bad for the guys, and I've never felt worse for a group of kids.”

 

Analysis:

This is the only team who had the opportunity to play 4 games in the tournament. They earned where they finished, not where they started. I respect Geno Ford and everyone who made an impact for the Seawolves in this run. Tyler Stephenson-Moore, Chris Maidoh, Keenan Fitzmorris, Aaron Clarke, Dean Noll, Andre Snoddy... all special people and I'm happy this postseason brought them to light.



 

Honors/Summary


After covering all 13 games across the 5-day span, I wanted to cast my vote and highlight these players and moments from the tournament….


Most Valuable Player: Reyne Smith (Charleston)

Best Game: #1 Charleston 82 - #7 Stony Brook 79 (OT)

Runner-Up: #7 Stony Brook 91 - #2 Drexel 88 (2OT)

Unsung Hero: Chris Maidoh (Stony Brook)

 


1st Team:

Aaron Clarke (Guard, Stony Brook) – 17.3 pts, 4.8 reb, 3.5 ast (4 games)

Tyler Stephenson-Moore (Guard, Stony Brook) – 20.5 pts, 6.5 reb, 1.3 ast (4 games)

Kobe Rodgers (Guard, Charleston) – 10.7 pts, 4.3 reb, 2.7 ast, 2.0 stl (3 games)

Reyne Smith (Guard, Charleston) – 14.3 pts, 3.7 reb, 3.3 ast, 1.7 stl (3 games)

Tyler Thomas (Guard, Hofstra) – 26 pts, 6.5 reb, 4 ast, 3 stl (2 games)

 

2nd Team:

Chris Maidoh (Forward, Stony Brook) – 12.0 pts, 4.0 reb, 1.5 ast, 1.3 blk (4 games)

Ben Burnham (Forward, Charleston) – 10.3 pts, 4.7 reb, 1.0 stl (3 games)

Frankie Policelli (Forward, Charleston) – 12.0 pts, 5.0 reb (3 games)

Dylan Williamson (Guard, Towson) – 15.3 pts, 2.3 reb, 1.7 ast (3 games)

Jaquan Carlos (Guard, Hofstra) – 15.5 pts, 5.5 ast, 4 reb, 2.5 stl (2 games)

 

Honorable Mentions:

Keenan Fitzmorris (Center, Stony Brook) – 9.8 pts, 4.5 reb, 1.0 blk (4 games)

Ante Brzovic (Forward, Charleston) – 12.0 pts, 4.0 reb (3 games)

Gerald Drumgoole (Guard, Delaware) – 20 pts, 2.5 reb, 2 ast (2 games)

Luke House (Guard, Drexel) – 28 pts, 6 reb, 2 ast (1 game)

Chase Lowe (Guard, William & Mary) – 15.5 pts, 11.5 reb, 5.5 ast (2 games)

Trazarien White (Forward, UNCW) – 24 pts, 2 reb (1 game)

Jaret Valencia (Forward, Monmouth) – 14 pts, 4.5 reb, 1.5 ast, 1.5 blk (2 games)

Anthony Dell'Orso (Guard, Campbell) – 23 pts, 5 reb, 2 blk, 2 stl



What a phenomenal tournament. If you made it this far, thanks for following my full coverage and notes from all 13 games. In a couple of weeks, I will have my 2024 CAA Basketball Offseason Guide out to track who’s staying, who’s leaving, and who’s joining all 14 rosters next season. I appreciate all of the support, and I can’t wait to get back to DC next year.

 

 

Twitter: @bleslie19, @SSN_BlueHens

 


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