Rokas Gustys

AP Photo/John Minchillo

Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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The regular season in the Colonial Athletic Association was an entertaining one, as it produced two champions (Hofstra and UNCW) and three other teams with 11 league wins (Towson, William & Mary and James Madison). Joe Mihalich’s Pride, led by CAA Player of the Year Juan’ya Green and forward Rokas Gustys, will be the top seed this weekend in Baltimore with UNCW being the two-seed. The last two tournament titles have been won by teams that earned at least a share of that season’s regular season title, but don’t be surprised if that isn’t the case this time around.

The Bracket

caa

When: March 4-7

Where: Royal Farms Arena, Baltimore

Final: March 7, 7:00 p.m. (NBCSN)

Watch the CAA Championship game Monday at 7 pm ET on NBCSN and on Live Extra

Favorite: UNCW

For the second straight season the Seahawks won a share of the CAA regular season title, performing well on both ends of the floor as they won 14 CAA games. UNCW ranked second in the conference in field goal percentage, third in three-point percentage, second in field goal percentage defense and third in three-point percentage defense. Kevin Keatts has four players averaging double figures in scoring with All-CAA forward Chris Flemmings (16.1 ppg) and guard Denzel Ingram (12.6 ppg) leading the way, and eight players play at least 12 minutes per contest. UNCW also led the CAA in turnover margin, but if they’re to win the tournament they have to be better on the defensive glass (last in defensive rebounding percentage).

And if they lose?: Hofstra

The Pride don’t have much depth thanks to injuries, but they certainly don’t lack for talent. In addition to the aforementioned Green and Gustys, Joe Mihalich can also call upon quality options such as Ameen Tanksley, Brian Bernardi and Denton Koon for contributions on the offensive end of the floor. Hofstra averaged 78.4 points per game in CAA play, and only William & Mary was better from an offensive efficiency standpoint. The key for Hofstra: avoiding foul trouble, especially when it comes to Gustys in the post.

Other Contenders:

  • William & Mary: Tony Shaver’s Tribe have never reached the NCAA tournament, but players such as all-CAA guard Omar Prewitt and Daniel Dixon have made them the most efficient offense in the league.
  • James Madison: The Dukes have on of the CAA’s best players in guard Ron Curry, and they swept the season series with possible semifinal opponent Hofstra.
  • Towson: Pat Skerry’s Tigers are the three-seed by virtue of their 3-1 record against William & Mary and James Madison, and led by Arnaud William Adala Moto they’re the best rebounding team in the CAA.

CAA Player of the Year: Juan’ya Green, Hofstra

A lot was asked of Green due to the Pride’s lack of depth and he delivered, averaging 18.2 points (second in the CAA), 7.9 assists (first) and 1.8 steals (first) in conference games. Green reached double digits in scoring in all 18 of Hofstra’s CAA games, and over the last six contests (all wins) he averaged 16.8 points and 8.8 assists per game.

CAA Coach of the Year: Kevin Keatts, UNCW

This award tends to go to the coach whose team most exceeded preseason expectations, and Keatts certainly qualifies. After losing three starters and their top two scorers from a team that won a share of the CAA regular season title in 2014-15, UNCW simply reloaded and duplicated that feat in 2015-16.

First-Team All-CAA:

  • Juan’ya Green, Hofstra (POY)
  • Ron Curry, James Madison: Curry averaged a CAA-best 19.2 points per game in league games while also dishing out an average of four assists per contest.
  • Omar Prewitt, William & Mary: Prewitt ranked third in the CAA in both scoring and field goal percentage (league games only).
  • Chris Flemmings, UNCW: Flemmings arrived at UNCW as a walk-on after transferring in from Division II Barton College, and at 16.8 points and 6.2 rebounds per game (in CAA play) the 6-foot-5 forward certainly had an impact.
  • Rokas Gustys, Hofstra: Gustys was the CAA’s most dominant interior presence, as he led the league in both rebounding (15.1 rpg) and field goal percentage (68.7 percent) while also averaging 16.4 points per contest in CAA games.

CBT Prediction: UNCW outlasts Hofstra in the title game.

VIDEO: Gustys, Hofstra hold off Northeastern at home

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With first-place UNCW winning Saturday, Hofstra needed a win Sunday against Northeastern to remain a game back ahead of their meeting in Wilmington Thursday night. The Huskies mounted a rally in the second half but it wasn’t enough to overtake Hofstra, which won by the final score of 65-60 on NBC Sports Network.

Denton Koon scored 19 points and Rokas Gustys added 17 points and 16 rebounds, tallying his 17th double-double of the season. Guards Juan’ya Green (13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds) and Ameen Tanksley (12 points) also scored in double figures, with that quartet accounting for 61 of the Pride’s 65 points.

David Walker and Quincy Ford, both of whom had their struggles at times on the offensive end Sunday, scored 15 points apiece for Northeastern.