Old Dominion head coach Blaine Taylor celebrates winning the Colonial Athletic Association Championship in Richmond, Va., Monday, March 7, 2011. ODU won the game 70-65 (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

2011 CAA Tournament: Old Dominion Hangs On For Championship Game Win Against VCU

The Georgia State Panthers arrived in Richmond for the CAA Tournament with more questions than answers, falling to George Mason in round two.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament: Old Dominion Hangs On, Beats VCU 70-65

Old Dominion grabbed their dancing shoes and survived a furious VCU second half rally to win the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament Championship 70-65 on Monday night in Richmond.

The Monarchs size and strength on the inside proved to be too much in the first half as ODU sprinted out to an 18 point lead. As the Rams began to claw back using their smaller quicker guards and wing players led by Bradford Burgess, VCU cut the lead to one with under 5 minutes to play when ODU had nine straight trips on the offensive end without a bucket.

The Rams would get no closer and Frank Hassell was way too much for VCU to handle in the post scoring 22 points, on 8-9 shooting from the field, and grabbing 9 rebounds.

Old Dominion snatches the CAA’s automatic bid for the second consecutive year and the loss likely forces VCU to the NIT. Top seeded George Mason will also have very little to sweat about on Selection Sunday as they should have no problem grabbing an at large bid.

Many mid to lower tier CAA fans including those at Georgia State were likely rooting for the black and gold of VCU, however, because a victory would have meant three CAA teams in the Dance and a larger share of the NCAA payout for the conference. Mid-major teams can receive somewhere in the neighborhood of $230,000 per unit, or game played. With three teams in and the conference splitting the revenue, it could mean as much as $60,000 in conference share per team.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament: Old Dominion Pushes Hofstra Aside 77-69

Old Dominion locked up a berth in the CAA Final with a 77-69 victory over Hofstra in Richmond on Sunday.

Frank Hassell dropped 22 for the Monarchs as they improved to 26-6 on the year. Darius James added 16 points and Kent Bazemore scored 11 as ODU shot a tourney high 57 percent on the day.

ODU Coach Blaine Taylor described James' approach and impact:

"Darius has had to give himself to the team and be very unselfish, night after and night, and not get as many shots as he'd probably like.  Tonight, the way the Red Sea parted — they were worried about our wings — he stepped right in there like Moses."

Hofstra reached the 3rd round for the first time in 5 seasons and had CAA player of the Year Charles Jenkins score 16 but could not keep ODU off the glass or out of the paint.

The Pride will likely have earned a spot in the NIT finishing their post season with a record of 21-11 and an RPI of 82.

Old Dominion will try to defend their CAA conference title vs. 4th seeded VCU Monday night at 7pm. The game will be televised on the ESPN family of networks. The Colonial, in all likelihood, will receive at least 2 bids into the NCAA Tournament but could get as many as 3 if VCU finds a way to secure the CAA Automatic birth with a win tomorrow.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament: VCU Smacks George Mason 79-63

Virginia Commonwealth secured a much needed semifinal victory over top seed and #25 ranked George Mason 79-63 in the CAA Tournament in Richmond.

The three headed Ram monster of Jamie Skeen, Bradford Burgess and Joey Rodriguez pushed VCU even closer to a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. Skeen likely locked up All-CAA Tournament team honors with 21 points on 7-13 shooting with four huge 3 point baskets. Burgess put a double-double on the board with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Rodriguez directed the offense all day with 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists.

George Mason was led by Cam Long with 22 points, 3 boards and 2 assists. The Patriots are still a lock for the NCAA Tournament but probably saw their seed slip from the 5-6 range to the 8-9 range.

VCU advances to face the winner of the Old Dominion – Hofstra contest on Monday at 7pm ET. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament: Hofstra Cruises Past William & Mary 72-56

Hofstra shook off a poor shooting first half to advance past upset minded William & Mary 72-56 Saturday night in the second round of the CAA Tournament in Richmond.

The Pride used a 35-11 run in the second half to grab momentum and a spot in the semifinals. Back-to-back CAA Player of the Year Charles Jenkins scored 20 points, grabbed 5 rebounds and dished out 3 assists in the game but struggled mightily in the first half. Whatever happened at half worked as he exploded for a deep 3, a driving layup and 4 straight trips to the FT line resulting in 13 straight points that essentially put the game out of reach.

Hofstra coach Mo Cassara gave his thoughts on the first half:

“We were just a little flat. We weren’t quite clicking on all cylinders. I think a part of that was having a week off, being in a big arena, we just got a little tight.”

William & Mary ends their year at 10-22 and were led by Marcus Kitts with 10 points and 8 rebounds.

Hofstra will face #2 seed Old Dominion on Sunday at 2:30pm ET.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament: Old Dominion Drops Delaware 59-50

Old Dominion advanced to the Semifinals of the CAA Tournament after dispatching of Delaware 59-50 on Saturday evening in Richmond. On the strength of Frank Hassell’s 24 points and late 15-4 surge, the Monarchs won their 7th straight and 25th win overall.

While the seeds and Delaware’s losing record may have not led fans to believe the Blue Hens had a chance in this one, UD actually had handed ODU a loss earlier in the year and received another strong performance by Senior guard Jawan Carter who scored 24 points in his final collegiate game.

ODU entered the tournament as the 2nd seed but is still considered a near lock to grab an at large if they trip up the rest of the way in Richmond. With an RPI of 27 and quality wins over Clemson, Richmond, Cleveland State and Xavier this season, the Monarchs resume is continuing to improve.

The Monarchs faces the winner of the Hofstra-William & Mary game tomorrow at 2:30pm ET.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament: Jamie Skeen Hits GW Layup as VCU Sneaks By Drexel 62-60

Virginia Commonwealth’s Jamie Skeen hit a layup as the buzzer sounded to give the Rams a 62-60 victory over Drexel in the CAA Tournament in Richmond. Skeen scored 18 of his game high 24 points in the second half and he almost single handedly kept the Rams NCAA Tourney hopes alive.

Drexel trailed almost the entire 2nd half and Chris Fouch drained two 3-pointers to knot up the score at 60. VCU’s Coach Shaka Smart drew up the inbound play to Skeen and the senior hit his game-winning shot just before the final buzzer sounded.

Fouch scored 15 of his 20 points after halftime for Drexel. Samme Givens added 13.

A second half free throw differential of 25-3 in favor of VCU had the Drexel crowd howling. “We told the players that we knew how it was going to be down here,” said UD Coach Bruiser Flint, whose team fell to 21-10. “It was unfortunate the outcome that came, especially with how hard we fought.”

Drexel will likely be headed to the NIT, CBI or Collegeinsider.com Tournament along with fellow conference member James Madison who lost earlier in the day.

VCU will head to the CAA Semifinal vs. top seeded George Mason at Noon ET.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament Final Score: George Mason Punishes Georgia State, 68-45

On the strength of a 37 point 2nd half, top seeded and #25 ranked George Mason sent the Georgia State Panthers home with a 68-45 defeating 2nd round action of the CAA Tournament in Richmond.

Georgia State was held without a field goal for nearly 16 minutes in the second half and could not stop the Mason duo of Cam Long and Andre Cornelius. Long scored a game high 15 points on 5-9 shooting from the field and Cornelius did his damage from deep with three big 3 point baskets.

The Panthers were led by leading scorer Eric Buckner with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Marques Johnson, playing in his final college game, scored 9 points and grabbed 5 points.

George Mason advances to Sunday to face the winner of the VCU and Drexel contest at noon ET.

Georgia State could return as many as 4 starters and nine players overall on this team for 2011-12 losing only PG Marques Johnson and SG Dante Curry to graduation. Who will replace Rod Barnes as head coach? Will any current players leave? Will freshman signee Jervon Pressley honor his letter of intent or force a release? These and many more questions will likely be answered before the Final Four.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament Score: George Mason Leads Georgia State At Half

The George Mason Patriots closed the first half with a 14-0 run and lead the Georgia State Panthers 31-29 at the half in second round action in the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association tournament.

Georgia State is led so far by Eric Buckner with 7 points, 2 rebounds and 1 blocks and Josh Micheaux has been a defensive force with 5 rebounds and 3 steals. The Panthers have shot an amazing 64.7 percent from the field, but have committed 12 first half fouls to keep Mason in the game.

George Mason is only shooting 35 percent in the first half but has been able to take advantage of five first half Panther turnovers. The Patriots are led at half by Andre Cornelius with 9 points on 3-5 shooting from deep.

The game will be shown in its entirety on CSS beginning at 6 pm ET.

For more on this game and the tournament, visit SB Nation DC.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament: William & Mary Upsets James Madison 72-68

The 11th seeded William & Mary Tribe pulled easily the most shocking upset of the 1st round of the CAA Tournament knocking out 6 seeded James Madison on Friday night.

Quinn McDowell was absolutely dominant in this contest scoring 35 points, 20 in the 2nd half, to lead the Tribe.  He drained 5-6 from deep and was 10-12 from the field overall.

JMU did take a late lead 68-67 with 1:21 to play only to see W&M drain 2 clutch free throws to put the Tribe in the lead for good. Two free throws by Matt Rum and one by McDowell provided the final margin.

The Tribe overcame begin outshot and outrebounded by the Dukes due in large part by the offensive explosion by McDowell.

The 11th seeded Tribe (10-21) face 3rd seed Hofstra in the quarterfinals Saturday night at 8:30pm. James Madison is likely headed to the NIT finishing the season at 21-11.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament: Delaware Survives Northeastern 60-58

Delaware rode 17 points by Jawan Carter and clutch free throw shooting to slip past Northeastern in 1st round CAA Tournament action in Richmond, Virginia. Northeastern actually led by 3 with just under 4 minutes to play but could not slow the 3 point barrage by the Blue Hens.

UD hit seven 3 point baskets on the day and shot better than 50 percent overall from the field. Northeastern’s Chaison Allen did not play well shooting 3-12 from the field and 4 costly turnovers. After Carter missed two foul shots with 9 seconds left, after hitting 37 straight prior to the trip, Allen rebounded for Northeastern, but turned it over which proved to be the difference. 

Delaware survived a clinic at the charity stripe by Northeastern as the Huskies converted 20-23 on the day. 

The 7th seeded Blue Hens get a date with #2 seeded Old Dominion on Saturday at 6pm ET.

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2011 CAA Tournament: Drexel Drops Towson 75-69

Drexel came into its 1st round game with Towson with 16 more regular season wins and had to fight like crazy to dispatch the Tigers of Pat Kennedy.

Tied at 28 at the half, Drexel raced out to a 13 point lead before the under 12 minute timeout in the 2nd half. Towson roared back with a deep 3 by Rashawn Polk to put the score at 64-62 with a little over 3 minutes left. The Tigers would draw no closer and Drexel moves onto the 2nd round.

Samme Givens had 22 points and 14 rebounds for Drexel while Chris Fouch added 15 points.

Josh Brown had 18 points for Towson who completed their season without a win in CAA play.

Drexel will face #4 seed VCU on Saturday at 2:30pm.

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Georgia State Vs. UNCW Final Score: 2011 CAA Tournament Opens With 58-52 Panthers Win

Georgia State advanced out of the first round in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament for the fourth time in six tries, defeating UNC-Wilmington 58-52 today in Richmond.

The Panthers starting five was the story today, contributing 47 points on 48.6 percent shooting from the field. Josh Micheaux led the way with 14 points, and Eric Buckner just missed a double-double with 12 points, eight boards and two blocks. Marques Johnson had a fantastic day running the offense with seven assists and only one turnover in 31 minutes.

GSU interim coach Paul Graham ran 11 players at the Seahawks, which seemed to take its toll as UNCW only shot 29.5 percent for the game. The Panthers enjoyed a strong team rebounding game collecting 42 boards and handled the ball well with 18 assists on their 23 made baskets.  5 players combined for 8 blocks as well setting the tone for a well rounded defensive effort.

Coach Graham commented after the game:

"It's about these guys."  They worked hard all week and stayed focus, and our team played really well. Basketball is a team game, and we got contributions from everyone.  James Fields and Josh Micheaux did a great job defensively. [UNCW Guard Chad] Tomko still got his 19 points, but didn't get a lot of open looks and he wasn't able to get his teammates involved."

Georgia State will face top seed and No. 25 ranked George Mason for the second time in seven days on Saturday at noon.  The game will be televised on CSS.

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament Schedule, Bracket: George Mason Favored To Win Colonial

The George Mason Patriots come into the 2011 CAA tournament on a 15-game winning streak, having lost only twice in conference play. Ken Pomeroy has them ranked No. 29 in the nation, and they’re expected to lead the conference’s representatives in the NCAA Tournament.

Old Dominion isn’t far off from the Pats, though there’s a noticeable dropoff between them and VCU and Hofstra, the two other teams with first-round byes. Towson comes in as the tourney’s longest longshot, going winless in CAA play on the year. Yay, Towson! The Georgia St. Panthers have a winnable game ahead of them against UNC-Wilmington, with both of the games between these two teams coming down to the wire.

It’s a tournament with a clear favorite, a clear laggard, and then a bunch of question marks in the middle. Here’s the complete final bracket and schedule. All games are on CSS unless otherwise noted:

Friday, March 4

UNCW vs. Georgia State, noon
Drexel vs. Towson, 2:30
Delaware vs. Northeastern, 6
James Madison vs. William & Mary, 8:30

Saturday, March 5

Game 5: George Mason vs. UNCW/Georgia State, noon
Game 6: VCU vs. Drexel/Towson, 2:30
Game 7: Old Dominion vs. Delaware/Northeastern, 6
Game 8: Hofstra vs. James Madison/William & Mary, 8:30

Sunday, March 6

Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, noon
Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 2:30

Monday, March 7

Championship, 7, ESPN

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2011 CAA Basketball Tournament: Georgia State Heads To Richmond Minus Rod Barnes

The Georgia State men's basketball team has landed in Richmond, Virginia without their head coach and with a ton of questions.  How will this team respond without Rod Barnes?  How will interim coach Paul Graham handle the lineup?  Will the Panthers break out the scoring at some point?

On Sunday, GSU announced that Barnes was relieved of his duties and Graham would take over for the CAA Tournament.  Graham has some head coaching experience at Washington State, and has been a long time assistant in the Big 12 and Pac 10.  How Graham will alter the playing rotation is unknown at this point, but he did offer some comments in the CAA Teleconference on Monday.

Coach Graham also offered some insight about what he said to the players:

What I told my players, I’m not Coach Barnes, I have to be myself and coach the way I feel. What we do is sound and fundamental. We just have to go out and compete. What I believe in is if you defend, rebound the basketball, play as hard as you can and don’t turn the ball over you’re going to be right there in the game. When you get this late in the year, everybody knows what you’re going to do. There’s no secret.

Georgia State faces the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks for the 3rd time this season in the 8/9 game on Friday at noon.  The Panthers have played in this matchup three times in their five-year stay in the CAA.  Both teams won on their respective home courts, and both games were very close.  Also, something interesting (to me, at least) is that UNCW relieved their coach of his duties in January 2010 and were also led by an interim coach into last March's CAA Tournament.

Seahawks senior guard Ahmad Grant offered his own advice on what the Panthers should do moving forward:

A team, it’s like family. The head coach is like the dad of the team. So I mean losing that, he’s not there any more, it’s like a child waking up and his dad’s not there. It’s weird, it’s different. You come into practice, you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what’s going on. It’s definitely hard. They have no choice but to go harder, they don’t know who they’ve got coming in next year or anything like that. All they can do is play hard.

The winner of this game has the unfortunate gift of playing one of the hottest teams in the country in George Mason on Saturday.  The Panthers have not advanced into the second round but once in the last three attempts.  The task will be difficult, but not impossible.  You have to love GSU freshman guard Devonta White and his optimism this morning:

Bout to fly to Richmond for the CAA tourney..straight business trip..tweet when I get back to atl with my ring until then...be good folks!!
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