There is plenty of excitement surrounding the start of the 2011-12 CAA Basketball season. The conference is coming off its best year ever as three teams (George Mason, Old Dominion and VCU) were selected to the NCAA Tournament field for the first time, with the Rams becoming the second CAA team to reach the NCAA Final Four in five years. Expectations are high once again.
To get you ready for the opening tip-off in November, we've provided a quick look at all 12 teams and have plenty of notes and stats for you to review. Just click on the link below to open the PDF document.
We encourage you to share your thoughts through our various social media outlets. Follow the CAA on Twitter and use the hashtag #caahoops with your posts to join the discussion with fans and media members from around the league.
You can also become a friend of the CAA on Facebook and post your comments on which team will cut down the nets in March.
Below are few quick hits to get you started:
MAJORITY OF STARTERS RETURN: CAA teams have 60% of their starters (36-of-60) back from a year ago. Five squads return four starters and three others welcome back three.
FIVE ALL-CONFERENCE HONOREES ARE BACK: Six players who earned All-CAA honors in 2010-11 return this season. Headlining that list are three second-team All-CAA picks - ODU senior guard Kent Bazemore, Drexel senior forward Samme Givens and George Mason senior forward Ryan Pearson. Back from the All-CAA third team are Drexel junior guard Chris Fouch and William & Mary senior forward Quinn McDowell.
VCU BECOMES SECOND CAA TEAM TO REACH NCAA FINAL FOUR: VCU reached the NCAA Final Four in 2011, becoming the second CAA team in five years (George Mason - 2006) to achieve the feat. Both the Rams and Patriots were #11 seeds in the tournament and upset #1 seeds (VCU over Kansas, Mason over UConn) in the regional finals. Only five other conferences have had more Final Four appearances than the CAA since 2006.
THREE CAA TEAMS EARN NCAA BERTHS FOR FIRST TIME: Following the best regular season in conference history, the CAA had three teams invited to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 2011. Conference champion Old Dominion was joined by at-large picks George Mason and VCU. The Patriots advanced to the third round after knocking off Villanova, while the Rams defeated USC, Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas on the road to the Final Four.
POSTSEASON SUCCESS: CAA teams have combined to win 30 games in postseason play over the last six years. During that six-year period, the conference has had two teams reach the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament (George Mason – 2006 and VCU - 2011), a team reach the semifinals of the NIT (Old Dominion – 2006) and squads capture championships of the College Basketball Invitational (VCU – 2010) and the CollegeInsider.com Tournament (Old Dominion – 2009). The CAA has had at least five teams reach postseason play for the past three years.
PILING UP THE WINS: For the first time in CAA history, six teams finished the 2010-11 season with at least 21 victories. Only four other Division I conferences had six 21-win squads. The CAA also had three teams (Mason, ODU and VCU) with at least 27 wins, which was second to the Big East with four.
CAA WELCOMES THREE NEW COACHES: Three new coaches with impressive backgrounds join the CAA this season. Paul Hewitt takes over at George Mason after serving as the head coach at Georgia Tech for the past 11 seasons. Hewitt guided the Yellow Jackets to five NCAA Tournament appearances, including the 2004 national championship game. Ron Hunter was hired at Georgia State after leading IUPUI to 254 victories over 17 seasons. Hunter led the Jaguars to the 2003 NCAA Tournament and was a two-time Summit League Coach of the Year. Pat Skerry is the new head coach at Towson after serving as an assistant at Pittsburgh last season when the Panthers captured the Big East regular-season title. Skerry has also previously worked as an assistant coach at CAA members Northeastern and William & Mary.
VCU RANKED #6 IN FINAL COACHES POLL: VCU was ranked #6 in the final ESPN/USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll, which was the highest final national ranking ever for a CAA team. George Mason and Old Dominion also received votes (9 points) in the final poll.
THREE CAA TEAMS AMONG TOP FOUR IN MID-MAJOR TOP 25 POLL: The CAA had three of the top four teams in the final Mid-Major Top 25 poll of 2010-11 released by CollegeInsider.com. VCU was ranked #2 in the poll, George Mason was ranked #3 and Old Dominion was ranked #4. Butler was #1 in the final poll. Drexel, Hofstra and James Madison were among others receiving votes.
FROM CAA TO NBA: Hofstra guard Charles Jenkins was selected by the Golden State Warriors with the 44th overall pick in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. It marked the third straight year that a CAA player was selected in the NBA Draft as Jenkins joined VCU guard Eric Maynor, who was selected 20th overall by the Utah Jazz in 2009, and VCU center Larry Sanders, who was chosen 15th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2010.
NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS: The CAA posted its best non-conference record ever in 2010-11, going 90-63. Conference teams finished 4-4 against the ACC, 2-0 versus the Pac 10, and 9-7 against the Atlantic 10. CAA teams had an impressive 47-13 mark in non-conference home games, were 16-13 on neutral courts and recorded 27 non-conference victories on the road.
IMPRESSIVE RPI: The CAA’s RPI ranked ninth among the nation’s 32 Division I conferences last season. Three CAA squads - Old Dominion (#23), George Mason (#24) and VCU (#31) - were in the top 31 of the RPI, which was second only to the Big East with eight teams in the top 31. For the first in conference history, the CAA had six teams in the top 90 of the RPI with the top three joined by Drexel (#77), Hofstra (#88) and James Madison (#90).