With all five starters back, Northeastern picked to overtake Charleston | CAA preview
Northeastern enters the season as the favorite, edging out last year's champion Charleston, while Drexel was picked to finish ninth and Delaware seventh.
Last season Charleston defeated Northeastern, 83-76, in overtime in the Colonial Athletic Association championship game to earn the automatic NCAA berth.
This season the experts are predicting the reverse to happen: Northeastern was the preseason pick to win the CAA title, with Charleston second.
Drexel was ninth and Delaware seventh in the 10-team league.
Northeastern returns all five starters from a 23-10 team, led by 6-foot-5 senior guard Vasa Pusica, a first-team all-conference selection who averaged 17.9 points and 5.1 assists.
Junior guard Shawn Occeus was the CAA defensive player of the year after recording a league-high 64 steals while averaging 10.8 points. Also contributing in the experienced backcourt are junior guards Donnell Greshman (9.1 ppg) and Maxime Boursiquot (6.3 ppg)
Charleston returns three starters from a 26-8 team. Grant Riller, a junior guard, was a first-team all-CAA choice after averaging 18.6 points, while senior forward Jarrell Brantley was a second-team selection after averaging 17.3 points and 7.1 rebounds. Senior forward Nick Harris (5.9 ppg, 6.5 rpg) is the third returning starter.
Northeastern earned 35 of the 40 first-place votes, with Charleston gaining the other five. The poll is voted on by coaches, sports information directors, and media members who cover the CAA.
Teams shouldn't sleep on Hofstra (19-12), which is guided by former La Salle assistant coach Joe Mihalich and is picked to finish third.
The Pride return four starters, led by senior guard Justin Wright-Foreman, last season's CAA player of the year. Wright-Foreman was fifth in the nation in scoring (24.4 ppg) and led the CAA with 96 three-pointers. Junior backcourt mate Eli Pemberton averaged 15.9 ppg.
William and Mary (19-12), the top scoring and three-point-shooting team in the CAA, is another team to watch, led by junior forward Nathan Knight (18.5 ppg).
UNCW (11-21), paced by senior forward Devontae Cook — who averaged 17.7 points and led the nation with 13.5 rebounds per game — should be improved.
The rest of the teams, including Drexel and Delaware, figure to battle for respectability.