The CAA continues to be a league in transition. Old Dominion, Georgia State and George Mason are gone, College of Charleston comes aboard this season and Elon next. The league tournament won't be held in Richmond for the first time in a generation.
BAWLMER-IZATION. Towson is the preseason favorite, has the Player of the Year (Jerrelle Benimon) and the conference tournament will be held in Baltimore for the first of a three-year run. Two years ago, none of that seemed possible. But Pat Skerry turned around the Tigers, who have a shiny new, on-campus playpen. The CAA, as it lost Virginia members, opened the door to other locations for its signature event. The city of Baltimore, and various corporate partners, stepped up.
EVERYBODY IN THE POOL. All nine teams will be in Baltimore for the conference tournament, a welcome change after last year's truncated event. Old Dominion and Georgia State weren't allowed to compete because of their impending departures. Towson and UNC Wilmington were barred because of APR penalties that prohibited them from NCAA play. Four teams staying home was, well, weird.
DOUBLE ROUND-ROBIN. The nine-member CAA is back to a double round-robin league schedule, where every team plays each other home-and-home — a breath of fresh air and an increasing rarity in an era of mega-conferences and unbalanced schedules. With 12 and, last year, 11 members, all conference records weren't equal, because intra-conference strength of schedule wasn't equal.
COUGARTOWN. College of Charleston should be one of the CAA's best teams, out of the gate. The Cougars return four of five starters from a team that finished 24-11 and advanced to the Southern Conference tournament championship game. Adeji Barhu (6-9, 225) is a quality big man, and CofC surrounds him with guards and wings, notably G Anthony Stitt (11 ppg, 40 pct. 3-pt shooter). Coach Doug Wojcik was around at the CAA's inception, playing on Navy's teams led by David Robinson.
BACKCOURTS. Top-shelf guards abound. Start at Drexel, with the threesome of Frantz Massenat, Damion Lee and Chris Fouch. Delaware has Devon Saddler, Jarvis Threatt and Kyle Anderson. Preseason fave Towson has a quartet of Mike Burwell, Jerome Hairston, Rafriel Guthrie and Vermont transfer Four McGlynn, a big-time shooter. William and Mary features Marcus Thornton and Brandon Britt. JMU has an athletic group of Andre Nation (suspended for first 15 games), Charles Cooke and Ron Curry.
Fairbank can be reached by phone at 757-247-4637Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun