Three years ago James Madison took a chance. They hired a head coach with little experience. He is one of their own. Whether or not it works out, the gamble had logic. Louis Rowe began year two by cleaning out the roster he inherited. With 100% of players he recruited returning and with upper tier talent, there was reason for optimism in Harrisonburg. There was little success pre-conference. The best result was a win over No Illinois at Oakland University. They began conference losing 3 straight, however, an upset win over an excellent C of C followed by a win over Towson gave hope that JMU was on the improve. It never happened. They did pull off the biggest upset in conference when they did the near impossible. They won in Hofstra. They followed that up by getting blown out at home by Elon and losing the finale to William and Mary. JMU does not run great offense. With their length at guard they are certainly capable of defending but their defense is erratic, at best. This team has under achieved. Rowe has suspended Develle Phillips. He means little.
Towson remains a throw back. They shun the 3 point shot. They want to bully you, physically wear you down. Unlike James Madison they had little returning from last year. Although his style is unusual, Pat Skerry knows what he is doing. The 10 new faces that hit the court in November have a power rating that is 3 points better in March. Towson trailed in the rematch at home 30-26, but shut down JMU in the 2nd half and won 66-59. Towson relies heavily on Brian Fobbs. He has had no problem moving up from a Division 2 JUCO Gennessee Community College and remains a scoring machine, a remarkable achievement given the big jump in competition and the lack of scorers that Towson possesses.
My power ratings have this game dead even. The line maker agrees. However, conference tournaments are a new season. Skerry has got the max out of Towson. Starting from scratch, I think JMU will play closer to their preseason expectations. They have the superior talent. With a new lease on life, perhaps it will show.
JMU 64 Towson 56
I shall not repeat my thought of Coach McGrath’s ability. Let me just say, I think Roy Williams is in the bottom 10% of division one coaches. The players at UNCW are not a good fit for what coach wants to run. In spite of that, they continue to try. Squares never did fit in the round hole. Perhaps McGrath should ponder that. Davontae Cacok is a double-double machine. His defense is lacking and even worse, has not improved. Their frosh point guard Kai Toews has been a revelation. The power schools are looking for a bilingual poacher. There is enough talent surrounding those 2 to finish 500 or even better. That has not happened.
After Elon crashed last year under ridiculous expectations, Elon lost much. At some point Matt Metheny realized this was not his year. His four freshman found their minutes increasing. Easily the worst team in the Colonial, seemingly from nowhere Elon won 3 of their last 4 including back to back road wins to end the year 73-58 at JMU and 86-66 at Towson. Senior scorers Steven Santa Ana and Tyler Seibring were the leaders of the youth corps that also included sophomore Nathan Priddy. Perhaps it took a while for the freshman to learn an intricate offense. Metheny is a Bob McKillop disciple. He certainly knows what he is doing. Sure his teams are usually lacking defensively, but when you lack athletes, defense can be tough. So Metheny has always run good offense. This team is starting to get it. They won both games vs UNCW this year. I say they hit the trifecta.
Elon 96 UNCW 88