James Madison men’s basketball slotted seventh in preseason CAA poll

jmu logoDefending Colonial Athletic Association champion James Madison was selected to place seventh among nine teams in the league for the 2013-14 season as announced at Tuesday’s CAA media day event held at the Inner Harbor Renaissance Hotel.

The annual preseason poll is based on votes from the league’s coaches, sports information directors and media members.  In addition, the same voters selected sophomore guard Andre Nation (Plant City, Fla./Faith Baptist Christian) to the Second Team Preseason All-CAA squad, though the voting was conducted prior to his suspension for the first 15 games of the season.

Due in large part to roster turnover and possessing the second-youngest team in the country, the CAA poll predicted an uphill battle for the Dukes.  No team has finished as low as seventh after winning the league title since UNCW finished 10th in 2007 after winning it as the top seed in 2006.

One year after completing the greatest win turnaround in NCAA history, voters picked Towson to continue the upswing as the predicted league champion. Drexel was picked second with many returning pieces and was followed by a CAA newcomer, the College of Charleston. The remainder of the poll consisted of Delaware, William and Mary, Northeastern, JMU, UNCW and Hofstra.

Last year JMU was picked sixth among 11 teams in the CAA before earning the No. 3 seed in the regular season and catching fire at the right time to claim its first title in 19 years.  However, after boasting the most fifth-year seniors in all of Division I last year, the Dukes return just four players who appeared in the championship game heading to this year. Madison’s roster features eight newcomers but also includes the return of sixth-year senior Andrey Semenov(St. Petersburg, Russia/Blue Ridge School), who missed all but seven games due to injury.

In addition to Semenov and Nation, JMU will be led by returning sophomores Charles Cooke (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Catholic), Ron Curry (Pennsauken, N.J./Paul VI) and Taylor Bessick (Philadelphia, Pa./Rise Academy).

Towson’s Jerrelle Benimon was picked to repeat as CAA Player of the Year.  He was joined on the preseason All-CAA First Team by Drexel teammates Damion Lee and Frantz Massenat along with guards Devon Saddler of Delaware and Marcus Thornton of William and Mary.

The CAA also unveiled its television package for the upcoming season with the Dukes tied for the second-most appearances with eight. JMU’s part of the league TV package begins against Delaware at home on Jan. 11 and features a national TV appearance at home on Feb. 2 vs. William and Mary on NBC Sports Network.  JMU’s other CAA TV games include Jan. 18 at William and Mary, Jan. 25 vs. Charleston, Feb. 4 at Towson, Feb. 10 vs. Hofstra, Feb. 15 vs. UNCW andFeb. 19 vs. Drexel. Complete details, including station listings, are available via the Schedule page.

JMU will see its first court action on Sunday, Nov. 3 with an exhibition game vs. Philadelphia University.  The Dukes then open the season on Friday, Nov. 8 at No. 25 Virginia at 7 p.m. on ESPN3. Madison’s home opener will be Tuesday, Nov. 19 vs. Detroit and will include recognition of the 2013 championship banner. One other national TV appearance for the Dukes will take place on Dec. 21 with the Governor’s Holiday Hoops Classic vs. Hampton at the Richmond Coliseum with coverage on NBCSN.

CAA media day was held in Baltimore in conjunction with the city’s hosting of the CAA championship in March (7-10) at the Baltimore Arena. The opening game will be streamed on CAA.TV followed by Saturday’s quarterfinal games on Comcast SportsNet and the semifinals and final airing on NBCSN.

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