Monarchs Pre-Season CAA Favorite, Lee Co-Player Of the Year

October 20, 2009
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Oct. 20, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 20, 2009) - Old Dominion, which returns all five starters from last year's 25-10 squad, is favored to win the Colonial Athletic Association men's basketball championship in 2009-10 according to a vote of the league's coaches, sports information directors and media. The results of the poll were announced during Tuesday's CAA Basketball Media Day at the ESPN Zone in Washington, D.C.

The Monarchs were followed in the voting by Northeastern, defending CAA champion VCU and George Mason. Picked fifth was James Madison, followed by Hofstra, Drexel, Georgia State, Towson, William and Mary, Delaware and UNC Wilmington.

Old Dominion has advanced to postseason play for five consecutive seasons and closed last year by capturing the inaugural Tournament. The Monarchs, who have averaged nearly 24 victories over the past five seasons, return their top six scorers. Leading that group is senior All-CAA post player Gerald Lee, who contributed 15.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Joining him in the frontcourt are junior Ben Finney (9.9 ppg/6.0 rpg), junior Frank Hassell (7.5 ppg/5.3 rpg), who was named the MVP of the CIT, and junior Keyon Carter (7.9 ppg/4.6 rpg). There is also experience in the backcourt with junior Darius James (6.9 ppg) and senior Marsharee Neely (7.1 ppg). Ben Finney received honorable mention selection.

Northeastern welcomes four starters back from a 19-13 squad that recorded the school's first postseason victory since 1984 in the CBI. The Huskies are led by senior guard Matt Janning, who earned first-team All-CAA accolades after averaging 14.3 ppg. His backcourt mate is junior Chaisson Allen, who contributed 10.4 ppg and made the CAA All-Defensive squad. Returning up front are senior forward Manny Adako (11.3 ppg/4.2 rpg), who received third-team All-CAA honors, and senior center Nkem Ojougboh (7.4 ppg/4.6 rpg).

VCU, which is in its first season under new coach Shaka Smart, returns four starters from a 24-10 team that won the CAA title for the second time in the last three years. The Rams will build around 6-foot-11 junior center Larry Sanders (11.3/8.6 rpg), who was named the 2009 CAA Defensive Player of the Year after blocking a league-high 92 shots. He will be flanked by senior forward Kirill Pishchalnikov (5.2 ppg/4.6 rpg) and sophomore Bradford Burgess (7.4 ppg), who made the CAA All-Rookie squad. Junior Joey Rodriguez (9.4 ppg) is the top returnee in the backcourt.

George Mason reached postseason play for the seventh time in the last 11 years in 2008-09 and has a pair of starters and several key reserves back off its 22-11 squad. Junior guard Cam Long made the All-CAA third team after leading the Patriots in scoring (11.7 ppg) and assists (3.2 apg). Senior forward Louis Birdsong (6.4 ppg/3.5 rpg) enters his third season as a starter, while sophomore forward Ryan Pearson (7.0 ppg) was a CAA All-Rookie honoree.

ODU's Lee was chosen as the CAA Co-Preseason Player of the Year along with Hofstra junior guard Charles Jenkins. Jenkins was a first-team All-CAA pick after being one of six players in the nation to average at least 19 points (19.7 ppg), four rebounds (4.8 rpg) and four assists (4.3 apg) per game last season. They were joined on the pre-season All-CAA first team by Northeastern's Janning, Mason's Long and VCU's Sanders.

ODU's Blue-White Scrimmage is this Friday at 7 p.m. in the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Voted to the pre-season second team were Northeastern's Adako, Georgia State senior guard Joe Dukes, William and Mary senior guard David Schneider, UNC Wilmington junior guard Chad Tomko and James Madison sophomore guard Julius Wells.


1. Old Dominion 2. Northeastern 3. VCU 4. George Mason 5. James Madison 6. Hofstra 7. Drexel 8. Georgia State 9. Towson 10. William and Mary 11. Delaware 12. UNC Wilmington


FIRST TEAM Matt Janning, Northeastern 6-4 Sr Guard Charles Jenkins, Hofstra 6-3, Jr. Guard Gerald Lee, ODU, 6-10, Sr, Center/Forward Cam Long, George Mason, 6-4, Jr, Guard Larry Sanders, VCU, 6-11, Jr, Forward

SECOND TEAM Manny Adako, Northeastern, 6-8, Sr, Forward Joe Dukes, Georgia State, 6-1, Sr, Guard David Schneider, W&M, 6-3, Sr, Guard Chad Tomko, UNCW, 5-11, Jr, Guard Julius Wells, JMU, 6-5, So, Forward

CAA Preseason Co-Players of the Year: Charles Jenkins, Hofstra and Gerald Lee, Old Dominion

Honorable Mention: Ben Finney, Jr., G/F, Old Dominion; Jawan Carter, Jr., G, Delaware; Chaisson Allen, Jr., G, Northeastern

* 1st team All-CAA in 2008-09 # 2nd team All-CAA in 2008-09 ^ 3rd team All-CAA in 2008-09