Despite returning four starters from a team that won 24 games a year ago, the College of Charleston was picked to finish third in its inaugural season in the Colonial Athletic Association in a preseason poll released on Tuesday.
CAA Preseason Poll
3. College of Charleston
5. William & Mary
7. James Madison
First Team All-CAA
Jerrelle Benimon, Towson
Damion Lee, Drexel
Frantz Massenat, Drexel
Devon Saddler, Delaware
Marcus Thornton, William & Mary
Second Team All-CAA
Adjehi Baru, College of Charleston
Quincy Ford, Northeastern
Andre Nation, James Madison
Tim Rusthoven, William & Mary
Jarvis Threatt, Delaware
Towson, a team the Cougars beat by 17 points last season, was picked to win the CAA, while Drexel was selected to finish second.
The Cougars were third followed by Delaware, William & Mary, Northeastern, James Madison, UNC Wilmington and Hofstra.
College of Charleston center Adjehi Baru was selected to the preseason All-CAA second team, and junior point guard Anthony Stitt received preseason All-CAA honorable mention recognition.
Charleston head coach Doug Wojcik did not have a problem with the Cougars’ preseason ranking.
“I think it’s fair,” Wojcik said. “No one really knows us in this league. They probably haven’t seen us play, so I think third is pretty fair. I’m not too concerned about preseason polls. They’re really based on what a team did last year and what they’ve got coming back.”
Towson, which went 18-13 last season, will try to build off a 2012-13 season in which it posted the biggest turnaround in NCAA history and recorded its most wins (13) and highest finish (tied for second) ever in CAA play. The Tigers won just one game during the 2011-12 season.
Leading the Tigers is senior forward Jerrelle Benimon, who earned CAA Player of the Year and honorable mention All-America accolades after averaging 17.1 points per game and ranking third in the nation in rebounding with 11.2 rebounds per game. The Tigers also have added sophomore guard Four McGlynn, who was the America East Rookie of the Year in 2011-12 at Vermont.
The Cougars beat the Tigers, 75-58, in the season opener last year at TD Arena.
“There’s a lot of buzz about Towson,” Wojcik said. “To be fair they were coming off a one-win season when we played them. They didn’t know how to win yet. We probably played one of our most complete games against them.”
Benimon, who transferred from Georgetown, led the Tigers with 23 points and five rebounds during their loss to the Cougars.
“Benimon is a nightmare match-up for any team,” Wojcik said. “He’s big and strong and has enough quickness to get to the front of the rim. He’s a handful.”
Baru averaged 9.8 points per game and led the SoCon in rebounding (8.3 rpg), while Stitt averaged 11.0 points an outing and dished out 109 assists a year ago.
“The CAA has some guys that put up some big numbers,” Wojcik said. “We’ve got a balanced team and that sometimes doesn’t lend itself to a lot of individual awards.”
The Cougars will open their season on the road against defending national champion Louisville on Nov. 9. Charleston will open its CAA schedule at home against William & Mary on Jan. 7.