Coach Kevin Keatts’ second men’s basketball team at UNCW has been picked to finish sixth and senior guard Craig Ponder was named Honorable Mention All-CAA by the league’s coaches and media.
On the eve of the 2015-16 season, the Seahawks, predicted to finish ninth in the Colonial Athletic Association last season before winding up in a four-way tie for first place, are going through their final preseason preparations for the exhibition opener on Nov. 8 against Barton.
The league’s 10 head coaches gathered early Tuesday for the CAA’s annual Media Day in Baltimore and made Hofstra’s Pride the team to beat in 2015-16.
The Pride returns four starters from last year’s 20-14 squad and has been tabbed as the overwhelming favorite. Coach Joe Mihalich welcomes back three double-digit scorers, including senior guard Juan’ya Green, who received First-Team All-CAA honors after averaging 17.1 ppg and ranking ninth in Division I in assists (6.5 apg).
James Madison and Northeastern round out the poll’s top three. JMU returns all five starters and most of its top reserves from last year’s 19-14 team that earned a share of the CAA regular-season title for the first time since 1999-2000. Northeastern has four starters back from last year’s 23-12 squad that captured its first CAA championship and made its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1991.
After Hofstra, JMU and NU, the projected finish featured William & Mary, Delaware, UNCW, Towson, Drexel, College of Charleston and Elon.
Ponder, a 6-1, 185-pound guard, is the veteran leader for the Seahawks in 2015-16. He was the only player to start all 32 games one year ago and ranked third on the team in scoring (11.6 ppg) and second in assists (2.6 apg). The Bluefield, W.Va., product paced the club with 46 three-pointers and reached double figures in scoring 22 times.
The UNCW men’s basketball team has also been targeted for seven live television appearances in the Colonial Athletic Association’s broadcast package. The Seahawks make their regular season debut on the NBC Sports Network on Saturday, Feb. 13, when James Madison visits Trask Coliseum for a 3 p.m. tip-off.
UNCW is also scheduled to appear four times on the American Sports Network, including home dates with Northeastern (Jan. 2) and William & Mary (Jan. 16) and road matchups at Drexel (Jan. 23) and the College of Charleston (Feb. 20.) In addition, CAA teams will make appearances on the ESPN family of networks. UNCW’s game at East Carolina on Wednesday, Dec. 16, will be carried on ESPN3.com.
UNCW will also have a game on the CBS Sports Network. The Seahawks’ inaugural matchup against national power Georgetown on Saturday, Dec. 12, is set for CBS-SN at 2:30 p.m.
2015-16 CAA MEN’S BASKETBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
2. James Madison
4. William & Mary
9. College of Charleston