James Madison Basketball Preview: #125
James Madison Dukes
Overall Rank: #125
Conference Rank: #5 Colonial Athletic Association
2008-09: 21-15, 9-9
2008-09 postseason: CIT
Coach: Matty Brady (21-15 at James Madison, 94-65 overall)
James Madison had not won a postseason game since 1983. Coach Matt Brady put an end to that streak during his first year at the school. Sure it was only the CollegeInsider.com Tournament, but the team got some post season experience and won a couple games. Coach Brady should be aiming higher this time around, but without forwards Juwann James and Kyle Swanston, the Dukes could take a small step back.
Key Losses: F Juwann James, F Kyle Swanston
Yet, even without James and Swanston, James Madison has a deep bench. Seven returning players averaged at least 14 minutes per game last year and there are some other youngsters who could step up and play a bigger role off the bench. That is bad news for the newcomers if they were hoping to find immediate playing time. Redshirt freshman Alvin Brown has the most potential to contribute right away after spending last year watching from the bench. It helps that at 6-10 and 210 pounds, he is easily the tallest player on the roster. Shooting guard Darren White can do a little bit of everything and he could find himself playing quite a few minutes since this team lacks depth on the perimeter.
They may lack depth on the perimeter, but the Dukes certainly do not lack talent. Devon Moore had a sensational freshman campaign, averaging 10.7 points and 2.9 assists. His turnover numbers, at 3.1 per game, were a little high, but that is understandable for a freshman. Having Pierre Curtis by his side should make Moore’s game even better. Curtis is an experienced senior who can handle the ball as well and score by getting to the basket. Neither are good three point shooters, but both shot at least 50 percent from the floor overall and will take smart shots that they know they can make. Ben Louis and Heiden Ratner will compete with White for minutes off the bench.
Last year the talent was in the frontcourt, but that might not be the case anymore. Andrey Semenov has the potential to be a dominating big man if he can stay healthy. He averaged 8.2 points and 4.1 rebounds per game as a freshman and should be ready to step into a starting role. His ability to step outside and hit the mid-range jumper could prove to be very valuable to a team that lost its most consistent outside shooter in Swanston. While Semenov scores from everywhere on the floor, Dazzmond Thornton will get the start at the five spot. He only averaged 14.7 minutes per game last year, despite starting 33 games, but the 6-7 senior will do the dirty work in the paint.
Who to Watch:
Swanston was the best three-point shooter on the team last year, but small forward Julius Wells was not far behind. Wells was not as prolific or consistent of a shooter as Swanston, but the 6-5 sophomore proved to be a very effective scorer. He is the team’s top returning scorer and rebounder averaging 11.6 and 5.5, respectively, and will most likely be the team’s top scorer this year. If he can avoid a sophomore slump, Wells could emerge as one of the best players in the Colonial Athletic Association.
James Madison reached the postseason last year and they very well could this year too. James and Swanston are big losses, but Coach Brady is an up and comer who is bringing in quality talent. The key to this team will be finding another shooter. Right now Wells is the only proven outside shooter and if his shot is off on any given night, the Dukes could be in trouble.
Projected Post-season Tournament: CBI/CIT
Projected Starting Five:
Devon Moore, Sophomore, Guard, 10.7 points per game
Pierre Curtis, Senior, Guard, 9.3 points per game
Julius Wells, Sophomore, Forward, 11.6 points per game
Andrey Semenov, Sophomore, Forward, 8.2 points per game
Dazzmond Thornton, Senior, Forward, 6.0 points per game