I think it is safe to say that Eric Maynor and VCU have had full control over the CAA Conference in recent years. However, now that the point guard is wearing a Utah Jazz jersey, the conference has opened up, and the mission to remove VCU from the top has begun.
Heading into the season, there is plenty of speculation that Virginia Commonwealth could continue their reign in the CAA. Northeastern and Old Dominion, on the other hand, will beg to differ.
The Monarchs just may have had the talent to be an NCAA Tournament team last year. The same goes for this season.
For the Huskies, a 15-6 start in 2008 put them on the radar, but after faltering down the stretch, they look to rekindle that early success heading into this season.
With Eric Maynor out of the picture in the conference, each of these teams has seemingly moved into a position to dethrone Virginia Commonwealth.
Old Dominion certainly has an edge over Northeastern as the favorite in the conference, but the Huskies are not too far behind.
According to collegeinsider.com’s “Mid-Major Poll,” the Monarchs are ranked sixth overall and the highest among CAA teams. VCU comes in at 11th, while Northeastern follows in at 13th.
Old Dominion racked up 25 wins last season, and heading into 2009-2010 may just be looking for more.
Gerald Lee leads the way for the Monarchs, who were coincidentally knocked out in the CAA semifinals by a 23-point performance from Eric Maynor last year. VCU might not have as much luck with this Old Dominion squad.
For Northeastern, while their true ability came out at times, ultimately tough losses and a few stumbles late in the year ended up costing them. They have Matt Janning and Manny Adako returning with unfinished business in their quest to reach the NCAA Tournament.
The Huskies went on the road last year at Old Dominion and VCU in back-to-back games. They came away with victories in both contests before stumbling down the stretch and losing at home to the likes of Drexel and William & Mary. Eventually, a first round exit in the CAA tournament at the hands of Towson sealed their fate.
There were opportunities for Northeastern a season ago, but they could never make the best of them.
With a prized opportunity to learn from their mistakes, the Huskies enter the season looking to make a name for themselves in the conference.
Larry Sanders will be tough to stop for VCU and his defensive presence will cause problems for opponents in conference, but if anyone has the talent to move past them, it's one of these two teams.
As the favorite, Old Dominion will look to improve and build off the success they had last year.
The Huskies, on the other hand, will look to prevent losing their must win games. If they succeed, they have the talent to be there in the end.
It is a long season, but this much is true: The Rams' time at the top may be limited.