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Pride prepared heading into CAA Tournament in Richmond

By Max Sass, Sports Editor

Mo Cassara ended practice on Wednesday, the day his team was heading to Richmond, VA for the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament, with a blow on his whistle. He started clapping and his whole team joined in as the group moved towards center court. He very calmly told the group of college basketball players that he was in charge of that they were a team, and that is how they have won and how they would continue to win.

Senior guard Charles Jenkins is the heart and soul of the Pride, averaging 23.2 points per game, tops in the CAA as well as 4.8 assists per game, again best in the conference. Jenkins will lead the team, but all five guys on the court as well as the players coming off the bench as a whole are the key to winning in Richmond according to Cassara.

"Certainly Charles has been probably the best player in the league and certainly one of the best players in the country," Cassara said. "For us to win, he has to continue doing that, but everybody has to play their role and be ready to step up and do their job."

Everybody else Cassara refers to includes Jenkins' fellow seniors Greg Washington, a forward, and Brad Kelleher, a guard as well as the team's second leading scorer, forward Mike Moore.

Washington is the defensive presence for the Pride in the middle. Washington averages 8.5 points per game in the Pride's victories, while averaging just 5.0 in Hofstra's losses. Kelleher has filled in at point guard for the Pride full time since junior guard Dwan McMillan was lost with an injury.

Moore is the only other player on the team besides Jenkins who has led the team in scoring. Moore averages 15.1 points per game, second on the team.

"We have to have everybody ready, everybody prepared to do their job," Cassara said. "I think that's why we've won 20 games and put ourselves in a great position because guys have been willing to accept their roles and embrace their roles."

Cassara has the team prepared and is prepared to remain in Richmond through Monday's championship game.

"My four suits are packed and we are ready to go down there and stay in Richmond as long as we can," Cassara said.

The Pride, which earned the no. 3 seed and a first round bye, plays Saturday night at 8:30 against the winner of the no. 6 James Madison vs. no. 11 William & Mary game.

The Pride played both teams already this season, going 2-0 against William & Mary and winning its only matchup against James Madison.

The Pride's victory over James Madison included a 15-point comeback and the second victory over William & Mary featured two Jenkins three-pointers, including a 35-foot buzzer beater in overtime to win.

The top threat for the Pride is no. 1 seed George Mason. The Patriots have won 15 straight games and have snuck into the national top–25. Veteran coach Jim Larranaga and guard Cam Long, who averages 15.1 points per game, lead George Mason. Forward Ryan Pearson averages 14.7 points per game and leads the team with 6.9 rebounds per game. The Pride and Patriots split its two games this season. Each team won at its own home arena.

The no. 2 seed is the Old Dominion Monarchs. Frank Hassell averages 14.2 points per game, tops for the Monarchs and also leads the team with 9.8 rebounds per game. Kent Bazemore is second with 12.5 points per game. Last season the Monarchs were the CAA champions and won their first round game in the NCAA Tournament, upsetting Notre Dame.

Last season the Pride won its first game as a no. 7 seed, beating Georgia State on a jump shot by Greg Washington with 18 seconds left. The team fell in the second round to no. 2 Northeastern in a thrilling double-overtime game.


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