JMU roundup: Men’s basketball announces suspensions

Daily Staff Report – sports@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG — James Madison University head men’s basketball coach Matt Brady announced Tuesday the formal disciplinary actions against junior guard Andre Nation and sophomore forward Tom Vodanovich.

Nation and Vodanovich were previously suspended indefinitely on Oct. 6, for their involvement in an off-campus altercation with each other.

Tuesday’s proceedings in the Harrisonburg/Rockingham General District Court resolved both sets of charges that occurred from the incident between Nation and Vodanovich.

With the case concluded, Brady has made the following decision regarding the student-athletes: Nation is suspended from the team’s preseason scrimmage, the Nov. 2 home exhibition and the first five games of the regular season from Nov. 14-26. Vodanovich is suspended from the team’s preseason scrimmage, the Nov. 2 home exhibition and the first two games of the regular season, spanning Nov. 14-17.

Vodanovich will be eligible to return for the home contest against Longwood on Nov. 19. Nation will be eligible to play Nov. 28 when JMU travels to Columbus, Ohio, to take on Ohio State as part of the Buckeye Classic. In the interim, both players will be able to practice with the team, attend team functions and continue with academic assistance.

JMU will host Philadelphia for an exhibition on Nov. 2 at 2 p.m. at the Convocation Center. The Dukes start their 2014-15 regular season at home Nov. 14, hosting Virginia at 7 p.m.

Dukes picked to finish fifth in CAA

BALTIMORE – The James Madison men’s basketball team was predicted to finish fifth in the 2014-15 Colonial Athletic Association standings, according to a vote by the league’s 10 head coaches, media relations directors and members of the media. The results of the preseason poll were announced on Tuesday at CAA Media Day at The Center Club in downtown Baltimore.

In addition, the CAA announced its extensive regional television schedule on the Comcast family of networks and the American Sports Network. JMU was selected to play in seven TV matchups in the CAA package, including four at home inside the Convocation Center.

The Dukes return two starters and eight letter winners from last year’s squad that finished 11-20 overall and 6-10 in CAA play to finish tied for sixth in the conference. The returners accounted for 52.2 percent of the team’s scoring and 54.4 percent of rebounding a year ago.

Despite being without a single senior on this year’s roster, Madison will rely on the veteran leadership of junior guards Ron Curry and Andre Nation.

Nation was selected to the preseason’s All-CAA First Team while Curry was recognized as an Honorable Mention selection. Last season, Nation led the team with 15.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game while also contributing 1.6 assists per game in his 14 games played. Curry ranked 12th in the CAA and third on the team with 12.1 points per game. He was also one of the top passers and defenders, ranking second in assist/turnover ratio (1.9), fourth in steals (1.1 spg) and fifth in assists (3.4 apg).

Joining the backcourt this season is another experienced guard in junior Winston Grays, who was a First Team All-American last season at the junior college ranks at Cincinnati State. He averaged 20.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.0 steals per outing as a sophomore on his way to being named Ohio Community College Athletic Conference Player of the Year.

Other key returners are sophomore guard Jackson Kent and sophomore forwards Tom Vodanovich and Yohanny Dalembert. As rookies the trio averaged 12.3 points and 9.1 rebounds, collectively.

Northeastern, which returns four starters from a year ago, was selected to win the CAA title. William & Mary was picked second, followed by Hofstra in third and Drexel fourth. Behind fifth-place JMU was College of Charleston (sixth), Towson (seventh), reigning CAA champion Delaware (eighth), UNCW (ninth) and league newcomer Elon (10th).

Headlining the 2014-15 Preseason All-CAA teams was W&M senior guard Marcus Thornton, who was named Preseason Player of the Year. Joining Thornton and Nation on the First Team were Northeastern’s Scott Eatherton, Hofstra’s Juan’ya Green and Drexel’s Damion Lee.

JMU’s televised home games include Elon (Jan. 17 – 8 p.m.), William & Mary (Jan. 31 – 4 p.m.), College of Charleston (Feb. 21 – 7 p.m.) and Hofstra (Feb. 28 – 4 p.m.). On the road, the Dukes will face Drexel (Jan. 15 – 7 p.m.), Towson (Feb. 7 – 2 p.m.) and Delaware (Feb. 10 – 8 p.m.) on TV.

During the non-conference portion of the schedule, Madison will have two road games televised nationally. The first road outing of the year at Ohio State on Nov. 28 can be seen on the Big Ten Network while its second road game of the season, at East Carolina on Dec. 13, will be on ESPN3.

Women’s basketball

BALTIMORE — The James Madison women’s basketball team was picked to repeat as the Colonial Athletic Association champions in 2015 according to a vote by the league’s head coaches, announced Tuesday at the annual CAA Basketball Media Day at the Center Club in Baltimore.

Junior guard Precious Hall highlighted the individual honors for the Dukes as she was selected as the Preseason Player of the Year in the same vote.

Hall was joined on the preseason All-CAA First Team by senior forward Toia Giggetts. Redshirt-junior guard Jazmon Gwathmey was named to the All-CAA Second Team.

The Dukes are coming off one of the most successful seasons in program history in 2013-14, having tied the school record with 29 wins and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. JMU knocked off sixth-seeded Gonzaga (72-63) in the first round, which was the first tournament win for Madison since 1991. The Dukes finished the year receiving votes in both major polls, including enough in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll to rank them 27th in the nation.

Head Coach Kenny Brooks, the 2014 CAA Coach of the Year, returns to the helm for his 13th season needing 19 wins for 300 in his career and 22 wins for 303, which would make him the all-time winningest coach in JMU women’s basketball history, surpassing Shelia Moorman (302). Over the last nine seasons, he has led the Dukes to at least 24 wins with three CAA Tournament titles.

Hall begins her junior campaign as the top returning scorer from 2013-14 after averaging 13.5 points per game. She posted a career-high 26 points against Northeastern on Feb. 7, 2014. Last season, Hall also added 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game en route to All-CAA Second Team honors. As a freshman, she was unanimously selected as the CAA Rookie of the Year.

Giggetts returns for her final season with the Dukes earning her first preseason all-conference accolade. She was an All-CAA Second Team honoree in 2013-14, averaging 13.2 points and 5.8 rebounds per outing. She begins this season with an active streak of 26 consecutive double-figure scoring performances and 879 career points.

Gwathmey ended the 2013-14 CAA slate on a high note, earning the CAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player award after posting a career-high 20 points and 14 rebounds in the championship game against Delaware. She blocked the most shots in a season by a sophomore last year (56), earning CAA All-Defensive Team accolades and ranks 10th overall on the JMU all-time blocks list (90).

Delaware was picked to finish second in the league, followed by Drexel, Hofstra and Towson to round out the top five. Newcomer Elon was selected to finish sixth ahead of Northeastern, William & Mary, Charleston and UNCW.

The league’s TV schedule was also announced on Tuesday. JMU hosts Delaware on the American Sports Network on Feb. 15 at 1 p.m.

Season tickets are currently on sale for the 2014-15 season and may be purchased online here. Single game tickets go on sale Nov. 1 for online-purchase only and Nov. 3 for purchase via phone (540-568-3853) or in person at the JMU Athletic Ticket Office.