CAA seeding is on the line, but W&M wants to focus on itself

Dave Johnson

With a really good week and some outside help, William and Mary could overtake Hofstra for the No. 3 seed in the Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament. Odds are it won’t happen, and truth be told, it probably wouldn’t matter much if it did.

“Balance” is an overused word, but it fits the Colonial this season. Drexel, which is tied for last place, has wins over the College of Charleston and Northeastern — the top two teams.

At the moment, it looks like W&M will play Towson in the 4/5 quarterfinal — one way or another. But, naturally, Tribe coach Tony Shaver isn’t focused on that yet. Not with two regular-season games, starting Thursday night against UNC Wilmington, remaining.

“We need to have a good week of play,” he said. “That’s our biggest concern.”

The Tribe (16-11, 9-7 CAA) has dropped four of its last five games to lose any hope of a regular-season championship. Three of those losses were on the road to the top three teams in the standings — Charleston, Northeastern and Hofstra. Each was by six points or fewer.

The loss at Northeastern was particularly tough. The game was tied with nine seconds left, and W&M’s Matt Milon rattled out a 3-pointer. The Huskies’ Vasa Pusica then beat the buzzer with a layup on the other end.

Though the Tribe’s final two games are at home, neither will be easy.

W&M won 84-81 at Wilmington on Jan. 27, but two weeks later the Seahawks blew out Hofstra. UNCW has 6-foot-7 Devontae Cacok, who is averaging 17.8 points and a nation-leading 13.6 rebounds a game.

“I think I’m right on this: Against Charleston the other night, he had 29 points and 17 rebounds,” said Shaver, who was spot on. “Just a dominant performance.”

Then will come Charleston (22-6, 13-3), which by Saturday should have clinched the No. 1 seed. The Cougars defeated W&M 82-77 two weeks ago at home.

After starting 5-0 in the conference, the Tribe has gone 4-7. Shaver wants to see his team looking like it did in the first two weeks of January.

“In our early conference schedule, we had everybody clicking,” he said. “All five guys on the floor were making shots. All five were doing the right thing. Right now, we’re a little bit inconsistent on that.

“To beat the best teams in this league … we’ve got to have all five guys on the floor clicking on all cylinders. That’s our goal this week, to get back to playing with a chip on our shoulder and get everybody clicking at the right time of the season.”

Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649. Follow him on Twitter at @DaveJohnsonDP.

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