W & M and VCU - Article in the Potomac News
Tribe start well in CAA
By Joe Conroy
Published: January 11, 2010
The Colonial Athletic Association men’s basketball season is always full of surprises.
As a mid-major conference, the CAA offers no safe games with no league opponents considered easy wins.
No team this year epitomizes the idea of a surprise squad more than William & Mary.
After being picked to finish 10th in the preseason coaches’ poll, the Tribe is actually part of a four-way tie for first with a 4-1 record in conference games.
William & Mary started the season 0-2 against Connecticut and Harvard before winning 10 consecutive games, including road victories over Wake Forest and Maryland, prompting the Tribe (12-3, 4-1 CAA) to receive votes in both the Associate Press and ESPN/USA Today Top 25 polls for six straight weeks.
Now William & Mary is unbeaten on the road against CAA foes and head coach Tony Shaver, who led the Tribe to the CAA Tournament final against the George Mason Patriots in 2008, said that’s all because of the tough schedule they played.
“We’ve got some good seniors and good senior leadership,” he said in Monday’s league teleconference, “But I think it’s also attributed to our non-conference schedule early on, playing at Wake Forest, Manhattan and Maryland and places like that.
“A non-conference schedule like that can do one of two things for you: it can break your spirit a little bit; or, if you find success during it, give you a lot of confidence,” Shaver added.
It helps that two William & Mary players are among the conference’s top 10 in scoring. David Schneider, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound senior guard, is averaging 17.2 points a game, good for fifth in the CAA. He’s also hitting 38.1 percent of his 3-point attempts, placing him seventh.
Though Shaver says his seniors are having an impact, he only has four on this season’s roster. Sophomore swingman Quinn McDowell has more than made up for the lack of experience with 14.7 ppg and by shooting nearly 40 percent from 3-point range.
The 6-6 Mason, Ohio product is also hitting better than 50 percent of his shots this year.
“We know we can be successful on the road,” Shaver said. “The guys have had a great start in league play.”
VCU’s Burgess’ aggressive play impressing coach
Bradford Burgess’ coach thinks the sophomore looks like a different player than he did earlier in the season.
The Virginia Commonwealth guard is second on the team in scoring with 11.1 points a game — right behind junior forward Larry Sanders — and he had some nice performances to start the year, including a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in a 63-52 win over Hampton.
But with 50 points and 28 rebounds in three of his last four games, Burgess is maybe coming into his own first-year coach Shaka Smart said.
“It’s assertiveness with him,” Smart said. “It’s almost a mindset that you can see by the look on his face whether he has it or not.
“Lately he’s had it a lot more. Three of our last four games he’s been terrific.”
Against Drexel Jan. 6, Burgess scored a career-high 30 as the Rams (10-4, 2-3) fell to the Dragons, 75-72.
Out of Midlothian, Burgess is shooting 50.5 percent from the field and is hitting 82 percent of his free throws.
“Bradford’s a guy who, every time you look at the stats sheet after the game,” Smart said, “you wish he’d gotten more shots because with the ones he does get he’s very effective.”
Smart added that how high Burgess can climb within the league is entirely up to him.
“He’s definitely shown over stretches that he can be that. But to do it on a consistent basis, that’s another step and we’re talking about a sophomore,” the coach said. “Hopefully, in the second half of his sophomore year that’s a step he can take.”
Re: W & M and VCU - Article in the Potomac News
Man, they can say Shaver, but VCU is run by Burgess' Coach.