Oct 1, 2013, 1:49 PM EDT
James Madison hopes to build off the excitement from its first CAA championship in nearly 20 years, but this year’s team will look much different from the one that won 21 games and cut down the nets last March.
Twelve of the 13 players on the Dukes’ roster are either freshmen or sophomores, with sixth-year forward Andrey Semenov serving as the team’s lone veteran. Semenov was granted a redshirt year after playing in only seven games last season, but he averaged 10.2 ppg and shot 44% from three-point range in 2011-12. He would provide a big lift for JMU if he can remain healthy.
The Dukes will be led by a talented group of sophomores who all saw significant playing time a year ago. Guard Andre Nation earned a spot on the CAA All-Rookie team after contributing 9.3 ppg and ranking among the top 10 in the league in blocks (1.3 bpg/7th) and steals (1.5 spg/8th). However, he will sit out JMU’s first 15 games this season due to a violation of athletic department policy. Guard Charles Cooke tallied 5.8 ppg for the season, but excelled during JMU’s two NCAA Tournament games where he averaged 16.5 ppg. Ron Curry made 18 starts at the point guard spot as a rookie and averaged 5.7 ppg while handing out 61 assists. Rounding out the sophomore returnees is forward Taylor Bessick, who started nine contests and contributed 2.3 ppg and 2.1 rpg.
JMU is excited about the potential of its freshman class and several of them are going to get significant playing time. The group has an international flair with redshirt freshman forward Dimitrije Cabarkapa (Serbia), forward Tom Vodanovich (New Zealand), forward Yohanny Dalembert (Haiti), forward Ivan Lukic (Serbia) and forward Paulius Satkus (Lithuania). Guard Jackson Kent should challenge for a spot in the backcourt.
Did You Know: This year’s JMU team is expected to be the youngest (12 freshmen or sophomores) and tallest (all 13 players are 6-4 or taller) in school history. This year’s squad also has six foreign-born players after having just seven in program history prior to Andrey Semenov’s arrival.
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