Nov 15, 2012, 5:39 PM EDT
James Madison plays its season opener on Thursday night as it faces 13th-ranked UCLA in the first round of the Legends Classic. The Dukes are the last Division I team in the nation to get their season underway.
Expectations are high for JMU, which is the only team in the country to have five fifth-year seniors on its roster. In the backcourt, preseason All-CAA selection A.J. Davis averaged a team-high 15.9 ppg a year ago and point guard Devon Moore (8.8 ppg) is a three-year starter who is among the Dukes’ all-time assists leaders. Up front, senior Rayshawn Goins returns to action after missing all of last year with a shoulder injury.
Injuries have been a constant problem for coach Matt Brady throughout his tenure in Harrisonburg, and they could be a factor again this season. Senior forward Andrey Semenov, who contributed 10.2 ppg and 4.8 rpg a year ago, is questionable with a strained groin. This will be the fourth time in Brady’s five seasons at JMU that the season opener has been against a nationally ranked opponent.
Also on Thursday’s schedule, preseason CAA favorite Drexel plays its home opener against Illinois State, which is predicted to be among the contenders for the Missouri Valley title. The Dragons will try to bounce back from an overtime loss at Kent State last Friday. Senior Chris Fouch hit six threes and poured in a team-high 24 points in the setback.
The contest will be televised nationally by the CAA’s new television partner, NBC Sports Network. It’s the first of 23 games involving CAA teams that NBCSN will broadcast this season. Todd Harris and Ron Thompson are on the call.
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