CAA Preview: William & Mary Tribe

By Zolan Kanno-Youngs

Last year: 13-17 (7-11)

What happened: They were fast, they could shoot and they could light up the scoreboard on all of their CAA opponents. Problem is, they let their CAA opponents do all of the same. William & Mary’s mere 7 league wins doesn’t show the strides they made offensively last year. Coach Tony Shaver’s team had the most effective field goal percentage in the league behind their strong frontcourt of Kyle Gaillard and Tim Rusthoven. They also had a threat from behind in the arc in Marcus Thornton – arguably one of the most dangerous offensive players in the league. While the Tribe had the third best scoring offense (68.8 PPG), they were ranked seventh in scoring with 68.3 PPG. They proved their talent by only losing by 5 to James Madison, who went on to win the CAA tournament.

Key Losses:

Matt Rum (G): The captain was voted the team’s top defensive player, which is not a good sign for the Tribe. The guard averaged 5 PPG and 5 RPG, however, his durability proved is value. Rum became the Tribe’s all-time record holder in games played with his 127th career appearance vs. JMU on March 9.

Key Returnees:

Marcus Thornton (G): Named team MVP last season, Thornton caused headaches for all opposing defensive coaches. The Maryland native is too big for most teams’ guards and too athletic for their forwards. His 18 PPG on 43 percent shooting showed that. Going into just his junior year, he’s already third in the William & Mary’s record book for 3-pointers made per game (2.1) and fourth in 3-point percentage (40 percent). Don’t be surprised if you see him on the First-Team All-CAA.

Tim Rusthoven (F): Another First-Team All CAA candidate, Rusthoven brought high energy to the court on a nightly basis and proved his worth with the second highest points on the team (14.4 PPG) and he averaged 7.0 PPG. He was a major factor in the Tribe placing first in the league in field goal percentage with his shooting efficiency of 56 percent. There’s not many big men in the league that can match the energy of Rusthoven but if he can help out his team on the defensive end, it may take the Tribe to the next level.

Bandon Britt (G): He may be small but Brandon Britt sure can score from the inside. Britt scored 14 PPG off of 48 percent shooting from his strong driving ability last year. He had one of his best games in the CAA tournament, scoring 17 points.

Kyle Gaillard (F): The only captain from last year to not graduate, Gaillard was another player who chose his shots wisely for Shaver. The big man shot 54.2 percent from the field while averaging 8.5 points to go along with 5.3 rebounds.

Outlook: The fact that William & Mary has only lost one player and returns their big three in Thornton, Rusthoven and Britt should give them confidence in a fairly even CAA conference. Expect this team to run up the score on teams but unless they find a way to toughen up on the defensive end, they’ll once again be stuck in the middle of the pack.