The skinny: Sweet-shooting guard A.J. Davis (16.3 ppg), a transfer from Wyoming, has been a shot in the arm for a team looking to offset the loss of its leading scorer and rebounder, Denzel Bowles (graduation), from last season. Davis’ presence has taken on even greater importance since the Dukes learned that forward Rayshawn Goins, who averaged 9.7 points and 6.8 rebounds last year, has likely been lost for the season with a shoulder injury. That leaves James Madison Coach Matt Brady with a guard-heavy lineup, albeit one that can get hot at the right time.
Senior guard Humpty Hitchens is an active defender and a potentially-dangerous scorer (not to mention the best first name in the CAA), while junior point guard Devon Moore has returned after missing the first semester. When healthy, Moore has been among the CAA’s top floor generals.
Swingman Julius Wells (8.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg), the 2008 CAA Rookie of the Year, has missed three straight games with a bout of the flu that required a hospital visit. His status is unclear.
The Dukes have been in a near free-fall since Christmas, including troubling losses to Rhode Island, Northeastern and William & Mary. JMU is incredibly thin in the post, and it’s left the Dukes overly reliant on the 3-pointer (although they lead the CAA in 3-pointers per game at 7.5 per). As expected, rebounding has been a major issue for JMU.
Fast facts: James Madison has made vast improvements since Brady took over the program in 2008, but the Dukes have not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 1994. They were coached that season by Lefty Driesell, who is also the last man to lead Georgia State to the NCAA Tournament.