Setting those caveats aside, though, the Tribe's comprehensively solid statistics (they're also second in field goal percentage defense, defensive rebound percentage, and three-point shooting percentage) tell the story of a team that's much, much improved. And one that's an increasingly legitimate threat in a very mediocre league.
W&M drilled traditional nemesis Old Dominion, 71-62, on Saturday, building a 15-point second-half lead before coasting to their first win in 10 tries against the Monarchs. The victory came on the heels of back-to-back close losses - W&M fell by six at both Wake Forest and Richmond. The latter loss came in double overtime in a game the Wrens led by 5 with less than two minutes to play. With a few decent bounces, W&M would be no worse than 5-2.
The fact that we're quibbling over a 4-3 start says something about how we view this team. They should have a better record.
Sophmore guard Marcus Thornton earned CAA Player of the Week honors, despite the Tribe's 1-2 record, on the strength of his 22.5 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.0 apg week. Thornton's second in the CAA in scoring to Delaware's Jamelle Hagins, tallying 19.0 points per game on a cool .500 shooting percentage. He's rapidly developing into one of the league's top guards, and a clear candidate for All-CAA honors.
Brandon Britt's cut down on his turnovers and connected on more than 52% of his shots in averaging 15.1 points per game. Kyle Gaillard continues to return to full strength after a year away, but showed glimpses against Richmond when he scored 13 in the first half. Frosh Terry Tarpey's giving the Tribe good minutes, and averaging nearly 5 rebounds a game. Matt Rum can't hit the broad side of a barn thus far in 2012-13, but he leads the team with 25 assists, and sports a league-leading 2.1 assist/turnover ratio.
But by at least one measure, junior post player Tim Rusthoven has been the Tribe's best player. Beasthoven's 113.4 offensive rating leads the CAA, and his 15.3 ppg and 7.7 rpg place him in the league's top 7 in both categories. His game's not pretty - it's been described as a cross between Kevin McHale and that awkward kid you hated to play against at the rec center - but it's extremely efficient.
The interaction between Thornton, Britt, and Rusthoven is the key to the Tribe's success. The frontcourt's athleticism and ability to shoot from outside keep opponents from being able to collapse on Rusthoven, while the latter's court savvy and inside presence leads to a lot of open looks and layups from hard cuts in Tony Shaver's offense. Thus far, it's been a reasonably lethal combination, at least by W&M standards.
|Yes, Virginia, the CAA is a dumpster fire.|
As the calendar turns, and we look at league in disarray, the futile superfans may well have reason to keep the hope fires burning. Can't ask for much more than that.
Until 2013-14, when we might really have something.