Basketball players

UNCW basketball players and coach Takayo Siddle lead CAA awards

UNCW’s season of exciting wins and records led to three players and coach Takayo Siddle being honored Friday by the Colonial Athletic Association ahead of the conference tournament which begins Saturday in Washington, D.C.

Senior Jaylen Sims is an all-conference first-team selection, grad student Mike Okauru is a second-team selection, and junior Shykeim Phillips was named to the league’s all-defensive team.

After the Seahawks were predicted to finish ninth in the preseason, Siddle led them to a share of the regular-season title and a school-record 15 CAA game wins. He was named the league’s Coach of the Year.

Sims was second in the league in points per game (15.7) and averaged 5.6 rebounds, scoring in double figures in 17 of 18 CAA games. He had game-winning shots at High Point with less than 2 seconds left and a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to stun James Madison at Harrisonburg.

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Okauru, a 2021 third-team pick, has averaged 12.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists for UNCW this season. He tied a career high with 30 points in the team’s win at William & Mary.

Phillips led the team in steals with 55 and also scored in double figures in 14 of 18 CAA games.

Siddle’s honor is the seventh time a UNCW coach has been named league coach of the year. The Seahawks won a school-record 12 straight games in December and January, and have at least 20 wins for the eighth time in program history.

CAA First Team: Aaron Estrada, Hofstra (player of the year); Cam Holden, Towson; Jaylen Sims, UNCW; Nicholas Timberlake, Towson; Camren Wynter, Drexel.

Second CAA Team: John Meeks, Charleston; Vado Morse, James Madison; Jameer Nelson Jr., Delaware; Mike Okauru, UNCW; Charles Thompson, Towson.

CAA Third Team: Darius Burford, Elon; Hunter McIntosh, Elon; Jalen Ray, Hofstra; Dimitrius Underwood, Charleston; Amari Williams, Drexel.

All Rookie Team: Jyare Davis, Delaware (rookie of the year); Ben Burham, Charleston; Julian Lewis, William and Mary; Tyler Rice, William & Mary; Reyne Smith, Charleston.

Defensive team: Amari Williams, Drexel (Player of the Year); Cam Holden, Towson; Shykeim Phillips, UNCW; Charles Thompson, Towson; Dmitrius Underwood, Charleston.

First: Elon

The second-seeded Seahawks (21-8) face a team that gave them adjustments in both regular-season matchups, as No. 7-seeded Phoenix split home and after having lost a big lead late at Trask Coliseum and closing in with authority in the Schar Center.

UNCW 73, Elon 66: At Trask on January 12 – as UNCW returned from a 12-day hiatus due to COVID breaks – Elon took a 16-9 lead, was caught by UNCW and then pushed to a 55- 45 with less than 9 minutes to go. The Seahawks responded with a 19-2 run to take a lead they would hold the rest of the way.

Elon 78, UNCW 65: At Elon on Feb. 3, the Seahawks’ school-record 12-game winning streak ended after the Phoenix used a 12-0 run early in the second period to take a three-possession lead. , then scored 23 points in the final six minutes. to retire after UNCW closed the gap to 55-53.

If UNCW wants to win the series, it will have to stop Darius Burford. The sophomore guard tortured the Seahawks in the first two games: 50 total points (23 and 27) on a combined 23 for 30 from the field with nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

opposite directions

UNCW is seeking its first CAA Tournament quarterfinal victory since its last tournament championship in 2017. The Seahawks won in the first round in 2018 and 2019 before quarterfinal losses to Northeastern, and have lost in the first round to Drexel in 2020 and William & Mary a season ago.

Elon, on the other hand, had some tournament magic under third-year coach Mike Schrage. The Phoenix made the tournament final last year as the 8th seed and retired to the semifinals in 2020 as the 7th seed – a 5-2 record overall.

Siddle Gialways in

At the CAA pre-tournament press conference, Siddle was asked about the experience of losing the No. 1 seed on Monday. With UNCW games over, it had to wait until the suspended Delaware-Towson game ended on Monday night.

The Tigers, trailing 9 early in the second half, overwhelmed the Hens after the teams returned to the field to win, share the regular season title with UNCW and take the tiebreaker because that they swept No. 3 Hofstra.

“I walked into the day, woke up, said I’m not going to watch it, I’m not going to follow it, I’m just going to wait until it’s over,” Siddle said. “But I found myself calling my assistant coaches to see what the score was and ended up calling it.

“It shows you how competitive and good this league is. You would think that by winning 15 league games you would win it outright. But Towson is so talented and so well coached, and they are playing at a high level in this moment. They made us work. We made them work too.

Maximum strength. Ultimately.

UNCW was finally able to breathe a little at the end of the season.

After canceling a slew of games in January due to COVID, the Seahawks were forced to play four games on Mondays, between regular Thursday and Saturday games.

But since their Feb. 19 home final against James Madison, UNCW will have played only twice in two weeks before Sunday’s CAA quarter-final.

No complaints from anyone in teal.

“(The break) was important for a lot of reasons. I have older guys playing long minutes. It’s important to give them a rest – they were beaten after last Saturday,” Siddle said. “Being able to give them a few days off and relax throughout the week has been important. But they can’t wait to get out there and start playing again.

Siddle also said second-year winger Jamahri Harvey is 100% back for the playoffs after an ankle injury that saw him miss the last three games.

CAA Tournament Schedule

at the Entertainment & Sports Arena, Washington D.C.

First round, Saturday (aired on FloHoops)

No. 8 William & Mary vs. No. 9 Northeast, 5 p.m.

Quarterfinals, Sunday (all matches streamed on FloHoops)

No. 1 Towson vs. First-Round Winner, Noon

No. 4 Drexel vs. No. 5 Delaware, 2:30 p.m.

No. 2 UNCW vs. No. 7 Elon, 6 p.m.

Hofstra No. 3 vs. Charleston No. 6, 8:30 p.m.

Semi-finals, Monday (television on CBS Sports Network)

Winner Towson/First round and winners Drexel/Delaware, 6 p.m.

Winners UNCW/Elon and Hofstra/Charleston, 8:30 p.m.

Championship, Tuesday (television on CBS Sports Network)

Semi-final winners, 7 p.m.

Dan Spears is a sportswriter for the Wilmington StarNews and a Southeast regional sportswriter for the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @DanSpears.