UNCW begins road trip against CAA heavyweights


Noah Powers/The Seahawk

Devontae Cacok (15) during UNCW’s home matchup with Delaware on Jan. 10, 2019.

Austin Chandler, Contributing Writer

Following a home win over Colonial Athletic Association opponent Drexel last Saturday, the UNC Wilmington men’s basketball team prepares to set out on a CAA road trip that will include games against Hofstra on Thursday and Northeastern on Sunday.

Last week’s loss to Delaware, 82-69, coupled with a victory over Drexel, 97-83,  left the Seahawks with an overall record of 7-11 and CAA record of 3-2. The next two games will have a huge impact on the Seahawk’s conference rank. With two CAA opponents coming up, the Seahawks have the opportunity to improve their conference record to 5-2 and also make a statement by closing the gap between them and current CAA leader Hofstra.

“The conference is up in the air,” said UNCW coach C.B. McGrath. “If we can get a couple wins here, we will be right in the mix.”

The Seahawks will have their hands full on Thursday with Hofstra senior guard Justin Wright-Foreman. Foreman has been the catalyst for the Pride’s hot start to the season (15-3, 5-0 CAA), averaging 27 points-per-game in the team’s first 18 games.

“Hopefully we can go in there and do the best job we can on defense, especially trying to slow down Justin Wright-Foreman,” McGrath said. “He is supremely confident when coming down the court. We need to cut down his percentage and get him out of rhythm.”

“We’re going to throw a lot of guys at him. I don’t think one person can be in charge of trying to slow somebody down,’ said McGrath. “We’re going to try a bunch of different things because if he gets used to one style, one person, he will be able to find his spots.”

McGrath mentioned Jay Estime’, Jaylen Fornes, Jaylen Sims and Ty Gadson as players who could potentially match-up with Foreman on Thursday. Expect a combination of players and double-teams until McGrath finds a counter to Wright-Foreman.

In addition to the defense being a priority, the Seahawks will also need to match the explosiveness of both Hofstra and Northeastern’s offenses. After combining for 64 points in the team’s last victory over Drexel, Devontae Cacok (24pts), Jeantal Cylla (20pts) and Gadsden (20pts) will look to match, if not surpass, that level of production going into this crucial road trip.

Northeastern (9-8, 3-2 CAA), the preseason CAA favorite, has come out slower than expected. They are currently ranked fifth in the CAA, one place behind the Seahawks. Although their rank has slipped, McGrath knows that the Seahawks must play at a high level to walk out of Boston with a win.

“They started out slow but they are getting healthy now, and they are playing with more confidence,” said McGrath about the Huskies.

Northeastern had most of their players from the 2017-18 season return to the team which was a factor addressed by McGrath. The Seahawks can expect the Huskies to play with high chemistry and confidence as a result of this.

“Every game we find out a little bit more about our team,” said McGrath. “In all of our games so far, the team that has played the hardest has won the game. We have to make sure our guys understand that.”