WILLIAMSBURG, NOV. 4 -- It's a good thing that the other seven basketball teams in the Colonial Athletic Association are going to go ahead and play their CAA schedule, rather than simply conferring the title on the University of Richmond.

Based on the talk during the CAA's media day here at Kingsmill Resort, Richmond is so far ahead of everyone else in the CAA that it's almost pointless to play.

"I don't think any of us should do anything but tell {CAA Commissioner} Tom Yeager to send the championship trophy to Richmond," UNC-Wilmington Coach Robert McPherson said.

"I like Richmond because they've got what we had," said Navy Coach Pete Herrmann. "They've got talented players; they've got experienced players who've played a long time together."

The Spiders do return their top six players from last season's 15-14 team. And having experience, most of the coaches said, will make a difference this season in a conference without Navy's David Robinson, Wilmington center Brian Rowsom or American University guard Frank Ross.

"We have a veteran team coming back," Richmond Coach Dick Tarrant said, "and, if that's the barometer for winning the championship, so be it."

The Spiders return last season's league rookie of the year, guard Ken Atkinson, and front-court players Peter Woolfolk, Mike Winiecki and Steve Kratzer. But none is taller than 6 feet 8, giving Tarrant what he called a "good little team" to work with.

"We're strong at point guard and center," he said. "At our level, you have to have a good point guard and center. And I think we're strong at both those positions."

Richmond will find out quickly whether it has the mettle to compete, playing North Carolina, Tulsa, Virginia, Georgia Tech and Arizona State before conference play starts.

The top returning player in the conference belongs to George Mason University. He is forward Kenny Sanders, but new Patriots Coach Rick Barnes said his team's emphasis will be on pressure at both ends of the court.

The George Mason also returns Anthony (Amp) Davis, who was third in the nation last season in three-point shot percentage. And Barnes said Mason will use the three-pointers again this season.

"I think we have to," he said. "If you look at our personnel, we've got some guys who can shoot it."

New facilities for the teams currently with the smallest, Navy and American, were also a subject. Herrmann said groundbreaking for a 7,000-seat Midshipman Center will begin next week. American's Bender Arena is scheduled to open in January.

But this day was one as much for quips as quotes. James Madison's coach, John Thurston, traded insults with William and Mary's first-year coach Chuck Swenson about each other's alma mater (Thurston, Seton Hall; Swenson, Indiana). And East Carolina's rookie coach, Mike Steele, wanted to talk about golf more than his team, which most pick to finish last in the conference. Even Steele said he wasn't sure whether the Pirates could win a game this season.

The Pirates lost their only returning impact player, senior guard Blue Edwards, when he was found in violation of the student code. With Edwards suspended for the 1987-88 season, Steele can only look at his team with humor.

"It's a beautiful day and I think we should talk about golf," Steele said. "If we started a game tonight, I'd start two freshmen, two walk-ons and a sophomore who averaged one point last season. None of these guys would be over 6-5. Any questions?"

One of Swenson's players is former Kennedy High School guard Curtis Pride.

Many CAA teams dipped into the junior college ranks this season to fill big holes created by graduation. Wilmington has four junior college players on its roster after six players departed from last season's squad.

American's coach, Ed Tapscott, brought in some junior college talent, signing 6-3 guard Dale Spears, 6-5 forward Clarence Ingram and 6-6 forward Daryl Holmes.

"We're not the little Eagles any more," Tapscott said. "I don't know if we're the better Eagles, but we're not the little Eagles."