Checking in on the… MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 6th, 2008

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC Conferences.

SOUTH ORANGE , NJ –  Looking at the non-conference schedules you can’t accuse Loyola or Siena with loading up on sure Ws. Loyola had a stretch of 7 games in 16 days where the Greyhounds faced an ACC team (Boston College) , three defending conference champions (Mt. St.Mary’s, Cornell and Davidson), a preseason conference favorite (Vermont) and Tennessee St., who played in its conference championship game last season. Loyola did defeat Mt. St. Mary’s and Tennessee State but came up on the other side of the ledger in the remaining contests.

Siena spent Thanksgiving week in Orlando. It wasn’t all magic kingdom and relaxation as the Saints faced Tennessee, Wichita State and Oklahoma State. All three games were losses for Siena but there was a silver lining. Despite falling behind in the Tennessee and Oklahoma State games, the Saints showed the spark and resolve to battle back and make a serious second half run.

As we headed to December, Loyola and Siena, thanks to ambitious scheduling, sported 2-5 and 2-3 marks respectively. Interestingly, they both met to start the MAAC season on Wednesday. In that contest, Siena went on a run in the last seven minutes to seal the75-68 road win. In a balanced attack, the Saints had three players, led by Alex Franklin’s 16, in double figures.

Many conferences begin play following the New Year. In the MAAC, each school plays two conference games before the ball drops at Times Square. Not on the 31st mind you, but usually by mid-December.

Other news…Back in the day Canisius, Niagara and St.Bonaventure were independents in a group called the ‘Little Three’. Today, all have conference affiliation but the Little Three games still count for perennial bragging rights. And Canisius scored big in that area, coming from five down with 32 seconds left to defeat St.Bonaventure 68-66 at HSBC Arena on Saturday. Sophomore Julius Coles nailed a three with 5 seconds to play for the Griffs.

Chucky Martin brought his Marist team to Memphis to face his former head coach John Calipari. The final:100-61 Memphis. Numbers. Senior forward Ryan Schneider was averaging a double-double for Marist despite not having a double-double in any of the first five games.

Fairfield is getting balanced scoring but the play of Anthony Johnson is getting attention. The 6-8 junior has twenty blocks through the first seven games. His single game high was 5 rejections in a win over American.

Gary Springer continues to play well for Iona but the Gaels dropped two straight, including one at home to Robert Morris. Schedule is not too forgiving as the Gaels have two MAAC games against Marist and Fairfield, both on the road.

Manhattan junior guard Antoine Pearson was responsible for almost half of his teams’ points. Pearson scored 18 and handed out 7 assists but it wasn’t enough to keep the Jaspers from losing 70-68 at St.Francis (NY). Interestingly, Manhattan mentor Barry Rohrssen is a St.Francis alum. Getting back to Draddy Gym wasn’t an answer either as Hofstra edged the Jaspers on Saturday.

Rider knocked off Cal State Northridge 85-72. Broncs won at Northridge last year in a Bracket Buster matchup. Northridge captured the Big West last season and is a pre-season favorite this year. Rider followed the home win over Northridge on Saturday with a tough loss to Rutgers at Sovereign Bank Arena on Wednesday. Rider dominated honors last week as Ryan Thompson was MAAC Player of the Week and 6-7 freshman swingman Novar Gadson earned Rookie of the Week.

St.Peter’s came from behind to defeat LIU last week for their first victory of the season. Ryan Bacon, a 6-7 sophomore, led the way with 18 points, 15 rebounds and 5 blocks. Bacon had 14 of those points in the final half when St.Peter’s rallied for the win.

Niagara coach Joe Mihalich had an enjoyable visit to his native ‘City of Brotherly Love’. Niagara captured the Liberty Division of the Hoop Group Classic at the Palestra.  The Purple Eagles were impressive in wins over Monmouth and Harford as Tyrone Lewis, a junior guard, earned MVP honors. Niagara dropped a tough one at home to Akron on Wednesday but is still 5-2 with the other loss coming to Villanova.

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