MAAC Tournament NotesPosted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2009
Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC Conferences. He found himself in Albany last weekend witnessing the MAAC Championship.
ALBANY, NY – Following Siena’s quarterfinal win , Canisius coach Tom Parrotta was asked about the Saints’ Kenny Hasbrouck. “He made some big plays in the first half to keep us at bay,” Parrotta said. “That’s what seniors do.” The play of Hasbrouck is probably the best or primary reason Siena cut down the nets last night following the 77-70 MAAC championship victory over Niagara at the Times Union Center. The stats show Hasbrouck shot 8 of 21 from the field. The stats do not reveal that the Saint senior battled through a calf injury that had his status questionable the day of the game. During a 13-1 run that gave Siena a double digit lead midway in the second half, Hasbrouck buried a trey, took one to the basket, hit a midrange jumper in the lane and a twelve footer from the corner. He finished with 19 points to pace the Saints. More importantly, he was the heart and soul behind the Siena triumph. Niagara gave a solid effort a night after surviving a thrilling double-overtime win over Rider. The Purple Eagles appeared finished until Tyrone Lewis banked in a trey with 1.7 seconds remaining to force overtime. That Rider-Niagara semifinal was a classic battle, the type we see so often during the latter rounds in this tournament.
Think it’s a great idea the men’s and women’s tournament share the same venue. It gives fans a chance to see the programs of the member schools and gives the women a little more of a showcase. Economics of the day called for it. A good number of courtside press tables were removed to put in café style tables complete with waitress service. MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor made the decision to generate more funds and, at the same time, make other seating more affordable. No media were shut out due to this. Some were seated in the hockey press area in the upper level and not a bad vantage point by any means.
Coach of the year went to Siena’s Fran McCaffery. Siena was the favorite but McCaffrey did a nice job. And it’s not easy playing all season as everyone’s ‘target’. Thought if John Dunne had an extra win or two, St. Peter’s finished with 5 straight MAAC victories, prior to the tournament (they dropped a competitive quarterfinal to Rider), he might have earned coach of the year honors. A basically sophomore corps, St.Peter’s was much better in February than December. And that is a product of good coaching.McCaffery’s choice for coach of the year would have been Ed Cooley. McCaffrey believes Cooley turned in “one of the best coaching jobs in the country,” as he dealt with a succession of injuries, mixed and matched and still managed to keep Fairfield very competitive each night out.
It’s a tough call but the feeling here is Niagara deserves an at large NCAA bid. Joe Mihalich’s club has 26 wins, a few good out of conference Ws like the Bracket Buster over Illinois State, and finished strong. Should Niagara make the field, I would not be anxious to draw them. At any rate, their season will be extended and deservedly so.
Here is Ray’s photo essay from the event: