MAAC Tournament PreviewPosted by rtmsf on March 5th, 2010
Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.
LYNDHURST, NJ – The MAAC tournament begins on the men’s side on Friday at the Times Union Center in Albany. The distinction has to be made as the women tip off on Thursday. The MAAC showcases both the men’s and women’s events at the same locations giving fans the opportunity to see the respective programs of all ten members. Siena is a clear cut favorite. The homecourt advantage and rabid following doesn’t hurt but Siena is a talented, battle tested and well-coached club. They have one loss in the MAAC, a late season setback at Niagara which might have been a blessing in the long run.
All conference honors went to the following:
First Team All-MAAC
- Anthony Johnson, Fairfield
- Ryan Thompson, Rider
- Alex Franklin, Siena
- Ronald Moore, Siena
- Ryan Rossiter, Siena
The conference will name its Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year in Albany on Friday. The POY and Coach of the Year awards are fairly wide open. Rookie of the Year is a lock — Derek Needham of Fairfield.
Early Round Games
- Loyola vs. Manhattan – What you expect in an early rounder, a tossup. Loyola swept the series and by a quirk in the schedule wrapped up the regular season with a 12-point win over the Jaspers at home on Sunday. Both teams are backcourt-oriented scoring-wise and have negative efficiency margins. Loyola has just enough inside to earn the season sweep and move on.
- Canisius vs. Marist - Hard to believe three years ago Marist was the team to beat. Now they are the ones everyone beats. The Red Foxes will be one and done but in their defense, they are playing hard each night out. Canisius, especially with a senior backcourt leader Frank Turner who can do a little of everything, will advance.
- Rider vs. St. Peter’s - The teams split the series with each winning on the opposition’s home floor. Rider defeated the Peacocks a few weeks ago and the St. Peter’s players are anxious to avenge that loss. Ryan Thompson is an outstanding talent and Mike Ringgold, who did some inside damage in the win at St. Peter’s, is a factor. John Dunne’s club counters with a solid inside (Ryan Bacon), outside (Nick Leon) combination while Wesley Jenkins does a little of both.
- Loyola vs. Siena – Getting a game in while a higher seed sits and waits can be advantageous but not in this case. The Greyhounds lost both to Siena but were actually very competitive in January’s meeting in Albany. The Brett Harvey/Jamal Barney backcourt spent part of the year not playing together (injuries and a decision). They pose a threat but Siena has too many answers.
- Canisius vs. Fairfield – This game will feature two of the conference’s outstanding guards. The veteran, Frank Turner of Canisius, and rookie, Fairfield’s Derek Needham. The latter plays nothing like a first-year player and has been an opposition matchup problem all season. It was an improved and good run for Canisius but it ends here.
- Niagara vs. Iona - The coaches say the right things but the ten o’clock start is a nightmare (no pun intended). Iona is the third seed but they are running into a very dangerous Niagara team that finished strong and was the only MAAC club to defeat Siena. The Purple Eagles have an outstanding talent in Tyrone Lewis. They also have tournament experience having won games in this even in recent years. That weighs in as a major factor.
- St. Peter’s vs. Siena – St. Peter’s was very competitive in both losses to the Saints and their players and coaches both feel they match up well with the Saints. Problem with Siena is they have so many options. Ronald Moore orchestrates the offense, Ryan Rossiter cleans up inside while Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin are effective inside and out. St. Peter’s, as noted previously, creates problems for opposing defenses as well. Siena has too much talent and experience to be denied.
- Niagara vs. Fairfield – Interesting pairing that should go down to the final minutes. As noted Niagara has that tournament experience which is vital in prepping for an opponent on less that 24 hours notice. Ed Cooley’s club has responded to challenges all season. Look for the Stags’ 6’8 junior Anthony Johnson to play a significant role on the defensive end in this one.
- Fairfield vs. Siena – The home court does not hurt one bit. Beyond that Siena has the talent and battle-tested veterans to earn another MAAC championship. Both teams favor a high 60-possession pace. Defensively both are sound and are proficient on the perimeter. Inside play, which helps Siena get to the line, is another factor in their favor. The Saints will go Marching (dancing) back into the NCAAs.