MAAC Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 4th, 2011

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC. Get set for the MAAC tournament, which starts on Friday, by taking a look at RTC’s preview and regular season recap.

Postseason Preview

Last year, it was Albany. The next three years, Springfield, Massachusetts. The MAAC is on the move. This season’s postseason tournament will be at Harbor Yards in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  The MAAC format is a unique one in that both the men’s and women’s tournaments are contested at the same site. This makes it easier for the fans and gives an opportunity to showcase each member’s program on both the men’s and women’s side.

The men’s tournament tips the evening of March 4, with both men’s and women’s finals the following Monday. The MAAC will be a one-bid league. Iona, Fairfield and Rider have impressive records, but not enough to get an at-large bid. The conference tournament will be winner-take-all and on to the Big Dance.

Fairfield coach Ed Cooley would be the first to admit home court advantage is nice, but it’s no guarantee. Any of the top four could emerge as champion. At any rate, a prediction must be made and the choice is Fairfield.  The Stags have a nice inside/outside combination. A 66 possession paced team, the offensive efficiency is moderate at 100 but the defense, an outstanding 89. Defensively, they force opponents to give up the ball on 25% of their possessions. With Derek Needham at the point, the Stags TO rate is an impressive 18%. The Stags also boast a plus-four edge in offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Credit that to the presence of seven foot junior Ryan Orlander, 6’5 senior Yorel Hawkins and 6’5 freshman Maurice Barrow.

The MAAC, with Siena in recent seasons, has been represented well in the Big Dance. Fairfield, with good guard and interior play, could prove a tough first round matchup. A lot depends on the draw and how Fairfield and the opposition line up. The early season schedule had a few tough tests and they were away from home. Cooley wanted a team ready not just for the MAAC, but the challenges of post season as well.

A Look Back

Player of the Year: Ryan Rossiter, Siena – A solid inside presence and virtual double-double machine. The senior forward saw added defensive pressure, but still rose to post 19.1 points and 13.4 boards per contest.  

All-Conference First Team:

  • Ryan Rossiter, Siena – See above.
  • Derek Needham, Fairfield – The Stags’ sophomore guard and leader averaged 14 points and 4.7 assists per game. In addition, Needham shot 71% from the line.
  • Michael Glover, Iona – Came in to give the Gaels a great inside presence. A junior forward, Glover averaged 17.9 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.
  • Scott Machado, Iona– The Gaels’ junior guard can score. Machado averaged 13.7 per game, but his assist/turnover ratio of 2:1 gives a better indication of his true value to the club.
  • Justin Robinson, Rider – The Broncs’ senior guard, Robinson averaged 15.3 points and an impressive 3.9 assists per outing. Late in the game, you want the ball in his hands, as Robinson hit 90% of his tries from the charity stripe.

Honorable Mention:

  • Anthony Nelson, SR G, Niagara
  • Wesley Jenkins, SR G, St. Peter’s
  • Novard Gadson, Sr G/F, Rider
  • Ryan Orlander, JR F, Fairfield
  • George Beamon, SO G, Manhattan

Newcomer of the Year: Michael Glover, Iona – When Tim Cluess took over at Iona, the one thing lacking was an added inside presence. He found the player to provide the rebounding and scoring down low in the person of Glover, a Seton Hall transfer. The 6’7 junior proved to be a valuable immediate impact addition.

Coach of the Year: John Dunne, St. Peter’s – There was talent on hand at St. Peter’s. Dunne deserves the honor for doing a great job keeping the team focused and on track early in the season, as the Peacocks weathered several injuries. An excellent defensive team, St. Peter’s will be a team to watch in Bridgeport.

Power Rankings

  1. Fairfield (23-6, 15-3): Set a school record with 23 wins. Hosting the postseason tournament is an advantage, but not a ‘given’. Fairfield dropped home games to Rider and Iona at Harbor Yards, but this is a tested team with solid guard play from Derek Needham and a strong inside game as well. Fairfield also plays strong defense, as their 89 defensive efficiency can attest. Stags open in the quarterfinals Saturday with the winner of Friday’s Marist-Niagara game.
  2. Iona (20-10, 13-5): Iona earned a two-seed for the first time since 2006, when they won the MAAC title. The Gaels get a bye. then face the Manhattan-Siena winner on Saturday in the quarterfinals. Iona had an impressive weekend certain to give added momentum as they defeated St. Peter’s and Fairfield on the road. The win over Fairfield saw four Gaels reach double figures. Contributions from complimentary players will be a huge factor in the tournament. Iona may be the hottest team in the MAC field as they tournament tips off.
  3. Rider (22-9, 13-5): The Broncs enjoyed a regular season record that included 22 wins. They are piping hot, having won 10 of their last 12. They are 8-1 in conference road games, which includes a victory over at Fairfield at Harbor Yards. With scoring ability and balance, they have three 1,000 point scorers in the lineup. Up first is Canisius in a quarterfinal matchup on Saturday.
  4. St. Peter’s (17-13, 11-7) dropped a home game to Iona and a tough road loss at Rider to wrap up the regular season. The Peacocks will face a tough draw in five seed Loyola in Saturday’s quarterfinal in what could be the most even and hotly contested quarterfinal meeting of the draw. A consistent effort from their marquee players, Wesley Jenkins, Ryan Bacon, Nick Leon, is needed this weekend.
  5. Loyola (15-14, 10-8): The Greyhounds ended with 10 MAAC wins, which ties the third highest effort in school history. Loyola faces St. Peter’s in a Saturday quarterfinal. It’s an interesting matchup, as the pair split with the visiting team winning a close one each time at the opposition’s home court. Loyola’s defensive efficiency is 101. Not great. but the defensive rebounding percentage shows a plus-six (69-63%), Largely due to the efforts of junior forward Shane Walker.
  6. Canisius (15-14, 9-9): The Golden Griffs draw a tough opening round assignment against third-seed Rider on Saturday. Canisius finished with some momentum defeating, Manhattan and Loyola to close out the regular season. The six-seed represents the program’s first bye since 1999. On an interesting note, the Rider-Canisius game will feature six 1,000 point scorers, three on each team.
  7. Siena (12-17, 8-10): Normally accustomed to an early bye and deep run, the Saints will face Manhattan in a first round meeting on Friday. Siena, incidentally, is the only team in MAAC history to capture four games to win the conference tournament. They were a seven-seed and did it in 2002. For any remote chance of a repeat of that sort, Ryan Rossiter, the Saints’ outstanding senior talent, will need help on a consistent basis.
  8. Niagara (9-22, 5-13): The Purple Eagles finished with a split, losing to Loyola on Friday and gaining a little momentum, defeating Manhattan Sunday on Senior Day. Senior point guard Anthony Nelson became the school’s all time assist leader in Friday’s contest. Normally playing deep into the tournament, Niagara will have an eight-seed and face Marist in a first round game Friday night.
  9. Marist (5-16, 3-15): Finished up the season with losses to Rider at home and Siena on the road. The Red Foxes face Niagara in a first round meeting. Sophomore guard Sam Prescott showed some scoring ability with 18 double-figure scoring games on the year. Korey Bauer, a senior forward, has averaged 8.4 rebounds in his last five games.
  10. Manhattan (6-24, 3-15): The Jaspers face Siena in an opening round meeting on Friday. Sophomore guard George Beamon was a season-long prolific scorer with eight games of twenty or more points. He scored in double figures 27 of the Jaspers’ 30 games. Freshman guard Michael Alvarado had a solid year, finishing strong with 19 points per game over the last two outings. The backcourt duo is a point of future optimism in Riverdale.
Brian Goodman (966 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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