Conference Tourney Primers: Metro Atlantic

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on March 5th, 2015

We’re in the midst of Championship Fortnight, so let’s gear up for the continuing action by breaking down each of the Other 26’s conference tournaments as they get under way.

MAAC Tournament

Dates: March 5, 7-9

Site: Times Union Center (Albany, NY)


What to expect: Iona will be heavy favorites in the MAAC Tournament this week after going 24-7 and controlling the regular season from start to finish. The uptempo Gaels are an exceptionally efficient offensive unit, led by one of the country’s best scoring duos – guard A.J. English and big man David Laury – who account for nearly 40 points per game. But beware: Monmouth, Canisius and crosstown rival Manhattan each gave Iona trouble this winter and the top seed has not won the event since 2010. Rider, the second-place finisher, would be more of a threat if seven-footer Matt Lopez hadn’t torn his ACL in late February. Count on the regular season champs to clinch another NCAA Tournament appearance – its third since 2011 – but don’t expect a cakewalk.

Favorite: Iona. Along with its stellar inside-out duo, Iona boasts the conference’s premier freshman in 5’10” guard Schadrac Casimir. His shooting prowess (44% 3FG on 203 attempts) combined with English, Laury, wing Isaiah Williams (45% 3FG) and athletic transfer Kelvin Amayo makes the Gaels incredibly difficult to stop.

Sleeper: Monmouth. Monmouth can run with Iona and showed as much this season, beating the Gaels at home in December and nearly beating them on the road in February. If they sneak past Canisius on Saturday, the Hawks will get another shot in the semifinals. Jim Baron’s scrappy, defensively-stout Griffins also knocked off Iona this year, so it could be tough-sledding either way for the conference champs.

Who wins: Iona. Iona scores 110.2 points per 100 possessions this season, making it one of the 50-most efficient offensive teams in college basketball. It’s also the Gaels’ worst mark since Tim Cluess took over in 2010-11 – a testament to just how brilliant of an offensive head coach he is.

Player to watch: Emmy Andujar – Manhattan. When you’re not checking out English and Laury (and Casimir, and…), you should really catch a glimpse of Andujar. Standing 6’6”, the senior is a legitimate point-forward who can score (16.5 PPG), rebound (7.5 RPG), pass (3.5 APG) and aggressively defend (2.1 SPG) the way Steve Masiello wants him to.

Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

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