The Other 26: Week Two

Posted by jstevrtc on November 27th, 2010

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.  For an introduction to this series, please click here.

Introduction

We are getting into the thick of the things as teams are now well into their non-conference slate. While many small-conference schools take their lumps at the hands of larger-conference opponents as often happens at this time of year, other are emerging as legitimate contenders within the world of the “Other 26.” At this point in most seasons the Maui Invitational controls much of the discussion within college basketball circles, and this year has been no different. The tournament encompasses some of the nation’s best teams, and for about a week the focal point of college basketball is the Lahaina Civic Center. Suited more for an AAU championship game than a premiere college basketball venue, the Civic Center witnessed one of the most dominating performances in the history of the Invitational. Averaging 30 points, missing only two of 28 free throws, and guiding the young Huskies to the title is the mark of a champion, and Kemba Walker did all of those. Walker’s first heroics of the Invitational came against Wichita State, who so nearly thwarted Connecticut’s chances at winning the Invitational on the first day. In the process, however, the Shockers garnered my full admiration in how they competed with some of the top teams in America. In the end, Kemba Walker and Connecticut prevailed, but Wichita State was heard and will continue to make noise throughout the year.

What team impressed the most?

Following a tough season-opening loss to Georgetown by three points, Old Dominion has run off four straight victories. Their wins were hardly against cupcake opponents either as two came against Clemson and Xavier (it should be known that both the Tigers and Musketeers have both fallen only to Old Dominion). It is a grave task for any opponent to combat the Monarchs’ attack as no one ODU player is far and away the most significant contributor. Frank Hassell is the team’s leader from a statistical perspective as he averages nearly a double-double and is an extremely efficient offensive player, shooting better than 60% from the field. Blaine Taylor, ODU’s coach, is the mastermind behind this balanced attack. Check out these numbers: six players are averaging between 5.5 and 8.8 shots a game, and seven players average between 4.2 and 12.6 points a game. While not a flashy team by any means, Old Dominion plays a true team game — a truce recipe for success come March.

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Bracket Prep: Northern Iowa, Old Dominion, Siena, St. Mary’s

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2010

As we move through the next few days when automatic bids will be handed out on a regular basis, we’re going to break down the teams for you so that you can start thinking about your bracket ahead of time.  The pearls of wisdom are meant to help you better understand what these teams are good at and how to make fair comparisons between them — all too often, the capsules you see have a lot of information in them, but very little of it is actually helpful.  If you have additional ideas, leave them in the comments.  For the good/bad matchups, we’re not necessarily saying that Team X will win; we’re simply pointing out that in an ideal situation, some of that team’s strengths will be more likely to manifest against those particular opponents — so save the emails.  We’re still catching up, but these should be the teams through the early part of the week.

#5. Northern Iowa Panthers (28-4, 15-3 MVC) – automatic qualifier

NCAA Seed Range: #7-#9

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom:

  1. It’s all about methodical offense and sticky defense for the Panthers.  This team will not beat themselves with mistakes, so you’d better be disciplined in your approach if you hope to beat them.  Sixty points is the magic number — the Panthers were 16-0 this year when reaching that score.  Possession basketball is the key; a 10-point deficit in the last five minutes against UNI is nearly impossible to recover from, as they take care of the ball (only 10.5 turnovers/game) and hit free throws (75.5%).
  2. Not many mid-majors have a legitimate seven-footer but UNI’s Jordan Eglseder is one such player.  He only plays about 22 minutes per game, but he’s an effective scorer in the low post, draws a lot of fouls and is one of the best per-minute rebounders in the nation on both ends.  He’s not a game-changer in the sense that he will own the paint, but he is a tough wrinkle to prepare for in the game plan.
  3. The Panthers beat up on some bad major conference teams this year (Iowa, Iowa State, BC) in addition to knocking off some mid-major powers in Old Dominion and Siena.  The one confounding loss was to DePaul in the Virgin Islands early in the year where Mac Koshwal (12/19) dominated Eglseder (2/6) inside.  Don’t assume that as a trend, though, as Eglseder played well against ISU’s Craig Brackins (20/14) and Purdue’s JaJuan Johnson last season (13/5).

Good Matchups:  Wake Forest, Clemson

Bad Matchups: Marquette, UNLV

#6. Old Dominion (26-8, 15-3 CAA) – automatic qualifier

NCAA Seed Range: #9-#11

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom:

  1. There’s no one player you have to stop to beat ODU, but if you can slow down 6’10 center Gerald Lee, you’ll have a better chance.  The versatile big man was seen in the CAA Tournament taking the ball upcourt against pressure on occasion, in addition to lending his usual 15/5 and 54% shooting from the field.  He has six teammates who contribute between six and nine points per game, so keying on any one of them is precarious because the Monarchs share the wealth.  They only had six occasions where a player scored 20+ points in a game this year, and five of those were Lee (Marsharee Neely was the other).
  2. ODU is another one of those mid-majors that thrives on possession basketball.  They limit your possessions by defending and rebounding among the best in the nation.  They also gang-rebound on the offensive glass, giving themselves an extra chance on nearly half of their scoring opportunities.  Those extra chances help to make up for what is a fairly lousy three-point (31.5%) and two-point shooting percentage (49.4%).
  3. ODU’s signature win was at Georgetown during Snowpacalypse I in December.  They did it by forcing GU point guard Chris Wright into a difficult game (2-8 FG; 4 pts) and collecting eighteen Hoya turnovers.  It should be noted that if you can turn over the Monarchs, as Missouri, Northern Iowa and Dayton successfully did in the nonconference slate, they struggle scoring enough points to win.

Good Matchups:  Oklahoma State, Texas

Bad Matchups: Clemson, Richmond

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ATB: Nobody Wants to Play These Middies

Posted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2010

Championship Monday Night.  Four middies had their conference tourneys tonight, and we’ll be damned if we didn’t see at least a couple of RTCs out there (and a half-RTC in the WCC just for good measure).  Make no mistake, though, the four mid-major teams that won their leagues tonight are all excellent teams that nobody, we repeat, NOBODY, is going to want to see opposite their name in the brackets next week.  Every one of these four squads are seasoned, experienced and battle-tested units that won’t get rattled by seeing some bright lights, a big arena and a brand-name team standing at the other end of the court.  If none of these four teams pulls a first-round upset, then we don’t know anything about this game.

WCC ChampionshipSt. Mary’s 81, Gonzaga 62.  This game came down to a team that looked like it was playing for its NCAA life versus a team that was just happy going through the motions.  It was a complete mismatch in the second half of the WCC title game, as St. Mary’s confirmed its bona fides in a cathartic victory over its biggest rival and in the process serving notice that there are two powers coming out of the WCC this season.  The Gaels broke up a close game at halftime with a 51-point second half that included 68% shooting in the second half led by multiple threes from Mickey McConnell (26/6 assts/4 stls) and Ben Allen (20/9/4 assts).  Essentially it was a do-no-wrong kind of half for Randy Bennett’s team to the point where his team didn’t even need a big offensive night from their superstar center Omar Samhan (9/7/6 blks).  As for Gonzaga, this was the latest in a series of disappointing no-shows during the last six weeks where Mark Few’s team looked largely uninterested and apathetic — losses to San Francisco and LMU were similar occurrences.  Elias Harris in particular was miserable tonight, shooting 3-13 for eight points, and the entire team seemed to have grease on their hands with fourteen TOs in the game.  We realize that the Zags are always a threat to do some damage in March, but we’re just not convinced that this is one of Mark Few’s better teams, so it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if it was St. Mary’s that sticks around a little longer next week than their better-known counterparts in the NCAA Tournament.

Nope, SMC Didn't Surprise Us (AP/I. Brekken)

MAAC ChampionshipSiena 72, Fairfield 65 (OT). For an oh-so-brief moment, every bubble team in America held its collective breath.  Colin Nickerson’s three-pointer from the left corner was in the air to win the MAAC title for Fairfield, and if it had dropped, the weak bubble would have suddenly gotten a little more crowded with Siena joining the party.  Of course, it didn’t fall, and instead Siena capped off its title game comeback by dominating the overtime period and capturing its third straight MAAC championship to return to the NCAA Tournament.  For the third straight night, Siena found itself down at the half (this time by eleven) but as appropriate for a seasoned team, they never panicked, instead keeping their cool and eventually working their way back.  Edwin Ubiles and Alex Franklin, veterans of four NCAA Tournament games in their careers, combined for 49/19 to lead the Saints, but it was Ubiles’ 360-dunk in the second half that signaled to Fairfield and the rest of the building that Siena was not going to leave without a victory tonight.  Forget about the six losses on Siena’s record this year — five of those were away games, and the last we checked, the Tournament is played on neutral floors, and we know what this group is capable of in that respect.  Ask Vanderbilt or Ohio State: nobody wants to play this team next Thursday or Friday.  To close out the MAAC, check out this video from SienaSaintsBlog of the RTC tonight.  Great stuff.

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MAAC Tournament Preview

Posted 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.

The bracket:

All conference honors went to the following:

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Ten Tuesday Scribbles…

Posted by zhayes9 on February 9th, 2010

RTC contributor and bracketologist Zach Hayes will deliver ten permeating thoughts every week as the season progresses.

1. One team that I believe could make a run for the Final Four that people seem to be slightly ignoring is Wisconsin. The Badgers should be favored in every game the remainder of their schedule other than possibly at Minnesota or at Illinois. Remember, Wisconsin already played their six games against fellow Big Ten contenders Michigan State, Purdue and Ohio State and emerged clean with a 3-3 split. Finishing the season on a 6-1 run basically guarantees the Badgers a top-three finish depending on the fortunes of those rival teams and that could put Wisconsin in the tremendous position to play their first two NCAA games in nearby Milwaukee. Bo Ryan’s team is incredibly efficient, ranking in the top-20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They’re top-40 in the nation in two-point FG%, FT%, blocks and steals and rank just below in effective FG%. The Badgers boast tremendous computer numbers- #9 RPI, #10 SOS, #53 non-conference SOS- and have three wins against the RPI top-15. Not many teams can match that overall portfolio. Throw in the committee factoring in the Jon Leuer injury, and it’s entirely plausible Wisconsin could go from being predicted ninth in the Big Ten to earning a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Throw Bo Ryan’s name in there along with Jim Boeheim, John Calipari and Steve Alford for National Coach of the Year.

Trevon Hughes has emerged as a star during his senior year

2. One team that no high-major wants to see in the first round of the NCAA Tournament is Siena. We know their recent history of winning tournament games, toppling 4-seed Vanderbilt two years ago and pulling out a 2OT classic over 8-seed Ohio State a season ago largely due to the heroics of Ronald Moore. While the Saints did blow their chances to pick up quality wins out of MAAC play- losing to Northern Iowa, Georgia Tech and Temple- Siena is inching towards the polls, boasting an unblemished 13-0 conference record and a winning streak that stretches back to mid-December. A win in Hinkle Fieldhouse against Butler on February 20 would make it an absolute certainty Siena earns a bid regardless of the MAAC Tournament, but even with a loss the Saints should run through their conference regular season and postseason at 21-0 and garner a seed in the 9-11 range. Other than Kenny Hansbrouck, head coach Fran McCaffrey has nearly his entire squad returning from that Ohio State victory. Moore is averaging an incredible 8.1 APG to lead the nation while Edwin Ubiles appears to be inching towards 100% after a banged-up start to the campaign. Ryan Rossiter has developed into a legitimate low-post threat and effective rebounder and fellow frontcourt mate Alex Franklin is one of the most efficient scorers around. There’s plenty to like with regards to Siena’s chances to pulling off another first round upset: top-50 efficient offense, tremendous coaching, four double-digit scorers and, most notably, the experience of success in March.

3. There are a few reasons why the Atlantic 10 has earned an astonishing six bids in Monday’s bracket: 1) the Pac-10 turning into a one-bid league, 2) Big Ten teams like Michigan and Minnesota disappointing and 3) a mediocre middle of the Big East. Most of all, though, the league is just really good. The top-flight teams all challenged themselves out-of-conference and picked up impressive wins to show for it, from Temple knocking off Villanova, to Richmond downing Missouri and Florida, Rhode Island beating Oklahoma State and Charlotte dominating Louisville in Freedom Hall. With the exception of Rhode Island, all of the other five bid-earners have a win over the RPI top 25, and the Rams have the highest overall RPI of the bunch mostly because they played the 28th strongest non-conference schedule in the nation. Dayton could be the team closest to the bubble; if they had fallen to Xavier at home on Saturday, the Flyers likely would have been on the outside looking in this week. Still, Dayton did beat Georgia Tech in November and if they can split their two challenging road games at Temple and at Richmond in February, Brian Gregory’s team should be in decent shape. I’d fathom that Charlotte is still the most likely team to fall out even if they currently sit at the top of the standings. They barely edged George Washington and Fordham on the road this week and still have four games against these NCAA contenders, including roadies at Dayton and URI.

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Breaking Down the Bracketbusters…

Posted by rtmsf on February 2nd, 2010

Special to RushTheCourt.  Ryan Restivo of the MAAC-based SienaSaintsBlog is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. SienaSaintsBlog now features exclusive video!

The BracketBuster matchups are out, and as promised, RTC is here with some analysis of some of the top games!  Five Colonial Athletic Association teams lead the pack into these February weekend matchups. The Western Athletic Conference drew four bids and the Missouri Valley drew three.  One problem with the BracketBusters? Five of the television games will be on ESPNU, which of course means they’re not available on ESPN360.  However I’d say there are five games where you must, to quote another piece here, “quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live.”

Friday 2/19  (RPI)

Old Dominion (#46) @ Northern Iowa (#17)  – 7 pm on ESPN2/ESPN360

Get to Know Gerald Lee

The Monarchs will travel to Cedar Rapids to play where the Panthers have won every home game by an average of 14 points per game entering this week. 6’8 UNI senior Adam Koch is a tough-to-contain inside presence, scoring a team high 12.7 points per game. 6’10 ODU senior Gerald Lee will likely be assigned to the task of guarding Koch, an he has been a beast this year for the Monarchs, shooting 53% from the field and leading the team with 14.3 points per game. The matchup to watch in this game will be to see if Old Dominion can defend Koch on the inside while keeping their shooters, junior Kwadzo Ahelegbe (11.1 ppg) and Senior Ali Farokhmanesh (team high 42 3-pointers made), at bay. Both teams are first in their respective conferences in FG percentage defense at eerily similar numbers: Old Dominion’s 39.5% FG-defense is 21st while Northern Iowa’s 39.9% ranks 37th nationally. The Monarchs have had some defensive trouble lately, trying zones at Northeastern on Saturday when facing a team with similar size and offensive weapons as the Panthers, to give up a season high 59.5% field goal percentage. 

Saturday 2/20 (RPI)

Siena (#44) @ Butler (#19) – 11 am on ESPN2/ESPN360

The owner of the nation’s longest winning streak, Siena at thirteen straight, will go into an extremely tough environment at Butler in Saturday’s first Bracketbuster game. The Saints are led by 6’5 senior Edwin Ubiles and his 15.8 points per game as he makes his case for MAAC Player of the Year despite some lingering shoulder issues. Alex Franklin plays bigger than his 6’5 frame to lead the Saints down low with 16.1 points per game. On the other side, Butler’s Gordon Hayward has been a beast for the Bulldogs this year, scoring 16.1 points per game and tying a season-high 25 in Sunday’s comeback win over UW-Milwaukee. Hayward, a sophomore, is already attracting the attention of NBA scouts. Fellow sophomore Shelvin Mack has scored 15 points per game and Matt Howard, when not in foul trouble, scores 11 points per game. Howard has been tough to defend inside, going off for 23 points in Butler’s nine-point loss to Minnesota, but has had issues with foul trouble, getting disqualified in three of the Bulldogs’ four losses. It will be interesting to see how Siena defends Hayward and Howard and how this veteran Saints team led by seniors Ubiles, Franklin and Ronald Moore can contain this explosive offense on the road.

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 15th, 2010

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

LYNDHURST, NJ – Hard to believe the race is near the midway point. Siena is ahead and the favorite. Following closely are a group of teams in second through eighth that are fairly even and jockeying to move up. Among that group Fairfield, Iona and Niagara are considered at this point the best to make it interesting for the long run . Can’t write off Rider while St. Peter’s, Canisius and Manhattan are also in the mix.

From the board room…

Bob McCloskey Insurance group has signed a marketing agreement with the MAAC. The organization is a national leader in the sports insurance and marketing areas. Part of the agreement stipulates the McCloskey group will sponsor a postgraduate scholarship to one male and female MAAC student-athlete each year. Rich Ensor, the MAAC commissioner,  is excited about the venture noting, “it is particularly important that the agreement provides scholarship support for postgraduate studies for MAAC student-athletes who are known for their success on the playing fields and the classroom.”  Here are the standings.

A tempo free look at offensive efficiency. The mark is simply points per possession multiplied by 100. The average possessions per game for the respective team is noted in the first column. This includes all games. The figures are from conference games only. Again, stats are courtesy of Basketball State.

Milestones

  • Wesley Jenkins of St.Peter’s became the program’s 28th 1,000 point scorer. Jenkins hit the mark in his 71st career game.
  • Tyrone Lewis has scored  over 1,600 points and is eighth on Niagara’s all time list.
  • To date Anthony Nelson of Niagara has handed out over 430 assists.
  • Senior guard Frank Turner needed three rebounds to become the first player in school history to score 1,500 points while adding 500 rebounds and 500 assists,
  • Nick Leon of St. Peter’s has passed the 900-point mark and is soon to join the school’s 1,000 point list.

MAAC Player of the Week: Edwin Ubilies, Sr, G/F, Siena – Averaged 23 points for the week while shooting 61% from the field. Came off the bench to score a game-high 25 points in a first place showdown with Niagara.

Rookie of the Week: Derek Needham, Fr, G, Fairfield – Averaged 17 points in a 2-1 week for the Stags. The highlight was a career high 28 points in a game at Niagara. Needham also scored 10 of the Stags final 11 points in a win at Loyola.

Team Breakdowns

  • Canisius – Pair of league wins over Iona and Marist raised the Griffs to 3-2 in the MAAC. Three of Canisus’ last five opponents have failed to hit the 60-point mark. Senior Frank Turner continues to be the main scoring threat. Not just at Canisius either as he leads the MAAC with a 17 PPG norm. Junior Elton Frazier put  up big numbers against Marist with 25 points (career high) and 10 rebounds.
  • Fairfield - Stags won two of three and remain unbeaten at home. They are 5-0 at the Arena at Harbor Yard and 3-0 at their on campus Alumni Hall. Yorel Hawkins had a 34 consecutive free throw streak end. It started back on December 5th. Derek Needham has been the leading scorer but the freshman guard has handed out almost 100 assists to date. Anthony Johnson had 27 in a win over Manhattan.
  • Iona – The Gaels split on the week losing to Canisius and defeating Rider. Scott Machado continued his torrid scoring as the sophomore guard averaged 20.5 PPG for the two games. A key factor in the win over Rider was the play of junior forward Alejo Rodriguez who had a career high 17 rebounds. That is the highest individual total in the MAAC this season. Sophomore Rashon Dwight has four double-digit scoring efforts. All came since his insertion into the starting lineup nine games ago.
  • Loyola (MD) – After a four-game win streak the Greyhounds dropped games to the MAAC’s two leading teams, Siena and Fairfield. Loyola was faced to play three halves without leading scorer Brett Harvey who had appeared in 109 consecutive contests. Harvey didn’t dress for Siena and missed a half against the Stags after an injur from a hard foul. Harvey, in fact, was fouled with one second left in the half. Junior guard Jamal Barney picked up the scoring slack in Harvey’s absence.
  • Manhattan – Tough stretch of one win in three outings with the losses by a combined total of four points. Jaspers led Rider by 16 only to fall on a tip in with less than ten seconds remaining.  Junior guard Rico Pickett had a very impressive three game stretch averaging 24 PPG. Pickett had a career high 29 points in a narrow loss to Fairfield on Sunday. The lone win, a decisive 76-53 conquest of St.Peter’s last Friday.
  • Marist – Dropped all three games, losing to St.Peter’s and Canisius as well as a non-league meeting with Princeton. Freshmen led in scoring each of the three outings. No surprise as 59% of the Marist point production has come from freshmen. Candin Rusin, a freshman guard, has been hitting well beyond the arc. Overall, youth and the reliance on the perimeter have made the going tough in Poughkeepsie.
  • NiagaraBilal Benn and Tyrone Lewis continue to excel. Benn is averaging a double-double (14.9 PPG, 10.3 RPG) and only Ohio State’s Evan Turner averages more points, rebounds and assists than the Niagara senior. In a two-OT loss at St.Peter’s Lewis had four at halftime and finished with 27 points. His trey with just under two seconds left forced OT. In the extra sessions he continued to be a dangerous scoring factor scoring 11 of his 27 points.
  • Rider – Dropped a home game to Iona. Previously the Broncs had captured 26 of their last 31 at home. They get a quick opportunity to avenge that loss as they travel to New Rochelle to face the Gaels on MLK day. There’s not an official category but Junior Mike Ringgold has more offensive rebounds (70) than anyone else in conference. He had a huge one on a tip in with 6 seconds to go that allowed Rider to edge Manhattan in Riverdale. Justin Robinson leads the MAAC in free throw shooting (.905) but his consecutive streak of made charity tosses ended at 26. Final rebounding note… junior Novar Gadsen is the only MAAC player with over 100 (104) defensive boards.
  • St. Peter’s - Defeated Marist, lost at Manhattan and came home for a thrilling two-OT win against Niagara. Latter win was significant as St. Peter’s was coming off their worst effort in over a year per coach John Dunne. Nick Leon paced St. Peter’s with 29 points while Wesley Jenkins added 27. Ryan Bacon continues to contribute solid inside play for the Peacocks. Interesting weekend to watch as St. Peter’s travels to Rider on Friday and hosts Loyola Sunday.
  • Siena – Win over Canisius on Monday was their 30st straight at the Times Union Center.  Saints have won 30 of their last 32 against MAAC schools. Edwin Ubiles is scoring and accurate. He’s hitting 54% from the field over the last eight games. Continued excellence at the points is another strong spot for the Saints. Ronald Moore leads the nation with 8.6 APG and in the last 48 games had one outing with more turnovers than assists. Beside leading the MAAC in categories as scoring, scoring margin, field goal percentage… Siena leads in attendance with 7,772 fans  per game at the Times Union Center.

Upcoming games

January 16

  • Niagara at Iona
  • Siena at Fairfield

January 18

  • Rider at Iona
  • Canisius at Fairfield

January 22

  • St.Peter’s at Niagara
  • Rider at Canisius
  • Iona at Manhattan

January 23

  • Loyola at Marist

January 24

  • St.Peter’s at Canisius
  • Fairfield at Iona
  • Siena at Manhattan
  • Rider at Niagara
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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 2nd, 2010

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

LYNDHURST, NJ – Just before the New Year teams rounded out the non-conference schedule before MAAC play heats up not long after the ball drops in Times Square. The significant contest of note was two days before Christmas as Siena ‘held serve’ defeating conference contender Rider in a game at Albany.

The other big news came in the boardroom not on the court. The MAAC weighed bids and decided to award their championships to the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, Massachusetts. The tournament will be held there 2012-14. In choosing the 8,000 seat facility, MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor wanted a truly neutral site. Ensor feels the facility is in proximity to member schools and the conference can draw at a locale where a member school does not use as a home facility on a full or part-time basis. The Basketball Hall of Fame in the same city is prepared to help setting up a special exhibit regarding MAAC history.

A tempo-free look at defensive efficiency. The metric is simply points per possession allowed multiplied by 100. The average possessions per game for the respective teams is noted in the first column. This includes all games. The next time out we will focus on MAAC play only as everyone will have at least four conference games in the books which should allow us to see trends start to take shape. Again, stats are courtesy of Basketball State.

St.Peter’s was sort of a surprise though the 6-6 record is deceiving as John Dunne’s club had a few tough losses. Niagara’s 96 is high but can be explained given the schedule and injuries. The fact that the Purple Eagles have been able to weather those setbacks (notably injuries to Bilal Benn and Tyrone Lewis) and find a way to start 2-0 in conference play (9-5 overall) speaks volumes of their resiliency and the job coach Joe Mihalich is doing.

Milestones

  • Rider junior Justin Robinson leads the MAAC in free throw shooting and is 17th nationally.
  • Tyrone Lewis is four steals away from setting the all-time record at Niagara. Lewis is five assists from becoming the 5th MAAC player in history to record 2,000 points, 200 assists and 200 steals.
  • In Canisius’ 63-48 win over New Orleans, the 48 points marked the lowest total allowed by the Griff defense since last century. Fairfield scored 45 on February 8,1997 in a Canisius victory .
  • Derek Needham of Fairfield is second in conference scoring (15.8) and assist (6.1) totals.

MAAC Co-Players of the Week :

  • Brett Harvey (G), Loyola – Led the Greyhounds to a big 72-67 upset at Indiana. Harvey scored nine of his game high 25 points down the stretch as Loyola sealed the victory. He added four assists and five rebounds in 29 minutes.
  • Alex Franklin (F), Siena – Scored 22 points (9 of 13 shooting) and added 11 rebounds in the Saints’ big victory over conference contender Rider in Albany. It was Franklin’s second double-double of the season.

Rookie of the Week. Rashard McGill (G), Iona - Averaged 11.5 points and 3.5 rebounds off the bench in a win over FDU and a loss at UConn.  McGill scored his career-high 12 points in the game against the nationally ranked Huskies on Sunday.

Team Breakdowns

  • Canisius - Finished second at the Southern Miss Christmas Classic by winning two out of three games in the round-robin event. Canisius fell to North Florida but defeated Southern Mississippi and New Orleans. The loss was Southern Mississippi’s first in the three years of the event. Senior guard Frank Turner continued his outstanding play, averaging 19 points for the three games. A good sign is scoring help from junior forward Elton Frazier who had 17 in the New Orleans game and averages 11 ppg on the season.
  • Fairfield - Derek Needham is now second in conference scoring with 15.8 ppg. Needham is one of two Fairfield players to start all eleven games to date and have double figures scoring in ten of them. Not just a scorer, the freshman guard averages 6.1 assists per outing. Fairfield owns a 5-0 home record to date. The Stags played Holy Cross, Fordham and St.Francis (NY) at the on campus facility, Alumni Hall.
  • Iona – Started a six-game road trip, the season’s longest, with an 82-60 win at FDU. That was followed by a 93-74 setback at UConn. Sophomore Scott Machado and freshman Rashard McGill were the only Gaels to average double figures for the two games. Machado has shown no signs of a sophomore jinx and has displayed the ability to hand out assists as well as score. Senior Milan Prodanovic knocked down five three-pointers, accounting for all of his 15 points in the win at FDU.
  • Loyola - The Greyhounds had never defeated a Big Ten team in eight tries. Number nine was the one as they defeated Indiana 72-67 in Bloomington. Loyola led by 24 the first half before the Hoosiers came back and held a three-point lead in the stretch. Resiliency and senior guard Brett Harvey secured the victory, Loyola scored 10 of the game’s last 12 points with Harvey scoring nine of them. Harvey finished with a game high 25 points, added five assists and had two four-point plays the second half.
  • Manhattan – The Jaspers have spent virtually the entire month on the road. After the New Year the trek  continues with a visit to Marist January 2nd before returning to the friendly confines of Draddy Gymnasium. Darryl Crawford and Antoine Pearson have been steady contributors. Of late, Manhattan is also getting contributions from upperclassmen Patrick Bouli and Andrew Gabriel. The Jaspers had their longest layoff of the season going from December 19 until December 30 between games.
  • Marist - Dropped their first nine games. Freshmen are getting most of the minutes, 24 of the first 45 starts, and account for 55% of the team’s scoring those initial nine outings. First year point guard Delvin Price had a recent three-game run with a 9:4 A/TO ratio. Veteran contributions are coming for the Red Foxes as well. Sophomore guard RJ Hall returned to the lineup after sitting out the first semester due to academics. Hall, a solid performer at guard last year, scored nine points and had four assists in a recent loss to Lehigh. Junior guard Daye Kaha scored  a team high 11 off the bench in that same contest.
  • Niagara – Came back from 19 down to defeat rival St. Bonaventure. Niagara was without the services of All-MAAC performer Bilal Benn. The Purple Eagles, in fact,  have played eight of the first dozen games minus a first team all-conference performer as Tyrone Lewis missed a few contests earlier in the season. Senior sixth man Demetrius Williamson has answered the call filling in for injured teammates and posting 12 points per game. He had a career high 22 against St. Bonaventure and hit several crucial threes down the stretch.
  • Rider - There is something about 8-6. Rider’s loss to Siena just before Christmas to drop to 8-6. Rider was 8-6 last year then proceeded to win 10 of 13 down the stretch and be selected for postseason play. Rider was 8-6 in ‘08 and finished with 23 wins. The Broncs were 8-6 in ‘07 and doubled the win total from the previous year. So 8-6 is no cause for immediate concern. Rider has won 15 of its last 22 (.682) regular season MAAC games. Mike Ringgold had a double-double at Siena with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
  • St. Peter’s – Traveled to Piscataway and came out on the short end of a 66-42 decision at the hands of Rutgers. In that contest, the Scarlet Knights rejected 18 St. Peter’s shots. A positive note was Steven Samuels who led St.Peter’s with 14 points and 7 rebounds. The Peacocks bounced back for a road win at Stony Brook on Monday. Wesley Jenkins leads the team (13.7 ppg) in scoring while Nick Leon has contributed steadily from his guard spot. Darius Conley has also been a factor off the bench.
  • Siena – Drew first blood in conference action knocking off contender Rider 84-62 in a pre-Christmas meeting in Albany. LaSalle transfer Kyle Griffin saw his first action in a Siena uniform. Griffin, coming off three knee surgeries, played both guard positions and scored five points in 13 minutes. Griffin will contribute and add depth to what is undoubtedly the MAAC’s best starting five unit. The senior lead guard is running away with the national assist race. Moore, at last count, was averaging 8.4 assists per game. With the likes of Alex Franklin and Edwin Ubiles, Moore has capable teammates that are converting his passes.

ON TAP…

January 2

  • Rider at Loyola
  • Iona at Niagara
  • Manhattan at Marist
  • Mount St. Mary’s at Siena

January 4

  • Marist at St. Peter’s
  • Fairfield at Niagara
  • Siena at Loyola
  • Iona at Canisius

January 6

  • Princeton at Marist

January 9

  • Canisius at Marist
  • Niagara at Siena
  • Iona at Rider

January 11

  • Niagara at St. Peter’s

To all A Happy and prosperous New Year…

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on November 22nd, 2009

checkinginon

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences,

NEW YORK CITY – The consensus is Siena is the favorite. Judging by early returns, hold off on engraving the championship trophy and sending it to Albany.

MAAC STANDINGS

  1. Iona                       2-0
  2. Siena                     2-0
  3. Rider                     2-1
  4. Fairfield                2-1
  5. Loyola                   2-1
  6. Manhattan         1-1
  7. Niagara                 1-1
  8. St. Peter’s            1-1
  9. Canisius                0-1
  10. Marist                   0-2

PLAYER of THE WEEK: Mike Ringgold 6’7 JR F, Rider. Ringgold scored 21 points and added 6 rebounds in the big victory over # 18 Mississippi State.

ROOKIE of the WEEK: Derek Needham 5’11 FR G, Fairfield. The Stags entered the season looking for help at the guard spot. Needham is filling the bill. Over the first two games, the Dalton, Illinois native averaged 16 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds.

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RTC 2009-10 Impact Players – Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2009

impactplayersOver the course of the last ten weeks we’ve broken down sixty players from around the country whom we expect will have the biggest impact on college basketball this season.  We performed this exercise geographically, choosing five high-major and one mid-major player from each of the somewhat arbitrary ten regions of the country.  If you’d like to read through the individual regions (and we highly encourage that), you can check all ten here.

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If you don’t have the time or inclination to read through all of the previous posts, we’ll summarize here for you by rating the strongest to the weakest regions.

(ed. note: we started this so long ago that Binghamton still had a promising basketball program, and DJ Rivera still had a place to play)

1.  Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, KS)

lower mw summary

Overview. This seemed pretty clear just at a first glance.  Aldrich, Collins and Harangody are three of the 1st team AAs on the RTC preseason list, and Brackins and Turner are on the 2d team.  This group has unbelievable scoring ability, size and experience.  The only weak link is the mid-major inclusion of Eldridge, who is a fine player, but not in the class of the rest of these superstars.  The nation’s heartland is the epicenter of college basketball talent this year.

Best Players Left Out. Where to start?  The depth in this region is incredible.  Gordon Hayward and Matt Howard at Butler, Robbie Hummell and E’Twaun Moore at Purdue, even Lance Stephenson at Cincinnati.  The #6-10 players in this region would probably be better than all but a few of the other regions.

2.  Mid-South Region (KY, TN, MO, AR, OK)

mid-south summary

Overview.  It was a very close call between this region and the South Atlantic, but we felt that the guard play of Warren and Wall with Anderson on the wing would compensate for what this team gives up in size.  And it doesn’t give up much, considering Patterson, Smith and Jordan are all exceptional inside.  Tough call, but Wall is the likely #1 pick, so he’s the x-factor.

Best Players Left Out.  Plenty of raw size here, including Samardo Samuels at Louisville, Michael Washington at Arkansas and DeMarcus Cousins at Kentucky.  Throw in the skilled size of AJ Ogilvy at Vanderbilt and Wayne Chism at Tennessee and this area will punish you on the interior.

3.  South Atlantic Region (DC, VA, NC, SC, GA)

s.atlantic summary

Overview.  This is the third region that’s chock full of NBA talent – each of the rest below have smatterings of it, but not nearly as much.  Aminu, Booker and Singler all define skilled versatility, while Monroe could end up the best big in the entire country if he wants it enough.  Sanders is a little undersized but relentless as well.

Best Players Left OutEd Davis at UNC was a lighting rod topic, as some felt that he’d be an all-american this year with his length and skill set.  Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal are two others.  A good argument could be made that this region had the best players left out, but it sorta depends on how this year plays out due to their relative youth and inexperience.

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RTC 2009-10 Top 65 Games: February/March (Part One)

Posted by zhayes9 on October 25th, 2009

seasonpreview

The final two-part edition of our Top 65 games delves into the exciting stretch run of the final five weeks. These highlighted games should have tremendous implications on seeding and conference standings with heated rivals doing battle in the final push towards March Madness. Here’s a preview of what’s guaranteed to be the best slate of games 2009-10 has to offer (top games of November/December and January in case you missed it):

Note: we are not including projected matchups from the preseason tournaments in these 65 games because those will be analyzed separately.

February 1- Texas @ Oklahoma State (#33 overall)- Hard to imagine you won’t see plenty of scoring in this Big 12 clash. The point guard situation is a bit dicey in Stillwater with Byron Eaton’s departure, but Travis Ford loves to run and James Anderson can score with the best. Expect this to be one of the toughest tests for Texas in their pursuit of a regular season Big 12 title.

February 6- Texas @ Oklahoma (#25 overall)- This could very well be another test. Two freshmen will have to fill major roles for Jeff Capel’s squad with Tommy Mason-Griffin helping out Willie Warren in the backcourt and Tiny Gallon bulldozing opponents in the paint with Blake Griffin in LA. It’s entirely possible defensive stud Avery Bradley could earn the job of trying to lock down the quick Warren.

95208122242_Oklahoma_v_Rice[1]

February 6- Villanova @ Georgetown (#31 overall)- A Big East clash in February between two teams that have top-three aspirations in the conference. The point guard duel is a dandy with Chris Wright of the Hoyas matched up with Scottie Reynolds of the Wildcats. This should prove a worthy test for Villanova’s thin frontline trying to contain Greg Monroe, Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims.

February 6- Michigan State @ Illinois (#37 overall)- The orange-clad students right on top of the floor will be out in full force to support their Illini in hopes of knocking off the loaded Spartans. With Chester Frazier departed, it could be the freshman guard D.J. Richardson trying to contain potential All-American Kalin Lucas. There’s some tremendous outside shooting in this one from State’s Durrell Summers to the Illini’s Demetri McCamey.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #15 – MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on October 22nd, 2009

seasonpreview

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC conferences.   Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Siena                15-3
  2. Niagara            14-4
  3. Rider                13-5
  4. Fairfield           12-6
  5. St.Peter’s          10-8
  6. Manhattan        9-9
  7. Iona                  8-10
  8. Loyola              7-11
  9. Canisius           6-12
  10. Marist             4-14

All-Conference:

  • Ryan Thompson (G/F), 6’6 Sr., Rider
  • Ronald Moore (G), 6’0 Sr., Siena
  • Tyrone Lewis (G), 5’11 Sr., Niagara
  • Edwin Ubiles (G/F), 6’6 Sr. , Siena
  • Ryan Rossiter (C), 6’9 Jr., Siena

6th Man: Owen Wignot (F), 6’6 So., Siena

Impact Newcomer: Rico Pickett (G), 6’4 Jr., Manhattan

maac logo

What you need to know.

  • The MAAC is a ten member conference that hosts games from cozy campus locales to public arenas as Madison Square Garden, Arena at Harbor Yards and Times-Union Center to name a few.
  • Once again the conference will host the Old Spice Classic. The eight team event is November 26 through 29 at the Milk House Arena located in the Walt Disney World Resort Complex. Iona represents the MAAC with Alabama, Baylor, Creighton, Florida State, Marquette, Michigan and Xavier rounding out an impressive field.
  • Rivalries are huge. The charter membership gave us two games in the classic ‘Battle of the Bronx’ with Manhattan and Fordham. Iona and Fordham also got the pulse beating quicker. Membership has altered over the years but rivalries, largely due to geography and tradition,  still are a big part of the MAAC. There’s Iona-Manhattan. Upstate is Niagara-Canisius, a ‘holy war’ from the old Little Three Days. Then there’s Marist-Siena. The latter has the upper hand of late but that’s another meeting where you throw the records out the window. Bragging rights are at stake.
  • Iona captured the first title in 1982 with an overtime victory over St.Peter’s. The semis and finals were at Meadowlands arena (now Izod Center) in East Rutherford, NJ.
  • Jeff Ruland did not play in the MAAC. The 1979-80 was his last in a Gael uniform but he is a part of MAAC history having returned to coach his alma mater and leading them to three MAAC championships.

Predicted Champion. Siena (NCAA #9). The Saints return four starters from a club that went to the second round and gave Louisville fits before exiting in a close contest. It was the second straight year the Saints earned a first round win in the NCAA Tournament.  The lone loss was 6’3 guard Kenny Hasbrouck. Beside being MAAC Player of the Year and a double digit scorer, Hasbrouck provided outstanding leadership and inspiration to Fran McCaffery’s club. Filling in his spot will be Clarence Jackson, a dangerous three point shooter who can create his own shot. Ronald Moore, an outstanding lead guard, triggers the attack. The Ryan Rossiter, Edwin Ubiles, Alex Franklin backcourt is hands down the conference’s best. McCaffery has a habit of scheduling higher level opponents, usually on the road. It’s paid off as the Saints are a confident, battle tested group. Come tournament time they enter a game planning to win not just hoping.  The mix of returning talent, recent success and proactive attitude make Siena the MAAC favorite.  Given their recent NCAA success and strength of schedule Siena could be a #6 or #7 seed if things go right.

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