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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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 28th, 2010

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

LYNDHURST, NJ – The regular schedule winds up this weekend with the postseason tournament beginning on Friday in Albany. Siena is in the driver’s seat as regular season champion, top tournament seed and host of the get together in New York’s capitol city.  The Saints’ BracketBuster setback at Butler all but insures Siena will have to cut down the nets at the Times Union Center to get to the Big Dance. Something they are in very favorable position to do.

Player of the Week: Ryan Thompson (G/F), Rider - Averaged 29.5 PPG, 4.5 rebounds and assists in two games. Scored 21 in a win at St.Peter’s and followed up with a carrer-high 38 in an OT loss at Hofstra.

Rookie of the Week: Colin Nickerson (G), Fairfield – Averaged 16.5 PPG and shot 65% from the field in two games for the Stags. Set a career high of 13 against Manhattan than surpassed it with 20 points at Vermont.

Milestones and Notes

  • Iona’s nine conference wins is the fifth highest total since the Gaels started MAAC play in 1981-82.
  • Derek Needham set the freshman scoring record at Fairfield. Needham broke the mark of 427 set by Fordham assistant Joe DeSantis in 1976.
  • Frank Turner of Canisius enters the final weekend with 593 career assists leaving him just shy of being the seventh MAAC player to hand out 700 assists. Turner tied the school record with 121 games played, a mark he is set to eclipse this weekend.
  • Ryan Thompson, with 1,809 career points, is fourth on Rider’s all time scoring list. Older brother Jason (‘08) is in third at 2.040 points.
  • Speaking of Rider, juniors Mike Ringgold, Justin Robinson and Jharmar Youngblood all joined the school’s 900-point club recently.
  • St. Peter’s’ fifteen victories is the most in four years. Ten MAAC wins is the best showing since the 2004-05 campaign.
  • On Senior Day at Siena this Sunday, the school will honor the most successful senior class in program history.

Team Breakdowns

  • Canisius – Improved to 4-1 all time in BracketBusters with a win over James Madison. The victory gave Canisius its 13th win, the most in Tom Parrotta’s four year tenure. Win also gave the Golden Griffins their first winning season at home in five years. Frank Turner had an excellent 16 point, 13 assist game in his final Koessler Athletic Center appearance.  Junior forward Greg Logins added 15 points, 8 rebounds against JMU. Another junior, Tomas Vazquez-Simmons, had 4 blocks against the Dukes , giving him 199 rejections for his career.
  • Fairfield – Ended the regular season with an 8-7 road record including 6-3 in MAAC play. Derek Needham and Anthony Johnson continued their fine play for the Stags. Fairfield did get an additional lift from freshman Colin Nickerson, with a good scoring week including a 20-point outing at Vermont. Stags wind up the regular season at home against Iona and Niagara.
  • Iona – The 69-53 BracketBuster win over William & Mary was the Gaels’ 20th of the season. It was the first 20-win season in four years and 14th in program history. Gaels finished heir non-conference slate 9-3. Scott Machado scored 17 in the William & Mary game. Junior Alejo Rodriquez added 12 points and 8 boards. Iona finishes up in control their seeding destiny . The Gaels visit Fairfield (tied for second) and St.Peter’s (a game behind Fairfield and Iona).
  • Loyola – Dropped a heartbreaker on Senior Day as New Hampshire hit a shot with 0.7 seconds remaining for a 61-60 decision. Senior forward Jawan Wright continued his fine play of late with his third straight double figure outing with 10 points. Junior guard Jamal Barney returned after a six game absence and scored 16 points. Greyhounds entertain Canisius and Manhattan and already know they have drawn the Jaspers in next week’s MAAC tournament in Albany.
  • Manhattan – Split the week losing to Fairfield and defeating Towson in the BracketBuster. Junior guard Rico Pickett averaged 17.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG over the two game stretch. Manhattan opened the Towson game with a 20-0 run in arguably their best performance of the season. Senior forward Brandon Adams had a career high 18 points. Jaspers dished out 22 assists and shot 53% from the field in that  win over Towson.
  • Marist - Lone game was a 66-65 to UC Irvine in the BracketBusters. Marist is 2-3 in those BracketBuster games. Trip to California was a homecoming for freshman guard Devin Price and sophomore guard Mike Taylor. Price enjoyed the trip with a career high 18 points which included four three pointers. Freshman guard Candon Rusin scored 10 points and has double digits in five straight games.
  • Niagara – Won their third straight and five of the last six, defeating Wisconsin-Milwaukee 85-79. Niagara has now won four straight BracketBuster games.  Anthony Nelson scored 10 straight down the stretch to pull out the win at UMW. Nelson finished with 14 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds while Tyrone Lewis buried six first half treys on the way to a 23 point performance.
  • Rider – Dropped an overtime BracketBuster game at Hofstra. The game featured Charles Jenkins of Hofstra, last years’ MET Player of the Year, who scored 31 points. Rider countered with MAAC POY candidate Ryan Thompson with a career high 38 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Thompson has come on strong down the stretch averaging 25.4 PPG the last seven games. Broncs have won five of those last seven and finish up at home hosting Siena and Canisius their last two regular season contests.
  • St. Peter’s – Went 1-2 for the week but are still in a good position. Peacocks can finish as high as third and no lower than fifth depending on what happens the last two games. The lone victory was on the road where the Peacocks used a 19-4 second half run to stop the Greyhounds 69-61. In between were home losses to a surging Rider club and a BracketBuster against Buffalo. Wesley Jenkins and Nick Leon (outside) and Ryan Bacon (inside) continued their fine play for John Dunne’s club.
  • Siena – Dropped a BracketBuster game of note at Butler 70-53. The 53 points were Siena’s lowest in a single game in over two years. Saints have lost have lost all four of their games to top 50 opponents. The contest with nationally ranked Butler was Siena’s last opportunity to put themselves into at large consideration for the NCAA tournament, should they fail to win the MAAC tournament. Clarence Jackson paced Siena, who led Butler 31-28 at the half, with 24 points.  Ryan Rossiter has been the most consistent Saint the last two months averaging double figures in scoring (14.3) and rebounding (10.7).
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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 December 19th, 2009

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

LYNDHURST, NJ – Virtually every MAAC team has two conference games in the books as we head into the holidays. By Christmas everyone will have played a pair as Siena hosts Rider on December 23 in a meeting of 1-0 teams with title aspirations (not just sugar plums) ‘dancing in their heads’…

Early on in league play things are shaping up as expected but it is very early. The one mark that stands out is Iona at 0-2. The Gaels, off their win against Albany, are 5-2 out of conference with wins over Creighton ( in the Old Spice) and at Providence on their resume. They played both MAAC games at home but dropped meetings with St. Peter’s and Siena.

The MAAC nearly made it 2-0 against the Big East on the week. Following Iona’s won, Rider lost a tough one in overtime at Rutgers.

A tempo free note…  POSS is the average possessions per game. All games are counted. When conference play heats up the focus will be on MAAC games only. The TO rate is turnovers divided by possessions. Under 20% is an excellent figure. That means only one fifth or less of total possessions end in a turnover. Again thanks to the people at Basketball State for the data.

Milestones.

  • Frank Turner of Canisius has 27 straight double figure scoring games, the nation’s 7th best mark among active players.
  • Prior to Providence, the last Iona win versus a Big East team was December 27, 2001 over Seton Hall in the Holiday Festival at the Garden.
  • Antoine Pearson of Manhattan became the program’s 32nd player to hit the 1,000 point mark.
  • Marist has hit at least one three-pointer in 299 consecutive games.
  • Tyrone Lewis broke Niagara’s career three-point field goal record. Lewis has 227 treys to date. The record was held by former teammate Lorenzo Miles (220).  He also became Niagara’s 11th player to hit the 1,000-point select circle.
  • Ryan Thompson moved to 9th on Rider’s all-time scoring list. Thompson passed Rider Hall of Famer Greg Burston ‘99. Thompson went over the 1,500 point mark in the game at Rutgers.

Co-Players of the Week.

  • Anthony Johnson (C), 6-8 SR, Fairfield – Averaged double-doubles in two wins. Scored 21 against Sacred Heart and pulled down 8 offensive rebounds in a win over Holy Cross. Shot 57% from the floor for the two outings.
  • Tyrone Lewis (G), 5-11 SR, Niagara – Enjoyed back to back 26-point performances. Had 6 treys is a loss to Buffalo then canned 5 beyond the arc in a win at Illinois State.

Rookie of the Week. Kyle Smyth (G), 6-4 Fr, Iona – Led the Gaels in scoring in their two wins. Highlight was a career high 21 points in the victory at Providence. Shot 71% from the field and 6 of 10 (60%) beyond the arc for the three games.

Team Breakdowns.

  • Canisius – Lost Saturday to Bowling Green to put the Griffs at 4-4. It marked the first time in six years Canisius was at .500 eight games into the season. The Bowling Green game was a return for the 2009 Bracket Buster won by Canisius on the road. Senior guard Frank Turner scored 12 points and has scored in double figures 27 consecutive games. It is not all Turner as junior Julius Coles had 17 against Bowling Green. Freshman Alshwan Hymes looked good (9 pts 7 rebs) against Bowling green and junior Tomas Vazquez-Simmons had four blocks in that contest.
  • Fairfield – Victories over Sacred Heart and Holy Cross raised their record to 8-2, their best start since the 1977-78 team got out to a 9-1 beginning. That club went 22-5 and earned a NIT berth. Triple threat! Anthony Johnson and freshman guard Derek Needham averaged double figures the two games but the team’s leading scorer for the week was Yorel Hawkins at 19.5 ppg. Six Stags scored in double figures in that 93-77 win over Sacred Heart.
  • Iona – Won two of three with the highlight a 82-73 victory at Providence. Freshman Kyle Smyth (see Rookie of the Week) led the way for the Gaels. Iona also received contributions from sophomore Scott Machado (11 ppg, 3.3 apg) and senior Jonathan Huffman who scored 11 points while grabbing 7 rebounds at Providence. Push the pace! Iona is 7-1 when scoring 80+ under coach Kevin Willard.
  • Loyola (MD) – The Greyhounds dropped their third straight with  a 63-58 OT loss at Coppin State. Their defeat was the first after six straight extra session victories by Loyola, five coming under current mentor Jimmy Patsos. Shooting was the downfall as Loyola shot 28% and 5 of 27 ( 19%) from three point range. Jamal Barney led the way with 16 points but the senior guard was 0-8 from three. The Greyhounds rejected 9 shots in that contest, matching the second highest total in school history. Interior defense has been a constant as Loyola blocked less than three shots in a game only once in the first nine outings.
  • Manhattan – The road was unkind to the Jaspers with losses at Hofstra and Morgan State. The 44-39 contest on Long Island saw the Jaspers force the Pride into 19 turnovers but fail to capitalize, suffering  a 21% shooting night from the floor. Manhattan then dropped an 83-74 decision at two time defending MEAC champion Morgan State. Despite the loss, balance was the key as five Jaspers scored in double figures. Darryl Crawford’s play was a bright spot (15 pts, 6.5 rpg) for the week.
  • Marist – Lost its home opener to Boston University 88-72. The December 12 date for the first home game was the latest in the program’s history. Marist played its initial six games away from the friendly confines of McCann Center. They had three double figure scorers against BU, all freshman. Guard Candin Rusin (a career high 15 points), forward  (13 points) and guard Devin Price (a career high 12 points). Marist frosh have accounted for 55% of the offense to date and three freshmen routinely are on the floor for the opening tip.
  • Niagara – Handed Illinois State its first loss of the season with a 76-68 road victory. Illinois State owned the boards 49-28 but the Purple Eagles shot 47.6% (10 of 21) from beyond the arc. Tyrone Lewis (Co-Player of the Week) hit five treys at Illinois State including two in a 25-second stretch that all  but clinched it for Niagara. Kashief Edwards has been a productive scorer and shot blocker for the Purple Eagles. Edwards rejected four shots (for the fifth time this season) at Illinois State. The Redbirds had won 34 of their last 38 at home.
  • Rider – Defeated UMBC in a road game that was a return from last year’s Bracket Buster, also won by the Broncs. Ryan Thompson had 21 points and 7 rebounds at UMBC then followed up with a game high 26 points in a 80-70 overtime loss at Rutgers. The Broncs were scoreless in the extra session at Rutgers. Rider lost to LaSalle at home, 69-60, on December 9th. It was only the fifth loss in 31 games at on-campus Alumni Gym. Justin Robinson had a 19 consecutive free throws made stretch and leads the MAAC with a 91% mark (31 of 43).
  • St. Peter’s – Posted a 1-1 week defeating NJIT and losing a heartbreaker to Wagner. Both games were at home. Nick Leon and Wesley Jenkins continue to score for the Peacocks. Jenkins had 25 in the win over NJIT. Added production is coming from 6-7 forward Darius Conley, 11 points VS NJIT and a double double against Wagner. Next two games have a NJ flavor as St.Peter’s visits FDU Saturday and Rutgers on Tuesday.
  • Siena – Dropped a road game at Northern Iowa. The four losses (Goergia Tech, Temple, St.John’s and UNI) saw the opponent hit over 60% from the floor the second half. Saints drew first blood in the MAAC with a 73-60 victory at Iona. In the process Siena earned its 38th victory in the last 46 MAAC contests and made it 15 of the last 19 wins in  conference games on the road. Four starters average 11 points or better while the fifth, Ronald Moore, leads the nation with 8 assists per game.

Upcoming games of note.

December 20

  • Fairfield at Rhode Island

December 22

  • Loyola at Indiana
  • St. Bonaventure at Niagara
  • St. Peter’s at Rutgers

December 23

  • Rider at Siena

December 27

  • Iona at UConn

December 29

  • St. Joseph’s at Siena

December 30

  • Canisius at St. Bonaventure
  • Manhattan at Vanderbilt

To all… a Happy Holiday!!!

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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 – Mid-Atlantic Region

Posted by zhayes9 on September 9th, 2009

impactplayers

Last week we took a look at the five impact players in the Northeast Region, so now we’re ready for the second installment of our ten-week RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series.   Each week we’ll pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

impactplayers mid-atlantic

Mid-Atlantic Region  (NYC, NJ, PA, WV, MD, DE)

  • Scottie Reynolds - Sr, G – Villanova. There might be players in this region who can score more points or dish out more assists or shoot a higher percentage from the floor than Reynolds.  There might be more physically imposing and athletically gifted players than the 6’2 guard from Northern Virginia.   There could even be a few ‘upside’ guys you’d pick before him if you were starting an NBA franchise.  But is there any player as capable of putting his team on his back and doing this (ok, maybe Vasquez, but he hasn’t done it yet)?  Is there another player on this list who you’d prefer to have the ball in his hands as the clock is ticking down, knowing that he’ll give your team a superb chance to win?  Reynolds is the player that every coach loves to have on his team – he plays heavy minutes, never misses a start, shows great leadership and clearly has a calming effect on his team whenever he’s on the floor.  This is a long way removed from the early days of his career, where the ‘Nova legend has stated that he had trouble seeing the ‘big picture’ due to trust issues with coaches and other players.    There are no such issues now, as everyone in the Big Five (and the Big East, for that matter) understands who the top dog in the Philadelphia area is.  If things come together right for Reynolds and VU in 2009-10, he could look back on a collegiate career that includes three all-Big East nods, an all-american selection, the second-most number of steals (he needs 58), and the most points (Kerry Kittles) in the long history of the Villanova program (he needs 624).  Considering all that, Reynolds will captain the best team in the Big East and may also have another Final Four appearance in his sights.
  • Da’Sean Butler - Sr, F – West Virginia. If there’s a team that should challenge Villanova (on paper) as the class of the Big East in 2009-10, it should be West Virginia.  The biggest reason for that is Butler, the 6’7 wing set to replace Pitt’s Sam Young as the most multi-dimensional player in the conference.  Butler scores (17.1 ppg), rebounds (5.9 per game) and even finds time to play the passing lanes (1.7 spg).  Last season he seemed to really find his groove in the conference slate, as his numbers all rose, culminating in his 43-pt explosion during a blowout win against Villanova on Friday the (Feb.) 13th.  But it was his performance over the summer at the World University Games that really caught our eye – on a team with shooters such as Robbie Hummel and James Anderson, it was Butler who led the squad in three-point percentage (55%) by nailing nearly two per game.  His perimeter shooting has always been solid (~35%), but if his shot improves next season to the 38-40% range to replace Alex Ruoff’s deadly range, Butler’s ability to get to the rim and finish becomes even more of a threat.  With sophomore Honorable Mentions Devin Ebanks’ size and rebounding, Truck Bryant’s scoring and playmaking, plus the addition of two five-star recruits to the roster, it’s clear why WVU looks to improve on last year’s 23-12 record and first round NCAA exit.  Mountaineer fans have an expectation of a top ten team in Morgantown and it’s understandable why they think so – it’ll be up to their star Butler to deliver on those expectations.
  • Jeremy Hazell - Jr, F – Seton Hall. Jeremy Hazell’s inclusion on our Mid-Atlantic all-region team was the toughest decision we had to make.  There’s absolutely no question that the 6’5 guard/forward who blew up on the Big East last season has talent.  You don’t score 20+ against sixteen Big East defenses without the ability to score the ball from every which way (22.8 ppg).  The primary issue was that it’s difficult to claim to be an impact player if your team isn’t very good, and last year, the Hall finished 7-11 in the conference with all seven of those wins against fellow bottom-feeders.  Nevertheless, we recognize that past results do not necessarily predict future outcomes, and with three impact transfers arriving (Herb Pope, Jeff Robinson and Keon Lawrence) amidst a much leaner Big East landscape, it wouldn’t surprise us if Seton Hall, led by Hazell, made a run at the NCAAs this year.  Getting back to Bobby Gonzalez’s star player, his scoring numbers might actually decrease this season depending on how well the new players orient to North Jersey, but with fewer shots (he took 32% of SH’s shots last year) he could become a more complete player by improving his shooting percentages (43%/36%) and offensive efficiency (28th in the Big East).  Regardless of how this season goes, Hazell is undoubtedly one of the most talented players the nation has yet to hear about.
  • Talor Battle – Jr, G- Penn State. While the electric Penn State point guard Talor Battle may have been known within Big Ten circles and around Happy Valley, national attention wasn’t forwarded his way until one performance on February 1 in East Lansing, MI. The heavily favored top-ten ranked Spartans, a team that would reach the championship game just months later in Detroit, fell to the underdog Nittany Lions, who were 0-16 in their Big Ten history at the Breslin Center. During that game, Battle emerged as one of the top scorers in the conference and the nation. In a league where hard-nosed defense on every possession is the norm, Battle averaged 16.7 ppg, including seven 20+ point performances in conference play. And on that night in East Lansing, Battle scored 29 points on 11-19 shooting and 6-12 from three, leading Penn State to a 72-68 upset win. Battle certainly has some areas to improve – namely shooting 34% from deep and hitting just 70% of his free throws – but the scoring guard truly has the capability to put up 30+ points on any given night. With Jamelle Cornley and Stanley Pringle no longer at PSU, the onus lies almost completely on Battle to lead the way for Penn State and coach Ed DeChellis if they have any hope of reaching postseason play again. Considering such a lackluster supporting cast, one could argue Battle will have the most singular impact of any player in this entire region, as on many nights Penn State will completely rely on Battle’s scoring potential to win basketball games.
  • Greivis Vasquez – Sr, G- Maryland. Love him or despise him with every bone in your body, there’s no denying the talent of Greivis Vasquez. There’s also no denying that Vasquez’ decision to stay at Maryland for his senior season rather than enter the NBA Draft had the greatest impact of any April decision in the country, vaulting the Terrapins from a likely-NIT team to a possible top-six seed and ACC contender. Much like Battle’s performance against Michigan State, one 2008-09 performance from Vasquez defined his season and launched the fiery Venezuelan into Maryland basketball lore – a 35-11-10 triple-double in an 88-85 overtime win against #3 North Carolina in College Park when Maryland was lingering around the bubble. Vasquez backs up his never-resting mouth with impressive play on the court, notably being named to the all-ACC second team for the second straight campaign and, in Oscar-like fashion, leading his Terps in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and minutes, becoming just the sixth player in ACC history to accomplish said feat. The main knock on Vasquez during his first two seasons in College Park was a recurring propensity to commit foolish turnovers, but that criticism is quieting after Vasquez finished third in the conference in assist/turnover ratio a season ago. There’s no argument against Vasquez making a tremendous impact for Maryland and Gary Williams once again this season.
  • Ryan Thompson (MM) – Sr, G- Rider. In doing research for this feature, I have yet to find one thing that Ryan Thompson does not do well on the basketball court. The younger brother of Kings forward and fellow Bronc Jason Thompson, Ryan is surely creating his own identity as a bona fide NBA prospect.  A first team all-MAAC performer a season ago as a junior, Thompson did it all for Rider: ranking second in the conference in scoring, first in minutes played (he played 40+ minutes in nine games), second in three-point percentage, seventh in assists, eighth in field-goal percentage, eighth in free-throw percentage and eighth in rebounding. That’s right, Thompson can shoot from deep, score inside, rebound, pass and play nearly every minute. While the competition doesn’t always rank with other elite performers in college basketball, one could argue Thompson is the top all-around player in the game this season. He also plays his best when the stakes are high, totaling 57 points and 17 rebounds in two conference tournament games for his Broncs, including a bucket with 3.4 seconds left to knock off Siena last year. The sky’s the limit for Thompson in 2009-10, an already immensely talented individual playing with motivation as Rider has yet to reach the NCAA Tournament in his three seasons in Jersey, and coming off of a rare and disappointing seven points on 2-13 shooting against Liberty in his season finale.

impact players mid-atlantic

Honorable MentionLavoy Allen, Temple.  Sean Baptiste, FDU.  Jamal Barney, Loyola (MD).  Darryl Bryant, WVU.  Jermaine Dixon, Pittsburgh.  Devin Ebanks, WVU.  Corey Fisher, Villanova.  Darrin Govens, St. Joseph’s.  Rodney Green, Lasalle.  Charles Jenkins, Hofstra.  Anthony Mason, Jr., St. John’s.  Herb Pope, Seton Hall.  Mike Rosario, Rutgers.  Damian Saunders, Duquesne.  Corey Stokes, Villanova.  Devin Sweetney, St. Francis (PA).

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Checking in on the… MAAC

Posted by nvr1983 on January 10th, 2009

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

SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The race is slowly starting to take shape.

Siena 4-0
Niagara 3-0
Rider 3-0
Manhattan 2-2
Fairfield 2-2
Marist 2-2
Iona 1-3
Loyola 1-3
St.Peter’s 1-3
Canisius 0-4

Do the stats lie? Not really, but they need a closer look.

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