Mark Selig is the RTC correspondent for the Colonial Athletic Association. You can also find his musings online on Twitter @markrselig.
Since the last CAA game — a James Madison championship that its fans waited nearly two decades to see — the league has officially said goodbye to perennial powers George Mason (off to the Atlantic 10) and Old Dominion (now in Conference USA in a football-driven move), and hello to intriguing newcomer College of Charleston (formerly of the Southern Conference). Based on last year’s RPIs, the CAA won’t immediately suffer, but Mason — with a Final Four appearance last decade — is obviously a more high-profile program than Charleston. ODU is too. The swap is just the latest in the CAA’s geographical shift. The league is losing its Virginia members (VCU exited before last season) and seems to be trending south.
New Niagara coach Joe Mihalich is just one of several newcomers to an ever changing CAA. (AP)
The league also said goodbye to Mo Cassara, Hofstra’s hard-luck coach who took the job in tough circumstances (replacing Tim Welsh after a DUI) and was let go in equally difficult ones. His replacement? Longtime Niagara coach Joe Mihalich, who said he’ll have to donate all the purple wardrobe accumulated from 15 years with the Purple Eagles to JMU coach Matt Brady (ironically, Mihalich and Brady both have wives named Mary, and both have three sons, including a set of twins — with the same May 30 birthday!). Brady, meanwhile, parlayed his CAA title into a four-year contract extension, although the talks were a bit drawn out, nearly lingering until his previous contract expired. As for a new coach joining Mihalich in the league, second-year Charleston coach Doug Wojcik becomes every CAA reporter and copy editor’s worst nightmare. Wojcik (I’m already getting the hang of it), is no stranger to the CAA, having played with David Robinson at Navy in the 1980s.
The final goodbye from the CAA was to the city of Richmond — home of the league’s last 24 postseason tournaments. The league offices are still located in Richmond, but the CAA will host its annual playoff in Baltimore this year. Trying to establish Charm City as a sort of hub for CAA hoops, the conference held its media day at the Renaissance Baltimore, a swanky hotel overlooking the Inner Harbor. “Crab Cakes and basketball. That’s what we’re going to do here in Charm City,” Towson coach Pat Skerry, channeling a Wedding Crashers line, said during a lunchtime speech at media day.
I. Renko is an RTC columnist. He will kick off each weekend during the season with his analysis of the 26 other non-power conferences. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.
When you hear the word “Niagara” you’re not likely to think of basketball. But in the shadow of one of the world’s natural wonders, something is percolating on the hardwood. After a thrilling 93-90 overtime win over Iona that included a rally from a late 15-point deficit and a buzzer-beating three-pointer to win the game, Niagara sits atop the MAAC standings at 10-1. A win over Loyola today would cap a tremendous week for the Purple Eagles, giving them a perfect 3-0 record against the next three teams in the standings — Iona, Loyola, and Canisius — over the past seven days.
Juan’ya Green Capped Niagara’s Thrilling Win Over Iona With a Last-Second Three-Pointer in Overtime (James P. McCoy / Buffalo News)
Last year, Niagara finished 14-19, the first time in head coach Joe Mihalich’s 10-year tenure that he suffered consecutive losing seasons. Mihalich had taken the Purple Eagles to the NCAA Tournament in 2005 and 2007 and to the NIT in 2004 and 2009, but the team had fallen behind the pack in the MAAC in the three years since. The seeds of a resurgence were planted during last year’s losing campaign, as a host of young players started to find their footing in Division 1 college hoops. Having lost no one to graduation, Niagara was predicted to finish fifth in the MAAC in the preseason coaches’ poll. That seemed a fair, perhaps optimistic, assessment, but the clear light of hindsight makes a mockery of it.
What accounts for the turnaround? Mostly the maturation of Niagara’s all-sophomore backcourt: Juan’ya Green, Antoine Mason, and Ameen Tanksley. Last year, the trio showed that they had talent. This year, they’re showing that they can channel it into efficient offense. Green is actually averaging fewer points (16.5) than he did as a freshman (17.6), but that’s in part because he’s managed to corral his considerable talents and become a more effective facilitator. Coming out of high school, Green was known for his prodigious scoring ability, but questions lingered about his ability to create for his teammates. He’s answering those questions this year, increasing his assists (5.2 per game) and decreasing his turnovers (2.8 per game). With Green deferring more to his teammates, Mason, the son of former NBA player Anthony Mason, has stepped into the role of lead scorer. He’s upped his per-game average from 15.1 to a team-leading 18.7, but more importantly, he’s become a much more efficient scorer. He’s increased his field goal percentage from 38.2 to 44.6. He now shoots almost 80 percent from the free throw line, after shooting less than 65 percent last year, a significant development because of his knack for getting to the charity stripe. Tanksley, for his part, has also boosted his field goal percentage, from 38.6 to 45.7 and upped his scoring average into double-digits.
Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC.
Reader’s Take I
Conference Tournament Changes Venues: The MAAC championship will be staged at Springfield’s MassMutual Center. How the March 1- 5 event manages to be received and attended will be followed closely by many observers. The conference and MassMutual Center staff have been working feverishly to provide the best possible product for fans. With the nearest school, Siena, roughly 90 miles away, providing an attractive event to draw fans is paramount and, as noted, will be tracked. The MAAC will have the tournament in Springfield from 2012-14.
MAAC Participates In Non-Conference Events: The MAAC will be represented in the annual Sears BracketBuster event in February. The conference will also host the Old Spice Classic in Orlando during the Thanksgiving weekend (with representative Fairfield a legitimate threat). Prior to March, a few MAAC schools will test out the MassMutual Center in the expanded Hall of Fame Classic on December 9. UMass will face Siena and Fairfield opposes Old Dominion.
Glover Fits For Wooden List: Iona senior forward Michael Glover has been named to the Wooden Award preseason Top 50 list. Glover transferred from Seton Hall to Iona and instantly made an impression as one of the MAAC’s brightest stars last season.
Sydney Johnson Brings His Coaching Talent to the MAAC
New Coaches On Board:SydneyJohnson takes over at Fairfield and has a wealth of talent on hand. Johnson got his start in D-I basketball only seven years ago as an assistant for John Thompson, III, before spending four seasons as Princeton’s head coach. Steve Masiello is the new man at Manhattan. Masiello does not have the talent Johnson has, but is not short on enthusiasm and expectations. Masiello knows the MAAC well, having assisted Bobby Gonzalez for several years at Manhattan before heading to Louisville to work as a member of Rick Pitino’s staff.
With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest update comes courtesy of our MAAC correspondent, Ray Floriani.
The MAAC should provide another interesting race for the top. Two of last year’s best programs, Iona and Fairfield, will slug it out. The Gaels were tournament runners-up to St. Peter’s while Fairfield was the conference regular season champion. Off the floor, the wheels are already in motion as the conference plans the move to Springfield, Massachusetts, where the men’s and women’s championships will be contested at the MassMutual Center.
A Busy MAAC HQ: The headline for a good part of August concerns the conference postseason tournament. ‘The Road to MAAC-achusetts‘ began on August 3, with marketing representatives from each MAAC institution meeting at Siena College. Reps from the MassMutual Center, the host site, were also in attendance. Among the presentations and objectives were league-wide advertising of the championships on ad pages and in media guides, in game promotions allowing fans the chance to win tickets to the tournament and grassroots marketing efforts in the communities of each school. Ticketmaster also outlined social media opportunities which will allow fans to follow the MAAC schools and see who may be attending a particular session of the tournament. “There are great synergies developing between the championship marketing team and the MAAC,” said Marissa Skibbe, Global Spectrum’s Director of Marketing at the MassMutual Center. “Together, we have created an extensive and fun plan that is moving like a well-oiled machine. We can’t wait to see the creative elements come to fruition.” The tournament isn’t the only place where the conference’s administration is making waves, however. MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor was recently named to the WCBA board of directors. One of the most highly-respected administrators in college basketball, Ensor recently completed a five-year term on the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee.
Dunne rewarded at St. Peter’s - Fresh off the school’s first 20-win season in two decades and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1995, St. Peter’s awarded coach John Dunne with a new contract extending through 2015-16. Dunne’s first two teams at St. Peter’s recorded just eleven wins total, but the win total over the past three seasons is 47, including 30 victories in MAAC play. The Peacocks finished this season 20-14 and captured the MAAC Tournament crown at Harbor Yards. They appeared in the NCAA Tournament, but were defeated by Purdue in the opening round. Dunne’s name was starting to surface as a few openings arose in the spring. The financial details of his new contract were not reported, but the extension marks a notable increase in pay over his former contract. “Throughout his [Dunne’s] tenure, he has guided our student-athletes to success both on the court and in the classroom, St. Peter’s AD Pat Elliott said. “We are excited about the future of St. Peter’s basketball with Coach Dunne leading the way.”
New Faces: Steve Masiello took over at Manhattan, replacing Barry Rohrssen. Masiello mostly recently was on Rick Pitino’s staff at Louisville. He knows the conference, however, having served as an assistant on Bobby Gonzalez’s Jaspers staff before heading south. After turning around the program at Fairfield, Ed Cooley was summoned to do the same at Providence in the Big East. Replacing Cooley is highly-regarded Sydney Johnson, formerly of Princeton. Last season, Johnson led Princeton to the Ivy title and NCAA Tournament, where they lost to eventual Final Four participant Kentucky by just two points. Johnson will inherit a strong group of returnees at defending regular season champion Fairfield. On the court, Lamont “Momo” Jones decided he was ready for a different role after playing a supporting part with Derrick Williams in the Arizona Wildcats’ head-turning NCAA Tournament run and transferred to Iona (more after the jump).
Momo Jones' Transfer To Iona Will Spell Trouble For Gaels Opponents. (Charlie Riedel/AP)
Mike Glover (F) - Iona. Glover, a 6’7 transfer from Seton Hall is eligible at Iona this season and is the newcomer pick here. He’ll certainly get the opportunity to excel as the Gaels need steady contributions up front.
Averaging 16.4 points per game as a freshman last season, Fairfield's Derek Needham may be the MAAC's best player. (Brian A. Pounds/Connecticut Post)
Predicted Champion:Fairfield (NCAA Seed: #14) – They nearly won the conference in 2010 and are the favorite entering this campaign. The Stags were twenty minutes away from an upset and ticket to the Big Dance, but Siena rallied to capture the MAAC Tournament crown in overtime. If the Stags won the game, it would have been labeled an upset by traditional fans, but not in the eyes of those who follow the MAAC closely. Fairfield was that good. They return a big reason for their success last year in point guard Derek Needham. The freshman prodigy was one of the best players in the MAAC and will play a vital role in the Fairfield attack. Anthony Johnson, a solid inside player, is gone. Coach Ed Cooley hopes some of the injury problems of last year have exited as well. Newcomers Maurice Barrow and Keith Matthews will inject some fresh talent. Read the rest of this entry »
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC Conferences.
SOUTH ORANGE , NJ – Looking at the non-conference schedules you can’t accuse Loyola or Siena with loading up on sure Ws. Loyola had a stretch of 7 games in 16 days where the Greyhounds faced an ACC team (Boston College) , three defending conference champions (Mt. St.Mary’s, Cornell and Davidson), a preseason conference favorite (Vermont) and Tennessee St., who played in its conference championship game last season. Loyola did defeat Mt. St. Mary’s and Tennessee State but came up on the other side of the ledger in the remaining contests.
Ray Floriani from College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the Northeast (NEC) and Metro Atlantic Athletic (MAAC) conferences.
Predited Order of Finish:
Siena (15-3, 20-8)
Niagara (14-4, 21-10)
Fairfield (13-5, 19-10)
Rider (12-6, 19-10)
Loyola (MD) (11-7, 16-13)
Manhattan (9-9, 16-13)
Iona (7-11, 11-17)
Canisius (6-12, 10-19)
St. Peter’s (5-13, 11-18)
Marist (4-14, 10-20)
WYN2K. The MAAC was formed in the 80s and tipped off the 1981-82 season. Yours truly covered the first MAAC contest ever, an Iona romp over Army at the Gaels’ Mulcahy Center. The MAAC began with six charter members – Army, Fairfield, Fordham, Iona, Manhattan and St.Peter’s. Four schools – Fairfield, Iona, Manhattan and St.Peter’s - remain from that original group as change has altered the league over the years. The conference tournament previously alternated between Buffalo and Albany, but two years ago it was in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Last year Albany, NY, hosted it and will once again showcase it come this March. Some brief notes…
Siena, the defending champion, returns a strong cast with three players who could be considered for player of the year honors: 6-3 senior guard Kenny Hasbrouck, 6-6 forward Edwin Ubilies and 6-5 forward Alex Franklin, both juniors.
Niagara’s fine junior guard Tyrone Lewis was MVP of the MAAC tournament as a freshman. Niagara captured the title in 2006-07.
Niagara and Canisius (the ‘dreaded’ western New York swing) are a few miles apart, but six of the league members – Rider, St.Peter’s, Iona, Manhattan, Fairfield and Rider – are within a 120 mile radius, which makes for a not too distant road trip.
Predicted Champion.Siena (#13 NCAA). The Saints captured last season’s MAAC tournament championship, then gave a great showing in the NCAAs, as Siena defeated Vanderbilt 83-62 (see below) before falling to Villanova in the second round. That momentum of March should carry over into this year as coach Fran McCaffery has virtually everyone back. Siena, in theory, could make this a two bid league. If the Saints earn 15 or 16 conference wins, have a respectable non-conference showing against a murderous slate and get knocked out of the MAAC tournament, they could go as an at-large based on last year’s strong NCAA showing. That idea, however, is not one the competitive McCaffery is looking at as a realistic option, nor is it likely to happen.
Others Considered. Niagara and Fairfield are the prime candidates. The Purple Eagles return an outstanding guard in junior Tyrone Lewis. Big East transfers Bilal Benn (Villanova), a 6-5 guard and 6-2 guard Rob Garrison (UConn) will contribute to a strong cast. Fairfield has a defensive reputation anchored by 6-8 junior Anthony Johnson (7.3 RPG and 43 blocks). Senior lead guard Jonathan Han is vital on offense. Han averaged 11.7 ppg while handing out 6 assists per outing. Rider is a dark horse. The Broncs have a sharpshooter in senior guard Harris Mansell (13.7 ppg) and return another Thompson. Ryan Thompson, Jason’s brother, is a 6-6 junior forward who is a strong player (15 ppg) in his own right.
Key Games/RPI Boosters.
Rider @ St.Joseph’s (11/14/08)
Fairfield @ Memphis (11/15/08)
Niagara @ Villanova (Hoop Group Classic – Philadelphia) (11/19/08)
Siena v. Tennessee (Old Spice Classic) (11/27/08)
Marist @ Memphis (12/2/08)
Rider v. Rutgers (Trenton) (12/3/08)
Niagara @ Loyola (MD) (12/7/08)
Seton Hall v. St.Peter’s (Jersey City) (12/13/08)
Siena @ Pitt (12/17/08)
Iona @ Ohio State (12/20/08)
Marist @ St. John’s (Holiday Festival) (12/20-21/08)
Fairfield @ UConn (12/26/08)
Loyola (MD) @ Duke (12/31/08)
Siena @ Kansas (1/6/09)
Manhattan v. Iona (MSG) (1/24/09)
Siena @ Niagara (2/27/09)
Loyola (MD) @ Iona (3/1/09)
Jimmy Patsos has been on the job four years at Loyola (MD) and he has the second LONGEST tenure in the conference. The ‘grey beard’ among the group is Joe Mihalich who has been at Niagara for a decade. Mihalich has only had one season below .500 during his tenure.
Siena committed only 11.1 turnovers per game last season. Their turnover rating (TO divided by possessions) was 15.4 (anything under 20.0 is excellent).
Niagara has won at least a dozen MAAC contests in 8 of the past 10 seasons.
65 Team Era. MAAC schools have been a traditionally tough out and in several cases, got a win under their belt before a competitive second round exit. The conference is 6-25 (.194) over the era, but two of those wins are from the PiG (2002 and 2007). But in four of the last seven NCAA Tournaments, the MAAC has won a game in the Big Dance. Last year Siena thoroughly dominated #4 Vanderbilt in the first round, which should help the Saints cause several ways this winter. Besides Siena, LaSalle (1990) and Manhattan (1995 and 2004) were the other conference schools to post a first round NCAA win.
It was ironic that NBA scouts monitored the progress of Rider big man Jason Thompson last winter because the MAAC, for years, has been known as a guard oriented league. Thompson was the twelfth player to go in last June’s NBA draft.
The MAAC runs a unique postseason tournament (others conferences do it but there aren’t many) in that both the men and women play their tournaments at the same site. This gives the true hoop junkie a chance to see each school’s program showcased on the men’s and women’s side. It also makes for a real ‘good feeling’ atmosphere that reaffirms what college athletics is all about. It’s not uncommon to see a men’s team take a break from preparations to sit in the stands and cheer the women’s team on and vice versa.
Under the watch of veteran Commissioner Rich Ensor, the MAAC has been a pleasant media experience and the same for its fan base.
Cold winter nights at Manhattan’s Draddy Gym are classic. Where else can you sit press row with the ‘ubiquitous’ Ronnie (the ultra Jasper supporter) on one side and the school’s president, Brother Thomas Scanlon, on the other?
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