The Other 26: Niagara Rushes Forth

Posted by IRenko on February 2nd, 2013

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)

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.

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MAAC Tournament Preview & Season Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2012

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

Tournament Preview

A year ago the MAAC tournament gave us a surprise with St. Peter’s coming on strong to win the title. This season Iona is the clear-cut choice. Interestingly, if Iona gets upset, the conference will be a two-bid league with the Gaels almost certain to be an at-large entry to the NCAA tournament. As it stands, Iona cutting down the nets virtually guarantees the conference one spot on Selection Sunday. Doesn’t mean there will be a lack of excitement and drama along the way.

Final Regular Season Standings

Team, MAAC record, overall record:

1. Iona 15-3, 24-6
2. Loyola (MD) 13-5, 21-8
3. Manhattan 12-6, 20-11
4. Fairfield 12-6, 17-3
5. Rider 10-8, 13-18
6. Siena 8-10, 13-16
7. Niagra 8-10, 13-18
8. Marist 7-11, 13-17
9. St. Peter’s 4-14, 5-25
10. Canisius 1-17, 5-24

 

MAAC Awards

Player of the Year: Scott Machado, Iona

A player that simply has a tremendous impact on the game. Machado scored 13.1  points a game while adding 5 rebounds, but his expertise lies in handing out assists. He led the nation with 10.1 assists an outing. The Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year award finalist is also dangerous in late game situations, hitting 80.5% of his free throw attempts.

Scott Macadho's Ability To Rack Up Assists Made Him An Easy Choice For MAAC Player of the Year (AP)

Rookie of the Year: Juan’ya Green, Niagara

The 6’3″ freshman guard averaged 17.5 points per outing. Green went beyond scoring, handing out 4.4 assists per game. The leading freshman scorer and third overall scorer in the MAAC, Green recorded 27 double figure games this season.

Coach of the Year: Jimmy Patsos, Loyola

The Greyhounds finished conference runner-up and recorded a 20-win season for the first time in school history. Loyola also owns victories over every other school in the conference’s “first division.” They will be a tough out in Springfield.

First Team All-MAAC:   

  • Rakim Sanders, Fairfield, Forward
  • Mike Glover, Iona, Forward
  • Erik Etherly, Loyola, Forward
  • George Beamon, Manhattan, Guard
  • O.D. Anosike, Siena, Forward
  • Scott Machado, Iona, Guard Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 10th, 2012

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

Reader’s Take 

 

Leading Off

  • Iona avenged a tough defeat in New Rochelle by knocking off Manhattan on their home floor, 85-73. The consensus around the league is that the two teams is will meet again later on down the road. In likelihood, the pair could very well tip it off in March at Springfield with a whole lot at stake.
  • In the meantime, don’t discount Loyola, who keeps on winning and is playing some outstanding defense.

Individual Standouts

  • Player of the Week: Lamont “Momo” Jones, Iona, Jr., G  – Averaged 30.5 points and five rebounds as the Gaels swept their two conference games. Jones shot 59.5% from the field and scored a Hynes Center record 43 points against Canisius.
  • Rookie of the Week:  Chavaughn Lewis, Marist, 6’7”  Fr.  G/F – Recently inserted into the starting lineup, Lewis averaged 13 points for the two games the past week. The freshman swingman proved versatile as well by averaging 3.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists to compliment his scoring.

Momo Jones Had A Huge Week For Iona (Iona Athletics)

Standings

Team, MAAC record, overall record:

1. Iona 11-2, 19-5
2. Loyola (MD) 11-2, 18-5
3. Manhattan 10-4, 17-9
4. Fairfield 9-4, 14-10
5. Rider 8-6, 11-15
6. Siena 5-9, 10-14
7. Niagra 5-9, 10-16
8. Marist 4-9, 9-15
9. St. Peter’s 4-10, 5-20
10. Canisius 1-13, 4-20

 

Team Rundown

  1. Iona – Knocked off Canisius before earning a huge decision at Manhattan. Lamont Jones erupted for 43 points in the win over Canisius. Jones was 16 of 23 from the field (7 of 12 from three). Gaels enjoyed a 140 offensive efficiency rating in that contest. At Manhattan, the OE was another gaudy 123 for Iona. Four players were in double figures, led by Mike Glover’s 19 points.
  2. Loyola - Defeated Rider before winning at St. Peter’s to increase their win streak to six games. Outstanding defense has been the key during the winning streak. Rider was held to a 73 offensive efficiency. Erik Etherly scored 15 points and Shane Walker added 12 boards for Loyola. Against St. Peter’s, balance was a key as Roberton Olson led with 19 points while Etherley added 15 and Walker 14. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 31st, 2011

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

Reader’s Take 

 

The Week That Was

  • Recapping: Now we can get on with the conference games. The early portion of the schedule gives you the opportunity to face local rivals in other leagues (Manhattan-Fordham for one) and the chance to visit different sections of the country. Frequent flier miles may be added by a visit a few time zones away. By this time, though, everyone is ready for conference play to begin. Two MAAC games per team are in the books. St. Peter’s is 1-1 and 2-11 overall. After Wednesday’s 76-67 loss to Lehigh, John Dunne spoke of his St. Peter’s team and their mindset. “We are young and early our kids did not know how to stay in games,” he said. “Now they can stay in but we have to learn about closing them and winning. It’s all a process.” Dunne pointed out the 1-1 MAAC record and the conference schedule provides a “second season. Our kids are upbeat and working,” Dunne said. “They take the MAAC schedule as a chance to start over again.” New Year’s brings new hope and resolutions. Into the MAAC schedule everyone goes, sharing those positive aspirations.
  • Player of the Week:  Brandon Penn, 6’8″, Sr., F, Rider – In a win at Monmouth, Penn tied a career-high with 26 points while setting personal bests of 15 rebounds and six 3-point field goals.
  • Rookie of the Week: Evan Hymes, 5’8″, Fr., G, Siena – Scored 22 points while handing out six assists in the Saints’ big win over Princeton.

Iona's Lamont "Momo" Jones Is A Strong Candidate For MAAC POY Honors (AP)

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Checking In On… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on December 16th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and the NEC.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • The thinking coming into the MAAC season was that the conference title would be a race between Iona and Fairfield. Early returns, though, tell us not to discount Loyola (MD). Jim Patsos’ group owns a nice 8-1 record, including an upset win on the road over George Washington. Over in the Bronx, Steve Masiello is keeping his press conference promises. The Jaspers will be around for this race and have a serious impact.
  • On the negative side is Rider. The Broncs expected to be heard from and have been but unfortunately for all the wrong reasons, as they are struggling at 1-10 and looking for answers. Rider is ranked #97 in offensive efficiency and #116 defensively.

Player of the Week 

  • Dylon Cormier, 6’2″ So., G Loyola – Averaged 20.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in two Greyhound victories. Highlighted was a 26-point effort in an upset of George Washington.

Newcomer of the Week

  • Emmy Andujar, 6’5″ Fr., F Manhattan – Averaged 12 points, 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists in two game for the Jaspers. Won the Doc Johnson award as game MVP in the win against Fordham. Andujar had a 14-point, 7-rebound, 7-assist effort in that “Battle of the Bronx.”

Jim Patsos Has His Loyola (MD) Team Playing At A High Level (BaltimoreSun)

Power Rankings

  1. Fairfield (8-1, 2-0): Scored non-league victories over Old Dominion and New Hampshire. Derek Needham led the way with 19 points against ODU in the Basketball Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase.  Stags held ODU to an outstanding 80 efficiency on the defensive end in that victory.
  2. Iona (8-2, 2-0): Gaels took to the road winning at Denver in overtime, losing to Marshall and defeating Richmond. Iona’s win at Richmond was sparked by Michael Glover’s 24 points. A fast paced team, the Gaels average 76 possessions per outing. Their offensive efficiency is outstanding at 115 with a 101 on the defensive end. Read the rest of this entry »
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