Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC.
A Look Back
Fairfield maintains a lead. The Stags have now won 20 games two consecutive years for the first time in school history. St. Peter’s was a heartbreaking loss away from knocking off Fairfield on Sunday. Despite the setback, coach John Dunne (the choice of yours truly as MAAC Coach of the Year) feels his club is in a very positive mindset as the home stretch and conference tournament draws nearer.
1. Fairfield (20-5, 13-2): Two victories on the road for the first-place Stags. Fairfield won at Manhattan (65-56) and at St. Peter’s (70-69 in overtime). The game with St. Peter’s was a battle of defenses, as Fairfield had a slight 92-91 OE edge. Defense was reflected in TO rates, as the Stags were guilty of 25% of their percentages ending in turnovers while they forced St. Peter’s into a 26% rate.
Notable: Derek Needham captured Player of the Week honors averaging 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists in the Stags’ two road wins over the weekend.
2. Rider (18-9, 10-5): A homestand wound up at .500. Rider dropped a close (67-65) nail-biter to Canisius before bouncing back (61-50) against Niagara. A few oddities in these two games: Against Canisius, the OE was 107 and TO rate 15%. In the win over Niagara, the Broncs’ OE was 88 with a 28% TO rate. Defense was the answer, as Rider allowed a 110 OE against Canisius but only a 73 two days later.
Notable: Seniors Justin Robinson, Mike Ringgold and grad student Patrick Mandel have won 77 games over their Rider careers. Robinson has hit 44 of his last 46 free throw attempts. Freshman Danny Stewart is emerging of late, ready to carry the torch. He scored 17 points to accompany nine rebounds against Canisius.
3. Iona (16-10, 10-5): A sweep predicated on the simple formula of good offense plus good defense. The Gaels won over Siena (69-65) and at Marist (85-70). Their offensive efficiencies were 105 and 120, while they allowed 98 and 99 OE ratings. Taking care of the ball was paramount with 17% and 10% TO rates. On the other side, opposing offenses were disrupted into 27% and 25% rates.
Notable: Junior Scott Machado registered the 1,000th assist of his career against Manhattan. Mike Glover averaged 19 points for the Gaels and senior Alejo Rodriquez is coming on of late. Rodriquez averaged 9.3 points and rebounds for Iona during the week.
4. St. Peter’s (15-11, 10-5) One of two with a victory (66-54) at Marist followed be a heartbreaker (70-69 in OT) to Fairfield at home. The turnovers reared their ugly heads once again – St. Peter’s TO rate is 24% on the season and they were at 27% and 26% in the two respective games. The Peacocks shot a 61% eFG at Marist to boost the offense, but were only 41% against a better defensive team in Fairfield.
Notable: Jeron Belin scored 22 points in the loss to Fairfield. Ryan Bacon had 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in the win at Marist.
5. Loyola (13-12, 9-6) Two home games resulted in a split. The Greyhounds were upset by Niagara (59-57) before bouncing back for a win over Canisius (72-57). Loyola managed meager 89 offensive efficiency clip against Niagara. A 41% eFG percentage and 22% TO rate led the offense to stagnation. They got back on track, posting an outstanding 114 OE against Canisius.
Notable: Justin Drummond, a freshman guard, earned Rookie of the Week distinction. Drummond scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds in 22 minutes of action in the Greyhound victory over Canisius.
6. Canisius (13-12, 7-8). A road split for the Griffins. Canisius defeated Rider (67-65) before dropping a meeting at Loyola (72-57). At Rider, the Griffs put up an outstanding OE of 110. On the other hand, their OE at Loyola was 91, with the defense a 114. Chalk a good part of the blame to TO rate. At Rider the number was a very creditable 15%, at Loyola a ridiculously high 32%.
Notable: Senior forward Elton Frazier averaged 15 points, 6.5 rebounds and shot 63% from the floor. Frazier had 20 points in the loss at Loyola. Sophomore guard Gaby Belardo hit the game-winner at Rider. It was the third time he hit a game clinching shot this season.
7. Siena (10-15, 7-8) Saints went zero for two on the New York swing. They dropped close games at Iona (69-65) and Manhattan (84-81). A 27% TO rate was largely the undoing in New Rochelle. Against Manhattan, the Saints, a 101 defensive efficiency team, allowed a 108 mark. Pace was also a factor, as the 69-possession Saints got into a fast paced 78 possession outing against the Jaspers.
Notable: Sophomore Jonathan Breeden filled in for injured Rakeem Brookins at point guard. Breeden scored a career high 24 points against Iona and had 20 in the game against Manhattan.
8. Niagara (6-21, 3-12): Two road games and a split. They Won a close one (59-57) at Loyola before getting turned back (61-50) at Rider. Defense was solid with 89 and 88 efficiencies in the two outings. Offense? A good- enough-to-win 92 at Loyola followed by a less-than-adequate 72 against the Broncs. The latter game saw Niagara hit a 25% eFG mark (their season low) while committing a 26% TO rate. Purple Eagles have a borderline 20% TO rate on the year. Against Rider, it was too far on the negative side.
Notable: Niagara erased a 13-point second half deficit for their first MAAC road win of the season at Loyola. Scooter Gillette had ten points and a career-high eight rebounds.
9. Manhattan (5-21, 3-12): The Jaspers earned a home split, losing to Fairfield (65-56) before surprising Siena (84-81). The efficiency margin was a -15 against the Stags but improved to a +4 against Siena, thanks to a sterling 108 OE. Manhattan had a 57% eFG percentage against the Saints. It was sorely needed to offset a 24% TO rate.
Notable: George Beamon, the Jaspers’ outstanding sophomore guard, hit a career high 35 points in the win over Siena. Beamon was 12-19 from the floor and 10-10 on the charity stripe. Beamon averaged 19.3 points, 4 rebounds and 3.3 assists for his last three games.
10. Marist (4-23, 3-12): The Red Foxes dropped home games to St. Peter’s (66-54) and Iona (85-70). Efficiency margins were a respectively poor -19 and -21. They let up a 120 efficiency to Iona largely due to the Gaels 56% eFG mark. The Red Foxes struggled both games on the offensive end failing to reach a 100 offensive efficiency either time out.
Notable: Sophomore guard Sam Prescott exploded for 34 points in the loss to St. Peter’s. It was the first time in four years a Marist player broke 30 points. The last was Will Whittington with 31 in an NIT victory at Oklahoma State on March 13, 2007. Prescott was 5 of 7 from three against St. Peter’s.
A Look Ahead
Wednesday, February 16:
- Rider at Loyola
- St. Peter’s at Siena
- Canisius at Niagara
- Iona at Manhattan
- Marist at Fairfield
Saturday, February 19: The MAAC joins several mid-majors in the annual BracketBusters event:
- Austin Peay at Fairfield
- Central Michigan at Niagara
- Manhattan at Stony Brook
- Canisius at Boston University
- Iona at Liberty
- Delaware at Rider
- St. Peter’s at Loyola-Chicago
- Maine at Siena
- Loyola at Towson
- New Hampshire at Marist