Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 1st, 2011

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

A Look Back

Fairfield is now the front-runner in the MAAC, with a two-game lead just past the conference midway mark. Coming off two convincing wins at home, St. Peter’s has sole possession of second place. Despite early season injuries, coach John Dunne has kept the Peacocks on track and now they look very dangerous heading into the stretch.

BracketBuster pairings were announced Monday.  They will be held February 18-20. The MAAC’s involvement includes a variety of intriguing matchups:

  • Canisius at Boston University
  • Austin Peay at Fairfield
  • Iona at Liberty
  • Loyola at Towson
  • Manhattan at Stony Brook
  • New Hampshire at Marist
  • Central Michigan at Niagara
  • Delaware at Rider
  • St. Peter’s at Loyola-Chicago
  • Maine at Siena

Power Rankings

1. Fairfield (17-4, 10-1). A perfect three-game stretch as the Stags won 57-49 at Niagara, then edged Manhattan 61-59 at home, and dropped Canisius by 15. OE was just 85 at Niagara, but they limited the Purple Eagles to a 73 efficiency. The game with Manhattan was a lot closer than anticipated. Credit the Jaspers with a 37-26 OREB percentage edge and for forcing Fairfield into a 25% TO rate. The defense prospered again at home against the Golden Griffins.

Notable: Derek Needham scored 16 points including the game-winning three pointer with 8.7 seconds left against Manhattan. The sophomore guard has paced Fairfield in scoring five of the last six games.

2. St. Peter’s (13-9, 8-3) Extended their win streak with home conquests of Marist (85-53) and Rider (80-60). On the season, St. Peter’s’ offensive efficiency is 92. In those two games, the OE was 125 and 111, respectively. The Peacocks are not neglecting the defensive end, as they limited the opposition to 78 and 83 efficiencies in those two respective games.

Notable: Ryan Bacon earned player of the Week honors in the MAAC by averaging 18.5 points and eight rebounds. Bacon also shot 67% from the floor during the two-game stretch.

3. Rider (15-8, 7-4) Split with a road win 61-59 at Iona followed by an 80-60 loss at St. Peter’s on Sunday. The Broncs held Iona to an 89 efficiency mark on the defensive end. St. Peter’s, on the other hand, rang up an 111 OE. Broncs had their second-lowest offensive efficiency of the season, 83, at St. Peter’s, largely due to a 28% TO rate.

Notable: Senior Justin Robinson had 19 points, including 18 in the second half in the win at Iona. Robinson made a crucial basket to give the Broncs a four-point lead with 15 seconds left.

4. Loyola (11-10, 7-4) – The Greyhounds split at home, losing to Siena 76-59 before edging Iona 88-85. Defense, or a shortage thereof, was an issue. Loyola surrendered efficiencies of 112 and 113 in the respective contests. They pulled the Iona game out with a 117 OE of their own and an outstanding 13% TO rate.

Notable: Freshman guard Justin Drummond earned MAAC Rookie of the Week honors with his first career double-double. Drummond scored 14 points, grabbed ten rebounds and blocked four shots in the win over Iona.

5. Iona (13-9, 7-4) – The Gaels have dropped three straight following losses to Rider (61-59) and at Loyola (88-85). Offense was tough to come by in the Rider matchup; the Gaels posted a 42% eFG percentage and managed only an  89 OE. At Loyola the offense picked up with a 53% eFG and 113 offensive efficiency. The defense struggled, allowing Loyola an 117 OE on their end.

Notable: Junior Kyle Smyth scored 17 points on 7-13 shooting) in the loss to Rider. Junior guard Scott Machado added 12 points and seven assists.

6. Siena (9-12, 6-5) – The Saints inched over .500 in the MAAC by defeating Loyola 76-59 in Baltimore before edging Niagara 61-59 at home. Siena posted an outstanding 112 OE at Loyola, limiting the Greyhounds to an 87 efficiency on defense. Against Niagara, the Saints shot a torrid 56% eFG mark but a 26% TO rate made this a nail-biter.

Notable: Ryan Rossiter became the second in school historyand just the eighth player in the MAAC to reach the 1,000 rebound mark. Rossiter did it in the win over Loyola.

7. Canisius (10-11, 4-7). Two home games and the Griffs took advantage, before an unsurprising loss at the hands of Rider. They edged Iona 75-73 before handling rival Niagara 69-54. Canisius shot a torrid 63% EFG percentage against the Gaels. They continued to show a hot hand with a 55% eFG performance and 117 offensive efficiency against Niagara. It was reported recently that Kansas State big man Freddy Asprilla will pack his bags for Buffalo to join Tom Parrotta’s troops.

Notable: Julius Coles had 20 points in the win over Niagara. Coles shot 7-12 overall and 4-6 from three in that contest. Senior Elton Frazier added 11 points and seven boards.

8. Marist (4-19, 3-8) Dropped an 85-53 decision at St. Peter’s before returning home and losing a 60-59 heart breaker to Manhattan at the McCann Center. The Red Foxes gave up an 125 efficiency on the defensive end at St. Peter’s. Offensively, they managed just 78 OE. Against Manhattan, they had an outstanding 16% TO rate but again the difference was defense as Marist allowed a 109 efficiency.

Notable: Sophomore swingman Dorvell Carter earned his first career double-double with a 14-point, ten-rebound effort against Manhattan. Carter has started the last seven games for Marist and is averaging 10.9 points and 5.6 rebounds during that time.

9. Manhattan (4-18, 2-9) Split on the road dropping a tough 61-59 decision to Fairfield before edging Marist 60-69. The Jaspers forced Fairfield into a 25% TO rate. The Marist matchup was little on the low scoring side but had offense. Jaspers had an offensive efficiency edge (109-107) and both teams were over 50% eFG percentage.

Notable: Freshman Michael Alvarado hit a 55-foot buzzer beater to defeat Marist. Alvarado had six assists and no turnovers in that game. His shot was termed ‘biggest play in college basketball this year’ by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.

10. Niagara (4-19, 1-10). Dropped contests at Canisius (69-54) and Siena (61-59). Niagara averages 69 possessions, but in the Canisius game, it was a 59 possession pace. Despite a slower tempo, the Purple Eagles struggled with a 25% TO rate. Defense was commendable at Siena. Niagara allowed only a 94 efficiency on the defensive end, 11 below their season average.

Notable: Guards Anthony Nelson and Marvin Jordan combined for 42 points against Canisius. Jordan paced all scorers with a career high 23 points in that game. Jordan followed that performance up with 18 points at Siena. Kashief Edwards added the same scoring total against the Saints.

A Look Ahead

February 4

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

February 6

  • St. Peter’s at Canisius
  • Marist at Niagara
  • Rider at Fairfield

February 7

  • Loyola at Siena
  • Manhattan at Iona
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ATB: Wild Weekend Across the Hoops Universe

Posted by rtmsf on January 31st, 2011

The Lede.  What a weekend.  Unless you care about the Pro Bowl (and really, other than gamblers, who does?), we here in the college hoops universe had the sports world to ourselves, and the weekend gods in charge made sure that we had a wild and woolly preview of March even though the calendar still said otherwise.  Fully half of the ranked teams in the RTC Top 25 lost over the weekend, and quite a few others including two of the top three teams in America hung on by the skin of their teeth.  What this shows us once again is that there are no dominant teams in basketball this year; even though Ohio State remains undefeated, they’ve had numerous close encounters and it’s clear that the Buckeyes are merely one of a dozen teams with the goods to win six straight this spring.  It should be a wild ride through the remaining five weeks of the regular season; if this weekend’s results are any indication, we should all down a few anti-vertigo meds and strap ourselves in.

St. John's Made the Garden Rock Again Today (Getty/N. Laham)

Your Watercooler MomentDuke Destroyed in the Garden.  The last time we saw the Duke Blue Devils so thoroughly undressed as they were in today’s matchup with St. John’s at the Garden, many observers at the time believed that Coach K had lost some of his touch on the recruiting trail and his teams simply could not compete at the highest level of college basketball anymore.  On that day, Villanova used a dominant second half to rattle the Devils with its superior quickness and athleticism, forcing Duke to fire off 22 bricks from beyond the arc (versus five makes) in the game and generally embarrassing a team that had been ranked as high as #1 at one point that season.  Today’s game against Steve Lavin’s fun group of Johnnies was not entirely dissimilar.  Duke looked generally slow, uninterested and incapable of making an outside shot (shooting 5-26 from deep after starting out 1-19) while SJU had all the energy and emotion of a home crowd desperate for a winning program again.  Whether this is emblematic of a bad day for Duke or indicative of a deeper set of problems, we’ll have to see how February goes before making that decision.  Make no mistake, though, today’s result was a major red flag for the defending national champs.  Teams that win titles don’t find themselves down 50-25 to anybody, much less unranked teams.

We have much more on this destruction of Duke from our correspondent’s report from the game here.

This Weekend’s Quick Hits

  • Ashton Gibbs and Jared Sullinger.  A couple of big-time players making big-time shots in the clutch with their teams on the verge of defeat.  #1 Ohio State appeared to be in serious trouble when David Lighty got the ball into Sullinger deep in the post off a steal.  He was fouled and subsequently hit 1-of-2 free throws with three seconds remaining and all the noise and pressure of the Northwestern students weighing on him at the time.  Just another day at the office (21/8) for the impressive freshman.  At Rutgers, it was the junior Gibbs (24/4) who played the role of Mr. Clutch, drilling a 25-footer as the shot clock wound down and the Panthers clinging to a precarious one-point lead.  His three gave Pitt just enough breathing room to keep Rutgers on the fouling strategy, ultimately unsuccessful as Pitt hit twelve down the stretch to salt away another win.
  • The Texas Defense.  It’s starting to scare us.  We know that the Longhorn defense is already the most efficient in America, but to put the clamps on an offensive juggernaut like Missouri in holding the Tigers to 58 points (25 below their season average) is ridiculous.  In six Big 12 games, they’re holding teams to 54 points per game, a statistic that is particularly amazing when you consider that three of those wins were against teams in the top 15.  If Rick Barnes can coax a little more offense from his young team, the Horns might end up as the best team in America by March.
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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 16th, 2011

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC.

A Look Back

The MAAC race is about one-third complete. St. Peter’s weathered the re-injury to Wesley Jenkins to start 3-0. The road caught up with the Peacocks and two straight losses followed before they got back on track with a win over Niagara.

Fairfield and Iona are in a 5-1 dead heat for the top spot in the conference, with Rider and St. Peter’s just behind at 4-2. Siena’s regression after a lengthy reign as king of the hill has given way to parity.

There’s a lot of conference play remaining to watch, analyze and enjoy.

Power Rankings

1. Fairfield: (12-4, 5-1) Swept two conference games before dropping a Saturday game to Loyola (MD). The 59-44 victory at Marist preceded a surprisingly one-sided 70-43 decision over St. Peter’s. They average 65 possessions but were at a 59-possession pace both games. Defensive efficiency was outstanding with a 75 and 73 showing in the two games, respectively. Fairfield forced St. Peter’s into a 27% TO rate and Ed Cooley’s club enjoyed a 119 offensive efficiency in that contest.

Notable: MAAC Rookie of the Week Maurice Barrow, a 6’5 freshman forward, posted his first career double-double, with 11 points and 14 rebounds in the win over Niagara.

2. Iona: (4-1, 10-6 overall). Gaels swept two home games defeating St. Peter’s 70-52 and Loyola 86-68 and topped Rider in overtime on the road. Offensive efficiencies were outstanding with 111, 119 and 118 in the three games. Defensive numbers in the first two games were excellent as well as the Gaels held the respective opposition to 82 and 94 efficiencies.

Notable: MAAC Player of the Week Mike Glover. Glover averaged 24 points and 11.3 rebounds over his last three games.

3. Rider: (12-6, 4-2) Rider swept the ‘Western swing’ with victories at Niagara (82-65) and Canisius (77-76). However, they went on to drop a frenzied 100-96 matchup to Iona in overtime. The Broncs have played seven straight games at over 100 offensive efficiency, posting 134, 122 and 117 OE marks for the respective games. Against Iona, Rider’s streak of five consecutive games with a TO rate under 20% was snapped.

Notable: Junior Novar Gadson scored on an offensive rebound at the buzzer to capture the one-point win at Canisius. Gadson had 16 points for the game and led the Broncs with 22 in the Iona barnburner.

4. St. Peter’s: (9-8, 4-2) Road was unkind as the Peacocks were knocked from the MAAC unbeatens. St. Peter’s dropped a 70-52 decision at Iona before Fairfield defeated them easily 70-43. The Peacocks then turned around to dispose of Niagara by 20. Efficiency told a big tale. In the first two games, St. Peter’s was 83 and 73 on offense, but the performance against Niagara signified a turnaround. Defensively, they were 111 and 119 in the losing efforts. The eFG percentage in the Fairfield game was only 30%, but 64.1% against Niagara. Another factor curtailing the offense was a TO rate exceeding 20% in all three meetings.

Notable: Senior Wesley Jenkins returned to the lineup and put up an astounding 31 points on Saturday, thanks largely to a white-hot 7-9 performance from three.

5. Marist: (4-14, 3-3) The Red Foxes have lost four of their last five games, but topped the Jaspers on the road. Marist had their best offensive efficiency, 112, of the season in the win over Manhattan. Turnovers continue to plague Marist. Their TO rate is 22% on the season and their rates were 31% (against Fairfield) and 24% in the Manhattan game.

Notable: Sophomore guard Sam Prescott scored 20 in the loss to Fairfield. It was the highest single game total by a Marist player this season.

6. Loyola: (7-9, 3-3) The Greyhounds won at Manhattan 82-67 before going to New Rochelle and dropping an 86-68 decision to Iona. They turned around to take a nailbiter against Fairfield, 66-65. Against Manhattan, the Greyhounds had their best offensive efficiency, 126, of the season. A 67 possession team, Loyola got into a 72 possession pace at Iona. It didn’t help at either end, as the offense showed a 94 efficiency and the defense was 119.

Notable: Junior guard J’hared Hall came off the bench to score a career high 23 points in the win over Manhattan. Against Fairfield, he buried a go-ahead three in the waning minutes to put the Greyhounds on top.

7. Siena: (6-10, 3-3) Their ‘western’ swing resulted in two losses. Siena dropped games at Canisius (62-61) and Niagara (69-55), but went on to top Marist. In the first two contests, the Saints offense was under 100 in offensive efficiency with a season low 77 at Niagara. And in the two games the TO rate surpassed 20% with a 27% showing, also at Niagara.

Notable: O.D. Anoskie had double-doubles on the ‘Western swing’. Anoskie scored 15 points and grabbed ten rebounds in the loss at Niagara. He also has just four turnovers in his last six games. Clarence Jackson missed six straight games with a sprained ankle, which has affected the Saint offense considerably.

8. Canisius: (8-8, 2-4) Split with a 62-61 win over Siena, snapping a three game conference skid. Followed up with a tough 77-76 loss to Rider and a 72-51 laugher over Manhattan. The Siena game saw the Griffs guilty of a 22% TO rate. Defensively, they forced the Saints into the same number, and put up a +33.7 efficiency margin against the Jaspers, their best mark of conference play. Against Rider the TO rate improved to 11% but the defensive efficiency was an overly generous 122.

Notable: In the win over Siena, sophomore guard Gabby Belardo hit a floater in the lane with 8.8 seconds reaming to give Canisius the lead. Senior Tomas Vazquez-Simmons rejected a last second shot at the other end to seal the victory.

9. Niagara: (4-14, 1-5) Two home games saw a split, and the Purple Eagles remain without a conference road win after dropping a 77-57 game to St. Peter’s. The Rider game saw an offensive efficiency of 107 and TO rate of 12%. On the defensive side, Niagara gave up a 134 efficiency to the Broncs. Against Siena the offensive efficiency was 97 and TO rate 27%. Purple Eagles held Siena in check allowing a 77 defensive efficiency mark.

Notable: Senior Anthony Nelson registered his fourth career double-double in the win over Siena. Nelson scored 30 points, had ten assists and grabbed eight rebounds.

10. Manhattan: (2-15, 0-6) Still winless in the MAAC, the Jaspers dropped a 65-59 home decision to Marist. Manhattan then took a non-conference break with a 57-50 loss at Florida Atlantic. A 71-52 loss to Canisius didn’t make for a happy return. The Jaspers average 64 possessions and applied the brakes even further with 58 possessions each of the last two games. Against Marist, the defense, a 112 efficiency and 55% eFG mark, were responsible for the setback.

Notable: Freshman point guard Michael Alvarado missed the last two games with an injury, but returned against Canisius. Sophomore guard George Beamon continues to provide offensive support. Beamon averages 15.3 PPG (fifth in the MAAC) and 6.9 rebounds.

 

A Look Ahead

January 17:

  • Niagara at Manhattan
  • Loyola at St. Peters
  • Canisius at Siena
  • Fairfield at Rider

January 20:

  • Marist at Rider
  • Manhattan at Loyola

January 21:

  • Fairfield at Canisius
  • Siena at St. Peter’s

January 22:

  • Loyola at Marist

January 23:

  • St. Peter’s at Manhattan
  • Fairfield at Niagara
  • Iona at Canisius
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The Unvictorious

Posted by jstevrtc on January 13th, 2011

After Florida State’s victory over Duke last night, there are but four undefeated teams left in D-I college basketball: San Diego State, Kansas, Syracuse, and the heir apparent to the #1 ranking on Monday, Ohio State. You’ve probably heard about that today just as much as you’ve heard the analysis about how hard it is for a team to go undefeated any more (no kidding). Soon, we’ll make our predictions on when the remaining four undefeateds will lose. Because they will.

Kyle Randall and UNCG Have Made It Just Past the Midpoint of Their Schedule Without a Win

But what about the other side — the unvictorious? It’s been three seasons since a school has gone through the entirety of their schedule without a single win, an ignominy achieved by the 2007-08 New Jersey Tech (NJIT) Highlanders, God love ‘em, and their 0-29 run as an independent. Last year, two teams came close, when Marist and Bryant both went 1-29. Marist rung in 2010 by beating Manhattan, 72-66, on January 2nd. Bryant, however, had everyone holding their breath late into the season until, with only four games left, they finally snagged that first victory on February 18th — a 53-51 squeaker at Wagner.

This season, there are still two teams without a victory. UNC-Greensboro is 0-15 with 14 regular season games left on their schedule. And even though they may have one of the best nicknames in the game — the Gentlemen — Centenary is 0-17 with 13 games remaining.

The future is a tad brighter for UNCG than it is for Centenary, it would seem. The oracle that is KenPom projects the Spartans to finish at 4-25 and has them winning their first game on January 20th against Georgia Southern,  a game that also represents their best chance at a victory (75%). Unfortunately for the Gentlemen, it’s pretty dire. KenPom’s projection relegates them to the dustbin of history, a perfectly unvictorious 0-30, with their best chance for a win coming on February 24th against Western Illinois — a mere 15% chance, at that. We should note that Centenary, the smallest D-I school in the country,  is playing with lame duck status. They’ll move back down to Division III next season.

Good luck, fellas, and we’ll be watching. We hope you both get at least one before season’s end!

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Chris Otule & Kevin Laue Remind Us to Stop Complaining

Posted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2011

The human body is an amazingly adaptable entity when faced with adversity.  If it’s extremely cold, blood rushes from its extremities into the core to keep the central organs warm and functioning.  If it’s too hot, buckets of sweat seep from its pores to act as an internal cooling mechanism.  When injured, the fight-or-flight mechanism often makes a dangerous situation into a survivable one by buying time for the individual to get to safety.  We all know these things to be true, and therefore it should be no surprise when we learn of astonishing people in the athletic realm doing astonishing things with their bodies.  And yet we are.

Chris Otule (in goggles) Was Outed as Having One Eye Last Week (AP)

Such was the case late last week when, during the Marquette-Vanderbilt game on ESPN2, commentator Mark Gottfried told the viewing audience that Golden Eagle center Chris Otule has only one functional eye.  Come again?  Most people, including many members of the Marquette fanbase, were not aware of the redshirt sophomore’s physical limitation, which begs the question of how Gottfried knew about it (did he recruit Otule while still at Alabama?) and why he chose a national television audience to out the player.  Notwithstanding the possible HIPAA violation that Gottfried committed while on air, the bigger question is this: HOW ON EARTH DO YOU PLAY DIVISION ONE BASKETBALL WITH ONE EYE???

This is phenomenal.  See, the beauty of having two eyes in our heads is that it provides us with what the smart folks call stereoscopic binocular vision, or essentially, the ability to see clearly in three dimensions.  That third dimension relating to depth perception is the key, because it allows other animals an ability to gauge how far away their prey is and how fast it is going, while also allowing us human folks the convenient ability to accurately pass, catch and shoot a basketball while on the move.  Now, with only one eye, a person can still gauge depth, but it becomes much more difficult, especially at close ranges.  Even at farther lengths, it takes longer for a single eye to make determinations of relative distances, and the accompanying field of peripheral vision has been estimated as 25% smaller.

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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 2nd, 2011

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

A Look Back

The non-conference portion of the year, give or take a Bracket Buster or mid-season outlier, is in the books. Fairfield is a team that stood out against non-league opposition. Iona and Rider fared pretty well also.  All that aside, conference play is the major factor. Just after the new year the MAAC schedule, with two games in the books for each team already, gets into full force. Now is the team where teams that struggled early due to injuries, personnel changes or other reasons, make their moves. While a team as Fairfield is off to a solid start, they must be prepared and cast a wary eye on a host of contenders. It should be a fun race.

Power Rankings

1. Fairfield: (2-0, 9-3 overall) Defeated Holy Cross and Vermont to run the win streak to seven games. OE is a modest 98 but the defensive mark is an outstanding 86. Nearly a quarter (24%) of opposing possessions end in a turnover. The offensive rebound margin is a healthy 36-31% edge in favor of the Stags.

Notable: Yorel Hawkins scored ten points and grabbed ten rebounds against Vermont. It was the sixth double-double of Hawkins’ career.

2. Iona: (2-0, 8-5 overall) Snapped a two game losing streak by defeating Hofstra at the Hynes Center. A 73-possession team, the Gaels have an outstanding offensive efficiency rating of 109. The 100 on defense is credible as well. A 19% TO rate and 54% eFG mark solidify the offense. Despite a good defensive number, opponents enjoy a 52% eFG mark.

Notable: Junior guard Scott Machado scored 17 points, pulled down five rebounds and added four assists against Vermont. Machado leads the nation with 8.3 assists per game.

3. St. Peter’s: (2-0, 7-6 overall) Had a five-game win streak snapped by consecutive losses at Rutgers and Lehigh. OE is still low at 87, but the defense, an efficient 93, is keeping the Peacocks competitive as a ‘tough out.’ A TO rate of 23% is not helping the offense. John Dunne’s club is currently a deliberate 62-possession team.

Notable: Sophomore guard Stephen Samuels led St.Peter’s with 14 points at Rutgers. Bad news dominates as Ryan Bacon (ankle) and Wesley Jenkins (hyper-extended knee) are out for two and three weeks, respectively.

4. Marist: (2-0, 2-10 overall) The Red Foxes are in the midst of a four-game tailspin. Defensive efficiency is 109, much higher than acceptable. Marist is not exerting significant ball pressure, as opponents have a 16% TO rate. Offensive efficiency is 87 with only two contests 100 or more.

Notable: Redshirt freshman swingman Anell Alexis is one of the most dependable foul shooters in the MAAC with an .875 (42-48) free throw percentage.

5. Rider: (1-1, 9-5 overall) On a three game win streak with the most recent conquests coming from road wins at LaSalle and Howard. Broncs sport a 108 offensive efficiency and hit a season-high 127 against Howard. Defense is impressive with a DE of 96. Opposition TO rate is a modest 20%, but the defensive eFG mark is an impressive 45%.

Notable: MAAC Player of the Week, Novar Gadson. The 6’7 swingman tied a career high with 25 points in the win at LaSalle, in Gadson’s native Philadelphia.

6. Siena: (1-1, 4-8 overall) The Saints scored a big win against Georgia Tech at home before losing a ‘Franciscan Cup’ meeting at St. Bonaventure. Siena’s giving up 100 DE on that end. The opposition is hitting an eFG percentage of 50 while the Bonnies enjoyed a 56% mark in that contest. Saints had their second highest OE of 117 in that game but gave up their highest, a 123.

Notable: Ryan Rossiter continues to excel. The senior center/forward averages 20 points and 13 rebounds per game. Rossiter battled off a sinus infection and eye injuries to score a game high 19 points in the win over Georgia Tech.

7. Canisius: (0-2, 6-6 overall) Defeated Lamar 78-72 on the road to snap a two-game losing streak. The 72-possession pace might be too fast as the TO rate offensively is 23%. On the season, the defensive efficiency is 100 but the last three opponents have reached 100 or more.

Notable: Senior Elton Frazier scored 22 against Lamar. Frazier leads Canisius with 13.5 points per game and 7.5 rebounds an outing.

8. Loyola: (0-2, 4-8 overall) Dropped games at Howard and at home against Bucknell. Greyhounds are on a three-game slide. Offensive efficiency is 96 but the last two games saw Loyola fail to reach 100. Offensive rebounding rate is a positive. Loyola’s OREB percentage is 36% while the opposition is 29%.

NotableJustin Drummond, took home MAAC Rookie of the Week honors. Drummond went off for 21 against Georgetown and followed it up with 15 versus Howard. Drummond leads Loyola in scoring with a 12.7 per game norm.

9. Niagara: (0-2, 3-11 overall) Losses to Quinnipiac and Drexel have extended the losing streak to three games. Purple Eagles still push the pace (72 possessions) and enjoy a 19% TO rate. The OE however is a paltry 89. On defense, the efficiency is a too generous 108 while the opposing eFG mark is 51%.

Notable: Freshman guard Marvin Jordan tied a career high with 17 points against Quinnipiac. Four Purple Eagles scored in double figures in that contest.

10. Manhattan: (0-2, 2-10 overall) Jaspers are in a 10-game losing streak. Their offensive efficiency is 91. In their two wins (over NJIT and Penn) they broke 100 for OE. On the defensive side, the efficiency is 109. Opposition has only an 18% TO rate which hints at average ball pressure applied by the Manhattan defense.

Notable: Sophomore guard George Beamon led the Jaspers with 18 points in a loss to Bowling Green. Beamon has posted a double-double in ten of Manhattan’s first 12 games.

A Look Ahead

January 3

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

January 5

  • Marist at Princeton

January 7

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

January 9

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

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 19th, 2010

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

A Look Back

Two conference games are in the books for every team. MAAC play will resume after the new year, but early returns show Marist undefeated. No, we are not talking about Brian Giorgis’ women’s team. The unblemished group is Chucky Martin’s club, 2-0 and after one weekend, they’ve doubled their win total of a year ago. Can they stay around and be a factor? Probably not. Suffice it to say, conference teams are now considering their trip to the Hudson Valley in a different light.

Power Rankings

1. Fairfield: (7-3, 2-0) In the midst of a six-game win streak which includes conference wins at home against Loyola and on the road at Siena. The Siena game, a 72-55 decision, saw the Stags post outstanding efficiency numbers on both ends. The offense was 108 while the defense sported a lockdown 82. Offensive rebounding percentage has been a strong suit as Fairfield holds a 35%-31% edge in that category.

Notable: Ryan Olander scored 17 points and pulled down ten boards in the win over Holy Cross. It was the 6’11 junior’s second double-double in a four game stretch.

2. Iona: (7-3, 2-0 overall) The Gaels ran their win streak to seven games with conference conquests of Niagara and Canisius and non-league wins over Long Island and Fairleigh Dickinson. The efficiency margin is an impressive +11 with an OE of 108 and DE 97. The Gaels are also forcing opponents into a 24% TO rate. Each of the last seven games saw Iona post an offensive efficiency of 100 or better with, most recent, a 121 in the 87-66 win over FDU.

Notable: Junior Mike Glover continues to excel for the Gaels. Glover earned conference Co-Player of the Week honors, averaging 24 PPG, 11 rebounds and shooting 69% from the floor the past two games. A test against Syracuse awaits Saturday.

3. St.Peter’s: (5-4, 2-0) A three-game win streak includes MAAC conquests at Loyola and against Manhattan. The Peacocks also came from behind to edge Wagner 51-50 in Staten Island. Offensive efficiency, overall, is very low at 86. The defensive efficiency is a better than average 93. Turnover rate of 23% and offensive rebound percentage are the main setbacks on offense. John Dunne’s crew is grabbing 27.7% of the offensive boards while opponents are at 36.3%.

Notable: Senior guard Nick Leon paced the Peacocks in the come-from-behind win at Wagner. St.P eter’s trailed by 14 with just over 11 minutes remaining.

4. Marist: (2-9, 2-0) The Red Foxes swept their home dates with Niagara and Canisius. Following the conference wins, Marist dropped games on the road to Rutgers and Vermont while losing to Lehigh at home. Up-tempo play was the key in the two conference wins. For the year, Marist averages 71 possessions with an OE of 87. In the two MAAC meetings the numbers reflected an average pace of 79 possessions and an OE of 97.

Notable: Freshman forward Menelik Watson earned conference Rookie of the Week plaudits for a three-game stretch in which he averaged 11 points per game to go with 4.7 boards. Watson also shot 57% from the field for those three contests. Junior guard R.J. Hall pitched in 13.3 PPG and five assists the last three games

5. Rider: (7-5, 1-1) The Broncs of Lawrenceville defeated UMBC 81-39 while losing to Pitt 87-68 and in overtime, 71-67 at Drexel. Rider posted an off-the-charts +62 efficiency margin against UMBC. Rider was 120 in offensive efficiency and 58 defensively. Averaging 66 possessions on the year, they pushed it to 73 possessions against Drexel, Rider’s fastest matchup to date this season. They struggled on the offensive end with a 92 efficiency mark.

Notable: Junior Brandon Penn and senior Mike Ringgold combined for 33 points at Drexel. The pair, enjoying a homecoming, are both Philadelphia natives.

6. Siena: (3-6, 1-1) The Saints snapped a two-game losing streak with a 72-69 win over Florida Atlantic. Included was a MAAC loss to Fairfield in a rematch of last March’s conference championship game. Their TO rate is a bit high at 21.5%, but was only 14% in the win over FAU. Saints average 100.7 OE however the 72-55 Fairfield loss saw their lowest OE of the season at 82.

Notable: Clarence Jackson was a bright spot with 14 points against Fairfield. Jonathan Breeden got the start over Rakeem Brookins (due to illness reasons) at the point in the Fairfield game. Breeden scored nine points in 16 minutes.

7. Canisius: (4-5, 0-2) The Golden Griffins dropped three of the last four, including conference games at Marist and Iona. Offense is one of the bigger problems. Griffs have an OE of 95, and part of the reason is a TO rate of 24% and an eFG percentage of 47%. Defensive efficiency is a spot-on average 100. Not a bad mark, but the defensive TO rate is 20%, meaning opponents are not seeing pressure on the defensive end and Canisius is losing opportunities to score off forced turnovers.

Notable: In a win at South Dakota, sophomore Alshwan Hymes notched career highs in scoring (18 points) and three pointers made (four).

8. Loyola: (4-5, 0-2) Jimmy Patsos’ boys halted a three-game losing streak with a 65-42 pasting of Mount St. Mary’s. Included in that streak were conference losses to St. Peter’s and at Fairfield. Doing a good job defensively, the Greyhounds hold opponents to 93 DE. The offense is struggling, with an OE of 96. Basically, it is an issue of simply putting the ball in the basket as the eFG percentage is a paltry 44%.

Notable: Shane Walker, a junior forward, captured the conference Co-Player of the Week distinction with an 18/10 norm for the week. Walker had double-doubles in both outings for the Greyhounds.

9. Niagara: (3-7, 0-2) Like Loyola, Niagara put a losing skid to bed, with a 69-61 win at St. Bonaventure. Included in the losses were conference setbacks at Marist and Iona. In the Bonaventure game, Niagara posted their best OE of the season, 103. The defense posted an outstanding DE mark of 91. The turnover rate of 18% given a quick pace of 72 possessions per game, is also a plus. Offensive rebounding is a definite sore spot. The Purple Eagles have a severe deficit with a 28% compared to opposition 39.7% offensive rebounding percentage.

Notable: Junior forward Kashief Edwards paced Niagara with 18 points in a loss to Buffalo. Purple Eagles now have eight straight wins over ‘Little Three’ rival St. Bonaventure.

10. Manhattan: (3-8, 0-2) The Jaspers have had a rough go of it, dropping conference games to Rider and St. Peter’s before losing to Fordham and Binghamton. Manhattan has now lost eight straight. Their pace is a modest 64 possessions per game but the efficiency margin is a -18. Coach Rohrssen’s team has struggled on both ends of the floor. Offensively, a 20% TO rate is a positive. Their finished possessions do not render much however with an OE of 92, largely due to 42% eFG shooting.

Notable: Sophomore guard George Beamon had 12 points and11 boards in the ‘Battle of the Bronx’ setback at Fordham. Beamon has four double-doubles on the season.

A Look Ahead

  • On Saturday, the MAAC takes on the Big East, as Loyola gets a crack at Georgetown, while Iona makes a trip to Syracuse. Iona nearly upset the Orange in the 1998 Tournament, but Jim Boeheim’s troops were bailed out by a three in the waning seconds.
  • Now that finals are over, we get back to basketball, with challenges such as Fairfield hosing Vermont (12/20), Georgia Tech making a trip to Siena (12/22), and Fairfield getting a shot at the Gators (12/29).
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Morning Five: 12.15.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on December 15th, 2010

  1. Quiz time: of conferences which are eligible for consideration in the CollegeInsider.com mid-major rankings, which league has racked up the most wins against teams from the big six? Time’s up — it’s the Atlantic Sun. We dig it when a small conference takes an opportunity to strut a little bit, especially when they provide good evidence as to why you should take heed. Yes, that’s the A-Sun’s Belmont tucked in neatly at 66th in the latest KenPoms, and that is indeed the A-Sun listed in the top half of all conferences at CollegeRPI.com (14th). Another good thing about the linked article is that it reminded us about the names of the two divisions in the Cancun Challenge: Riviera and Mayan (won by the A-Sun’s North Florida). Come on. At least it skunks Leaders and Legends.
  2. We can’t say for sure, but hopefully the folks at Siena take it as a compliment that we’ve come to expect so much from them every year, especially come tournament time. It’s in that spirit that we ask…what happened, here? We all knew it wouldn’t be easy replacing studs like Alex Franklin and Edwin Ubiles, not to mention departed coach Fran McCaffery. Sure, the Saints seem to have taken a serene, trance-like approach to playing defense at times this season, but nobody handicapped a 3-6 start. Mark Singelais of the Albany Times Union details how Siena has decided to put the first month of the season behind them, and proclaim Tuesday’s win over Florida Atlantic as the new beginning to their 2010-11 campaign.
  3. There’s now a Wolf among the Huskies. Connecticut has announced the mid-season addition of Enosch Wolf, a 7’1 center from Germany, to the squad. He’s enrolled and ready to go, eligible to practice on Sunday and play his first game on Monday. Coppin State – the Huskies’ foe on that night, whose tallest player playing at least 20 MPG stands at 6’8 — is not amused. Wilkommen in Connecticut!
  4. If Syracuse’s Rick Jackson looks different to you this season…good eye. Here’s a nice piece from Fanhouse about how Jackson’s lopping off of about 10% of his body mass during the off-season has led to increased expectations for Jackson from his coaching staff and teammates. You can sense the pride that fellow Orange(-man) Kris Joseph and guru Jim Boeheim feel toward Jackson in the way they talk about him in the article. More noteworthy is that you get the same sense of increased confidence from how Jackson talks about himself, his increased responsibility, and his improved skills. Averaging a robust 14.0 PPG and 12.5 RPG doesn’t hurt the ol’ confidence, either. But it’s all cyclical…
  5. We’re among those who really want New York to become a college hoops town again, and New York magazine’s Will Leitch — yes, that guy — has provided a tidy summary of how the NYC schools are doing so far. It’s shocking to see the depths to which Manhattan has plunged, and to note that, even though the Johnnies are limping right now, there’s still a Secretariat-like gap between St. John’s and the next-best NYC team (Long Island). So, even though the Steve Lavin rebuild of SJU is still in its infancy (or possibly still a fetus), all hopes of turning NYC back into the college basketball town that it should be still rest with them. We really want this to happen, no matter which school leads the way, but if it’s the Johnnies, that’s fine with us. Plus, that means we’ll probably all have more Erin Sharoni in our lives (SJU sideline reporter — it’s only a matter of time for her), and that’s just good for everyone.
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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2010

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

Looking Back

It is generally assumed the MAAC will be wide open – mo more chasing Siena. Well guess who’s in front after one game? Truth of it is the MAAC will be a great deal of fun for fans and media, a double dose of Advil for coaches. Fairfield is the favorite, but there will be several teams on their heels. Which all adds to upsets, surprises, scoreboard-watching and great fun… except at times for the coaches.

Players of the Week

  • Kyle Smyth, Iona – The sophomore guard had a 26-point first half en route to a career high 29 points in the win at Albany. Smyth tallied a school record eight treys in that game.
  • Ryan Rossiter, Siena – Rossiter averaged 19.3 PPG and 17.7 RPG over the last three games.

Rookie of the Week

Marvin Jordan, Niagara – In a four game stretch, the 5’11 guard averaged 12.5 PPG, 3.0 APG and 2.5 APG. His 17 points in a win over Bowling Green established a new career high.

Power Rankings

1. Siena (2-4, 1-0) – Not an easy road, as the Saints lost to Butler and Princeton (in overtime). Siena drew first blood in conference play with a nice road win at Rider, however. A 22% turnover rate illustrates some of the early difficulties at this point. Their efficiency margin is -1 (100 OE – 101 DE). Despite an uptempo (72 possessions) pace, the Saints are only forcing opponents into a 19% turnover rate.

Player of Note: Ryan Rossiter, who now has a Siena record with 37 career double-doubles.

2. Rider (2-4, 0-1) – Dropped two straight tough ones at home. After losing the conference opener against Siena on Friday, the Broncs were upended by Hofstra two days later. The Broncs sport a 104 offensive efficiency rate and an impressive 55% eFG percentage. They were however, under 100 in both setbacks last weekend. A 22% turnover rate (26% versus Hofstra) has been the root of their undoing in some close contests.

Player of Note: Junior Brandon Penn scored 14 points and added nine rebounds (both career highs) in the loss to Siena.

3. Loyola (3-2) – A loss at Vermont balances a win against Morgan State at home. The Greyhounds are solid defensively, with a 93 DE rating and not too bad on offense sporting an OE of 100. An 18% turnover rate helps the offense smooth while an opposing eFG mark of 44% is a defensive key. Loyola averages 69 possessions per outing but seems comfortable at varying tempos.

Player of Note: Sophomore forward Erik Etherly pulled down a game and career high 13 rebounds in narrow 51-48 setback at Vermont.

4. Canisius (3-2) – Earned a New York split last week, dropping an 81-64 decision to Buffalo at home before defeating Binghamton on the road. The Golden Griffs are holding the opposition to 95 defensive efficiency. Turnovers are noteworthy on both sides of the ball. Canisius forces opposition into a 22% turnover rate, but on their end, the turnover rate is exactly the same and affecting the offense. The weekend is highlighted by visits to Iona on Friday and Marist Sunday.

Player of Note: Senior forward Elton Frazier scored 15 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 19 foul-plagued minutes against Buffalo.

5. Iona (3-3) – The Gaels topped Albany and Norfolk State on the road to get to .500. They have a big weekend, hosting Canisius and Niagara. Iona holds opponents to a defensive efficiency rating of 98, but the defensive eFG mark is a too-generous 53.5%. Turnovers have offset that. Tim Cluess’ club is forcing opponents into a hefty 24% turnover rate.

Player of Note: Beside Kyle Smyth’s outburst, junior guard Scott Machado had scored 14 points, paired with a career high 15 assists against Albany.

6. Fairfield (2-3) – The Stags snapped a three-game losing streak with an easy win over Norfolk State in the Hoop Group Classic at the Palestra in Philadelphia. Defense has been sound with a 90.7 defensive efficiency rating. Offensive rebounding percentage has been a strength, leading opponents 35%-28%. The Achilles’ heel to date is a 45% eFG mark. Offensively, the OE rating is coming along at 95, thanks to an eye popping 132 in the 91-56 win over Norfolk.

Player of Note: Senior forward Warren Edney averaged 18 PPG the last two outings.

7. Niagara (2-4) – The Purple Eagles dropped road games to Albany and Detroit, but remain uptempo with 71 possessions per game. Niagara’s been stagnant on both sides of the ball, but at least they take care of the rock, sporting an 18% turnover rate. Still not enough to counter a 41% eFG mark and an offensive rebounding percentage deficit (OREB Pct – Opponents OREB Pct) of -10%, so eventually they’ll have to up their scoring output.

Player of Note: Beside Marvin Jordan’s noted exploits, junior forward Kashief Edwards was named to the Legends Classic Detroit Subregional All-Tournament team after averaging 14.7 PPG with 7.0 RPG.

8. Manhattan (2-4) – The Jaspers had a rough go of it at the Old Spice Classic, dropping three games. In battling Georgia closely, they eventually came up short, dropping a 61-58 matchup. Manhattan simply has trouble scoring; their pace is in the mid sixties possession-wise but the offensive efficiency of 91 and eFG percentage of 41% are woefully below par.

Player of Note: Sophomore forward George Beamon had a consistently strong line against Georgia, 14 points, ten rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.

9. St. Peter’s (2-4) – As was the case last year, good defense, not so good offense. John Dunne’s club earned a nice win over Alabama at the Paradise Jam before coming home to defeat LIU, but took a step back with a loss at Seton Hall. The Peacocks’ OE is 80 while the DE is a more-than-acceptable 96. A return to form of Wesley Jenkins making his season debut against Long Island will help. Keeping Ryan Bacon, the main interior threat, out of foul trouble will also be a positive.

Player of Note: Jeron Belin, a senior forward, hit the game-winner against Alabama and had a team high 23 points against LIU.

10. Marist (0-6) - Another struggle, even in the early going. Red Foxes have dropped all six games by twenty points or more. The efficiency margin is a whopping -36, with the OE at 81 and defensive efficiency a too generous 118. On a bright note, the conference schedule tips off this weekend and both games (Niagara on Friday, Canisius on Sunday) are in the friendly confines of home, the McCann Center.

Player of Note: Redshirt freshman swingman Anell Alexis averaged a gritty 5.3 rebounds over three games since the last update.

A Look Ahead

  • December 4: Rider gets the unfortunate privilege of a trip to the Pete to face Pitt, while Manhattan takes on St. Peter’s.
  • December 5: Niagara and Iona square off while Loyola and Fairfield match up.
  • December 8: Loyola gets a crack at George Mason, but meanwhile in conference play, Niagara pays a visit to Buffalo.
  • December 10: Fairfield meets Siena, while St. Francis (NY) and Canisius battle out of conference.
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Checking in on… the MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2010

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and the NEC.

Looking Back

For awhile, it appeared the top four contenders – Fairfield, Siena, St. Peter’s and Iona – would have one combined win. Iona, which had some hard luck at the World Vision Classic, broke into the win column with a hard-fought, attention-grabbing, 81-77 double OT win over Richmond at the Hynes Athletic Center. Scott Machado scored 28 for the Gaels but newcomer Michael Glover, a Seton Hall transfer, continues to impress with a 21 point, 17 rebound effort.

As the coaches dutifully note, it is early. Regardless, there are results in the book and trends beginning to emerge. like the addition of Glover into the Gael frontcourt.

Standings

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

    Player of the Week

    Ryan Rossiter, Siena – The 6’9 senior was chosen as preseason POY and got off to a quick start. Rossiter scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in an 80-76 loss to Vermont. It was Rossiter’s 18th double-double in his last 20 games dating back to last season.

    Rookie of the Week

    Michael Alvarado, Manhattan. The Jasper’s freshman guard scored 23 points in a 75-70 opening game win at NJIT. Alvarado was 12-5 from the line and logged the full forty minutes.

    Team-By-Team

    • Canisius stayed in-state over the weekend. The Griffs earned a split defeating St. Bonaventure (80-70) in the home opener on Friday before dropping a decision at Syracuse (86-67) on Sunday. Sophomore Gaby Belardo scored 19 against St. Bonaventure. It was the South Florida transfer’s first game in a Canisius uniform.
    • On media day, Fairfield coach Ed Cooley discussed how he thought the meeting at Rutgers would be an important early season game on Big East turf. The Fairfield mentor can take solace in the fact there will be other pre-conference challenges as the Stags were handed a 68-53 setback. Derek Needham led Fairfield with 14 points.
    • Iona got out of the gate 0-3. The Gaels dropped three tough ones in the World Vision Classic in Cleveland. They fell to host Cleveland State 78-68 and dropped last-second decisions to Kent State and Bryant. Seton Hall transfer Michael Glover had a strong debut for Iona averaging 18 points per game for the three contests.
    • Jamal Barney scored 21 points, but Loyola (MD) dropped a close 75-72 contest at home to Drexel. The visitors built an 18-point lead by midway of the first half before Loyola came back. The Greyhounds never drew even, with the closest margin being within 2 with 3.1 seconds to play.
    • Jay Bowie scored 19 points, but it was not nearly enough as Marist fell to Villanova 84-47. That loss in round one of the NIT Tip-Off extended the Red Foxes’ losing streak to 19 games.
    • Niagara was the final MAAC team to tip off the season. The Purple Eagles got off to a rough start with a 90-73 loss at home against Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Kashief Edwards paced the Purple Eagles with 22 points.
    • Rider split, losing to UMass in Springfield on Friday before defeating Lafayette at home Sunday. Rider and Lafayette are former ECC (East Coast Conference) members. Mike Ringgold scored his 1000th career point against Lafayette. Rider did pick up a nice win over USC in Los Angeles (77-57).
    • Coach John Dunne’s concerns about offense were realized as St. Peter’s fell 55-30 in their opener at Robert Morris. Nick Leon led the way for the Peacocks with 13 points.
    • After a home-opening loss to Vermont, Siena fell to 0-2 as host Minnesota rallied for a 75-69 victory. Clarence Jackson led the Saints with 29 points.

    Tempo Notes

    UMass trailed by over 20 points in the early part of the second half of their opener against Rider in Springfield. The Minutemen went on a second half rally and eventually earned a 77-67 victory. A comeback of that nature usually spells a wild up-tempo affair. In this case it was just the opposite.

    Possessions                Offensive Efficiency

    Rider 67                                  100

    UMass 67                                  114

    The pace suggests a moderate tempo, nothing like the racehorse pace usually reserved for frantic comebacks . The offensive efficiency bears out the fact Rider just could not stop the Minutemen. Especially during that second half.

    Another note comes from Ryan Restivo who does a great job with the SienaSaints blog (not just saying that because I have been a guest contributor there). Ryan did a breakdown of the Saints’ loss at Minnesota, analyzing every Siena possession by time. The conclusion was that Siena was more effective and efficient in possessions that lasted less than 15 seconds. For instance, Siena shot 69% in their possessions (47) under 15 seconds and was only 30% from the field in the 31 possessions of 15 seconds or more.  Very interesting material that bears out that players often pass up a good shot early and are often left with a rushed or less desirable attempt as the shot clock winds down.

    Upcoming Games of Note:

    • November 19: St.Peter’s vs. Old Domion (Paradise Jam); Fairfield at Penn State; Niagara at Georgia Tech
    • November 20: Rider vs. TCU (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
    • November 21: Rider vs. Loyola Marymount (Hall of Fame Tip-Off)
    • November 23: Butler vs. Siena; St.Joesph’s vs. Fairfield
    • November 25: Manhattan vs. Wisconsin (Old Spice Classic in Orlando)
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    Dissecting the Premier November Tournaments

    Posted by zhayes9 on October 28th, 2010

    Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court.

    With college basketball approaching in a matter of days, fans across the nation can look forward to one of the major draws of the sport: pre-conference tournaments. Aside from catering to hungry fans that want to see highly ranked teams do battle even in the earliest stages of the season, these tournaments are golden opportunities for coaches to judge and evaluate where their teams stands against elite competition. It presents our first chance to surmise that, say, Kentucky’s fabulous freshmen may not quite stack up to last year’s history-making class, that Duke may miss Brian Zoubek and Jon Scheyer more than originally expected or that Jacob Pullen can adequately handle point guard duties for Kansas State. The teams we label in early November as the prime contenders to cut down the nets five months later in Houston are revealed for the first time in tournament settings that allow programs to build early season momentum, confidence and quality wins that stand out come Selection Sunday. No other sport provides such drama in tournament settings at such an early point in the season.

    As usual, a handful of headlining programs have elected to participate in these tournaments. Duke will encounter their first true tests in the CBE Classic, Pitt eyes a difficult field in the 2K Sports Classic and North Carolina heads out to Puerto Rico in a wide open field. All of these fields could provide intense drama and classic clashes normally reserved for the first days of spring. Here’s a preview of the best tournaments college basketball has to offer in pre-conference play and the main storylines heading into each event. Mark your calendars now.

    2K Sports Classic (Opening Rounds: November 8-10, Semifinals: November 19, Finals: November 20)


    The Field: Ever since the Gardner-Webb shocker upended plans for Kentucky and their rabid fans to travel to Madison Square Garden, this has been an event where the four regional hosts automatically advance to NYC. This year’s participants are Pittsburgh, Illinois, Texas and Maryland. The prohibitive favorite has to be preseason Big East topper Pittsburgh and their four starters returning from an overachieving squad that garnered a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Ashton Gibbs is a game-changing scoring guard and the athletic Gilbert Brown is an x-factor on the wing for Jamie Dixon. Illinois has expectations of reaching the second weekend in March for the first time since the national championship defeat in 2005, while Texas hopes that addition by subtraction helps avenge last season’s collapse from #1 team in the nation to first round victim. Maryland will likely still be figuring out a rotation at this stage after their three leading scorers were all lost to graduation. One player that may vault into stardom is Terps big man Jordan Williams, who nearly averaged a double-double as a freshman in the ACC.

    The Sleeper: It’s difficult to fathom that losing Damion James and Dexter Pittman can possibly make a team better, but one has to prescribe to the notion that more defined roles and a clear-cut rotation should translate into improved chemistry for Texas following last season’s bitter disappointment. Rick Barnes still has tremendous talent up and down his roster including the infusion of two McDonalds All-American recruits in point guard Cory Joseph and power forward Tristan Thompson. If he utilizes more discretion on when to pull the trigger, it wouldn’t shock us if Jordan Hamilton had a breakout campaign. This also provides an early chance for Florida transfer Jai Lucas to shine on a big stage. Remember, Lucas is just two seasons removed from averaging 8.5 PPG and shooting 44% from deep as a freshman.

    The Pick: While Texas has a strong chance of advancing, we’re even more bullish on Illinois in the preseason. Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale bring height and scoring inside, Demetri McCamey is an assist machine at the point and freshman Jereme Richmond is the perfect answer on the wing for Bruce Weber. If they were to face Pitt in the final, McCamey out-muscles Ashton Gibbs on the perimeter, Richmond’s length contains Gilbert Brown on the wing and Tisdale’s versatility pushes Pitt big man Gary McGhee from his comfort zone in the paint. With the victory, the buzz around Illinois’ chances in the ultra-competitive Big Ten will only escalate.

    CBE Classic (Opening Rounds: November 12-18, Semifinals: November 22, Finals: November 23)

    The Field: While Duke, Marquette, Kansas State and Gonzaga will play two warm-up games on their home floor, all four advance to Kansas City for a star-studded doubleheader (controversy could certainly unfold should San Diego State, the preseason MWC favorite and a top-25 caliber squad in some experts’ minds, upset Gonzaga and still be forced to play in Oxford, Ohio rather than KC). As the near-consensus #1 team heading into the season’s tip-off, Duke is the favorite and receives the easier semifinal matchup in Marquette. The Golden Eagles enter the season as a likely second tier Big East team along with West Virginia, Seton Hall, Notre Dame and possibly Connecticut or Louisville. Look for the Kansas State-Gonzaga matchup to be one of the best games of the entire month. The Wildcats boast one of the best players in the nation in Jacob Pullen and a bruising, deep frontline, while Mark Few has the Zags loaded with talent, notably German import Elias Harris and sharpshooting swingman Steven Gray.

    The Sleeper: Gonzaga has a golden opportunity in this tournament to do some major damage, boost their portfolio with two quality wins and become the storyline of the month of November. Defeating two top-five teams is a daunting task, but all Gonzaga has to do is escape Kansas State and at least remain competitive with Duke to make a positive impression nationally. Last year, it would have been the hard-nosed Matt Bouldin to contain Pullen around the perimeter. With Few’s ability to match his frontcourt to at least a draw with the Kansas State paint patrollers, how defensive-minded junior guard Demetri Goodson handles the challenging assignment of slowing down Pullen could ultimately determine Gonzaga’s success in KC.

    The Pick: We’ve seen the role of contrarian playing by some prognosticators pegging Michigan State at #1 rather than Duke, but I’ll abstain. Duke will win this tournament, although Frank Martin’s bunch should be an awfully difficult draw in the final with their physicality and the scoring prowess of Pullen. The Blue Devils’ remarkable perimeter depth has the tools to wear down either opponent. Expect both Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins to drain some key treys that help keep the Blue Devils atop the rankings.

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    RTC Conference Primers: #15 – MAAC

    Posted by Brian Goodman on October 21st, 2010

    Ray Floriani of NBE Basketball Report and College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC.

    Predicted Order of Finish

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

    All Conference Team

    • Derek Needham (G) – Fairfield
    • Ryan Rossiter (F) – Siena
    • Wesley Jenkins (G) – St.Peter’s
    • Scott Machado (G) –  Iona
    • Julius Coles (G) – Canisius

    Top Newcomer

    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 »

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