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