Checking In On… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on February 24th, 2012

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

Reader’s Take

 

Opening Tip

  • Iona holds a slim lead and finishes the regular season at home with meetings against Fairfield and St. Peter’s. Regardless of how the top four play out, they are all very much in the hunt. Loyola’s final game at Manhattan on Sunday guarantees that a fair amount of scoreboard watching will be in vogue.

Player of the Week

  • Scott Machado, Iona, 6’1″, Sr. G – Averaged 14.5 points, 12 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 3 steals for the week. The versatile  Machado had 16 points in a win at Rider, hitting all ten of his free throw attempts.

Co-Rookies of the Week

  • Chavaughn Lewis, Marist, 6’5″, Fr., G/F - A starter for three weeks now, Lewis has 14 double figure games to his credit. Against Maine, Lewis recorded career highs in points (24), rebounds (9) and assists (5).
  • Evan Hymes, Siena, 5’8″, Fr., G – Outstanding in a 21-point, 7-assist showing in the upset of Manhattan. Playing 40 minutes for the 14th time in 16 games, Hymes averaged 13.5 points per game for the week.

Standings

Team, MAAC record, overall record:

1. Iona 13-3, 22-6
2. Loyola (MD) 12-4, 20-7
3. Fairfield 12-4, 17-11
4. Manhattan 11-5, 19-10
5. Rider 8-8, 11-18
6. Niagra 7-9, 12-17
7. Siena 7-10, 12-16
8. Marist 6-11, 12-17
9. St. Peter’s 4-12, 5-23
10. Canisius 1-15, 5-22

Team Rundown

  1. Iona- Won on the road at Rider before coming home to defeat Nevada in the Bracketbusters. Sean Armand led five double figure scorers for the Gaels with 22 points against Rider. Armand was 7 of 13 from three-point range. Against Nevada, a 90-84 victory,  Lamont Jones paced Iona with 18 points. Five Gaels were in double figures and Scott Machado handed out 15 assists.

    Michael Glover and Iona Are The Team To Beat In The MAAC Tourney (AP)

  2. Loyola – Lost at Marist before defeating Boston University in the Bracketbuster. Shane Walker had a 16-point, 12-rebound night in the losing effort at Marist. A team with a defensive efficiency of 96 during the MAAC season, Loyola allowed Marist a huge 114 rating in their 72-54 loss. Four Greyhounds hit double figures against BU with Robert Olson’s 17 points leading the way. Olson added 4 rebounds and 3 assists. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences. The records listed are up to date, but the analysis is just through Wednesday’s games.

Reader’s Take 

 

Leading Off

A sobering, down to earth thought and time of reflection. Marist College cancelled last Sunday’s game with Fairfield and Monday’s Women’s contest against St. Peter’s. This came following a tragic fire in Poughkeepsie, NY that took the lives of three people, two of them Marist students. In a statement MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor said, “the MAAC member schools share in the grief of the Marist community and offers its condolences to the families of the students who died or were injured in this tragic fire.” Ensor also noted rescheduling of the games will be done later as the conference consults with the involved schools. Our thoughts and prayers are with those victims and their families as well.

The Week That Was

Player of the Week: Scott Machado, Iona, 6’1″, Sr., G – Posted an 11-point, 15-assist, 9-rebound effort in the win over Rider. Machado narrowly missed being Iona’s second triple-double performer in school history. Machado had only two turnovers in that win.

Iona's Scott Machado Has Been On Fire Lately

Rookie of the Week: Antoine Mason, Niagara, 6’3″, Fr., G – Averaged 20.5 points, 5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in a 1-1 week for Niagara. Mason has led Niagara in scoring the last three games. The highlight,  a 22 point effort in the victory over rival Canisius.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Checking In On… the MAAC

Posted by rtmsf on January 12th, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences. The records listed are up to date, but the analysis is just through Wednesday’s games.

Reader’s Take 

 

The Week That Was

  • The conference slate is already one quarter in the books. Throw away those predictions. At this juncture Iona is the team to beat. Inside play (Mike Glover), an excellent lead guard (Scott Machado), the go-to scorer (Lamont Jones), and perimeter threat (Kyle Smyth) all add up for the Gaels. Not to mention, the man on the bench, Tim Cluess, who knows his X’s and O’s, thank you.
  • Loyola, Fairfield, and Manhattan stay within striking distance. Slowly, Rider has got things straightened out and is much improved after an awful start. Regardless, the Gaels lead the pack. And will be tough to reel in.

Player of the Week

  • Mike Glover, 6’7″, Sr., F, Iona – Averaged 20 points, six rebounds and three blocks the last three games (all victories) for the Gaels. Shot 64.7% from the field and 80% from the line. Enjoyed a 31-point outburst in the win at Marist.

Rookie of the Week

  • Evan Hymes, 5’8″, Fr., G, Siena – Averaged 15.7 points and 4.1 assists as the Saints captured two of their last three games. Led Siena with 22 points in a loss to Iona at Madison Square Garden. Ran the team extremely well, logging the full 40 minutes in both wins over Fairfield and Niagara.

Mike Glover Had A Big Week (AP)

Standings

Team, MAAC record, overall record

1. Iona 5-1, 13-4
2. Loyola (MD) 4-1, 11-4
3. Manhattan 4-2, 11-7
4. Fairfield 3-2, 8-8
5. Sienna 3-3, 8-8
6. Marist 2-3, 7-9
7. Niagra 1-4, 6-11
8. Rider 3-3, 6-12
9. Canisius 0-5, 3-12
10. St. Peter’s 2-3, 3-13

Power Rankings

  1. Iona: Won three straight sweeping their two conference games the past week. Iona knocked off Niagara, 73-61, behind Mike Glover’s 19 points and seven rebounds. The Gaels then traveled to Marist, scoring a  100-76 victory. Offensive efficiency was a gaudy 127.0. Glover again was the leader with 31 points and seven boards. Kyle Smyth added 17 points on 5 of 8 shooting from three. 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 Brian Goodman on December 3rd, 2011

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

Reader’s Take

 

On-Site: St. Peters vs. Siena

The conference’s two most recent champions, St. Peter’s and Siena, tipped off last Thursday night. Defending champion St. Peter’s hosted a Siena team trying to get through injuries and searching for their identity. Sophomore point guard Rakeem Brookins is out for the season. The Saints are still not getting the services of Owen Wignot, a good inside player. Early on, the Peacocks built a 21-7 lead as yet another slow start by the Saints put them in an early hole. Down nine at the half, Siena stayed tough. Even faced with a 16-point deficit on the road with fourteen minutes and change to play, Mitch Buonoguro’s group stayed focused. The lead was built courtesy of a tough man-to-man defense by St. Peter’s. Siena ws able to slowly get back in as their 2-3 zone and a St. Peter’s dry spell open the door. The Saints drew even late, but never get the lead, which Buonoguro later pointed out as very significant. Down the stretch, St. Peter’s nursed a slight five-point lead and with less than three minutes to play. Brandon Hall, who hadn’t hit a shot all night, buried a crucial three-pointer for the Peacocks. That made it a three-possession game and proved to be the dagger for Siena. “This was a tough game,” St. Peter’s coach John Dunne said afterward. “It’s the type of game you will see a lot of in this league.”

Accolades

  • Player of the Week: Scott Machado, Iona. The senior guard scored a career high 34 points in the Gaels’ 104-99 double overtime victory over St. Joseph’s. He is just the fifth MAAC player in history to record 1,200 and 600 assists.

Iona's Scott Machado Might Win Several of These

  • Rookie of the Week: Chavaugh Lewis, Marist. Lewis had a career high 23 points in Marist’s victory over Colgate. A freshman guard, Lewis averaged 15 points in a two-game stretch.

Power Rankings

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20 Questions: Which Transfers Will Have the Biggest Impact This Season?

Posted by rtmsf on November 2nd, 2011

I. Renko is an RTC columnist.

Question: Which Transfers Will Have the Biggest Impact This Season?

Every year, college basketball fans draw up their preseason predictions of conference champions and NCAA Tournament fields based on returning players and incoming recruits.  But each year, a handful of key transfers play a pivotal role in leading their teams to a conference championship or NCAA Tournament bid.  Which transfers are most likely to play that role this year?

Pierre Jackson and Gary Franklin, Baylor — With the return of Perry Jones and the addition of blue-chip recruits Quincy Miller and Deuce Bello (coming soon to an All-Name Team near you), expectations for the upcoming season in Waco are high.  The Bears have more raw talent than almost anyone in the Big 12 and have a realistic shot at a conference crown.  But Baylor also had quality talent and relatively high expectations last year, only to find their season upended by mediocrity at the most important spot on the floor — the point guard position.  AJ Walton was thrust into the role of replacing Tweety Carter and responded by posting an obscene 32.1% turnover rate.  In a not-unrelated phenomenon, the Bears finished the season ranked 322nd in Division I in team turnover percentage.

The Development of Franklin and/or Jackson Could Be the Difference-Maker for Baylor This Season

If Scott Drew can’t find someone to settle things down at the point this year, the Bears may disappoint again.  And that’s where Jackson and Franklin come in.  Jackson is a well-regarded JUCO transfer and Franklin a formerly touted recruit who transferred from Cal after just a semester.  Franklin will not be eligible until the spring semester, but both will have a chance to pin down the starting point guard job.  If either proves to be a stable floor general, the Bears could have their first conference championship in more than 60 years.

Iowa State’s Starting Lineup — Okay, so maybe the entire starting lineup won’t consist of transfers, but it might come close.  Fred Hoiberg is trying to resuscitate the Iowa State program by resuscitating the careers of several D-I talents, including Chris Allen (Michigan State), Royce White (Minnesota), Anthony Booker (Southern Illinois), and Chris Babb (Penn State).  They make this list as a group because collectively, they will have the single biggest transfer impact on any BCS program this year.

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RTC Conference Primers: #17 – MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 19th, 2011

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

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • 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: Sydney Johnson 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.
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RTC Summer Updates: MAAC

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 15th, 2011

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.

Reader’s Take

Summer Storylines

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)

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RTC Conference Primers: #4 – Atlantic Coast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 3rd, 2010

Matt Patton is the RTC Correspondent for the ACC.


Predicted Order of Finish

  • 1. Duke (15-1)
  • 2. Virginia Tech (12-4)
  • T3. North Carolina (10-6)
  • T3. NC State (10-6)
  • 5. Florida State (9-7)
  • 6. Maryland (9-7)
  • 7. Clemson (8-8)
  • 8. Miami (7-9)
  • 9. Boston College (5-11)
  • 10. Wake Forest (4-12)
  • 11. Georgia Tech (4-12)
  • 12. Virginia (3-13)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • G: Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech (20.2 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 4.5 APG)
  • G: Nolan Smith, Duke (17.4 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.0 APG)
  • F: Kyle Singler (POY), Duke (17.7 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.4 APG)
  • F: Harrison Barnes, UNC (26.1 PPG, 10.0 RPG, 3.1 SPG for Ames High School)
  • C: Tracy Smith, NC State (16.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.1 APG)

6th Man

Chris Singleton (F), Florida State (10.2 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 2.2 APG)

Impact Newcomers

Harrison Barnes (F, UNC) and Kyrie Irving (G, Duke).

Here’s the catch.  Barnes might be the better player statistically, and he should have an unbelievable season, but if Duke’s repeat hopes rest on Irving’s shoulders, I’m not sure how he couldn’t be an impact newcomer. Both have NBA scouts fawning over them.

Kyrie Irving (left) and Harrison Barnes have sky-high potential, but how will they do in their respective coaches' systems? (Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

What You Need To Know

People will probably say the ACC is having a down year again, but statistically, in the ACC’s “down season” last year, it finished as the highest ranked conference by Ken Pomeroy (just above the Big 12).  Even though the conference has won five of the last ten NCAA championships, people will argue it’s in decline after perennial contender UNC had a devastating season and Duke caught a few breaks on the road to the National Championship. That said, the ACC will not be the country’s deepest conference this season, but that doesn’t mean it will be irrelevant beyond the Blue Devils and Tar Heels.  The ACC has five recruiting classes in ESPN’s top 25, which should ease the loss of important conference players like Greivis Vasquez, Jon Scheyer, Sylven Landesberg, Trevor Booker and Al-Farouq Aminu.

Predicted Champion

Duke (NCAA #1 Seed) – Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad should not only be favored to win the conference, they should be favored to win the NCAA Tournament.  Duke returns two Preseason All-Americans in Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith from last year’s championship team.  Kyrie Irving is the highest-touted Duke recruit since Jason Williams, who led the Blue Devils to the 2001 title. Irving is also considered by scouts as the best true point guard of this class.  Additionally, the Blue Devils picked up four-star power forward Joshua Hairston and Seth Curry (who averaged 20.2 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 2.3 APG in his freshman season at Liberty), both of whom should see lots of playing time. Duke loses three starters from last year’s team: Jon Scheyer (18.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 4.9 APG), Lance Thomas (4.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 0.9 APG), and Brian Zoubek (5.6 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.0 APG).  Losing three starters would normally lower expectations for a team.  But, if anything, this Duke team should be more talented than last year’s squad.  According to Evan Daniels of Scout.com: three people who have watched Duke recently “are raving about their overall talent and Kyrie Irving.”  If you’re looking for more praise (not likely), Dan Wetzel tweeted: “Keep hearing from NBA scouts who’ve seen Duke practice describe Devils as ‘scary’ ‘complete’ ‘even better.’”  He followed that up rebutting the pro-Coach K media saying “These are NBA scouts raving about Duke, not supposedly pro-Coach K media.”  And last but not least, Luke Winn ranked the Blue Devil backcourt first in the nation and the frontcourt second (after Purdue, whose loss of Robbie Hummel almost certainly drops them a couple of spots). Long story short, Duke is going to be very, very good this year, especially if Mason Plumlee has the breakout season people are expecting. Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 04.16.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 16th, 2010

  1. After a big day of comings and goings Wednesday, not as much action yesterday so we’ll handle it here.  BC junior forward Rakim Sanders will transfer from the school, most likely to Fairfield, for his senior season.  This is a bit of a coup for the Stags, as Sanders is the type of inside player (11/4 last year) who will excel in the MAAC.  Meanwhile, across the country, Washington guard Elston Turner also announced his transfer to a school closer to his hometown of Houston, Texas.  Turner had an inconsistent year for the Huskies (6 PPG in 15 MPG), but he came on during the NCAAs and scored 14 against Marquette and 10 versus New Mexico in consecutive games to help UW get to the Sweet Sixteen.  Finally, some good news as Baylor’s LaceDarius Dunn announced that he will return to the Bears for his senior season.  This will be a huge boost for Scott Drew’s team, as Dunn will join Quincy Acy and newcomer Perry Jones to produce another formidable team in Waco.  And in late breaking news on Thursday night, Georgia’s Trey Thompkins also stated in an impromptu manner at the season-end basketball banquet that he is returning to the Bulldogs for his junior year.  Thompkins is an unheralded player nationally, but he was among the leaders of the SEC in scoring and rebounding (18/8) and with the return of uber-athletic Travis Leslie, Georgia should be positioned to make a leap forward in the SEC East next year.
  2. KenPom: last effing laugh.
  3. This was written prior to the Final Four, but we’re just now finding it.  The author makes some interesting observations about (mostly male) college hoops fans and the way in which they (we) get all teary-eyed over One Shining Moment.  She even called it “cheesy” before finally succumbing to its magic.  Guess you have to have grown up on it.
  4. Luke Winn writes that John Calipari’s recruiting prowess is a bit overstated when it comes to actually making the Final Four and winning national championships.  If we’re lucky, we’ll have a post up analyzing this sentiment later today.
  5. It’s a good thing Rick Stansbury got that recent contract extension to stay at Mississippi State or he wouldn’t have been able to afford the $30K that the SEC is fining him for criticizing officials on a lane violation no-call that he said they missed by “eight feet.”  Here’s the video from under the basket — what do you think?

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Late Morning Five: 11.14.09

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2009

morning5

Since it’s the weekend, we’ll allow you a couple more hours to sleep in after last night’s mammoth-sized slate of games.

  1. Kevin Coble Watch: Northwestern announced Friday that Coble will be seeking a second medical opinion on his foot injury.  Does that mean he didn’t like what he heard from the first doctor?
  2. Three BC players (Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji and Courtney Dunn) have been suspended by coach Al Skinner for unspecified team rules violations.  It didn’t impact the Eagles tonight in a 31-pt thrashing of Dartmouth (look at Tyler Roche with 30/5 blks!), and it won’t on Tuesday night against St. Francis (NY) either…
  3. Colorado head coach Jeff Bzdelik had to miss his team’s opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff due to a family emergency.  Assistant coach Steve McClain, who was a head coach at Wyoming for ten years, took over admirably, leading the Buffs to an 88-72 win over UAPB last night.
  4. This is a really great story.  BYU head coach Dave Rose, who battled and defeated pancreatic cancer over the summer, was rewarded with a five-year contract extension today that will ensure his family’s security over the next half-decade and beyond.  Does he deserve it? — well, he’s only off to the best four-year start in the school’s history (97-34, .740) — so we’d say that’s a resounding yes.
  5. Shameless self-promotion – remember that RTC Live will have two really good mid-major battles today.  We’ll be at the Creighton-Dayton game beginning at 1pm ET and the Davidson-Butler game starting at 2pm this afternoon.  We hope to see you stop by.
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RTC’s 2009-10 Impact Players – Northeast Region

Posted by zhayes9 on September 2nd, 2009

impactplayersYesterday the calendar moved into September and we’re all foaming at the mouth around here to get started on the 2009-10 season preview materials, but we realize it doesn’t make much sense to start really gearing up on that until October.  Nevertheless, one feature we want to start that we’ll be publishing weekly all the way up to the start of the season is our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series.   Each week we’re going to pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Northeast Region (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, Upstate NY)

northeast

  • Joe Trapani – Jr, F – Boston College. Al Skinner hit the jackpot when Vermont transfer Joe Trapani elected to join the BC basketball program for the 2008-09 season after a successful debut campaign with the Catamounts, averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and earning America East all-rookie team honors. Trapani wanted to challenge himself at a higher level of competition, transferring to nearby Chestnut Hill where the 6’8 forward made quite an impression in his sophomore season, upping his scoring average to 13.4 ppg and rebounds to 6.6 per contest. Trapani earned a spot on this list mostly due to his all-around game; in fact, the skilled big man led the Eagles in assists in four games. His best performance may have come against Kyle Singler and Duke at home, an upset win for BC in which Trapani registered 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Not many 6’8 forwards can score, rebound, dish and shoot 36% from deep. His inside-outside game reminded many of the Eagle faithful of the recently departed Jared Dudley and will be even more vital to the Eagles success in 2009-10 without leading scorer Tyrese Rice. While the rest of the roster returns, it is Trapani who must lead the way if BC wants to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji, Biko Paris and other Eagles will contribute, but Trapani’s model of consistency and constant leadership makes him indispensable to Skinner and the BC program.
  • Arinze Onuaku – Sr, F/C – Syracuse. The Syracuse behemoth is one of the most puzzling players in all of college basketball. There are two statistics that jump out at you when analyzing Onuaku’s 2008-09 junior season with the Orange: 67% and 30%. Incredibly, that was Onuaku’s field goal and free throw percentage last year… in order. That’s right, Onuaku was an insanely efficient 178-267 from the floor, higher than Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Nevill, Patrick Patterson, DeJuan Blair or anyone in college basketball. On the flip side, his free throw shooting (37-124) was abysmal and downright embarrassing, meaning if Onuaku doesn’t improve in this area mightily over the summer and into the upcoming season, Hack-A-Onuaku will be explored greatly by Big East coaches in 2009-10. The big man MUST improve to at least 50% if he doesn’t want to greatly cost the Orange. Onuaku’s impact to Syracuse is mostly positive, though. The field goal percentage speaks for itself, along with 10.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and a 19/12 double-double against Cole Aldrich and Kansas last season. With Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris gone to riches (just kidding for two of them), Onuaku will be relied on heavily by coach Jim Boeheim to be a reliable force in the paint by blocking shots, staying out of foul trouble, scoring with efficiency and scooping up rebound after rebound. With Blair and Thabeet departed, nobody can have as much of an impact down low at Onuaku both in the Big East conference and in the entire Northeast region.
  • Jerome Dyson – Sr, G – UConn. When Jerome Dyson knocked knees with an unidentified Syracuse player and crumpled to the floor during a routine win for the 23-1 Huskies on Feb. 11, you could almost hear the collective groan from the UConn faithful throughout the Northeast.  You see, the dirty little secret for UConn was that Dyson at 34.8% was one of the only two players on the roster (AJ Price at 40.2% was the other) who could reliably nail a three-pointer for the Huskies.  UConn was never going to be confused for a team of marksmen, but it’s no coincidence that a team who was shooting a robust 36.4% from deep on the season at the time of injury shot a horrid 29.8% from outside the rest of the way.  It was painfully obvious in the F4 loss to Michigan St. that once the Huskies got in the hole, the three-pointer – a useful offensive weapon in comeback attempts – simply wasn’t available to them (2-6 for the game).  Dyson should be back at 100% this season, as his meniscus injury is completely healed and he has a chip on his shoulder from seasons lost.  With four key contributors gone from last year’s team, Jim Calhoun will be looking at his senior guard to put the team on his back and take the lead in crunch time.   This shouldn’t be much of a problem considering Dyson’s scorer’s mentality and natural abilities.  If UConn is going to avoid a major letdown from its 31-win season, it’ll be largely due to the poise and play of the player who has always seemed just on the cusp of greatness, but due to some bad decisions mixed in with worse luck, has never quite made it there.
  • Kemba Walker – Soph, G – UConn. Kemba Walker is the latest in a long string of NYC-bred point guards who is set for stardom in the Big East.  As a freshman backing up AJ Price in 2008-09, it was easily apparent to anyone watching that Walker was the player with the quicker first step, better touch around the basket, and ultimately, brighter future.  As such, he’s a projected first rounder whenever he decides to come out for the NBA Draft.  However, perhaps typical of many Big Apple products, his outside jumper is still a work in progress (27.1% from deep last year), but he needn’t rely on 22-footers because he can get to the cup and finish with anybody of any size (52% on twos, which is phenomenal for a six-foot guard).  Walker had some ups and downs during his freshman year, but the reason he’s on our Northeast Region squad has a lot to do with his performance in the Elite Eight against Missouri where he sliced and diced the Tiger defense so effectively (23/5/5) that we should be forgiven for thinking he was the best player on the floor.  Several of our braintrust believe that he could double his offensive output this season en route to becoming an all-american playmaker for the Huskies in the mold of former point guards Chris Smith and Khalid El-Amin.  Regardless of postseason accolades, we should expect the UConn backcourt of Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker to be one of the very best in the nation this year.
  • Ricky Harris – Sr, G – UMass. While the Minutemen may have underachieved in 2008-09, the scoring production provided by Ricky Harris on a game-by-game basis did not go unnoticed.  With point guard Chris Lowe and shot-blocking extraordinaire Tony Gaffney departed, Harris will be the centerpiece for Massachusetts in Chris Kellogg’s second year as the Minutemen head coach. Harris reached the top six in scoring in both his sophomore and junior campaigns at 18.2 ppg, so predicting a 20+ ppg senior season out of Harris is not outside the realm of possibility. He could very well challenge Dayton big man Chris Wright for A-10 POY this year and should be the #1 scoring force and premier outside shooter in the entire conference. Want more proof? This past season Harris became the 40th UMass player to accumulate 1,000 points in his college career and has scored in double-figures in 61 of his last 66 games along with 28 career contests with 20+ points. He lit up ACC foe Boston College for 35 points on 12-19 FG and 6-11 3PT in an overtime loss. While his rebounding and passing game leaves much to be desired, Harris will make or break whether the Minutemen surprise in a weaker Atlantic 10 and reach a postseason tournament this season. Now that Tyrese Rice and A.J. Price are no longer amateurs, nobody in the entire Northeast region can match his scoring potential on any given night. Harris’ ability to catch fire and will the Minutemen to victory earns him a spot on our all-Northeast squad.
  • DJ Rivera (MM) – Sr, G – Binghamton.  Our mid-major “sixth man” for this region shouldn’t be viewed as a slight of any kind.  We recognize that Rivera, the 6’4 do-anything guard from upstate New York can capably play with anyone in the Northeast region.  In fact, the player who was openly snubbed by America East coaches when it came to conference POY votes last season might just be the top mid-major player in the entire country in 2009-10.   You know the story: the nephew of Philly legend Hank Gathers, Rivera transferred from St. Joe’s after his sophomore year, received a hardship waiver from the NCAA, and proceeded to dominate the America East unlike anyone has, um, ever?  Rivera showed his clutch abilities by averaging 25/11 against league rival Vermont in two games last year, and even dropped 20/5 on 9-14 FGs against Duke in Binghamton’s first-round blowout loss to the Devils.  He’s an absolute stud, and we expect that after briefly flirting with the NBA Draft, he’ll be back with an enormous chip on his shoulder this season given the way the rest of his league treated him.  It’s our wager that  Rivera, with a substantial amount of his team returning, will make a run at a national scoring title (#5 returning scorer in the NCAA) and another trip to the NCAA Tournament to solidify his standing. 

Impact Players NE 2

Honorable MentionTim Ambrose, Albany.  Will Harris, Albany.  Rakim Sanders, BC.  John Holland, BU.  Corey Lowe, BU.  Ryan Wittman, Cornell.  Louis Dale, Cornell.  Jeremy Lin, Harvard.  Matt Janning, Northeastern.  Sharaud Curry, Providence.  Ryan Rossiter, Siena.  Alex Franklin, Siena.  Edwin Ubiles, Siena.  Andy Rautins, Syracuse.  Wesley Johnson, Syracuse.  Stanley Robinson, UConn.  Marqus Blakely, Vermont.

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