Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC.
Reader’s Take I
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:SydneyJohnson 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.
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.
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)
The season is officially over so it’s time for players to start acting like knuckleheads again. This weekend’s edition comes to you from Gainesville, Florida, where two Florida players — sophomore forward Erik Murphy and freshman forward Cody Larson — were arrested after allegedly trying to break into a parked car in St. Augustine late Saturday night. Larson was already on a short leash with head coach Billy Donovan as a result of his involvement in a painkiller scheme during his senior year of high school, but Murphy, who averaged 4/2 last season, was expected to start for the Gators in 2011-12. The most disturbing part of this story? That the two players reportedly hovered near a bar’s cash drawer before bouncers ejected them, at which time they decided to break into the car — a frightening proposition in the “could have been worse” category.
The biggest coaching news over the weekend involved something that didn’t happen, specifically that former UCLA/Kansas/everybody in the NBA head coach Larry Brown was not selected as the next captain of the UNLV ship in Las Vegas. Despite his public overtures for the position, UNLV decided to go with BYU assistant coach Dave Rice, a former Rebel assistant who also played on the two best teams in program history — the 1989-90 national champions and the 1990-91 Final Four team. Rice was a somewhat controversial choice locally, as public support was largely behind Reggie Theus, one of the best players in program history and the former head man at New Mexico State; but he was largely responsible for BYU’s offensive attack that featured NPOY Jimmer Fredette the last several years, and he claims he wants to bring the “Runnin'” part back to the UNLV program (Lon Kruger’s teams were rather methodical).
In case you missed it, BYU’s Jimmer Fredettereceived the Wooden Award on Friday night in Los Angeles. With his receipt of the most prestigious men’s award now in tow, Fredette ended up winning all six of the major NPOY awards this season. This is the fourth time in the last five years that unanimity across all awards has occurred, with only Evan Turner and John Wall last season splitting awards as the sole exception.
Adam Zagoria reported on Sunday that Manhattan College had hired Louisville assistant Steve Masielloas its next head coach. The school had initially made an offer to LIU’s Jim Ferry, but they couldn’t figure out the financial terms, so the Jasper administration went with Masiello instead. He’ll have a five-year deal and a leg up on New York-area recruiting given his origins from the area (Westchester County) and the extensive amount of players that Louisville has pulled out of the region the last few years — most notably Earl Clark and Samardo Samuels. Speculation is that Pitino’s son, Richard Pitino, will return to Louisville from Florida to take Masiello’s place on the Cardinal staff.