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Tag:Iona Gaels
Posted on: February 25, 2011 9:29 am
 

The Race for 2nd in the Metro Atlantic (MAAC)

We’re a week away from the beginning of March, and that means it time for the Madness to ensue. This also means that I am long overdue in giving the readers (all twelve of you) a healthy dose of Metro Atlantic (MAAC) Basketball information. And because writing about the Big East would give me a headache and be about as useful as fishing in a toilet bowl.

Anyway, we contacted our resident MAAC tiebreaker expert (my college roommate Norm) and he was able to come up with all the doomsday scenarios for tiebreaker hell. We’ll touch on that a little bit later, but right now we need to address the three-way tie for second in the MAAC standings. There is no fight for first anymore since the Fairfield Stags wrapped that up last week. (And congratulations to Ed Cooley and his Stags, who have had recent seasons diminished by injuries, illnesses and other problems that not once have detered their competitiveness in the MAAC.)

Yes, that means the hosts of this year’s MAAC Tournament, being held in Bridgeport, CT, are the top seed, a trend that this former Rider Bronc can’t wait to see end when the tournament moves to Springfield, Mass in 2012.

(Moving the MAAC Tourament to Springfield, Mass., in my opinion, is a terrible idea. But considering Rider’s recent history against top-seeded hosts in MAAC Finals, I’m willing to try anything.)

ST. PETER’S PEACOCKS (17-11, 11-5 MAAC)

Surprisingly, the Peacocks control their own destiny in the MAAC. If they win out vs. Iona and at Rider they will pass both in the standings for second place. Their first game at home against Iona is almost like a seeding semi-final. The Peacocks need a win otherwise they will have been swept 2-0 by the Gaels and Iona would have a head-to-head tiebreaker. If St. Peter’s losses to Iona but beats Rider in the finale, then they would hold have swept the Broncs and hold that ever important head-to-head over Rider.

RIDER BRONCS (20-9, 11-5 MAAC)

If the win out at Marist and vs. St. Peter’s they’ll hold the first tiebreaker in the MAAC if they are tied with anyone at the end of the year. This is by virtue of their win at Fairfield on Super Bowl Sunday in a very confusing set of MAAC tiebreakers. However, they aren’t in full control of their own destiny. They need Iona to lose one of its remaining games. Like if St. Peter’s beats Iona and Rider beats Marist on Friday, it will set up a defacto championship for the second seed in Bridgeport, CT the following week. Rider also has the easiest game on the schedule this weekend facing last place Marist.

IONA GAELS (18-10, 11-5 MAAC)

Iona is very much in the same boat as St. Peter’s. They need wins against St. Peter’s and Fairfield for the following reasons: to sweep the Peacocks and to equal Rider’s tiebreaker by beating the Stags. If that happens, then Iona could be in the driver’s seat for the second seed. But that leads us to…

TIEBREAKER HELL

Okay, my resident Metro Atlantic tiebreaking expert actually thought about this for five minutes. Which means this is bad. Very bad. Consider this: Rider and Iona go 2-0 this weekend, finishing St. Peter’s at 11-7 in conference. Rider and Iona would be tied at 13-5, having split their season series and each beating Fairfield once. The next tiebreaker would be the fourth place team, which would be at least St. Peter’s but also could be Loyola (MD) if they win both games in Buffalo this weekend. If Loyola loses one of its games, Iona wins the tiebreaker for second by virtue of its sweep of the Peacocks. If Loyola and St. Peter’s finish tied, both Iona and Rider finished 3-1 against these teams (Rider swept Loyola, split with St. Peter’s, vice virsa for Iona). So what’s the next tiebreaker…well…uhhh…skipping all the way down to the end of it, our expert believes that a coin toss could be possible. And here’s the scary part. That scenario above, is very feasible.

So there you have it, the first Metro Atlantic entry is in the books. Many more to come from your blogging leader of MAAC Basketball. And I can actually say that.

Posted on: March 29, 2010 12:20 pm
 

MAAC Leads Early Coaching Carousel

Two of the first "BCS/Power" conference teams with coaching vacancies have filled them, with coaches from the Metro Atlantic. Perhaps the most stunning is the Iowa Hawkeyes prying Fran McCaffery away from Siena (and perhaps the St. John's and Seton Hall openings in the greater NY area). Seton Hall fired former Manhattan Jasper coach Bobby Gonzalez after four years and have replaced him with 2010 MAAC Coach of the Year, Kevin Willard of Iona.

First, the most suprising of the moves, McCaffery to Iona. McCaffery has been rumored to fill numorous jobs, assuming that he would leave MAAC powerhouse Siena, who have three NCAA appearances and two NCAA wins in three years. It seemed a more natural fit for McCaffery to take one of the vacant Big East jobs in the NY area, Seton Hall or St. John's, especially since he has recruiting ties to the area. However, taking the Iowa job might have been the right move. I think it is much easier to finish in the top half of the Big Ten (and making the NCAAs) than it would be to finish in the top half of the Big East (and making the NCAAs).

Think about it. At St. John's or Seton Hall, you have to compete not only with about 6 (or more) basketball powerhouses and even more "bubble teams" that are consistently competitive throughout the years. Iowa had a bad few years under Todd Lickliter, who replaced current New Mexico coach Steve Alford in 2007 after he left for the Lobos job. Personally, I think that this is a great hire for Iowa from a basketball sense. Certainly McCaffery will need a few recruiting assistants for the unfamiliar midwest region, but that can be solved. Certainly I think that Iowa can compete in the Big Ten, where Minnesota was one of the last teams in to the NCAAs and Illinois one of the last teams out.

Next, Kevin Willard is an up and comer and pretty much the polar opposite of the recently released Bobby Gonzalez. (I told you at Rider Bobby, to get off our court. You didn't listen. Whoops, sorry, conditioned response.) Willard very quickly turned around an Iona program that had a two win season a few years ago, and a 12-win season in Willard's first year. Also likely to be hired is Willard's top assistant/recruiter, Shaheen Holloway, a former Seton Hall point guard.

Willard might not be the big-name hire Pirate fans wanted, but I think Hall has a good coach on their bench. Willard's father is a former head coach and currently Rick Pitino's top assistant at Louisville. Plus, Willard is again a much more calming force and will not blow a gasket like a former Pirates coach. Remember, Seton Hall wasn't that far off this season. I think Gonzalez's firing was more to due with Hall's off the court issues and his coaching antics (7 Tech fouls this year). Even if Willard cleans up Seton Hall's program, that would be considered a positive right now. Seton Hall certainly has a good chance at a NCAA tourney run in the next few seasons.

And what about Gonzalez's coaching search. I heard on SNY yesterday that he was interested in the Hofstra job, but the people at the Pride said that he is not being considered for the position. Excellent. Never liked him.

Posted on: March 7, 2010 10:49 am
 

MAAC Quarters Update - Niagara, Fairfield Advance

The Metro Atlantic quarterfinals are over, which means today's semifinals are set and ready to go. I went 4-for-4 yesterday in my predictions, picking both "upsets" in Rider and Niagara. But if you talk to persons familiar with the MAAC, they know those wins weren't upsets, but just good matchups between two teams. So let's wrap up the last two quarterfinals and prepare for a great day of action in Albany, NY that also includes the women's final.

Fairfield 67, Canisus 57

Derek Needham, MAAC Rookie of the Year, lead the Fairfield Stags with 29 points as they held off the Canisus Golden Griffins. Fairfield got out to a huge lead at the half, 35-14, using a late run to pad their advantange. The Griffs clawed back in the 2nd half, lead by Greg Logins 20 point, 11 rebound preformance and star Frank Turner's 15. Canisus got off to a big run to start the second half and were able to get the deficit to single digits, but no closer than five points.

Canisus' Frank turner was ejected late in the 2nd half for a flagrant technical on Needham, probably killing any hope of a Griffs comeback. Fairfield was not good from the free throw line, hitting just 55 percent (11-20).

Niagara 68, Iona 64

Probably the best game of the night (and early morning) as this back and forth contest went down to the wire. Tyrone Lewis lead the Purple Eagles with 21 points and 10 rebounds and Bilal Benn also had a double-double with 16 points and 11 boards. A three pointer by Lewis gave Niagara the lead and they hit 12-14 free throws in the final 90 seconds. That three by Lewis was the only FG Niagara scored in the final minutes, as their free throw shooting was enough to hold off Iona. The Gaels' Scott Machado had 17 points on 4-14 shooting from the field. Iona's Alejo Rodriguez added a double-double.

In the end, it was Niagara's experience that prevailed over Iona's youth. Iona was picked 9th in the preseason polls after a dismal 08-09 season, so this was a vast improvment for them and MAAC Coach of the Year Kevin Willard (son of former Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard). Machado tried to put the Gaels' on his capable shoulders, but need more help from his supporting cast late to finish the comeback effort.

I'll be back later with a look at the semi-finals and a quick recap of the women's tournament when that finishes early this afternoon.
Posted on: March 6, 2010 2:13 pm
 

Metro Atlantic (MAAC) Quarterfinal Preview

Sorry for not getting this up sooner, but I've been busy. So here are the quick previews for each game and a player to keep on eye out throughout the day.

No. 5 Rider vs. No. 4 St. Peter's - 2:30 PM

This could be the best game of the bunch as these two in-state rivals square off as it starts the quarterfinal round for the MAACs up in Albany.
Battle to Watch: Mike Ringgold (RID) vs. Ryan Bacon (SPC) in the paint. Both players are double-double threats.
Player to Watch: Ryan Thompson (RID) - Preseason MAAC player of the Year and the 2nd leading scorer in the conference.

No. 9 Manhattan vs. No. 1 Siena - 4:30 PM

Manhattan came out with one of its best games of the season yesterday. They have a quick turnaround, playing less than 24 hours ago and are playing the best team in the MAAC, the Siena Saints on their home floor.
Battle to Watch: Balanced Scoring - Siena has four players who average double-digit points, Manhattan only has two.
Player to Watch: Rico Pickett (MANH) - Did I mention he dropped 33 yesterday?

No. 7 Canisus vs. No. 2 Fairfield - 7:30 PM

Upstart Canisus takes on second-seeded Fairfield. This isn't an easy out for the Stags and the Griffs are looking for an upset and revenge for a season sweep.
Battle to Watch: Frank Turner (CAN) vs. Fairfield - Can the Stags slow down the Griff's star?
Player to Watch: Anthony Johnson (FAIR) - Stags leading rebounder and second in scoring this season.

No. 6 Niagara vs. No. 3 Iona - 10:30 PM
Another solid game pits the talented Purple Eagles against the suprising Gaels. Most preseason polls probably had these teams reversed in the standings, so it could be a great game.
Battle to Watch: Rebounding - Bilal Benn (NIAG) is one of the best rebounders for the league-leading board hogging Eagles.
Player to Watch: Tyrone Lewis (NIAG) - He's the best scorer for Niagara and third best in the conference. Scott Machado (IONA) leads the balanced Gaels' attack.

Posted on: March 5, 2010 11:46 am
Edited on: March 5, 2010 11:55 am
 

2010 Metro Atlantic (MAAC) Tournament Preview

2010 MAAC Tournament
Albany, NY - Times Union Center (8,065 cap.)

Ahhh...March Madness is once again upon us and that means an entire month in front of the TV watching college basketball. This is my favorite time of year, it beats the Super Bowl and NFL playoffs, baseball and the World Series, everything. Maybe it's the brackets. Maybe it's the upsets. Maybe it's just the best post-season format in sports (and adding thirty teams would kill it, but that's for another day).

Either way, I get 5 weeks of great college basketball with the Metro Atlantic tourney this weekend, the Big East tourney next week and the NCAA tourney from mid-March to April. Okay, so not everyone cares about the MAAC tournament, but the Big East tournament is going to have huge bubble implications and well, the NCAA tournament is just great. Especially the first weekend with the first two rounds. Nothing can top that week.

So, without further ado, my Metro Atlantic tournament preview...

MAAC Standings
Brackets

The bottom four in the standings will play (7v10 / 8v9) Friday in the first round. Those teams will be reseeded, the lowest seed playing No. 1 Siena and the higher playing No. 2 Fairfield in the quarterfinals. The other two quarterfinals are set all ready set (3 Iona-6 Niagara / 4 St. Peters- 6 Rider).

The Favorite - No. 1 Siena

I am getting sick of this team. But that's what happens when you're dominating everyone in conference play. No one can beat these guys. It's the best team and program in the conference. Fran McCaffery's four-headed monster of Alex Franklin, Edwin Ubiles, Ryan Rossiter and Clarence Jackson (14 ppg or higher) have lead Siena to another regular season MAAC title and they're looking for their third consectutive NCAA tournament berth. But they'll likely need to win the tournament, as their resume lacks good non-conference wins. Either way, they're playing at home where they're 14-0 this season and are the odds on favorites to win.

The Contenders - No. 2 Fairfield, No. 5 Rider, No. 6 Niagara

Could Iona and St. Peter's (ranked 3 and 4 respectively) make noise in the MAACs, absolutely, but I wouldn't be picking them. Fairfield has quietly had the second best season in the conference, and they've been quietly good for a few years now. Ed Cooley's Stags have endured personnel problems, injuries and a host of other things in recent years and they still keep winning. Fairfield played Siena tough this year, though they lost both times, Siena had to hold on for a two-point victory in Albany on Feb. 8.

Niagara and Rider were pre-season favorites to contend with Siena for the MAAC title. Though they both didn't have great seasons, both overall and in the MAAC, both teams have the talent to beat Siena. Niagara actually has done it, an 87-74 home win Feb. 12. Niagara however lost the tie-breaker with Rider for the 5th seed since Rider swept the season series with the Purple Eagles. Personally, I'd want to be on the other half of the bracket, awaay from Siena, but that's because Siena crushed Rider in both meetings 84-62 and 80-54 this season. Rider however does have the MAAC's best non-conference win, at Miss. St, who was ranked 19th to open the season.

Cinderella Story - No. 7 Canisus

If you're looking for a team to win from the MAAC's bottom four and first round teams, the Griffs are your best bet. They'll have to beat hapless Marist (1-28) and then Fairfield to make the semifinals. Canisus lost both games to Fairfield this year, but by a total of only 8 points.

Quarterfinal to Watch - No. 5 Rider vs. No. 4 St. Peter's

These two in-state rivals split their season series, with each team winning on the other's home court. And these two student fan bases don't need much of a reason to get excited for this game. Only bad news - winner plays Siena.

MAAC Tournament Final That You Want To See... No. 2 Fairfield vs. No. 1 Siena

Okay, I know that chalk isn't all that exciting, but Fairfield has the best resume against Siena, even with two losses. They've been the only team to threaten Siena's home court this season, where the Saints are undefeated. For a national TV stage, these are the two best teams in the MAAC this season. Siena's NCAA resume probably won't be enough to make it into the big dance, so they'll need a MAAC tournament title to seal their fourth trip to the big dance.

PREDICTIONS

First Round:
[7] Canisus, [8] Loyola MD
Quarters: [1] Siena - [5] Rider, [2] Fairfield - [6] Niagara
Semisfinals: [1] Siena - [2] Fairfield
MAAC Title: [1] Siena

Siena is just too good right now at home. Thankfully, the MAAC tournament is moving to Springfield, Mass for the 2012 MAAC tournament, a nuetral site for all Metro Atlantic teams. The 2011 Tournament will take place in Bridgeport, CT and the Arena at Harbor Yard, the off-campus home of the Fairfield Stags. Siena is the class of the Metro Atlantic right now and I don't expect that to change anytime soon. Regardless, even if Siena losses, they have earned an automatic bid to the NIT by virtue of their regular season MAAC title.

I'll be around all weekend blogging about the MAAC before focusing on the Big East next week. And now to channel my inner Dick Vitale..

March Madness is here BABY!!! Greatest time of the year!!!

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com