Favorites: Loyola (Md.) has the potential to be a very good team in the conference. The Greyhounds return four starters from last season, and also bring in some quality players. It all starts with Gerald Brown, one of the best scorers in the country. Brown also led the conference in steals, and is a solid rebounder. He combines with Marquis Sullivan to form the best guard duo in the league. Brett Harvey started at the point last season, but Marshall transfer Joe Miles will push for a starting spot. Michael Tuck and Omari Israel are a good scoring forward combo, and Hassan Fofana is solid down low. Siena is a young team, with nine freshmen and sophomores. However, its best player is a junior, guard Kenny Hasbrouck. He can score in a variety of ways, and forms a very good backcourt with Ronald Moore, a good distributor. Tay Fisher provides leadership in the backcourt. Edwin Ubiles is an all-conference candidate on the wing, and Alex Franklin is poised for a big year up front. Vermont transfer Josh Duell will fight for a starting job immediately.
Contenders: Rider is home to the league’s best player, and one of the most underrated big men in the entire country, Jason Thompson. He put up 20 and 10 per game last season, and is also a great defender and shot-blocker. His brother, Ryan Thompson, is an all-around performer who can do a little of everything. In the backcourt, Harris Mansell leads the way. He is a terrific three-point shooter. Lamar Johnson is solid on the wing, while freshmen Justin Robison and Matt Griffin will fight for minutes. Marist loses Jared Jordan, one of the best point guards in the country, and shooter Will Whittington, but will still be in contention. The main reason is the inside-outside duo of Syracuse transfer Louis McCroskey and forward Ryan Stilphen. McCroskey is a very tough scorer to stop, while Stilphen is a good finisher and big man inside. Returning as a starter on the wing Ben Farmer, who is a solid shooter and scorer, while freshman Dejuan Goodwin will also make an impact. Forwards Ryan Schneider, Wilfred Benjamin, and Shae McNamara will fight for starting spots in the frontcourt.
Sleepers: Manhattan might have been even better this season, but all-conference forward Arturo Dubois decided to transfer over the summer. Now they are left with only one all-league frontcourt player, Devon Austin. He can score in different ways and is tough to guard. The strength of the team lies in its perimeter group. Antoine Pearson and Darryl Crawford both almost reached double-figures in points, and will be better this year. Patrick Bouli can do a little of everything, while Jamel Ferguson is solid. Niagara reached the NCAA Tournament last season, but loses four starters. Despite that, the Purple Eagles have one of the best players in the conference in Charron Fisher, a terrific scorer and rebounder. He and Tyrone Lewis, a sixth man extraordinaire last year, will be all-conference performers. Stanley Hodge will step up in the backcourt, and 6-10 big man Benson Egemonye will start down low. Newcomers will have to make an impact immediately, led by Anthony Nelson. Fairfield had a surprising season last year, going 10-8 in the conference, and the Stags return four starters from that team. The frontcourt is the team’s strength. Greg Nero is a good scorer and rebounder, while Anthony Johnson is poised for a very good season. Marty O’ Sullivan is also back to provide rebounding inside. Iowa State transfer Mike Evanovich will fight for minutes. In the backcourt, Jonathan Han returns to be a solid performer at the point. Devin Johnson and Herbie Allen will fight for minutes.
Rounding out the Pack: Canisius loses four starters from last season, and considering that team was only 6-12, it might not bode well for the year. However, the Golden Griffins return one of the best guards in the league in Frank Turner, the Co-Rookie of the Year in the MAAC last year. Pawel Malesa and Jovan Robison return in the backcourt, but freshman Elton Frazier was a Top 100 recruit and will make an impact. Up front, Shaun James is the lead returnee, while several newcomers round out the rotation. Iona, after its 1-17 campaign last season, is a long way removed from its 23-win, NCAA Tournament appearance two years ago. The backcourt is led by Kyle Camper, who missed nearly the entire season last year; Milan Prodanovic, a good scorer who gets to the basket; and De’Shaune Griffin. Up front, Dexter Gray is hoping to make a major impact, while Gary Springer is back from injury. Devon Clarke is another good forward. St. Peter’s will never get another player like Keydren Clark; the sooner it realizes that, it will be better off. Clark was one of the best scorers in NCAA history, and the Peacocks experienced a 12-win dropoff without him last season. This year, they could be better with the inside-outside duo of Raul Orta and Todd Sowell. Both players could be all-conference candidates. Another double-figure scorer also returns in Akeem Gooding, while Tim Spitler was a starter.
Prediction: The MAAC loses several stars in Jared Jordan, Will Whittington, Michael Haddix, Clif Brown, but returns guys like Jason Thompson, Charron Fisher, and Gerald Brown, some of the best players in the country at their respective positions. In terms of teams, the league will likely come down to Loyola (Md.) and Siena for the title. Both teams have star guards in Brown and Siena’s Kenny Hasbrouck, and all-conference players on the wing in Marquis Sullivan and Edwin Ubiles. However, the difference will be Loyola’s supporting cast—the Greyhounds have plenty of options offensively, and simply have more players that can make plays. Expect to see Loyola in the NCAA Tournament.
Player of the Year: Jason Thompson, F, Rider
G- Kenny Hasbrouck, Siena
G- Gerald Brown, Loyola (Md.)
F- Charron Fisher, Niagara
F- Jason Thompson, Rider
F- Devon Austin, Manhattan
G- Frank Turner, Canisius
G- Marquis Sullivan, Loyola (Md.)
G- Tyrone Lewis, Niagara
F- Edwin Ubiles, Siena
F- Todd Sowell, St. Peter’s