Monday, November 2, 2009

MAAC Preview


Last year, this was Siena’s conference to lose from the outset of the season, and the Saints didn’t fail. There were some slip-ups along the way, but they won their first 12 league games en route to a regular-season title. Niagara finished in second, two games back at 14-4, while Rider finished in third at 12-6. No other teams were above .500 in league play, with two teams finishing at 9-9 and everyone else sporting a losing record. Siena won the conference tournament, with Niagara going to the NIT. The Saints defeated Ohio State in the first round to advance to the second round for the second straight season, before falling to Louisville in the second round. Can Siena get to the second weekend this season? Can anyone knock the Saints off their perch?

1. Siena: Despite the loss of Kenny Hasbrouck, the return of Edwin Ubiles, Ronald Moore and Ryan Rossiter clearly make the Saints the team to beat.
2. Niagara: The Purple Eagles are always a threat, and the tandem of Tyrone Lewis and Bilal Benn might be the best in the conference.
3. Rider: With the return of MAAC Player of the Year favorite Ryan Thimpson and three other double-figure scorers, the Broncs will be a factor.
4. Fairfield: The Stags return plenty of firepower from last season, including potential all-MAAC forward Greg Nero and a healthy Anthony Johnson.
5. Saint Peter's: The Peacocks have one of the conference's top backcourt duos in junior guards Wesley Jenkins and Nick Leon.
6. Loyola (Md.): The Greyhounds could be a sleeper behind super scorer Jamal Barney, guard Brett Harvey and Maryland transfer Shane Walker.
7. Manhattan: Look for the Jaspers to rely on the backcourt of all-conference candidate Darryl Crawford and JC transfer Rico Pickett.
8. Canisius: Five starters and three double-figure scorers return for the Golden Griffins, who struggled last season to a 4-14 finish.
9. Iona: Although the Gaels return four starters from last season, they will likely struggle despite the presence of emerging guard Scott Machado.
10. Marist: It looks like another potential return to the league cellar as the Red Foxes return no one who scored more than seven points per game.

Player of the Year:
 Ryan Thompson, G, Rider

All-Conference Team:
G- Ryan Thompson, Rider
G- Tyrone Lewis, Niagara
G/F- Edwin Ubiles, Siena 
G/F- Bilal Benn, Niagara
F- Alex Franklin, Siena

Second Team:
G- Ronald Moore, Siena
G- Jamal Barney, Loyola 
G- Frank Turner, Canisius
G- Wesley Jenkins, Saint Peter's 
F- Ryan Rossiter, Siena

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