Monday, October 31, 2011
Former Siena College standout 6-6 swingman Edwin Ubiles was a key member of the Puerto Rico team that captured its title with a 74-72 victory over Mexico Sunday.
Ubiles scored six points, had seven redounds, two steals, two assists, blocked a shot and had only one turnover in 34 minutes.
Ubiles played at Siena from 2006-07 through 2009-10, helped the Saints advance to the NCAA tournament in his last three seasons and is the program's third all-time leading scorer with 1,939 career points.
Ubiles was Puerto Rico's fourth-leading scorer in the Pan-Am games, averaging 9.8 points (22 of 41 shooting), and its second-leading rebounder (5.2) while playing an average of 26.4 minutes per game.
Two of his Puerto Rico teammates are current NBA players. J.J. Barea, a graduate of Northeastern,, was a key reserve for last season's Dallas Mavericks' team that won the 2010-11 NBA title. Also, Renaldo Balkman (28 points, 12 rebounds in the Pan-Am championship game) is on the New York Knicks' roster.
Ubiles had hoped to be drafted, either by the NBA or the USDBL, after his Siena career. Instead, he suffered a stress fracture in his right shin in June, 2010, and asked that his name be withdrawn from the USDBL's draft list.
Ubiles was slow to recover from the injury, but resumed workouts earlier this year culminating with his selection to the Puerto Rico team for the Pan Am Games.
Although he was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Poughkeepsie, he was eligible for the Puerto Rico team because his paternal grandparents are Puerto Rican.
"I feel it's a great opportunity," Ubiles said, prior to the Games. "I've been out for pretty much a year now. I think it'll be a good opportunity for me to showcase my talent and get back on my feet. I think there'll be a lot of people watching."
Ubiles has indicated he would be open to playing in Europe this year, but hopes to get an invitation to play in an NBA preseason camp next season.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
-THE NIAGARA men might not contend for a league title this year, but head coach Joe Mihalich believes a return to that level isn’t too far off for his team. He has plenty of reasons to be otpmistic, particularly with 6-foot-3 Juan'ya Green, a freshman guard looking good in the preseason; and Josh Turner, a 6-5 freshman swingman who was recruited at a higher level, becoming eligible after the first semester.
- THE RIDER men, consistently solid in recent years, are picked for fourth place in this season’s preseason poll of coaches, and coach Tommy Dempsey doesn’t mind that at all. “I like being under the radar a little,” said Dempsey. The program has three starters returning, along with transfer Jeff Jones (Virginia), who Dempsey thinks is going to have a significant impact for the Broncs this season. One of the starters is 6-7 forward Novar Gadson, a preseason first-team all-MAAC pick. And, another is 6-7 forward Danny Stewart, last year's conference Rookie of the Year.
- TWO TRANSFERS to MAAC programs had their “hardship” waivers approved by the NCAA recently and are immediately eligible this season without having to sit out the traditional year required for a transfer. That situation applies to Iona’s Lamont “Momo” Jones, a guard who played two seasons at Arizona previously, and Jordan Latham, a forward who played his freshman season at Xavier. Jones has already had considerable success at a high levely and is widely hyped as he joins the Gaels. But, Latham? While he had a limited role for his Atlantic 10 Conference team a year ago, Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos believes Latham will help his program immediately. “He’s not going to be a big scorer for us this year, but he’s a true center (6-foot-8, 245 pounds). He’ll be our version of Kendrick Perkins.”
- CORIELLE YARDE of Marist is the women’s preseason player of the year, and this blog touts Loyola’s Katie Sheahin as a potential contender for that post-season honor. But Iona coach Tony Bozzella has another candidate, his own senior forward Kristina Ford. “She’s going to be the best player in the league this season,” said Bozzella. “I know Yarde is good, but you can’t believe how much better Kristina has gotten since last season. I feel strongly that she’ll be the league’s best player.” Ford, a first-team preseason all-MAAC pick, was pretty good last season as a junior, averaging 12.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game.
- THE IONA women look to return to the upper echelon of the conference’s standings, not only because Ford but also with the return of fifth-year senior point guard Suzi Fregosi, a true pass-first floor general, who suffered an early season hip injury last year and never returned. “She has looked great in the preseason,” said Bozzella. “She looks like she did before she got hurt.” Iona finished 11-20 overall last season after five straight years of at least 18 overall victories.
- THIS BLOG blog has already made several references about the possibility of Manhattan’s junior swingman George Beamon leading the conference in scoring this year, and support for that belief came from his coach, Steve Masiello. “He is absolutely ready to have a break-out season,” said Masiello, about Beamon.
- THERE IS at least some optimism around the Marist men's program, which has suffered through some tough times of late, including a 7-27 finish last season. It might not happen this year, but an exciting young backcourt has head coach Chuck Martin thinking positively about the program’s future. That would be a pair of incoming freshmen, 6-5 swingman Chavaughn Lewis and 5-8 point guard Isaiah Morton, both of whom should get plenty of playing time this season. And, Marist also has an emerging big man in 6-10 sophomore Adam Kemp, who was off to a good first season last year before an injury ended his year after 16 games. Kemp is one of the league’s few true centers.
- A QUICK assessment from Marist women’s coach Brian Giorgis about his team’s preseason as it chases its seventh straight league title: “We’re not nearly as big as we have been in the past,” said Giorgis. “But, except for Canisius, there aren’t a lot of big teams in the league.” Marist lost 6-4 forward Kate Oliver, who transferred out of the program, and essentially replaces her with 6-1 transfer Kristina Danella (from UMass). “She started slow for us in the preseason, but has really come on in our last few practices.”
- ONLY ONE coach didn't attend Tuesday's Preseason Awards Show in Springfield, Mass., and she had a good excuse. Niagara coach Kendra Faustin gave birth to a baby this weekend.
- SAINT PETER'S men's coach John Dunne sounded optimistic about his team's chances to be competitive again this season, despite the loss of four starters from the squad that advanced to the NCAA tournament a year ago. "We've got some nice players coming in," said Dunne. "We'll need Karee Ferguson (a 6-7 junior college transfer) and Chris Prescott (a transfer from St. Joseph's) to pick up a lot of our scoring." The Peacocks might also be using 6-11 freshman center Gaetano Spero extensively this season. "He only weights 200 pounds right now, and there are some things he can't do yet," said Dunne. "But, he's not a `project.' He can rebound and block shots right now."
The latest oversight is Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos, who was an assistant coach with the 2001-02 Maryland team that captured that season's national championship. Thanks to Ryan Eigenbrode, Loyola's director of athletic communications, for bringing that omission to our attention.
And, we'll pause for a moment while the hoopscribe slaps himself in the back of the head, since a portion of Patsos' route to that season's national championship was personally witnessed.
That year Maryland's path through the NCAA tournament included a first-round victory over Siena, which yours truly attended and took note of Patsos via game programs/press notes. And, yes, your hoopscribe had certainly written in past bloggings and in stories elsewhere about Patsos and his Greyhound program that he was on the staff for a national championship.
His omission this time was merely a momentary brain cramp, if you will. And, thanks to Ryan Eigenbrode for jogging the memory banks.
For those keeping track, it means Loyola has a national championship winner (Patsos) directing its men's program and an NBA champion (Keith Booth) serving as an assistant within its women's program.
And, the very strong feeling here is that having such high-level ring-holders in a specific school's men's and women's MAAC programs has never before occurred.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
That would be first-year Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, who earned a national championship ring as a member of the 1997-98 national championship team at Kentucky as a reserve guard. This blogger had overlooked Masiello when writing about ring winners.
Earlier this week, in a post about Keith Booth joining the staff of the Loyola women's team, we noted that Booth is the possessor of an NBA championship ring from the 1997-98 season when he was a member of the Chicago Bulls.
In that post we noted that two others currently on MAAC sidelines also had NCAA championship rings. Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro has one from his work as a Villanova assistant coach from the 1984-85 season.
And, Manhattan assistant coach Scott Padgett has one from when he played at Kentucky in the 1997-98 season.
Ironically, Padgett and Masiello were teammates on the 1997-98 national championship Kentucky team and, now, they are reunited as coaches at Manhattan.
- Derek Needham, guard, Fairfield
- Ryan Olander, center, Fairfield
- Mike Glover, forward, Iona
- Scott Machado, guard, Iona
- Novar Gadson, forward, Rider
- Taryn Johnson, forward, Fairfield
- Kristina Ford, forward, Iona
- Miriam McKenzie, forward, Loyola
- Katie Sheahin, guard, Loyola
- Corielle Yard, guard, Marist
- Jamie Ruttle, forward, Canisius
- Brandy Gang, forward, Marist
- Christina Centeno, guard, Siena
- Lindsey Loutsenhizer, forward, Manhattan
- Kate Linney, guard, Fairfield
- Desiree Pina, guard, Fairfield
- Monica Roeder, guard, Manhattan
- Kayla Stroman, guard, Niagara
- Jynae Judson, forward, Saint Peter's
- Maja Gerlyng, guard, Siena
PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Corielle Yard, Marist.
ANALYSIS: It's a very talented top five, and no arguments here. Yard is a semi-obvious choice for Player of the Year, but it's not a clear-cut situation. Sheahin, a do-everything point guard at Loyola, should be a strong contender as might be much-improved Kristina Ford at Iona.
We will point to two players who, in this blogger's opinion, will crack the post-season all-star teams: Iona's Suzi Fregosi and Siena's Lily Grinci.
Fregosi, a pass-first true point guard, missed most of last season with an injury. She is said to be at full strength once again, and no player is better at directing an offense than she has been in the past.
Grinci had a big summer on Siena's trip to Italy and Denmark, averaging 17.5 points and 8.5 rebounds in four games. She has flashed all-league ability in her first two seasons at Siena, just not enough of them as she has battled injuries. If she stays healthy all year, she has all-league talent.
1. Iona (8) 97
2. Fairfield (2) 92
3. Loyola 76
4. Rider 71
5. Saint Peter's 52
6. Siena 44
7. Niagara 42
8. Manhattan 33
9. Canisius 25
10. Marist 18
ANALYSIS: No surprise here, either, about the league's top pick. And, coaches did their voting before the recent NCAA ruling that granted Arizona transfer guard Lamont "Momo" Jones immediate eligibility at Iona.
But the race shouldn't be a runaway. Defending regular-season champs Fairfield has three starters returning, plus replacements via the transfer route that could surpass the accomplishments of the two players lost to graduation from a year ago.
It's enough for league commissioner Rich Ensor to be justifiably speculating that this could be a rare year that the conference has an at-large invitee to the NCAA tournament, along with its automatic representative.
But the sentiment here is that the gap between the top two teams and the next two, if not the next three, teams isn't as large as the voting indicates. Iona and Fairfield ot every first- or second-place vote except one by league coaches.
The lone second-place vote that didn't go to Iona or Fairfield went to preseason No. 3 Loyola, which recently got a positive NCAA ruling on power forward Jordan Latham, a 6-8 bruiser, who becomes immediately eligiblel and joins an already strong front line.
Rider, too, has a strong returning class plus a much-hyped transfer in guard Jeff Jones, formerly at Virginia.
Surprise teams? There could be a few, most-notably Rider, Saint Peter's and, eventually, Niagara.
Jones should give Rider some much needed firepower on a team that already had pretty much everything else it needed.
Saint Peter's, which won last season's post-season tournament to advance to the NCAA's, has some quality new pieces in place, including offensive-minded junior college transfer 6-7 forward Karee Ferguson and a quality transfer in guard Chris Prescott (formerly at St. Joseph's).
And, Niagara has just about everyone of significance returning, including redshirt freshman guard Antoine Mason, who averaged 16.7 points through three games last season before a foot injury kept him out the remainder of last season. And, two of the team's better players are just joining the program. Coach Joe Mihalich raves about freshman guard Juan'ya Green. And, then, there's 6-5 freshman swingman Josh Turner, who was recruited by several A-10 programs, who was a late addition to Niagara but doesn't become eligible, due to academic issues, until after the first semester. If the Purple Eales can handle the transition of several new players, they could be a late-season factor.
So, without further delay, we'll start with the coaches' predictions for how women's teams will finish.
In order, first-place votes in parenthesis and including total points based on 10 points for a first-place vote to one for a last-place vote....
1. Marist (10) 100
2. Loyola 84
3. Fairfield 78
4. Manhtattan 64
5. Iona 59
6. Canisius 55
7. Siena 46
T8. Saing Peter's 23
T8. Rider 23
10. Niagara 18
ANALYSIS: Hard to argue against six-time defending league champion Marist winning once again, but the thought here is that it has gotten too easily just to automatically vote the Red Foxes No. 1 and, then, move on.
The league appears far more balanced, with Marist getting a greater challenge from any number of teams ... on a given night your hoopscribe believes teams picked from No. 2 to No. 7 can be competitive this season.
Marist not only lost last year's Player of the Year (Erica Allenspach to graduation), but saw emerging 6-4 star Kate Oliver transfer out of the program. The Red Foxes won't be as tall as in recent seasons, and they'll be relying on several former role players to step up.
The belief here is that Loyola, with two of the better players in the confere3nce in junior point guard Katie Sheahin and senior small forward Miriam McKenzie, is the most-likely team to be able to seriously challenge Marist this coming season.
Surprise teams? We'll go with Iona (picked for fifth place) and Siena (picked for seventh).
The Gaels not only have one of the conference's best players in forward Kristina Ford, but also can count on the return to form of senior point guard Suzi Fregosi (out most of last season with a hip injury), who might be the best pass-first floor general in the conference.
Siena has standout perimeter seniors in Christina Centeno and Maya Gerlyng, a potential all-league caliber player in junior forward Lily Grinci, who battled injuries her first two seasons, and a six-member sophomore class that appears to have made major strides since a year ago.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Keith Booth, a former All-American at Maryland, has joined the coaching staff of the women's team at Loyola, and becomes one of just a select few on conference sidelines that can show off a championship ring.
Booth's is an NBA World Championship ring earned when he was a member of the 1997-97 Chicago Bulls' team that was led by Michael Jordan.
Booth joines second-year Manhattan assistant Scott Padgett as players with championship rings on MAAC sidelines. Padgett played at Kentucky where he was a member of the Wildcats' 1998 national championship team.
And, there's one conference coach with a national championship ring earned for his sideline work. Second-year Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro was an assistant on Villanova's staff when that program won the 1985 national championship. Buonaguro actually devised the scouting report Villanova used to upset Georgetown in that memorable championship ame.
Booth, though, is believed to be the only former NBA title winner currently on a MAAC sideline.
"We are ecstatic to have Keith Booth join our Loyola women's basketball program and excited that he is able to return home to Baltimore to continue his coaching career," said Joe Logan, head coach of the Greyhounds' women's program.
Booth, a Baltimore native, spent the last seven seasons as an assistant coach with the men's basketball team at the University of Maryland under Head Coach Gary Williams, who retired after last season.
In his time at Maryland from 2004-2011, the Terrapins won no fewer than 19 games and reached the NCAA Tournament three times. Booth assisted with the daily operations of the men's basketball program, including recruiting, advance scouting, player development and game preparation.
"Keith brings with him a unique perspective, which I am looking forward to and I know our whole program will benefit from," Logan said.
As a player at the University of Maryland, Booth led the Terrapins to four NCAA Tournaments, including a pair of Sweet Sixteen appearances, and in 1994 began Maryland's streak of 11 consecutive NCAA berths that ran from 1994 to 2004.
Current Loyola head men's basketball coach, Jimmy Patsos, was an assistant coach at Maryland and helped in the recruiting of Booth.
In his senior season at Maryland, Booth led the Terps in scoring (19.5 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg) and steals (2.0 spg) and is still Maryland's all-time leader in free throws made (576). Booth finished his impressive career at Maryland among the Terps' all-time leaders in scoring (9th, 1,776 points), rebounding (6th, 916 points), steals (5th, 193) and is one of 15 players to have his jersey honored above the Terps' home court at Comcast Center.
In October 2008, Booth was inducted into the University of Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame. In 2010, Booth represented Maryland as one of the ACC Basketball Legends honored at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, N.C.
After his career at Maryland, Booth was a first round draft pick of the Chicago Bulls in 1997, taken as the 28th selection overall. Booth was a member of the 1998 Chicago Bulls NBA World Championship team led by Michael Jordan.
"Keith's accomplishments speak for themselves," said Logan. "He has won at every level and we are looking forward to him developing our players into winners both on and off the court."
Friday, October 21, 2011
And, now, the question becomes just how good can Iona become?
We'll speculate a little on that, below.
Jones played the last two seasons at Arizona and averaged 9.7 points and 2.4 assists per game there last year. The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA tournament's round of eight before losing to eventual national champion UConn.
Arizona gave the Huskies their toughest match in the tournament, a 65-63 decision. Jones played 27 minutes in that game and had eight points, two assists and zero turnovers.
"I'd like to thank the tireless work of many people at Iona including my staff and our compliance administrators for their assistance in preparing the waiver," said second-year head coach Tim Cluess, in a release issued by Iona. "The NCAA is also to be commended for its due diligence in the decision making process to allow Momo to play."
Jones transferred from Arizona to be nearer to his Harlem, NY home, his family and his ailing grandmother.
"Family comes first," said Jones, in the Iona press release. "I'm excited to have the opportunity to play at Iona College this year with some tremendous players that I've known for a while, but in the end, I'm happy to be home and happy to be able to help my family through this tough time. I'm grateful to the NCAA for granting the waiver which allows me to be nearer to my family and to be able to complete my degree in two (more) years instead of three."
How good is Jones? He was ranked as the No. 68 overall prospect in the country and the No. 11 point guard by rivals.com to go with a scout grade of 88 by ESPN when he was a senior at Oak Hill Academy. There, he averaged 21.3 points and 8.0 assists per game as a senior in leading Oak Hill Academy to a 41-1 record.
Jones certainly is an "elite" caliber player with the type individual talent that rarely appears on the roster of a MAAC team. And, Iona was already loaded before the NCAA ruled that he could play this year.
The Gaels already were the preseason pick to win the MAAC's regular-season championship of every national college basketball preview publication. Their top two players, forward Michael Glover and point guard Scott Machado, are among the conference's top performers.
Another transfer, 6-1 junior Ra'shad James (from Division II St. Thomas Aquinas) was said to often be the best guard on the court for Iona during practices last season as he sat out the traditional redshirt year.
Also back is 6-4 senior sniper Kyle Smyth, 6-3 sophomore guard Sean Armond and 5-11 senior Jermel Jenkins, although Jenkins' role is in question as he recovers from a hand injury.
In addition to Glover up front, the Gaels added 6-7 junior forward Nyandigisi "Digs" Moikubo, a transfer from Cochise (Ariz.) Junior College, where he averaged 15.3 points and 9.3 rebounds last season; and, 6-7 junior forward Taaj Ridley, a 6-7 transfer from Lawson State (Ala.) Junior College where he averaged 15.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Iona was already expected to be the best team in the conference this year, but the addition of Jones raises the bar even more.
And, maybe, it's time to look at how good Iona can be not only this season but historically.
The talent in place has the potential to lift the Gaels into a MAAC stratosphere occupied only by two programs in the previous 30 years of the conference, former league member La Salle of 1989-90 vintage and Siena of 2009-10.
The 1989-90 La Salle team is universally viewed as the best team the MAAC has ever had. Hard to argue that point considering the Explorers had three future NBA players in 6-7 forward Lionel Simmons (a senior that season), 6-3 guard Doug Overton (a junior) and 5-11 guard Randy Woods (a sophomore). It also had an underrated 6-6 small forward in Jack Hurd (a sophomore).
That team finished 30-2 with its only losses to Loyola Marymount early in the regular season and, then, a 79-75 setback to Clemson in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Simmons finished with 3,217 career points and 1,429 rebounds and became the first college player to eclipse career totals of 3,000 points and 1,100 rebounds. Woods finished with 1,811 career points, Overton with 1,795 and Hurd with 1,661.
That team was also the only one to complete a perfect MAAC season, compiling a 16-0 record since the league's schedule expanded to at least 16 games in 1989 (the 1987-88 La Salle team was also perfect with a 14-0 league record).
How dominant was La Salle in 1989-90? It was an achievement for a conference opponent to lose by a single-digit margin, and only two (Holy Cross and Saint Peter's) managed it. In regular-season play the Explorers won league games by an average margin of 20.1 points, and followed that up with three MAAC tournament wins of 30, 16 and 10 points.
The only team in this blogger's memory that remotely compared was the 2009-10 Siena team that finished 17-1 in conference games. But, those Saints were a very good mid-major level team. The 1989-90 La Salle squad was talented enough to rank with nearly anyone on a national level.
So, how good is the current Iona team?
Let's start in the backcourt. Its combination of Machado and Jones could potentially be the second-best pairing in league history behind only, in this hoopscribe's opinion, La Salle's guard tandem of Overton and Woods.
Overall, adding James, Armond, Smyth and, possibly, Jenkins if he's healthy ... no team in conference history has had such a deep, talented perimeter group.
Iona's advance to the upper level of all-time MAAC teams will depend on the contributions of its inside players. Glover, arguably the conference's best player, is a given. How much Moikubo and Ridley can contribute will eventually determine just how good Iona can be.
But, there's little doubt right now that Iona, with the addition of Jones, is even more a clear-cut preseason favorite as this year's best MAAC team.
And, now begins a quest for more ... a season that could rank among the conference's best of all time.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Up now ...
The Midhipmen were 6-8 in the Patriot League last season and 11-20 overall. They are picked for sixth in the eight-team conference this season. Top players are 6-4 senior swingman Jordan Sugars (16.0 points, 6.0 rebounds) and 6-7 sophomore forward J.J. Avila (11.5, 5.3). Sugars needs 11 more rebounds to become the ninth player in the program's history with career totals of 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. Avila was last season's Rookie of the Year in the Patriot League. Navy also has a new coach in former Penn State head man Ed DeChellis.
11/19 at Mount St. Mary's (Md.)
The Mountaineers finished 9-9 in the Northeast Conference last season and 11-21 overall. They're picked for sixth in the 12-team conference this season. Six of the team's top seven players return, including point guard Lamar Trice (13.3 points, 2.9 assists) and off-guard Julian Norfleet (9.2 points). Head coach is Robert Burke, a former Siena assistant under Paul Hewitt (1997-98 through 1999-00).
11/21 St. Bonaventure
The Bonnies finished 8-8 in the Atlantic 10 Conference and 16-15 overall last season. They are picked to finish fifth in the 14-team conference this season. Top players include 6-9, 250-pound forward Andrew Nicholson (20.8 points, 7.3 rebounds). Three other starters return, including 6-5 guard Michael Davenport (11.1, 5.9) and 6-6 forward Demitrius Conger (10.0, 5.5).
11/23 at Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets finished 5-11 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 13-18 overall last season. They're picked for 10th in the 12-team conference this year. Top player is guard Glen Rice Jr. (12.9). The series with Georgia Tech was meant to bring Brad Sheehan (Latham, N.Y.'s Shaker High School) back to New York's Capital Region for a game last season, but Sheehan graduated before his eligibility ended and opted not to continue playing. Last year's game did feature a return to the area for former Siena coach Paul Hewitt, who was not retained (he is now at George Mason) and has been replaced by Brian Gregory, formerly at Dayton.
11/26 at Vermont
The Catamounts finished 13-3 in the America East Conference, 23-8 overall and played in last season's NIT. They're picked for fourth in the nine-team league this season. Although Vermont lost its top two scorers to graduation it did start three sophomores and two freshmen in the NIT appearance. Its top player is 6-8 forward Matt Glass. Vermont also has a new coach in former program assistant John Becker, who took over after Mike Lonergan moved to George Washington.
The Great Danes finished 9-7 in the America East Conference and 16-16 overall last season. They're picked to finish second in the nine-team league this season. Top returnees are guards Logan Aronhalt and Mike Black.
12/9 vs. UMass at Springfield, Mass.
The Minutemen finished 7-9 in the Atlantic 10 Conference last season and 15-15 oerall. Top returnees are 6-7 junior forward Terrell Vinson (6.5, 4.4) and 6-5 junior guard Freddie Riley (8.0).
The Ram finished 1-15 in the Atlantic 10 last season, 7-21 overall and are picked for 14th in the 14-team conference. Fordham's lone league victory ended a 41-game losing steak in the A-10. Its top players are 6-7 junior forward Christ Gaston (15.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, fourth-best nationally in rebounding), and 6-3 sophomore guard Branden Frazier (11.0, 3.3 assists).
The Tigers finished 12-2 in the Ivy League last season and 25-6 oerall, including a trip to the NCAA tournament. They're picked for second in the eight-team league this season. Top returnees are 6-7 Ian Hummer (13.8 points) and 5-11 Douglas Davis (11.9). Former coach Sydney Johnson is now at Fairield. Princeton grad Mitch Henderson is now the head coach.
12/28 at Florida Atlantic
The Owls finished 13-3 in the Sunbelt Conference last season and 21-11 overall, the best finish in the program's history. They're picked to finish first in the conference's six-team East Division this season. Four starters return, led by junior guards Greg Gantt (14.0, 3.9) and Raymond Taylor (11.6, 3.5). Top forward is 6-8 junior Kore White (8.2, 5.0). The team's coach is Mike Jaris, most recently at St. John's who coached against Siena for several years when he was at Boston University and the two teams were in the same conference (the old North Atlantic Conference).
For the first time in the league's history, the show (Tuesday, Oct. 25) can be viewed live via MAAC.TV, direct from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
The free live coverage begins at 9:30 a.m.
The program begins with interviews of all 20 MAAC basketball head coaches (10 men, 10 women). The interviews will be conducted by Doug Sherman and Rob Kennedy on the men's side and Vin Parise and Julianne Viani on the women's side.
At 11:15 a.m. the program shifts to the Hall of Fame's renowned Center Court for the unveiling of the Preseason Coaches' Polls and Preseason All-MAAC teams.
The event concludes with the unveiling of the conference's exhibit, The MAAC Experience, in the Hall of Fame and its signature "A Day in the Life" video featuring 10 MAAC Basketball student-athletes. Check MAACSports.com on Monday for more information on the exhibit.
Follow the MAAC on Facebook (facebook.com/MAACSports) and Twitter (@MAACSports) for complete coverage and a behind-the-scenes look of the Preseason Awards Show and the 2011-12 season. Use hashtag #maachoops to join the conversation.
And, of course, check in here at "Keepin' Track of the MAAC "for a full analysis of the preseason predictions to be up for your reading pleasure by mid-Tuesday afternoon.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
- Best non-conference game of the upcoming season?
There are some good ones ... Iona at Purdue (Nov. 17), Marist at Kentucky (Nov. 11), Manhattan at Syracuse (Nov. 14) ... but, my personal preference is on Nov. 14 when Providence comes to Bridgeport, Conn., to play at Fairfield in the Arena at Harbor Yard. The Friars are coached by former Fairfield coach Ed Cooley. It was part of his release agreement from his contract with Fairfield that he bring his new team in for a Fairfield home game. Cooley, whose work took a struggling program to last season's regular-season MAAC championship, is on record as saying the game isn't one he is looking forward to ... but the rest of us await with great anticipation.
- Not much doubt that the expectations are that Iona's 6-foot-7 senior forward Mike Glover will be the conference's best player this season. How good is he? Your hoopscribe saw him play four times in person last year and several other times either on TV or through the magic of video streaming via the internet. It says here (with the backing of at least one other conference coach) that Glover will be the next player from the conference to have a meaningful NBA career.
- Surprise players in the MAAC this season? We'll take two on the men's side: Iona's Ra'Shad James, a 6-1 guard, and Siena's Kyle Downey, a 6-2 guard. James, a junior, sat out last season after transferring from Division II St. Thomas Aquinas. By more than one account he was often the best guard on the floor at Iona practices last season, and that's saying a mouthful considering the team also has first-team all-MAAC preseason pick Scott Machado in place. Downey, a senior, has played through a string of injuries the past two seasons, but has shown flashes of his ability. No one works harder, and he returned this season fully healthy and in great condition. Siena needs to find some offense, and Downey is more than capable.
- Surprise women's player? We'll just name one, based on some preseason practice observations: Siena's 6-1 sophomore forward Clara Sole Anglada. She did flash her skills with a 12-point, 8-rebound effort in one game last year, but otherwise was a very lightly used reserve as she spent much of the year adjusting to cultural, language and athletic differences (she came to Siena from Spain). But your hoopscribe has rarely seen the level of improvement she has made from freshman to sophomore season, and she will be a significant factor for the Saints this year.
- Just when you thought it would be a two-team (Iona, Fairfield) race for the men's regular-season championship ... Loyola got an unexpected boost that very well could push the Greyhounds from being a solid team into legitimate contention. That came with last week's NCAA ruling that 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward Jordan Latham, a Baltimore native and transfer from Xavier, would not have to sit out this season as per traditional transfer rules but that his "hardship" application had been accepted. Latham is the type athletic big man that rarely lands in the MAAC, and if he is indeed a significant contributor, Loyola might have the conference's best front line as he joins 6-10 center Shane Walker and 6-7 forward Erik Etherly.
- Best women's player this season? It would be hard to discount Corielle Yarde of Marist, but your hoopscribe will opt for Loyola's Katie Sheahin, a 5-10 junior guard. Sheahin, originally a shooting guard, got moved to the point late in her freshman year and played the position full time for the first time last season. Did she handle it well? How about 13.1 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.2 blocks and a per-game steal average of 3.4 that was second-best nationally? If nothing else, she is the conference's most-versatile player.
- It is a year of transfers joining men's teams, for the upcoming season and one of them could very easily lead the conference in scoring. The guess here is that Rakim Sanders of Fairfield, who played three seasons at Boston College previously, will have the highest scoring average among first-year eligible transfers. But the choice here to be the conference's top scorer is junior swingman George Beamon of Manhattan, whose entire career thus far has been with the Jaspers.
- Biggest surprise team on the women's side? It would be easy to identify Canisius or Siena, both with emerging young players, to exceed expectations. but the choice here is that Rider will show considerable improvement off last season's 5-23 overall record. The Broncs have nearly every player of significance returning, although they'll be without last year's top scorer, small forward Shereen Lightbourne (knee injury) for the season. Rider does have the conference's biggest front line, and have emerging standout to fill Lightbourne's role in sophomore McNeshia McKenzie. It needs either senior Alyssa Parsons, who played there last year after two major knee injuries earlier in her career, to step or for incoming international freshman Kornelija Valiuskyte of Lithuania to contribute early.
- Look for the Canisius women to also rebound after a down season a year ago. The Golden Griffins endured having four freshmen play considerable minutes last season (all four won at least one Rookie of the Week award), and the conventional wisdom about freshmen is that they eventually become sophomores. That maturity should help the Griffs greatly, along with a much-hyped incoming first-year player, 5-7 guard Kayla Hoohuli, one of 40 players nationally last season picked as a Parade Magazine All-American. The Griffs might not win this year's conference title, but they'll be a strong contender in the subsequent two seasons.
- The Saint Peter's men's team finished fourth in last season's standings and, then, won the conference's post-season tournament to advance to the NCAA tournament. It was a storybook year for the program, one that returned a considerable level of interest to the men's team. But, four senior starters are gone from a year ago. Still, don't expect the Peacocks to fall too far, if at all. A strong group of incoming players, and some returning reserves whose minutes were limited by injuries a year ago, should help out. Look for Chris Prescott, a 6-2 guard transfer from St. Joseph's, to pick up much of the scoring load with other newcomers 6-7 junior college transfer Karee Ferguson and 5-9 freshman point guard Lamin Fulton to be strong contributors. And, Blaise Ffrench and Chris Burke, both sophomore guards who battled injuries last season, should be in the playing group. But, it didn't help that 6-4 guard Steven Samuels, one of the league's better defenders last season, was recently dismissed from the program.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Here's another in the series looking at the non-league schedule of men's teams.
Up now ...
It finished with a school-record 15 wins last season (15-15) and 9-3 in the Great West conference, and is picked to finish second in the league this season. The Highlanders have only been a Division I program for five seasons. They return four starters, including 6-3 guard Isaiah Wilkerson who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season.
11/14 at Syracuse
The meeting with the Big East power comes in the first round of the preseason NIT. The Orange finished 12-6 in the league, 27-8 overall and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament where it lost to Maruette, 66-62. Syracuse is picked to finish second in the 16-team conference this season. Its top players are 6-7 senior forward Kris Joseph (14.3 points, 5.2 rebounds), 6-2 senior point guard Scoop Jordine (12.5 points and a league-best 5.9 assists).
11/15 either University at Albany or Brown, second round of the preseason NIT
Lions were 6-8 in the Ivy League, 15-13 overall and are picked to finish 6th in the 8-team league this season. Top player is forward Noruwa Agho (16.8 points last season), the only player in the league to finish in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists.
11/29 at Penn
The Quakers were 7-7 in the Ivy League, 13-15 oerall last season and picked to finish third in the league this season. Their best players are Senior forward Tyler Bernardini (1,079 career points thus far), and senior point guard Zack Rosen (14.3, and 152 total assists last season, the fourth-highest single-season total in the program's history).
The Ram finished 1-15 in the Atlantic 10 last season, 7-21 overall and are picked for 14th in the 14-team conference. Fordham's lone league victory ended a 41-game losing steak in the A-10. Its top players are 6-7 junior forward Christ Gaston (15.9 points, 11.3 rebounds, fourth-best nationally in rebounding), and 6-3 sophomore guard Branden Frazier (11.0, 3.3 assists).
12/10 at Hofstra
It finished 14-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association last season, 21-11 overall and is picked for 6th in the 12-team conference this season. Top players are 6-7 senior foreward Mike Moore (14.9 points), 6-8 forward David Imes (7.7, 6.8) and guard Dwan McMillan (6.8 points).
12/20 at Towson
The Tigers finished 0-18 in the Colonial Athletic Association and 4-26 overall last season and are picked for 12th in the 12-team conference this season. Towson lost its final 19 games last year and, then, had its leading scorer (guard Isaiah Philmore) transfer to Xavier. Its top returnee is 6-2 senior guard RaShawn Polk (11.6 points).
12/22 at George Mason
The Patriots won the CAA last season with a 16-2 league record and finished 26-6 overall. They are picked to finish third in the 12-team conference this season. Additions include new head coach Paul Hewitt (Siena's coach from 1997-98 through 1999-2000), who has been at Georgia Tech for the past 11 seasons. Returning are three starters including senior forward Ryan Pearson, who already is the 15th player in school history to eclipse career totals of 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. Also back is guard Andre Cornelius (9.5 points) and forward Mike Morrison (6.8 points).
12/30 at Binghamton
The team finished 4-12 in the America East Conference last season and 8-23 oerall. It is picked to finish ninth in the 9-team conference this season. The programs' top three scorers from last year are gone. Top returnee is 6-9 forward Kyrie Sutton.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Amazingly, the closers of the teams playing in the NLCS both have ties to the MAAC.
Jason Motte of the St. Louis Cardinals, who attended Iona for three seasons before he was drafted by the Cards in in 2003, and John Axford of the Milwaukee Brewers, who attended Canisius as a senior, are the NL team's closers.
It's amazing to think that a mid-major level baseball league with its membership almost entirely located in the Northeast's snowbelt has produced two of this post-season's most-prominent major league players.
Motte has been particularly dominant, having appeared in three post-season games thus far. He has earned two saes while pitching eight total innings, allowing just one hit and striking out six without giving up a walk.
Axford has made five appearances and has pitched a total of six innings while allowing just four hits, one run two walks and striking out seven.
Surprisingly Motte, who throws in the mid-90 mph range, never pitched at Iona. There, he was a catcher and drafted in the 19th round of the 2003 baseball draft. But, after three years of minor-league struggles as a catcher he was approached by Cardinals' officials to consider a switch from to pitching.
"When they turned me into a pitcher, I wasn't thinking that, in a year-and-a-half, I was going to do well enough to make the 40-man roster," Motte told the Springfield (Mo.) News, several years ago. " I just went out there and worked hard."
Motte struggled in the minors in three-plus years as a catcher before converting to a pitcher in 2006. He batted only .190 and drove in 54 runs in 219 games.
As a junior at Iona, Motte batted .279 while setting career marks in games played (44), at-bats (154), runs scored (27), home runs (5) and walks (14). He was a Second Team All-MAAC selection in 2002 and 2003. Motte started 115 career games at Iona behind the plate, batting .277 with 11 home runs and 72 RBI.
Axford, a native of Ontario, Canada, spent three college seasons at Notre Dame before transferring to Canisius. He pitched for the Golden Griffins in 2006 and had 76 strikeouts in 70 innings there, but went undrafted by major league teams.
Shortly after the 2006 draft, though, he was signed as a free agent by the New York Yankees, released by the Yanks after the 2007 season and, then, signed by the Brewers early in spring training of the 2008 season.
He emerged as a full-time closer for Milwaukee in 2010 when former all-time saves' leader Trevor Hoffman struggled. Axford stepped in and finished the 2010 season with an 8-2 record and a 2.48 ERA and 24 saves in 27 chances. Axford voluntarily stepped aside for a late-season save opportunity so that Hoffman could step in and get career save No. 600.
He has been even better this season, recording a 1.95 ERA and an NL-best 46 saves during the 2011 regular season.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Both MAAC-produced closers appeared in Sunday night's NLCS-deciding contest, but the St. Louis Cardinals already had a 12-6 lead by then.
Axford pitched the top of the ninth, allowing one hit and striking out two.
Motte pitched the bottom of the ninth, struck out one and did not allow a hit..
The Cardinals moe on to face the Texas Rangers in the World Series that begins on Wednesday.
Friday, October 14, 2011
That report, citing an unnamed source close to the situation, appeared in recent editions of the Baltimore Sun newspaper. Latham played as a freshman at Xavier last season before opting to return closer to home (he is a graduate of Baltimore's City High School) after the 2010-11 season.
It was initially believed that Latham would sit out this season due to transfer rules, but the Loyola applied for a waiver of the transfer rule in Latham's behalf, and the waiver was approved recently. No explanation of the NCAA's ruling was cited in the report.
Latham was a Baltimore Sun first-team All-Metro selection after the 2009-10 season. He appeared in 16 games for the Musketeers as a freshman, playing an average of just 4.8 minutes per contest. As a high school senior he averaged 17 points and nine rebounds per game.
He becomes active just as preseason practices are set to tip off and joins a program perceived by many as the the third-best in the conference, behind Iona and Fairfield, as the season approaches. Latham was ranked the 94th best high school player nationally by one recruiting service when he was at Baltimore City.
Latham's eligibility, though gives the Greyhounds a considerable boost, particularly on a front line that was already strong with returnees 6-10 center Shane Walker and 6-7 forward Erik Etherly, both double-figure scorers last season.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Up now …
11/11 at Kentucky
A highly ambitions beginning against an opponent picked to win the Southeast Conference and finish among the best teams nationally (The Sporting News ranks the Wildcats No. 2 nationally in the preseason), despite the loss of three players picked in this year’s NBA draft. Kentucky finished 10-6 in the SEC, 29-9 overall and advanced to the NCAA tournament’s Final Four last season where it lost to national champion Connecticut in a semifinal-round contest. Top returnees are 6-9, 250-pound sophomore Terrence Jones (15.7 points and an SEC-best 8.8 rebounds) and 6-4 sophomore guad Doron Lamb (12.3 points.
11/14 at South Florida
The Bulls finished 10-23 overall and 3-15 in the Big East last season. They are picked to finish 15th in the 16-team conference this year. The team does return six of its top seven scorers, including 6-10 senio forward Augustus Gilchrist (13.4 points, 6.0 rebounds).
11/19 Vermont (Hall of Fame Tip-off Tournament game to be played in Uncasville, Conn.)
The Catamounts finished 13-3 in the America East Conference, 23-8 overall and advanced to last season’s NIT. Top returnees are junior wing Brendan Bald and point guard Brian Voelkel, last season’s America East Rookie of the Year. Former program assistant John Becker became the program’s head coach when Mike Lonergan moved to Geoge Washington University.
11/20 vs. either LIU or Radford (Haoo of Fame Tip-off Tournament in Uncasville, Conn.)
Finished 25-8 last season and 13-1 in the Patriot League and advanced to the NCAA tournament. Top retunees are 6-11 center Mike Muscala (14.9 points, 7.3 rebounds), who was only the third sophomore to be named the Patriot’s Player of the Year. Also back is guard Bryson Johnson (11.7 points).
Colgate finished 4-01 in the Patriot League last season and 7-23 overall after losing its first 11 games top stat the season. A new coach, 33-year old Matt Langel, is in place. Only one player graduated since last season. Picked to finish seventh in te eight-team league, the top returning players are 6-5 forward Yaw Gyawu (12.6 points, 4.5 ebounds) and 6-10 center Nick Pascale (7.3, 6.6, 43 blocks).
The Cadets finished 3-11 in the Patriot League and 11-19 overall, and are picked to finish last in the 8-team league. They did hand league champion Bucknell a 90-70 defeat on Jan. 29, Bucknell’s only league defeat, but Army then lost its final eight games afterwards. For Marist, the meeting with Army is the third straight against a Patriot League opponent. Army’s top players are guard Julian Simmons (12.5 points, 68 3-pointers) and forward Ella Ellis (14.5, 5.3 and 53 treys).
12/17 at New Hampshire
The Wildcats finished 6-10 in the America East conference and 12-18 overall and are picked to finish fifth in the 9-team conference this season. The top returning player is expected to be senior guard Alvin Abreu, who missed last season with a torn ACL, and 6-6 forward Jeron Trotman, a transfer from Centenary.
The Hawks finished 7-7 in America East and 11-20 overall, and are picked to finish 6th in the 9-team conference this season. Their top player is expected to be point guard Andres Torres, who missed last season with an injury.
12/23 at Penn
The Quakers finished 7-7 in the Ivy League and 13-15 overall last season, and are picked to finish third in the 8-team conference this season. Top players are guard Tyler Bernardini, who enters the season with 1,079 career points, and senior point guard Zack Rosen (14.3 points last season), who also surpassed the 1,000-point career mark late last season.
The Lions finished 6-8 in the Ivy League last season and 15-13 overall, and are picked to finish sixth in the 8-team league. Top players are forward Noruwa Agho (16.8 points last season), the only player in the league to finish in the top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Here are some highlights:
- In total, the deal features a record 80 national appearances over 40 scheduled contests, an increase of 25% from last year’s schedule and the most ever for the MAAC. All 10 member institutions will receive a minimum of three men’s basketball and one women’s basketball appearances this year over multiple national platforms of ESPN networks.
“I personally believe in the ESPN brand and its ability to place the MAAC above many of its mid-major competitors,” said MAAC Commissioner Richard J. Ensor, Esq. “The ability to have extensive nationally televised opportunities across ESPN platforms is important to the growth and recognition of the MAAC with college basketball fans in a time when schools are looking to their respective conferences to provide such exposure.”
- The agreement continues to include the men’s championship game on ESPN or ESPN2 and the women’s championship game on ESPNU, two men’s basketball appearances on ESPN or ESPN2, and continuation of a weekly game on ESPNU. The agreement features a new National MAAC Game of the Week on ESPN3, ESPN’s multi-screen network available through an affiliated Internet or video provider online via WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and on ESPN on Xbox LIVE.
- This season, ESPNU will air eight league games on seven dates starting on Jan. 6 with the Iona men hosting Niagara. A 2011 women’s championship game rematch between Loyola and Marist at the newly renovated McCann Arena will tipoff a MAAC doubleheader at 6 p.m. ET on Jan. 20 with a Rider at Iona men’s contest scheduled to follow at 10 p.m. on the network.
- ESPN3 will be the home of the conference’s new National MAAC Game of the Week, beginning with defending champion Saint Peter’s hosting Canisius at the Yanitelli Center in Jersey City on Jan. 5. ESPN3 will carry at least 10 MAAC Game of the Week games over seven days. A total of 21 regular season games will be carried exclusively on ESPN3 – 14 men’s and 7 women’s games.
- The agreement also features extensive coverage of the MAAC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships with 10 games set for air on one of the ESPN platforms during the annual joint championships to be hosted for the first time at the neutral site MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass. from March 1-5, 2012.
“The MAAC’s new six-year agreement with ESPN further cements the relationship between the conference and the network that extends the MAAC’s package on ESPNU, the league’s hosting of the Old Spice Classic at ESPN Wide World of Sports, full-in status for the ESPN BracketBusters weekend and now an exciting tourney package on ESPN3,” notes Ensor. “The branding of ESPN has proven very beneficial to the league and the addition of a National MAAC Game of the Week format on ESPN3 similar to what the league currently has on ESPNU on Friday will enhance the MAAC’s branding and visibility on a national level.”
- Games on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU are also accessible through WatchESPN, ESPN’s authenticated networks service. The networks are currently available to Time Warner Cable, Verizon FiOS TV and Bright House Networks video customers online at WatchESPN.com and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app. Once users visit WatchESPN, they will receive instructions to enter the appropriate cable subscriber credentials to begin accessing ESPN content from their PC, laptop, smartphone or tablet device.
Here's a link to the MAAC site that lists the coming season's entire national television schedule for conference games:
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
The list is based on a preseason poll of national college basketball media members and is based on last year's individual performance and team runners. Transfers, freshmen and medical redshirts are not considered for the preseason list. Howeer, the National Ballot, which will eventually consist of approximately 20 top players to be determined later during this coming season, will include first-year Division I players.
To be eligible for both the preseason top 50 and the eventual season-ending ballot players must have proen that they are making progress toward graduation and be maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA. The final Wooden Award All-American Team, consisting of the nation's top 10 players, will be announced the week of the "Elite Eight" round of the NCAA tournament, and the nation's top player will also be announced at that time.
This is the 36th year of the Wooden awards.
Glover is the first player from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference named to the preseason top 50 list since Rider's Jason Thompson was selected prior to the 2007-08 season.
It is indeed a rarity for players from mid-major level conferences to earn even the preseason honor.
Of the 50 players picked this preseason 10 come from the Big East, nine from the Big 10, seven from SEC and four from the ACC, Big 12 and Pac 12. The Atlantic 10, Big West and Conference USA have two picks each. Conferences with one player named include the Horizon League, the Ivy League, the Missouri Valley Conference, the Mountain West Conference and the WCC, along with the MAAC.
Glover led Iona in scoring (18.4 points) and rebounding (10.1) last season, the first player in that program's history to average a double-double since Jeff Ruland in the 1979-80 season.
He is also likely to be the MAAC's preseason Player of the Year pick when those awards are announced later this month.
Your blogging hoopscribe has been a first-hand MAAC observer as far back as the late 1980's, and the perception here is that Glover will eventually be recognized as one of the conference's top 10 players of all time, and one of the top three or four front-court players ever to play for a MAAC program.
It might still be a little early to make assessments, since Glover has only played one season so far for Iona. But, if his performance at least duplicates last season's, then he'll be recognized with the likes of La Salle's Lionel Simmons and Rider's Thompson as being among the best front-court players in league history.
A MAAC coach, who will remain unidentified here, recently spoke about his belief that Glover is the next MAAC player with a legitimate chance at a meaningful NBA career.
That's in the future. But Glover, based on his preseason selection to the Top 50 List for the Wooden Award, is already in good company.
A full list of the 50 preseason selectees can be found at a number of internet sites, including the Iona athletic website.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Up now …
11/13 at James Madison University.
JMU, which finished 21-12 overall and 10-8 in the Colonial Athletic Association last season, is coached by former Siena standout Matt Brady, who also coached four seasons at Marist. The Dukes are picked to finish fourth in the 12-team CAA (all predictions come from The Sporting News’ College Basketball preview issue).
JMU’s top players are Devon Moore, a point guard whose 137 assists last season set a school conference record. Small forward Julius Wells , a senior, already ranks 12th at JMU in career points (1,311) and third in career 3-pointers.
11/15 at Longwood College (Farmville, Va.)
The Lancers finished 12-19 as an independent last season. The team’s top player is 6-8 senior center Antwan Carter, who averaged 18.2 points and 9.5 rebounds per game last season, and three other starters return.
11/17 at UNLV
The Rebels finished 24-9 last season, 11-5 in the Mountain West Conference and advanced to the NCAA tournament, losing a first-round game to Illinois, 73-62. UNL Is picked to finish second in the MWC and has a new coach in Dae Rice, a member of the program’s 1990 Runnin’ Rebels national championship team. Top players are 6-8 senior forward Chace Stanback (13.0 points per game) and 6-2 senior point guard Oscar Bellfield (11.2 points, 3.7 assists).
11/22 at Buffalo
Canisius has to travel all of about five miles for this “away” game against the Bulls, who finished 20-14 overall last season and 9-8 in the Mid-American Conference. Buffalo is picked to finish fourth in the MAC’s six-team East Division. Top players are 6-3 senior guard Zach Fitzen (15.1 points) and 6-6 sophomore forward Javon McCrea (11.8 points, 6.5 rebounds).
12/8 South Dakota
South Dakota finished 10-8 in the Summit League and 19-12 oerall last season and is picked to finish 9th in the 10-team conference this year. Top players are senior guards Charlie Westbrook (16.2 points) and Louie Krogman (14.8). The team also has highly reguarded freshman Nimrod Hilliard IV, who was Wisconsin’s Mr. Basketball last season.
12/10 at Saint Bonaventure
The Bonnies finished 8-8 in the Atlantic 10 Conference last season and 16-15 overall. The program has either equaled or improved on the previous year’s victory total every year since the 2006-07 season. This marks the 160th meeting between the programs. The Bonnies are picked for fifth in the 14-team conference. Top players are 6-9, 250-pound senior forward Andrew Nicholson (20.8 points, 7.3 rebounds) and 6-5 senior forward Michael Davenport (11.1 points, 4.9 rebounds). Four starters return along with incoming junior college transfer Eric Mosely, who is expected to start at point guard.
The Universiuty of Missouri at Kansas City finished 9-9 in the Summit League last season, 16-14 oerall and are picked to finish 8th in the 10-team league. Top player is senior guard Reggie Chamberlain (10.6 points).
12/18 at South Dakota
Completes a rare home-and-home in-season series with a non-league opponent.
Binghamton finished 4-12 in the America East Conference, 8-23 overall and are picked to finish last in the 9-team league. The team’s top three scorers graduated. Key returnees are guard Jimmy Gray and 6-9 forward Kyrie Sutton with two freshmen and a junior college transfer expected to get significant minutes.