It's not often that a nationally ranked opponent comes to play in one of cozy confines of a MAAC school's home court, but we got to see one just before Christmas when the Dayton women's team came to Loudonville, N.Y., to play Siena at the Saints' on-campus Alumni Recreation Center on Dec. 22.
The Flyers are currently ranked 14th nationally, and we could see why. They beat Siena handily, 91-53, to remain one of six unbeaten women's teams nationally with a 12-0 record.
Dayton has height, speed, strong perimeter play and legitimately goes nine deep with players who would all be all-star candidates at the MAAC level. Keep an eye on them this season and in post-season play.
Dayton is coached by Jim Jabir, a MAAC connection from long ago. He coached three seasons (to a 50-29 record) at Siena from the 1987-88 through the 1989-90 seasons.
While at Siena, he brought Gina Castelli in as an assistant coach (1989-90). When Jabir left Siena to move on to coach at Marquette, Castelli was promoted and served as Siena's head coach for 22 seasons before her firing this past spring.
Her successor, current Siena coach Ali Jacques, is a continuation of Jabir's Siena influence. Jacques was an assistant coach under Jabir for a season at Dayton (2005-06 season) and has retained a close friendship with Jabir.
In fact, Siena administrators reached out to Jabir for his input on coaching candidates during the search to replace Castelli this past spring, and Jabir gave Jacques a positive review.
Jabir isn't the only former MAAC connection on the Dayton staff.
When he had an opening for an assistant this past spring, he hired Shauna Green, who was serving as an assistant coach at Providence
MAAC fans know Green better by her maiden name of Shauna Geronzin, a former standout at Canisius (1998-99 through 2001-02). There, she scored 2,012 career points which still is the most all-time by a Canisius women's player and sixth-best all-time among all MAAC women's players.
It might have been 23 years since Jabir last roamed the sidelines at Siena, but there were still a few Siena administrators and athletic department staff members around from Jabir's days, and dozens of fans.
Jabir graciously spent close to an hour prior to the game renewing acquaintances with old friends while his team was warming up prior to the recent contest.