During the 2006-07 season, according to kenpom.com, the MAAC has 30 of their 90 conference games determined by four points or fewer or in overtime. That stat made the MAAC that season the most competitive conference out of all 32 conferences. During that season, seven of the 10 teams finished .500 or better. At the end of the MAAC Tournament, second-seeded Niagara won the title with a win over fourth-seeded Siena 83-79, by four points.
Last season saw one of the least competitive seasons. Only 11 of the 90 conference games were close, ranking 32nd out of the 33 conferences this season. Things are about to change again. This season there is a good chance that more than five teams could finish over .500 for the first time since 2008.
MAAC Preseason Standings:
(As selected by Ryan Restivo and John Templon)
1. Manhattan – Masiello Prepping for Year Two
2. Iona – Tale of Two Teams for Cluess
3. Loyola (MD) – Will Defend MAAC Title Before Moving to Patriot League
4. Siena – Buonaguro Excited About Deep Roster
5. Niagara – Mihalich Looking for Frontcourt Improvement
6. Marist – Martin Excited to Turn Defense into Offense in Turnaround Year
7. Fairfield – Johnson Building Foundation for Stags in Year Two
8. Canisius – New Coach Jim Baron Inherits Transfers on Roster
9. Rider – Kevin Baggett Set to Take Over at Rider
10. St. Peter’s – Dunne, Peacocks Looking to Beat Expectations
Biggest Question Marks:
5. How will Canisius’ transfers have an impact? — Canisius welcomes in a bunch of transfers under new coach Jim Baron. The additions, including his son Billy who received a waiver, could come together late in the year and make opponents lives very difficult.
4. Will Marist’s turnarond start this season? — Chuck Martin has been building to this point and despite losing freshman Khallid Hart for the season to a right knee injury, Marist’s core is one of the strongest in the league. Sophomore Chavaughn Lewis could make his case for First Team All-MAAC with an improved season and improvements from the rest of the starting five could bring Marist to their first season over .500 in Martin’s tenure.
3. How will Siena’s depth come in to play? — The Saints made the semifinals of the MAAC Championship riding a roster that used only six players. Now that head coach Mitch Buonaguro has some added depth, including Lionel Gomis and Imoh Silas who sat out last year, we will see if Siena can make enough outside shots to win and will have to continue to have the best front court in the league to contend for the title.
2. Will Loyola (MD) be able to fill their losses from last season? — The Greyhounds lost Justin Drummond to transfer (Toledo) as well as senior Shane Walker. That to go along with suspending R.J. Williams for the first semester put the Greyhounds roster in a bind. Jimmy Patsos likes to play nine players but losing two of those players, and one of those for half the season will have Patsos searching for answers with young players and hoping Jordan Latham steps up on the roster.
1. How will Iona’s newcomers come together? — The Gaels welcome almost a brand new roster behind MoMo Jones. They added Tavon Sledge, transfer from Iowa State, to play immediately through a waiver in late October. How Jones and Sledge play together will be a key this season to see how the Gaels can defend their regular season championship.
Notice Manhattan isn’t on the list of question marks. They’re our top team because, despite losing Ashton Pankey’s waiver case, they are the team with the least amount of question marks heading into this season.
MAAC First Team All-Conference:
- O.D. Anosike, Siena, Sr.
- Erik Etherly, Loyola, Sr.
- George Beamon, Manhattan, Sr.
- Derek Needham, Fairfield, Sr.
- Lamont ‘MoMo’ Jones, Iona, Sr.
MAAC Player of the Year
George Beamon, Manhattan — In this type of season, the most dominant player on the top team will have the best chance to win MAAC Player of the Year and Beamon is that player. He has shown consistent improvement and can dominate the league with his scoring ability. The biggest threat may come from O.D. Anosike, who might lead the MAAC in rebounding for the second straight season.
Most have made the case for Anosike as Player of the Year, but two things are working against him. One, with Siena’s added depth he will not grab as many rebounds with Lionel Gomis and Imoh Silas stepping in to take their share of boards and Anosike’s minutes will likely regress from 91.7% of Siena’s games last season.