The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: MAAC Tightening Up

Last weekend’s Buffalo trip brought Iona back to the pack, but Loyola (MD) got a big win at Niagara to keep the Purple Eagles from running away from the rest of the league.

The Good:

MAAC BracketBusters draw – Three MAAC teams got games on television in the premiere ESPN slots as Canisius, Niagara and Iona will all be on TV somewhere. The non-televised games are of high quality as well. Manhattan heads to Buffalo, Albany is at Fairfield and Loyola (MD) is playing Tennessee St. It seems to me that the conference as a whole did an excellent job.

Canisius takes two – Iona and Loyola (MD) coming to Buffalo allowed the Golden Griffs to jump right back into the race at 8-4 in conference play. The Griffs beat Loyola by 12 points and then held on against Iona. The two wins showed off the team’s versatility and talent as Billy Baron led the way against the Gaels after Jordan Heath’s 21 points and 11 rebounds had helped pace them past the Greyhounds.

Knocking down the door – Both St. Peter’s and Niagara got stunning last-second victories on Thursday. Then Loyola (MD) flipped the script on Niagara with an 89-87 double-overtime victory on Saturday. The heroes were Chris Burke, Juan’ya Green and Julius Brooks. Green’s three to tie the game against Iona and then his shot to win it in OT certainly bolstered his Player of the Year candidacy.

Softening Stags schedule – Fairfield has started to rack up the wins in conference play. Sydney Johnson’s team swept Rider and Siena this week. Their next three are all winnable home games against St. Peter’s, Manhattan and Siena. Can’t ask for more after a brutal early season schedule. Maurice Barrow had 25 points and 10 boards in the win over Rider as the Stags just dominated the game in the paint and forced 17 Rider turnovers. Barrow followed that game up with 11 points in the win over Siena, but Derek Needham controlled the game against the Saints with 16 points and the defense was excellent.

The Bad:

A lost weekend in Buffalo – Iona certainly isn’t the first, nor the last team that will go to Niagara and Canisius and fail to get a victory, but it really has to eat at Tim Cluess that his team could’ve had two wins if they were just a few possessions better. David Laury had another outstanding weekend going for 24 and 16 against Niagara and 11 and 16 against Canisius, but he needs help. Momo Jones struggled a bit offensively in both games.

Destined for Friday night –¬†Manhattan could’ve made a late charge towards the top of the standings, but the Jaspers couldn’t get their move started with a 2-0 weekend. They took care of business at home against St. Peter’s, but suffered a tough 66-63 loss at Siena on ESPNU on Friday night. The Jaspers had a chance to pull out the victory, but Michael Alvarado’s turnover down two cost Manhattan. Of course, shooting 14-23 from the free throw line didn’t help. The Jaspers rebounded later in the week against St. Peter’s thanks to the outstanding play of Rhamel Brown, who had 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks against the Peacocks.

The Ugly:

Stumbling Marist – After losing to St. Peter’s and Rider this week the Red Foxes have now lost four straight games and 12 of their past 13 games. The schedule doesn’t get any easier as Chuck Martin’s team still has to play Iona, Loyola (MD) and Niagara in their next three games. It’s possible Marist might not win another game during conference play.

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