Few Surprises For All-MAAC Selections

The MAAC announced its All-Conference teams as well as All-Rookie team during the final coaches conference call of the season on Monday afternoon.

All-MAAC First Team
David Laury Iona Sr*
A.J. English Iona Jr*
Emmy Andujar Manhattan Sr
Zaid Hearst Quinnipiac Sr
Justin Robinson Monmouth Soph
Matt Lopez Rider Sr
* unanimous selection

There were a few surprises both in who was selected to each team as well as the voting totals. Iona’s David Laury and A.J. English were the only two members of the first team to be chosen unanimously. Two of the league’s top three scorers, Laury and English are both frontrunners for the MAAC Player of the Year award.

“I’m very proud of their accomplishments this year, head coach Tim Cluess said of his duo. “A.J. is a special player who has transformed into a point guard over the last couple of years. He’s scoring it, passing it to the tune of five assists per game and rebounding five per game. David Laury is pretty much a double-double guy getting one every time out. They’re both very instrumental in our success.”

Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello
Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello is not happy that Shane Richards is left off the All-MAAC teams.

Manhattan’s Emmy Andujar was left off one ballot for first-team, while junior guard Shane Richards may have been the biggest snub of all from the all-conference awards. Richards ranks 14th in the conference with 12.9 ppg and recently became Manhattan’s all-time leading 3-point shooter.

“It’s just a flat out joke that Shane Richards is left off,” head coach Steve Masiello said of Richards not being selected to an all-conference team. “Other teams sure prepare for him like he’s all-league. If we had a draft, Shane Richards would be picked in the top 16. I’ll do what I did in the past, same as I’ll do with Emmy; I found out he wasn’t selected by one coach for first-team, but I’ll let my players know who voted for what and we’ll go from there, so I thank them for motivation for my guys.”

The successful seasons of Monmouth and Rider were rewarded in the inclusion of Justin Robinson and Matt Lopez on the All-MAAC first team. The sophomore Robinson has carried the Hawks with 13.4 ppg and 3.8 apg this season and ranks eighth in the conference with a 38% shooting mark from behind the arc.

“He had an incredible summer and now he’s doing the things we expect him to do for us,” Monmouth coach King Rice said. “He gets us going, he gets everyone else going, he can score, he’s a kid who leads in practice by how hard he works, he goes to the gym all the time when we’re trying to get other guys to do it, so I’m not sure where we’d be without Justin.”

Matt Lopez ranks as Rider’s leading scorer and rebounder at 12.3 ppg and 7.7 rpg. His .584 FG% is far and away the most efficient mark in the conference, but Kevin Baggett’s squad will have to find a way through Albany without their star big man. Lopez suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in a win over Quinnipiac last month.

“Every game throughout the season our guys understand it’s the next man up,” Baggett said. “It’s the way we’ve handled things. We’ve had injuries all year long. It started all the way back in July and we’ve been able to manage and persevere all year long with those injuries.  The guys have the right mindset. They know they’re playing for one-another, they’re playing for this team and for the opportunity to try to get us back to the tournament.”

All-MAAC Second Team
Schadrac Casimir Iona Fr
Chavaughn Lewis Marist Sr
Ousmane Drame Quinnipiac Sr
Teddy Okereafor Rider Jr
Marvin Dominique Saint Peter’s Sr

The selections brought a mixed bag for sixth-place Quinnipiac, who placed Zaid Hearst on the first team and Ayron Hutton on the all-rookie squad but saw big man Ousmane Drame fall to the second team. Hearst ranks fourth in scoring in the MAAC with 18.4 ppg and adds 6.2 rpg while Hutton came off the bench midway through the year to help solidify the Bobcats’ back court.

“I’m thrilled for Zaid Hearst in making first team All-MAAC,” head coach Tom Moore said. “It’s a terrific honor for him and a testament to how hard he has worked on his game and how much he has improved. Ayron Hutton has had a terrific freshman season for us and has really stabilized our backcourt. He was patient early in the season and was ready when we called upon him. Ayron’s IQ, passing ability, and shooting touch bode very well for the future.”

On the other side of the coin, the effects of Quinnipiac’s sixth-place finish were felt when Drame fall to the second team despite being one of 17 players in the nation to average a double-double. Drame also ranks seventh in the nation with nearly three blocks per game and is a leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

“I am so grateful for the contributions that Ousmane Drame has made to our Quinnipiac basketball program both this year and throughout his career,” Moore added. “He is clearly one of the top three players in this league and a dominant inside force at this level as evidenced by him leading the league in both rebounding and blocked shots. He will leave Quinnipiac as one of the best to ever play here.”

Marist’s Chavaughn Lewis was another to feel the effects of a poor team record. Lewis has been the one constant for a Red Fox team that had to work its way through a season dotted with injuries including major stretches of missed time for Khallid Hart and T.J. Curry. Despite leading the team and the conference with 20.3 ppg, Lewis was relegated to the second team, making this the second year in a row the conference’s leading scorer failed to appear on the first team (Antoine Mason, Niagara).

All-MAAC Third Team
Zach Lewis Canisius Soph
Marcus Gilbert Fairfield Jr
Ashton Pankey Manhattan Jr
Deon Jones Monmouth Jr
Rob Poole Siena Sr

“I think it’s richly deserved,” head coach Mike Maker said of Lewis’ all-conference selection. “When you think about 2,000 – a lot of kids want to get 1,000 and he’s doubled that. He’s 7 points away from the all-time record held by Steve Smith. He’s always getting the opponent’s best shot every game and yet he keeps putting up big numbers.”

Iona’s Schadrac Casimir appears to be the runaway winner for the Rookie of the Year award, which will be announced Thursday. The dynamic freshman stands at seventh in the conference with 15.2 ppg despite physically standing over a foot below some of his competition. Coming through a program known for its 3-point shooters, Casimir has the potential to be one of the best ever. His 43.8 3p% is tops in the conference, but just slightly ahead of fellow All-Rookie team member Tyler Nelson from Fairfield (42.9%).

“He looks to be playing the best basketball he’s played all year,” Cluess said of Casimir. “I’m really proud of him for making the adjustment to college basketball so quickly and so effectively. Obviously he has a long way to go to be a real complete player, but I’m excited about his future.”

Vincent Simone covers Quinnipiac, the MAAC, and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.

One thought on “Few Surprises For All-MAAC Selections

  1. Very solid first team, though one could make a case for Drame. Are the players listed in order of their votes ? Appears there might be a slight basis against defensive stars, seem to recall Rhamel Brown didn’t make 1st team any of past 3 years, when he was Defensive Player of the year, all 3, and led the nation in blocks per attempt last year.


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