MAAC Weekly Roundup: Nov. 23

Plenty has happened in the season’s first 10 days and almost every MAAC team has a win in the early 2015-16 season.

This will normally be a Tuesday staple, as conference play is almost a week away – beginning with Iona and Fairfield meeting on Dec. 1. So far Rider is winless, but the Broncs managed to give No. 3 Maryland everything the could handle for 35 minutes on Friday night. Meanwhile, the defending champion Jaspers have not only lost both their games, but also Jermaine Lawrence. Quinnipiac managed their first win of the season on Sunday, over Holy Cross.

Bizzaro MAAC Standings: Big Ten teams 3-0, Vermont 2-0, Princeton 2-0, Pac-12 Teams 2-1, Sacred Heart 1-1

Hawks Flying High – While there has been plenty of reason for optimism at Monmouth entering the season, it was no guarantee that the Hawks’ tough road schedule would produce results or that Pierre Sarr would be eligible this season. However, both of those things changed in a matter of a day when the Hawks beat UCLA 84-81 in overtime and Sarr was cleared so he could join the team after the first game. Add to that Justin Robinson, who has evolved into an even better player and set a new career-high (28 points) and then tied it the next game in their win over Drexel. Now it’s off to represent the MAAC in the AdvoCare Invitational, where they draw Notre Dame – one of the favorites in the tournament along with Wichita State. As much as earning a split in California was a benefit to the Hawks, winning one or two games in this loaded field would be a powerful statement for the conference.

Siena Finds Its Way in Rhode Island – Jimmy Patsos knew his team would have a tall task opening its season at Duke and Wisconsin, but the back end of their 2K Classic trip provided an opportunity to show growth. Against teams more like the ones they will find this season in conference, they managed to beat up Radford and host Bryant—collecting back-to-back double digit margins of victory for the first time since now Fairfield asssistant Mitch Buonaguro was head coach. One of the best signs for the Saints was Nico Clareth scoring 16 points in their win over Bryant after scoring 21 points at Wisconsin. Patsos wants to ease the freshmen into playing situations, which is aided by the veterans on the floor and on the bench. Kenny Wormley started the last two games, moving Marquis Wright down to two-guard, but Siena will likely have at least one freshman on the floor through these first two months.

Canisius Shows Its Staying Power – Coaches in the MAAC fear Jim Baron’s Golden Griffins for one reason. That reason is why Jim Baron collected his 450th career victory on Saturday over Lehigh, it’s his coaching. They competed against Hofstra in game one and except for a few defensive lapses, could have beaten the Pride, but they took that to heart and headed home to record wins over Cornell and Lehigh, the Patriot League favorite. One reason Canisius has looked so good so far is Malcolm McMillan, who scored a career-high 33 points on opening night, followed that up with 31 and finished Saturday with 16 points. He appears to be the perfect type of guard to fit the offense, one that is not afraid to shoot it from the outside, but also willing to drive and attack the basket. Add to him Phil Valenti and improvements from Kevin Bleeker and Kassius Robertson and the Golden Griffins could be better than most projected them in the conference.

Freshman Watch List Team Best Performance
Brian Parker Marist 30 pts, 7 rebs vs Kent State
Antwon Portley Saint Peter’s 30pts, 5 rebs, 2 ast vs Brown
Nico Clareth Siena 21 pts, 4 rebs vs Wisconsin
Jonathan Kasibabu Fairfield 12 pts, 15 rebs, 3 blocks vs Sacred Heart
Jerry Johnson Fairfield 16 pts, 6 rebs, 3 ast vs Sacred Heart
Curtis Cobb Fairfield 13 pts, 7 rebs vs Northwestern
Isaiah Lamb Marist 15 pts, 4 rebs vs Dartmouth
Thomas Capuano Manhattan 10 pts vs Bucknell

Coaches always talk about how good they think their freshmen will be. Here are some of the first year players, through the first 10 days that have been posting big numbers. Many MAAC teams will be counting on freshmen to contribute: Fairfield played only two seniors in the overtime win over Sacred Heart, while Marist started three freshmen in their third game of the season at Kent State. This group will likely provide most of the All-Rookie team, should they keep up their performances over the next four months.

 MAAC Power Rankings
1 Iona
2 Monmouth
3 Siena
4 Rider
5 Canisius
6 Fairfield
7 Manhattan
8 Saint Peter’s
9 Marist
10 Quinnipiac
11 Niagara

This week’s Small Sample Size Power Rankings are brought to you buy: Life Savers, helping Jimmy Patsos keep his voice.

The Week in Quotes

“This year we’re in a unique situation and there’s a lot of pressure on him. We’re throwing him into the deep end of the pool without the floaties. Hopefully he swims. Today he swam.” – Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore on Chaise Daniels’ 20 point, 12 rebound performance against Holy Cross.

“Less thinking and more playing… I call those the ‘Baron-isms’. I got a lot of ‘Baron-isms’.” – Canisius head coach Jim Baron after their win Saturday over Cornell.

“They’re different, but I think we can get a lot of rebounding out of him.” – Iona head coach Tim Cluess, on comparing Jordan Washington (12 pts, 8 rebs vs Delaware) to last season’s MAAC Player of the Year David Laury.

“We’re still finding our way, but there’s no other group I would want to find my way with than these guys” – Niagara head coach Chris Casey after their loss to Vermont.

“Once the ball goes up, get a little contact, the anxiety goes away.” – Canisius graduate transfer Malcolm McMillan, who scored a career-high 33 points in his debut, finishing two points short of Larry Fogle’s record in the 1973-74 season opener.

“This was Brian’s homecoming and he played with a little more edge” – Marist head coach Mike Maker on freshman Brian Parker, who scored 30 points at Kent State

Games to Keep an Eye on This Week: Nov. 24 Siena at Bucknell 7 p.m., Nov. 24 Niagara at Hartford 7 p.m., Nov. 26 Monmouth vs. Notre Dame 6:30 p.m. on ESPNU, Nov. 27 Columbia at Fairfield 5 p.m.

Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.

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