In case you missed it ...
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference teams got some national recognition in Sports Illustrated's "College Basketball Preview" issue in mid-November.
The magazine's staff made its projection for the men's NCAA tournament's field of 65, selecting Siena as the No. 29 team nationally.
"Up-tempo Saints, paced by guard Kenny Hasbrouck, the league tournament MVP, prep for return to NCAAs with tune-ups against Tennessee Pitt and Kansas," was the comment made about Siena.
But there was more.
Within the same issue appeared a two-page feature entitled "5-minute guide: Listings of the most honorable, the up-and-comers, the new hires and the next tournament upstarts."
Within the guide is a category entitled "Cinderella teams that will dance deep into March."
Two teams were listed ... both from the MAAC, Siena on the men's side and Marist on the women's.
Here's what SI had to say about that:
- "The Saints return all five starters including 6-6 junior swingman Edwin Ubiles (17.0 ppg.) from a 23-win team that routed Vanderbilt in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament."
- Leading the way (for the Marist women) is junior forward Rachele Fitz, who averaged 18.5 points and 7.4 rebounds last year when the 25-2 Red Foxes gave No. 2 seed LSU a scare in the second round of the NCAAs."
National recognition of that type never hurts. In truth, it gives not only the teams mentioned but the MAAC as a whole, greater recognition nationally and, probably, a bit more national respect.
Here's what MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor had to say about the mentions in Sports Illustrated:
"The Sports Illustrated metions about the Siena and Marist programs are great to see," said Ensor. "Not because the MAAC is built around national recognition, but because it ackonwledges the efforts of those individual programs, coaches and student-athletes."
How are the potential "Cinderella" MAAC teams doing so far?
The Marist women are 6-1 as of Dec. 1 with the only loss an 83-57 setback at the hands of Oklahoma, the No. 4 team nationally at the time of that meeting.
Fitz, a Marist junior, appears well on the way to defending MAAC Player of the Year accolades she earned for the 2007-08 season. The 6-1 forward is averaging 24.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game through seven games.
The Siena men are off to a 2-3 start with all three losses coming in the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla.
There, the Saints were defeated by No. 12 Tennessee, 78-64; nipped by Wichita State, 72-70; and, held off by Oklahoma State, 77-60.
Prior to that tournament, Siena had good wins over Boise State and Cornell, both NCAA tournament teams last season.