Random observations about MAAC basketball from a cluttered mind ...
- In case you didn't notice ... the Marist women's team has won 12 games in a row, is 6-0 in MAAC play, 15-1 overall (only loss to fourth-ranked Oklahoma) and checks in at No. 21 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll released on Monday, Jan. 12. The Red Foxes are one of just 12 teams nationally with fewer than two losses thus far.
- Junior forward Rachele Fitz isn't far away from becoming the leading scorer in the history of the Marist women's program. She currently has 1,510 points, only 77 away from matching the career total of 1,587 of Ursala Winter (1981-85). Fitz has scored in double figures for 49 straight games. With a season and a half of play left, needless to say that she'll shatter most records in the Marist record book.
- There is only one remaining unbeaten men's team in conference play. Siena's 68-64 victory at Manhattan on Sunday pushed its league record to 6-0. It matches the fastest start to MAAC play since the Saints joined the league in 1989. The 1999-00 team also started 6-0 before losing in its seventh game of conference play that season. Siena's next game is Thursday at Marist at 7:30 p.m.
However, it is rarely an easy trip to Poughkeepsie for the Siena men. The Saints won there last season, 97-88, in overtime. Prior to that, Siena lost its last four outings in Marist's on-campus McCann Center.
- And, speaking of the Marist men ... the Red Foxes toppled the only other conference unbeaten prior to Sunday, soundly defeating Niagara (now 4-1), 86-68 Sunday afternoon at the McCann Center. Point guard David Devezin had a career high 23 points for the winners, who had a 19-point lead at intermission and never led by less than 13 points afterwards. Niagara, now 13-4 overall, shot just 30.4 percent (17-of-56) from the field.
Marist is now 3-3 in MAAC play. And, let's see ... who was it that picked Marist to finish last in league play in preseason voting?
That would be league coaches.
And, who was it, after watching Marist play once (its MAAC opener vs. Siena) opined in this forum that Marist would NOT finish last in the conference?
That would be this "humble" blogger.
- The Canisius women's team has won nine games in a row, including Sunday's decisive 68-51 victory at Iona. It marks the Golden Griffins' longest winning streak since it won 10 straight in the 1989-90 season. Sunday's win was also the sixth straight on the road for Canisius, matching its best away-from-home winning streak since 1995.
- The Canisius women now have made a three-point shot in 437 consecutive games, which is an NCAA record for women's programs.
- There is no player, either for men or women, shooting the ball better from the field right now than the Siena women's team's 6-foot-2 Heather Stec. The senior center made 6-of-7 shots from the floor against Niagara Sunday to run a 3-game streak of accuracy to 21-of-24 from the field (9-0f-11 vs. Rider, and 6-of-6 vs. Saint Peter's), which is an astronomical 87.5 percent shooting rate. In five conference games this season Stec has made 33-of-47 shots (70.2 percent) and has yet to make fewer than half her shots in a league game.
Only one other women's player is shooting over 60 percent this year. Brandy Gang of Marist (22-of-35) is making 62.8 per cent of her shots in MAAC play thus far. Teammate Rachele Fitz is third in the league in FG accuracy at 59.2 percent (45-of-76).
- Wake Forest nipped North Caolina, 92-89, on Sunday to remain one of three unbeaten Division I teams nationally and, yes, there's a MAAC connection.
The Demon Deacons are coached by Dino Gaudio, who was the head coach of Loyola of the MAAC for two seasons (1998-99, 1999-00). Gaudio became the associate head coach under Skip Prosser (another former Loyola head coach) in 2001 and, then, took over at Wake after Prosser's death in the summer of 2007.
Under Gaudio this season the Deacons are 14-0, and entered Sunday's game against UNC ranked No. 4 nationally. Only national No. 1 Pittsburgh (15-0) and Clemson (16-0) are also unbeaten through Sunday's games.