Friday, February 27, 2009

All-Star Time, MAAC's all-time Best

Several weeks ago, advice was solicited in this forum for help selecting an all-time all-MAAC men's basketball team.

After much debate, and considerable thought ... it's time to release "Keepin' Track of the MAAC's" all-time team of MAAC players.

About a dozen readers have offered opinions on various players, which have been taken into consideration.

Mostly, though, the team is a product of first-hand viewing and knowledge gained from covering the MAAC since its beginning, first as a writer who covered Army basketball in the early 1980s and, later, as one who covered Siena basketball since 1985.

In reviewing the conference's all-time top 50 scorers and rebounders, this humble blogger came to the realization that he has seen every player on the list at least once, and most of them (if not all of them) multiple times.

What does that make me?

Primarily old, I guess.

Also, experienced. And, hopefully, knowledgeable, insightful and objective.

But, this is a subjective list and will draw comment and disagreement. Which isn't a bad thing. We all have opinions, and that's part of what makes following sports so enjoyable.

Initially, I planned to identify 10 players and three coaches.

And, then, it became clear that the list needed to be expanded so as not to slight some who would have been left off.

So, considering that current college rosters include 13 scholarship players and coaching staffs usually include four members ...

Here's one person's 13-man all-MAAC team (selections made in alphabetical order).
The list of the four all-time coaches will come later.

DOREMUS BENNERMAN, 5-11 guard, Siena (1990-1994)
One of two players in Siena's history to finish with 2,000 career points (2,109), and the MAAC's fifth all-time leading scorer overall, despite serving as a reserve as a freshman (behind Marc Brown. His 577 career assists is 5th all-time among players who played four MAAC seasons. His 26.0 point-per game average in the 1993-94 season is Siena's all-time best. That season's team, directed by Bennerman, advanced to the semifinals of the NIT, the furthest progression of any MAAC team in that event. He scored 51 points in the consolation game for third place, and was that season's tournament MVP.

MARC BROWN, 5-11 guard, Siena (1987-91)
Siena's all-time leading scorer with 2,284 points which would rank him fourth all-time among MAAC players had he been in the conference his entire career. Siena, though, didn't join the MAAC until 1989, so Brown only played two MAAC seasons. It says here, though, that Brown was the most-talented guard in MAAC history (those who disagree can contact me for a highlight link that provides viewable evidence) and was denied the opportunity afforded other conference players of getting some NBA time solely because of his stature (he weighed about 155 pounds during his Siena tenure). Recorded 796 career assists and participated in more victories (89) than any other Siena player.

STEVE BURTT SR. 6-2 guard, Iona (1980-84)
Sixth all-time scorer among MAAC players, despite just three seasons in the conference. His freshman season at Iona (381 points in the 1980-81 season) came a year before the MAAC was formed. Add that to his total and he's got 2,534 career points, third among anyone who ever played in the MAAC. A power guard who could shoot long range and get inside for baskets. He played parts of four NBA seasons. At Iona, he shot 52.1 percent from the floor, still best all time among MAAC players who where exclusively guards.

KEYDREN CLARK,, 5-9 guard, Saint Peter's (2002-06)
Ranks with Brown as this blogger's top two guards in league history. The MAAC's second all-time leading scorer (3,058 points), and a two-time national Division I scoring champion who finished second in another season. He had an NBA talent level, but his physical dimensions, like Brown's, precluded an NBA opportunity. Might have been the MAAC's most-unlikely star as he was barely a double-digit scorer in high school, but he flashed his offensive skills immediately with the Peacocks where he single-handedly led that program to respectability over his four seasons.

LUIS FLORES, 6-2 guard, Manhattan (2001-04)
Played a season at Rutgers before joining the Jaspars. First-team all-MAAC all three seasons, and a two-time Player of the Year. One of three multiple PofY winners (Lionel Simmons won three, Burtt won two). One of 11 players to score 2,000 career points while in the MAAC, and one of just two (along with Burtt) to do it in less than four seasons. A fundamentally sound player who operated without flash. Played parts of three NBA seasons. Manhattan finished 68-21 overall during his three seasons.

TONY GEORGE, 6-3 guard, Fairfield (1982-86)
A do-everything guard/swingman who was the best player on the only team in conference history to date to win the regular-season championship by a four-game margin (1985-86). He scored 630 points that season, still No. 1 all-time at Fairfield, and his 2,006 career points is also the highest total in the program's history. One of just 11 career 2,000-point scorers in the history of the MAAC.

KEVIN HOUSTON, 5-11 guard, Army (1983-87)
The first MAAC player to lead the nation in scoring when he averaged 32.9 points per outing, the highest ever by a MAAC player in one year (1986-87). A lightning-quick release on his jumper. No. 3 all-time leading MAAC scorer with 2,325 total points. Only played one season in the 3-point era, and made 47.7 percent of the treys (63-of-132) that year. His career .869 free-throw percentage is third all-time among MAAC players, and the best by any four-year MAAC performer.

JARED JORDAN, 6-2 guard, Marist (2003-07)
Arguably the best "pure" point guard in conference history, whose career assist total (813) is 142 better than the next highest total by a four-year MAAC player. Pass-first player early in his career, he developed an above-average jumper and also finished with 1,538 career points ranking him 45th all time among MAAC players. He led the NCAA in assists twice (8.5 per game as a junior, 8.7 as a senior), the only player to lead the country in that statistical category in consecutive seasons since Avery Johnson did it in the late 1980's.

JUAN MENDEZ, 6-7 center, Niagara (2001-05)
An unyielding inside force who rarely shoot beyond the 10-to-12-foot range yet still scored 2,210 career points, the fourth-highest total of all four-year MAAC players. Mendez is also one of just seven MAAC players to finish with more than 1,000 career rebounds, and his 1,053 total ranks fourth all-tine in that category. One of just three players (along with Lionel Simmons and Jason Thompson) to be in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding on the conference's career list.

DOUG OVERTON, 6-3 guard, La Salle (1987-91)
One of just two players to be a starter (along with Lionel Simmons) on the only two teams to have perfect MAAC seasons (14-0 in 1987-88, 16-0 in 1989-90), and he was a big reason for that. He is No. 2 all-time on the conference's career assist list (671) and No. 17 among scorers (1,795). Also one of seven four-year MAAC players with an assist-to-turnover ratio (2.01) above 2.00. He went on to play 11 NBA seasons, believed to be the longest NBA career by a MAAC player.

LIONEL SIMMONS, 6-7 forward, La Salle (1986-90)
The Babe Ruth of MAAC players ... in other words, the all-time best, and by far. His 3,217 career points not only is the conference's all-time best, but third ever by players exclusively on the D-I level (only Pete Maravich and Freeman Willliams scored more). His career 1,419 rebounds is 248 better than the next highest total by a MAAC player. The conference's only 3-time Player of the Year, and during those three seasons his teams were 33-1 in MAAC play and 80-21 overall, both all-time bests for a league team over three seasons. The MAAC's first-ever first-round NBA draft choice, he played seven NBA seasons.

JASON THOMPSON, 6-11 center, Rider (2004-08)
Unquestionably the conference's all-time best "big man," although he didn't start out that way. A slender 6-7 forward when he was recruited by Rider, he grew into a dominating 6-11, 250-pound physique by his senior year while retaining some perimeter skills to compliment his inside game. The MAAC's latest first-round NBA draft choice, he is having a solid rookie season with the Sacramento Kings. With Rider he had 1,171 career rebounds (second in MAAC history), and scored 2,040 points (ninth all-time in the conference).

RANDY WOODS, 5-11 guard, La Salle (1989-92)
A powerful yet quick guard with long-range shooting ability. His average of 3.2 three-pointers per game is fourth-best all time in the conference. His 1,811 career points in just three seasons (he was ineligible as a freshman) is 16th best all time. With both Simmons and Overton gone, Woods kept La Salle strong in 1991-92, averaging 27.3 points and 6.3 rebounds , 5.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game. It was enough for him to become the conference's second first-round NBA pick, and he played parts of four NBA seasons.

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