Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Did I Miss Something on Rossiter?

Did this humble blogger miss something on Siena's sophomore forward Ryan Rossiter?

Was there some memo distributed that we were supposed to overlook the 6-foot-9 sophomore center?

Did someone inform those who decide all-star honors that Rossiter was somehow designated as Slight of the Year award winner?

It sure seems that way.

This humble blogger took some minor offense when Rossiter was omitted from the conference's post-season all-star team, as voted on by the league's 10 coaches.

Rossiter was the only MAAC player who finished in the top four in four different statistical categories (first in field goal percentage, second in blocked shots, and fourth in rebounds and free throw percentage) not to make one of three post-season all-star teams.

OK, a minor slight. Rossiter is a sophomore, and league coaches traditionally reward seniority, figuring the younger guys will get their rewards later. And, only two other sophomores were picked. Loyola's Jamal Barney, who led the league in scoring, was a second-team pick; Wesley Jenkins, the top scorer for a solid Saint Peter's team was a third-team pick.

Rossiter probably also deserved to be a third-team pick. But, all four of Siena's other starters were either first- or second-team picks. The omission of Rossiter is an excusable absence.

And, then, Rossiter averaged 13.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, shot 65.4 percent from the field, blocked five shots and led his team in minutes played during the three games of the MAAC Tournament.

Siena won the tournament championship, and Rossiter led his team in rebounds, minutes played, blocks, field-goal percentage and was its third-leading scorer (his 41 points were only three behind tournament MVP Kenny Hasbrouck's 44 points).

A pretty good case could be made that Rossiter, and not Hasbrouck, deserved the tournament's top individual award.

OK, Hasbrouck is a team leader, hit big shots when necessary particularly in the championship game victory over Niagara, and was an inspiration to teammates by playing 37 minutes Monday night after suffering a severe calf contusion the night before that put in doubt his availability for Monday night's contest.

There won't be any debate here over Hasbrouck's MVP award.

But Rossiter, in a vote by my former peers (media covering the event), failed even to gain an all-tournament team mention, getting beat out by Niagara's Bilal Benn and Tyrone Lewis, and his own teammates Hasbrouck, Ronald Moore, and Alex Franklin.

Hasbrouck and Moore absolutely deserved first-team honors, Hasbrouck for being Siena's top scorer in the tournament and for his inspirational play, Moore for a tournament-record 14 assists in the semifinal round and for a spectacular 26-7 assist-to-turnover total over the tournament.

As for a comparison between Rossiter and Franklin in the tournament ...

Rossiter: 41 points, 32 rebounds, 5 blocks, 17-of-26 shooting (65.4 percent).
Franklin: 34 points, 21 rebounds, 3 blocks, 15-of-24 shooting (62.5 percent).

If one of those two is going to be left off an all-star team, the least likely omission should have been Rossiter.

In truth, a strong debate can be made that four Siena players should have made the all-tournament team with Rossiter replacing one of two Niagara players, Bilal Benn or Tyrone Lewis, who were named.

(Rider's Ryan Thompson was the other all-tournament team choice, and he absolutely deserved it with a tournament high 57 points in just two games).

Here's that breakdown of statistics for Rossiter and the two Niagara players from the tournament:

Rossiter: 41 points, 32 rebounds, 5 blocks, 27-of-26 shooting (65.4 percent).
Benn: 35 points, 37 rebounds, 2 blocks, 13-of-45 shooting (28.9 percent).
Lewis: 38 points, 18 rebounds, 1 block, 14-of-54 shooting (25.9 percent).

To the tournament-weary eyes of this humble blogger ... that comparison isn't even close.

Rossiter should have been a landslide selection to the all-tournament team over either Benn or Lewis.

But, my guess is that Rossiter would much rather have the tournament championship and a trip to the NCAA tournament than be an all-tournament team selection without having won the league's championship.

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