Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Some Opinions on All-MAAC Picks

No need to list the all-MAAC selections here. They're easy to find elsewhere ... just check www.maacsports.com

But, we won't let the selections, made by league coaches, go by without a few comments.

Hopefully, a couple of all-star team objections won't sound like "homer-ism," particularly since this humble blogger sees every Siena game, and had been involved covering that program as a beat writer for more than 22 years.

The intent, though, is to be objective...

League coaches opted not to include Siena's sophomore center Ryan Rossiter as one of the league's top 15 players.

In all likelihood, it's probably hard for an opposing coach to include all five Siena starters on league all-star teams. And, the other four Saint starters either made the first team (Kenny Hasbrouck, Edwin Ubiles) or, the second team (Alex Franklin, Ronald Moore).

As for Rossiter ...

His 62.7 percent field goal accuracy was best in the league. His 81.8 percent of free throws made ranked him fourth in the league. His 7.4 rebounds per game is fourth-best in the league, while his 58 blocked shots are the second-highest total in the conference.

No other MAAC player ranked in the top four in individual statistical categories without making one of the all-star teams.

Rossiter also averaged 9.6 points per game, 28th best in the conference.

Said Fairfield coach Ed Cooley: "He's one of the best big men in our league. I voted for him for first team. I don't know why he's not there (on any all-star team). I love the kid. He's a tremendous player and a great asset to the MAAC."

The other Siena-related oversight is on the women's side where league coaches picked the Saints' 6-foot-2 center Heather Stec on the second team, rather than making her a first-team selection.

Four women's players were probably all-star locks: Marie Warner of Canisius, Baendu Lowenthal of Fairfield, Rachele Fitz of Maris and Julianne Viani of Marist.

It says here that Stec should have been the fifth first-teamer.

Instead, that honor went to Iona's junior guard Thazina Cook.

Here's a statistical breakdown for all games each played this season:
Stec ... 13.7 points per game, 8.1 rebounds, 50.6 percent field goal accuracy
Cook ... 14.6 points per game, 6.7 rebounds, 39.9 percent field goal accuracy.

Here's the statistical breakdown for MAAC games only:
Stec ... 14.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 53.6 percent field goal accuracy.
Cook ... 14.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 36.1 percent field goal accuracy.

Statistically, the two are relatively close except for the field-goal percentage which is a huge edge for Stec.

Additionally, Stec is a senior and Cook is a junior. Usually, in a close call, seniority becomes a factor.

The guess here is that coaches voted before Siena's final game when Stec had a dominant 30-point, 18-rebound performance, one of the best individual games by a MAAC player this season.

If that's the case, then it becomes a bigger oversight by conference coaches.

Here's more to support Stec: She figured to be Siena's second option this year, until the Saints' best player, preseason first-team selection Shondaya Burrell, was dismissed from the program prior to the season, for undisclosed violations.

Stec moved into the role as the team's primary player, and faced double-team defensive attention on a regular basis.

When opposing teams need to double team an opponent to slow her down ... that kind of attention, it seems to this blogger, only gets paid to first-team all stars.

Otherwise ... no other major disagreements with the all-star selections.

Some might contend that the league's top scorer, sophomore guard Jamal Barney of Loyola, should be a first-team pick rather than a second-team pick.

But he wasn't the dominating offensive influence (18.6 points per game) that some previous conference scoring leaders have been. And, despite Barney's scoring, Loyola finished eighth in the 10-team MAAC.

All five first-team members came from one of the top three teams.

Top individual honors will be announced Thursday afternoon.
Here are some guesses about who those picks will be.

Player of the Year: Siena's Kenny Hasbrouck, although it wouldn't be a surprise if either Niagara's Bilal Benn, or Rider's Ryan Thompson won the award.

Rookie of the Year: Novar Gadson (10.5 points, 5.6 rebounds) of Rider, or Scott Machado of Iona (9.1 points, 4.9 assists). The pick here is Gadson, who, as a 6-8 inside presence, helped ease the loss of now-NBA player Jason Thompson from the Rider program.

Coach of the Year: Siena's Fran McCaffery (16-2 in the MAAC), or Niagara's Joe Mihalich (14-4)?
You can probably put Rider's Tommy Dempsey into the discussion, too. Maybe even Fairfield's Cooley.
But the guess here is it will come down to McCaffery and Mihalich.
This blogger will go with McCaffery, whose team lost its starting center from a year ago (Josh Duell) to injuries for most of the season; and, its back-up big man (Corey Magee) with a concussion for the entire season.
And, the Saints still matched the MAAC record for conference victories in a season.

Women's Player of the Year: Rachele Fitz, Marist. A repeat winner. By far the MAAC's best women's player.

Rookie of the Year: Kristina Ford, Iona. She topped all freshmen in scoring, 11.0 (13th best in the MAAC) and rebounding, 6.5 (1oth best).

Coach of the Year: Brian Giorgis, Marist. His program won a MAAC-record sixth straight regular-season title and only lost two conference games (16-2).

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