Thursday, August 13, 2009

Coming Up ... Who's New in the MAAC

Over the next few days we'll feature newcomers, whether they be incoming freshmen eligible transfors or redshirts, joining MAAC men's programs for the coming season.

But first, some words of caution, kind of like the advisory on your car's rear-view that says "objects are closer than they appear."

Same with incoming players ... the view now isn't always accurate. Some might be closer to being ready to contribute than would appear based on statistics and reputations. Or, they might not be as ready to play yet as past performances might indicate.

Bottom line ... you don't know until everything shakes out through preseason workouts, practices and, even, some early games. So, great high school/prep school stats don't necessarily translate to college results. The fact that a player might be transferring in from a major-college program doesn't automatically ensure the individual's success either. And, sometimes, recruits who aren't highly rated emerge as standouts in college.

As a newspaper "beat" reporter covering Siena basketball for more than two decades, I'll relate two quick illustrative stories.

1) In the 1986-87 season Siena was recruiting a slender, 5-foot-10 point guard from New Jersey. For most of the season Siena was the only Division I program recruiting the player, and much of that interest came because then-coach Mike Deane had playground battles in his younger days against the recruit's father, and had an insider's knowledge of the recruit.

By late in the recruiting season, only a handful of other D-I programs got involved and the player ultimately came to Siena without much outside fanfare.

Early in his first season Siena was preparing for a game at Syracuse, a program featuring future NBA players Derrick Coleman, Rony Seikaly and Sherman Douglas.

The Siena player, then a freshman, was asked what it would be like to match up with Douglas, a point guard who would play in the NBA for more than a decade.

His response: "You should be asking Sherman Douglas if he's worried about matching up with me."

That comment was more fact than brag.

The Siena player was Marc Brown, who scored 20 points in that meeting with Douglas and quite clearly was not out of his element in that evironment. It was a sign of things to come.

Brown went on to score 2,284 career points and accumulate 786 career assists. Eighteen years after his college career ended he remains Siena's leader in those two statistics.

2) During the 1989-90 season, Siena was recruiting another slender, small point guard.

Siena's coach Deane envisioned the player as Brown's replacement at point guard. Not many others held the player in such high regard. Only a handful of small Division I programs were interested.

Only one other MAAC school, Canisius, was interested but it wanted the player to redshirt for a season. The player opted to join Siena, which wanted him to play as soon as he arrived.

The player, Doremus Bennerman, not only became Brown's understudy during his first season but the two were often on the court together.

Bennerman took over at the point full time as a sophomore and finished with 2,109 career points (second all-time at Siena behind Brown) and 577 career assists (third all-time at Siena).

Stories like those abound throughout the MAAC, not just at Siena.

The point is that while the reports written here on incoming players at MAAC programs will include some insights/background/opinions ... all of that probably doesn't mean much and it certainly won't be definitive.

Predicting how incoming players will contribute to their new programs is an inexact science, at best. So, the "reports" to come are mostly for entertainment purposes only.

Feel free to draw your own conclusions. Just don't count on them being accurate.

And, as always, thanks for reading.

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