OK, a brief bit of cross-advertising here.
This blogger, for the past decade, has also produced the MAAC men's basketball preview for what is now The Sporting News' College Basketball Annual issue. I had been writing the preview for Street & Smith, but that publication merged with The Sporting News a couple of years ago.
Anyway, as much as I would like to publish that preview in this forum ... The Sporting News doesn't allow that.
Still, that agreement doesn't prohibit me from making some observations.
My predicted order of finish, with some comments ...
1) Siena. Four starters back, joined by last season's Sixth Man of the Year award winner. Big surprise, right?
2) Niagara. Four starters back from a team that beat Siena by 15 points in a game during the final weekend of regular-season play.
3) Rider. Four starters back, too, including arguably the conference's best player in Ryan Thompson.
4) Saint Peter's. Probably a little bit of a surprise here. But, yours truly rates John Dunne very high as a coach. Ryan Bacon is emerging as one of the league's best big men and Jaron Belin, a 6-6 forward coming in from Monroe Community College, will be an impact newcomer.
5) Fairfield. I love how hard the Stags play under Ed Cooley. Only lingering injuries will keep the Stags from being competitive.
6) Iona. Five returnees who all saw some time in last season's starting lineups, two solid red-shirt freshmen become eligible and four touted freshmen ... if it all comes together, Gaels could be better than this.
7) Loyola. Standout perimeter players joined by 6-10 Maryland transfer Shane Walker. And, no Jimmy Patsos team will ever be anything less than competitive.
8) Canisius. All five starters back, along with a touted freshman (Rob Gagliardi). The Golden Griffins could easily do better than this.
9) Manhattan. Only one double-figure scorer (Darryl Crawford) is back. But, the Jaspars always seem to overachieve under Barry Rohrssen.
10) Marist. Its best two players have graduated. But, a Villanova transfer (6-10 Casiem Drummond) who is eligible after the first semester; an ACC transfer (guard Daye Kaba, formerly at Boston College) who is eligible immediately, and some promising freshmen create optimism.
In talking to coaches around the league this offseason, the universal theme is that there won't be any easy nights on this year's schedule, and that's my perspective, too.
Any of the bottom five teams could easily finisher higher than predicted here, and that's rarely the case. In most seasons, there has almost always been a program or two that could be counted on to struggle. But, that doesn't seem to be the case this year.
For an expanded MAAC preview ... I hope you'll rush to your local newsstand to purchase The Sporting News College Basketball Annual. It's not there yet, but will be at some point in early to mid September.
AND, NOW THAT WE'VE GOT YOUR ATTENTION (hopefully) ...
Yours truly will be taking a brief hiatus to visit an old friend in central New York's wine country.
Bully Hill, anyone?
The MAAC blog will resume by Aug. 7.
NEXT UP: I'll be taking a look at incoming players, transfers and recruits.
Again, thanks for reading.