Thursday, December 10, 2009

Around the MAAC: Notes, Milestones

Time to catch up on some recent items of note ...


Niagara's standout 6-foot-5 forward Bilal Benn had what the school has termed "minor" knee surgery recently. School officials claim that Benn is out for the "short term."

The Buffalo News reports that Benn will likely be out a month. If that's the case Benn will miss just two conference games, Jan. 2 against Iona and Jan. 4 against Faifield, both at home and both games the Purple Eagles are capable of winning even without their top player.

If the month timetable holds up, he would make his return in a Jan. 9 game at Siena.

Through nine games Benn had averaged 15.6 points and a conference best 11.0 rebounds per game. He is one of the MAAC's most-versatile players and most certainly a contender for Player of the Year honors this season.

In Benn's absence, 6-6 forward Demetrius Williamson is the likely new starter. He had averaged 11.1 points and 5.2 rebounds thus far coming off the bench.


In Benn's absence against UBuffalo Wednesday night, Niagara's senior guard Tyrone Lewis stepped up with 26 points in an 86-80 loss.

The bigger news, though, is that Lewis connected on six three-pointers to become Niagara's all-time career leader in made treys. Lewis now has 222 for his career, surpassing Lorenzo Miles (2003-07) who had 220 career three-pointers for the Purple Eagles.

Those numbers, though, don't begin to approach the all-time best by any conference player. Former Saint Peter's standout Keydren Clark (2002-06) made 435 trifectas.

Will Whittington of Marist (2003-07) with 362 and Jerry Johnson of Rider (2002-05) with 326 are the only other conference players with more than 300 career treys.


Marist's 6-foot-1 senior forward Rachele Fitz scored her 2,000th career point in the first half of Wednesday's 80-71 loss to Oklahoma at the McCann Center on Wednesday.

Fitz, the two-time defending MAAC women's Player fo the Year, now has 2,021 career points, tying her for third all time among conference players.

Patty Stoffey (Loyola, 1991-95) leads the all-time scoring list with 2,467 points, followed by Jeanine Radice (Fordham, 1985-89) with 2,417. Melanie Halker (Siena 1995-99), along with Fitz, has 2,021 career points.

The contest with Oklahoma drew a sell-out crowd to the Marist facility on a snowy night better suited to staying home. That so many supporters braved the elements is a strong statement about the interest that the Marist women's program has built in recent years.

It also drew the attention of ESPN, and one of its writers, Graham Hays, wrote a nice look at the evening which can be found here:


Siena women's coach Gina Castelli also reached a personal milestone recently when her team knocked off the University of Albany, 65-61, in overtime on Dec. 5.

The victory pushed Castelli's career record over 20 seasons as a head coach, all at Siena, to 300-251. She is a five-time conference Coach of the Year.

Only Mike Granelli formerly of Saint Peter's (he is now retired) with 483 victories, and Dianne Nolan of Fairfield (she is now an assistant at Yale) with 434 victories, have more career wins while coaching a school while it has been a conference member.

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