Saturday, January 23, 2010

Many Notes on Conference Happenings

News and Notes from around the MAAC …

- Let’s hope conference coaches are better at X’s and O’s than they are at predictions. In their preseason poll they picked Niagara and Rider to finish second and third in this year’s standings. But, at the exact halfway mark of this season Niagara is 4-5 in league play (11-10 overall) and Rider is 3-6 (10-11 overall), good for sixth and seventh place, respectively. If the season ended right now, the Broncs would be in the post-season tournament’s play-in round.

- Here’s an amazing statistic: Kaitlin Grant, a senior forward for the Loyola women’s basketball team, had 12 steals in a game against Mount St. Mary’s earlier this season. That accounted for not only a MAAC record, but the most steals in any Division I women’s game since Georgia Tech’s Jillian Ingram also had 12 in a game late in the 2007-08 season., and only two short of the all-time national record of 14 in a single game. She entered her team’s game Friday night at Siena with 52 steals in 17 games (3.1 per outing), the 16th-best average nationally.

- The Siena women, who are off to a 4-3 start and tied for third in the conference standings (coaches picked them to finish 8th), held Loyola to 33 points in a 59-33 Saints’ victory in Loudonville, N.Y., Friday night before a crowd of 1,159 at Siena’s Alumni Recreation Center. Loyola’s 33 points accounted for the fewest points scored by a Siena opponent by a Division I opponent in the program’s history. The previous low by a Siena D-I opponent had been 38.

- A .500 record usually isn’t something to brag about, but it’s definitely progress at Canisius where the Golden Griffins got to that level again overall (10-10), their latest run into a season with a .500 mark since the 2000-01 season. They got there with a 74-58 victory over Rider on Friday night in Buffalo. Senior guard Frank Turner had 21 points, six rebounds and six assists without committing a turnover in the contest.

- One-year Siena standout Jack McClinton will have his uniform raised to the rafters (but not retired) at the University of Miami’s BankUnited Center in pregame ceremonies there Feb. 17 prior to a contest against Duke. McClinton left Siena after his freshman season and, then, led Miami in scoring his three seasons there. He also became the program’s first two-time All-ACC selection before his graduation after the 2008-09 season.

- Niagara was without senior guard Tyrone Lewis (shoulder injury) in its 74-65 loss to Saint Peter’s Friday night. It was the Purple Eagles’ second loss to the Peacocks in 11 days. Saint Peter’s also earned a 90-86 victory in double overtime 11 days prior to Friday’s game. Niagara has lost four of its last five conference games (the two to Saint Peter’s, and one each to Siena and Iona). Lewis' absence marked the ninth time this season that the Purple Eagles have played a game without one of their two first-team all-conference honorees from last season, either Lewis or Bilal Benn.

- Iona won a very entertaining 56-53 contest over Manhattan Friday night that was shown on ESPNU. The Jaspers rallied from a 10-point deficit early in the second half to take some late-game leads before succumbing. Manhattan’s standout junior guard Rico Pickett finished with 22 points, but … after a late-game drive to the basket, he took a couple of seconds for some post-play showboating to fans under the basket, causing him to be totally out of the play defensively as the Gaels subsequently pushed the ball up court. Note to Pickett: Less showboating, more hustle.

- There’s quite a race for the conference’s top scorer among men’s players. Through Friday’s games, senior guard Frank Turner of Canisius tops the list with a 17.1 points-per-game average (20 games, 342 points). Next is Niagara’s senior guard Tyrone Lewis at 17.06 (16 games, 273 points) and Manhattan’s junior guard Rico Pickett at 17.0 (17 games, 289 points).

- Last year’s leading scorer, Jamal Barney at Loyola, appears to have parted ways with the Greyhounds. Team coach Jimmy Patsos will only say that Barney has left the team for “personal reasons.” But, the junior guard had only started four times this seasons and (and averaging 13.3 points per game), and sources indicate he was not pleased with his role. Loyola was not only without Barney, but without leading scorer Brett Harvey (shoulder injury) in Thursday’s game at Siena … and held a 60-54 lead with 5:44 remaining before Siena went on a 13-1 run after that to earn a 67-61 victory.

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