The voting by league coaches that determined this year’s MAAC all-star teams will be released tomorrow.
Here’s how they should have voted, according to this blogger.
- Alex Franklin, 6-5 senior forward, Siena (15.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, .568 shooting percentage)
Sixth in scoring in the conference, fifth in rebounding, second in field goal accuracy. An athletic inside player who is all but unstoppable in the post. One of the team's two "go-to" players when points are absolutely needed.
- Ryan Rossiter, 6-8 junior center, Siena (14.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, .585 shooting percentage)
The league’s top center is a double-double machine getting 18 this year, the sixth highest total among all Division I players. Leads the MAAC in rebounding and field goal percentage.
- Edwin Ubiles, 6-6 senior forward, Siena (15.2 points, .486 shooting percentage).
Arguably the most-talented player in the conference who was hindered by a series of nagging injuries. Still, eighth in scoring and 4th in FG percentage. Takes and makes more than his share of shots in key situations.
- Frank Turner, 5-10 senior guard, Canisius (16.5 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists).
He has almost single-handedly kept Canisius respectable this season. He ranks 4th in scoring, 5th in field-goal percentage, 2nd in assists, 1st in steals and 17th in rebounding among league players.
- Anthony Johnson, 6-8 senior forward, Fairfield (15.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, .515 shooting percentage).
Hopefully coaches didnt turn in their votes until this weekend's games were over because the bruising big man saved his best for last with a 28-point, 12-rebound effort Friday vs. Iona (to secure second place in the league) and, then, followed up with a 24-point/23-rebound effort on Sunday vs. Niagara. Hs is No. 7 in scoring, No. 2 in rebounding and No. 1 in blocked shots.
- Derek Needham, 6-0 freshman guard, Fairfield (16.0 points, 5.4 assists).
Without the freshman capably taking the reigns of the team's offense, Fairfield doesn't win half as many games. He is the conference’s fifth-highest scoring freshman in its 29-year history. Ranks 5th this season in scoring, third in assists and 2nd in steals.
- Ronald Moore, 5-11 senior guard, Siena (6.6 points, 7.7 assists, 1.8 steals).
It's extremely difficult to leave the national leader in assists off the first team, but his play when he wasn't distributing was diminished this season. His 30.9 field goal percentage allows opponents to back off him. Still, he's the conference's best pure point-guard and directs the league's best offense.
- Bilal Benn, 6-5 senior forward, Niagara (13.5 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.3 assists).
Mr. Versatility who ranks 2nd in rebounding, 7th in assists and 4th in steals. High energy player who has first-team skills but has been limited for portions of the season with a knee situation.
- Ryan Thompson, 6-6 senior guard, Rider (16.9 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists)
The conference’s preseason Player of the Year had a relatively disappointing season, including a lackluster 10-point effort vs. Siena on Friday. A sterling six-game run when he averaged more than 25 points late in the season didn't balance off a lengthy stretch of inconsistent play earlier in the year to earn first-team status.
- Tyrone Lewis, 5-10 senior guard, Niagara (16.9 points, 1.9 steals)
One of the quickest, most-athletic backcourt players in the conference. He is 2nd in scoring, 2nd in steals and first in made 3-pointers.
- Rico Pickett, 6-4 junior guard, Manhattan (17.1 Points, .435 shooting percentage)
A gifted offensive player who is still developing an all-around game. Finishes as the conference’s leading scorer in an inconsistent season that included a 2-point perfmance Sunday against Loyola.
- Darryl Crawford, 6-3 senior guard, Manhttan ( 14.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists)
He does a little bit of everthing. He is 9th in scoring, 12th in rebounding, 8th in field-goal percentage and 11th in assists.
- Wesley Jenkins, 6-2 junior guard, Saint Peter’s (14.1 points, 5.1 rebounds).
One of the league’s top perimeter marksmen. His 55 made 3’s ranks 5th in the league. He is 12th in scoring and 18th in rebounding.
- Scott Machado, 6-1 sophomore guard, Iona (12.4 points, 3.8 assists).
He runs the offense for a team that finished far above preseason expectations. Probably the MAAC’s No. 3 point guard (behind Moore and Needham). He is 5th in assists and 8th in steals.
- Ryan Bacon, 6-7 junior forward, Saint Peter’s (10.0 points, 9.0 rebounds).
Not quite the improvement he showed between his freshman and sophomore seasons, but still a solid year. He is 4th in rebounding and 5th in blocked shots.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alex Franklin, Siena.
Siena’s clear go-to player when the Saints needed points in the paint. Rarely had an off game.
His teammate, Rossiter, is the second choice to this blogger.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Derek Needham, Fairfield.
This one isn’t even close. Needham is one of the top first-year players ever to appear in the MAAC.
COACH OF THE YEAR: Ed Cooley, Fairfield.
Clearly the most-difficult choice of any award this season. The runner-up, Siena's Fran McCaffery, directed a team to a conference record 17 regular-season victories and matched the largest margin of separation (four games) between the first- and second-place teams in MAAC history
Still ... Fairfield began the season with two starters, forwards Greg Nero and Warren Edney, lost for the season with injuries. And, the Stags have played the last 11 games without another starter, guard Yorel Hawkins (knee injury), who was their second-leading scorer at the time.
Subtract three key starters from any team and the results are not likely to be a 20-victory season (Fairfield's 20-9 record thus far marks the first time the program has hit 20 wins since the 1995-96 season), or a second-place 13-5 finish in the conference standings.
- Derek Needham, 6-foot-0 freshman guard, Fairfield (16.0 points, 5.4 assists, 1.9 steals)
Just one of four freshmen ever to average more than 15 points per game in the MAAC, joining Lionel Simmons of La Salle (1986-87), Jerry Johnson of Rider (2001-02) and Keydren Clark of Saint Peter’s (2002-03) to record that accomplishment. Clearly a future star of major proportions at this level.
- Candon Rusin, 6-4 freshman guard, Marist (9.7 points, 56 3-pointers).
Rushed into service because of struggling Marist’s pressing needs, Rusin responded with long-range shooting (third most 3’s made in the conference) and a near double-digit average for a program that needed points. One of two conference freshmen (along with Needham) to lead their team in scoring.
- Devon Price, freshman Marist (8.8 points, 2.6 assists)
Like his teammate, Rusin, he got thrust into a starting role early and has adapted well to capably handle Marist's point guard duties. He is 30th in the conference in scoring and 13th in assist and has hit 37 3’s. He and Rusin provide a measure of future optimism for a program that hasn’t had much of that in recent years.
- Darius Conley, 6-7 freshman forward, Saint Peter’s (6.4 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.2 blocks)
When this blogger left Conley’s name off a preseason prediction of the conference's freshmen of influence, a message came from Peacocks’ coach John Dunne that Conley deserved mention, too. The season has proven Dunne correct. Conley is an effectively rugged, hard-working inside player that does much good work not always measured by box scores.
- Kyle Smith, 6-4 freshman guard, Iona (8.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, 49 made three-pointers).
No program had more new players coming aboard this season than Iona, and coach Kevin Willard’s work in getting all the new parts to mesh was well-done. Smith is just one of many talented newcomers with the Gaels, a valuable long-range shooter with a hard-nosed attitude on the court.