Thursday, March 4, 2010

Marist's Fitz Wins Third Top Player Award

Lionel Simmons, a 6-foot-7 forward who played at former league member La Salle from the 1986-87 through the 1989-90 season, is the league's transcendent star; the Michael Jordan of the MAAC, if you will.

And, now, Simmons has a female counterpart,.

Simmons remains the only male player in conference history to be named its Player of the Year over three different seasons.

And, now, Marist's 6-foot-0 senior forward Rachele Fitz joins him, becoming the first female player to capture the conference's top award for three straight seasons.

Fitz was named this season's award winner at ceremonies Thursday evening at the Times Union Center.

Fitz claims she never expected this type of career, despite considerable interest from programs higher than the mid-major level.

"I got letters from Duke, Indiana ... a lot of big schools," said Fitz. "But I never got offers from them because I never responded. I didn't want to go to those schools."

So, why did Fitz, arguably the best female player in MAAC history, wind up at Marist?

"My career ambition is to be a fashion designer, and Marist has one of the best fashion design programs in the country," said Fitz. "So, I guess in that respect coach (Brian) Giorgis got lucky."

Has Fitz ever directly told her coach that he "got lucky" when he landed Fitz.

"No, I've never told him that," said Fitz, smiling. "But, I guess it's OK if I say it now ... he doesn't have much longer to get mad at me."

Fitz already owns 13 career or single-season records at Marist, but her work transcends her school.

She currently has career totals of 2,385 points and 1,033 rebounds.

The point total is third-highest in league history. She needs 33 more points to move into second place and 83 to become the MAAC's all-time point leader.

Her rebound total is eighth-best of all-time in conference history.

This year's male Player of the Year is Siena's 6-foot-5 senior forward Alex Franklin, who becomes the second Siena player in two seasons to capture that honor. Kenny Hasbrouck, a senior a year ago, was last year's top player.

Other award winners:


- MEN: Derek Needham, Fairfield's 5-11 freshman guard.
- WOMEN: Kayla Stroman, Niagara's 5-5 freshman guard.


- MEN: Mike Evanovich, Fairfield's 6-8 senior forward.
- WOMEN: Ali Morris, Niagara's 5-8 sophomore guard.


- MEN: Anthony Johnson, Fairfield's 6-8 senior forward.
- WOMEN: Stephanie Geehan, Fairfield's 6-2 senior center.


- MEN: Iona's Kevin Willard.
- WOMEN: Niagara's Kendra Faustin.

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