Tuesday, March 2, 2010

No. 10 Marist Likely to Be Out Quickly

Another installment of the series looking at the chances of teams in the upcoming men's conference tournament.

Up now, Marist.

No. 10 Marist (1-17 in MAAC play, 1-28 overall)
RPI: 332

SEASON ANALYSIS: Whew ... I guess you could say the wheels fell off this year. The team was never expected to be anything more than a last-place finisher in the conference this year and, then, things got even worse.

Start with three academic suspensions and, then, the defection of one of the suspended players, 6-10 Villanova transfer Casiem Drummond, to an NAIA school. Marist might have been a little better with Drummond. Another academic casualty, Sam Prescott, had a solid first semester of his freshman season. When he had to leave the team for the remainder of the season, the fill-ins were more freshmen. It's good for player development, but it's not the optimum formula for winning games.

Marist is the MAAC's only team without a double-figure scorer. Your blogger hasn't researched this, but there probably aren't more than a half-dozen teams nationally, if that many, without a double-figure scorer.

It all adds up to Marist arguably having the worst single season in conference history.

On top of everything else, Boston College transfer Daye Kaba, a talented reserve with one more year of eligibility, announced he would forego his last season to play professionally overseas a year from now.

OK, let's get serious. The Red Foxes can't win this event. It won one game the entire season. There's a better chance I'll win the lottery than there is of Marist winning four straight games this weekend.

WHY MARIST WON'T WIN THE MAAC TOURNAMENT: Do we need to count the ways? Suffice to say not enough offense, not enough experience, not enough height, not enough talent, not enough of anything.

PREDICTION: Despite the year-long woes, Marist was still playing hard when it lost at Siena on Sunday. It will play hard in its play-in game here, too, before losing to Canisius.

WHAT'S NEXT: The light at the end of the proverbial tunnel might be an oncoming train. Kaba, who could have helped next season, won't be back. Two freshmen looked decent this year. Devin Price looks like he could be an effective point guard, and Candon Rusin is a talented long-range shooter. But, both got shoved into roles this season before their time. Maybe that will make them better a year from now. DeJuan Goodwin is a good role player at guard. Korey Bauer is a role-playing inside performer. There is no "impact" player in the program, not the type that helps teams play at least at a consistent competitive level. The program somehow needs to find one or more. It tried the transfer route (Drummond/Kaba), and that didn't work. Marist is looking at the bottom of the MAAC standings for the foreseeable future.


Mulldog said...

Drummond would have been so big. Kaba is a good player...slasher with a jumper. Price should be a very good point guard. Rusin is a shooter. Prescott, said to have All-MAAC potential was very impressive...Hall was a decent backup PG. Didn't like Johnson's game at all but the kid certainly looks the part in this league. Bauer developed through the year but still isn't any good. The team desperately needs a couple of bigs with some muscle. They get absolutely abused down low. Kaba leaving really hurts because he was a nice piece, but they should be able to find some wings, particularly if Johnson develops. Not sure what the status on Prescott and Hall will be moving forward, but they have a decent core of guards there. Find some bigs and they might improve a lot faster than people expect...don't find some bigs and remain in the cellar.

Little do people who read these comment sections know that I am not in fact a Niagara homer. Actually, I grew up near Marist and have seen many a game at the McCann Center. I also had a high school teammate go on to a prominent role at Siena...so my allegiances run through a few of the MAAC teams. Hopefully Marist gets it together, because there is no tougher venue in the MAAC (country?) than the McCann when it's full and rocking.

Steve Amedio said...

Mulldog --
If you think McCann is the toughest venue in the country ... you haven't been to Cameron Indoor Arena. I could probably name a dozen more off the top of my head, easily. Maybe most-intimidating place when full in the MAAC (although Niagara is a great place, too).
I won't agree on Drummond. He had a bad rep/injuries ... I never thought he'd help Marist; and, he didnt.
I've seen Kaba twice and haven't been impressed. He comes off the bench, and does little.
"Find some bigs" ... every school in the country is trying to do that.
The best bigs go to the major level. Any bigs that are any good here are projects that develop over a couple of years.
Marist sill likely finish last again next season and, at least to me, need a lot to go right to be competitive two years from now. it will be a long climb back.

Mulldog said...

Yeah, country is way overstated..which is why I put it in parenthesis. Do think it is at least as tough as the Gallagher Center, though I think they are far and away the toughest two gyms, far tougher than the spacious Times Union Center that boasts a long win streak due to quality of team, not venue.

If you didn't think Drummond would help Marist because he'd never get eligible then fine, but if you don't think he would have helped Marist I'm not sure what you're looking at. From a pure talent perspective he could go toe-to-toe with any big in the MAAC. Kaba wasn't the second coming, but he was a solid versatile wing. He came off the bench? Who cares. He played more minutes per game than anyone other than Rusin and Bauer and Bauer played that many minutes out of pure necessity.

Obviously every team in the country is looking for bigs. They don't grow on trees but it's not a stretch to say a team can bring in a big that can compete in the MAAC. After all, it doesn't take much. Not like Marist has never seen a freshman big come in and play effectively before, don't you think?

Think they were younger but more talented with a greater hope for improvement than last years team which didn't even hold any pieces worth keeping. At least Price flashed competence at the point along with some other guys. Not going to compete for the MAAC crown next year and depending on the aforementioned players status may very well find themselves as the league doormat again but I wouldn't go making it a foregone conclusion just yet.

Steve Amedio said...

Drummond was a big-time problem in the past, so that wasn't going to change. That one was easy to call. As you know, there's a lot more than mere talent involved in being a productive player.

As for Kaba ... there's a reason why he isn't starting. He's a "solid" player at best, who wasn't going to get any better because, I believe, he's the oldest player in the MAAC. Statistically he is mediocre. In the two times I've seen him play, his game doesn't seem to fit a "team" concept. Maybe I'm wrong on that, but that's my impression.

I'll throw in Iona and Manhattan, along witht he Taps Gallagher Center, as terrific home-court atmospheres when those gyms are full. Basically, they're all about the same as Marist ... small facilities where loud crowds are virtually on top of the court. But, I honestly wouldn't rate one of those four over the other ... and I've been to all of them dozens of times. The only "edge" Marist has in terms of its home court site is that it has the best pep band in the league.

Marist needs a ton of help. It has no inside game whatsoever, which is the hardest thing to get at this level.
When exactly was the last time Marist had a quality "big" that had an impact as a freshman ... 25 years ago?

Price and Rushin (and, maybe, Prescott) are "nice" players, but is any from that group going to be an all-league player next season? Probably not.

In my 25 years of covering the MAAC, I can't remember a team with as little talent as Marist has right now. Plus, one of its recruits recently opted out.

After looking at what every team has coming back next season ... Marist is an overwhelming choice to finish last again next year and not be real competitive the year after that.

All that said, I certainly hope that I'm wrong because a good Marist team makes the league stronger.

Mulldog said...

I know what you're saying with Drummond and certainly you were right about the end-result. At this point it's playing the what-if game...
As for Marist having an impact big, I guess we just have a different opinion of how good a big has to be to make an impact in the MAAC. Niagara plays with virtually no big and last year Eggy was basically a fairly athletic stiff. Iona plays 4 guards. Manhattan has one of the weakest front-courts outside of Marist I can ever recall being assembled. The vast majority of bigs in the MAAC are stiffs. I agree, you won't get ready-made talent as a big in this league. Look at a guy like Scooter Gillette who is awfully talented and has contributed little on a team devoid of bigs (though looks to be coming into his own). I guess my point was this. If you watch Bauer, he's about as bad as I've ever seen. I hate to rag on an amateur athlete but the kid gets moved around like a rag doll, look no further than the Vermont game to see just how badly he gets shoved around. He has no real discernible skillset. Yet he plays all game every game. In my opinion, picking up any players with any size is going to help this team for the fact that they simply can not get any worse inside.

Prescott is claimed to have All-MAAC potential. Statistically it's hard to gauge most of these Marist players because as the whole they are so bad. I don't think any team in the country blocks fewer shots than Marist per possession. And they simply do not score it inside the arc. This is attributed, in my opinion, from a lack of anything resembling a serviceable big...and young guards who are adept at getting in the lane but too weak to finish. Not sure how much Devin Price you saw this year, but the kid has a great handle and good burst. He did a miraculously good job taking care of the ball as a freshman point guard for a team this bad and while Marist turned it over a lot as a team, they would've probably been bottom-10 in the country if not for Price. He would get into the lane but was simply too weak to finish. He needs to get stronger and develop some more finishing moves..but even just having a big body down low that could put in a layup or dunk would probably help him immensely. The exact same scouting report could be given to Sam Prescott.

I don't know..I've never seen a team with less talent inside, I completely agree with that. And never saw a MAAC team with nearly as poor of a combo of nothing down low and undeveloped guard/wing play. That said, Price/Prescott/Rusin/Hall and possibly Taylor will, if not next year then the one after, be a pretty good MAAC backcourt in my opinion. Obviously Hall and Prescott have to prove they can remain academically eligible..and Taylor couldn't even get PT on this team. At the least Price and Rusin should give this team a backcourt core to build around. As bad as Johnson was, can we really give up on a 6'6 freshman wing with his athletic ability after just one season on a young, poor team?

I agree, they need some help and need things to go right or could be the worst again next year..I'll agree to disagree that there is no talent on this roster though.

Steve Amedio said...

Egemoyne was a rebounder, a shot-blocker and an above-average inside defender .... far from a stiff.
Niagara has dropped off without him, but remains competitive because it has two of the better players in the league in Benn and Lewis, as well as a very goog PG in Nelson, among others.
Marist doesn't have anywhere near any of that talent in place.

There is some talent on Marist, but no where near enough and no where near experienced enough.

My very strong early prognosis is another 10th place finish next season.