Monday, November 1, 2010

Marist Men's Preview: Better Days Coming


2009-10 record: 1-17 in MAAC play, 1-29 overall.

2010-11 Preseason Poll: League coaches pick Marist to finish 10th in the 10-team conference.

KEY RETURNEES: 6-4 sophomore guard Candon Rusin (9.5 points, 1.9 rebounds), 6-1 sophomore guard Devin Price (9.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists), 6-9 senior forward Korey Bauer (7.8 points, 6.5 rebounds), 6-3 sophomore guard Sam Prescott (7.5 points, 2.1 points0, 6-2 senior guard Dejuan Goodwin (5.1 points, 2.5 assists), 6-7 sophomore forward Rob Johnson (6.6 points, 3.2 rebounds).

KEY LOSSES: 6-5 guard Daye Kaba (8.7 points, 5.0 rebounds).

NOTES: The 1-17 finish matches the worst conference record in history. Only Loyola's teams of 2002-03 and 2003-04 also had 1-17 records. The 1-29 overall record is the worst ever recorded by a conference team. The only other MAAC team to go through a season with a single overall victory was the 2003-04 Loyola team, which finished 1-27. It is not a stretch to rank the 2009-10 Marist team as the worst ever in the conference's 29-year history. The team's only victory was on Jan. 2 over Manhattan. It enters the 2010-11 season with an 18-game losing streak....
Marist was the only Division I team nationally whose top two scorers (Rusin and Price) were freshmen...
Kaba, a transfer from Boston College who only played one season for the Red Foxes, left school to seek professional opportunities overseas despite a remaining year of eligibility. But, by midseason, he was coming off Marist's bench. He's the team only key loss, and his role was diminished in the second half of the season.
Prescott, an athletic wing performer, might have been the team's best freshman but he only appeared in 18 games before academic difficulties forced him to sit out the second half of 2009-10.

HOW MARIST CAN SUCCEED: Success is relative here. The Red Foxes aren't going to compete for the league title, and improvement is likely to come in small steps for now. If it can even approach double figures for overall victories it would be a significant improvement. But, things are getting better. Last year's three good freshmen (Rusin, Price and Prescott) are now sophomores. The year's experience will help. If they stay together, they'll eventually comprise one of the conference's better perimeter groups. But, mid-major programs rarely get finished products, and there aren't any here. Players mature, emerge and improve as their careers progress. Last year Marist force fed its freshmen into action against older, better players. The team's best players will be sophomores this season, but still be facing older and better players at their respective positions most nights. Then there's the reality that there isn't much else on hand yet. Bauer is a 6-9 banger who is a career role player. Rob Johnson, a 6-7 forward entering his sophomore year, averaged 6.6 points and 3.2 rebounds this year. He'll be needed to make a significant jump for Marist to compete up front against conference opponents. But, like the perimeter youth, he'll only be a second-year player competing against veteran foes. Marist got outrebounded by an astronomical 6.5 per game, and needs to find a way to trim that deficit. Freshmen Adam Keefe and Peter Prinsloo are both 6-10, but also considered to be projects for now and neither is expected to contribute immediately. There's also 6-8, 270-pound Menelik Watson, who redshirted last year. He might also help, but he'll be getting his first taste of the college level this season, too. There is some buzz for 6-5 freshman Jay Bowie, who might get into the playing group.

COACH'S COMMENT: "I like what our kids have been doing in preseason practices," said coach Chuck Martin. "We're young, but our young guys played a lot of minutes last year ... in some cases too many minutes. But, hopefully, that will begin to pay off this year and in years to come.

PREDICTION: A likely last-place finish again, but a chance maybe to move up a notch. Anything more than six or seven victories overall should be a satisfactory result, but the Red Foxes will be considerably more competitive than a year ago and fans of the program should enjoy watching the growing process.

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