One of the pleasures about college basketball is that there is constant change. In the MAAC that change doesn't happen with quite the rapidity of the high-major level where the best players are too often of the one-and-done variety before moving on to the pay-for-play opportunities. But, individual turnover happens every four years, if not sooner.
It's a refreshing sight to see new players join the MAAC and to watch either their development or immediate proficiency.
So your blogger has Monday, Jan. 3 circled on the calendar. It's when the Iona men visit my home base, the Albany, N.Y., area, to play Siena at the Times Union Center.
And I can't wait to see the latest MAAC standout newcomer, the Gaels' 6-foot-7 forward Mike Glover.
Glover is averaging 22.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, first and second-best, respectively, in the conference.
And, he has been a huge piece, along with first-year coach Tim Cluess's newly installed faster-paced offense, that has taken the Gaels from an offensively-challenged squad last year that averaged 66.1 points per outing to a dynamic offensive force that, prior to Saturday's game at Syracuse, averaged a MAAC-best 80.1 points per night.
Amazing how that happens when a newcomer comes in to immediately contribute 22-plus points a game.
But Glover isn't the typical newcomer. He comes in with one year of junior college ball behind him (he averaged 17.3 points per game at Eastern Utah Junior College last season).
Glover also has a proverbial "checkered" past, having attended three high schools and, now, four different colleges.
He originally accepted a scholarship to play at Seton Hall, enrolling there in the fall of 2007. But the NCAA ruled him ineligible while it investigated his academic record and he never played there. Still, attending Seton Hall started his five-year "clock" to fulfill his athletic career. Because this is his fourth year after that clock began, he has just this year and next season to compete at the collegiate level.
After Seton Hall he attended ASA Junior College in Brooklyn, but did not play there, and the College of Eastern Utah. Last spring, though, he initially announced he would attend St. Francis of N.Y. but changed his mind when that school's coach, Brian Nash, abruptly gave up coaching shortly after Glover's decision.
When Nash left Glover opted, then, to attend Iona. He preferred to stay in the New York metropolitan area to be close to his girlfriend and their young son.
Glover developed a reputation for his ability in NYC summer leagues, and is confident enough in taking on the challenges of playing in the MAAC to have made this preseason comment: "We're just ready to destroy some of the teams in the MAAC this year," said Glover. "I pretty much can't wait."
So far Glover has been backing up his words. Iona is 2-0 against MAAC opponents (having beaten Niagara and Canisius so far) and is riding a 7-game winning streak overall entering Saturday's contest at Syracuse.
Recently he earned an Oscar Robertson National Player of the Week award by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Dick Vitale's Player of the Week recognition on ESPN.com.
For the week he was honored he averaged 29.7 points and 12.7 rebounds in three games, posting double-doubles in all thre contests while shooting 67.3 percent (35-for-52) from the field. Included was a 39-point, 14-rebound effort against Canisius. On ESPN.com's Daily Leader Board, Glover had the top effort in the nation in that contest, and the second-best two nights later against Niagara when he had 30 points.
His back-to-back 30-point efforts made him just the second player in Iona history (Jeff Ruland was the first) to record back-to-back double-doubles with 30 or more points.
Glover's 39 points vs. Canisius represented the sixth-highest single-game scoring total in school history.
Glover's 22.1-point scoring average leads the MAAC while his 9.6 rebounds per night average is second.
It puts him clearly in the early running to be a conference Player of the Year candidate. Only Siena's senior center Ryan Rossiter (20.3 points, a national-leading 13.3 rebounds) appears to be a stronger candidate thus far.
If Glover does become the MAAC's Player of the Year either this season or next, he would be the first transfer student to earn that honor since former Manhattan standout Luis Flores earned that honor in the 2003-04 season.
And this blogger, for one, can't wait to see Glover play.