I almost hate to go here, particularly since there's still one more game left in the regular season. But, in the interest of providing help to league coaches who might read this blog, here are one blogger's selections for the conference's men's first-team all-star squad:
- Ryan Rossiter, 6-9 senior center, Siena
Leads the conference in scoring and rebounding ... and, according to Siena's sports information office, no MAAC player has done that since Lionel Simmons' senior season. Rossiter also ranks No. 3 all time in career rebounds in the MAAC, and needs just 22 more rebounds to become the third player in conference history to record at least 400 rebounds in a single season. If the Saints win a first-round post-season tournament game then Rossiter is likely to set a league record for rebounds in a single season.
- Michael Glover, 6-7 junoir forward, Iona
The league's version of a human highlight film. He ranks second in the MAAC in scoring and rebounding, and second in field-goal percentage. He clearly could play at a higher level, and there aren't too many conference players that can be said about.
- Justin Robinson, 6-2 senior guard, Rider
His team is tied for second place entering Sunday's games, and he's a big reason. Robinson ranks No. 4 in scoring, sixth in assists and first in free-throw percentage. A complementary player in previous years, he has stepped into more of a featured role with a seamless transition.
- Scott Machado, 6-2 junior guard, Iona
Hard to omit the player who leads the country in assists. Machado is also seventh in scoring. But, he has noticeably matured as a player this season becoming as adept with his ability to run a team and find open teammates as he is in finding his own shot, which seemed to be his preference in his first two seasons.
- Derek Needham, 5-11 sophomore guard, Fairfield
No. 5 in the league in scoring, No. 4 in assists and arguably the most athletic guard in the league. Numbers don't begin to measure his value to the conference's best team. He is a true leader, despite his relative youth, and makes big plays whenever he senses they're needed.
-HARDEST TO OMIT
That would be Niagara's senior guard Anthony Nelson, who ranis 5th in the conference in scoring, 2nd in assists and not only first in the MAAC in steals, but first nationally. Ask me on another day, and yours truly might have Nelson on the first team over Needham. The Purple Eagles' point guard will go down as one of the most underappreciated performers in conference history. But, if you watch him regularly you understand just how good he is. And, he is one of my favorite players from the MAAC in recent years. Had his team been able to win a few more games this season (and, I know, that's not his fault), he'd be a certain first-team pick.
COACH OF THE YEAR:
Ed Cooley, Fairfield.
It's easy to pick the coach of the first-place team, but it's just as easy to see why Cooley deserves the honor. His team entered the final day of games with a three-game edge in the standings in a league that traditionally has the type parity the NFL strives for. Cooley's three top backcourt performers are two sophomores and a freshman in a league where experience usually comes out on top. And, he helped turn 7-foot junior Ryan Olander, a role player in past seasons, into a significant contributor who might wind up as a third-team all-MAAC pick.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Forget the fact that his team might finish seventh, which would make Rossiter the first player to win the top individual award from a team that low in the conference standings. His season was historical at this level.