Tuesday marked the MAAC's newly named "Preseason Awards Show," formerly known as media day. While the format was redesigned to accomodate a telecast, and the venue (the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.) was new, the news that came from the event was similar ... the release of the preseason polls by the conference's men's and women's coaches.
So, without further delay, we'll start with the coaches' predictions for how women's teams will finish.
In order, first-place votes in parenthesis and including total points based on 10 points for a first-place vote to one for a last-place vote....
1. Marist (10) 100
2. Loyola 84
3. Fairfield 78
4. Manhtattan 64
5. Iona 59
6. Canisius 55
7. Siena 46
T8. Saing Peter's 23
T8. Rider 23
10. Niagara 18
ANALYSIS: Hard to argue against six-time defending league champion Marist winning once again, but the thought here is that it has gotten too easily just to automatically vote the Red Foxes No. 1 and, then, move on.
The league appears far more balanced, with Marist getting a greater challenge from any number of teams ... on a given night your hoopscribe believes teams picked from No. 2 to No. 7 can be competitive this season.
Marist not only lost last year's Player of the Year (Erica Allenspach to graduation), but saw emerging 6-4 star Kate Oliver transfer out of the program. The Red Foxes won't be as tall as in recent seasons, and they'll be relying on several former role players to step up.
The belief here is that Loyola, with two of the better players in the confere3nce in junior point guard Katie Sheahin and senior small forward Miriam McKenzie, is the most-likely team to be able to seriously challenge Marist this coming season.
Surprise teams? We'll go with Iona (picked for fifth place) and Siena (picked for seventh).
The Gaels not only have one of the conference's best players in forward Kristina Ford, but also can count on the return to form of senior point guard Suzi Fregosi (out most of last season with a hip injury), who might be the best pass-first floor general in the conference.
Siena has standout perimeter seniors in Christina Centeno and Maya Gerlyng, a potential all-league caliber player in junior forward Lily Grinci, who battled injuries her first two seasons, and a six-member sophomore class that appears to have made major strides since a year ago.