This weekend marked the mid-way point of the conference season, as good a time as any to give one Hoopscribe's opinion on the conference's best so far:
At the mid-way point, here are my choices for top conference honors, with reasoning when applicable ...
- Mike Glover, Iona (18.8 points, 8.9 rebounds). He leads the conference in scoring, and is No. 2 in rebounds. His 66.8 field-goal percentage is fourth-best nationally.
- Scott Machado, Iona (13.3 points, 10.0 assists). Not only leads the MAAC in assists, but is No. 1 nationally.
- George Beamon, Manhattan (18.0 points, 5.7 rebounds). Conference's second-leading scorer after a career-high 33-point effort vs. Canisius on Friday. My preseason choice as the MAAC's top scorer this season, and he still might get there.
- O.D. Anosike, Siena (15.2 points, 12.7 rebounds). Mr. Automatic Double-Double, a school-record 16 straight and approaching the league's record of 19. Leads not only the conference, but the country in rebounding.
- Rakim Sanders, Fairfield (16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds). Fifth in the league in scoring, fourth in rebounding. One of just two league players in the top five in both categories (Glover is the other).
TOP AWARD PICKS
Player of the Year
Contenders: Anosike is a rare inside force. His double-double streak is just three short of the league's all-time record; Glover, the preseason pick for the award, leads the league in scoring and is No. 2 in rebounding. And, Machado leads the country in assists.
The pick: Machado ... for now. Having seen Iona several times, when Machado plays well so does the Gaels and when he has a rare off-night, the Gaels struggle. His position is the most-important at the college level, and the MAAC hasn't had a better point guard in many, many years ... if ever.
Rookie of the Year
Contenders: A year for great rookies, and we won't begin to try to name them all except to say that this scribe can't remember the last time so much first-year talent ... true freshmen ... came aboard all at once.
The Pick: Juan'ya Green, Niagara. His 17.2 ppg. average is third-best in the MAAC, and second-best nationally among all freshmen.
Coach of the Year
Contenders: Tim Cluess, Iona; Steve Masiello, Manhattan; Jimmy Patsos, Loyola; Mitch Buonaguro, Siena.
If either Manhattan or Loyola wins the regular-season title, its coach is the likely post-season pick. Masiello becomes an obvious choice for keeping Manhattan in contention at the end. Cluess's team, Iona, would probably need to run the table. The preseason pick already has two losses in its first 10 league games. And, Buonaguro's Saints are 5-5 in MAAC play with wins over Iona, Fairfield and Rider, and are playing with, basically, a six-man rotation. No one expected this. If Siena finishes over .500 in conference play, Buonaguro definitely deserves consideration.
The choice: Masiello of Manhattan. His team is 8-2 in the league and in a three-way tie for the top spot. It's 15-7 overall. Last year the Jaspers finished 3-15 and 6-25 but, now, are poised for potentially the best turnaround by any team nationally. Masiello, a first-year coach, had to get a team to adjust to a new style, new roles, etc. To now, no coach has done more, and no team has exceeded expectations more so than Manhattan.