Here are one person's picks for the top individual award winners for women.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
THE CONTENDERS: Iona's freshman guard Damika Martinez, Niagara's freshman guard Meghan McGuinness and Loyola's Kara Marshall. Martinez averaged 16.1 points per game. McGuinness is the league's top long-range shooting threat (45.5 percent on three-pointers) and Marshall finished 13th in the league in scoring (11.0 ppg.) and fifth in steals (2.0).
THE PICK: Martinez, no doubt about it. She not only became the first freshman to lead the MAAC in scoring on the women's side in the league's 31-year history after no other freshman previously finished higher than fifth in the final scoring race.
COACH OF THE YEAR:
THE CONTENDERS: Fairifield's Joe Frager, Manhattan's John Olenowski, Marist's Brian Giorgis and Niagara's Kendra Faustin. Frager's team finished second and had just three losses (two to Marist) in league play; Olenowski's Manhattan team handed Marist its only conference loss and, between injuries and ineffectiveness, used five different players at point guard this season and still finished third in the final standings; Giorgis' Marist team won its ninth straight regular-season conference title; Faustin's Naigara team, after an 0-18 conference record last season, finished in the upper half of the league standings (tied for fifth with a 9-9 record) and went 7-5 down the stretch.
THE PICK: OK, let's see how most league teams would handle this scenario: Last season's Player of the Year guard graduates, as does the starting point guard. In the off season, an emerging 6-4 standout transfers out. And, a few games into the season, this year's starting point guard suffers a season-ending knee injury. That's what happened to Marist since the end of last season and the Red Foxes still dominated the conference, once again, with a 17-1 record. Giorgis should be a clear-cut winner.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
THE CONTENDERS: Siena's Lily Grenci, Fairfield's Taryn Johnson, Marist's Corielle Yarde and Loyola's Katie Sheahin. Clearly the toughest choice of any individual category for either men or women. There is no individual here who pulled away from the pack statistically. So, you look for even the slightest deficiencies. Yarde, the preseason Player of the Year choice, led her team in scoring, rebounding and assists. But, she only shot 40.4 percent from the field, 15th-best in the conference. Sheahin, who led Loyola in scoring and assists, was No. 9 in the country in steals but only shot 35.4 percent from the floor. Grenci finished second in the league in scoring as the MAAC's only women's player to score in double figures in all 18 conference games and was the No. 4 rebounder. Johnson led the league in blocks and had an astronomical shooting percentage (54.4), 12th-best nationally had she taken enough shots to qualify.
THE PICK: There won't be much debate here if any of the four are selected. But this blogger's choice, by the very slimmest of considerations, is Fairfield's Taryn Johnson. The senior forward never takes a bad shot, ranks third in the league in rebounding (8.1), first in field goal percentage, first in blocks and even fifth in steals for the team that finished in second place.