Saturday, March 9, 2013

Anosike, Martinez Making MAAC Statistical History

The MAAC's post-season basketball tournament is meant to determine which of its men's and women's teams advance to the NCAA's, but it also often serves as a showcase for some of its individual standouts.

That truly has been the case so far through through this event's first three days of play, particularly for an outgoing senior whose college career came to an end in the men's quarterfinal round Saturday afternoon, and a spectacular sophomore whose women's career continues with a berth in Monday's championship contest.

The players in question are Siena's 6-foot-8 senior forward and Iona's 5-7 sophomore guard Damika Martinez.

Martinez was this season's Player of the Year, while Anosike somehow was relegated to a second-team all-star spot.

Numbers aren't always the measure of a player, but they do tell the respective stories of Anosike and Martinez.

Anosike capped a spectacular career that saw him join Siena as a slender forward and, over the years, add enough bulk to withstand and even enjoy the rigors of physical inside play.

Along the way, playing as a lightly used freshman, a sophomore starter in the shadow of another Saint big-man standout Ryan Rossiter, Anosike blossomed into one of the nation's top rebounders nationally in his last two seasons.

In fact, his 12.5 rebound-per-game average in the 2011-12 season led all Division I players. He became one of just two players from the MAAC in the league's history to be a national rebound leader, joining former Fairfield standout Darren Phillip (1999-00 season).

However, it appears that he'll fall just short of becoming just the seventh player in NCAA history to lead the nation in rebounding for two straight years. He finishes with an 11.38 rebound-per-game average this year, just slightly behind national leader Andre Roberson of Colorado, who averages 11.46 per contest.

Roberson might miss the rest of the season with a viral illness and, then, win the rebound title without having to step on the court again.

That, though, doesn't diminish Anosike's rebounding exploits. He finishes his carer with 1,076, the fifth-best in MAAC history trailing only Lionel Simmons of La Salle (1,429), Jason Thompson of Rider (1,171), Rossiter (1,151) and Drew Henderson of Fairfield (1,080).

While Anosike has made his mark hauling in missed shots, Iona's Martinez is making a name for herself by making shots.

The prolific sophomore had a 36-point explosion in a quarterfinal-round game of this year's tournament, matching the all-time single-game high for the event, also held by former Loyola standout Patty Stoffey, who did it twice.

Martinez has led the MAAC in scoring in each of her first two seasons in the league. A year ago she became the first freshman in conference history to be a scoring leader.

Over two years thus far (with more games to play), she already has 1,069 career points.

Only three other players in MAAC history have ever scored more than 1,000 points over their first two college seasons. Rachele Fitz (Marist) had 1,169 over her first two years, Jeanine Radice (Fordham) had 1,137) and Stoffey had 1,013).

Those three remain the conference's three all-time career leaders in points. Stoffey is atop that list with 2,467, followed by Fitz with 2,447 and Radice with 2,417.

Martinez might well be on her way to cracking that list, too.

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