One of the early qualifiers for the NCAA tournament, James Madison University, has a definite MAAC presence on its sideline.
JMU earned its trip to the NCAA's with a 70-57 victory over Northeastern in the Colonial Athletic Association tournament's championship game Monday afternoon.
The program's head coach is Matt Brady, finishing off his fifth year there.
Brady's playing days came at Siena (1983-84 through 1986-87), before Siena joined the MAAC. But, after a long run as an assistant at St. Joseph's, Brady joined the MAAC as Marist's head coach for four years (2004-05 through 2007-08) where his teams finished with a 73-50 overall record. Brady then moved on to JMU.
But, after a 67-67 record through his first four years with the Colonials, Brady entered the current season on the last year of his contract. The perception was that his team's performance this season would determine if he would be retained.
Looks like that will happen, with JMU currently 20-14 and headed to the NCAA event.
Brady isn't the only MAAC connection on the JMU bench.
He's joined there by his first-year assistant Mike Deane who, ironically, was Brady's head coach for a season (1986-87) at Siena, which was Brady's senior season.
Deane coached eight seasons at Siena, before also coaching at Marquette, Lamar and Wagner. He had been out of basketball for the previous two seasons before Brady brought him back at JMU.
Also on the staff is Rob O'Driscoll, Brady's assistant for four seasons at Marist. O'Driscoll was also in the MAAC for eight other seasons, six at Iona (under head coach Jeff Ruland) and two before that on the Manhattan staff.
And, JMU's first-year director of basketball operations is Lucious Jordan, who began his playing career at Loyola and was the MAAC's Rookie of the Year in the 2001-02 season. Jordan also played at Loyola in 2002-03 before transferring to his hometown UAlbany program.
Coincidentally, the CAA tournament also featured another former MAAC coach. Paul Hewitt, Siena's head coach for three seasons (1997-98 through 1999-2000), is in his second season as the helm of the George Mason program.
Hewitt's team nearly advanced to the CAA's championship game, where he would have matched up with Brady's JMU squad. But, George Mason squandered a 31-7 early lead in the semifinal round of that event and lost to Northeastern, which became JMU's championship game foe.