Monday, October 28, 2013

Best MAAC Stories: No. 32, Long-Range Success

Here is the first in what will be a season-long series looking at the best "stories" in the MAAC's basketball history.

The MAAC has been around for 32 years (now entering its 33rd year of operation), so we'll identify a "Terrific 32" from the archives.

Our list will comprise the best from both the men's and women's ranks, include individual achievement, team achievement and coaching accomplishments ... basically anything that had significance and is connected to the conference has been considered.

We'll try to write about one, or two, of the all-time best happenings each week in the series, counting down in reverse order, and we'll continue it throughout the upcoming season.

Your blogger has been around the MAAC almost for the entirety of its existence, having covered Army basketball (when that program was a league member) from 1981 through the 1984-85 season. After that, we moved to the Capital Region of upstate New York to pick up Siena College coverage, and was there when that program joined the MAAC in 1989.

We've been involved with MAAC coverage, either as a newspaper reporter or through this blog, ever since. We'll not only identify the top stories, but we'll provide some insight, either through outside reports or first-hand connections.

So, let's begin with ....

NO. 32


The three-point rule has been around for most of the MAAC's history (it was approved for the 1986-87 season), but never has it been put to better, or more prolific use, than in recent years.

The two greatest single-game 3-point efforts in league history have been turned in by current Iona men's senior guard Sean Armand and Saint Peter's women's sophomore guard Bridget Whitfield.

Armand had his big night in early January of 2012, midway through his sophomore season when he connected on a MAAC record of 10 three-pointers (on 19 attempts) in a 95-59 rout of Siena in a game played at Madison Square Garden.

Prior to the game, Siena's forward O.D. Anosike had been quoted saying "We're still Siena ... we still feel we're the Cadillac program (of the MAAC)."

"Guess the Cadillac didn't work today," Armand sad, afterwards.

Siena's roadside breakdown that night came mostly courtesy of Armand, who got a game-high 32 points in just 22 minutes of playing time.

Armand surpassed the conference's single-game record for MAAC three's that had previously been nine and held by Saint Peter's Keydren Clark (twice), Loyola's Andre Collins, Manhattan's Bruce Seales and Siena's Jim Secretarski.

"I have to see if we can get more games here (at MSG)," Armand told me, several days after his terrific long-range performance. "I'm from Brooklyn, so a lot of my friends and family members were able to watch."

There probably weren't many fans of the Saint Peter's women's team on hand when the Peacocks played at Siena's Alumni Recreation Center in late February of last season.

But that didn't deter then-freshman guard Bridget Whitfield from having a perfect night from the field. The 5-foot-7 guard made all eight three-point attempts she took in the contest.

Whitfield had been so unerring that, at halftime, Siena coach Ali Jaques wrote the No. 50 in bright red on her left hand.

"I tried everything else," said Jaques, after the game. "I yelled her number during the whole first half. I wrote it in large numbers on our chalkboard at halftime. I figured I needed to write it on my hand, too, to show my players every time they looked at me on the sidelines."

Whitfield, though, didn't get quite enough help from her teammates that night and Siena was able to hold on for a 70-67 victory.

In women's basketball history, only one player (Keri Farley of Cornell, who went 9-for-9 in a game in 1993) has made more treys without a miss in a game.

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