Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Despite Article's Slant, Iona's Scoring Nothing New

I read the news today, oh boy ...

A recent story that appeared in the Newark (N.J.) Star -Ledger comes with this headline: "How Iona's high-scoring ways have ushered in new era in MAAC."

To that I say: Has the author of that particular story no sense of league history?

No knock against Iona and its fast-paced offense. Head coach Tim Cluess has brought an exciting and successful brand of basketball to the New Rochelle school.

But, the supposition is made by the author that ... "the Gaels have changed the way the league plays."

That just isn't the case.

The MAAC has hardly lived in the stone age when it comes to scoring points.

In fact, the league's highest-scoring team over a full season since the MAAC was formed came back in the 1999-00 season. That was Siena, coached by Paul Hewitt, which averaged 86.7 points per game. And, that came on the heels of the 1998-99 Siena team that averaged 86.6 points, the second-best single-season average in MAAC history.

All that came because, like Cluess, former Siena coach had the vision that good offense could overcome good defense.

Hewitt brought a philosophy of a full-court press and transition basketball to the league more than a decade before Cluess did.

Iona's teams of late are a few points short of Siena's top scoring averages. In the past three years Iona has averaged 83.7 points, 80.4 points and 82.9 points per game.

In truth, up-tempo basketball was in evidence even before Hewitt brought it to the league with his Siena teams.

The La Salle team of 1989-90 averaged 86.1 points per game, better than any of Iona's averages under Cluess and third-best single-season average of all time.

Of course that team featured future NBA players Lionel Simmons, Doug Overton and Randy Woods.

Nothing like having talent to create points. That La Salle team had plenty of it.

So did Hewitt's Siena teams and, now, so does Iona.

One Scribe's Choices for Top MAAC Men's Honors

Listen up again, coaches. Here's who you should be picking for post-season league honors for men.

Again, first team all-stars only, along with the top individual awards. And, again, it's just about as cut and dried as this blogger has ever seen things.


Billy Baron, 6-2 senior guard, Canisius: He averages 24.8 points, 3rd best nationally, while shooting 46.7 percent from the field. And, he dishes out 5.1 assists and gets 5.1 rebounds per game. No league player in many years has put up those type of numbers.

George Beamon, 6-4 senior swingman, Manhattan: He averages 19.9 points despite being the defensive target of every opponent. He was asked, a couple of years ago, to become a better rebounder and, this season, averages 6.7 per outing. His perimeter shooting, a liability a few years back, has improved to the point where he's made 43 treys this season.

Antoine Mason, 6-3 junior guard, Niagara: He's the one who stayed as four teammates with eligibility transferred out of the program, and the Purple Eagles are glad he did. He averages 25.7 points per game, second-best nationally, despite drawing more defensive attention than anyone in the league.

Ike Azotam, 6-7 senior forward, Quinnipiac: The epitome of a "bruiser" in the most complimentary sense. Slightly undersized at 6-7, he uses his 240 pounds to great effect as an interior defender and as the conference's leading rebounder (10.7 per game). He also averages 17.0 points per game, sixth best in the league.

A.J. English, 6-4 sophomore guard, Iona: He showed last season, before a mid-season injury, that he was going to be good ... but, this good? He leads the high-scoring Gaels in scoring average (17.9) while also leading his team in assists (4.1, third-best in the MAAC) after being designated the team's point guard early in the season.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Billy Baron, Canisius. Statistically he is far and away the conference's best player. And, he passes the proverbial "eye test," too. It says here he's the MAAC's best perimeter player since the days La Salle was sending Doug Overton and Randy Woods to the NBA in the early 1990's. There isn't anything he can't do on the court, and he takes over games and does it all whenever the Golden Griffins need it.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Khallil Hart, 6-2 guard, Marist: A huge factor in Marist's turnaround from an 0-9 overall start this season. Freshmen traditionally struggle in the transition to Division I, but Hart is scoring a MAAC frosh-best 14.6 points per game, shooting 45.1 percent from the floor. He was with the Red Foxes last season, but an injury kept him off the court the entire season. Still, a close call over Siena's Marquis Wright, who leads the league in assists.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Rhamel Brown, 6-6 forward, Manhattan: We saw him block nine shots in a recent game against Siena. He's second nationally in blocks (3.93). And, by now, teams pass up shots in the post when he's lurking. Easy choice as repeat award-winner in this category.

SIXTH PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Maurice Barrow, 6-5 forward, Fairfield: Subjected his ego to come off the bench in 26 of his team's 30 games thus far. He provides an instant spark to the second unit, averaging 13.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game. He also leads the Stags in steals.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Tom Moore, Quinnipiac: It's not easy to join a new, and slightly better league. The Bobcats came over from the Northeast Conference, meaning Moore and his staff had never scouted any of the MAAC teams previously. Plus, it had a roster of players recruited for the NEC. Somehow, though, Moore has gotten his team into second place in the MAAC standings (14-5). How? Bruising play, defense and rebounding. Quinnipiac is the top rebounding team in the country, with a positive margin of 12.7 per contest. Still, not an easy call over Iona's Tim Cluess and Siena's Jimmy Patsos.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

One Scribe's Choices For Women's Seasonal Honors

OK league coaches, listen up.

Here's who you should consider voting for on your ballots to select post-season all-stars and individual award winners.

I see every team place twice annually, some even more than that. I watch at least a dozen more games via the magic of the internet. Still, every coach is going to have a personal opinion. In all actuality, these choices are merely one person's.

Hopefully a well-informed, well-intentioned individual. Still ... one person, one opinion. Let the dissenting begin.

Actually, this year's choices are relatively easy. I can't remember a time when the selections were so relatively cut and dried, at least in most instances.

There is still a weekend full of games remaining on the regular-season schedule, but coaches traditionally submit ballots before those final games.

With that in mind, the following is meant to offer a little free advice to league coaches/voters when they eventually get to filling out those ballots.. And, we're only picking a first-team of stars and the top individual award winners.

We'll start with the ladies first, as it should be.


- Damika Martinez, Iona's 5-6 junior guard: She was the first player in MAAC history to lead the league in scoring as a freshman, added a second scoring title last year and will add a third this season, currently averaging 24.9 points per contest, sixth-best nationally. And, she's not just an conscienceless shooter. She makes 46.1 percent of her shots attempted, 43.9 percent on three-pointers (14th-best nationally) and 88.2 percent from the foul line (15th nationally).

- Joy Adams, Iona's 5-11 sophomore forward: In most other years, her 17.0-point, 14.0-rebound averages would have her in the mix for Player of the Year honors. Probably not this year, though, although her rebounding average is third-best nationally.

- MyNeshia McKenzia, Rider's 6-foot senior forward: She averages 19.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game and is still in contention to be the first women's player in conference history to average 20 points (11 total points short right now) and 10 rebounds per game over a full season.

- Gillian Abshire, Quinnipiac's 5-10 junior guard: Nothing flashy about her game, and she isn't a big scorer. But, she is the prototypical run-the-team, make-great-passes point guard and the best in the league at doing it. Her 6.9 assists-per-game average is fifth-best nationally and her 3.84 assist-to-turnover ratio is tied for the best in the country.

- Katie Cizynski, Fairfield's 6-2 senior forward: She has improved every season, the mark of hard off-season work. After averaging 11.9 points a year ago, she has pushed her scoring average to 16.4 this season while averaging 8.3 rebounds per contest. She often draws double-team attention, which opens up perimeter opportunities for standout sniper teammates.

TOUGHEST OMISSION: A one-time only caveat for Marist's Emma O'Connor, the undersized 6-0 post player who averages 13.8 points and 6.9 rebounds, makes 55.8 percent of her shots and has contributed 37 three-pointers while playing rugged inside defense. If I could include a sixth player on the first team, it would be her ... and, maybe the coaches' poll will reflect that. It wouldn't be the first time more than five players made the league's first team.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Martinez, Iona:  She'll be the first female player to lead the MAAC in scoring in her first three seasons, but her accomplishments will even more historical. She is on pace to shatter the league's all-time career scoring mark of 2,447, currently held by former Loyola standout Patty Stoffey. Martinez should eclipse that by more than 200 points. She already has matched the all-time MAAC single-game mark of 46, scored recently in a game against Rider.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Victoria Rampado, Niagara's 6-2 freshman forward: She has literally provided a big presence for the Purple Eagles, who struggled with inside play early in the season. Her 9.1-point, 5.5-rebound per game averages are best among all freshman players, as is her 25 blocks. Plus she has come on strong of late, averaging 16.8 points and 9.2 rebounds in her team's last five games. It's a difficult choice over Siena's 6-2 center Meghan Donahue (8.6, 5.2, 12 blocks), but Rampado's team is 7-11 in league play while Siena's is 2-16.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Leanne Ockenden, Marist's 5-10 senior guard: A repeat winner here. Not flashy, and she won't get an overabundance of steals (although her 1.8 average in swipes is third-best in the league), but universally acknowledged as the league's best on-ball defender, and she gets the assignment of every opponent's top perimeter player. She has taken on more of a scoring role this season, but at no noticeable loss of her defensive lock-down ability.

SIXTH PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Aaliyah Robinson, Iona's 5-6 junior guard: She averages 8.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and has made 41.1 percent of her three-point shots while starting just two games all season. She came up huge in her team's mid-season upset victory over Marist, making four consecutive three pointers at one point in the second half. She has led the Gaels in scoring in three games, despite the presence of the league's leading scorer on the court.

COACH OF THE YEAR: Billi Godsey, Iona: Easy to say that she had an entire starting five returning from a 20-victory team a year ago, but it's one she never saw before until she was hired by the school this past spring. There are always significant adjustments to be made in a coaching transition, and Godsey has ensured that went smoothly. At one point her team had an 18-game winning streak, the fourth-longest nationally at the time. That ended in a classic overtime loss to Rider and, since then, Iona has five more in a row to be 17-1 overall. Unless the Gaels lose their final two games, they'll be the top seed for the upcoming league's post-season tournament, the first team other than Marist to accomplish that in a decade.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Coming Up: Who Should Be On All-Star Teams

Here's a preview of coming attractions ...

It's always an enjoyable endeavor to take a stab at trying to predict the post-season all-star selections and top individual award winners, choices that will eventually be made by a vote of league coaches.

This year, though, we're going to get a jump on all of that and, in the next day or two, reveal who the coaches should be voting for.

In other words, we won't be trying to predict the award winners ... we'll be putting the players out there who should get the awards.

We do it for both men and women. First-team picks and top awards only.

Coaches traditionally turn in their ballots before the final weekend. But, our picks will be revealed in time for coaches to get some early advice, just in case they're still trying to determine their own choices.

Last of the Men's MAAC "Glue" Players Selected

Last installment identifying men's "glue players," or performers who do the so-called little things often unrecorded in box scores that keep a team together and helps it win games.


The 6-1 junior guard began his college career as a walk-on who barely played as a freshman and only averaged 2.1 points per game last year. But, after significant graduation losses from a year ago, DiLeo stepped up to average 7.6 points this year. Smart? He knows when to take a shot, as his 50-percent accuracy (26-of-52) on three-point attempts would attest. And, he also leads the team in steals with 39. One of the league's best "rags-to-riches" stories. Unfortunately for the Hawks, he has missed their last three games with a high ankle sprain.

FAIRFIELD: Amadou Sidibe

Here's all you need to know about the 6-8 forward's intangible contributions to his program: Sidibe is believed to be the first player in the history of the MAAC to be chosen as a team captain as a sophomore. But, it was a well-deserved honor after a freshman season of hustle and effort enabled him to get enough playing time to the a co-Rookie of the Year award winner a year ago. On the court Sidibe is far from the smoothest offensive player, but he makes significant contributions with court sense, positioning and physical play. He is only averaging 22.9 minutes per game this year, but is getting a team-best 6.5 rebounds per contest.

NIAGARA: Marvin Jordan

He is an undersized 5-11 shooting guard who has become adept enough at handling the ball to lead the Purple Eagles in assist this year. And, somehow, he has managed to far surpass the 1,000-point mark for his career (he currently has 1,214) despite never being remotely close to being the "featured" player in his team's offensive attack. Jordan, though, had his best "glue" moment this past off season when he texted, called and had face-to-face meetings with teammates imploring them to stay in the program even after former head coach Joe Mihalich moved on to take over at Hofstra. It didn't help as four players with remaining eligibility transferred out (two to join Mihalich), but at least he tried.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

More Glue Players Who Do Little Things To Win

More on "glue players," ones that do the little things often not registered by statistics while helping their respective teams win games.

RIDER: Daniel Stewart

We're breaking ranks a little here since Stewart has a good chance for post-season all-star recognition. But, the 6-7, 215-pound (barely) senior forward has been undersized and overlooked for much of his four seasons with the Broncs. Still, very few players in the league play harder and that's the truest measure of all of a glue player. He averages 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game ... and, he also leads his team in steals. Stewart does it all despite having to match up against taller, bulkier opponents nearly every game.

SIENA: Brett Bisping

The 6-8 forward's story has been well told in upstate New York. The sophomore was touted, a year ago, as little more than a long-range shooting threat. Then, after a coaching change last spring, he was asked by new head man Jimmy Patsos to identify his favorite player. Bisping responded that it was Michael Jordan. Wrong answer, Patsos told him. Bisping's new favorite player was to be former Detroit Pistons' bad boy Bill Laimbeer. Except that Bisping had never even heard of Laimbeer. But, he watched game clips and, then, began modeling his game after the former NBA player with overall toughness, strong defense and, still, an ability to step out and hit shots from the perimeter.

MARIST: Jay Bowie

It was hardly a coincidence last season that when Bowie missed nearly half the season the Red Foxes struggled. And, then, when he returned Marist had its best run. Now back at full health, the senior has helped lift his team to respectability. He's not the biggest (6-foot-5), the swiftest or the highest-jumping player in the conference by any stretch. But, he is among the smartest. He rarely takes a bad shot. He's a real team leader. And, he made one of the biggest plays in recent memory for his team last week, picking off a Siena in-bounds' pass with 3.7 seconds left and, then, draining a three-pointer from the corner to secure a one-point victory for his team.

SAINT PETER'S: Chris Burke

The 6-4 senior guard has had to accept being a role player throughout his career and has done so admirably, while doing a little bit of everything for a program that has had its share of struggles in recent years. But, things are better for the Peacocks this season, and Burke's contributions on both ends are a big reason. In the team's biggest league win to date, one over Quinnipiac, he had 18 points. He even finds ways to contribute when he doesn't score, getting seven rebounds in big victories over non-league rival Seton Hall and, most recently, seven rebounds in a one-point victory over Marist. He is also the team's second-best ball-handler and has a positive assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.1.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Identifying Some "Glue" Players On Men's Teams

Here's another installment in the series identifying "glue players" from around the league, players whose contributions to a program go behind mere statistics.

We ID'd women glue players previously. Time, now, for men and we'll start from the top of the current standings and work down.

IONA: Trevon Sledge.

The 5-9 junior guard surely expected to be playing more than his current 11.2 minutes per game he has been getting this season. After all, he started 26 times last season, averaging 25.3 minutes per contest. But, Sledge appears to have taken on the reduced role with his typical enthusiasm and has provided a spark coming off the bench. His role as point guard has been taken over by superlative sophomore A.J. English, who is tough to keep off the court. But when Sledge gets in his effectiveness has not been diminished. He has 29 assists on the season against just five turnovers, a terrific assist-to-turnover ratio.

MANHATTAN: Rashon Stores

He might have been the least-heralded of last season's all-Rookie team in the MAAC, and he remains an easy-to-overlook player. But, the 5-11 guard's contributions to the Jaspers go far beyond what the stat sheets indicate. He is a quick defender who wreaks havoc on opposing ball-handlers. His 33 steals this season ranks only five shy of the team leadership, despite playing just 21.9 minutes per game. He is relatively mistake-free with the ball, having 50 assists against just 24 turnovers. And, of late, he has committed just six turnovers, against 11 assists, in the last eight games.


The junior guard appeared to be in line to move into the starting lineup full time this year. He had 22 starts a year ago while averaging 8.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists. In a reduced off-the-bench role this season, though, Conti remains a valuable contributor even if his scoring and rebounding numbers are less than half what they were a year ago. His assist-to-turnover ratio, though, is better than 2.5-to-1, an exemplary number. His insertion into games has usually given the Bobcats a spark. He had nine points, six rebounds, three assists and just one turnover in his team's most-recent game, a victory over Canisius on Thursday.

CANISIUS: Phil Valenti

The 6-7 forward was woefully thin when he enrolled at Canisius last year. He still barely checks a little south of 200 pounds, but had clearly worked on both adding some bulk to his body and some effectiveness to his game. When starting forward Chris Manhertz missed three games with a broken nose, Valenti moved into the starting lineup and contributed good defense and hustle. Over the last five games he is averaging 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds and, now, returns to providing spark off the bench for the Griffs.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Apologies to Masiello, but Baron Is Top MAAC Player

The MAAC held one of its semi-regular conference calls on Tuesday, allowing media members to interact with and ask a few questions of league coaches.

The calls are usually low-key and non-revelatory. Coaches praise opponents, discuss their own team in general terms and toss out the usual cliches about wanting their respective teams to be playing at their best entering the upcoming conference tournament.

But convention got shoved aside when Manhattan coach Steve Masiello came aboard and someone very innocently sought to ask about whether his superlative senior swingman George Beamon should be in the mix for post-season Player of the Year honors.

The inquisition began with the perception that some published stories have indicated that senior guard Billy Baron of Canisius is the presumptive early favorite for that award right now.

"What stories have said that?" asked Masiello, over and over.

(Ahem .... this blogger has made that assessment several times in recent days).

When told that Siena coach Jimmy Patsos, a few minutes earlier, had offered the opinion that Baron should be the award winner, Masiello took more offense.

"I didn't know he was the league's spokesman," bristled the Manhattan coach.

"Are we serious? Look at his numbers," added Masiello. "We don't go around marketing an individual, but George is as good as any player in this league and as good on the wing as any player in this country.

"But, in my opinion, the reward should be for winning. That's the bottom line. If Iona wins the league, then A.J. (English), Sean (Armand) or David (Laury) should win (the individual award). If we win, it should be one of our guys. If Canisius wins, Billy Baron."

OK, maybe the question meant to discuss the league's top individual honor was delivered with a little awkwardness.

But, in truth, the award, by the very nature of its title, appears meant to identify the MAAC's best player in a given season.

It is, after all, the "Player of the Year" award, and not "Most Valuable Player." It doesn't appear designed to honor merely the best player on the best team.

Heck, twice in the past three seasons the award has gone to a player whose team didn't capture the regular-season championship.

Momo Jones of Iona was last season's top individual award winner while the Gaels finished in fourth place. In 2010-11, Ryan Rossiter was the conference's Player of the Year although his Siena team finished in seventh place. And, no one disputed those deserved honors.

We'll agree with Masiello that there should be some sort of winning involved. Teams that finish in the bottom half of the league standings, with very few exceptions, should rarely have a candidate for the award.

It's why no one mentions Niagara's junior guard Antoine Mason for the league's top individual honor this season. Mason, currently the nation's second-leading scorer, is having a superlative season. But, his team is 3-13 in MAAC play entering this weekend's games and, because of that, Mason doesn't appear to be in contention for the top award.

However, Canisius is 12-4 and currently tied for second place in the conference standings, as is Manhattan. Both teams are almost certain to finish in the top four at the regular-season's end, ensuring their top individuals will get the additional consideration that comes from being a major contributor on a very good team.

Iona is currently the league's leader, at 14-2, by a full two games. But the Gaels are better balanced and that program doesn't appear to have an individual whose work merits consideration over Baron and Beamon.

Beyond that, let's look at the numbers.

Baron averages 24.6 points per game, third-best nationally. Beamon averages 19.5.

Beamon averages 6.8 rebounds. Baron averages 5.1

Baron averages 5.0 assists per game, Beamon averages 0.8.

Baron shoots 46.9 percent from the field to Beamon's 41.6 percent, and has made 86 three-pointers (42.8 percent) to 35 by Beamon (shooting 34.0 percent).

Baron has 43 steals to Beamon's 31.

Baron has played nearly every minute of every game this season, averaging 39.2 minutes per contest. Beamon has missed three games with an ankle sprain, and averages 31.1 minutes per contest.

It all easily points to Baron as the MAAC's best player this season.

It says here that Baron is the best player the MAAC has seen since Jason Thompson graduated from Rider in 2008, and quite possibly the best perimeter player the conference has had since Doug Overton and Randy Woods were at La Salle back in the the late 1980's/early 1990's.

Still, Masiello was offended by the question about whether Beamon was "in the running" for the top individual honors.

"Is he in the running? Is George Beamon in the running?" asked Masiello, almost incredulously. "I'm in a little shock right now."

Of course Beamon is "in the running."

But, with four regular-season games remaining, unless Baron suddenly has four consecutive hugely inferior performances, the Canisius standout is far and away the runaway choice for MAAC Player of the Year honors.

It would be a shock if anyone else even gets a first-place vote at this point.

So, if Masiello wants to see a story that identifies Baron as the league's top Player of the Year candidate .... he need look no farther than right here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Iona's Martinez Sets Records With 46-point Outburst

For sure, calling Iona's junior guard Damika Martinez "dynamic" on a women's basketball court isn't anything new.

She is all of that, and dominant, too.

The defending Player of the Year in the MAAC, as well as the two-time defending scoring champion (she's the only player in league history to lead it in scoring as both a freshman and a sophomore) all but wrapped up both honors again Sunday afternoon.

In case you haven't heard, the 5-foot-7 Martinez scored a record-setting 46 points in the Gaels' 73-66 victory over Rider at the Hynes Athletic Center.

The 46 points broke the facility's previous best of 42, held by Lamont Jones last season. And, it broke the Iona women's single-game best, also 42, which Martinez set earlier this season in a game at Columbia.

The 46 points also tied the MAAC's single-game record held by Heather Fiore of Canisius in a 1996-97 season's game.

And, Martinez was most efficient in setting the standard, connecting on 16 of her 20 field goal attempts including a perfect 6-for-6 from three-point range.

We've written about Martinez before on Keepin' Track of the MAAC, and you can find a feature about how her extra work has helped her development by searching the January items on this blog.

You can also see how Martinez is approaching historical numbers with her scoring exploits.

Sunday's effort pushed her career scoring total to 1,705 points, already 19th best all-time among women's players who have ever performed in the MAAC.

If we accept that Iona will play at least eight more games this season (four more in regular-season play, three in the league's post-season tournament and, almost assuredly, one in a national post-season event), she'll add another 200 or so points to that total.

That would push her career scoring total to over 1,900 points. Only seven former MAAC women's players have ever gone over that figure for a career.

And, Martinez will have another season to continue to pile up points.

If she just duplicates this season, she'll put up another 800 or so points as a senior.

That would give her something north of 2,700 career points, which would shatter the conference's all-time record currently held by former Loyola standout Patty Stoffey, whose career mark is 2,467.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rest Coming for Baron, After Tough Weekend Games

Billy Baron played 39 of 40 minutes in a Friday night heated-rivalry game against Niagara that started at 9 p.m., ended close to 11:30 p.m., had to deal with media and, then, take the 40-minute bus ride back to campus.

During the Niagara game, he regularly got knocked to the floor, took nearly as much physical punishment as a typical NFL offensive lineman and still managed to drop 34 points on the Purple Eagles to lead his team to a 71-66 victory.

After the game he fell asleep about 2 a.m. and, then, had to be up early Saturday morning for what became, because of blowing snow on the Thruway, a six-hour bus ride.

And, then, less than 38 hours after the conclusion of Friday's contest he was back on the court again to play against Siena.

Was it any wonder that Baron looked a little out of sorts in the first half of the contest against the Saints as he shot just 2-of-7 from the floor in the first 20 minutes.

"I was still dragging a little (in the first half)," he admitted. "And, then, I caught my second wind."

Still, it would be some time before he could catch up on some much-needed rest.

Sunday's Canisius- Siena game at the Times Union center went into three overtimes before Canisius held on for a 92-88 victory.

And, the standout Canisius guard more than earned what rest he would find later Sunday. He scored a career high 40 points, and was involved in every point his team scored in the third overtime. when he had nine points and assisted on the only points a teammate scored in that extra session.

Very few of his 40 points (he also had 10 rebounds and five assists) came the easy way. He took another physical pounding, enough of one to get to the foul line to take 19 attempts (making 18).

He now averages 25.2 points per game, not far behind national scoring leader Antoine Mason of Niagara, who averages 25.6 per contest.

Sunday against Siena, Baron played the full 55 minutes and, most definitely, earned the respect of the opposition's coach.

"He should be an NBA second-round draft pick (this spring)," said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos, about Baron. "If you don't think that guy can play, that he can't play as a second-round pick of some NBA team ... then I disagree with you."

One has to go back to the 2007-08 season to find the last legitimate NBA prospect in the MAAC. And, that was Jason Thompson of Rider, who had the benefit of his 6-foot-10 height.

Your blogger can't remember another guard in the league with the skill set that should attract NBA interest since the days when La Salle ruled the league and its guard Doug Overton went on to a lengthy professional career.

It says here that the league's last guard as good as Baron was two-time MAAC Player of the Year Luis Flores, who graduated after the 2003-04 season.

He was a second-round NBA draft pick (55th selection overall) and played just 16 total games in the league.

But, Flores was strictly a shooting guard, and a relatively small one at 6-2.

Baron is the same height, but not only is the Griffs' top scorer, but its primary ball-handler, too.

Shooting guard that stand only 6-2 are relatively rare at the NBA level. But, the league is full of point guards that height and shorter.

Baron's work this year surely will draw considerable interest from NBA talent evaluators.

But, after playing all 55 minutes against Siena Sunday afternoon all Baron was looking forward to was getting a lengthy bus ride back to Buffalo.

"My plan for the bus trip back is to get a lot of sleep," he said.

All of it well-earned.

Two Games Feature Top-Notch Individual Battles

Two games attended in recent days, and two of the best ... and, most-meaningful ... individual match-ups that could occur in our conference. In chronological order ..

THURSDAY, Feb. 13: Siena at Niagara, women's game.

The contest featured a meeting of arguably the MAAC's top two freshmen players, Siena's 6-foot-2 center Meghan Donohue and Niagara's 6-2 counterpart Victoria Rampado

Donohue averages 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in an average of 27.2 minutes of playing time.

Rampado's averages are almost the same, 8.3, 5.3 in just 19.6 minutes per contest.

The only other apparent contender for the league's Rookie of the Year honors for women is Rider's 6-1 Julia Duggan, but her 4.1, 4.5 averages don't match up to Donohue and Rampado.

Manhattan's Kayla Grimme, another 6-2 post player, might have been the likely top rookie had she not suffered a season-ending foot injury. She was averaging 9.9 and 7.1 in the eight games she played  before the injury.

If nothing else, that quartet comprises possibly the best group of first-year post players the MAAC women's league has seen in some time.

Donohue's season got off to a fast start, but teams play almost exclusively a collapsing zone to neutralize Donohue in recent weeks.

Rampado, on the other hand, has some superlative outside shooters to ensure she won't be double-teamed when she catches the ball on the block. Plus, she can step out and hit from the perrimeter, too.

She got the better of Thursday's match, scoring 21 points and getting 10 rebounds while Donohue had 15 and 5.

Rampado's performance came just a few days after an 18 and 10 effort against Rider.

FRIDAY: Canisius men at Niagara.

The league's best rivalry also included a confrontation of  arguably the league's top two players.

Senior guard Billy Barron entered the game No. 5 nationally in scoring, while junior guard Antoine Mason entered the contest as the No. 1 scorer among all Division I players.

Baron's team not only came out on top in a brutally physical contest, 71-65, but the Canisius standout was the far better performer on this night putting up a game-high 34 points while Mason was held to 17.

It just reinfoced, at least to this blogger, that league coaches made a good choice when, in their presason poll, predicted Baron would win the MAAC's Player of the Year award this season.

He is, by far, the best conference player we've seen this year and should be the runaway winner of the award.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Niagara-Canisius Rivalry Lives Up To Reputation

Big Bird and Underdog were in the crowd. So was Abraham Lincoln, Chris Noth and Justin Bieber.

At least large posters of those celebrities, and a few others, were being used as a potential distraction by Niagara's student section behind one basket when Canisius took foul shots there.

And, then, there were more than a few hand-made signs, including one that read "Win or lose, at least we don't go to Canisius."

It was all evidence of the intensity and enthusiasm not often seen for MAAC games.

It was all just part of the trappings that made the environment so special in one of the two annual meetings of arguably the best rivalry in the MAAC, if not one of the most-heated mid-major matchups in the east and beyond.

A national television audience also got a glimpse at the emotions on display in the series, which had its 176th meeting, dating back to the 1905-06 season.

Friday's was played at the 63-year old Taps Gallagher Center, a smallish on-campus facility that epitomizes the term "bandbox."

One side of the gym only has eight rows of seating, and the ceiling is so low that the banners commemorating Niagara's NIT and NCAA appearances droop almost low enough to brush the heads of those sitting in the upper-level seats.

Those on floor level are literally close enough to reach out and touch the action without much of a stretch.

One MAAC official claimed the meetings to be the conference's strongest rivalry, and it was easy to see why, starting with a noise level throughout most of the proceedings that made conversation all but impossible to conduct.

We've witnessed Army-Navy football games and Siena-UAlbany basketball games. We'll admit, now that Niagara-Canisius men's basketball is as good as it gets, mostly because of the tight quarters of both schools' small gymnasius, the proximity of fans to competitors and the clearly fervent, loud but almost universally positive fan involvement.

It was exactly what would be expected of two long-operating basketball programs separated by about 20 miles and connected for more than 100 years by an unofficial affiliation known in Western New York first as the "Little Three" (along with St. Bonaventure) and, in recent years, the "Big Four" (since UBuffalo became a Division I program).

Friday was a night for Canisius to celebrate a hard-fought victory (is there any other in this rivalry?) that saw the Golden Griffins' standout senior guard Billy Baron deliver a 34-point, six-rebound, five-assist effort and backcourt mate Chris Perez score four points down the stretch that turned a 63-61 Niagara advantage into a 65-63 edge for Canisius.

And, then, Perez, with some help, made a key defensive stop on the Purple Eagles' Antoine Mason, whose 26.3 points per game average led everyone nationally entering the contest (Mason was held to 17 on Friday).

When Canisius secured the rebound, Niagara was forced to foul in the closing seconds and Baron went a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the final 28 seconds to secure the victory.

Canisius had also won the first meeting of the teams earlier this season, so Friday's outcome completed a season sweep of its local rival for the first time since the 1994-95 season.

"This is a huge game," said Canisius coach Jim Baron. "You look up at the banners here (honoring retired numbers for) Hubie Brown, Frank Layden, Larry Costello ... it's great for this area to have these games. This kind of atmosphere is special."

Baron has experienced the atmosphere as much as any individual, if not moreso.

Baron was 13-4 in Little Three rivalry games against Canisius and Niagara during his own playing days at St. Bonaventure (1973-77), and 17-10 as the Bonnies' head coach in games with the two Buffalo-area programs.

Baron is now in his second season at the helm at Canisius and is 3-1 in contests against Niagara.

"Is this the biggest rivalry? Well, you've got to throw St. Bonaventure in there, too, as part of the whole Little Three," added Baron. "But, it's most definitely a great rivalry and it's great for the kids to feel it."

Baron has experienced it both as a coach and as a player.

Which side of that has he enjoyed most?

"Well, when you're a player ... you have more control of things on the court," he admitted.

And, now, for the past two seasons his youngest son has had that on-court player control.

"People around our campus were definitely fired up for this ... it's the `Battle of the Bridge,' " said Billy Baron. "Kids around campus who usually don't say anything to me were coming up to me all week saying good luck against Niagara. We were trying to deliver for them, too, and we did."

The historical significance of the rivalry is not lost on the younger Baron, maybe because he grew up in a household well steeped with the tradition of Western New York basketball.

"You try to enjoy the moment," he said. "Now, I can live the rest of my life knowing I got them twice this season. We knew Canisius hadn't swept the series in nearly 20 years, so that means a lot for our program to get that ... and, now, we've won three in a row against them (dating back to the second meeting a year ago at Niagara when Baron had 34 points).

"You try to enjoy these moments becuase you only get 80 minutes to play against those guys all year. It goes by quickly, so it's great to get this win."

The clear dejection from the Niagara side of things spoke equal volumes about the significance of the meeting of the two little schools with hitorical programs.

"It's my first year, so I'm not really familiar with the rivalry," said Niagara coach Chris Casey, whos answered questions with the brevity of dejection.

"There's a pride factor," admitted Mason. "It's a game, in the days leading up to it, that everyone wants to talk about. And, we came up short."

No one who has experienced a Canisius-Niagara game, though, would ever claim his historical rivalry has ever come up short on emotions, enthusiasm and intensity.

It is what college basketball is meant to be.

Niagara-Canisius Rivalry Always a MAAC Highlight

As another storm has turned much of the northeast into a winter wonderland, your Hoopscribe has located to the "balmy" Buffalo area where nary a flake has fallen.

But that's not the only positive related to being in the land of the chicken wing and beef-on-wick sandwich.

This is, after all, a basketball blog and one of the all-time items on my personal basketball bucket list is about to be realized tonight.

Although your scribe is approaching 41 years of covering college basketball, and nearly 30 of some sort of MAAC coverage, we have never before witnessed a Canisius-Niagara men's basketball game.

That wish gets fulfilled tonight, Canisius at Niagara in a 9 p.m. men's contest at the Taps Gallagher Center, seating capacity 2,450, and the expectation is every vacant space will be occupied tonight.

A brief aside ... at Niagara, these days, they're calling their facility "The Legendary Taps Gallagher Center." Sure, there's plenty of history here. And, to my knowledge, the building (erected in 1950) is the only basketball facility in the league older than your Hoopscribe. That, alone, makes it legendary to me!

It's not as if we're a stranger to significant rivalries.

I've been a pressbox presence at nine Army-Navy football games, and have witnessed more than a few other "Little Three" basketball confrontations.

By way of explanation ... the Little Three once referred to the Western New York's trio of Division I programs Niagara, Canisius and St. Bonaventure. As a long-ago student at St. Bona's, I had made my way to a few of the Bonnies' games against the other two WNY rivals. These days, with the addition of UBuffalo to the D-I ranks, the mythical affiliation is now referred to as "The Big Four."

But, Niagara-Canisius is the granddaddy of them all, to steal a phrase from football's Rose Bowl.

I've also been to many, many meetings of Siena and UAlbany, schools separated by a mere eight miles. And, that's as intense an annual meeting as it gets in New York's Capital Region.

But, MAAC officials assure that the Siena-UAlbany rivalry games pale in comparision to Niagara-Canisius on tonight's schedule.

We'll experience that first hand, and will provide a full report afterwards.

As for a short preview ...

The meeting is the longest currently rivalry among all MAAC members. The two programs have met 175 times, dating back to the '06-07 season ... and, that's the 1906-07 season, the second year or organized basketball at Niagara. The Purple Eagles, history shows, won that first meeting, 28-18.

Niagara currently leads the series, having won 100 times to 75 for the Golden Griffins.

Niagara has also won 18 of the last 23 meetings, although Canisius has won the last two (one last season, and the first of this season's two contests), its first two-game winning streak in the rivalry since 2001.

And, if Canisius can complete this season's two-game sweep, it will be the first for that program in the Western New York Rivalry since the 1994-95 season.

Canisius has been the better team so far, with a 10-4 MAAC record and a 16-9 overall mark. Niagara is 3-11 and 6-19. But, as the cliche goes for any rivalry ... you can usually discount the records of the teams.

Canisius, though, has lost its last two games and is expected to be withing its senior forward and leading rebounder 6-foot-6 Chris Manhertz, who suffered a broken nose last Friday in a game against Manhattan.

Niagara enters the game on a four-game losing streak.

The game also features two of the best players in the conference, both among the national scoring leaders.

Niagara's junior guard Antoine Mason tops all Division I scorers nationally, averaging 26.3 points per game. Billy Baron, the standout senior guard for Canisius, ranks fifth on the national scoring list at 23.6 ppg.

Your Hoopscribe can't wait.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

More "Glue" Players From MAAC Women's Teams

Here's another installment in the series identifying "glue" players from each women's and men's team in the MAAC.

Teams' glue players are ones who probably won't get post-season all-star honors, but do all the little things required to make their respective teams better.

QUINNIPIAC: Nikoline Ostergaard

Nothing shows the benefit of hard work more than improvement. Ostergaard, a native of Denmark, is a 6-foot-0 junior forward who, over her first two seasons with the Bobcats, had a field goal percentage of 35 percent. This year, though, her shooting percentage is 52.8 percent, which would be fourth best in the MAAC if she weren't just a few attempts short of qualifying for the leader board. She averages 7.0 points per game in just 17.3 minutes per contest. Ostergaard's play is solid at both ends, but she has been particularly a much-needed spark off the bench in terms of scoring this season.

FAIRFIELD: Felicia DaCruz

Who said the 5-foot-5 junior point guard couldn't shoot? Just about everyone in the MAAC last season, and for good reason. DaCruz made only 25.4 percent of her shots from the floor and just connected on just 6-of-43 three-point attempts (14.0 percent) during the 2012-13 season. It was enough for opponents to leave her completely unguarded a year ago, which inhibited the Fairfield offense. DaCruz knew she needed to improve, and spent extra time on the Fairfield campus this past summer taking hundreds of jump shots every day. This year her shooting percentage is up to a reasonable 36.1 percent overall and 33.3 percent from three-point range. In a game against Siena earlier this year she scored all 10 of the Stags' points in an overtime victory while going a perfect 4-of-4, all on jump shots, in the extra session.

MARIST: Emma O'Connor

We'll make an exception here since O'Connor will almost assuredly make one of the MAAC's post-season all-star squads. But, that wasn't expected of her at the season's start. Now a senior, she was sparingly used as a freshman and played even less as a sophomore. She had a solid season last year (9.0 points, 4.7 rebounds), but became more a focus of everything Marist does this season and does a little bit of everything for her team. Undersized at 6-0, she battles taller players with court sense and superb positioning skills on the defensive end. Offensively, she is a handful because of her versatility. She not only can score from the block, but can step out and hit three-pointers (30 made this season). She ranks third best on her team in assists (2.5 per game) and second in steals. And, she's the MAAC leader in field-goal percentage (55.1).

IONA: Haley D'Angelo

Overlooked? How would you get noticed scoring just 81 total points at this late point in the season? This is how you get noticed if you're D'Angelo, a 5-foot-5 senior point guard for the Gaels: you rank fourth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.3). D'Angelo won't light up many scoreboards with her point total, but she doesn't have to. She's in the middle of a team of high-scoring players. Still, someone has to be the distributor and D'Angelo handles that role as well as gets in the MAAC, helping the Gaels to a 20-3 record thus far this season.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Rider Women Look Ahead After Major Upset Of Iona

After her team's home game against Iona Thursday night, Rider women's coach Lynn Milligan walked into her team's locker room and saw a single word written in large letters on a chalk board.

The word was "Niagara," the Broncs' next opponent.

Coaches always tell players to put a just-concluded game behind them, that there's little time to dwell on what's in the past. One game is over, time to move on to what's next.

But no one would have blamed Milligan's team had it basked a little in what, for it, has been a very rare limelight.

And, it gets no brighter than the one the Broncs earned Thursday night with their 92-90 overtime victory over the Gaels in what can easily be considered to be the upset of the current MAAC women's season.

Rider entered play with a .500 record in conference play, while Iona was a perfect 12-0, a record that included an earlier victory over Marist, the conference's dominant team for the past decade.

Additionally, the Gaels were trying to add to an 18-game overall winning streak that was the fourth-longest active streak nationally.

But all of that ended Thursday as the Broncs continued adhering to all the lessons Milligan and her staff have been preaching about since she took over the program at the start of the 2007-08 season.

Of course it didn't hurt to get a singular performance from 6-foot-0 senior standout MyNeshia McKenzie, who had a monster 37-point, 19-rebound stat line while playing the game's entire 45 minutes.

Her point total matched the program's single-game best while her rebounding total elevated her to the top of the school's career rebounding list.

McKenzie's 1,035 career rebounds through Thursday's game. She is just the 12th player in MAAC history to surpass 1,000 career rebounds.

"It was really a special night for us," said Milligan, in a phone interview Friday morning. "Our team just followed MyNeshia's lead and fed off what she was doing. It was one of those nights that our team was not going to be denied."

Rider, for sure, had been denied plenty not only since joining the MAAC for the 1997-98 season, but even before then.

The program has not had an over-.500 winning percentage overall since the 1994-95 season, and has only been above .500 in MAAC play twice, 10-8 last season and 10-8 in the 1999-00 season.

From the start of the 2000-01 season through 2011-12, the Broncs had finished dead last in the MAAC standings seven times in 12 seasons, ninth three times and eighth twice. Its cumulative record in those 12 years was 44-172 in conference play. No MAAC team had a worse record over that stretch.

The turnaround began last season when the program finished 10-8 in league play and 15-15 overall and continued along that same path this year, 6-6 and 10-11 prior to Thursday's game.

Still, there was no singular accomplishment close to beating a team of Iona's caliber.

So, what does a win like that do for Rider?

"I think it's something we don't know yet," said Milligan. "I know it's a win our kids will remember and, maybe, a couple of months from now I'll recall fondly, too.

"We just need to continue to progress. We're trying to peak at the right time. We've got some tough games remaining, but we're starting to see things come together.

"The kids are starting to see their hard work pay off. My top two assistants (Pam Durkin and John Miller) have been with me here from Day 1. The kids are confident in us as a staff. We've had to work on changing an attitude here.

"The kids have worked hard and have done things the right way, and it's starting to show that when you do those things you can have results like this."

The game was the opener of a double-header that featured a Rider men's game afterwards.

"We had several hundred fans in the gym when our game started and by halftime the place was nearly full," added Milligan. "We got great support. It was nice that we had so many people there cheering us on down the stretch."

That, surely, didn't hurt.

"It was like a heavyweight fight ... they punched us, we punched back ... we just traded punches the whole night," said Milligan. "But we were very resilient."

Rider had to be, particularly at the end of regulation when Iona's Aleesha Powell's three-pointer with 27 seconds remaining erased the Broncs' 3-point lead and sent the contest into overtime.

And, then, the Broncs' needed a late bucket in the overtime session by McKenzie to stretch a one-point lead into a three-point advantage. Those were necessary points since, when Shereen Lightbourne was fouled with three-tenths of a second remaining, some premature celebration by the winners incurred a technical foul.

Iona's Haley D'Angelo made both free throws to cut the winners' lead to one, but Lightbourne followed by making a foul shot to push the lead back to two and the visitors didn't have enough time to make a play after that.

"We told the kids that we could celebrate this win until 1 p.m. (Friday) and, then, it was time to get back in the weight room, followed by practice, and time to get back to work," added Milligan. "There isn't time for a day off. We've got a game on Sunday."

Milligan, though, knew already that the lesson about moving on had already been well-learned by her team.

The message on the team's chalk board that read, simply, "Niagara," was proof of that.

Rider might have just turned in the upset of the MAAC season and, probablly, the biggest win since joining the conference 17 years ago.

But that very simple message on the post-game chalk board spoke volumes about Rider's desire to do even more this season.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Identifying More of Women's Teams' "Glue" Players

Here's the next segment in the series identifying the conference's "glue" players, individuals who aren't necessarily a team's best player but whose contributions of often overlooked aspects of the game are more meaningful than their stat lines.

Here are some more from the women's side...

CANISIUS: Courtney VandeBovenkamp

The 6-foot-1 redshirt junior forward has the longest last name in program history, and also one of the Golden Griffins' best work ethics. She suffered a major knee injury at the end of her sophomore season and missed all of 2012-13 while rehabilitating. She is back this year, a key reserve up front for the Griffs. And, while she doesn't appear to have the athletic explosiveness she showed as a freshman back in 2010-11, her very evident on-court effort makes up for that. In just 14.6 minutes per game she averages 3.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and has 12 total blocked shots thus far.

MONMOUTH: Kasey Chambers

Monmouth lost its top three ball-handling guards from last year and Chambers, a 5-7 sophomore, has helped fill the void while mostly coming off the bench. She is the Hawks' only player with a positive assist-to-turnover ratio (48 assists/37 turnovers) who averages at least one assist per contest. She doesn't score a lot (5.3 per game), but makes things happen when she gets on the court. She is No. 2 on the team in total assists, despite playing just 22 minutes per contest. She did not score in her team's most-recent game, a loss to Fairfield, but had six assists without committing a single turnover.

NIAGARA: Gabby Baldasare

She had been very lightly used in her first two seasons, but the 6-1 junior forward quite obviously has worked hard to develop her game and become an effective performer after moving into the starting lineup this season for the overachieving Purple Eagles. Niagara is undersized and Baldasare matches up with bigger, strong opponents every game, yet is averaging 4.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and leads the team in blocked shots with 19 while playing just 20.8 minutes per contest.

RIDER: Shereen Lightbourne

Sure, she only plays 10 minutes per night and is just the Broncs' ninth-leading scorer this season. But that the 5-foot-10 fifth-year senior is on the court at all this season is one of the conference's most-inspirational stories. Lightbourne had put the foundation in place, over her first two seasons at Rider, that had her poised to be one of the MAAC's best players. And, then, she suffered knee injuries at the start of both the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons that forced her to sit out both years. Nearly 32 months from playing in a college game, she was back at the start of this season. Her rebuilt knees have limited her court time and athleticism, but she is still a valuable cog. She scored 12 points in 14 minutes in the Broncs' recent win over Manhattan. Against Siena, she made two key late-game plays that preserved a victory. She hasn't forgotten how to contribute.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

MAAC's "Glue" Players Keep Their Teams Together

A faithful "Keepin' Track of the MAAC" reader recently suggested that we identify "glue" players from around the league, individuals whose on-court contributions are meaningful yet often overlooked

Every team has one or two who fit the description. They provide the intangibles, the little things that might not bring enough notice to earn a spot on a post-season all-star team. Yet their work is still invaluable.

So, we'll follow through on the reader suggestion and pick out a "glue" player from every men's and women's team in the conference over the next couple of weeks. In the interest of keeping the items from becoming overly long, we'll identify either three or four in each posting.

Ladies first, as it should be. And, we'll start from the bottom of the league standings and work our way up.

SIENA: Ciara Stewart

The 5-foot-7 senior guard doesn't light up the scoreboard. She averages just 3.4 points this season and has just 288 career points. But, she's a steady presence in the Saints' starting lineup, a real on-court leader. She is one of the league's better on-the-ball defenders. And, intangibles? There she is, diving on the floor for a loose ball with 16 seconds left in a losing effort against Monmouth earlier this season. That is the perfect statement about her lead-by-example style of play.

SAINT PETER'S: Kaydine Bent

We're stretching the definition a little here because the fifth-year senior forward's statistics (12.8 points, 8.9 rebounds) might merit post-season all-star designation. But, we just enjoy watching the effort and intensity she brings to the court every game. Listed at 6-foot-1 (very generously), she battles bigger opponents just about every time she takes the court. That she came back for a fifth year (she sat out the 2010-11 season with an injury) to play for a team not expected to win many games and bringing in a new coach ... that says plenty about her love of the game.

MANHATTAN: Allison Skrec

Might be another bit of a stretch since the 5-7 senior guard, who is second in the league in assists (5.5 per contest) might also get all-star consideration. But she deserves "glue" designation because she finds a way to help her team win, despite it being at a significant height disadvantage in every game. And, very few players have made the improvement she has, from an extremely lightly used performance (2.2 minutes per game as a freshman) to one of the better point guards in the conference indicates just how hard she has worked over her four seasons.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Iona Stars Martinez, Adams Making Historical Runs

We were treated to our third viewing of the Iona women's basketball team this season ... twice in person, once via the magic of the internet.

In case you haven't noticed: the Gaels' most-recent victory, by an 80-66 tally over Siena Saturday afternoon, was the program's 18th in a row.

That's the fourth-longest active winning streak nationally, trailing only defending national champion UConn (28), Notre Dame (20) and Stanford (19).

There are certainly individual reasons why Iona is having such success. Every player in the starting lineup, entering Saturday's contest, was among the top five nationally in some statistical category.

But, beyond that we should recognize that we're witnessing individual history taking place.

That's coming in the form of the team's top two players, junior guard Damika Martinez and sophomore forward Joy Adams.

If each remains healthy and continues to produce numbers anywhere near their current rate, each could top the all-time MAAC statistical chart in their respective specialty.

The 5-foot-7 Martinez is a rarely gifted offensive player. Her 33 points against Siena pushed her career total to 1,565 points.

That total places her 32nd all time on the MAAC's career scoring list for women. Her team has eight remaining regular-season games. Let's say the Gaels make it to the championship game of the MAAC tournament and, in all likelihood, play one national post-season tournament game.

That means Iona will probably play 12 more games this season. Martinez is averaging 24.8 points per game this season. If she keeps up that pace, she'll add 298 more points to her career total this year.

That would push her career total up to 1,863, 11th-best all time in MAAC history.

It would also give her 794 points this season.

If she keeps up her current pace and duplicates that number again next season as a senior ... we'd be looking at a career total of 2,667 points, and that total would shatter the MAAC's current record.

Right now the MAAC's career scoring leader is Patty Stoffey of Loyola with 2,467 points. So, Martinez even has a sizable cushion in her chase for the all-time top spot.

Adams, the 5-11 forward, is chasing league history among rebounders.

She had 13 rebounds against the Saints on Saturday, pushing her career total to 642. Her per-game rebound average this season is 13.8 per contest.

If she maintains that pace through 12 more games this year, that would give her 166 more rebounds this year and a career total of 808.

That would place her 27th on the MAAC's all-time career rebounding list, amazingly by just the end of her sophomore season.

Tack on two more seasons at her current rate this season, which would be another 1,284, or so, rebounds ...

That would push her career total to more than 2,000 career rebounds.

The current career rebounding record in the MAAC is held by former Manhattan standout Rosalee Mason (1,217). Adams, barring injury or other unforeseen circumstances, is all but certain to surpass that mark just beyond the midway point of her junior season.

And, then, she begins chasing some historical marks on the national level.

There is only one woman's player in NCAA history with more than 2,000 career rebounds, Courtney Paris a 2008 graduate of Oklahoma who has 2,034 career rebounds.

There's a long way to go for Adams, but if all goes well we might be witnessing her pursuit of that all-time Division I record about two years from now.

It is all history in the making for Martinez and Adams at Iona, two of the top individual players in a statistical sense to ever play in the MAAC.

And we're fortunate to be watching it happen right now.

Quinnipiac-Siena Game Becomes a "Most Foul" Night

Just when you think you've seen everything that could possibly happen on a basketball court.

Your Hoopscribe has been covering college basketball games, in some form or other, since 1973. The number of games personally attended is probably close to 2,500.

But, the latest, Saturday night when Quinnipiac played Siena at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y., was indeed unique in my annals of game attendance.

I had never before seen a game in which 100 free throws were taken.

Quinnipiac, a 103-95 winner in overtime, took 65. Siena took 35. Even my rudimental math skills can confirm that to be 100 foul shots attempted.

The Bobcats made 47-of-65, Siena made 25-of-35.

That's no knock against the officiating done that night by Kevin Ferguson, Will Bush and Doug Aprahamian. It was a solid crew and there were only a few disagreements here by fouls they called.

Quinnipiac has a bruising style of play and Siena attempted to match the Bobcats' level of so-called physicality.

There were a total of 69 fouls called in the game ... Siena had six players disqualified by committing five fouls apiece.

One of Siena's disqualified players was freshman forward Lavon Long, and he had this to say, about the evening's foul festivities:

"It's never been that touchy ever," Long told reporters, afterwards. "They (officials) called a foul for everything, every little thing. Even people not on the play were getting calls for fouls. So, I don't really know what to say about that."

But, we'll have to agree to disagree with Mr. Long's assessment. After all, he was the nation's most foul-plagued player at the Division I level entering the game, having committed 88 fouls in the previous 22 contests (that's four per game) before adding five more to his total against Quinnipiac.

The view from my front-row, center-court seat is that just about every foul called on this night was deserved. There were probably a few fouls left uncalled.

The free throws attempted by Quinnipiac, according to the NCAA, matched the most in a single game this season. Only Morehead State, in a game earlier this season, also took 65 free throws.

While Quinnipiac's foul-line attempts matched this season's best nationally, it did not approach the all-time record of 79 taken in a single game. Nor did the 100 free throws combined by two teams in Saturday's contest approach the NCAA record of 130 in a single contest.

And, Siena's six player disqualifications was two short of the NCAA record of eight. But, not for lack of trying. Siena had two other players commit four foul fouls in the game.

For sure on this night, as Shakespeare wrote in "Hamlet," "Foul deeds will rise."

More on MAAC Schools Taking Stand Vs. Segregation

A couple of weeks ago I posted an item about how Manhattan and Siena colleges both passed up invitations to compete in the NAIB tournament, a very prestigious national post-season basketball event, back in 1948.

The reason was that the tournament prohibited African Americans from participating.

The stance taken by the two programs (along with LIU) who would later join the MAAC forced the event to integrate.

Since the original item was posted in this forum, your Hoopscribe did a little more research for a column that recently appeared in The Troy Record newspaper. Because of the paper's location the column focused primarily on Siena's role in the commendable stance of the schools involved.

It seems that Siena made its stance to no fanfare. It told event organizers why it would not participate, but did not seek publicity beyond that.

The team's own players at the time (only one from the 1947-48 team is still with us) don't recall even being told the squad was invited to the post-season tournament, let alone told the school had turned down the invite.

You can read the expanded view of the circumstances from schools that would become MAAC members that chose to do the right thing nearly 66 years ago. It's all in my recent Troy Record column, right here: