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.


speedboy said...
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Steve Amedio said...

Speedboy ... Agree on one thing. Powell one of the league's more overooked players. Should have been third team all-MAAC last year. I hope she gets recognized this year. But, better than Abshire?
Powell 11.7 points, 3.3 rebs, 106 assists/67 TOs.
Abshire 7.4 points, 4.0 rebs, 192 assists/50 TOs.
Abshire doesn't monopolize the ball as a point guard ... Quinn runs a sort of motion offense where the ball really moves. But, Abshire almost always makes a pass to a teammate who's open, and the pass almost always arrives in a place where teammates don't have to adjust to get off a shot. Her A-to-TO ratio is No. 1 in the country; her assist average is No. 5 nationally.
When someone is that good nationally, she most-definitely deserves first-team all-MAAC recognition.

Maac BAll said...

I have to agree with Speedboy. Powell is excellent I would put her possibly on the 2nd team. I agree with all picks except the Quinnipiac kid. Good player, but she will not be 1st or 2nd team imo. You have at least one player on her team JM who had a better year. Living in CT I watched many MAAC games Quinn, FF, and some SH games. Head to head Quinn playing against Marist / FF the other MAAC PG outplayed Quinn. I don't think any PG will be recognized in the 1st or 2nd team. Steve back in November you selected Quinn to be come in 3rd place, they are not to far off, but you also said you would not be surprised to see them defeat Marist for the league title. Now FF is the team surprising people due to backcourt play, and Marist looks stronger than ever recently. Anyway I agree with all your picks, except Emma O'conner should be 1st team.

Steve Amedio said...

Have seen Q play 3 times in person, a few other times via the internet. I'll stick by my first-team choice of Abshire. Best passer I've seen in MAAC women's hoops in many, many years. Obviously, an overlooked talent. Best assist-to-turnover ratio in the country has to mean something.
But, just my opinion and we all have them. Thanks for your passion to both speedboy and Maac Ball.

Maac BAll said...
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Maac BAll said...

Steve, very informative blog have been reading for years. You can only use the facts and figures you’re presented with. This is only one game below that I attended, and after looking at the box score felt something was off. The A to TO numbers at Quinn are suspect at best.

If you go to the video below how is a pass to JM outside the 3 pt line, she takes several dribbles and gets a layup n assist (minute 51.50 / box score 11.12)?

JM (min 1:34.20 / 17.07 on box score) passes it into Mcquain for a layup and Abshire gets the assist?

Min 1.56.25 / 5.25 on box score) same as first scenario the kid is creating her own shot,

Same at minute (2.30.30 / 3.24 on box score).

Four assists I saw were not assists or given to the wrong player?? PG credited with 6 assists should have been 2. If these were assists some of these ladies would be in double figures most game days.


speedboy said...
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Steve Amedio said...

Thanks for the passion, fellas (or, ladies, if that's the case).
As to Abshire ... again, saw her three times in person and never had an issue with stats. And, I chart assists during games. My totals were the same as Q's.

Maac BAll said...

Got it Steve! The video does not lie. Lets see what the coaches say.

Steve Amedio said...

Maac Ball --
Very difficult to watch that video, but I counted seven sure-thing assists by Abshire in the early portion, the game vs. Fairfield, and she got credited for only six in that game. Only passes that led directly to a basket. Not to say that I'm an expert, but there were a couple of seasons that I did official stat work at the college level in my younger days.
I will strongly contest your statement that her assist totals are "padded."
And, to Speedboy, again on Powell ... very good player. I hope coaches give her proper recognition. Just don't think she's one of the league's top 5 or 6 this season.

Andy Scarano said...

In basketball, an assist is attributed to a player who passes the ball to a teammate in a way that leads to a score by field goal, meaning that he or she was "assisting" in the basket. There is some judgment involved in deciding whether a passer should be credited with an assist. An assist can be scored for the passer even if the player who receives the pass makes a basket after dribbling the ball. However, the original definition of an assist did not include such situations,[1] so the comparison of assist statistics across eras is a complex matter.

Steve Amedio said...

Andy -- that's the rule. Again, I watched 5 Quinn games this year, chart stats and don't have any issue with their numbers.

Andy Scarano said...

I for one did not realize that the rule was changed to allow the dribbling.

Steve Amedio said...

The dribble aspect has been part of the assist rule for as long as I can remember.