Sunday, March 8, 2009

Observations from the Women's Tournament

ALBANY, N.Y. - Want to bring a few tears to the eyes of Marist coach Brian Giorgis?

Just get him to start talking about his fifth-year senior guard Julianne Viani.

It worked at post-game press conference after Marist captured its fourth straight MAAC tournament title here Sunday afternoon.

"I know I have at least one more game with Julianne, but ..."

And, then, Giorgis had to stop for several minutes to regain his composure, while using a championship T-shirt given to the team's players and coaches, to wipe the moisture from his eyes.

"After 10 years of Viani ... her dad is my dentist," said Giorgis. "But, it's not true that I recruited Julianne to come to Lourdes (high school) when I was in the dentist's chair."

Giorgis coached Viani for two seasons at Poughkeepsie's Our Lady of Lourdes High School, where he worked prior to becoming Marist's coach.

Viani joined her former coach two years later, spent a season as a freshman red shirt and, then, has played the past four years.

She currently has 1,436 career points, the fourth-highest in school history.


The Marist women know their tournament victory sends them to the NCAA's for the fourth straight season, where they have already done some damage in the past.

In 2007 the Red Foxes became the MAAC's first program, either men or women, to win two NCAA tournament games. Last season's team won a first-round game.

Marist is currently 29-3 overall and entered Sunday's game rated 37th nationally in the Ratings Percentage Index. That's probably high enough to get Marist seeded at least 12th in a 16-team bracket.

"You have to see who else gets in," said MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor. "I guess they could get as high as a No. 11, or get a No. 12."

Canisius, because of its second-place finish, is the conference's highest-finishing team not going to the NCAA tournament, will head to the Women's NIT.


- Canisius made six three-pointers against Marist, extending is streak of consecutive games with at least one made three-pointer to an NCAA women's record 453 contests.

- Canisius senior guard Amanda Cavo did not make a shot from beyond the bonus stripe against Marist and only finished with five points, but that doesn't diminish a standout career in which she currently has 1,314 points and ranks as the all-time MAAC leader with 265 career made three-pointers.

- Canisius' junior guard Brittane Russell went over the 1,000-point total for her career Sunday. She now has 1,008 career points.

- Marist has six consecutive 20-victory seasons.

- Attendance for Sunday's women's championship contest was 3,882, the largest crowd for the women's title contest since 3,949 turned out in 2000. It was the fourth-highest turnout for a women's game in the tournament's history. The top women's tournament crowd came in 1999 when 4,447 turned out for Saint Peter's 64-62 victory over Siena at the Marine Midland Arena in Buffalo.

- Siena coach Gina Castelli brought her entire team to Sunday's championship game and, then, drew them into a huddle to say a few words to her players at the game's conclusion.

"I like them to see this," said Castelli. "I spoke to them of the hard work and effort required to get here. Kids like Julianne Viani (of Marist). They are in the gym every single day in the off-season. That's what it takes to get here."

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