Friday, June 29, 2012

Siena's Centeno picked in Puerto Rico Draft

Some nice news for a former MAAC women's player.

Siena's combo guard Christina Centeno, who graduated this May, will get a chance to play professionally. The versatile 5-foot-9 guard was selected with the fourth overall pick by the Quebradillas Pirates in the Baloncesto Superior National Femenino draft Wednesday night in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

"I am really excited about being drafted by Quebradillas," said Centeno, in a statement released by the Siena sports information staff. "It is a great opportunity for me and I am truly grateful."

The league is made up of three divisions, which include Puerto Rican residents, descendants and foreigners. Centeno's mother, Olga, was born in Puerto Rico.

A third-team all-MAAC pick in each of her last two seasons at Siena, Centeno graduated as 10th all time in assists in the program's history.

She is also one of just 13 players in MAAC history to eclipse 900 points, 400 rebounds, 300 assists, 100 steals and 100 three-pointers in her career.

Centeno is expected to join Quebradillas for its first official team practice on July 9, with the season set to begin in mid-August.

MAAC Fails To Produce an NBA Draft Choice

The NBA draft has come and gone without a MAAC player selected, which is usually the case.

The best chance of a conference player being picked seemed to be Iona's senior point guard Scott Machado, who led the nation in assists this past season.

And while Machado was touted as a late first-round pick, by color commentator and ESPN on-air personality Doug Gottleib for his play in the early season Puerto Rico Tip-Off tournament and a potential late second-round pick by some draft followers, his name did not get called Thursday night in the two-round draft.

Blame some of that on being a little on the small size (6-foot-1) and, maybe, on an inconsistent jump shot. But, Machado is sure to get invited by multiple teams to attend workouts and preseason camps.

The guess here is that he would be a potential fit for his hometown New York Knicks as well as the Knicks' Eastern Conference rival Boston Celtics.

Although he went undrafted, that might not be a major detriment. Now, as a free agent, he can pick the team he wants to join for a preseason camp, a situation that enables him to chose the best possible option for him to make an NBA roster.

The MAAC has had a decent run in recent NBA drafts, although the last league player selected was 6-11 center Jason Thompson, a first-round selection of the Sacramento Kings in 2008.

Before that, Marist point guard Jared Jordan was a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Clippers in 2007; And, Manhattan shooting guard Luis Flores was a second-round pick of the Houston Rockets in 2004.

Prior to that, though, there was a long dry spell for MAAC players who were drafted, going back to 1992 when La Salle guard Randy Woods was a first-round pick of the Clippers.

The last Iona player drafted was Steve Burtt Sr., a second-round pick of the Golden State Warriors in 1984.

Patsos Made Call: Ohio State's Sullinger To Celtics

Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos not only showed his ability to turn around what was once a struggling MAAC program, but Thursday night's NBA draft showed that the Greyhounds' program director is a pretty good prognosticator, too.

Boston born-and-raised Patsos, whose affinity for that city's NBA Celtics also can be traced to his friendship with the Celts' former patriarch Red Auerbach, spoke more than three months ago about who he hoped his favorite pro team would wind up with in the draft.

Patsos extolled the virtues of Ohio State's 6-foot-9, 270-pound forward Jared Sullinger this past March. And, then, on Thursday night the Celts did exactly what Patsos had hoped for by taking the Buckeye with the 21st overall pick in the first round.

Patsos knew plenty about Sullinger since his team's NCAA appearance was a first-round game against Sullinger and Ohio State. The Loyola coach not only spent a considerable amount of time watching game films to scout Ohio State and Sullinger but, then, got a first-hand look at the sophomore big man in the Greyhounds' 78-59 NCAA tournament loss.

Here's what Patsos had to say about Sullinger two days before the meeting with Ohio State:

"(Jared) Sullinger) ... like some people say, you don't contain him you just try to neutralize him. I'm a Celtics' fan, and I hope they get him (in the draft). That's what I think of him as a player ... I hope the Celts get Jared Sullinger. If we can hold Sullinger to 18 points and nine rebounds ... something like that ... We need to keep him from getting second shots, and we need to fast break and make him run up and down the court. But, no doubt, he's an NBA lottery pick."

The only thing Patsos was wrong about was Sullinger's status as a lottery pick. Instead, the Buckeye fell to No. 21, but most draft observers (including those speaking for the Celtics on Thursday night) portrayed Sullinger as a top-10 talent with a back issue that caused his proverbial stock to drop as the draft approached.

According to published reports, the Celtics' medical staff perceived Sullinger's back issues to be relatively minor.

As for Sullinger's performance against Loyola this past March?

He only scored 12 points while collecting 11 rebounds. But, all 12 of those points came in the first half of a game that the Buckeyes had full control of by that point. Clearly, Loyola concentrated its defense heavily on slowing Sullinger. But, that left another forward, 6-7 Deshaun Thomas, free enough to turn in a monster 31-point, 12-rebound effort.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Iona Women's Report: Still Facing Inexperience

After a brief hiatus, we'll return to (and, finish off) post-season team reports.

Only one program left for men's and women's reports.

Up now ...


2011-12 RECORD: 8-10 in MAAC play, 14-18 overall.

2011-12 RECAP: A slight improvement from an 11-20 overall finish the previous year, but a second straight "down" season after running up victory totals of 18, 18, 20, 21 and 17 in the five seasons before the past two. Still, considering youth and a key injury, the year wasn't a total disappointment. The program's expected top player, 6-foot-1 senior forward Kristina Ford, was injured in the season's 10th game, missed the next seven and was never close to her best afterwards. And, even after that, Iona didn't come close to reverting to the struggles the program had prior to the strong five-year run. Even after Ford went out, the team found ways to win and opened with a 6-2 start to league play. Then, though, came seven straight losses. The Gaels continued to struggle and barely won a first-round post-season conference tournament game, needing a driving bucket by freshman guard Aleesha Powell with two seconds remaining to squeeze past Rider by a point in overtime. The season, though, did provide some hope for the future as two freshmen (Damika Martinez and Powell) emerged.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The nice early start, but many of those early conference victories came over teams that finished in the lower-half of the standings. And, then, there was the rapid development of freshman guard Damika Martinez, who stepped up, at least on the offensive end, in Ford's absence in a manner rarely seen from a freshman. Martinez averaged 16.0 points per game, leading the conference in scoring and becoming the first true freshman to do that in the MAAC's 31-year history. She was the conference's Rookie of the Year and probably should have been a first-team all star (she was a second-team pick), but conference coaches who do the voting traditionally favor upperclass players for post-season honors. Powell, another guard, wasn't that far behind (8.4 points, 3.5 rebounds). One game in particular, a mid-season victory over Siena, highlighted what might becoming from those two precocious guards. In that one, Martinez (28) and Powell (20) combined for 48 points. Otherwise, nothing great from the Gaels other than some strong early play from Ford before her injury. Suzi Fregosi had a standout senior season (122 assists against just 57 turnovers).

WHAT WENT WRONG: It all started going in the wrong direction when Ford got hurt. In her first nine games she was averaging 18.3 points per contest and looked like a runaway pick for the MAAC's Player of the Year. Then came the injury and, after her return, she only averaged 11.2 points in the final 15 games in which she played and clearly was not physically the same player. Then came a difficult stretch in the schedule when Iona seemed to be playing the conference's better teams every game and that produced the seven straight losses. There was also too great a reliance on freshmen with Martinez and Powell required to be the go-to players after Ford's injury, and that is never a great recipe for success. The defense particularly suffered as Iona finished last in the league in points allowed (67.8 per contest). And, then, Iona lost its senior point guard, Fregosi, in the MAAC tournament to a recurrence of a hip injury that sidelined her for most of the previous year.

WHAT'S AHEAD: Certainly better days. Head coach Tony Bozzella has done a terrific job resuscitating what had previously been a very downtrodden program. But, those better days might not reach full fruition in the coming year. Of the team's top seven players from this past season, only Martinez, Powell, 6-3 sophomore center Sabrina Jeridore (who did block 45 shots, but is still developing the rest of her game) and 5-7 guard Diana Hubbard return. Hubbard, who had a promising freshman year seems to have regressed since then. Junior Haley D'Angelo, a career-long reserve, looks to be the only true candidate to replace Fregosi for the coming season. There appears to be a very strong incoming group of five freshmen. But, as Iona found out this year, mid-major level college teams don't succeed when they have to reply on freshmen. The good news is that Martinez and Powell will both be a year older, but their supporting class might be very young.

PREDICTION FOR 2012-13: It's hard to envision Iona competing for a league championship, not with so much youth and question marks surrounding the starting lineup beyond Martinez and Powell. Those two, though, will make the Gaels dangerous on any given night. If a couple of the freshmen make significant contributions, Iona could contend to stay out of the league tournament's play-in round (for teams that finish seventh through 10th). Anything better than that would be a nice accomplishment this year. But, the coming season should be a nice building block for a relatively rapid return to league contention in future years.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Proposed Tourney Structure Looks Like A Good One

In case you missed this ....

MAAC administrators have proposed a new schedule of games for the post-season men's and women's basketball  tournaments that would ensure there are no more than four games on any day, and that games theoretically would not start so late to precipitate a well-past-midnight ending (as is often the case now).

The proposed structure would also preclude early morning games (9:30 a.m. starts) of tournament contests.

If the proposal is approved by presidents of conference schools in December, the new structure would begin in 2015.

Changes also include moving the two men's opening-round games from Friday to Thursday. The women's semifinal round would be moved from Saturday to Sunday.

"As you can see it's not a major change, but at the same time it does address the issue of game times late at night and relatively speaking early in the morning," MAAC associate commissioner Ken Taylor told the Albany Times Union newspaper.

The MAAC will maintain its current format for the nest two years (in Springfield, Mass.) in 2013 and 2015. The new structure, if approved, would be used at least from 2015 through 2018 and the site/sites for those years will be bid on next March.

If you'll allow for an opinion ... your Hoopscribe likes the proposed structure better than anything ever been done.

It is always difficult for teams playing in the morning games, particularly since teams like to start their pre-game routine at least three-to-three and a half hours before tipoff. That meant, often, 6 a.m. wake-up calls.

And, at the other end, the new structure ensures a team will not be playing well past midnght (as Siena-Manhattan did in their quarterfinal-round overtime game this past season) and, then, be right back at it in an early afternoon game the next day. That was the schedule Siena faced, and the Saints' legs were noticeably not there after short rest.

Here is the proposed schedule:

Women's Game, No. 7 vs. No. 10 seed, 11 a.m.
Women's Game No. 8 vs. No. 9, 1:30
Men's Game: No. 8 vs. No. 9, 7 p.m.
Men's Game: No. 7 vs. No. 10, 9:30 p.m.
NOTE: The league's Post-Season Awards Show would be held at 4:30 p.m.

Women's Game: No. 2 vs. 7-10 winner, noon.
Women's Game: No. 3 vs. No. 6, 2:30 p.m.
Women's Game: No. 1 vs. 8-9 winner, 6 p.m.
Women's Game: No. 4 vs. No. 5, 7:30 p.m.

Men's Game: No. 1 vs. winner of No. 8-9, noon.
Men's Game: No. 4 vs. No. 5, 2:30
Men's Game: No. 2 vs. winner of No. 7-10, 6 p.m.
Men's Game: No. 3 vs. No. 6, 8:30 p.m.

Women's semifinal round game, 11 a.m.
Women's semifinal-round game, 2:30 p.m.
Men's semifinal-round game, 4:30 p.m.
Men's semifinal-round game, 7 p.m.

Women's championship game, noon.
Men's championship game either 7 or 9 p.m.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

GymRat Event Has Many Drawing MAAC Interest

The 8th annual GymRat CHALLENGE AAU basketball tournament for girls was held in New York's Capital Region this past weekend and, as promised, below you can find our reports on a number of players that are getting some level of interest from MAAC schools.

There was no Epiphany Prince here this year ... the WNBA's current leading scorer played in the GymRat twice during her high school days. But, there were dozens and dozens of players who will wind up at mid-major level programs in future years, many of them turning up at MAAC schools.

Here are a few, in no particular order:

- Staci Barrett, a 6-foot-0 power forward. Has gotten interest from Rider, also from LIU and some other mid-majors. She showed an ability to drive the baseline and finish, or continue on for a reverse. She also had a nice mid-range jumper, was athletic and was a force in the paint.

- Rose Ayala, a 6-2 post player from the Albany City Rocks program. She is hearing from Canisius as well as St. Bona's UBuffalo, Eastern Michigan and UAlbany. A nice solid post player who can finish in the paint, plays hard and takes pride in her defense.

- Kellyns Scarbrough, a 5-11 power forward with the NYC Lady Warriors program. She lists Marist, along with Providence and Bucknell as showing interest. She is a very strong power forward who uses her strength and power dribble to get to the hoop.

- Margot Hetzke, a 5-11 power forward from the Crystal City Stars program. Another strong post player who really rebounds, runs well for her size and can hit a mid-range jumper. She lists Niagara and Siena among programs with interest.

- Tiffany Corselli, a 5-7 point guard from the Westchester Hawks program. She lists Siena and Rider, among others, with interest. She has a good, quick handle, distributes the ball well, sees the floor and showed a good mid-range jumper.

- Sydnie Rosales, a 5-9 shooting guard from the Saratoga Sparks program. She originally gave a verbal to Siena, but withdrew it after the change in coaching staff. She attends Colonie H.S., only a few miles from the Siena campus. And, now, she lists Sacred Heart, Hartford and Central Connecticut as potential destinations. She was one of the top long-range shooters here and also showed an ability to play the point when necessary.

- Anna Ross, a 5-9 point guard with the Unity Wildcats. She lists Niagara, Canisius, Marist and Siena among interested programs. She is perceived as having the potential to play higher than the MAAC. She is a standout athlete who plays hard at all times and is a great, unselfish leader.

- Maeve Parahus, a 6-1 wing player from the Hudson Valley Elite program who has given a verbal to Manhattan. She was one of the top long-range shooters here, and made six three pointers in one game.

- Lexi Martins, a 6-1 wing who has offers from Loyola and St. Bona's. She showed an outstanding ability to score, and hi the three-pointer but seemed to prefer taking it strong to the basket. Another hard worker whose length was an advantage defensively. She also was a strong rebounder here.

- Ciara Rosten, a 6-1 post player from the New York Revolution program. She has heard from several MAAC programs. Good strong inside player with a nice touch around the basket who can also put the ball on the floor to create her own shot.

- Dominique Ward, a 5-11 wing player from the Ring City program. She lists Siena, Delaware and St. John's as having interest. She is an outstanding athlete who finishes with both hands. A terrific jumper and a good rebounder.

You can read the full report on the tournament on the GymRat's website:

There, readers can see individual reports on all stars selected at each of the four age levels contested. Close to 3,000 players participated and usually well over half of those wind up playing some level of college basketball.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Girls' AAU GymRat Challenge Brings In Top Players

The boys were here in New York's Capital Region three weeks ago and, now, it's the girls' turn to compete in the GymRat CHALLENGE AAU basketball tournament, the largest of its kind for females on the east coast.

In all, 236 teams and close to 2,400 players from 12 states and Canada will invade the area to play in games Saturday and Sunday.

Games begin at 8 a.m. on Saturday, continue until the wee hours and, then, resume at 8 a,.m. on Sunday. Championship brackets begin early Sunday afternoon with champions determined in four age brackets Sunday evening.

Games will be played at UAlbany, Skidmore and Union colleges, Schenectady High School and Saratoga Recreation Center. Divisions are for 16-under, 15-under, 14-under and 13-under.

Admission is $10 per day or $15 for both days, and covers any game at any venue. Reasonably priced concessions, merchandise and game programs with full rosters are also available.

There are 19 Capital Region-based teams involved with close to 200 local players, and the best-of-the-best come here for the event..

We were looking at the local high school all-star teams selected by a staff of evaluators for local TV Channel 13 (where Rodger Wyland is the sports director), and every one of his 10-member all star teams for the past four years has played in the GymRat.

The event also draws considerable talent from elsewhere. The best ever to appear hear was probably Epiphany Prince, who came to the event two different years and, now, is the leading scorer in the WNBA. Three years ago we recall Breanna Stewart, a 6-foot-4 center, coming here and she was rated the top high school player nationally this past season and will play at UConn next season.

In the interest of full disclosure, your Hoopscribe is directly involved, helping organize and be part of a group of "talent evaluators" who watch games over the weekend and pick all stars.

When the event is over, I'll be writing about each of the top-level all stars (between 20 and 80 at each of the four levels) as well as writing a report on the championship game at each division.

Is all of that well-received? In past years, there have been more than 1.2 million hits to the site ( within two weeks after the reports get on line. That will happen early ... either Tuesday or Wednesday ... next week.

And, as I have done in the past, I'll do a special MAAC Blog report that you can read here later next week, describing the abilities of players who have indicated they have drawn interest from conference schools.

Better yet, come out and watch yourself to get a look at college's future stars and, in many cases, the future stars of the MAAC.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Former Saint Star Halker now a Michigan Assistant

And, here's another coaching move of note to MAAC fans, one we've known about for a little while but wanted it to become official before we mentioned it here.

Melanoe (Halker) Moore was recently hired as an assistant coach at Michigan.

In her playing days, Halker-Moore was one of the top female players to ever in the MAAC as a player at Siena from the 1995-96 season through the 1998-99 season. She still ranks fourth in total points and fourth in total rebounds in the history of all MAAC teams, the only conference player to appear in the top four in those two statistical categories.

She scored 2,021 career points and grabbed 1,122 rebounds. She was named the MAAC's Player of the Year in 1998 and 1999.

Halker-Moore has 10 years of coaching experience, including the last five as an assistant at Princeton where she worked with post players and was the recruiting coordinator. During her time there Princeton finished with two perfect 14-0 Ivy League slates and earned the Ivy League's first-ever women's basketball national ranking, at No. 24, late this past season. The program went to the NCAA tournament this past season and had the best seed ever by an Ivy League team with a No. 9 seeding position.

Siena had the opportunity, this past off-season, to bring Halker-Moore back as its head coach. She did receive a preliminary interview, but was never a serious candidate according to sources close to that search.

Prior to her time at Princeton she was an assistant for one season at Dayton University and, before that, had been on the coaching staffs at Indiana State and Siena. She also played two years of professional ball, in Luxembourg and Israel, immediately following her playing days at Siena.

Mike Deane Reunited with Brady as JMU Assistant

Some of the greatest one-on-one confrontations in Siena's basketball history took place during the 1986-87 season.

They took place on the practice court, a daily battle of wits and hoops philosophy between a veteran and successful point guard and a first-year Division I head coach.

The combatants were Matt Brady, a Siena senior that season, and Mike Deane, who had just taken over the program.

Brady's first three seasons with the Saints (then known as the Indians) came under a conservative, half-court-style coach in John Griffin who encouraged Brady to operate as a prototypical pass-first point guard who directed an efficient half-court offense and found open teammates. That's how Brady played throughout his entire career, through high school and into college.

And, then, enter Deane, himself a Division III All-American point guard at Potsdam who considered the ability to score as much a part of his duties as getting an assist.

At Siena, Deane wanted a point guard in his own image. His philosophy was that having a point guard who was also a scoring threat created another option opposing defenses had to be concerned with. And, since the point guard, by nature, controlled the basketball, Deane reasoned, he should be best-suited for creating his own shot.

The on-court battle of wills between point guard and coach were particularly hotly contested during the preseason, but went on through much of the year.

Of course, the coach won out. And, Brady, who averaged 8.1 points over his first three seasons, led Siena in scoring as a senior averaging 14.1 ppg.

Ironically enough Brady has embraced Deane's desire for scoring point guards during his career as a coach.

As a longtime assistant at St. Joseph's, Brady became known best for his work developing shooters. Among his pupils there were Delonte West and Jameer Nelson who both became first-round NBA draft picks and are both still active at the pro level.

Brady's first position as a head coach came at Marist of the MAAC. There, he encountered Jared Jordan, a point guard who never saw a shot he wouldn't pass up to deliver the ball to a teammate.

Like Deane, Brady won that battle of wills and Jordan became a proficient scorer as well as one of the MAAC's all-time best point guards.

Deane, meanwhile, continued to develop shooting point guards. The most-prolific was Marc Brown, whose jumper when he arrived at Siena the year after Brady's graduation, could best be described as "ugly." Deane restructured Brown's shot and Brown is still Siena's all-time leading scorer.

So, why bring up all this history?

Because those 1980's on-court battles between coach and player have come full circle. The now-60 year old Deane, who had been out of basketball for the past two seasons after being fired by Wagner College, is reunited with Brady.

Deane, on Tuesday, accepted a position as an assistant coach on Brady's staff at James Madison University.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with Matt," Deane told the Albany Times Union. "I'm more excited about being back into coaching. Third, I'm very excited about being in an assistant's position because it's where I'd like to be at this juncture. It's a beautiful place (Harrisonburg, Va.), as nice a campus as I've ever been on."

Deane had a 166-77 record in eight seasons at Siena, including bringing the program to its first NCAA appearance and first NCAA tournament victory (over Stanford) in 1989. Under Deane, Siena also went to two NIT events. After the 1994-94 season Deane moved to Marquette. He also coached at Lamar and Wagner.and has a career 437-332 record on the Division I level.

Deane previously applied last year for a position as an assistant at Siena under Mitch Buonaguro, but was not hired.

"I always wanted to coach, and I would have loved to have had the opportunity at Siena with Mitch. But, I certainly understand why he made that decision. I like to be in coaching some place where they'd take advantage of my experience, my individual skill development and concepts. What better place than to do that with Matt."

One thing is certain now. James Madison's point guards certainly will know the importance of being able to score as well as pass.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Loyola Women's Report: Expect Solid Season

Here's another in the series looking back and ahead at MAAC programs.

Up now ...


2011-12 RECORD: 9-9 in MAAC play, 13-17 overall.

2011-12 RECAP: Not the season Loyola expected, particularly after getting picked to finish second in the coaches' preseason poll. And, particularly, having two of the league's top players (senior Miriam McKenzie and junior Katie Sheahin) coming back from a 15-3 league finish the previous year. Things started out slow (4-7 in non-league games) and, then, continued that way with an 1-4 start to conference play. A bunch of injuries, none of them truly serious, didn't hurt. McKenzie, the stellar 5-foot-10 guard/forward, suffered a knee injury early in the season and missed three games. Junior forward Alyssa Sutherland was nicked up, missed a game and wasn't 100 percent for much of the year. And, sophomore forward Nneka Offodile also missed a couple of games and wasn't at her best for much of the year. That didn't help the team's inside game. Yet ... after a 7-13 overall start the Greyhounds pulled everything together and went on a six-game winning streak that included victories over Fairfield and Niagara. Then, suddenly, the bottom dropped out again with three straight losses to end the regular season (Iona, Fairfield, Marist) and a loss in its first league tournament game (to Niagara).

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Junior guard Katie Sheahin had another strong season, leading the Greyhounds in scoring (15.1 ppg.), assists (3.1) and steals (3.4). Her steals average was ninth-best nationally and she just reinforced her status as the league's most-versatile player and is one of two or three players who will get contention for the 2012-13 preseason Player of the Year designation. McKenzie, when healthy, was also a huge factor (14.4, 8.4 rebounds). Her rebound average was second-best in the conference. Freshman guard Kara Marshall had a standout first season (11.0 points, 2.3 rebounds) and added long-range shooting to the mix. In many years she'd have been a candidate for Rookie of the Year honors. Otherwise, not a lot. Sutherland was a role player hindered by knee issues. Sophomore guard Nicole Krusen averaged 3.9 points per game, but was strictly a long-range shooter (31 of her 36 field goals were three-pointers). The six-game winning streak was indicative of what the Greyhounds could do when all was working. But, the season-ending four-game slide was equally indicative that they weren't quite up to beating the conference's better teams this past season.

WHAT WENT WRONG: The slow start, followed by a series of minor injuries. And, one major one, too. Fifth-year guard Candice Walker, who started the season at the point, went down for the year after two games and that hurt not only in terms of losing the floor general but the team's overall depth. It meant Marshall, a freshman, got thrust into a starting role early, although she certainly grew into that as the year went on. McKenzie, Sutherland and Offodile played a good portion of the season with nagging injuries, and those were the team's top three inside threats. Still, Loyola did well enough on the boards (only getting outrebounded by 1.8 per game), but didn't take care of the ball well enough. Committing 17.7 turnovers per game is just too many, particularly when it's also getting outrebounded. McKenzie had a teamp-high 131 TO's, far too many for a player who wasn't the primary ball-handler. And Marshall (105 turnovers against 50 assists) looked like a freshman, too often, when handling the ball. It meant Sheahin had to look for her offense more so than usual, and she only shot 35.8 percent from the floor. After Walker went out there wasn't a true ball-handler on the roster and the team suffered from a lack of quality depth.

WHAT'S AHEAD: Uncertainty. Sheahin and Marshall make up a nice starting point, though. Sheahin is one of the top two or three players in the league, and Marshall was one of the top two or three freshmen and should make the traditional improvement as she matures as a player. If healthy, Sutherland is a nice, versatile player and vocal team leader. And Offodile gives the team an inside presence. Still, there doesn't appear to be much depth and losing McKenzie, often the go-to player for much of her career, will hurt. The team has five incoming freshmen, but it's hard to tell how well newcomers will perform. Loyola will need a couple of the new players, at least, to contribute to some degree to get back over the .500 level.

PREDICTION FOR 2012-13: If everyone stays health, and the team finds both a legitimate fifth starter and some quality depth, there's a realistic chance to get back over .500 and finish in the upper half of the league standings. The feeling here is for a middle-of-the-pack finish.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Loyola Men's Report: More Success Coming Up

We now return to your regularly scheduled broadcast ... or, posts, as the case may be ... with the resumption of program reports, a look back and ahead at MAAC teams.

Up now ...


2011-12 RECORD: 13-5 in MAAC play, 24-9 overall.

2011-12 RECAP: The program's first trip to the NCAA tournament in 17 years, that came as the result of a tenacious defensive effort in a 48-44 victory over Fairfield in the conference tournament's championship game. The result, though, was a tough NCAA tournament draw of Ohio State, and the Buckeyes proved a little too big and too talented in a game that wasn't truly in doubt for long. Still, a terrific year for the Greyhounds. Coach Jimmy Patsos, in his eighth year, has been building toward this since his arrival from being an assistant at Maryland. His energy and outgoing nature helped resuscitate interest in the program (it had back-to-back home court sellouts this season for the first time ever) and, now, the program did more than lure fans ... it won. A year ago, after losing in the 2010-11 MAAC tournament, Patsos spoke about returning relevance to his program and that the next step would be winning a MAAC title. Although Loyola didn't win the regular-season crown, the tournament title and NCAA birth pretty much accomplished what Patsos had spoken about the previous year. There were highs and lows along the way. A mid-February demolition of then-first place team Iona (87-81, although the Greyounds led by 25 points with about 12 minutes remaining) was probably a necessary confidence builder. After that, Loyola appeared to be in the hunt to take the regular-season title but, then, suffered a probable letdown, losing three straight league games (to Fairfield, Marist and Manhattan) before winning its last regular-season game (vs. Manhattan) to clinch the second seed in the MAAC tournament. After that, three tournament wins and the NCAA trip for a team without a singular star (leading scorer Erik Etherly's 13.7 ppg. average led the team). It was more than enough for Patsos to be named the league's Coach of the Year, a much-deserved honor.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The big victory over Iona was a definite signal that the Greyhounds had gone beyond mere relevance. And, then came the adversity of a three-game league losing streak. To Loyola's credit, it quickly regrouped and went on to win the post-season tournament title. It certainly put the program on, at least, the regional map with the type of publicity it never could have otherwise generated. And, the school reaped even more when its lacrosse program recently captured the national title. These certainly are good days for the Baltimore college. Back to basketball ... Patsos has used the platform of an NCAA appearance well, throwing out the first ball at an Orioles' game, meeting up with "Mad Money's" Jim Cramer at an NBA playoff game in Boston, hobnobbing with a variety of dignitaries at a dinner prior to the Preakness, the second leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, etc. It all came about as a result of good tough play and a team-oriented style. Etherly was a first-team MAAC all-star, but his stats (13.7 points, 7.5 rebounds) didn't match that of a few other players in the league. But, four players averaged double figures. and the team legitimately went eight deep. Definitely success by committee. The team also embraced Patsos' message. He is often blustery and, maybe even a little heavy handed. But his players respond. As a motivator and in terms of getting a team to play well together, he is among the best in the MAAC, if not the mid-major level. It was enough to get off to an 8-1 non-league start, followed by losses to St. Bona's and Kentucky (but, Loyola was within five of the eventual national champs with 17:45 left), followed by a nice league season and, then, the NCAA berth.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Hard to find faults with a 24-victory season that results in an NCAA appearance. One fault was the match-up with a loaded Ohio State team, but that wasn't anything Loyola could control. Otherwise ... Loyola might have added the MAAC's regular-season title to its portfolio, were it not for the late-season three-game slide. So, that's probably the first order of motivational business Patsos will bring up prior to the upcoming season. Otherwise, hard to take exception to much else during the past year.

WHAT'S AHEAD: The potential for more of the same. Either Loyola or Manhattan will probably be the preseason pick to win the league. And, why not Loyola? The Greyhounds have their top three scorers returning, and it would have been the top four had sophomore guard Justin Drummond, who came off the bench for most of the past season, not opted to transfer out. Still, Etherly and guards Dylon Cormier (13.4 ppg.) and Robert Olson (11.1 ppg.) are all back. Freshman R.J. Williams, a 5-8 point guard who had a solid first year, should come back able to contribute more. The biggest loss, both literally and figuratively, is 6-10 senior Shane Walker (9.0, 6.5), who provided good defense, shot-blocking, some rebounding, clutch play and leadership. But, there's a capable replacement in place in 6-8/250-pound bruiser Jordan Latham, who started his career at Xavier. The program also has five incoming players, and if one or two of them step up then the team's depth will e good again, too. One freshman of note is 6-6 forward Jarred Jones of Baltimore's John Carroll H.S. You can never be sure about how good incoming players will be, but Jones will be the fifth Baltimore-area player on next year's roster, which is also a credit to Patsos' work. In the not-so-distant past the program couldn't attract talent from its backyard. But, now, local standouts are more than willing to come aboard.

PREDICTION FOR 2012-13: They'll have the proverbial target, as the likely preseason favorite, on their backs. But, the team is more than capable of handling that. If Latham gives them a decent inside presence, and one or two of the incoming freshmen step up ... next year could match this past season's. Your hoopscribe is picking Loyola as the early favorite for 2012-13.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

GymRat Had Many Players Hearing From MAAC

The annual GymRat AAU boys' tournament held throughout New York's Capital Region was bigger (276 teams in six age divisions) than ever before, and every bit as good as usual.

Below is a report on more than a few players who might eventually wind up at MAAC programs.

Why report on the GymRat?

Several reasons ...

First, it's in my own backyard and, secondly, I'm directly involved helping select all-star teams and writing the entire event's post-tournament report (which can be found in its entirety at

Mostly, though, it's an event that draws hundreds of eventual Division I players each year. Over the years nine NBA lottery picks have come through the GymRat, a couple dozen former GymRat performers have been in the NBA and literally hundreds have played at a high-major Division I level.

But, many more have wound up at mid-major level programs and the list of GymRat alum that have wound up in the MAAC is long and plentiful.

Hard to say for sure how any and which players will eventually migrate to the MAAC. But, there's no doubt that more than a few will.

Here's how we get an idea. The tournament, this year, had 15 individuals devoted solely to watching games and selecting the top players, ones who would eventually be written about for the GymRat's website.

At the higher age levels (rising seniors, rising juniors), evaluators ask players and their respective AAU coaches what schools are looking. That information is often included in the eventual reports.

Here's a fairly comprehensive list, with pertinent comments, about players who claimed to have received at least some interest from a MAAC program, in no particular order. The descriptions combine what was provided by the event's talent evaluators and, on occasion, some personal observations.

- Justin Robinson, 5-7 point guard from Kingston High School. Robinson played extremely well in the tournament and was selected as the MVG (Most Valuable GymRat). A real floor general who could also score. He had a game-high 14 points, along with seven assists, in the championship game which his team won. Said he was being heavily recruited by Marist and has heard from Siena. He's hoping his play on the AAU circuit brings higher offers. The GymRat was a big breakthrough for him.

- Jontne Rutty, a 6-6 forward (Putnam Science Academy) who could shoot from long range, yet was physical enough to contribute inside. He said he has been getting interest from several MAAC teams, as well as America East teas.

- Greg Noack, a 6-8 forward from Liberty (N.J.) High School. He played for the always strong Jersey Shore Warriors' program. A mobile, albeit slender power forward who made some athletic finishes round the basket and showed a nice mid-range jumper. Indicated that his interest has come from Siena, Fairfield and Monmouth.

- Dwayne Daniel, a 5-10 point guard from Lawrence H.S. (Long Island). Extremely quick guard who can get to the basket at will who also has good court vision. Solid outside shooter and excellent on-the-ball defender. He played at the highest age level (17-under), but is only a rising junior. Has gotten some interest from Iona and Hofstra.

- Sam Eckstrom, a 6-8 center from Olean H.S. He is a big-body (235 pounds) space eater and can finish around the basket. Good post moves and decent range from 15 feet. Only a rising junior. Definitely a mid-major level player, at least. Already has an offer from UBuffalo, but several MAAC schools are also getting involed.

- Bryson Lassiter, a 5-11 point guard fro Bayshore H.S. A lightning quick guard who can get to the rim and finish who also has a quick shooting stroke. Strong body. Excellent in transition game. Several MAAC schools showing interest.

- J.C. Snow, a 6-2 pint guard from Abington Heights H.S. Strong, tough and good size for playing the point. Physicall ready right now, yet is only a rising junior. Great vision and makes teammates better. Drives to the basket and finishes. Good shooting range out to the stripe, although not consistent yet from long range. A variety of schools, including St. Joe's, Boston University and some MAAC schools show interest But, he's also a high-major football prospect.

- Eric Lofton, a 5-8 point guard from Union (N.J.) H.S. Extremely quick, arguably the quickest guard at the GymRat. He got anywhere he wanted at any time. Shoots it well from mid range. A little small, but already hearing from a variety of MAAC schools.

- Edward Alede (Kemper H.S./Naval Academy Prep School). A 6-9 center who was one of the best true post players here. Long wingspan that makes him very effective around the basket. Extremely good inside defender. Also a nice mid-range jumper. Some MAAC schools involved, but he said he intends to go to Navy.

-Amur Stokes, a 6-2 combo guard from La Salle College H.S. (N.J.) A very good athlete who does a little of everything. Gets into the lane to pass or score. One of the better backcourt defenders here. Knocks down open shots. Has heard from Siena, La Salle and St. Joe's.

- Chima Azounwu, a 6-11, 255-pound center from Stepinac H.S. He only started playing basketball a year ago and is still raw offensively. But, already a solid defensive presence. Long with a pro body and might be the best long-range prospect to have played in the GymRat. Hearing from Siena, America East and Patriot League schools so far.

- Matt Staubi, a 5-8 point guard from Rye Country Day School. A natural floor leader with good court vision and a consistent outside shoot. Handles the ball well; great competitor. Has heard from Siena.

- Kevin Degnan, a 6-7 forward from Pearl River. A face-up power forward with great skill level. an shoot from deep, post up or attack on the dribble. Smart player who showed good passing skill. Has heard from a variety of mid-majors, including Siena.

-Eric Anderson, a 6-6 forward from Haverford School who plays for the Jersey Shore Warriors' AAU program. He affects the game in multiple ways. Extremely skilled with a high hoops I who can shoot from deep, dribble and pass and rebounds. Offers from Fairfield, Davidson, Princeton.

And, one for future reference:

- Jules Brown, a 6-5/200 pound point guard from Lower Merion H.S. (Pa.) who plays for the Jersey Shore Warriors and is only a rising sophomore. He is a long guard that is still growing. Great vision and an exceptional passer. Creates in the full court and always thinks pass first. Knows how to finish in traffic and on the break. Evaluators estimate he'll eventually get looks from the high major level.

Those were players from the highest age bracket who mentioned getting some MAAC interest. For sure, there were others who didn't reveal their suitors. And, there are many more at the younger levels already getting looks from colleges.

Some did mention the interest. For that ... take a look at the full GymRat report (

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Twyman's Death Brings Care of Stokes Back To Light

You probably don't recall the playing career of Jack Twyman, unless you're close to 60 (OK, I qualify), or you remember him as a color commentator for televised games from the late 1960's/early 1970's.

And, Twyman has nothing to do with MAAC basketball. But, his story is an exemplary one that any basketball fan should know about.

Twyman's professional career lasted 11 years, from 1955 through 1966. Over that time he was a six-time all-star and averaged 19.2 points and 6.6 rebounds. One year he averaged more than 30 points per game, the first player other than  Wilt Chamberlain to average more than 30 points over a full season. He was a terrific outside and inside player, particularly prolific as a scorer.

His one weakness was that he was not a great passer. He only averaged slightly more than two assists per game.

But, one particular "assist" set Twyman apart and made him universally known as, arguably, the greatest "teammate" in the history of sports.

One of his on-court NBA teammates was a spectacularly gifted 6-foot-7, 250-pound forward Maurice Stokes, who the great Bob Cousy recognized as "Karl Malone with more finesse."

But, late in the 1957-58 season Stokes went up for a rebound, got tangled with an opponent and his head slammed to the court. Three days later he had a seizure, went into a coma and suffered post-traumatic encephalopathy. The blow had damaged the part of his brain that controls motor function.

At first, all Stokes could do was blink his eyes. He would be paralyzed for the rest of his life.

Back then, the NBA did not have comprehensive medical coverage. Stokes' staggering medical bills were basically his responsibility, and he had less than $10,000 to his name.

He was hospitalized in Cincinnati. His only teammate who lived there in the off-season was Twyman, who took on the responsibility of caring for Stokes, eventually becoming his legal guardian.

Twyman needed help paying for Stokes' medical care and came up with the Maurice Stokes game, an all-star game of sorts that was played every summer at Kutsher's Country Club in Monticello, N.Y. The game attracted the best of the best from that era. If Twyman asked an NBA player to show up, he did with no questions asked.

Your hoopscribe, while working for a newspaper in downstate New York, covered several of the Stokes games, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, although Stokes was gone by then having passed away at age 36 in 1970.

By then, proceeds of the game went to a fund to help indigent former NBA players. And, it still attracted some of the sport's best performers. And, Twyman still came to the event.

He had to be prodded to talk about his role in caring for Stokes.

"He was in a hospital in Cincinnati, and I was the only member of the team who lived there," I remember Twyman saying. "I just did what any teammate would do."

Twyman not only became Stokes' financial support, but his regular companion, too, spending countless hours next to Stokes' bedside over the years.

Eventually, through years of rehabilitation, Stokes had gained some use of his fingers. He was given a typewriter one day and he was able to type a short note.

"What he typed was `Dear Jack. How can I ever thank you?' " Twyman recalled.

But, Twyman said he was the one who should have been thanking Stokes.

"He never had a bad day," I remember Twyman saying about Stokes. "If I was having a bad day, I would go to see Maurice, and he never failed to get me to smile. I was just in awe of him."

The story came to light again this week with the death of Twyman recently at age 78, and remains one of the most unselfish acts of a sports figure being a great teammate in the history of sports.