Thursday, August 29, 2013

Team Reports: Monmouth Men In Rebuilding Process

Here's another in the series, looking back and ahead at conference teams ... with a caveat. Your Hoopscribe has not personally seen league newcomers Quinnipiac and Monmouth play. These reports are based on research and interviews with league coaches and school publicists.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 5-13 in the Northeast Conference (10th in a 12-team league), 10-21 overall.

2012-13 RECAP: A good start in non-league play with a 5-3 beginning, followed by an 0-6 stretch, followed by a 5-7 mark and, then, 0-4 down the stretch. The team's top player, sophomore forward Andrew Nicholas, injured a foot in midseason, missed four games, came back for one and, then, missed the final nine. Without him the team struggled and failed to make the NEC's post-season tournament (only the top eight teams qualify). The team took on some high quality opponents in non-league play, losing games to Notre Dame, Syracuse, Maryland and Villanova by an average margin of 34.7 points per game.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Nicholas (13.9 points, 3.6 rebounds) established himself as one of the better players in the NEC before foot woes cost him 13 of the team's final 14 games. Jesse Steele, a 5-8 guard, showed that height isn't a necessity and averaged 12.2 points and 3.6 assists. After the season he signed to play professionally in a league in the Dominican Republic. The Hawks, despite their sub-par record, did some things well on the court. Their 8.8 steals per game as a team was 22nd best nationally while their turnover margin of 3.2 fewer per game than opponents was 19th best.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Monmouth struggled with two key aspects; not enough offensive firepower, and not enough height/rebounding. Nicholas' absence for nearly half the season left only Steele as a double-figure scorer. No team member averaged more than 4.8 rebounds per game. By late in the year Monmouth often had a starting five whose tallest player was 6-foot-5. It meant that the team got outrebounded by a margin of 5.6 per contest, and only 14 teams nationally had a larger rebounding deficit. The year was just the latest in a tough stretch for the program that hasn't had a winning record since 2005-06. Every year since has seen at least 18 losses with loss totals of 21, 20 and 21 the past three seasons. And, after the season, two solid players with remaining eligibility opted not to return. Dion Nesmith, a guard, transferred to Hofstra for his final year of eligibility while forward Marcus Ware moved to league rival Niagara, where he'll also be immediately eligible.

WHAT'S AHEAD: The Hawks might be more competitive this coming season in the MAAC than they were the past seven years in the NEC, despite joining a better league than its previous affiliation. And, that assessment comes despite the loss of players who ranked second through sixth among team scorers this past season. But, Steele's graduation is the only major loss and there's not only a slew of new players (seven) coming aboard, but it looks like one of the better incoming groups in the league. Nicholas will be a junior and is an all-MAAC quality player, but he'll need help. Some of that should come from Deon Jones, a 6-6 sophomore swingman who becomes eligible after transferring in from Towson, whee he averaged 7.0/4.5 as a freshman there in the 2011-12 season. After that the incoming group is made up of freshmen, but they fill key needs. Monmouth needed height/inside play last year and, now, has four "bigs" coming in. They are 6-10, 280-pounder Zachary Tillman, 6-10, 260-pounder Chris Brady, 6-9, 225-pounder Marcelo Deschamps (a native of Brazil) and 6-8 forward Greg Noack. We've seen Noack play when he was with the high-powered Jersey Shore Warriors' AAU program (which also produced Nicholas), and he's a good one ... a hard-nosed, yet athletic and multi-talented forward. Plus, the cupboard of returning players, beyond Nicholas, isn't entirely bare. Khalil Brown, who played at 190 pounds over his 6-9 frame as a sophomore and battled knee issues, should get significantly more time this season. His face-up style at his size makes him a tough matchup. And, 6-5 sophomore forward Tyon O'Garro (2.5, 3.8) was in the playing group, primarily because of his tireless work and rebounding ability off the bench, last season. With Steele gone, the Hawks also need a point guard, and found a good one in 5-8 Justin Robinson of Kingston, who your Hoopscribe also saw play several times when he earned the Most Valuable GymRat award for his play in the 2012 GymRat AAU Tournament.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14: Head coach King Rice's first two seasons with the Hawks haven't been real good (12-20 in 2011-12, and 10-21 last season), but his recent recruiting should help turn things around. The turnaround, though, probably won't come this coming season. There's more talent in place, yet there's only one returning starter. Jones, who was able to practice with the team a year ago, is a strong second piece to the starting lineup. The rest of the playing group will be last year's role players with a heavy dose of incoming freshmen. The good news is that there's not a single senior on the roster. That might not be good news for this season, in a league that relies on players developing and, then, creating team success when the roster is composed of veteran players. But, there should be plenty of signs that 2014-15 should be a good one for the Hawks. Still, the program is likely destined for a bottom-three finish this season and will be picked, by most prognosticators, to finish last in the 11-team league.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Team Report: Quinnipiac Men Need Only to Find PG

Here's another in the series looking back, and ahead, at conference teams ... with a caveat: your Hoopscribe has not personally seen MAAC newcomers Quinnipiac and Monmouth. Reports on those programs comes from research and several interviews with coaches and/or school publicists.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 11-7 in the Northeast Conference (tied for 6th place in the 12-team league), 15-16 overall.

2012-13 RECAP: An up-and-down year, one of peaks and valleys for the Bobcats. The team went through a tough non-league schedule with a 4-7 mark, losing to, among others, UConn, George Mason, Lehigh, Vermont and Boston University. Then came a 2-5 start to NEC play before Quinnipiac kicked it into gear with an 8-1 stretch. Then came a two-point loss to Central Connecticut, another win and, finally, a regular-season ending setback at the hands of LIU-Brooklyn. LIU Brooklyn then finished off the Bobcats' season with a 91-83 decision in the first round of the NEC's post-season tournament.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: That late-season run showed what the Bobcats were capable of at their best, and included a two-point victory over regular-season NEC champion Robert Morris after Quinnipiac trailed by five points with just over seven minutes remaining. The Bobcats also had a nice non-league victory over UAlbany, which put up 24 victories. The team didn't have a true signature star (senior-to-be forward Ike Azotam's 13.6 points per game led the team), but it did have one thing it did extremely well. Quinnipiac outrebounded opponents by an average of 10.4 per game, the second-best positive differential on the Division I level this past season. The 6-foot-7 Azotam, who had 10 double-doubles, averaged 7.9 rebounds per outing, while junior-to-be 6-9 forward Ousmane Drame averaged 7.3. They were one of the best front-court tandems in the NEC. Graduated point guard Dave Johnson was a good distributor, averaging 4.1 assists per contest.

WHAT WENT WRONG: As good as Azotam was last year, it was a drop-off from the previous season when he averaged 15.8 and 9.5 (30th-best rebounding total nationally) as a sophomore. Statistically, the defense wasn't as good (allowing 71.6 points per game, 290th of 343 Division I teams nationally) as it was the previous year. And, while the Bobcats ruled the backboards with their rebounding efficiency, they lacked in other categories. Only two teams nationally got fewer steals per game, and only 23 teams nationally made fewer 3-point shots. The 15-16 overall record came on the heels of a three-year stretch in which the team averaged 21 victories per year and had been to three consecutive national post-season tournaments (NIT, CBI, CIT). Quinnipiac was just good enough to be competitive on any given night, but not quite good enough to get over the top, with six of its seven conference losses by single digits, and two of those by two points. How close was it to a better season? It was only one victory shy of finishing in a tie for second place in the conference standings.

WHAT'S AHEAD: It should be a smooth transition from the NEC to the MAAC, and Quinnipiac should be competitive right away. It has a very good coach in place in Tom Moore, entering his seventh year with the program after 13 seasons as an assistant at UConn, and he just signed a contract extension through the 2017-18 season. The only real significant loss is graduated point guard Dave Johnson, although two key reserves (Jamee Jackson and Garvey Young) are also gone. But, five key players are back, led by Azotam and Drame up front. The team often went with three guards last season, with current junior Zaid Hearst (10.8 points) and senior Shaq Shannon (6.7) as the returning starters. The main issue will be replacing Johnson at the point. Candidates are Shannon and incoming transfer Umar Shannon, a 5-11 former standout at league rival St. Francis who averaged 11.2 points and 3.3 assists per game. Shannon graduated from St. Francis and comes to the Bobcats as an immediately eligible grad student. Three solid freshmen, 5-10 guard Kasim Chandler, 6-8, 240-pounder Aula Sumbry and 6-6 small forward Alain Chigha, also join the program and all could get into the playing group.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-13: Hard to envision the Bobcats supplanting the likely top three of Manhattan, Iona and Canisius. But, they'll definitely be in the mix within the next group. The likelihood is a finish between fourth and sixth place.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Team Report: Quinnipiac Women Strong Right Away

Here's another in the series looking back, and ahead, at conference teams.

But, first, full disclosure. We've already completed the reports on the 10 teams that made up the MAAC last season. Left, now, are two newcomers, Quinnipiac and Monmouth.

Your Hoopscribe sees every team in the league a minimum of two or three times annually, often more. But, we can't claim to have seen, in person, the teams from the two newcomers.

Still, we'll do a similar report to the longer-tenured conference teams. But, be advised, that the information comes mostly from word of mouth and personal research.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 18-0 in the Northeast Conference (league champion), 30-3 overall.

2012-13 RECAP: Best season in the program's history with its first NCAA appearance. There, it lost a first-round game to Maryland, which finished with a 26-8 record and advanced to the tournament's round of 16 before losing to eventual national champion UConn. The Bobcats' other losses were to Hartford (21-12, a WNIT participant) and Georgia Tech of the ACC. Quinnipiac started fairly fast, 8-2 overall, before things really picked up with a 22-game winning streak that included a perfect 18-0 slate against league foes and three NEC tournament victories.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Just about everything, particularly in league play where Quinnipiac won its 18 NEC games by an average of 16.8 points per contest. Shades of Marist! Would love to have seen if Quinnipiac could have tested the Red Foxes a year ago. The Bobcats' non-league slate of this past season did include one MAAC opponent and resulted in a 72-57 victory over a good Rider team. Felicia Baron, a guard was the team's only senior of significance and was one of the better NEC players, averaging 13.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.6 steals per game, which was fourth-best nationally. She will be missed. Sophomore point guard Gillian Abshire has started all 65 games of her first two college seasons and her 2.41 assist-to-turnover ratio last season was 10th-best nationally. Brittany McQuain, a 5-foot-11 senior-to-be forward, averaged 8.3 rebounds per game and looks like a nice player.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Hard to place blame anywhere, not only because of the stellar season but because we didn't actually witness games. Statistically, the team operated at a deficit of more than three rebounds per contest, but overcame that with (like Marist) a take-care-of-the-ball philosophy. Its turnover margin of forcing opponents into 8.55 more turnovers per game than it committed was No. 1 nationally. Any team with that many extra possessions per game is bound to have a lot of success.

WHAT'S AHEAD: Hard to judge how Quinnipiac will do in its new league. The NEC is widely acknowledged as a half step below the MAAC. Still, its better teams are usually competitive with just about any MAAC program in a given year. The Bobcats do lose their best player in Barron, but pretty much have everything else coming back. Its coach, Tricia Fabbri, is certainly secure, having been awarded a contract extention through the 2017-18 season. And, justifiably so. She has been in place for 18 years and 273 wins, after taking over when the program was on the Division II level and coming off a 2-win season. Since the 2005-06 season, her teams have averaged 20.2 victories per game. She is recognized as a quality coach and will be able to match up well, from a coaching standpoint, in the new conference. One other point: While I haven't seen the Quinnipiac teams play, I have been on campus and got a look at the school's athletic facilities. They are first class for the mid-major level and the basketball venue might be the best overall in the MAAC, outside those times Siena and Fairfield play games in nearby arenas.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14: Again, it's tough without first-hand viewings of the program. But, most believe the Bobcats will be a legitimate threat to get into the top five, at least, in their first MAAC season. The guess here is somewhere in the third, fourth or fifth-place range.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Women's Report: Coyle Begins Rebuilding Peacocks

Here's another in the series looking back, and ahead, at conference teams.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 2-16 in MAAC play (10th place), 2-28 overall. Lost to Canisius, 79-55 in play-in round of the MAAC's post-season tournament.

2012-13 RECAP: The Peacocks started the non-portion of the season with 11 consecutive losses, six of those by 22 points or more and three by 34 or more. Things didn't get much better after that as seven straight conference losses extended the team's record to 0-18 by late January. But, Saint Peter's players continued to play hard, breaking through for wins at Manhattan and at Canisius in their next four games before losing their final eight. And, then, after the season ended the program made a coaching change as Pat Coyle replaced Stephanie De Wolfe.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Somehow, through some difficult times (the current seniors on the team have seen the program put up a combined 13-79 record over the past three seasons), there was a never-give-up attitude by players. It was enough to keep the Peacocks close for portions of just about every game, but not enough to keep it up for a full 40 minutes. Still, there were some highlights. After 18 straight losses came a 2-2 stretch with both wins coming on the road. Senior Krystal Edwards put up 22 points in a win at Manhattan on Jan. 27. Then, 11 days later, current senior Aziza May poured in a career-high 29 points as the Peacocks won at Canisius. There was nearly one more win, a late-season one at Siena when freshman guard Bridget Whitfield went a perfect 8-for-8 from three points range in what became a 70-67 loss at Siena. Whitfield's performance was just the sixth time in NCAA women's history that a player has made as many three-pointers in a game without a miss. Overall, Edwards had a nice season (13.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and a league-best 3.0 steals per game), Jessika Holmes was also among the steal leaders in the conference (2.7 per contest), and May (11.6 points, 3.8 assists) bounced back for a nice junior season after dropping off some as a soph.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Much did, as the 2-28 record can attest. But, many of the woes were predicated not on desire, but physical limitations. The team lacked both overall height and physical strength, and opponents usually took advantage of Saint Peter's interior defense. The Peacocks allowed 69 points per game, the worst in the league by nearly a six-point average. The Peacocks also struggled handling the ball and their assist-to-turnover ratio (0.49) was the 17th worst nationally. It probably also didn't help that De Wolfe was on pregnancy leave for a good portion of the season. De Wolfe, a former standout player at Saint Peter's, had been the team's coach for the past nine years. She was able to instill her hard-nosed style of play into the program, but couldn't seem to attract the type of talent that was around during her own playing days. There was a coaching change after the season, with veteran Pat Coyle taking over in early June.

WHAT'S AHEAD: There has to be better days on the horizon, but Coyle's late hiring (nearly three months after this past season ended) left her considerably behind in terms of recruiting for the coming season. Still, she was able to bring in a good guard (Marcia Senatus of Trenton (N.J.) Catholic H.S., and two post players that Coyle believes will help.. If nothing else, the program is in good hands, to say the least. Coyle not only has had success within the league (she took Loyola to two NCAA tournaments in the 1990's), but had also coached in the WNBA, including five seasons as head coach with the New York Liberty. She had been an assistant at Pittsburgh for the past three years. And, she was also able to bring in Phyllis Mangina, who had been the head coach at Seton Hall for 25 years before she left that program after the 2009-10 season. The Coyle-Mangina coaching tandem brings instant credibility. There is also a good nucleus of returning players, led by May, Whitfield and fifth-year senior Kaydine Bent, a strong post player who averaged a team-best 7.1 rebounds per game last season. It's probably enough to make the team more competitive this coming season. And, it's hard not to envision the program getting better quickly with Coyle in charge.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14: Certainly more competitive than this past season, but the team did lose its best player (Edwards) and another starter (Holmes). There will probably be a few more wins than a year ago, but there's likely to be another battle to avoid the bottom couple of spots in the standings in the upcoming season before things turn around.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Coyle Seeks To Restore Luster To St. Peter's Program

It has been 15 years since Pat Coyle last coached in the MAAC, but she continued to follow the conference from afar and her opinion about it remains pretty much unchanged since then.

"It's a real good league, it's well run and it has a lot of terrific coaches," said Coyle, in a recent phone interview.

And, now, add one more terrific coach with Coyle's hiring to take over the Saint Peter's women's program this spring.

League followers have already seen what Coyle can do, based on her six-year stint at former conference member Loyola (1992-98). When she took over there the Greyhounds had won a grand total of 27 games over the previous five years. But Coyle's first season there resulted in 14 victories and an 8-6 MAAC record, the program's first-ever winning season in conference play.

Coyle's team then put up 18- and 20-victory seasons the next two years, winning the MAAC's post-season tournament and advancing to the NCAA's in both those seasons (1993-94, '94-95). She finished up with seasonal records of 15-13, 9-19 and 20-9 and was off to a 4-1 start to the 1998-99 season when she left Loyola to take a position as assistant coach with the WNBA's New York Liberty.

She eventually became that franchise's head coach for five seasons before she was replaced and, then, became an assistant coach at Pittsburgh where she had been for the past three seasons before Saint Peter's brought her back to the MAAC.

It seems to have come full circle for Coyle, who took on a significant rebuilding process at Loyola and, now, faces another one with the Peacocks.

Saint Peter's has had one overall winning season over the last 11 years, has a league-worst 13-79 mark over the past three seasons and finished last in the MAAC standings (2-16 and 2-28 overall) this past season.

"I'm not real concerned about what happened here in the past," said Coyle. "I haven't even looked at film from last year. I want to form my own opinion about what's here. Everyone's starting with a clean slate."

It's a slate that Coyle, a relatively late hire this past June, has been trying to fill in quick order.

"It has been non-stop since I got hired," she said. "It has been everything from trying to get to know the players, to getting out recruiting, to making connections with high school and AAU coaches ... just about everything."

It has also involved hiring a staff, a process that included a significant coup when Coyle brought in Phyllis Mangina, who had been the head coach at Seton Hall for 25 years (through 2009-10).

"I can't believe no one snatched her up to be a head coach since then," said Coyle.

Mangina had been serving as a TV color commentator for MAAC and Northeast Conference televised games since her departure from Seton Hall.

The past three months have also included getting to know some players.

"We had five here for summer school, which allowed me to work with them, get to know them and kind of gauge where they are," added Coyle.

Around for the summer were returning front-court starters Kaydine Bent and Antonia Smith, and rising sophomore frontcourt reserve Neechelle Ingram. Also on campus for the summer was incoming guard 5-foot-3 Marcia Senatus of Trenton Catholic H.S.

Coyle also knows she has other good returnees, particularly with guard Aziza May and Bridget Whitfield, one of the league's top perimeter shooters who was a perfect 8-for-8 in from three-point range in a game against Siena this past season.

"I'm real excited about being here," said Coyle. "I feel like it's a job we can do, and I look forward to the challenge. Sometimes all a program needs (to rebuild) is a new voice."

Considering her glittering resume, Coyle's is a voice that should command considerable respect.

"I'm sure, in this era of the internet, our players were looking me up on Google and knew all my background pretty quickly," said Coyle. "That (having a WNBA pedigree) doesn't hurt. But, you get your credibility by what you do on the floor with your players. We've got to get them better and doing that will get their respect.

"We've got to get the point across that you have to get it done every day. Recruting is a means of getting good players here. If you have good players, then you're probably going to be a good coach."

And, that's where Coyle's background could pay off in dividends. When a coach with WNBA experience as a head coach comes into a young lady's living room to pitch a college, the recruit is a lot more likely to listen.

If enough good players like what they hear from Coyle enough to attend Saint Peter's, then things will turn around in the near future.

And, it's not like it can't happen. Getting good players turns things around quickly, and evidence of that is as strong at Saint Peter's as it is at any MAAC program.

The Saint Peter's women's team had been to seven NCAA tournaments over the MAAC's first 21 seasons, more than any other conference team to that point (through 2001-02), and more than any New Jersey-based school other than Rutgers.

The Peacocks had also won at least 20 games in a season 15 times from the league's start in 1981 through the 2001-02 season, again more than any other MAAC team.

Its hallmark, mostly under Mike Granelli who retired after the 2003-04 season, not only was a program of talented players but ones that usually outworked opponents.

That attitude appeared to remain in place despite the team's recent woes, although the program's talent level hadn't matched its on-court desire during its stretch of losing seasons since Granelli's departure.

"What's really attractive about this job is that Saint Peter's has a real strong history," added Coyle. "This program has had some great success in the past. Granelli did a real good job here. I know, because I had to coach against him when I was at Loyola, and it was just a nightmare whenever you had to look forward to playing against Saint Peter's.

"That's what we want to bring back. This program was real good not that long ago. It was the Marist of this league before (Brian) Giorgis went to Marist and they started dominating the league."

That's what Coyle, already a proven program builder within the league, wants to restore at Saint Peter's. She wants her program to be the new Marist.

But if Coyle can bring her program back to its former level, then just becoming the old Saint Peter's will be plenty good enough.

Another Bleacher Report Snafu with PofY Selection

The ink was barely dry (well, we once wrote for the ink industry) on a recent post that took the web presence "Bleacher Report" to task for general lack of expertise and credibility related to its "Coaches of Impact" offering than the site once again confirms our thoughts about its credibility issues.

Bleacher Report, earlier this week, released its picks for the upcoming season's Player of the Year in every NCAA basketball conference. On the surface, it's a nice topic, one all of us who do preseason previews/predictions take on annually. It always causes considerable debate, and there's nothing wrong with that.

The website's choice for the MAAC's Player of the Year for the upcoming season?

It's Niagara's Juan'ya Green.

Says Bleacher Report: "As often, the MAAC is loaded with high-impact guards, from Canisius' Billy Baron to Iona's Sean Armond. The one in the best position to dominate in 2013-14, though, will be Juan'ya Green."

It would be the logical choice, except for one somewhat significant detail: Green isn't in the league any more. He left the Niagara program in late April, following former Purple Eagles' head coach Joe Mihalich to Hofstra.

That was nearly four months ago, which certainly seems long enough ago for the news to have filtered down to just about any real follower of MAAC basketball. But not, it appears, to those responsible for college basketball content at Bleacher Report.

We all make mistakes, and your Hoopscribe has made his share over the years. But, tabbing a player to be a conference's best when that specific player has been out of the conference ... gone in very public announcements by the school, by Western New York region media outlets and via college hoops message boards ... for close to four months?

Well, that's a whopper of a miscue.

It speaks to the issue of where to find your best information for your favorite basketball league. When that league is a mid-major, like the MAAC, the quality, accurate information available isn't quite as plentiful as it is for the high-major leagues.

But websites like Bleacher Report and a few others try to offer information about all of college basketball, a daunting task. Its content providers, though, rarely have any connection to the mid-major level leagues they seek to provide content about. Its writers who provide much of the material about the MAAC rarely, if ever, appear to actually attend games from the conference, let alone maintain contacts and sources within the league.

Where, then, to read about our favorite league? The newspapers, most of which provide free internet access, near each of the MAAC's member schools almost universally provide accurate, informative information. And, every member school has an active portion of its own website dedicated entirely to athletics. There are a number of other basketball-dedicated websites that do carry mostly reliable insight about our conference, although if I start listing some I'll surely miss a couple.

We hope, too, that  you check in early and often to this site, which is dedicated to nothing more than providing insight, opinion, news, features, coverage and just about anything else related to MAAC men's and women's basketball.

And, there's always The Sporting News' College Basketball Preview issue that should be hitting newsstands in the very near future ... we received our "advance" copy in the mail earlier this week, a sign that nationwide release is not far away.

Your Hoopscribe, as has been the case for at least a dozen years, produced the MAAC's preview.

You can be sure I did not predict Juan'ya Green would be the upcoming season's Player of the Year.

That designation went to Billy Baron of Canisius. And, I'm 100 percent sure that he is actually still in the league.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Coming Attraction: All-Time MAAC Hoops Highlights

Call this a preview of a coming attraction.

Top 10 lists seem to be in vogue. So, with that in mind, your Hoopscribe will compile his personal list of all-time MAAC basketball highlights to include both men's and women's events.

Because there have been so many memorable occurrences over the league's history, we'll probably come up with a "Terrific 20" list. We'll release the list one by one in reverse numerical order with some personal recollections and other insight about each highlight.

The list will include a little of everything ... big shots, personal achievements, big game results, tournament appearances, even eras of success. There certainly is much to chose from. And, if anyone has a suggestion ... I'll listen. Just drop a note in this blog's comment section.

Much of the list, though, will come from my own personal observations. Your blogger has actively covered the MAAC, in some form or other, since its beginning, first as reporter in Middletown, N.Y., covering Army basketball in the 1980s, when that program was still a MAAC member and, then, from New York's Capital Region beginning in 1985 as a newspaper reporter and, then, for the last five years with "Keepin' Track of the MAAC."

It should be an interesting and memory-provoking list. We hope to start getting the list on the blog by early September.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Agree On One "Impact" Coach, Disagree On Others

Your hoopscribe isn't a big fan of the online sports site "Bleacher Report," since its writers are primarily "fans" whose expertise and credibility is easily questioned.

Still, a recent report entitled "Coaching Changes With Greatest Impact On 2013-14 Season" did catch your blogger's eye.

In it, Siena's Jimmy Patsos, who came to the program after nine years at Loyola, is recognized as one of 10 coaches likely to have a positive impact during the upcoming season.

And, there will be no disagreement here about that.

The Siena program was marked by a variety of injuries, suspensions, overall team inexperience and a variety of other situations that resulted in an 8-24 record and the firing of coach Mitch Buonaguro, previously a standout assistant who struggled as the program's head coach.

Only one key starter, albeit a very good one in forward O.D. Anosike, graduated, although two other part-time starters were subsequently dismissed. Still, some quality players return and Patsos brought in what looks to be a very strong recruiting class of players, most of whom had previously committed to Loyola and followed Patsos to Siena.

It only stands to reason that things will get better fairly soon, although the view here is that Siena looks like it will struggle to reach the .500 level this coming season primarily because of its relative youth. But, things will change very quickly in subsequent years under Patsos, as they did at Loyola.

Bleacher Report accurately points out that Loyola had won only one game the year prior to Patsos' arrival. Over the next nine seasons, under Patsos, Loyola won 145 games and had been to national post-season tournaments, including the 2012 NCAA tournament, in each of the past two seasons.

Patsos is part of an exclusive club as only the second coach in the last 20 years to take over a zero or one-win team and, then, win 100-plus games during his tenure. Only BYU's Steve Cleveland had matched that feat.

Bleacher Report also notes that ...

"The Saints' basketball budget is greater than Loyola's, and a 17,500 seat arena (mistake there ... the Times Union Center accommodates less than 15,000 for basketball, and less than 10,000 for regular-season games as Siena closes much of the second level for its appearances) will be a potent recruiting weapon for a coach who knows how to capitalize."

But, yes, the facility is indeed a nice recruiting tool that Patsos, an energetic and dynamic recruiter, will advantageously utilize.

We can't claim to know a lot about all the other coaches identified on Bleacher Report's list of "impact" hirings, but we will take exception with two inclusion about which we have considerable insight.

One is that the report identifies new Northwestern coach Chris Collins as having an impact there, replacing Bill Carmody.

Carmody,a personal acquaintance from his own playing/coaching days at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., had already greatly impacted Northwestern's program. He is almost universally recognized as an innovative basketball mind who was able to produce winning seasons at Northwestern despite talent levels that didn't seem to indicate success.

No coach in the history of the Northwestern program had ever brought in a 20-victory season prior to Carmody, who did it it back-to-back seasons (2009-10 and 2010-11), and very nearly had a third one with 19 victories in the 2011-12 season.

Carmody, though, was fired after a 13-19 finish this past year. But, he somehow was able to find a level of success at that program despite playing the highly competitive Big Ten Conference while his own school has arguably the worst playing facility and, reportedly, the lowest basketball budget in the conference.

And, while we're at it, we'll take exception to one other "impact" coach identified by Bleacher Report: G.G. Smith at Loyola.

Oddly, Smith takes over at Loyola for Patsos.

It seems that being identified as having an "impact" as a first-year head coach would indicate the possibility of producing more success than his predecessor.

Someone at Bleacher Report will have to explain just exactly how Smith will produce more success at Loyola than a coach who just produced 47 victories (23 last year, 24 the previous season) and back-to-back national post-season tournaments over the past two seasons.

Smith will have the advantage of having his program move to the Patriot League, clearly a less-competitive situation than Patsos faced in the MAAC. But Loyola only returns three of its top seven scorers from this past season and saw most of its expected incoming recruits follow Patsos to Siena.

To expect Smith to have an immediate impact at Loyola just might be expecting a little too much.

Beyer's Arrest Brings To Mind His Failures at Siena

There was some disturbing news, earlier this week, coming out of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., concerning a one-time MAAC connection. And, it didn't have anything to do with the thoroughbred race horses that populate the area this time each year.

Former Siena College head men's basketball coach Bob Beyer was arrested earlier this week for fighting with a police officer, city police said in reports throughout the area's media outlets.

Beyer's arrest brings to mind one of the low points in the history of Siena basketball, a time when Beyer showed himself to, possibly, have been the worst head coach in the history of the conference.

Since his Siena days Beyer, now 51, has been employed exclusively as an assistant coach both at the college and NBA levels. He was recently hired as an assistant coach with the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats on the staff of another former Siena connection, Steve Clifford.

Clifford worked one year at Siena, 1994-95, on Beyer's staff, before moving on to be the head coach at Adelphi before eventually landing in the NBA.

Beyer has also been in the NBA for some time having served as an assistant coach with the Orlando Magic for five seasons (2007-12) before spending last season as an assistant with the Golden State Warriors.

The Bobcats, who hired Beyer on July 1, released a statement this weekend that indicated that the former Siena coach remains employed by the team, but Bobcats officials would not comment further on Beyer's arrest until the legal process has taken its course.

Published reports allege that Beyer was involved in a fracas that began inside a Saratoga Springs restaurant and, eventually, moved outside.

Two of Beyer's acquaintances faced off with bouncers inside the restaurant, according to the police report, and were escorted from the facility, at which point one of them allegedly punched a bouncer in the nose.

While police were arresting that individual, both Beyer and his other acquaintance attempted to halt the arrest. At that time, police said, Beyer began fighting with officers.

Beyer, who now lists his residence in Maitland, Fla., was charged with second-degree obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors, and disorderly conduct, a violation.

Beyer had also been an assistant coach at Siena, under Mike Deane, from 1989-93. After the 1992-93 season, he left to become an assistant coach at Wisconsin. After a year there, he became Siena's head coach when Deane left that program for Marquette..

Beyer had a three-year record of 22-59 at Siena. His .271 winning percentage is the worst by any coach in the program's Division I history, which began in 1976.

The year prior to Beyer's hiring Siena had a 25-8 record and advanced to the semifinal round of the NIT. Beyer's first season's team had four starters back from the NIT team, although the one loss (Doremus Bennerman) was a significant one.

Beyer's first season resulted in an 8-19 record, his second year produced a 5-22 mark (which remains the program's worst single-season victory total) and his third and final season finished with a 9-18 record.

Beyer's last season also included a first-round MAAC tournament flare-out that saw his over-the-top arguments with game officials draw two early technical fouls in what was an 84-44 loss to Canisius.

Beyer remains the only men's coach ever thrown out of a MAAC tournament game, and the 40-point setback was the most-lopsided game in the league's post-season event.

Shortly afterwards, MAAC officials, according to a variety of published reports, "encouraged" Siena administrators to make a coaching change, which they did, bringing in Paul Hewitt.

Hewitt's first season, with a roster made up almost entirely of players brought into the program by Beyer, finished 17-12.

It brings to mind the words once spoken by former NFL coach Bum Phillips, about Don Shula: "He could take his'n and beat your'n, and take you'n and beat his'n."

At Siena, the opposite seemed to be the case under Beyer. He lost big with players who previously had success under Deane, and also lost big with players who, immediately after his dismissal, would be successful under Hewitt.

Beyer's tenure at Siena also included considerable player issues. His best player during his years, nearly left the program over concerns with Beyer's ability to be a head coach, while at least one other player transferred out.

Beyer has never been a head coach anywhere else.

But, he was regarded as a solid assistant coach and has continued to actively work in that capacity. After being dismissed at Siena, he landed as an assistant at Northwestern for three seasons and, then, became an assistant at Texas Tech, under Bobby Knight.

His resume also includes one year as an assistant with the NBA Toronto Raptors, followed by two at the University of Dayton before his return to the NBA in 2007.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Team Report: Manhattan Women Moving Upwards

Here's another in the series looking back, and ahead, at conference teams.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 4-14 in MAAC play (9th), 8-23 overall.

2012-13 RECAP: Only three conference victories until a season-ending upset of Niagara, followed by a play-in round victory over Loyola in the MAAC tournament before the Jaspers' season ended with a 72-50 setback to tournament winner Marist in the conference event's quarterfinal round.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: A mostly young roster exhibited glimpses of talent that bode well for the coming year and, even, beyond. Current senior Monica Roeder (12.1 points, 4.5 rebounds) had a solid year, despite being the primary focus of every opponent's defense. Another current senior, 5-7 point guard Allison Skrec, led the conference in assists (5.0 per game) and ranked 43rd nationally in that statistic. Sophomore forward Shayna Erickson (6.7, 6.0) was one of the conference's better freshmen, and junior forward Ashley Stec (5.6, 3.2) continued to develop. Manhattan might have lost 23 games overall, but it was competitive on most nights with 11 of its setbacks by eight points or less. And, things did come together at the end when Manhattan beat Niagara and Loyola in back-to-back games, the only two-game winning streak of the season. Toni-Ann Lawrence (9.9, 6.2) also had a very good senior season and is the only starter lost from this past season. Then there was the always difficult to solve zone defense that was again effective. Manhattan allowed 58.6 points per game, fourth best among MAAC teams.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Offensively, there just wasn't enough. Roeder is an above-average scorer, but was double-teammed in every game. Lawrence, mostly an undersized post player, was the second scoring option, but didn't average double figures. Erickson had her moments, but looked like she needed to add a little strength to her game. Skrec is a good point guard, but not much of a scorer. As a team the Jaspers only averaged 51.3 points per outing, the bottom figure among last season's 10 conference squads. And, the 7.3 point-per-game differential was second-worst in the league. Depth was also a factor, as was the fact that only two players in the rotation (Lawrence and Maggie Blair) were starters, and Blair was a role player and Lawrence just a little better than that. Then, there were just too many "specialists." Skrec was a pass-first point guard. Nicole Isaacs, a reserve guard, was almost entirely a 3-point shooter (she made only two baskets inside the bonus stripe all year). And, the youngsters who did contribute (Erickson and Stec) weren't quite ready to compete against the better players in the league.

WHAT'S AHEAD: Better days, for sure. Head coach John Olenowski is among the best in the league and that a team that didn't match up most nights in terms of overall team talent was so competitive this past season was testament to his coaching ability and a team-wide positive attitude. Other than Lawrence, every key player returns. Roeder should see fewer defenses designed to stop her as players like Erickson and Stec develop and a strong freshman class chips in. Erickson could eventually become one of the league's better players and that should start to show this season. Stec, with her height and athleticism, should be a very solid player over the next two seasons. Skrec returns as the league's best distributor. The team has five freshmen coming in and Olenowski claims that, after seeing them work out this summer, they should all help out right away. The best of them might be 6-1 guard Maeve Parahus, a dynamic long-range shooter whose on-court work goes beyond just her shooting stroke. But, she'll eventually become a nice second offensive option (to Roeder). There's also incoming height in 6-2 center Kayla Grimme, a dynamic shot-blocker on the high school level at Altoona (Pa.) Area H.S., and 6-1 center Mikki Guiton, who averaged 15.1 points per game at Perkiomen Valley H.S. this past season. The other freshmen are guards Nicole Anderson and Alex Cohen, and they'll  have the luxury of playing behind solid upperclassmen (Roeder/Skrec) and have the year to develop. Looking ahead, the program also has incoming transfer Jacqui Thompson, a dynamic and hard-nosed 5-3 point guard who was a starter at Wagner for most of the past two seasons. She'll become eligible for the 2014-15 season, will have two seasons to play at Manhattan, and will almost certainly get plugged in as the team's floor general after Skrec graduates.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14: Probably not a real championship contender this year ... then again, who is with Marist dominating things? And, probably will be hard-pressed to finish in the top five (thus, avoiding a MAAC tournament play-in game). But, there's a lot more talent in place than there was this past season, although a good deal of it remains very young. Still, if players like Erickson and Stec can make strides off solid years of this past season, and a couple of the freshmen can contribute ... things could be significantly better than a year ago and the Jaspers could legitimately approach a .500 season. A top five finish might be a bit or a reach, but not entirely out of the question.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Team Report: Manhattan Men Picked To Claim Crown

Here's another in the series looking back, and ahead, at conference teams.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 9-9 in MAAC play (tied for 6th), 14-18 overall.

2012-13 RECAP: Lost the MAAC's leading scorer from the previous season, George Beamon, after four games due to foot injuries and still advanced to the conference tournament's championship game, where it came within two baskets (losing 60-57 vs. Iona) of earning a trip to the NCAA's. Along the way, Manhattan started 5-14 and, then, went on a 9-3 run before the league tournament title-game loss.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Hard to recover from losing a potential Player of the Year in Beamon, particularly so early in the year. And the team's entire style of up-tempo play was predicated upon Beamon's ability to score in bunches. Manhattan struggled for a good portion of the season after Beamon's loss until shrewd head coach Steve Masiello changed from his preferred wide-open game to a half-court, grind-it-out, physical style of play that stressed defense more than offense. It turned a disaster of season into a pretty good one, with the Jaspers going 9-3 over the 12 games leading up to the MAAC tournament's championship game. In getting there, Manhattan beat Fairfield twice in the regular season to secure the tie-breaker that enabled it to avoid the tournament's play-in round. Manhattan's late-season run also included a satisfying double-overtime victory over Iona. The style switch turned the team's emphasis over to inside banger Rhamel Brown, a 6-6 post player who wound up averaging 11.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and was 10th nationally in blocked shots (2.97 per game). Freshmen Shane Richards and Rashawn Stores contributed and the Jaspers' work came without a single senior averaging more than four points per game. Swingman Emmy Andujar just about duplicated a strong freshman season, and led the team in assists from the wing for the second straight year. Guard Mike Alvarado was his usual steady self.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Beamon's injury was devastating, and caused not only a mid-season change in playing style but some time to adapt to the change. It all precipitated to the 5-14 start and a sub-.500 overall record from a program that most picked to contend for the regular-season title, particularly with just about everyone back after a 21-victory 2011-12 season. Manhattan, though, was a little undersized and not only missed Beamon's scoring, but his 5.7-rebound average from the previous year. It left the slightly undersized Brown to do most of the rebounding, although sophomore Emmy Andujar helped out with 5.0 per game. Without Beamon, Manhattan just struggled to score, getting more than 70 points just twice all year, and one of those was in a double-overtime contest. Only 11 teams (of 343) nationally scored fewer points than the Jaspers last season. Manhattan might have better survived Beamon's loss had Maryland transfer Ashton Pankey, a 6-10, 225-pound post player, been eligible. But, Manhattan's application for Pankey to become eligible without sitting out the traditional transfer season, was not approved, much to the consternation of Masiello and others familiar with the waiver request.

WHAT'S AHEAD: All good, at least on the immediate horizon. Pankey, who averaged 4.7 points and 4.9 rebounds in 20.7 minutes per game as a Maryland freshman, is now eligible. If he and Brown can effectively work together, Manhattan has arguably the best post combination in the league. It should also have Beamon back at full health, and he's as explosive a scorer as there is in the league. Alvarado, seemingly always  underrated, contributes in a variety of ways. And, Alvarado, Beamon and Brown are all seniors, meaning the Jaspers have more then the requisite quality upperclass presence that usually bodes well in the conference. And, the other two likely starters are junior Andujar and Pankey. It stacks up with any starting five in the MAAC, and makes Manhattan (it says here) the preseason favorite to win the upcoming regular-season title. There's also considerable depth with three players (6-6 Donovan Kates, 6-5 Shane Richards and 5-10 guard Rashawn Stores) likely to come off the beach who each started at least six games last season. Stores and Richards were all-MAAC Rookie Team selections this past season.. And although the program will graduate Beamon, Brown and Alvarado, a strong freshman group of 6-10 Carlton Allen, 6-5 Rich Williams and 6-0 Tyler Wilson, will get quality tutelage this season and, theoretically, be ready to step into bigger rules in the future.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14: Iona will be strong again, and Canisius will likely contend as well. But, barring injury, everything seems to be in place for Manhattan capturing the regular-season championship.

MAAC Connections Picked For Top Recruiters' List

There was an interesting piece on ESPN's website recently that sought to identify the top 20 of mid-major level head coaches at recruiting.

The list was very kind to the MAAC, including three of its current coaches and one former coach.

Here's who ESPN picked from the MAAC:

No. 7 on its list is Steve Masiello of Manhattan. ESPN said: "He was always known as one of the top recruiters when he worked for Rick Pitino, and he still works like an assistant, despite his move up. He doesn't settle, and tries to fight programs a notch higher for kids.

No. 17 is Jimmy Patsos, currently at Siena who had been at Loyola for the previous nine seasons. ESPN said: "He has an electrifying personality and got it done at Loyola (Md.). Now, he'll have Siena to sell, and that could be scary for those who will go up against him.

No. 17 on the list is Tom Moore of Quinnipiac. ESPN said: "He was regarded as one of the nation's top recruiters in his days with Jim Calhoun at UConn, and has carried it over to Quinnipiac, where he's gotten a few guys who should have gone to a higher level.

The former MAAC coach on the list is Paul Hewitt, at No. 13, who coached three seasons at Siena and is now head coach at George Mason. ESPN said: "He assembled a ton of talent at his previous stop at Georgia Tech and knows what it takes to recruit players at the highest level. He is smart, well-liked and also has a program that is easy to sell.

No. 1 on the list is Pat Skerry of Towson, about whom ESPN says "works the transfer wire."

If that's the criteria, then how did Iona's Tim Cluess get left off the list? Cluess, in his time with the Gaels, has proven to be particularly adept at bringing in players from the NYC area who, first, went away to larger schools before opting to return home. For sure, the MAAC has never had a coach so successful at bringing in quality transfer players, and the result is that Iona has been the conference's representative to the NCAA tournament in each of the past two seasons.

For that matter, how is Joe Mihalich, formerly of Niagara, left off the list?

Niagara, mostly because of its geographic location, isn't an easy place to which to attract players. But, Mihalich was successful enough at bringing in talent that his team captured this past season's regular-season title. And, Mihalich, in just a few short months at Hofstra, appears to be assembling a strong nucleus there, too.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Marist's Gebbia Gets Well-Earned Chance at American

They first came in contact at a chance meeting at an airport in Kansas when both were on a recruiting trip.

Marist coach Brian Giorgis has called that serendipitous connection that day in 2003 "divine intervention."

Gebbia was an assistant coach at Wright State at the time and was looking for another opportunity. Giorgis liked what he heard about Gebbia's approach to the sport and, soon, hired her as one of his assistant coaches.

Three years later Gebbia became the program's associate head coach and, in subsequent years, has been recognized as arguably the top assistant coach in the MAAC, if not one of the better ones at any program nationally.

Divine intervention, indeed. In Gebbia's 10 years as Giorgis' assistant, Marist has played in the MAAC's championship game all 10 seasons and has won nine, including the last eight.

But, every assistant coach wants to take that next step and become a head coach. And, that opportunity came for Gebbia earlier today when she was named head coach at American University of the Patriot League.

Bittersweet was the general reaction after the announcement came.

"It is a bittersweet day for me as I say goodbye to a place that has been my home for the past 10 years," Gebbia said, in a statement released by Marist's sports information office. "In my time at Marist I have had so many memorable experiences and I cannot thank Marist College, Brian Giorgis and the surrounding community enough for their support. I will miss being a Red Fox, but I am anxious to start the next phase of my coaching career as the next head coach at American University.

"I feel American is a perfect fit for me academically, athletically and geographically as I have the chance to be close to my family," added Gebbia, a native of Fredricksburg, Md., about 50 miles away from American's Washington, D.C., loction.

"Today is a bittersweet day for the Marist women's program," said Giorgis, in the statement. "We are ecstatic that Meg is becoming a Division I head coach at a tremendous academic school. It is something she has worked hard for. I am sure she will have great success. At the same time, we are losing a great asset. We can't thank Coach Gebbia enough for what she has done here. She has been an intricate part of the success we have experienced over the past decade and she will be sorely missed."

Gebbia, reportedly, was offered the same position five years ago but turned it down at that time. She now replaces Matt Corkery, who had a 101-53 record in five seasons at American and recently left to become associate head coach at Texas Tech.

Reports indicate that Gebbia had also been offered the head coaching position in recent years at St. Mary's (Md.) and had interviewd at Virginia Commonwealth and High Point.

"I just want her to be happy," said Giorgis, about Gebbia's previous flirtations with other programs. "If she goes .. if that's what she wants ... it's with our blessing."

Gebbia was the second-longest tenured MAAC assistant coach this past season (Christi Abbate had been Tony Bozella's Iona assistant for 11 years).

In all, she has been an assistant coach for 18 years. In addition to a season at Wright State, she was an assistant for six seasons at UMBC and for one year at Towson, her alma mater.

"I am extremely excited about getting my first head coaching position," said Gebbia, in a statement released by American University. "I am grateful ... for this opportunity to be part of an outstanding university that attracts quality student-athletes. This is an exciting time to be part of the AU community, and I look forward to the challenges ahead.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Good News For Iona: Poole Eligible For 2013-14

The Iona men's team, already expected to be among the leading contenders for the upcoming season's championship, just got a little better.

The school learned, on Wednesday, that rising senior Mike Poole received an NCAA legislative relief waiver and will be immediately eligible to play for the Gaels. Poole played at Rutgers the previous three seasons and transferred to Iona this spring.

The ruling means that Poole, a 6-foot-5 swingman, does not have to sit out the traditional season required of most transfers.

"I'm really excited to have ... (him) join us this season," said head coach Tim Cluess, in a release issued by Iona's sports information office. "His leadership and toughness during summer workouts have been tremendous and he will be an integral part of our program."

Poole appeared in 95 games and made 16 starts while at Rutgers, averaging 5.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game at the Big East level. His career high scoring total of 18 came against Iona, ironically enough, this past season. He also had seven rebounds in the contest that was played at Madison Square Garden.

Iona returns four of its five starers (only MAAC Player of the Year Momo Jones is not returning) from this past season in which the Gaels won the conference's post-season tournament and the resultant automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

Poole, though, is a well-regarded veteran piece added to a strong nucleus. He'll almost certainly be a key member of the Gaels' playing group.

Giorgis' Influence Leads Marist Alums To Coaching

Schools take considerable pride when their own think highly enough about their own competitive athletic experiences to remain in a sport and become coaches.

The classic example is Miami (Ohio) University, which sent so many of its connections on to guide others that it became known as the "Cradle of Coaches."

MAAC schools have sent more than their share of athletes/coaches into positions elsewhere. Just last week we wrote about the staff of the Le Moyne women's basketball team being entirely comprised of former Siena connections while that school's head coach on the men's side also spent time with the Saints.

But when it comes to sending connections on to coach elsewhere, it appears one MAAC program stands above all others, and it's no surprise which one that is.

Much like the Marist women's program has dominated the MAAC during the tenure of its head coach Brian Giorgis, the Red Foxes similarly dominate in pure numbers of connections in the coaching ranks.

All of this came to mind when Kristina Danella, the MAAC's Sixth Player of the Year award winner for this past season, was recently hired to be an assistant at Urbana University, an Ohio-based Division II program.

In making the announcement, head women's coach Danny Wingate said: "Coach Danella was exactly what we were looking for in an assistant ... Her balance of competitiveness and professionalism was evident in our first meeting. (She) has competed at the highest levels, and I am confident that her passion for learning ... will be contagious throughout the program."

By unofficial count there are at least 15 women who played for Giorgis at Marist who are currently involved in coaching at some level. While most MAAC programs have each sent at least a few of its alums on to the coaching profession, we can't imagine any having more than Marist.

"I don't know why that is ... you'd have to ask them," said Giorgis, humbly, when addressing the phenomenon. "I guess it's because the players we've had here really have a passion for the game and a lot of them want to continue on, to stay involved, as coaches.

"Plus, most of those we get are smart players. They're good people and they have that passion for basketball. Those are all traits that make for good coaches."

And, while Giorgis won't say it, that his players have played at Marist ... and, for him specifically ... doesn't hurt. He is widely acknowledged as the league's best coach, but his reputation goes beyond those bounds. Any coach whose program has been able to dominate a league for so long has to have an exceptional architect, and Giorgis' reputation stamps him as one of the game's top coaches at any level.

That he operates an offensive system that involves complicated reads and reactions to opposing defenses requires his a certain level of on-court awareness from his players. It helps develop their basketball IQ and that, too, serves them well as coaches after playing days are over. that

Heck, even his peers recognize the value of having former Marist players as coaches. Long-time MAAC counterpart Tony Bozzella, who had been at Iona for more than a decade before becoming head coach at Seton Hall during the off-season, recently hired former Red Fox Stephanie Del Preore for his current staff.

And, Giorgis is certainly comfortable bringing back some of his own to pass on their Marist-learned lessons to future generations of players. Three of his four assistant coaches are former Marist players.

Here's a list of former Marist connections currently active in coaching. The list was provided by Brendan Thomas, of the Marist sports information office who tells us that much of the research was done about a year ago by Ken McMillan of the Middletown Times Herald-Record newspaper. Your hoopscribe has updated the status of several of the coaches.

- KRISTINA DANELLA: Played at Marist from 2011-13. She was recently named an assistant coach at Urbana University in Ohio.

- FIFA CAMARA: She played at Marist from 2004-06 and was the MAAC's Player of the Year for the 2005-06 season. She is the director of basketball operations at Marist, a position she has held since the start of the 2911-12 season.

- MEG DAHLMAN: She played at Marist from 2004-08 and is currently a volunteer assistant at Victor (N.Y.) High School. Prior to that she was an assistant coach at Nazareth Academy.

- STEPHANIE DEL PREORE: She played at Marist from 2000-04 and was a second-team all-MAAC pick for the 2003-04 season. She accepted an assistant's position at Seton Hall recently, where former Iona coach Tony Bozzella is now coaching. Prior to that, Del Preore had been the head coach at Division II Bridgeport for three seasons. She had also been an interim head coach at Stevens Institute of Technology, and an assistant coach at Caldwell College.

- NIKKI FLORES: She played at Marist from 2004-08 and was an assistant at Colgate this past season, but is no longer with that program. She had been an assistant coach at Holy Family University for three years prior to moving to Colgate.

- KRISTIN HEIN: She played at Marist from 2003-07. She is currently the head coach at Marlboro (N.J.) High School, her alma mater.

- LYNZEE JOHNSON: She played at Marist from 2006-10. She is currently the JV coach at Charminade Julienne High School in Ohio, and also coaches on the AAU level.

- COURTNEY KOLESAR: She played at Marist from 2004-07 and in 2008-09. She is currently the freshman coach as well as an assistant varsity coach at Lake Catholic H.S. in Ohio.

- ALISA KRESGE: She played at Marist from 2003-07. She is entering her fifth season as an assistant on Giorgis' staff at Marist.

- ERIN LEGER: She played at Marist from 2002-05 and served as an undergraduate assistant coach in 2005-06. She is entering her ninth season on Giorgis' staff at Marist.

- MAUREEN MAGARITY: She played at Marist from 2001-04. She is entering her third season as head coach at New Hampshire. She previously had been an assistant at Marist, Fairfield and Army.

- SARAH SMRDEL: She played at Marist from 2004-08. She is currently a volunteer assistant freshman coach at Lake Catholic High School in Ohio.

- EMILY STALLINGS: She played at Marist from 2008-12. She is entering her second season as a graduate assistant at East Stroudsburg.

- KERRY SULLIVAN: She played at Marist from 2000-04. She is currently the varsity head coach at Clarkstown North High School.

- NINA VECCHIO: She played at Marist from 2000-04. She is currently the varsity head coach at Union Beach (N.J.) High School, and had previously been a coach at St. John Vianney (N.J.) H.S.

- VICKI WANCEL: She played at Marist from 2000-04. She is entering her seventh season as an assistant at Northeastern and has also been an assistant at New Haven.

And, there's at least one non-Marist individual influenced by Giorgis currently coaching. That's Chrissy Vozab, who played for him at Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie. Vozab is entering her second season as the head coach at Georgia Southern.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Team Report: Peacock Men Poised For Turnaround

Here's another in the series looking  back and ahead at conference teams.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 3-15 in MAAC play (10th), 9-21 overall. Lost in play-in round of MAAC tournament, 54-47, to Fairfield.

2012-13 RECAP: A 3-0 start to the season, that included an opening-night victory over Rutgers, followed by wins over Central Connecticut and Cornell. And, then, 6-21 after that. Actually, the Peacocks were still solid, at 6-6 overall, through December and that record included one of the MAAC's biggest upsets, a 64-62 victory over Iona, the conference's eventual representative to the NCAA's. After that, though, 3-15 with the only wins against Marist, Siena and a non-leaguer over Hampton.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The victories over Rutgers and Iona were definite high points, showing what the Peacocks could do on a given night. Against Iona, post man Darius Conley had 17 points and 9 rebounds. Desi Washington, a transfer sophomore guard (Delaware State) had a very good first season in the program, averaging a team-high 14.8 points (11th best in the MAAC). He also finished 41st in total three-pointers made (2.7 per outing). Swingman Yvon Raymond and point guard Blaise Ffrench also had solid years, Raymond averaging 10.4 ppg., and Ffrench averaging 7.2 and 4.5 assists (3rd in the MAAC). Markese Tucker, an undersized 6-5 power player, has developed into a good role player. The Peacocks displayed their usual grittiness, making opponents play hard to get victories, and 10 of the team's losses were by nine points or less.

WHAT WENT WRONG: Washington was very good, Raymond was solid and, then, there really wasn't anyone else who could deliver offense consistently. Offensively, only 15 Division I teams nationally scored fewer points. And, most of what the team had came from the perimeter. There might not have been another team in the league with less in the post, and it showed up in the rebounding stats where Saint Peter's ranked 282nd of 343 Division I teams nationally. Patrick Jackson, a rugged transfer forward from Rutgers who was expected to help in the post, was dismissed from the program after 13 games. Saint Peter's was 6-7 with Jackson on the team and 3-14 thereafter. Conley, a rugged inside presence, didn't have the year most expected and only averaged 4.6 rebounds per game. And, there wasn't much else up front. Elias Desport, a 6-7 freshman, flashed some signs, but he wasn't fully ready. Karee Ferguson, a touted junior college transfer, might have helped up front, but he battled injuries and only averaged 2.9 points this past season. Guard Chris Prescott, who transferred in from La Salle, rarely helped, averaging 2.8 points per game and fell out of favor this past season. Still, there were a lot of close games, but the Peacocks showed they weren't quite good enough to win them.

WHAT'S AHEAD: Just about a total rebuild, and the results will be evident over the next two years. Chris Burke (5.5 ppg.), a part-time starter this past season, is the only senior on the roster. But, there is a lot of experience ... it's just that a good deal of it has been gained elsewhere. Two key players have transferred in from other D-I programs and will be eligible for the coming season, while three others are coming in from junior colleges. Head coach John Dunne hasn't had an abundance of talent to work with, since his senior-laden group of 2010-11 went to the NCAA tournament. But, the program clearly now has as many good players as it has in recent memory. There are a lot of divergent pieces, but Dunne has a knack for getting players to buy into what he's trying to do. Overall the roster looks a little small ... there's no player taller than 6-7. But, Dunne claims that 6-7 junior Marvin Dominique, a transfer from Fordham, will be one of the MAAC's better forwards. And, 6-5 Kris Rolle, coming in from Colby Community College, was one of the top rebounders nationally at the JC level (11.9 per game) and will also help in the post. Desport will likely make some strides, and true freshman Quadir Welton, another 6-7 forward, averaged 9.9 rebounds per game at the high school level last season. The backcourt is well-stocked with Washington, Burke, incoming transfer Jamel Fields, a junior who was in the playing rotation at Fairfield before leaving that program, and sophomore Chazz Patterson. The key to the backcourt, though, will be finding a point guard replacement for Ffrench. That might be 6-foot-0 Trevis Wyche, another true freshman, who has point-guard directing skills, yet is also a standout perimeter shooter. His adjustment to the college level will play a key role in the team's progress for the coming season.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14: There seems to be enough talent in place to start turning this around, although one wonders if it might take a season for chemistry to develop. But, it could happen quicker than expected, particularly if Wyche can take over and be a productive point guard, or if someone else can handle the position if Wyche isn't quite ready. It's hard to envision the Peacocks challenging the likely top three finishers (Manhattan, Iona, Canisius), but finishing in the top five is a reasonable goal with things looking even better the following season.