Monday, September 30, 2013

Recruiting: Iona Men's Team Adds Quality Group

Here's another in the series looking at players joining conference programs for the coming season.

Up now...


- Kelvin Amayo, a 6-4, 210-pound sophomore guard: He is a transfer from Marshall University where he played just three games last season, averaging 2.7 points per game in an average of 9.3 minutes.  "Kelvin is a treat athlete with tremendous leaping ability," said Iona coach Tim Cluess, in a release issued by the school. "He's a slasher/scorer and will look to contribute to our rotation right away. He can also hit from long distance with the best of them on our squad." Amayo has a waiver request in with the NCAA to play immediately, but there has not yet been a decision on that. If he doesn't get the waiver, he won't be eligible until the 2014-15 season.

- Ryden Hines, a 6-10, 230-pound freshman forward: A native of Anchorage, Ala., he played at the prep school level at Impact Academy in Las Vegas this past season where he averaged 21.0 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. "Ryan has a great motor and really plays hard," said Cluess. "He has a good basketball IQ and can knock down a jumper. At 6-10 he's going to have to help us right away, but as he physically matures and adjusts to the college game he has an opportunity to be a very successful player at Iona."

- Mike Poole, a 6-5, 195-pound senior wing: He is a transfer from Rutgers and is eligible immediately after receiving an NCAA waiver this summer. At Rutgers he averaged 5.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 95 games. His career high came, ironically, against Iona with an 18-point, 7-rebound performance last season. "Mike is a veteran ... and will look for a leadership role on this year's squad," said Cluess. "His all-around ability on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball will be a great asset for our program."

- Daniel Robinson, a 6-11, 215-pound freshman forward: He played at the prep school level last season at the IMG Academy in Brandenton, Fla. No statistics from there are available. But, as a senior at Atlantic Shores Christian School in Chesapeake, Va., in 2011-12, he averaged 9.3 points, 8.4 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game. "At 6-11, Daniel can step out and hit a jumper," said Cluess. "He is not our prototypical back-to-the-basket post performer but has solid offensive skills. We'll also look to use his size in the middle as a big, interior defensive presence."

- Shackquiel Scott, a 6-6, 205-pound freshman wing: He played at the prep school last season at the Robinson School in Irvington, N.J. where he averaged 13 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game. "Shack is an extremely athletic wing with a solid mid-range game," said Cluess. "His athleticism and energy will be a great addition to our program.

- Isaiah Williams, a 6-7, 180-pound sophomore forward. He comes to Iona after a year at State College (Fla.), a junior college program, where he averaged 17.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in an average of just 21.6 minutes per contest. He is eligible immediately. "Isaiah is a 6-7 wing and can really fill it up," said Cluess. "He can also shoot a three as well as anybody we have and will also help us a lot defensively as he is very active and has a lot of length to him."

ANALYSIS: As usual, Iona will benefit from bringing in players with experience beyond the high school level. Of the six newcomers, the three freshmen all have a year of prep school experience, while Williams, Poole and Amayo have all played at some level of college ball. It means the adjustment period for all the newcomers isn't quite as difficult as with traditional freshmen. Poole will add a level of toughness on the defensive end, while Williams, Hines and Amayo (if he gets an eligibility waiver) all can help provide some of the offense lost with the graduation of Player of the Year Momo Jones. Iona lost some key players from a year ago, but the program did a nice job of reloading. As is always the case with a large group of new expected contributors, there will be a period of adjustment as the cast builds chemistry. But, at some point ... barring the unexpected ... Iona's incoming players will help contribute to the team being one of the best in the MAAC in the coming season.

Recruiting: Saint Peter's Women Make Key Additions

Here's the latest in the series looking at players joining conference teams for the coming season.

Up now ...


- Kaycee DeVoogd, a 6-foot-2 freshman center/forward: She averaged 6.9 points and 3.0 rebounds at New Providence H.S. in Edison, N.J., last season. She was also said to be a good shot-blocker defensively, although no other statistics are available.

- Kylie Garrett, a 5-9 freshman guard: She averaged 17.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game at Western Brown H.s. in Ohio this past season. She was a two-sport athlete (also volleyball) in high school.

- Marcia Senatus, a 5-4 freshman guard: She played last season at Trenton (N.J.) Catholic H.S. this past season and was a 3-sport athlete (track, tennis). She reportedly can play either guard spot, but is primarily a point guard. No statistics are available.

- Rebecca Sparks, a 5-foot-5 sophomore guard: She is a transfer from St. Francis (Pa.) and is not eligible until the 2014-15 season. She averaged 3.9 points and 1.7 assists as a freshman at St. Francis, but had 27 points in an NEC tournament game, and 13 in a WBI tournament game against Fairfield.

- Imani Martinez, a 6-2 sophomore forward: She is a transfer from East Tennessee State where she only saw action in four games, scoring four total points. She was a fairly highly recruited player in her senior season at North Hunterdon H.S. in N.J. Among suitors were Seton Hall and Hofstra. She is also ineligible to play until the 2014-15 season.

ANALYSIS: The future should be bright. Senatus is highly touted by coach Pat Coyle, and should get playing time right away. Garrett is an outstanding long-range shooter and should get minutes right away, too. DeVoogd appears to be a little more of a project, who was set to attend a D-II school before Saint Peter's offered her a scholarship. Sparks and Martinez will be major additions when they both become eligible a year from now.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Story On Coffino's Brush With Tragedy Is Must-Read

We don't often post links to stories from other sources, but this one is far too good not to bring to your attention.

Many of us remember John Coffino from his days around the MAAC. Coffino served nine years as an assistant at three different conference program ... he was at Iona from 1997-99, at Niagara from 1999-2002 and at Saint Peter's from 2002-2006. He is also a graduate of Saint Peter's, so his connections to the conference are many.

During his time as an assistant coach he had a well-earned reputation as an extremely hard worker, a guy who was the first guy at the office every day and the last guy to leave. "FILO," he called it ... First In, Last Out.

He eventually moved on to coaching pros, joining Jeff Ruland's staff, initially, as an assistant coach with the Albuquerque Thunder (2008-10) and, then, coaching the Albany (N.Y.) legends to an Independent Basketball Association championship in 2012.

He went from there to a minor league job in Texas but left when paychecks for coaches and players stopped coming.

Unable to catch on anywhere else in the U.S., he took a job as the coach of a team at the Dankind Academy  in Qutar, Kenya. To supplement his meager income in that position he also took on coaching duties of a girls' team at an international high school in Nairobi.

And, then, came tragedy. One of the players on his girls' team was killed in the recent terrorist attack at a Nairobi shopping mall that has been in the news in recent days.

Yahoo Sports' Adam Wajnarowski recently spoke with Coffino and produced a wonderful story. Here it is:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Recruiting Report: Saint Peter's Men Bring In Eight

Here's another in the series looking at players joining conference teams for the coming season.

Up now ...


- Vic Adams, a 6-3, 165-pound junior guard: He is a transfer from Dodge City Community College where he averaged 19.0 points per game this past season.

- Marvin Dominique, a 6-7, 215-pound junior forward: He transferred from Fordham and is eligible this season. He averaged 2.9 points and 3.1 rebounds per game as a Fordham sophomore in 2011-12 and 4.5 and 5.6 as a freshman.

- Tyler Gaskins, a 6-5, 200-pound junior forward: He comes in from Lawson State (Ala.) Community College where he averaged 8.0 points and 3.0 rebounds last season. The year before that, at New Mexico Military JUCO he averaged 10.0 points per game. Over the past two years he has made 69-of-157 three pointers (44 percent).

- Kris Rolle, a 6-5, 215-pound junior forward: He comes in from Colby (Kan.) Community College. There, he averaged 10.4 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last season. His rebound average was fourth nationally on the junior college Division I ranks, the highest division for JUCO play.

- Jamel Fields, a 6-2, 175-pound junior guard: He was with Saint Peter's as a redshirt last season after transferring over from league member Fairfield. At Fairfield he averaged 3.5 points and 1.8 rebounds as a sophomore and 4.7, 1.3 and 1.7 assists as a freshman.

- Quadir Welton, a 6-7, 220-pound freshman center/forward: He averaged 9.0 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last season as a senior at Math, Civics and Science Charter School in Philadelphia.

- Howard Sellers, a 6-1, 165-pound freshman guard: He is a career 1,000-point high school scorer and averaged about 17 points per game as a junior at The School of Church Farm in Exton, Pa. No senior season statistics are available.

- Trevis Wyche, a 6-0, 165-pound freshman guard: He averaged 17.8 points and 3.6 assists per game last season as a senior at St. Peter's Prep School in N.J.

ANALYSIS: With eight newcomers, it's one of the largest incoming groups to the conference, and the Peacocks can use the help.Five of the players come in as juniors, either via transfer from other four-year programs of from the junior college ranks. And, that past college experience should help them make an easier transition to the MAAC. Fields has even been in the MAAC as an effective third guard at Fairfield as a freshman prior to having some injury issues diminish his role as a sophomore. He can play either guard spot and will be in the playing group. The Peacocks also need help in the post, and coach John Dunne believes that Dominique, a power forward, will be among the top five or six forwards in the league. Rolle is a little undersized as a 6-5 forward, but is a tenacious rebounder and will also help. Welton, who already has a college-ready build, is likely to be able to make some early post play contributions coming off the bench. Dunne's team also needed an influx of offense, and that appears to be coming, too.Adams and Gaskins are both very capable offensive players, and Fields can score a little, too, to help out returnee Desi Washington, last season's leading scorer. Even Sellers, an undersized shooting guard, can put up pints in a hurry. Wyche has the potential to be an effective point guard who also can score. He'll get every chance to get big minutes early, but if he's not ready right away Fields can swing over to play some point.

Hoopscribe To Branch Out For Column Writing Work

Here's a preview of coming attractions, mostly for sports fans in upstate New York but also for any of you who read about sports on the internet.

Your Hoopscribe is taking on additional writing duties, this time as a sports columnist at The Troy Record Newspaper. I'll be writing two columns a week, and those will appear on Wednesday and Sunday, beginning this Sunday.

So, go out and buy The Record on those days (or, every day for that matter for terrific coverage of local sports in its area). Or, check in on line at

The columns will draw on my "expertise," such as it is. Basketball, obviously, will be a major topic and there will be much about our favorite conference (the MAAC, of course). We'll also touch on UAlbany hoops, as well as much, much more.

This new opportunity will have no affect on the MAAC blog, which will continue to present expertise/opinion/news/perspective, etc., and, hopefully, will continue to draw the close to 10,000 hits per month.

In fact, the new gig is certain to be an aid to the MAAC blog. It will ensure that I'm even more involved with college basketball beyond the MAAC, and that should mean finding more issues and news that will pertain to our conference and be worthy of posts on "Keepin' Track of the MAAC."

And, I'll still be doing radio color commentary for the Siena women's team, still get to just about every Siena men' home game and still get on the road for some MAAC games elsewhere. So,the MAAC will have as much of my attention as ever ... maybe even more.

How did this new gig come about?

I have good, long-time friends in place at the administration level at The Record. They know me well ... and, somehow, they still wanted to hire me.

I guess they think I can add something to their sports section, and I'll be giving that my best shot.

I am honored to know that I'll be upstate New York's most-featured columnist. No other local paper has a columnist who writes more than once weekly.

I'll try to bring The Record the same philosophy that I bring to "Keepin' Track of the MAAC." I've been working in upstate New York for 32 of my professional years, and grew up in the region as a sports fan. So, there's a considerable connection to area history.

It helps to be old, I guess. I'm not old enough to have seen baseball Hall of Famers Johnny Evers of Troy, or George Davis of Cohoes, play their games. But, I'm old enough to know who they are and to have written about them extensively. And, I will again.

I'm not old enough to have seen Billy Harrell play basketball at Siena in the 1950's, but I am old enough to have been around when Siena moved to Division I, when it moved to the MAAC and when it went to its first NIT and NCAA tournaments, and those experiences will be fodder for future columns.

I've been there, and done that ... a lot. And, now, comes an opportunity to do more.

I'm looking forward to it, just like I always look forward to writing about the MAAC in this space.

Hopefully you'll keep checking in here ... and, then, add The Troy Record (or, it's website) to your reading list, too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Making Preseason Predictions For Women's Season

We did an "updated" look at predictions for men's standings for the upcoming season, and, now, it's time for the women.

1. MARIST: Surprised? We didn't think so. But, there are proverbial chinks in the armor. Post players 6-5 Delaney Hollenbeck and 6-3 Tori Jarosz could both be lost for the season. Of course, that happened last year, too, and Marist finished 18-0 againt MAAC opponents. But, Elizabeth Beynnon capably took care of the post last season and, now, she's graduated. Still ... returning senior Emma O'Connor's 4.7 rebounds per game last season led all Marist players. But, she's only 6-foot-0 and, right now, is the tallest healthy player with any college experience. Otherwise? Guards Casey Dulin and Leanne Ockenden are among the best in the league, and Sydney Coffey and Maddy Blais, both sophomores, are emerging talents.
Chief Concern: The post. Kat Fogarty, a 6-2 freshman, will almost assuredly get big minutes, a Marist rarity for a freshman, and she'll need to contribute.

2. IONA: Not only does every starter return from a team that won 20 games last season and went to the WNIT, but the Gaels return its top seven scorers from a year ago. Those include returning Player of the Year junior guard Damika Martinez and last season's Rookie of the Year sophomore forward Joy Adams. This might (finally!) be the year a team seriously threatens Marist.
Chief Concern: A new coach in Billi Godsey, who has never previously run a program.

3. QUINNIPIAC: The "Marist of the Northeast Conference" a year ago when the Bobcats went 18-0 in that league and 30-3 overall. Its best player, Felicia Baron, an all-purpose guard, did graduate. But, point guard Gillian Abshire (10th nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio) and forward Brittany McQuain (8.3 rebounds per game) are both all-MAAC caliber players. In all, four of last season's five starters return.
Chief Concern: Does Quinnipiac's excellence translate to a new and slightly better league?

4. FAIRFIELD: A perennially strong program under head coach Joe Frager, and expect the same again this year, particularly as forward Brittany Obi-Tabot continues to emerge as one of the league's top players. Four of last season's top five scorers are also back, and no departing player averaged more than 8.1 points per contest.
Chief Concern: Find a little more offense, particularly from the point guard position as teams basically left Stags' point guards unguarded last year in order to pack the paint.

5. RIDER: A 15-15 finish last season was the program's best in many years. Swingperson MyNesha McKenzie returns, and she is a strong candidate to be this season's Player of the Year. Shereen Lightbourne could also be a major contributor if she is finally healthy after missing the last two seasons with knee injuries. And, Lashay Banks, a 5-10 guard who transferred in from Cincinnati, should also help.
Chief Concern: Post play. The program lost some good ones and probably needs 6-3 Marritt Gilcrease, previously a lightly used reserve, to step up.

6. MANHATTAN: League coaches, in their preseason poll, picked the Jaspers for 10th. Your Hoopscribe thinks Manhattan has the best chance among conference teams to make a positive surprise this season. Four very solid players return, led by sharpshooter Monica Roeder and underrated point guard Allison Skrec. And incoming 6-1 freshman guard Maeve Parahus is the choice here to be the MAAC's Rookie of the Year.
Chief Concern: The team will need contributions from some freshmen. Parahus and two incoming front-court players will need to make quick transitions to college play.

7. CANISIUS: Two of its top three players from a year ago graduated, including its only double-figure scorer (Ashley Durham). But, post player Jamie Ruttle has often looked capable of more, the return of aggressive forward Courtney VandenBovenkamp (out all last season with an injury) will help, and sophomore Tiahana Mills had a strong freshman season and looks capable of more this year.
Chief Concern: Much of the nucleus has been together for several years without any major success.

8. MONMOUTH: Some key graduation losses, but several returnees look capable of emerging, including UMass transfer Sara English, a 6-4 forward who averaged 1.45 blocks per game in just 13.8 minutes of playing time.
Chief Concern: Lack of height a year ago could be solved by English and incoming freshmen, but youngsters will be counted on for heavy minutes.

9 SIENA: The good news is that second-year coach Ali Jaques has a good incoming freshman class, but the bad news is that the group will need to make big contributions for the team to move up in the standings. Junior guard Tehresa Coles is an all-league caliber player, but more than a few former role players will have to make major strides.
Chief Concern: Another program with an unexpected loss (forward Kate Zarotney, a premature end to her playing days due to shoulder issues) leaves a thin frontcourt.

10. NIAGARA: The Purple Eagles were a little thin up front a year ago and, then, had all-league caliber center Lauren Gatto leave the program early due to a personal situation. Point guard Kayla Stroman and forward Shy Britton also left a year early, robbing the program of three of last year's top four players. There is rebuilding ahead, but the proverbial barrel isn't entirely empty. Incoming freshman Victoria Rampado might be an impact player, according to one knowledgeable Niagara source.
Chief Concern: Unexpected off-season personnel losses, forcing former role players and incoming freshmen into bigger roles.

11. SAINT PETER'S: Forward Kaydine Bent and guards Aziza May and Bridget Whitfield combine to be a nice threesome, but there isn't a lot else in place. Still, it should be enjoyable to see how quickly new coach Pat Coyle, who has WNBA coaching experience (and, MAAC experience as the former Loyola coach) can turn around the Peacocks.
Chief Concern: Finding enough talent (or, developing it) to be competitive for the coming season.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Taking An Updated Look at Men's Preseaon Picks

In case you missed it, The Sporting News' College Basketball Preview magazine has been on news stands (and selling quickly) for several weeks.

Your Hoopscribe, as always, did the MAAC's preview, complete with a predicted order of finish for men's teams.

But, the deadline for that was mid-July, nearly 10 weeks ago. A lot has changed since then, so here's a updated predicted finishing order, complete with brief comments.

1. MANHATTAN: A fast finish after a midseason style change to accommodate the loss of top scorer George Beamon was proof that Steve Masiello can coach. Beamon is back, as is just about everyone else of significance. And, the addition of big man Ashton Pankey, a 6-foot-10 transfer from Maryland, gives the Jaspers five starters all capable of contending for post-season all-star honors.
Chief Concern: Can Pankey and returning post player 6-7 Rhamel Brown, both of whom do their best work in the paint, play together?

2. IONA: The Gaels lost the conference's Player of the Year for the second straight season, but they don't rebuild these days ... they reload. Between returnees and newcomers, they have as much individual talent as any conference team.
Chief Concern: Chemistry. Iona had an influx of new players last year, too, and it took nearly half the season for things to fall into place. Give coach Tim Cluess credit for bringing everything together as the season progressed, an indication that the same might happen again this year.

3. CANISIUS: Major losses in the backcourt, but some very good replacements including Stetson transfer Chris Perez. Plus, the one guard returnee, Billy Baron, is the league's best player.
Chief Concern: A front-court that didn't have to do much offensively last season will have to make greater contributions at both ends this season.

4. SAINT PETER'S: Strong incoming transfers up front in 6-7 Maarvin Dominique and Kris Rolle and in the backcourt with Jamel Fields and Vic Adams join standout returnee guards Desi Washington and Chris Burke. Some will think this pick is too high, but there's talent here and coach John Dunne is terrific at bringing a team together.
 Chief Concern: Height ... no player on the roster taller than 6-7 in a league that has more than a few quality bigs this season.

5. QUINNIPIAC: Four starters return, including a forward tandem in Ike Azotam and Ousmane Drame that is as good as any in the conference. Umar Shannon, a grad-student transfer from St. Francis, should help at guard.
Chief Concern: The one loss was a good point guard. Returnee Shaq Shannon, who got some minutes there last season, will need to step up.

6. FAIRFIELD: The immediate eligibility of 6-11 Pitt transfer Malcolm Gilbert, due to a recent NCAA waiver, gives the Stags potentially the top front court in the league. Transfer guard Sean Grennan will also help, but the Stags lost their entire three-man guard rotation from a year ago and guard play, at this level, is crucial.
Chief Concern: Finding a new backcourt, particularly a point guard.

7. MARIST: Junior swingman Chavaughn Lewis is among the conference's best players and senior center Adam Kent is very good in the paint. The return to health of senior forward Jay Bowie is a big lift. Guard Khalil Hart, who missed last season with a knee injury, could be a major contributor.
Chief Concern: Quality depth.

8. NIAGARA: The Purple Eagles had considerable turnover after former coach Joe Mihalich moved to Hofstra, but there's still talent in place, particularly at the guard spot. Antoine Mason will score big this year, and has help in the backcourt from Marvin Jordan, Tahjere McCall and talented incoming freshman Wesley Myers. Grad-student transfer 6-8 Marcus Ware will help up front.
Chief Concern: Is there enough in the front court?

9 RIDER: Two terrific pieces in swingman Anthony Myles and forward Daniel Stewart, and 6-9 center Junior Fortunat could emerge, too. But, heavy losses otherwise.
Chief Concern: Not enough strong returnees. Former role players/incoming freshmen will have to step up.

10. SIENA: We picked Rob Poole to be the MAAC's breakout player at this time last season, and he fulfilled expectations. He'll be even better this year. But, only one other starter (Evan Hymes) who played at least 17 minutes per game last season, returns. New head coach Jimmy Patsos will bring Siena back into contention quickly, but maybe not this year.
Chief Concern: A good group of freshmen will be called on for big minutes and probably take some proverbial  lumps early.

11. MONMOUTH: Junior wing Andrew Nicholas will be one of the league' better players, and Khalil Brown, a slender forward, was held back by injuries a year ago and will be a significant contributor. But, major losses elsewhere since a year ago. The incoming freshman class has five players 6-8 and taller, which bodes well for the future.
Chief Concern: Will rely heavily on young players.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Recruiting: Fogarty Could Be Key For Marist Women

Here's another in the series looking at players joining conference programs for the upcoming season.

Up now ...


- Brittany Lai, a 5-foot-6 freshman guard: A four-year varsity starter who scored 1,456 career points, she averaged 16.1 points per game over the past two seasons at Irvington (N.Y.) H.S. A standout point guard, she also led her team in assists and steals and was the MVP of New York State's Class B state tournament this past season.

- Sydnie Rosales, a 5-9 freshman guard: A varsity team member for six years at Colonie (N.Y.) H.S., she originally committed to Siena and, then, changed her mind after that school made a coaching change prior to last season. She averaged about 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists per game as a high school senior. She is an outstanding long-range shooter who is also capable of playing both guard spots.

- Katherine Fogarty, a 6-2 freshman forward: She scored 1,684 points and had move than 1,100 points over three seasons at The Governor's Academy in Petersborough, N.H. As a senior she averaged 20.8 points,13.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots per game.

ANALYSIS: By necessity Fogarty might be a Marist rarity, a freshman starter. With lingering injury issues to the Red Foxes' returning post players, Tori Jarocz and Delaney Hollenbeck, Fogarty is the only player healthy for the start of the season over 6-1. She is a hard-nosed inside player who can both score and rebound and is likely to get big minutes immediately. There is a definite need for her to play, and the indication from Marist sources is that she'll get every opportunity. Lai is an accomplished point guard, whose high school teams had great success and she could battle for minutes and, probably, get some time off the bench. And Rosales, who your Hoopscribe has seen play numerous times, is a versatile guard who can both handle the ball and shoot from long range. Mariist already appeared pretty well set in the backcourt, but Rosales' shooting ability alone is likely to get her into the playing group.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Recruiting: Health Key For Marist Men Newcomers

Here's another in the series looking at players joining conference programs for the coming season.

Up now ...


- Nick Colletta, a 6-5, 190-pound freshman guard: He was named one of the top sophomores in the state of California in the 2010-11 season, averaging 24.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game in 2010-11. And, then, he missed most of his junior season and all of his senior year at Glendora H.S. with a back injury. "We're happy to add Nick to our program," said Marist coach Jeff Bower, in a release issued by the school. "His skills fit in nicely with our returning players and will complement their strengths."

- Kentrall Brooks, 6-8, 200-pound freshman forward: Played three seasons at high-powered St. Anthony's (N.J.) H.S. under coach Bob Hurley Sr. He only averaged 4.7 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in 15.5 minutes of time per contest, but St. Anthony's had one of the nation's top teams this past season. Brooks had been a key reserve for a program that has won 93 of its last 95 games. "We're excited about to have Kentral ...." said former Marist coach Chuck Martin, who recruited the player. "He brings athleticism, length and a winning attitude to the program. The sky is the limit (for him)."

- Khalid Hart, a 6-2, 180-pound redshirt freshman: A highly touted recruit last season, he was expected to compete for major minutes as a freshman before suffering a knee injury in the preseason. He averaged 15.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in the 2011-12 season as a high school senior at The Sanford School in Delaware.

ANALYSIS: Hart would have played a lot last season, and if he's 100 percent recovered from his knee injury, he could have a big impact over the next four years. He'll certainly be in the mix to get major minutes at both guard spots. Colletta is another player with past injury issues (back) that forced him to miss almost all of his final two high school seasons. He's Bower's first recruit and, if healthy, could provide offense, probably off the bench initially. Brooks has size and length, but it's hard to judge how much he'll be a factor right away, considering his limited role at the high school level. Marist, which has a strong returning group, doesn't need a lot of help from its incoming players, although the expected contributions of Hart will be a nice addition.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Recruiting: Siena Women Fill Needs With Freshmen

Here's another in the series looking at players joining conference programs for the coming season.

Up now ...


- Emia Willingham, a 5-foot-7 freshman guard: She is a local product, a graduate of Albany High School, who averaged 19.7 points, 8.9 rebounds, 5.2 steals and 2.1 assists per game as a senior there, where she was on the varsity for five seasons. "I am very excited that Emia has decided to join our program," said Siena coach Ali Jaques, in a release issued by the school. "She has proven to be one of the top guards in our area ... and her athleticism and ability to score will have an immediate impact on our team."

- Halee Adams, a 5-7 freshman guard: She was the first player in history at Bishop Guilfoyle H.S. (Altoona, Pa.) to score more than 1,000 p oints before the end of her sophomore season. She then missed her junior year with a knee injury, but returned to average 16.1 points per contest as a senior. "Halee is an extremely tough, versatile wing," said Jaques. "She has the ability to score in a lot of different ways. She is a great shooter, can really break down oponents off the dribble, and works really hard on both ends of the court."

- Megan Donohue, a 6-2 freshman center: She averaged 17.2 points per game this past season as a senior at Archbishop Hoban H.S. in Ohio. She had averaged 9.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per contest as a junior. "Megan has an innate toughness about her game that is going to be really fun to coach," said Jaques. "As a lefty at 6-2 she has great size, is physical in the paint and can finish very well around the basket. She will bring another strong low-post presence to our frontcourt."

- Brianna Logan, a 5-6 freshman guard: She averaged 12.4 points per game as a senior, playing point guard at Rancocas Valley (Pa.) H.S. She is the second cousin of Marc Brown, the Siena men's program's all-time leading scorer. "Brianna is a consummate point guard," said Jaques. "She makes everyone around her better and knows how to run a team ... She is a great decision-maker and an extremely hard worker."

ANALYSIS: With two front-court starters gone from last season, Siena needed some height and got the 6-2 Donohue, who is reputed to be a good post player in a half-court setting. The team has also struggled to find consistent play at the point guard position in recent years, and Logan could help address that issue, although she is still extremely slender and might find there to be a transition to the physical level of play in college. Willingham and Adams are both strong offensive players, another area of need for the Saints. The incoming youngsters should all be contributors fairly soon and appear to be a nice foundation for future years.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Men's Recruiting: Patsos' First Group Looks Strong

Here's another in the series looking at players joining conference programs for the coming season.

Up now ...


- Maurice White, a 6-foot-3, 197-pound freshman guard: He averaged 17.0 points and 9.0 rebounds per game as a senior at St. Frances Academy of the Baltimore Catholic League this past season. He is described as a good mid-range shooter who is strong, competitive and attacks the basket in transition. "He missed the summer and our (summer) Montreal trip, so he's a little behind," said Siena coach Jimmy Patsos. "But he brings great energy to the table and will really contribute on the defensive end."

- Lavon Long, a 6-6, 234-pound freshman forward: He averaged 15 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3.6 blocks and 3.0 assists per game as a senior at Oakland Mills H.S. in the Baltimore area. "Lavon has a sneaky game," Patsos said. "He can really handle the ball well. We expect him to rebound and lead the break. if I had to compare him to someone it would be (Metta World Peace). He's really a guard, but he can play forward because of his size. He has a really well-rounded game.

- Javion Ogunyemi, a 6-8, 230-pound forward: He averaged 18.0 poits, 10.8 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game as a senior at Troy (N.Y.) High School. He is the lone recruit by former coach Mitch Buonaguro among this year's incoming players. The expectation is that he has a good chance to be an immediate starter up front.

- Michael Wolfe, a 6-9, 210-pound freshman forward: He averaged 15.0 points and 8.5 rebounds per game at Georgetown Prep School this past season. There are indications that he will redshirt this coming season to add some bulk to his slender frame. "Coming from Georgetown Prep, I think he's a little extra prepared," said Patsos. "I'd say he's a little more advanced. He's going to play a lot of four for us, because he can face up and shoot."

- Marquis Wright, a 6-0 freshman guard: He averaged 16.6 points, 6.1 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 3.9 steals for North Point (Md.) H.S. this past season. He is the Saints' likely starter at point guard. "Marquis is a quite leader, but he's really impressed us here," Patsos said. "He's a pass-first guy, and I think he and Evan (Hymes) give us strong point guard play. They will play some together, too."

- Patrick Cole, a 6-5, 218-pound sophomore guard: He is a transfer from Coppin State where he averaged 10.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game as a freshman this past season. He appears destined for a redshirt/transfer year and won't be elible until the 2014-15 season. "He's excellent with the ball in his hands," said Patsos. "He reminds me of a poor man's Deron Williams, because he can score. But this is a big adjustment. He's getting used to school and our program. We think he'll be a major contributor next year (2014-15)."

ANALYSIS: With only two regular starters returning, there's plenty of room for the youngsters to get time right away. Wright is almost certain to be the team's starter at point guard, Ogunyemi has a chance to crack the starting lineup early and the versatile Long has a chance to be an early contributor. The necessity of having young players get big minutes isn't a recipe of success, though. But, it should be enjoyable watching a young team grow, and Patsos' first group of incoming players is a strong one, which bodes well for the future.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Recruiting Report: Canisius Women's Group Is Strong

Here's another in the series looking at players joining conference programs for the upcoming season.

Up now ...


- Tamara Miskovic, a 5-foot-9 freshman guard: She has played for her native Serbia's Under-20 National Team, and spent the past two seasons playing for Vrbas Medela in Serbia, where she averaged 5.4 points and had 51 assists last season. She was the MVP of two international tournaments as a member of the first-lace team at the Vojvodina Under-19 Championship. "Tamara is a high-level passer who sees the game two steps ahead," said Canisius coach Terry Zeh, in a release issued by the school. "She has played a great level of basketball internationally and brings that experience to our program."

- Royce Shields, a 5-6 junior guard: She has played the past two seasons at Highland Community College in Kansas. There, she averaged 10.0 points per game this past season. As a high school senior at Wyandotte H.S. in Kansas, she averaged 15.4 points per game. "Royce brings an added dimension of quickness and athleticism and is a great perimeter defender," Zeh said. "Royce comes from a good junior college program and really understands how to play."

- Lauren D'Hont, a 5-11 freshman guard: She averaged 17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals per game as a senior at Pittsford-Mendon H.S. in the Rochester, N.Y., area this past season. In high school she also played soccer and softball. "Lauren is a multi-sport athlete who has a tremendous desire to succeed," Zeh said. "Coupling that desire with her basketball skills and academic abilities, Lauren is a great fit for our program.

-Laniere Coleman, a 6-1 freshman forward. She averaged 12.7 points per game as a senior at Lake Mary (Fla.) High School this past season. As a junior there she averaged 9.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. "Laniere brings good size and toughness to our interior," Zeh said. "She has a good mind for the game and has shown the ability to defend in the post."

ANALYSIS: Just about every player of significance is back, including a strong recruiting class four years ago that now has forwards Jamie Ruttle, Jen Lennox, Courtney VandeBovenkamp and guard Jen Morabito  in their fourth years in the program. VandenBovenkamp, though, missed all of last season with an injury and her return will give the Griffs a nice boost. Sophomore Tiahana Mills looks like she could be one of the league's better point guards. JC players rarely get recruited to sit the bench, so Shields should play right away. Miskovic brings international experience, although foreign players traditionally go through an adjustment period. Coleman brings inside toughness to a program that lacked it last season, particularly in VandeBovenkamp's absence, and D'Hont brings athleticism. The youngsters should contribute to the team's depth and the incoming talent could help lift Canisius higher than its predicted sixth-place finish as per the preseason coaches' poll.

Recruiting Report: Canisius Men Fill Key Needs

Here's another in the series taking a look at players joining conference programs for the coming season.

Up now ...


- Lou Dunbar, a 6-3, 170-pound freshman guard: He averaged 18.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game in his senior season at Clear Falls H.S. in Texas. Over his high school career he shot 57 percent from the floor and 36 percent from three-point range, making 134 three-pointers over three seasons. He is the son of "Sweet Lou" Dunbar, a standout at the University of Houston in the mid-1970's who later had a lengthy career playing for the Harlem Globetrotters.

- Kassius Roberson, a 6-3, 170-pound freshman guard: He averaged 22.0 points, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game this past season at Thornlea Secondary School in Thornhill, Ontario. There, he was coached by former Loyola standout Shane James.

- Jeremiah Williams, a 5-11, 165-pound junior guard: He played two seasons at Vincennes (Ind.) University where he averaged 4.4 points, 2.7 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game for that junior college program. He has two remaining years of eligibility and can play immediately.

- Chris Petez, a 6-3, 210-pound senior guard: He earned an undergraduate degree in three years at Stetson University, and has one remaining season and is eligible immediately. He averaged 15.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game this past season.

- Jermaine Crumpton, a 6-6, 220-pound freshman forward: He averaged 20.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game at Niagara Falls (N.Y.) High School this past season, and 17.0 and 9.0 as a junior there. He was a three-year starter and an all-Western New york honoree all three seasons.

- Zach Lewis, a 6-3, 175-pound freshman guard: He played this past season at Fishburne Military Academy, a prep school in Waynesboro, Va. Prior to that he was a two-time first-team all-state selection in Connecticut where he played at Northwest Catholic H.S. As a senior there he averaged 22.2 points per contest.

- Adam Weir, a 6-4, 185-pound freshman guard: He averaged 21.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game at Canisius High School in Buffalo this past season, after averaging 18.0 and 7.0 as a junior there. He is another three-year starter and was an AAU teammate of Crumpton.

- Phil Valenti, a 6-7, 195-pound redshirt freshman forward: He sat out last season as a redshirt, but practiced with the Golden Griffins. At Aquinas Instittue in Rochester, N.Y. he averaged 25.0 points and 12.0 rebounds as a senior and was named the 2011-12 all-Greater Rochester Player of the Year by the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper.

- Dominique Raney, a 6-4, 180-pound redshirt sophomore guard: After transferring in from Navarro Junior College, he sat out last season as a redshirt. At Navaro he averaged 3.7 points and 1.7 rebounds per game in the 2011-12 season. He averaged 17.5 points per game as a senior at Putnam City H.S. in Oklahoma and was named the 2011 Tulsa World's Metro Player of the Year.

ANALYSIS: Between graduation and defections, the Griffs have only four returning players with any real experience, but they are four good ones. The only returning guard, though, is all-league player Billy Baron. The program needed to bring in guards and depth, and accomplished both. Perez should start and Williams will see some time at point guard, enabling Baron to play some minutes off the ball. Valenti, Weir and Crumpton were all among the best WNY scholastic players in recent years and their development should ensure the program will stay competitive in coming seasons. Raney, Dunbar, Lewis and Roberson will all battle for reserve minutes this season and prepare for bigger roles in the future.

Katarski moves from Niagara to Seton Hill Hoops

We always enjoy the news of a MAAC connection moving onward and upward, even if this particular one did escape our notice for a couple of months.

A good friend, Mark Katarski, was named the head coach at Seton Hill University, a Division II program that is entering its first season in the tough Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.

Katarski had been an assistant at Niagara for the past two seasons, working for head coach Kendra Faustin. During his time Niagara underwent a revitalization, including a 13-19 record in the 2011-12 season, the victory total the fifth-best improvement nationally over the previous year (1-29) on the Division I level.

We got to know Katarski fairly well over that time. He was always accessible before and after games, and made it a point to stop by to chat with your correspondent. He had become a great source for happenings around the league.

Katarski takes over the Seton Hill program after the retirement of previous coach Ferne Labati, who had been there for seven seasons (and, had been head coach at the University of Miami for many years prior to that).

The Seton Hill program is in good shape, finishing with a 19-13 record this past season and lost just one player from that team to graduation.

"I am humbled and honored to be a part of Seton Hill University and lead its women's basketball program," said Katarski, in a release issued by the school. "Our hope will be to maintain the success that coach Labati and the players had as we enter the PSAC."

Prior to Niagara, Katarski spent six seasons as the head women's coach at Division III Chatham University in Pittsburgh. Under him that program claimed its first in-season tournament championship.

Before that Katarski was an assistant at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, a D-III program.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Recruting Report: Niagara Women Fill Key Roles

Here's another in the series looking at players joining conference teams for the upcoming season.

Up now ...


- Tiffany Corselli, a 5-foot-5 point guard: She is a relatively late addition, originally committing to Monroe Community College of Rochester before opting to get right into the Division I ranks with Niagara. She is a small, but dynamic point guard who averaged 21.6 points, 4.4 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 4.2 steals per game at Alexander Hamilton High School in Yonkers this past season. She also had interest from St. Bonaventure and NJIT. "Tiffany is a dynamic guard," said Niagara coach Kendra Faustin, in a release issued by the school. "She can hit the three's, handle the basketball and mix it up off the dribble. She competes with a smile on her face and enjoys herself every time she steps on the floor."

- Donisha Watson, a 6-foot-4 junior forward; She is a transfer from Monroe Community College where she was a two-year starter. She averaged 7.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game there this past season and was third nationally among NJCAA Division I players with 84 blocks. "Donisha will be a presence in the paint on both ends of the floor," said Faustin. "We are looking forward to seeing her in a Niagara uniform this year."

- Emily Granuth, a 5-11 freshman guard: She is the all-time leading scorer for the Wakefield H.S. program (The Plains, Va.), scoring 1,391 points over three varsity seasons and averaging 16.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game as a senior. "Emily can really extend the defense with her long-range three-point shooting," said Faustin. "Her basketball IQ and work ethic will be great assets to our team."

- Victoria Rampado, 6-2 freshman forward: She comes from just the other side of the border, having played at A.N. Myer school in Niagara Falls, On. She was named that city's top high school basketball player for the past three seasons. She also competed in the Canadian U17 National Tournament this past summer. That team won all five games it played and she was Rampado was named the tournament MVP. "Victoria is a strong and physical face-up post player who can score in a variety of ways," Faustin said. "She has the ability to be a special player in the MAAC."

ANALYSIS: After unexpectedly losing three key players (center Lauren Gatto, forward Shy Britton and point guard Kayla Stroman) early, the Purple Eagles needed some recruiting help, and it appears to have happened. Watson already has junior college experience, so should be the most-ready to contribute right away. Corselli looks like she's capable of getting big minutes early, and Rampado should also help out up front, and should play a key role, too. A number of sources believe Rampado can be an immediate contributor and, eventually, one of the league's better post players. And, teams never have enough outside shooting, and Granuth, by all accounts, is a sniper and should get minutes, as well.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Women's Picks: Coaches, Scribe Differ on Middle

Commentary on the news, women's version ...

MAAC coaches, in the annual preseason women's poll picked ... surprise, surprise ... Marist as the unanimous choice to defend its league title.

That prediction, for the last decade, has been an exercise in simplicity and repetition. Put Marist at the top of the poll and, then, watch the Red Foxes easily fulfill that expectation. The only challenge is trying to figure the order of finish after that.

Like on the men's side, coaches pretty much duplicated my picks, made on this blog earlier, at the top and bottom.

We're in full agreement that Marist, Iona and Quinnipiac enter the season as the league's top three teams, in that order.

And, we agree that this won't be an easy year at Saint Peter's, even with the hiring of highly regarded coach Pat Coyle, and that the program is the preseason pick to finish last.

Beyond that, though, we've got some disagreements.

Coaches picked Siena for seventh and Niagara for eighth. I've got those two programs finishing ninth and 10th, respectively.

Siena not only lost its top player (Lily Grenci), but will also be without its next best front-court player, Kate Zarotney, whose career came to a premature end due to continued shoulder issues. It leaves the Saints as a very young team. That's not to say that they can't finish higher than ninth. It's just that it looks that way before we actually see how things fit into place on the court.

Niagara suffered severe and unexpected losses when all-league caliber players center Laren Gatto and point guard Kayla Stroman left the program with remaining eligibility. Solid swingperson Shy Britton also left the team during the offseason. Niagara could have been expected to contend for the top half of the standings had those three players remained in the program. Without them, it's hard to envision the Purple Eagles finishing higher than ninth or 10th.

One last disagreement. Coaches picked Manhattan to finish 10th. In a recent blog I picked the Jaspers as the team most likely to provide a positive surprise this season.

The Jaspers took their proverbial lumps last season, often relying on young players for significant minutes. That experience will start paying off this year for players like forwards sophomore Shayna Erickson and junior Ashley Stec. The team also has one of the league's top players in swingperson Monica Roder, and one of the conference's better point guards in Allison Skrec. And, there's a strong incoming group of freshmen.

It's all fertile ground for debate, which is what the preseason polls are meant to do.

Men's Predictions: Minor Disagreement With Coaches

Commentary on the news ...

MAAC coaches, in their annual preseason poll, agreed with your Hoopscribe's predicted order of finish on the top and on the bottom for the upcoming season. There is some disagreement, though, in between.

My predictions, made in early July (and you can see them, to confirm, in The Sporting News' College Basketball annual, now on newsstands), had Manhattan as the pick for first, followed by Iona and Canisius.

And, coaches agreed. Manhattan was the overwhelming pick of coaches, with 10 of them picking the Jaspers as the preseason favorite with the lone vote elsewhere going to Iona.

We also picked Siena for 10th and newcomer Monmouth for 11th, as did the coaches.

Otherwise, as we have mentioned several times, the middle is muddled.

The biggest discrepancy between my picks and the coaches' is that I picked Rider for eighth, and they picked the Broncs for fourth. The other wide difference was my prediction of Saint Peter's for fourth, while the coaches picked the Peacocks for ninth.

I will disagree with the coaches' placement of Saint Peter's, which has some solid returnees, some strong incoming players and one of the league's best coaches in John Dunne. I'll stick by my prediction that Saint Peter's could finish fourth, or fifth. But, I'd be shocked if they finished ninth.

Two other picks of note. I picked Niagara ninth and coaches picked the Purple Eagles for eighth. We both could be wrong. In a subsequent post, after my own predictions were published, I mentioned Niagara as the team with the most potential to be a positive surprise.

The Purple Eagles, despite heavy losses including veteran head coach Joe Mihalich, still have a nice nucleus returning and a very strong incoming group. They could easily finish several spots higher than our predictions.

What does it all mean? Very little.

The preseason picks are made for the sole purpose of bringing some early attention and interest to the league. They create a subject for debate, and there's nothing wrong with that.

So, let the debates ... and disagreements ... begin. The season, and actual games, isn't far behind.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Recruiting Report: Niagara Men Add Numbers, Quality

Every year, it seems, new players join conference teams later and later. The traditional late signing period no longer marks the end of the opportunity to bring in players as was the case less than a decade ago.

Over the summer, it seemed, new players were joining men's and women's teams just about every week, or others who had previously transferred in to programs were getting NCAA waivers to play immediately, rather than have to sit out the traditional transfer year.

But with classes having begun, everyone is pretty much in place by now. So, this is the first of the series looking at players joining conference teams for the upcoming season.

Up first ...


- Cameron Fowler, a 6-foot-0, 165-pound redshirt freshman. He was a walk-on redshirt last season at Iowa State and received a waiver to be eligible to play this season. Fowler was a standout guard at U-D Jusuit H.S. in Detroit where he was a four-year starter and a three-time all-Catholic League selection. He averaged 17.2 points and 8.0 assists per game as a junior. "Cameron will get us up and down the floor and bring energy on both ends," said Niagara coach Chris Casey, in a release issued by the school. "We look for him to play both guard spots."

- Wesley Myers, a 6-1, 180-pound freshman guard: He was a pivotal member of the Brooklyn, N.Y., Boys & Girls H.S. team that won three straight PSAL Class AA titles, including the school's first-ever state title when he was a junior in the 2011-12 season. "Wesley can really score the ball from the perimeter and in transition," Casey said. "He can get to the basket and create for his teammates."

- Ramone Snowden, a 6-5, 210-pound freshman forward: He was a key piece for the Kellam H.S. team in Virginia Beach, Va., where he averaged 22 points and 15 rebounds per game as a senior this past year. "Ramone is a very skilled player in the front court who fills needs on both ends," Casey said. "He can score and rebound, as well as get teammates involved with his passing."

- Marcus Ware, 6-8, 215-pound redshirt senior: He is a transfer from new league member Monmouth, where he averaged 6.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game over 85 games there. He was redshirted his first year there, was at the school for four years and enters Niagara as an eligible grad student with one season of eligibility. "Marcus is a versatile front-court player with experience," Casey said. "He can defend different positions and can score the ball around the basket and on the perimeter.

- Dominique Reid, a 6-8, 200-pound freshman forward: He is said to be a strong ball-handler with a good outside touch. He played two seasons at Timber Creek H.S. in Erial, N.J. where he averaged 20.1 points per game. Although Niagara lists him at 6-8, other sites indicate he is an undersized 6-6 power forward. "Dominique's size, athleticism and aggressiveness fit perfectly with our style of play," Casey said. "We are excited to have him."

Emile Blackman, 6-4, 195-pound redshirt sophomore guard. He played for the LIU Post Pioneers last season, averaging 12.8 points per game. As a transfer he will have to sit out the 2013-14 season but will have three years of eligibility remaining starting in 2014-15. "Emile is a very athletic wing who can shoot the ball from the three-point line," Casey said. "He will add scoring and rebounding to our perimeter."

- Aaron Bodie, a 6-7, 195-pound freshman forward: He was a three-year starter at Newark (N.J.)'s Eastside H.S., where he averaged 12 points per game as both a junior and a senior and, then, played the 2012-13 season at the Central Jersey Each One Teach One Academy (no stats available). "Aaron's athleticism will add rebounding and defense to our frontcourt," Casey said. "He can score in transition and is a good finisher around the basket."

- Karon Davis, a 6-2, 185-pound freshman guard: He is a combo guard who played this past season at Friend's Central H.S. in Philadelphia where his team was 20-8 this past season. He averaged 19.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. "Karon will play both guard spots," said Casey. "He can score the ball in transition and the half court, and his quickness will add to our pressure defense.

- Rayvon Harris, a 6-5, 215-pound redshirt sophomore swingman: He transferred to Niagara, sitting out the 2012-13 season, after coming in from Rhode Island. In the 2011-12 season there he played 16 games with two starts as a freshman and averaged 1.5 points and 0.8 rebounds. He is an athletic player who is both a standout defender, a good rebounder for his size and a good shooter.

ANALYSIS: No men's team in the conference lost more than Niagara after former coach Joe Mihalich left for Hofstra, took two of the program's better players (Juan'ya Green and Ameen Tanksley) with him, followed by several others transferring, including standout freshman 6-8 T.J. Cline. But, the cupboard isn't entirely bare and nine newcomers (eight with immediate eligibility) are coming in. Head coach Chris Casey did an exemplary job finding players in the aftermath of all the early defections, some of them unexpected. We've seen Harris practice, and he's almost certainly going to be in the playing group, probably even in the starting lineup. The Purple Eagles also need a dose of inside help, and Monmouth transfer Ware also appears to be a strong candidate to help out right away. Reid, even if he is only 6-6, should provide some much-needed rebounding help, too. It most definitely appears that there is quality coming in, along with some experience. Things look a lot better at Niagara right now than a few weeks after Casey took over and only had five players on the roster.

Reminder: Annual Preview Show Wednesday At Noon

Just a reminder, a programming note if you will ... the MAAC's annual Basketball Preview Show will take place tomorrow (Wednesday), beginning at noon and can be viewed on ESPN3.

Here's the link to watch the show: /id/1091544/2013-maac-preseason-coaches-show

During the show the annual men's and women's preseason polls, as selected by league coaches, will be revealed.

The MAAC will also unveil its 2013-14 television schedule on the show.

And, all the men's and women's head coaches will be featured throughout the show to take an in-depth look at their respective teams and top players.

Should be a nice tip-off to the upcoming season.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Team Report: Monmouth Women Might Struggle Early

Here's the final team report, looking back and ahead at conference teams. This one is about one of the conference's newcomers, and your Hoopscribe will admit up front to not having seen the teams at either Quinnipiac and Monmouth in person. These reports are based on research and interviews with coaches and/or school publicists.

Up now ...


2012-13 RECORD: 12-6 in the Northeast Conference (3rd place), 15-15 overall.

2012-13 RECAP: A 3-9 record in non-league play, but against difficult competition including No. 4-ranked Duke. One of the victories came over Manhattan of the MAAC by a lopsided 58-43 margin. The Hawks were fairly up and down until a four-game winning streak in early February. After that, though, came back-to-back losses to unbeaten Quinnipiac and, then, St. Francis. And, then, Monmouth finished strong with three final regular-season victories. Its season ended with a toss-up game loss to Mount St. Mary', 59-57, in overtime. In that one the Hawks scored the final three points of regulation to send the contest into the extra session and held a two-point lead with two minutes remaining, but didn't get off a shot while committing three turnovers after that as the Mount earned the victory.

WHAT WENT RIGHT: The team was picked to finish third in the league's preseason poll, and that's where it finished thanks to its season-ending three-game winning streak. Somehow it succeeded despite one of the smallest lineups in the league. The starting five included one player that measured 6-foot-0, one at 5-10 and three at 5-7. Despite being height challenged, the Hawks held their own in rebounding statistics. As a team Monmouth ranked 53rd nationally in 3-point shooting percentage, and senior guard Alysha Womack connected on 56-of-127 shots from beyond the bonus stripe, a 44.1 accuracy rate that would have been fifth-best nationally had she qualified (she needed four more made shots to qualify for the national leader board). Womack averaged 14.2 points for a nice senior season and she and teammate Abby Martin both finished with more than 1,000 career points. The team also had quality depth, going eight or nine deep on most nights. One of its reserves, 6-4 center Sara English, averaged 1.45 blocks per game, which was 103rd best nationally, despite playing an average of just 13.8 minutes per contest.

WHAT WENT WRONG: The height situation was an issue, mostly against better opponents. The loss to Mount St. Mary's in the NEC tournament's first game brought an abrupt end to the season and came just six days after Monmouth had beaten The Mount, 71-63, in the regular-season's final contest. Monmouth lost some quality depth when senior reserve forward Shira Schecht (3.0 points per game) suffered a season-ending injury in the team's 16th game.

WHAT'S AHEAD: Good things, eventually. Monmouth will go from being very small to very big this coming season. Not only is the 6-4 English, a junior who started her career at UMass, coming back and likely to play a more-significant role, but two other 6-4 players are joining the program. Those are Sophie Beaudry, who averaged 8.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game at College Dawson in the Montreal area (coincidentally, the school that produced Siena men's standout Prosper Karangwa), and Christina Mitchell, who averaged 12/10 at Mathis H.S. in Baltimore.More height comes from 6-2 Danica Dragicevic, a sophomore who was a lightly-used reserve last season. And, there's also athletic freshman forward 6-0 India Dotson, who attended Monmouth last season after graduating from high school a year early. She sat out last season as a redshirt. The program also did considerable recruiting work outside the U.S., bringing in Beaudry from Canada, and point guard Helena Kurt from Sweden (she was on that country's U20 national team) to join returning seniors Chevannah Paalvest (New Zealand), Shecht (from Isreal) and Dragicevic (from Serbia). The bad news is that four of last season's starting five and five of the top seven scorers all graduated. But, top returnee Paalvest (11.0, 4.9 last season) is a good one, a potential all-MAAC type player, and English should literally play a big role this coming season. But, a lot of players need to step into bigger roles, and a lot of youngsters will play big minutes, usually not a recipe for success. Then, there are the huge holes at the guard spots left by the graduates. Likley candidates to take the reigns at the point are returning back-up Kasey Chambers and incoming freshman Kurt. Another touted newcomer is incoming freshman guard Mia Hopkings (Pittstown, Pa., H.S.), a 5-10 backcourter who averaged 20.3 points and 14 rebounds per game as a high school senior.

PREDICTION FOR 2013-14: Not only will the Hawks be making the transition to a new, and better, league but they'll be doing it after significant graduation losses. There appears to be a good group of players joining the program, but it will likely take at least a year for all the youngsters to mature and mesh. The likelihood is that Monmouth won't be a .500 team this season and will finish in one of the bottom three spots in the 11-team's standings. But, better days will come after that.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Siena's O.D. Anosike To Receive Top ECAC Award

We don't often report awards, unless they are significant ones. But, this one qualifies.

Siena's O.D. Anosike, who graduated from that school in May, will be honored as the 2012-13 ECAC Division I Male Scholar Athlete award winnerr. The award will be presented at the 2013 ECAC honors dinner, held on Sunday, Sept. 29 at the ECAC's annual convention in North Falmouth, Mass.

The female award winner is former Delaware standout Elena Della Donne, who is a lock to be the Rookie of the Year in the WNBA this season.

Anosike, who became the first MAAC player to lead the nation in rebounding for two straight seasons, has begun his professional basketball career with VL Pesara of the Serie A League in Italy, the country's top-tier club league, and will be unable to attend the awared ceremony. But, he said he was humbled by the honor, when reached via cell phone by Siena's sports information staff on Thursday.

"It's a tremendous honor to receive such a prestigious award, "Anosike said. "It's a true testament to the hard work I put in on and off the court ... it's an individual award, but I couldn't have done it without the great support system at Siena.

The ECAC is the largest athletic group nationally, comprising 317 member institutions in Divisions I, II and III and ranging in location from Maine to North Carolina and west to Illinois.

One male and one female athlete from each division is selected annually, with the award recognizing not only extraordinary achievement in athletics, but also academics and community service. Candidates must also have earned a minimum overall GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale and other factors, such as exemplary citizenship and/or other extracurricular activities are also considered.