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.


Craig-D said...

Overall, well done Steve. I do think the Siena pick is way too low. They will struggle at times with all the minutes freshmen will play, but the common belief is the overall team talent level has been upgraded since last season, with OD being the only significant loss. Also with the new offense being installed and an abundance of shooters, the team will actually score this season, which alone will make them a lot more competitive than last season. Add to that expected upgrade at the point, which should result in a much better assist to turnover ratio.

Lastly, Silas is the third returning starter. He averaged less than 17 minutes per game overall due mostly to chronic foul trouble. But he averaged 20 or more minutes in 14 games, so he's not exactly inexperienced. I can understand why many will pick Siena low based on what they appear to be on paper. But anyone who watched what is basically a very different team execute its new system in Canada knows better. They certainly aren't likely to finish behind a gutted Niagara team. And your pick for St. Peter's is also, shall we say, very optimistic.

Chris said...

Pitt transfer Malcolm Gilbert was granted a waiver by the NCAA and is available in the 1st semester.

Steve Amedio said...

Thanks for the info on Malcolm Gilbert.
As for Siena: Craig, your thoughts might well come true. At this point, who knows? But, freshmen rarely are ready to make major contributions right away, and Siena's freshmen will play a lot of minutes out of necessity. Based on what everyone else has, and what Siena has ... I think 10th place is the right place for right now. But, that's why they play the season. As for Silas ... he might have started 20 or 21 games last year, but his 16.8 mpg average indicates he was more a role player than a full-time player.