Sunday, March 30, 2014

Taking a Look at Siena's CBI Foe, Fresno State

There's one MAAC team still playing at this late in the postseason, the Siena men.

The Saints are playing in the best-of-three championship round of the CBI Tournament, and here's a look at the event and the opponent, Fresno State.


- Tyler Johnson, a 6-4 senior guard. He averages team-highs of 15.8 points and 7.4 rebounds.
- Marvell Harris, a 6-4 sophomore guard. He averages 14.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
- Cezar Guerrero, a 6-1 sophomore point guard. He averages 12.9 points, 3.2 rebounds and has a team-high 128 assists against 78 turnovers.
- Paul Watson, a 6-7 freshman forward. He averages 10.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game.
- Alex Davis, a 6-9 junior forward. He averages 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds per game.


- Allen Huddleston, a 6-1 senior guard. He averages 8.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.
- Karachi Edo, a 6-6 freshman forward. He averages 4.2 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
- Tanner Giddings, a 6-11 sophomore center. He averages 2.1 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.


- Fresno State is coached by Rodney Terry, now in his third season. Terry had previously been the lead assistant at Texas. When he left the Longhorns for Fresno his replacement at Texas was former Siena coach Rob Lanier.

- The Bulldogs are 20-16 overall. They entered the CBI with the third-worst record (17-16) of any team participating in national post-season play. Siena, at 15-17 when CBI play began, was the only sub-.500 team in any national tournament.

- The CBI does not give its eventual winner a banner to commemorate its championship. Participants can create their own banner, at their own cost, if they desire.

- Siena is charging $36 per admission for adults at its home game on Wednesday night and the same fee for Saturday's Game 3, if necessary. Fresno is charging a top price of $28.30 for Monday's game at its facility.

- Fresno is playing for its first tournament championship since the 1983 season, when it won the NIT. Siena's furthers advancement in post-season tournament play in its Division I era came in 1994 when it reached the NIT's semifinal round.

- This is Fresno's first post-season appearance of any kind since 2007, and Siena's first 2010.

- There is a fairly impressive list of winners of the previous CBI events, including Tulsa, Oregon State, VCU, Oregon, Pitt and Santa Clara.

- A crowd of 3,916 attended Fresno State's semifinal-round victory over Old Dominion, played at the Bulldogs' Save Mart Center facility.

- Since a five-game mid-season losing streak that ended with a double overtime loss to Nevada, and a single OT setback to UNLV, Fresno State has been 12-3.

- The Bulldogs are balanced offensively with four players averaging in double figures and a fifth that averages 8.5 points. Only eight players have averaged more than 10.4 minutes of time per game this season.

- Fresno State's 9.8 turnovers per game is 12th nationally for fewest per game.

- Guerrero is 13th nationally in free-throw percentage at 88.8 percent, while Johnson (97 assists/39 turnovers) is 33rd nationally with a 2.49 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Siena Men's Long Season Reaches CBI Title Series

And, the Siena men's basketball team plays on.

The Saints, the last active MAAC men's team, continued the longest season in their history with an impressive 61-49 victory over Illinois State in the semifinal round of the CBI Tournament Wednesday night at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y.

The outcome sends Siena to the event's championship series, a two-of-three format, against the winner of Wednesday's late contest between Fresno State and Old Dominion.

The first game of the series will be Monday, with Siena going on the road.

Game 2, on April 2, will be at the TUC. A third game, if necessary, will be played on April 4 in the Albany area.

The TUC has a conflict that night, another event scheduled in the building, which would mean Siena would likely be looking for an alternate site.

The school has used the Glens Falls Civic Center once for a post-season event when the TUC was not available. A move to the school's on-campus Alumni Recreation Center (seating capacity 3,750) has also been discussed should a third game in the championship series be necessary.

Siena advanced as its 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Brett Bisping got a measure of revenge against a home-area opponent with a 20-point, 13-rebound effort.

Bisping grew up in Peoria, Ill, about 30 miles away from Illinois State.

"They didn't even give me a look," said Bisping about being overlooked by Wednesday's opponent during his recruitment process. "Of course that was in the back of my mind."

Siena ran out to an early 9-0 lead, had a 13-point lead shortly before halftime and never its margin get cut to less than seven points in the second half.

The Saints, picked to finish 10th in the 11-team MAAC in the preseason poll of coaches, are now 18-17 overall.

"No one thought we'd get 18 wins this season," said first-year coach Jimmy Patsos. "Me either. If you had predicted we'd get 18 wins, I'd have taken that bet (against)."

The outcome keeps what is already the longest season in program history going.

Siena's 35 games to date (with at least two more coming) is already the most in any season in the program's history. Those come on top of playing four games on a summer swing to Montreal in August.

Manhattan's First Step: Placing Masiello On Leave

Just a quick update on Steve Masiello's status at Manhattan, primarily because there's not enough new information for more.

Manhattan's administration has issued this release about Masiello's situation:

"As a result of a background check commissioned by the University of South Florida, Manhattan College has learned there is a question of the validity of head men’s basketball coach Steve Masiello’s undergraduate degree from the University of Kentucky. 
Masiello is currently in the process of reviewing his degree status with the University of Kentucky. Manhattan College has placed Masiello on leave while he completes this process with the University.
Masiello was named Manhattan College’s head men’s basketball coach in April 2011. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach at the University of Louisville from 2005-11. Masiello was an assistant coach at Manhattan College from 2001-05 and began his coaching career at Tulane University in 2000-01. He played four years of basketball at Kentucky from 1996-2000.
We ask all parties to respect the privacy of our student athletes until this matter is resolved.
Manhattan College will issue further comment as soon as this expedited process is complete."

It would seem that determining whether Masiello has, or does not have, the degree that he has claimed on his resume since 2000 should be a relatively easy and quick process.

A variety of published reports quote officials from Kentucky as saying that Masiello does not have a degree from that school.

Whether Masiello can resolve that issue remains to be seen.

And, a number of published reports have indicated that having a college degree is a prerequisite for a coaching position at Manhattan.

Whether Manhattan would be willing to waive that requirement in deference to a coach who resurrected a downtrodden program and brought the school untold good will and positive publicity over his three seasons remains to be seen.

Masiello's False Resume Costs Him USF Position

Steve Masiello, Manhattan's coach for the past three seasons, will not be hired at the University of South Florida, as had been widely reported earlier this week, and, now, there remain questions about whether he'll be able to return to the Jaspers.

USF officials, according to a variety of reports, were forced to rescind their agreed-upon deal with Masiello late Tuesday after finding a previously undetected discrepancy in his background check, according to a report in today's Tampa Tribune newspaper.

According to the report, the discrepancy was discovered by Eastman & Beaudine, a Texas-based search firm that USF paid $60,000 to help find a new coach after it dismissed Stan Heath from that position late last week.

Reports indicate that the discrepancy stems from Masiello's resume indicating that he graduated from Kentucky in 2000 even though he never actually graduated from that school.

Masiello had agreed on a five-year deal worth more than $1 million per year to replace Heath at USF. The Tampa newspaper reported that Masiello actually signed a contract with the school.

Later Tuesday, though, the background check became an issue and South Florida has resumed its search for a new coach. According to USF policy, all full-time coaching hires must have a bachelor's degree.

The issue now is whether Masiello will be allowed to return to Manhattan. That school's student newspaper reported that Masiello met with Manhattan's players on Tuesday morning to tell them that he was leaving for USF.

In biography information available on Manhattan's website, Masiello claimed to have received a bachelor's degree in communications from Kentucky in 2000.

Manhattan officials have not yet commented on Masiallo's status at that school, and have not returned emails from a variety of sources seeking clarification on if the school requires its coaches to have a degree.

Masiello isn't the first coach to suffer consequences from falsifying a resume.

The most-publicized incident in recent memory is that of football coach George O'Leary, who accepted a position to become Notre Dame's head coach in 2001.

Several days afterwards, though, it was discovered that his resume claimed a masters' degree he did not earn and falsifications about his own playing experiences.

O'Leary was forced to give up the Notre Dame opportunity, served three seasons as an NFL assistant and, then resurfaced as head coach at Central Florida. But, O'Leary does hold an undergraduate degree in physical education from New Hampshire.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Reports: Manhattan's Masiello To Move To USF

Multiple sources, and very credible ones including the hometown Tampa Tribune newspaper, are reporting today that Manhattan's coach Steve Masiello has already accepted an offer from University of South Florida to become that school's next head coach.

The reports indicate that Masiello will be introduced at the Tampa school, a member of the American Athletic Association, later this week.

Manhattan fans, as do all followers of mid-major programs when a coach moves on, might view Masiello's departure as a desertion, particularly in light of recent comments he made that indicated he would remain at the MAAC school, that he envisioned his future would include staying there.

The proper response, though, is to tip one's hat, to thank Masiello for resuscitating a downtrodden program and to congratulate him for a well-earned promotion.

Reports indicate he will receive a five-year contract that will pay a minimum of $1 million annually, probably close to quadruple his Manhattan salary.

Can you blame him for moving on?

Hard to resist financial security, a significantly higher level of competition, warm weather and a school that, according to published reports, is making a big financial commitment to bettering existing facilities and the program overall.

Masiello is far from the first to exit the MAAC after a relatively short stay.

Former Siena coach Paul Hewitt left for Georgia Tech after three seasons at Loudonville. Heck, his replacement, Louis Orr, lasted all of 49 weeks with the Saints before he moved on to Seton Hall. Kevin Willard was only at Iona for three seasons before he was hired at Seton Hall.

Coaches moving onward and upwards is a way of life not only in the MAAC but at nearly every other mid-major level program nationally. Smaller schools just don't have the resources to make the financial commitment to coaches and programs that high-major level institutions can make.

Masiello did much good at Manhattan, taking a program that won just six games the year prior his his arrival to a 25-8 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance this season.

Still, he often admitted he was left with a full deck, thanks to the recruiting work of previous coach Barry Rohrssen, who was responsible for bringing the current senior core of forward Rhamel Brown, swingman George Beamon and point guard Michael Alvarado to Manhattan.

All three are now gone, and Manhattan doesn't appear stocked enough with returnees to come close to duplicating this season's run, at least not immediately.

Coaches are most attractive when their respective team is at its best, and Manhattan hasn't been this good in a decade.

Were Masiello to return and the team doesn't duplicate this year's success, he becomes a less-viable commodity in the coaching world and, just maybe, an opportunity like the USF's isn't as available.

There's the old cliché about striking when the iron is hot, and Masiello's job stature has never been at its current elevated temperature.

So, no, you can't blame him for moving on.

Reports: Masiello Prime Target For USF Vacancy

The coaching carousel is already spinning at breakneck speed, and its early portions appear to include at least one MAAC program's head man.

A variety of sources are reporter there is interest both ways between the University of South Florida and Manhattan's Steve Masiello with some outlets reporting the Jaspers' coach is the program's top target to become its next head coach.

That position at the American Athletic Conference, one of the nation's high-major leagues, came open last when when USF fired Stan Heath.

Heath reportedly had four years left on his contract at a base salary of $375,000 annually, but other related compensation, according to reports, increased his annual pay to close to $600K per year.

Masiello, if nothing else, has sought advice about pursuing the position.

According to, Masiello asked Louisville coach Rick Pitino, a long-time mentor, about the USF position after Louisville's victory over Saint Louis in the NCAA tournament on Saturday.

Pitino, according to the Tampa Bay Times newspaper, told Masiello, "For you, it's a grand slam."

According to the report among those supporting Masiello's candidacy for the USF job is Chris Sullivan, a co-founder of Outback Steak House and an influential Tampa resident who is close to Pitino.

A recent report in the Tampa Bay newspaper indicates that Masiello is believed to be USF's top target.

Adam Zagoria of and has cited unnamed sources who confirmed that Masiello is expected to meet with USF officials this week.

And, former USF coach Seth Greenberg said via Twitter on Sunday that he expects the school to hire Masiello.

Masiello has been at Manhattan for the past three seasons. He resuscitated a program that only won six games the year before his arrival and took the program to this season's NCAA tournament and a 25-8 overall record.

Siena Men Still Playing With CBI Win over Penn St.

It's late March and only 36 men's basketball teams remain active in national post-season tournament play.

One of them is a team that won just eight games in the 2012-13 season and was picked to finish 10th in the 11-team MAAC this season by league coaches in their preseason poll.

That would be Siena, which grinded out a 54-52 victory over Penn State in the CBI quarterfinals Monday night at the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y.

Siena, now 17-17 overall, moves on to a tournament semifinal-round meeting with Illinois State Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the TUC.

Monday's outcome precipitated a rare on-court celebration in which hundreds of students and Siena fans stormed the court at the final buzzer, a scene not that different from March of 2010 when the team won the last of its three consecutive MAAC post-season tournament championships on its home court.

Monday's hero was reserve guard Evan Hymes, at 5-foot-8 the smallest player on the court at the end.

Hymes only got into late-game play when starting point guard Marquis Wright was knocked to the ground and struck his head on a baseline cameraman's knee after a driving layup attempt with 18 seconds remaining, and could not return.

Saints' forward Lavon Long was chose to take the resultant foul shots, and made one of two to give Siena a 52-50 advantage.

The Nittany Lions' Brandon Taylor tied it with 9.3 second remaining on a put-back bucket.

The Saints then inbounded to Hymes, who faked a handoff to junior teammate Rob Poole, burst past Penn St.'s perimeter defense and got to the basket to get off the game-winning layup just beyond the reach of Taylor with 3.2 seconds remaining.

Penn State guard D.J. Newbill then stepped out of bounds at the sidelines near midcourt when trying to get around a Siena defender, costing his team a chance for a legitimate last-second play.

Ironically, Hymes' presence in a Siena uniform this season is almost as unexpected as Siena's advancement in post-season play.

The junior guard initially announced last spring that he would leave the program to play closer to his North Carolina home. He subsequently rescinded that decision over the summer months to remain with the Saints.

"We owe it all to teams in the MAAC to play hard, because they taught us to play hard," Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said afterwards. "I thought we did a lot of the little things that were kind of griding and that's just the way the MAAC is."

The victory gives Siena a 5-1 record against BCS schools at the TUC in the past 10 seasons and Monday's contest is believed to be the first time a Big Ten program played a game against Siena on the Saints' home court.
Sophomore forward led the winners with a 12-point, 12-rebound effort while Poole added 11 points and eight rebounds.

Siena's roster doesn't include a single senior on scholarship.

"They're going to be a very good team in that league next year," Penn State coach Pat Chambers told reporters after Monday's game.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Fairfield Women Advance in WBI, Glad Be Playing

It might not be the NCAA Tournament, or even the WNIT. But, the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) is still a national post-season tournament and the members of the Fairfield women's team are glad to still be playing.

They are the last MAAC women's team active in late March.

And, glad to still be playing?

How about maybe as enthusiastic and as productive a half of basketball the Stags have turned in all season, one that produced a 37-13 halftime lead in what became a with-ease 63-50 victory over Maine, a team that had won 17 games entering Sunday afternoon's quarterfinal round of the event.

Maine gave the hosts a better second-half test in the contest played at Fairfield's on-campus Alumni Hall before an enthusiastic crowd of 908, but the Black Bears never could get their deficit below 11 points after the intermission.

Senior forward and first-team all-MAAC honoree Katie Cizynski led the Stags with her 13th double-double of the season, a 26-point, 12-rebound, five-assist effort.

In all, 10 Fairfield players saw action and nine scored points.

Glad to still be playing?

If there was ever any doubt, it was surely dispelled in Fairfield's WBI opener at Bryant University that saw the Stags trailing by four points with 11 seconds remaining in regulation and getting two three-pointers by senior guard Alexys Vazquez in the final five seconds to force the first of two overtimes.

The contest eventually went into two extra sessions and four of the Stags' starting five played 44 or more of the game's 50 minutes.

And, now, Sunday's victory over Maine means that Fairfield can continue playing.

The Stags will play in the event's semifinal round on Thursday against the winner of tonight's (Monday) game between Eastern Michigan and University of Illinois-Chicago.

If Eastern Michigan wins that game, Fairfield will against be the host of its next contest. If UIC wins, the Stags will be traveling to play out there.

"The school is on spring break right now, but I know our girls are happier to still be playing than they would if they were on vacation," said Fairfield coach Joe Frager.

"This is an opportunity for our young kids to get some extra experience to build on going forward and a reward for our seniors for their four years of hard work in our program.

"We weren't happy with the way our season ended (in a MAAC tournament semifinal-round game against Rider), but we're embracing the second chance we have. It's a situation in which you have a short turnaround time to find out about and prepare for an opponent. It's a good opportunity for us. It's always a good experience to still be playing this late in March."

Playing this late is nothing new for Fairfield, which has been to national post-season play four times in the last five years. The Stags have previously been to the WBI in 2010 and 2013 and to the WNIT in 2012.

Fairfield's community seems to be embracing the team's success.

"Considering that our students are on spring break, we still had a pretty good crowd," said Frager. "The men's lacrosse team is still on campus, and a lot of them were nice enough to come to the game and it helped make for a very vocal crowd.

"We had a nice win on our Senior Night (over Manhattan), and we wanted to get the seniors another win. We wanted to make sure our seniors got a win in their last home game."

But, maybe, there's another home game to be played. If not, there's still another game to be played elsewhere.

"The girls have been fantastic through all of this," added Frager. "They're really happy to still be playing. For these kids ... especially with our end-of-season disappointment (in the MAAC tournaments) and, then, thinking we were, at worse, a bubble team for the WNIT ... not one of our players is disappointed to still be playing."

Iowa Women Use Home-Court Edge To Top Marist

The Marist women's basketball team's hopes of adding another NCAA Tournament upset victory to its resume got derailed by a bigger, faster, better opponent that played a style similar to the Red Foxes and was doing so on its home court.

For the first time in its run of 10 NCAA tournament appearances in the last 11 years, that has included five victories in the national post-season event, Marist had to play on the opposition's home court.

Who knows if that was a factor, but host Iowa appeared more than comfortable in the friendly confines of its on-campus Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Comfortable? Against a Marist defense that entered Sunday night's game allowing just 59.3 points per game, Iowa put up 87 in its 87-65 victory.

The total not only was the highest single-game output by a Marist opponent this season, but the most points the Red Foxes have allowed in a game since Penn scored 91 against Marist midway through the 2002-03 season, the first year of coach Brian Giorgis' tenure at the school and 380 games ago.

Iowa did it with a combination of an effective 6-foot-4 inside player in inside player in Bethany Doolittle, stellar perimeter shooting and a standout point guard in Samantha Logic, who delivered the ball to open teammates (10 assists).

Doolittle, a handful inside no matter which Marist player defended her, had 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Senior guard Taylor Theairra had a team-high 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting including 5-of-8 from three-point territory.

The Hawkeyes overall shot 57.1 percent from the field for the game and 62.1 percent in the second half that stymied Marist's hopes of rallying back from an eight-point halftime deficit.

The Red Foxes did pull within five, 47-42, early in the second half after guards Sydney Coffey sank a trey and senior Leanne Ockenden followed with a two-pointer.

But the winners then sank consecutive three pointers, grabbed a 55-44 advantage within the next two minutes and never led by less than double figures again.

“That's one thing that stinks about playing on a (team’s) home court," said Marist coach Brian Giorgis, in post-game interviews available via the internet. "(It’s) one of the biggest differences in the tournament in the women's game and the men's game. In the men's game, you don't have that.

"We still haven't beaten anybody on their home court. This is the first time it was a first round game. I don't think it's going to change any time soon. It's what you play with. It's what you live with, but I think if we played on Mars, I think Iowa would have beaten us the way they shot the ball.”

Iowa's entire team shot well against Marist. All five of its starters scored in double figures

Marist didn't shoot poorly (41.4 percent from the floor), but the Red Foxes too often were limited to taking perimeter shots. Marist only made 8-of-30 tries from three-point territory in the contest.

“I thought we played well early. They were just relentless,” said Giorgis, in post-game interviews.

“It's the nightmare that you are afraid of when they have all five people that can score, and four of them shoot the 3, and one of them is a stud inside. What do you take away?”

“But hats off to Iowa because they shot the hell out of the ball, especially in the second half. You could tell our kids are pretty frustrated. ‘What do we do?’ You tip your hat to them.

“People forget they're a little bit more athletic than we are. Again, the frustrating part is they've got three excellent 3 point shooters and a first team, all-Big Ten stud (Doolittle) in the middle. I think our kids got frustrated. Our real big kids just couldn't guard Doolittle inside. I think that was the frustrating part because sometimes when you get in those situations, you forget that she likes to go right a lot. We kept getting beat right. She'd fake left and go right.”

Iowa was ranked 19th nationally in the most recent Associated Press Top 25 poll. Marist finishes its season at 27-7.

The contest was Marist's ninth consecutive NCAA appearance, and 10th overall.

Marist's senior class including point guard Casey Dulin, forward Emma O'Connor, and guard Leanne Ockenden, combined for 110 career victories and two NCAA Tournament wins in their four seasons. The senior class lost just three Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) games in four years and won the MAAC championship in all four of their seasons.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Look At Maine, Fairfield's Opponent in WBI Event

Here's another in the series taking a look at opponents of MAAC teams still involved in national post-season tournaments.

Maine plays at Fairfield's on-campus Alumni Hall in Fairfield, Ct., in the quarterfinal round of the Women's Basketball Invitational Sunday at 2 p.m.


- Maine is 17-14 overall.
- Fairfield is 21-10 overall.


- Maine is No. 215 of 343 Division I teams nationally according to
- Fairfield is No. 112 nationally according to


- Maine's coach is Richard Barron. He is in his third season as Maine's head coach and has a record of 29-61 there.
- Fairfield's coach is Joe Frager. He is in his seventh season and has a record of 140- 82 there.


- Mikaela Gustafsson, a 6-2 sophomore forward. She averages 4.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game.
- Sophie Weckstrom, a 5-8 sophomore guard. She averages 5.6 points, 0.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.
- Ashleigh Roberts, a 5-9 senior guard. She averages 13.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.
- Liz Wood, a 5-10 sophomore forward. She averages 12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
- Sigi Koizar, a 5-8 freshman guard. She averages 4.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.


- Chantel Charles, a 5-10 sophomore guard. She averages 4.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game.
- Courtney Anderson, a 5-6 junior guard. She averages 2.5 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
- Lauren Bodine, a 5-8 sophomore guard. She averages 7.6 points and 1.8 rebounds per game.
- Anna Heise, a 6-3 sophomore guard. She averages 4.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per game.


- This is Maine's first winning record since the 2005-06 season. In the previous eight seasons the program had a cumulative record of 59-175.
- Its coach, Barron, had previously been an assistant at Baylor and was responsible for recruiting former national Player of the Year Brittney Griner. Before that he was the head coach at Princeton for six seasons.
- The program's 2012-13 season ended early when its team bus was involved in an accident on its way to a Feb. 26, 2013 game in Boston. Its scheduled game against Boston University was cancelled. Maine played its next game to close out the regular season at home against New Hampshire. However, the team opted not to participate in the America East Conference's post-season tournament in Albany.
- Six of the team's 13 players are international, including ones from the United Kingdom, Serbia, Sweeden, Finland, Australia and Germany.
- Maine defeated Bucknell, 77-47, in the WBI opener.
- Maine shares the ball well, accumulating 16.9 assists per game, 15th-best nationally.
- The Black Bears make 7.8 three-pointers per contest, 28th-best nationally.

Taking A Look At Marist's NCAA Opponent Iowa

Here's the first in the series looking at opponents of MAAC teams still playing in national post-season tournaments.
First up, Iowa, which plays Marist Sunday at 8 p.m. (eastern time) at the Hawkeyes' home Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.


- Iowa is 26-8 overall and is the No. 6 seed.
- Marist is the No 11 seed and has a 27-6 overall record.


- Iowa was rated 19th nationally in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll.
- Marist received four votes in the poll, the 30th-highest total nationally.


- Iowa's Lisa Bluder is in her 14th season with the Hawkeyes and has a 277-165 record there. Overall, she is in her 30th season as a coach of a Division I program. Her 633-307 record makes her one of 13 active D-I coaches with more than 600 victories.
- Marist's Brian Giorgis is in his 12th season with the Red Foxes, his only Division I position, and has a career record of 304-86. His .780 career winning percentage is third-best among all active Division I coaches. Only Geno Auriemma (UConn), Tara Van Derveer (Stanford) and Kim Mulkey (Baylor) have better percentages.


- Samantha Logic, a 5-foot-9 junior guard. She averages 13.4 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds on the season. She leads the team in both assists and rebounds and her assist average is third-best nationally.
- Melissa Dixon, a 5-8 junior guard. She averages 13.4 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. She is the team's top long-range threat, having made 93-of-264 three-pointers this season (35.2 percent).
- Theairra Taylor, a 5-11 redshirt senior. She averages 12.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
- Ally Disterhoft, a 6-0 freshman swingperson. She averages 13.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
- Bethany Doolittle, a 6-4 junior center. She averages 14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds and shoots .556 percent from the field. Her field-goal percentage is 22nd-best nationally. She also averages 3.06 blocked shots per contest, 12th-best nationally.


- Kali Peschel, a 6-1 sophomore forward. She started the first 19 games of this season before becoming the team's top front-court reserve. She averages 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.
- Alexa Kastanek, a 5-10 freshman guard. She averages 4.4 points and 1.2 rebounds per game and is the team's top backcourt reserve.
- Claire Till, a 6-0 sophomore forward. She averages 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.


- The only Big Ten team, and one of only 14 teams in the country to appear in the last seven NCAA tournaments. Marist is one of the 14, having been to the last nine NCAA's.
- Iowa has won 20 or more games in six of the last seven seasons. Marist has an active streak of 11 consecutive 20-victory seasons.
- Six of Iowa's eight losses this season have come against ranked opponents.
- Samantha Logic is the only player in the nation to average more than 13 points, six rebounds and seven assists per game this season. She is also the first Big Ten player to ever record three triple-doubles in a single season.
- Iowa is the only Big Ten team with five players averaging double figures. Marist also has five players averaging double figures.
- Iowa averages 78.6 points per game, 23rd-best nationally.
- Iowa is 13-3 on its home court this season, and 88-22 there in its last 110 games.
- Coach Lisa Bluder has led the Hawkeyes to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances in her 14 seasons at Iowa. Giorgis has taken Marist to 10 NCAA's in his 12 seasons.
- Iowa has averaged 4,312 fans per home game this season. Last season an average crowd of 6,836 fans attended the first round of games at the Iowa City NCAA regionals.
- Iowa only goes three deep into its bench in most games with only eight of its players having averaged more than 5.1 minutes per contest.
- Iowa has a 1.28 assist-to-turnover ratio, 16th-best nationally. Marist's 1.31 ratio is 12th nationally.
- Iowa's field goal percentage of 46.1 is 13th nationally. Marist's field goal percentage of 46.9 is 10th best.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Masiello Nearly Gets Best Of Match with Mentor Pitino

It was a matchup neither coach wanted.

Neither Louisville's Rick Pitino, nor Manhattan's Steve Masiello had any complaint about their respective seeding position. It's just that they didn't appreciate the "wisdom" of the NCAA Tournament's selection committee for pairing their respective teams up in Thursday's late game played Orlando.

There were too many emotions, too many connections.

Pitino has long been Masiello's mentor, beginning when he encouraged the now-Manhattan coach to come to Kentucky as a walk-on.

Pitino recognized Masiello's basketball acumen and convinced the young player that he would be best served learning the ins and outs of the game while mostly being a reserve at a high-major program.

Masiello got a year under Pitino's tutelage before the Kentucky coach moved on to Louisville. A year later, Masiello was part of a Kentucky national championship team under Tubby Smith.

But, the connection with Pitino remained strong, and when Masiello began his ascent in the coaching ranks, he was reunited with Pitino, who brought Masiello to Louisville as an assistant. Masiello worked there under Pitino for six seasons prior to being hired at Manhattan.

And, the relationship goes deeper than that. Back in the late 1980's, when Pitino was the head coach of the NBA New York Knicks, the pre-adolescent Masiello was one of the team's ball boys.

Their relationship is such that Masiello calls Pitino his second father.

So, no wonder that both coaches bristled about Thursday's pairing.

"I don't know if the selection committee is having fun with this," said Masiello, when discussion the match prior to Thursday's contest. "But, it's not fun for me."

Almost not fun for Pitino, either, on Thursday night as the Jaspers very nearly pulled off one of this year's most-surprising early upsets before a late-game Louisville surge enabled Pitino and his team to earn a 71-64 victory in a game that ended a few ticks after 1 a.m. Friday morning.

It certainly was an exciting enough, a close-enough contest to keep your scribe awake and watching over the 46-inch TV until Friday's wee hours.

Manhattan actually led under the three-minute mark, and the game was tied with less than two minutes remaining before the Jaspers' best inside player, Rhamel Brown, fouled out and Louisville went on a 10-2 run down the stretch.

The primary late hero for the winners was swingman Luke Hancock, who similarly came up big a a year ago in Louisville's championship-game victory in the 2013 tournament.

Hancock stole a pass and converted two free throws (after Brown's fifth foul) that lifted the winners to a 62-60 lead with 1:53 remaining. Hancock added back-to-back three-point buckets after that to
give Louisville a 68-62 advantage that enabled it to secure the victory.

Manhattan, though, was close throughout with relentless defensive pressure, the likes of which had been on display throughout MAAC play throughout Masiello's three years at the program's helm. And, the Manhattan coach isn't reluctant to admit his team's style of play is a carbon-copy of what his mentor, Pitino, does at Louisville.

For a night, the student very nearly got the best of the teacher.

And, there was even one more connection between the two programs.

When Masiello was at Louisville as Pitino's assistant, he was that program's lead recruiter. His work there brought in Louisville guard Russ Smith, an undersized 6-foot-0 senior this year who developed into one of the top offensive players in the country.

Smith got a game-high 18 points Thursday against Manhattan.

Louisville entered the contest as a No. 4 seed to Manhattan's No. 13 seeding position. And, Pitino's team, last year's national champion, is now 30-5 overall and perceived by many as a potential repeat titlist.

Afterwards, though, Pitino paid his pupil's team an apt compliment.

“I thought Manhattan was the better team tonight until four minutes to go in the game,” Pitino told reporters, afterwards. “I told [Masiello] he should be really proud of his basketball team and I told him I was very proud of his coaching, his preparation. I knew this game was going to be this way.”

After trailing 35-29 at the game's intermission, Manhattan opened the second half on an 8-0 surge and held a lead with just under three minutes remaining. before Louisville's late-game surge.

Manhattan, which finishes 25-8 on the season, got a team-high 16 points from center Ashton Pankey.

“I thought we played well for about 39, 38 minutes, but that’s what happens when you play great teams,” Masiello told reporters, afterwards. “You give them that one opportunity, they make you pay. They saw a crack in the door, they took advantage of it. I thought their experience being here showed a little bit down the stretch.”

Manhattan's 25 victories this season have only been surpassed once in program history. The school's 1994-95 team had a 26-5 record.

Manhattan won 16 road games this season, the second-most nationally through Thursday's games.

The senior class of Mike Alvarado, George Beamon and Brown is the first three-member senior class in school history to all go over 1,000 career points.

"I couldn't be prouder of these three guys (Alvarado, Beamon and Brown and what they've done for Manhattan basketball, what they've done for the program and where they've brought it, and it's all because of them," Masiello said, in a post-game statement released by his school. "They are everything I could ever want in a student‑athlete, and I'll never have a senior class like this again, ever."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fairfield Women Need Two OTs to Advance in WBI

Congratulations to the Fairfield women's team, earning a double-overtime victory over host Bryant, 90-86, in an opening-round game of the Women's Basketball Invitational (WBI) on Wednesday.

The Stags, now 21-10, will host UMaine in the 16-team event's quarterfinal round this weekend.

They had to rally from a 63-56 deficit late in regulation and cut the lead to 63-61 on Kristin Schatzlein's three-pointer with 1:44 remaining. Bryant eventually got the lead back up to four with 11 seconds remaining, but a three-pointer by Alexys Vazquez from about 24 feet out pulled the Stags to within 67-66.

Fairfield immediately fouled and Bryant's Courtney Schissler made both foul shots to push the lead back to three, 69-66. And, then Vazquez tossed up a desperation trey that swished at the buzzer to end the contest into the first overtime.

Bryant also held a three-point lead with under a minute remaining in the first OT when the Stags' Brittany Obi-Tabot converted a traditional three-point play to tie it up with 31.5 seconds remaining. Fairfield got a defensive stop after that to create the second overtime session.

The Stags opened up a quick 84-79 advantage before the Bulldogs pulled to within 84-83 with 1:46 remaining. Then, point guard Felicia DaCruz answered with a jumper with a minute remaining to push the lead up to three and the Stags held on for the victory.

Senior Katie Cizynski recorded her 12th double-double of the season, finishing with 24 points and 13 rebounds in 60 minutes of court time. Obi-Tabot added 20 points and a career-high 14 rebounds over 49 minutes, while Schatzlein and Vazquez had 19 and 17 points, respectively.

Post-Season Tourney Results For MAAC Teams

Keepin' up of the results of MAAC teams still involved in post-season play ...


The Gaels lost an 89-88 decision to Louisiana Tech in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament played at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston, La., when the winners' Kenneth Smith converted on a put-back bucket with 2.2 seconds left to play.

Iona, which finishes at 22-11, had a lead with 12.3 second remaining when senior guard Sean Armand was fouled and made both free throws to give his team an 88-87 edge.

Louisiana Tech's Alex Hamilton then missed a 15-footer, but Smith got the rebound and put-back bucket for the final score. Iona could only manage a 60-foot heave that hit the back of the rim but did not fall in.

Iona's junior post player was outstanding, scoring 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds in the contest. Teammate and sophomore guard A.J. English also had 21 points, including 19 in the first half. He also had six assists.

Despite the loss, the season marked the fifth straight season of at least 20 victories for Iona, the last four under current head coach Tim Cluess. Iona has also appeared in a national postseason tournament in each of the last four seasons.


Points were plentiful, but the nation's top-scoring team put up more than host Canisius, as VMI took a 111-100 victory Tuesday night in the first round of the Tournament at the Koessler Athletic Center in Buffalo.

The winners got a career-high 37 points from senior D.J. Covington, and another senior, Rodney Glasgow added 28 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

The victory was VMI's first in a national post-season event since 1977.

The combined total of 211 points set a Koessler Athletic Center scoring record, and VMI's 111-point effort was also a record for an opposing team in the facility, erasing the previous mark of 103 set by Saint Peter's.

The Golden Griffins had four players score in double figures, led by senior guards Chris Perez, who had a season-high 30 points, and Billy Baron, who had 25 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

Baron finishes his two seasons in the program with 1,406 points, the 11th-best in school history. His 351 career assists is ninth in Canisius history.


The Bobcats lost a 74-66 decision to Villanova in the first round of the Women's National Invitation Tournament Wednesday in Philadelphia.

The first-year MAAC member finishes with an overall record of 21-13.

Senior forward Brittany McQuain had 19 points, seven rebounds and two seteals in the contest. She finishes her career with 1,439 points, fifth in school history, and 1,109 rebounds, second ever at Quinnipiac.

Teammate Samantha Guastella also had a strong game with 15 points and 10 rebounds, as did forward Nikoline Ostergaard (11 points, eight rebounds) and guard Gillian Abshire (12 points, eight assists).

Devon Kane led Villanova with 24 points.

Quinnipiac finishes with at least 20 victories for the third straight year.

Another MAAC Connection About NCAA Underdogs

A few posts back you'll have read about the most-recent issue of Sports Illustrated, the one with Creighton's Doug McDermott, on the cover having so many mentions about the MAAC.

And, we even missed one.

Our own league commissioner Rich Ensor was quoted in the back-of-issue "March Madness" story about Princeton's near-upset of Georgetown in the 1989 NCAA tournament. Princeton, a No. 16 seed that year, nearly knocked off top-seeded Georgetown before the Hoyas held on to a 50-49 victory.

It is a well-done piece, and says so much about the importance of the David-Goliath early round match-ups, if you will. About how much interest can be created when one of the proverbial little guys either upsets or nearly does against one of the power conference teams.

Back then there was growing sentiment that automatic berths to the NCAA's no longer be granted to some of the lower-rated conferences whose teams, in theory, had next to no chance at making an advancement in the event.

But, Princeton's near upset of Georgetown helped change all of that, while also showing that the potential for upsets actually created additional interest in the tournament.

The following year, for instance, Princeton's first-round game against highly-regarded Arkansas earned an even larger TV audience than the Tigers' near-win over Georgetown. Princeton's previous appearance changed the way the NCAA tournament was watched. Now viewers were looking for an upset.

Said SI, in the article: "The game (Princeton's near-upset of Georgetown) enshrined for the little guys their place in the bracket -- a chance to prove their worth on the floor, rather than being declared unworthy in some smoke-filled room."

Said Ensor, as quoted in the story: "Today (limiting) automatic bids aren't even in the discussion. There's acceptance that it's good for everyone. And while (the small conferences) may not be the driving force behind a lot of success, we're part of the excitement of the early rounds."

We couldn't agree more. Those type Cinderella stories are a big part of why we watch early round games.

Outcomes like No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast beating No. 2 seed Georgetown and, then, No. 7 San Diego State last year ... or, No. 14 Siena beating No. 3 Stanford in 1989 ... or No. 8 Villanova (with three assistants who would eventually become head coaches of MAAC teams) going all the way and beating defending champion Georgetown in the 1985 national title game ...

Those type upsets might not be the only reason why we're mad about March, but it's a big one.

Some Final Seasonal Thoughts, A Look Ahead

Some buzzer-beating thoughts as another basketball season comes to a close.


Despite some initial disagreement from a couple of league coaches about bringing Quinnipiac and Monmouth into the MAAC at the start of the this academic year, it says here that those two programs have proven to be more-than-worthy additions.

Competitively, the Qunnipiac women finished fourth in the final regular-season standings and, then, knocked off top-seed Iona in the post-season tournament's semifinal round and very nearly did the same to No. 2 seed Marist (losing, 70-66) in the championship game after holding a 17-point lead with four minutes remaining in the first half.

The Quinnipiac men finished third in the final regular-season standings, had two regular-season victories over NCAA-bound Manhattan and one over MAAC tournament top-seed Iona. The Bobcats got knocked out in the MAAC event's semifinal round, but had lost one of its top players, standout guard Umar Shannon, to a knee injury, just a week before the tournament.

The Monmouth men might have only finished 5-15 in league play and 11-21 overall, but the roster did not include a single senior and only had three juniors. And, one of its best players, freshman point guard Justin Robinson, missed most of the season's second half with a foot injury. It certainly will be a vastly improved team a year from now.

And, the Monmouth women were similarly youthful with just a single senior starter. It has not only one of the tallest rosters in the MAAC (four contributing post players all 6-foot-4), but an emerging standout point guard in freshman Helena Kurt. The Hawks finished strong with a 28-point regular-season-ending victory over Siena and, then, an upset 66-62 decision over Niagara in the first round of the MAAC tournament.

On top of each of those programs' talent levels, each school's playing facilities rank as one-two (you can pick) among the MAAC's best on-campus playing venues.


Our downstate brethren proudly claim that the annual meetings between Iona and Manhattan, schools separated by 9.3 miles, is our state's best rivalry.

Still, when those two teams met in the recent MAAC Tournament's championship game (and, I know, the game was played in Springfield, Mass.), the crowd was only 1,749.

The atmosphere was good, but nothing near what it was like for a Canisius at Niagara game your scribe attended this season at the Purple Eagles' Taps Gallagher Center.

That's a series that has includes 176 meetings since 1906. The schools are separated by about 20 miles. And, the joint was jumping, as they say, for an all-but-meaningless regular-season game when the two met in the February contest in question. The enthusiastic fans at this year's game at Niagara made for an near-impossible-to-hear situation.

We'll throw the annual non-league meetings of Siena-UAlbany up there for a strong local rivalry. And, there's no disputing that Iona-Manhattan is nearly as intense is it gets.

But, this scribe's choice for the best rivalry between men's basketball schools in New York State will be Canisius-Niagara.


Everyone wants to speculate on who will be the men's and women's early favorites to win the 2014-15 regular-season titles. But, we'll leave that for another day. Instead, we'll try to identify some teams who will break out a year from now.

These aren't necessarily teams that will strongly contend for the conference title, but they are teams that will be significantly improved, teams that will surprise opponents and conference followers once next season begins.

Our men's choice is Saint Peter's.

The Peacocks' men's team loses just one player from its top eight, senior swingman Chris Burke, who was the team's fourth-leading scorer. It gets back two of the better players in the league in 6-7 forward Marvin Dominique and guard Desi Washington.

Two freshman starters from this past season, point guard Trevis Wyche and forward Quadir Welton, come back with a year's experience and, likely, the improvement that usually comes between a player's first and second season.

Also back will be swingman Chazz Patterson, who redshirted this past season but can be a contributor. Bench strength comes from forward Kris Rolle and guard Jamel Fields, each filling that role capably this past season.

The team probably needs some front-court depth to really break through, but that might come from junior-to-be 6-7 forward Elias Desport.

On top of everything, we perceive John Dunne to be one of the conference's top three coaches.

The Peacocks finished 9-11 in the MAAC this past season and 14-17 overall. The expectation here is a top-five finish next season.


Hope you'll excuse us if we opt to name two ... Monmouth and Saint Peter's.

Monmouth was the tallest team in the league this year, and all that height comes back a year from now with a full season's experience behind it.

Senior-to-be Sara English, and sophs-to-be Sophie Beaudry and Christina Mitchell all stand 6-foot-4, and all are very effective players. The Hawks often used a "twin-towers" lineup to good effect at times during this past season.

Point guard Helena Kurt was a starter as a freshman this past season, improved dramatically as the season progressed and showed signs of becoming one of the conference's better players at her position in future years.
Jasmine Walker, a sophomore guard this past season, also returns alongside Kurt. She was the Hawks' second-leading scorer this past season. And, Mia Hopkins, another freshman guard, flashed some late-season offensive capabilities and should play a significant role a year from now.

The team loses a significant contributor, graduating senior swingperson Chevannah Paalvast, its leading scorer. But a capable replacement, swingplayer Sarah Olson, becomes eligible next season. She is a transfer from NJIT, where she averaged 7.4 points per game as a sophomore in the 2012-13 season.

Monmouth finished 6-14 in MAAC play this season and 8-25 overall. We can easily envision a better-than .500 finish a year from now and a spot in the MAAC's top five for 2014-15.

The Saint Peter's women might not have that dramatic a reversal. With a 2-18/3-27 record this season, plus the loss of graduating Kaydine Bent, the team's top scorer and rebounder, there's much rebuilding to do.

But, Pat Coyle, who took over the program this past season, is one of the conference's better coaches. And, she not only has some good role players returning, but also solid recruiting class coming in for next season, and two transfers who should each be significant contributors in 2014-15.

Those are 6-2 Imani Martinez, a 6-foot-2 forward who played her freshman season at East Tennessee State and 5-6 point guard Rebecca Sparks, who played her freshman season at St. Francis (Pa.). There, she scored 27 points in her final game before opting to transfer to Saint Peter's.

The Peacocks might not crack next season's top five, but a double-digit overall victory total seems to be a reachable number with much better coming in future seasons.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Siena Kicks Off Post-Season For MAAC With Win

The first national post-season tournament game of the season involved two teams that, for the first 23 minutes, looked like they wanted to be anyplace else than Albany, N.Y.'s, Times Union Center for a first round game of the College Basketball Invitational.

The event is the least regarded of the four post-season tournaments for me, but some physical play at the 16:59 mark of the second half seemed to spark the emotional embers for both Siena and its opponent, Stony Brook of the America East Conference.

Siena, at that point, had three players (reserves Evan Hymes, Javion Oguyemi and Maurice White) ejected for leaving the bench to join a slight on-court fracas that occurred behind one basket after Saints' forward Brett Bisping got fouled on a layup.

The incident also resulted in four other players being assessed technical fouls.

At that juncture, Siena trailed by three points. But, the incident seemed to inspire both teams, particularly the Saints. Until then both teams appeared to have been playing in a lackluster manner.

"We wanted to win that game partly because of that, and it fired us up a little bit," Bisping told reporters afterwards.

The victory sends 16-17 Siena to a quarterfinal-round contest of the event, which it will host on Monday against the winner of tonight's first-round meeting between Penn State and Hampton.

Tuesday's game drew just 2,575 spectators to the Times Union Center, which is believed to be the smallest turnout for a Siena game since it last played games in its on-campus Alumni Recreation Center in the 1996-97 season.

After the incident, Siena jumped out to a 44-43 lead on a bucket from center Imoh Silas and never trailed after that. The winners' lead was 10 when junior swingman Rob Poole drained a three-pointer to give the Saints a 53-43 advantage.

Stony Brook, which finishes with a 23-11 record, never got closer than six again.

The Seawolves lost their final two games to teams from New York's Capital Region. They were defeated in their previous contest by UAlbany in the America East championship game.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fairfield Women Travel to Bryant For WBI Contest

Here's another in the series previewing MAAC women's teams in national post-season events.


The Stags will be making their second straight WBI appearance when they travel to play at Bryant University Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Chace Athletic Center.

Fairfield, which finished third in the MAAC's regular season standings, has a 20-10 record while Bryant is 17-14. It will be the first meeting for the two New England-based programs.

The Bryant Bulldogs established a program record for Division I victories in a season this year and are making their first-ever post-season tournament trip.

Bryant's top players are 5-foot-6 senior guard Jenniqua Bailey (13.1 points, 4.9 assists per game), 5-9 senior guard Courtney Schisser (12.9, 5.5 rebounds), 6-0 senior forward Naana Ankoma-Mensa (12.9, 10.3 rebounds) and 5-11 senior guard Meredith Soper (10.3, 6.3.

The Bulldogs hold an 8.7 rebound-per-game advantage over opponents, the 14th-best difference nationally. They also shoot well from distance with a 36.2 percent rate from three-point range, 26th-best nationally.

The WBI, now in its fifth season, is a 16-team tournament split into an East and a West region. The winner of this game will meet the winner of a meeting of Bucknell and Maine.

Quinnipiac Travels to Villanova for WNIT Opener

Here's another in the series previewing MAAC women's teams in national post-season tournaments.


The Bobcats are headed to a post-season event for the third consecutive season, their first as a conference member. Playing in the Northeast Conference at this time last year, Quinnipiac played in the NCAA Tournament.

This year it's the WNIT for the program, which will hit the road to take on Villanova of the Big East in a first-round contest on Wednesday evening, at 7 p.m.

It will be the Wildcats' 12th postseason appearance in the last 15 years, including 5 NCAA's and seven WNIT events. In its previous six trips to the WNIT, Villanova has a 6-6 record.

The winner will advance to the second round to meet the winner of the first-round East Carolina-George Washington game.

Quinnipiac enters the event with a 21-12 overall record, but advanced to the championship game of the MAAC's tournament, barely losing to Marist, 70-66.

Villanova is led by senior guard Devon Kane, who leads the team in scoring (12.6 points), assists (4.3), steals (37 total) and minutes played (32.5). She was recently named a first-team All-Big East selection.

Iona Women To Host Harvard in WNIT Contest

Here's another in the series looking at MAAC women's teams in national post-season tournaments.


The Gaels are headed to the Women's NIT for the second consecutive year. They will be hosting Harvard of the Ivy League Thursday at the Hynes Center in New Rochelle.

Iona's berth in the event was an automatic one, earned by virtue of sharing the MAAC's regular-season championship and holding the No. 1 seed for the league's post-season tournament.

The WNIT is now in its 17th year of operation and has a 64-team field for this season's event. Games will be played up the championship contest on April 5. All games throughout the tournament are at college sites.

Iona enters the contest with a 26-5 overall record, while Harvard is 21-7 overall. The WNIT bid is the third in a row for the Crimson, which has been in the event five of the past six seasons.

Harvard's top scorers are 5-11 senior guard Christine Clark (16.8 points, 4.8 rebounds per game), 6-4 junior center Temi Fagbenle (12.9, 9.4) and 6-1 senior forward Erin McDonnell (8.8, 3.5).

Iona has also been to the WNIT five times in its history.

The Gaels' top players are 5-7 junior guard Damika Martinez, whose 24.7 point-per-game average is eighth-best nationally; and, 5-11 sophomore forward Joy Adams, who averages 17.1 points and 14.1 rebounds per contest.

Please Refrain From Posting Product Advertisements

Just a "programming note" here, if you will.

On a couple of recent blog items, someone has posted links, in the comment section, for commercial products.

Please understand that the blog and the comment section is meant solely for the respectful discussion, dissemination of information about and enjoyment of MAAC basketball and, on occasion, other college basketball issues.

Any such commercial endorsements will be recognized quickly (I check in several times daily) and will immediately and forever be deleted.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Marist Women Play At Host Iowa in NCAA Tourney

The reward for a ninth straight trip to the NCAA tournament for the Marist College women's basketball team?

How about having to play on the home court of first-round opponent Iowa?

Not exactly the most desirable of circumstances, but the NCAA women's events uses home facilities in early round games.

The Marist women will play the Hawkeyes Sunday at 8 p.m eastern time at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Iowa's campus in Iowa City.

Marist has twice before played on the home court of an NCAA Tournament foe, and to the expected results.

It lost to Duke, 71-66 (although the Red Foxes led most of the way), at the Blue Devils' Cameron Indoor Stadium in the second round of the 2011 tournament.

And, Marist lost to LSU, 68-49, in the second round of the 2008 event played on the Tigers' home court in Baton Rouge, La.

Now, Marist gets another chance to beat a home team in the national championship tournament.

Iowa is 26-8 thus far and rated 19th nationally in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll. It is one of five teams from the Big Ten Conference to be rated in the Top 25.

Marist, with a 27-6 overall mark, received four votes in the most-recent poll, the 30th-most of teams nationally.

Statistically, there are similarities between the teams.

Both take good care of the ball. Marist's 1.31 assist-to-turnover ratio is 11th-best nationally, while Iowa's 1.28 is 16th; Iowa records 18.2 assists per game, 9th nationally, to 16.4 for Marist, 23rd.

Marist shoots 46.9 percent from the field, fourth-best nationally, while Iowa is at 46.1, 13th. Iowa scores 78.6 points per game, 23rd best, to Marist's 72.6 (71st).

But, Marist's points-per-game allowed average of 59.3 is 32nd best nationally, while Iowa's 69.1 is 226th.

Iowa has the one player ranked in the top 20 in any statistical category of the two teams. The Hawkeyes' Samantha Logic, a 5-foot-9 junior point guard, is third nationally in assists, averaging 7.5 per contest.

Like Marist, Iowa also has five players who average double figures.

Logic is also the team's leading rebounder at 6.6 per contest, while scoring 13.4 points per contest.

Other starters are expected to be 6-4 junior center Bethany Doolittle (14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds), 5-8 junior guard Melissa Dixon (13.4, 2.2), 6-0 freshman guard Ally Disterhoft (13.2, 6.4) and 5-11 senior guard Theairra Taylor (12.1, 4.6).

Marist is a No. 11 seed in a 16-team bracket, while Iowa is a No. 6.

The 11th-seed position is the third best the Red Foxes have received in the past decade. In 2008 Marist was a No. 7 seed and in 2011 it was a No. 10 seed.

Some Former MAAC Connections Set For NCAA's

Manhattan might be one MAAC team in this year's NCAA men's tournament, but there are plenty of "MAAC connections" about to participate in the national championship event.

So many that, I hope, you'll forgive me if I left any out (and, will let me know which ones I missed).

Here are ones that your scribe was able to find, in no particular order  ...

- Pitt, a No. 9 ssed playing its opener in Orlando: Its staff includes top assistant Barry "Slice" Rohrssen, one of the all-time nice guys to have worked in the MAAC. Rohrssen was Manhattan's head coach for five seasons (2006-07 through 2010-11) before he was fired. But, the Jaspers' seniors, the team's core of Rhamel Brown, George Beamon and Mike Alvarado, were his recruits.

- Providence, a No. 11 seed playing its opener in San Antonio: Its head coach is Ed Cooley, now in his third season there. Cooley was previously the head coach at Fairfield. His staff includes assistants Brian Blaney, who was previously an assistant at Loyiola (2006-08) and at Fairfield (2008-11) and Bob Simon, also previously an assistant at Fairfield (2006-11).

- Michigan, a No. 2 seed playing its opener in Milwaukee. Its head coach is John Beilein, who was the head coach at Canisius from 1992-97. Michigan, under Beilein, advanced to last season's NCAA championship game. He is one of two former MAAC head coaches to direct a team to the NCAA's championship game. Former Siena coach Paul Hewitt, when he was at Georgia Tech, is the other. Both lost in the title contest.

- Iowa, relegated to the "First Four" round where it meets Tennessee on Wednesday in Dayton: Its head coach is Fran McCaffery, who coached five seasons at Siena (2005-10) and took that program to three NCAA tournaments. One of his assistants is Andrew Francis, previously a Siena assistant under McCaffery for three seasons.

- Texas, a No. 7 seed, playing its opener in Milwaukee: Its associate head coach is Rob Lanier, who was Siena's head coach for four seasons (2001-05).

- Mount St. Mary's, which plays UAlbany in a "First Four" contest: One of its assistants is Donny Lind, who was a video coordinator/student manager at Loyola for two seasons (2008-10). Its director of basketball operations is Dave Matturo, who was the DBO at Siena for three seasons (2008-11).

- Stanford, a No. 10 seed, playing its opener in St. Louis: Its assistant coach is Tim O'Toole, who was the head coach at Fairfield for eight seasons (1998-2006). He was also an assistant at Iona for a season and at Army for a season when that program was a MAAC me,ner. O'Toole also had a four-year playing career at Fairfield (1983-87).

Iona Traveling to Louisiana Tech For NIT Contest

Here's another in the series previewing the post-season opportunities for conference teams.


The Gaels secured their post-season berth by virtue of winning the conference's regular-season title, an achievement that guaranteed them an NIT trip if they did not advance to the NCAA's.

After falling to Manhattan in the MAAC tournament's championship game, the Gaels are indeed headed to the NIT and a trip to Louisiana Tech for their first-round contest on Wednesday at the Thomas Assembly Center in Ruston, La.

Iona, 22-10 this year, is a No. 6 seed in one of the NIT's four eight-team brackets, while Louisiana Tech is a No. 3 seed.

The Gaels rank fourth nationally in points scored per game (83.5) and second with 10.31 three-pointers made per contest.

Louisiana Tech is another conference regular-season champion, having finished in a four-way tie for first place in Conference USA. Like Iona it entered its league's post-season tournament as a No. 1 seed and lost in its championship contest, 69-60, to Tulsa.

Louisiana Tech, like Iona, also prefers an uptempo style and ranks 12th nationally in scoring (81.5 ppg.). However, it only allows 65.1 points per game, and its scoring margin (16.4 ppg.) is second-best nationally.

And, like Iona, the Bulldogs are perimeter oriented and have a balanced scoring attack.

Alex Hamilton, a 6-4 sophomore guard, leads his team in scoring at 14.6. Raheem Appleby, a 6-4 junior guard, averages 12.3 points, Chris Anderson, a 6-6 senior forward, averages 12.0 points, and Kenyon McNeail, a 6-1 senior guard, averages 10.8 points. The first starter is 6-9 forward Michale Keyser, who averages 6.8 points and 6.7 rebounds.

Iona is making its fifth appearance in the NIT and its first since 1997.

Quinnipiac Draws "Neighbor" Yale In CIT Event

Here's another in the series looking at national post-season opportunities for MAAC teams.


The Bobcats, of the conference's newest members, will be in a national post-season event for the fourth time in the last five years.

Quinnipiac, 20-11 overall, have accepted a bid to the Tournament (CIT) and won't have to travel far for its first game, meeting cross-town rival Yale of the Ivy League on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the John J. Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, Conn.

"On behalf of our entire men's basketball program, I'd like to thank the people at for offering us a bid," said Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore, in a statement released by the school. "We are thrilled to be participating ... it is a fitting reward for the hard work and commitment of our seniors ... Our first-round matchup at Yale should be a terrific game and great for college basketball fans in the greater New Haven area."

This is the second time Quinnipiac will be playing in the CIT (it also participated in 2011). The Bobcats have also been to the 2010 NIT and the 2012 CBI events.

The CIT features a 32-team field of non-BCS programs that are not participating in the NCAA or NIT. All of its games are played on campus sites. Future round opponents are determined after results of the previouw round.

Yale, 15-13 this season, features 6-foot-8 sophomore forward Justin Sears (17.1 points, 7.2 rebounds per game) and 6-4 junior guard Javier Duren (12.4 ppg.).

Siena To Host Stony Brook As CBI Comes to Albany

Here's another in the series looking at national post-season opportunities for conference teams.


The Saints will host a national post-season game for the first time in 11 years when it meets Stony Brook at Albany's Times Union Center Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) event.

Its opponent will be Stony Brook which, coincidentally, suffered a 69-60 home-court loss to UAlbany in the championship game of the America East tournament on Saturday.

Siena will host a postseason basketball game Tuesday night for the first time in 11 years. The Saints welcome Stony Brook to Times Union Center at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the First Round of the College Basketball Invitational (CBI). 

""It's a great honor to be playing in a tournament," said Saints' coach Jimmy Patsos. "It's the first step. I think the reason we're in it is because we have great tradition. To have a home game, that says you have great fans and a great program.

The CBI is the only one of the three non-NCAA tournaments that permit teams with sub-.500 records to participate. Siena is currently 15-17 overall after finishing fifth in the MAAC's regular season. The Saints, who won eight games the previous year, had been picked in the coaches' preseason poll to finish 10th.

Stoney Brook is 23-10 on the season and its topo player is the America East's Player of tye Year Jameel 'Warney, a 6-foot-8, 260-pound sophomore forward who averages 14.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

The Seahawks are making their 12th postseason appearance (six times to the NCAA's, five times to the NIT, but their first to a national event since three straight NCAA trips from 2008-10.

Siena joins Cincinnati (2008), Oregon (2011), Oregon State (2009 and 2010), Purdue (2013), St. John's (2009), Texas (2013) and Washington State (2012) as the only programs to receive an invitation to the CBA with a losing record.

The Saints won eight of their final 12 regular-season contests.

 The winner of Tuesday night’s game will advance to play in the CBI Quarterfinals Monday, March 24 to face the winner of Penn State and Hampton. The location of that game will be determined after the completion of the First Round. The Semifinals will take place Wednesday, March 26 and the Championship Series (best of three) is Monday, March 31, Wednesday, April 2 and Friday, April 4 (if necessary).

Canisius Men To Host VMI Tuesday in CIT Event

Here's one in the series looking at national post-season opportunities for MAAC teams.


The Golden Griffins will host VMI in the first round of the Tournament (CIT) on Tuesday at the Koessler Athletic Center.

It's the second consecutive year Canisius will host a national post-season event. It also played in the CIT's first round and quarterfinal round games at home last march. This will be the first time in the program's 110-year history the school is hosting postseason games in back-to-back seasons.

But if you think Canisius has a short history of postseason play ... this is VMI's first national post-season event in 37 years.

The Keydets of the Big South Conference are 19-12 and have three players averaging more than 18 points per game while scoring a national-best 87.7 points per contest.

The team's leading scorer is 6-foot-0 freshman guard QJ Peterson (19.4 ppg.).

Senior forward D.J. Covington averages 18.7 points and a team-high 9.4 rebounds and was named the Big South's Defensive Player of the Year. The 6-foot-9 Covington averages 9.4 rebounds and has 96 total blocks thus far (3.1 per game), 10th-best nationally.

Another senior, guard Rodney Glasgow averages 18.4 points and 5.6 points per contest.

Canisius is 21-12 thus far, the victory total the most for the program since the 1994-95 season and one victory away from matching the school's all-time single-season best of 22 (1956-57 and 1992-93).

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Manhattan Draws Louisville, Familiar Face In Pitino

Manhattan found out its first-round opponent in the NCAA Tournament, and it's hardly a pushover

It's Louisville, fresh from winning the post-season tournament championship of the new American Athletic Conference.

Some thought the Cardinals were good enough to, potentially, be seeded as high as second in a 16-team bracket.

Instead Louisville, ranked as high as No. 5 nationally in the most-recent Associated Press' Top 25 poll, fell all the way to a No. 4 seed.

Manhattan is seeded 13th, and the first-round contest between the programs will be on Thursday at the Amway Center in Orlando, Fla.

Louisville has won 12 of its last 13 games and needs one more victory (it's currently 29-5) for its third-straight 30-victory season. Its last two teams went to the NCAA event's Final Four, and last year's team won the national championship.

Manhattan coach Steve Masiello, though, probably won't be surprised by too much of what Louisville coach Rick Pitino does in the game.

Masiello played a season for Pitino, as a walk-on at Kentucky in the 1996-97 season, Pitino's last at that school. He left Kentucky to become coach of the NBA's Boston Celtics for four seasons before returning to the college ranks at Louisville, where he has been for the past 13 seasons.

Masiello was with the Kentucky program for three more seasons under Tubby Smith, and was a member of the school's national championship team of 1997-98, Smith's first year after replacing Pitino.

There's another New York connection for Kentucky. Its top player, 6-foot-0 senior guard Russell Smith, is a New York City native having played at Archbishop Molloy High School.

Smith averages a team-high 18.3 points for the Cardinals, including a 42-point outburst against Houston in the America Athletic Conference's semifinal-round game.

Louisville, by all appearances, will have a significant edge both in talent and athleticism. But, the Jaspers won't be overwhelmed by their opponent's height.

Only one of the team's starters, 6-foot-8 post player Montzezl Harrell (14.2 points, 8.2 rebounds per game) is taller than 6-6. Its starting lineup also includes 6-6 forward Luke Hancock, 6-5 forward Wayne Blackshear, the 6-0 Smith and 5-10 guard Chris Jones.

Louisville, though, does have height coming off the bench in 6-10 freshman center Manqok Mathinq and 6-9 senior Stephan Van Treese.

ATM: Many News & Notes From Around The MAAC

Some thoughts while waiting to see where conference teams will go in national post-season play.

And, these will be mostly related to the recent conference post-season event ...

- The world did not spin off its axis, the sun still rises in the east, and the Marist women's basketball team are headed to the NCAA Tournament (it learns its seeding position, opponent and location on Monday evening) for the ninth consecutive time and the 11th time in the last 12 years.

Can any other mid-major level program anywhere match that string?

Marist had to do it, though, by rallying from a 17-point deficit with four minutes remaining in the first half against a very good Quinnipiac opponent in the MAAC event's championship game.

ESPN's women's "bracketology" feature perceives Marist will be a No. 10 seed in a 16-team bracket and face off with California, a No. 7 seed.

The College Sports Madness site is predicting the same match up, Marist vs. California, in a first-round contest with Marist an 11th seed and Cal a No. 6.

- The two most highly regarded bracketology sites for men both predict Manhattan will be a No. 13 seed when the NCAA field is released later tonight.

Joe Lunardi of ESPN has the Jaspers meeting Creighton in a first-round game, while Jerry Palm for CBS, is predicting a first-round meeting for Manhattan against Michigan State.

- Niagara's junior standout guard Antoine Mason led the MAAC in scoring and was second nationally with his point-per-game average as pretty much the lone scoring threat for his team this past season.

But, is there a second act for the 6-foot-3, 200-pound guard?

Although Mason has one more year of eligibility, he is expected to graduate in May. He has been at the school for four years, having sat out a season to recover from an injury.

The situation, in which the NCAA allows graduates of a four-year program to transfer elsewhere for graduate-degree study without having to sit out the traditional transfer season, could mean that Mason will look for another location to play for 2014-15.

The Buffalo News newspaper is already speculating on the possibility, as its Bob DiCesare wrote recently: "It could be an attractive option after Niagara suffered through one of its longest seasons, finishing 7-26."

Still, if Mason stays in place he could become Niagara's all-time leading scorer. With 1,934 career points so far, he would appear to have a good chance to surpass Calvin Murphy's career school record of 2,548 points. Mason scored 846 points this past season.

"I've got to sit down with my parents and talk it over," Mason told the Buffalo newspaper. "I'm not sure."

- He is loud, brash, blunt and has rubbed more than a few people the wrong way at times, but there was plenty of class on display from Manhattan men's coach Steve Masiello after his Jaspers defeated Saint Peter's in the quarterfinal round of the MAAC tournament.

When that game ended, Peacocks' standout junior guard Desi Washington was disconsolate, tears streaming down his face. He finally got off his team's bench, the last Saint Peter's player in the post-game hand-shake line with Manhattan.

When Masiello reached Washington, the Manhattan coach embraced the Saint Peter's player, held him tight and whispered in his ear for several minutes.

"I told him to hold his head up, that he had no reason to be embarrassed," said Masiello. "I told him that he's one of the best players in our league, that he can learn from this and to use it as fuel for next year. I told him that he could handle this, and that he can be a leader for his team. His teammates will follow him next year because of this."

- There was another Mason who showed some offensive firepower at the MAAC tournament. That was freshman guard Stephanie Mason of the Rider women's team.

Mason entered the MAAC tournament averaging less than 10 minutes of playing time per game, and only saw three minutes of action in the team's first-round contest.

In the quarterfinal round, though, she came off the bench with a huge effort, scoring 14 points in 18 minutes and, at one key second-half juncture, mad three consecutive three-pointers that helped the Broncs rally from a nine-point deficit into a four-point lead against Fairfield with less than four minutes remaining.

Rider won that game, 63-56, and, then, gave Marist a scare in the semifinals before losing, 70-59.

But not before Mason turned in her best performance of the season, making 5-of-6 shoots from the floor and scoring 18 points in 25 minutes. And, a star might have been born.

She also delivered one of the best post-game comments of the tournament.

When asked what she thought about Fairfield resorting to a zone defense, to protect players with foul trouble, in the quarterfinal-round contest, Mason admitted: "I'm a long-range shooters. My eyes just lit up."

- The tournament made its final appearance in Springfield, Mass., on the third year of a three-year contract.

It initially seemed like a good idea for the event to move to the birthplace of basketball as school administrators sought a neutral site for the post-season games.

The MassMutual Center did indeed provide neutrality (the top-seeded men's team failed to win in any of the three years there), but little else in terms of atmosphere.

The total crowd count of the first year of Springfield's tournament run was abysmal and, then, just got worse after that.

The first year's attendance in Springfield (2012) was 16,127. Last year's turnout was 14,395. And, this year's final numbers, released recently, were 13,972.

The last time the tournament was played in Albany, by comparison, total turnout was 53,569.

The event returns to Albany's Times Union Center for the next three years.

League officials indicate they'll consider Springfield for future MAAC tournaments, particularly if that city has a casino in place, as is expected, in the near future. Theoretically, a casino would serve as another attraction in the city, another reason for basketball fans to make the trip to watch the tournament.

But, the feeling here is that the MAAC tournament shouldn't be relying on attractions besides basketball to bring fans to games.

- More movement? For the first time in several years it appears that every men's coach is secure in his respective position for next season.

But, that doesn't mean one or more would move on for proverbial greener pastures.

That one, though, doesn't appear likely to be Iona's Tim Cluess, whose team captured the MAAC's regular-season championship.

Cluess was the choice when Hofstra's position was open last year and, according to sources, had even accepted the job there before that school wasn't willing to meet the sizeable buyout in the coach's contract for his release from Iona.

Just before this year's MAAC event, Iona announced a contract extension for Cluess, tying him to the program through the 2018-19 season.

Unsaid was whether the school received its share of security related to the contract, whether there was a clause for an even larger buy-out should another program seek to hire away the Iona coach. And, the strong belief is that a larger buyout clause was part of that agreement, making it very difficult for Cluess to move on.

Just pure speculation here, but there might be an opening at Boston College where former Cornell coach Steve Donohue has worked for the last four seasons to very little success. Donohue has just one year left on his contract, and a columnist for the Boston Globe newspaper has written that it's time for that school to move on from Donohue.

Could a MAAC coach be in the mix should that job open?

Masiello would certainly appear to be an attractive candidate to move on, and maybe even Siena coach Jimmy Patsos, who is a Boston native.

Friday, March 14, 2014

MAAC Connections Mentioned In Sports Illustrated

A national magazine has gone MAAC-centric this week.

Three prominent mentions of conference-related happenings appeared in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated, the one with Doug McDermott on the cover.

- The lengthy piece about McDermott, the scoring sensation from Creighton, includes a graph about his status among college basketball's all-time career scoring leaders. McDermott recently went over the 3,000-point mark for his career and, entering play in the Big East Tournament, ranked seventh all time for total points at the college level.

The chart includes two players above McDermott who did their college scoring in the MAAC.

Keydren Clark of Saint Peter's is currently sixth all time in career scoring with 3,058 points while Lionel Simmons of La Salle, which was in the league until the early 1990's, is third with 3,217 total points.

The MAAC is the only conference to have two players with more than 3,000 career points of the eight that have reached that milestone.

The others: Pete Maravich of LSU (3,667), Freeman Williams (Portland State) 3,249), Alphonso Ford (Missouri Valley) 3,165), Harry Kelly (Texas Southern (3,066) and Hersey Hawkins (Bradley (3,008).

- Desi Washington, the standout junior guard of Saint Peter's, got a mention in SI's "Scorecard" segment under the heading "Breakout Performer."

Said the magazine: "The Saint Peter's junior guard took down Fairfield with a buzzer beater for the third time this season, this one in the MAAC tournament."

What the magazine didn't say was that all three of Washington's last-second shots to beat the Stags came from nearly the exact spot on the court, the right side and at least 20 feet out. The most recent one, in the MAAC tournament, was at least 27 feet out with two defenders in his face.

- In a lengthy feature about NCAA Tournament upsets, the magazine recognizes the top upsets turned in by seeding position.

The No. 8 seed recognized is the 1985 Villanova team that upset Georgetown in that season's championship contest.

Said the magazine: "The 1910 Wildcats just barely made the newly expanded field and senior forward Ed Pinckney and Villanova were given virtually no chance against defending champion Georgetown. But, thanks to lights-out shooting (78.6%, still a title-game record) and a matchup zone that confounded Hoyas center Patrick Ewing, the Wildcats became the lowest seed to win a title."

Not mentioned was that Villanova's top assistant coach was Mitch Buonaguro, who did the scout and prepared the Wildcats' game play for the upset victory.

Buonaguro went on to be the head coach at two MAAC programs, Fairfield in the late 1980's, and Siena for three seasons beginning in 2010).

Also on that Villanova staff as assistants were Marty Marbach, who later became the head coach at Canisius; and Steve Lappas, who spent several seasons as a head coach at Manhattan.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Manhattan Awaits NCAA Seeding, Likely No. 14 or 15

We know the Manhattan men have secured their spot in the NCAA tournament field for the first time since the 2004 season and, now, the wait begins to learn where the Jaspers will be seeded when the national-championship's event's participants and placements are announced Sunday night.

The better bracketologists, as of early Tuesday afternoon, had not yet reflected their predictions to reflect Monday night's Manhattan victory over top-seeded Iona in the MAAC tournament's championship game.

Prior to that game, though, Iona was being touted as a likely No. 13 seed in a 16-team bracket.

Iona, though, was rated higher in the Ratings Percentage Index prior to the game than Manhattan.

The Jaspers, after Monday's outcome, are now No. 63 in the RPI indicating the Jaspers are more likely a No. 14 seed, possibly a No. 15 in the upcoming event.

Manhattan has a gaudy 25-7 record, but only two victories over opponents rated in the top 100 in the RPI: No. 99 Buffalo (which has an 18-9 record) and No. 90 La Salle (15-15).

Its has just one other non-league victory over an opponent with a better-than-.500 record, that coming against 18-12 Columbia of the Ivy League.

Its other non-league victories came against Illinois State (15-15), Hofstra (10-23), NC Wilmington (7-23) and South Carolina (12-19). The Jaspers have non-league losses against 23-7 George Washington and 9-20 Fordham.

The Jaspers also failed to beat Iona in both regular-season games, but its victory over the Gaels (currently rated 61st nationally) on Monday night should help boost Manhattan's hopes of a seeding position north of a 15 a little.

Two Sites Figure Marist Women As A No. 11 Seed

When it comes to an NCAA tournament seeding position, MAAC teams should be careful of what they wish for.

Sometimes a better seed isn't necessarily the best thing. Teams from most mid-major conference, at least at the MAAC's level, rarely can do better than a No. 10 or a No. 11 seeding spot.

Those positions create a nice opportunity for a semi-upset in the first round as a No. 11 would take on a No. 6. Any team seeded No. 6 would probably be somewhere south of the top 20 teams nationally, and our conference's NCAA women's representative, Marist, isn't too far from that territory.

But, an advancement to the second round by a team seeded 11th would bring about a meeting with a No. 3 seed, a team ranked in the top 12, in the second round. That creates more of a longshot upset scenario by the lower-seeded team.

Ideally, it's almost better to be somewhat overlooked by the selection committee and seeded No. 12 to face a No. 5 team in the opening round followed by a No. 4 in the second round.

Of course, there's also the prestige related to a higher-seeded position. And the Marist women's team might get that this year.

Two well-respected "bracketology" sites both figure the Red Foxes to be awared a No. 11 seed when the tournament field is announced on Monday evening.

Coincidentally, both sites figure Marist will meet California, as a No. 6 seed.

The ESPN bracketology site places No. 3-seeded Texas A & M on Marist's side of the bracket and the second-round opponent, provided there is no early upset, if both teams get there.

The College Sports Madness site figures a second-round No. 3 seed opponent Penn State for Marist.

It all remains to be seen, and Marist coach Brian Giorgis, immediately after his team's victory over Quinnipiac in the MAAC event's championship game Monday afternoon, figured his team would either get a No. 11 or a No. 12 seeding position.

And, of course, he was well aware that his team that went further in NCAA tournament play, his 2007 squad, won two NCAA contests, advancing to the Sweet 16 round that year as a No. 13 seed.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Manhattan Completes Journey, Earns NCAA Berth

Spectators are not allowed to storm the court at the MAAC tournament, but it was fine with Manhattan coach Steve Masiello that his school's supporters couldn't immediately join the on-court festivities immediately after his team's 71-68 victory over Iona in Monday's championship contest.

Because Masiello and his players soon went over to their sizeable rooting section and mixed with fans there.

There was certainly plenty for the Jaspers to celebrate Monday night.

Start with a victory over geographic rival Iona (the schools are separated by 9.3 miles) in what many consider to be the best college basketball rivalry in New York State.

Throw in some revenge from a year ago when the two programs meet in the 2013 MAAC event's championship game with Iona coming out on top by the same three-point margin that Manhattan won by this season.

And, then, throw in the Manhattan program's first trip to the NCAA tournament, by virtue of winning the conference's automatic berth with the event's championship, in 10 years.

The Jaspers earned all of that Monday night with their typically tough, gritty play on both ends of the court that mirrors the same approach to coaching embraced by Steve Masiello, the team's third-year head coach.

It completes a downtrodden to top-of-the heap rise for Manhattan that, as recently as the 2010-11 season, the year before Masiello was hired, was dead last in the MAAC standings with a 3-15 record.

This all nearly happened a year earlier when the team played most of the year without its leading scorer swingman George Beamon, rebuilt itself into a defensive-oriented squad and advanced to the 2013 championship contest before its season ended with the three-point loss to the Gaels.

Manhattan, with Beamon back, was more an offensive team early in the year this season.

"We tried to be both a good offensive team and a good defensive team," said Masiello. "But, at midseason, we decided to just concentrate on defense."

It more than paid off Monday as Manhattan limited the Gaels to just 6-of-21 from three-point range and held them to more than 14 points below their per-game average.

"I told the guys before the game that it was like the Seattle Seahawks against the Denver Broncos, and that we were the Seahawks," said Masiello. "If we took care of defense we'd win the game, and we did that."

"We didn't shoot well from beyond the three-point line," admitted Iona coach Tim Cluess. "Our guys just missed shots."

Iona was particularly ineffective offensively in the first half, scoring just 27 points. They began playing better on that end after the half, and had a last-gasp possession with 16 seconds remaining and trailing by three but withou a time out.

Manhattan defended that last possession to near perfection and Iona's only look was a far short three-point try by 6-foot-9 post player David Laury at the buzzer.

The Jaspers played the entire second half without its senior point guard Mike Alvarado, who suffered a broken nose late in Sunday's semifinal-round victory.

"This is a major thing for Manhattan College," said Masiello. "To get here from where we started three years ago."

"We went from being a 3-15 team to having the biggest victory increase the following year (winning 21 games in 2011-12 after getting just six wins the year before Masiello's arrival)," said Manhattan's Beamon.

"And, then, we went to the championship game last season. Now we're here ... it is a great feeling."

"This program was rated somewhere around 340th (of 343 Division I teams nationally) when I got there," added Masiello. "And, now, we've earned an NCAA berth just 34 months later."