Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The 2-3 Zone - Jan.15

A look at the MAAC's two top dogs:
1. Siena (10-6, 5-1 MAAC) - I refuse to call the Fairfield loss a total aberration, but it's hard to ignore the fact that not only did Siena' shooters go cold, but the Saints were without a a scoring threat (forward Alex Franklin did not play). Now the sophomore forward is back after missing five games with a back injury, and a much more disciplined attack took apart Niagara, who held the MAAC's top record and lead the conference in RPI prior to that game. Anyone who has seen Siena play knows they are extremely talented and extremely deep. A win over Stanford and a strong MAAC start are hard to ignore.

2. Niagara (11-4, 5-1 MAAC) - Okay, okay - so they had a little trouble against Siena. Despite the 10-point loss to the Saints, Joe Mihalich's boys are playing well, and it's hard to discredit a fantastic overall record. Don't forget: these are the defending MAAC champions. The Purple Eagles are 70th in the nation in RPI rating - tops in the MAAC conference. The team holds impressive in-conference wins over Rider and Marist, as well as an early season sweep of a respectable Manhattan team. And, in case you didn't know, this kid Charron Fisher is pretty good. According to MidMajority.com, he leads the nation in scoring. He totaled 63 points in TWO GAMES over the weekend!

Three "movers and shakers" in the MAAC:
3. Rider (11-6, 4-2 MAAC) - I hesitate to give Marist the top spot in this section - only due to the fact that they've yet to get to the heart of their MAAC schedule. On the other hand, it's hard to not like what you're seeing early in the season down in Trenton. Early seasons wins over Penn State and Rutgers are a boost in confidence. The Broncos played Marist tough earlier in the MAAC schedule in a very win-able game. Oh, and did you see that last game? An impressive 81-67 win over Gerald Brown and Loyola (Md.). Powerhouse forward Jason Thompson's stat line: 28 points, 17 rebounds, five blocks. Not too shabby. Tommy Dempsey is doing a fine job thus far in 2008.

4. Marist (11-6, 5-1 MAAC) - Believe it or not, Marist's RPI rating is actually higher than Siena's. Credit that to a strong conference start and a few victories over opponents with decent RPI's (a December 1st win over mid-major Wright St. helped). Despite the tremendous loss of senior talent, Marist seems poised for another run in '08. Still, the Red Foxes await another game against Niagara and Rider, a pair against Loyola (Md.), a game at Harbor Yard with the defensive-minded Stags, and that Siena team. However, I'd say that 5-1 start is a reflection of Marist's great athletes on the perimeter. Freshman Jay Gavin (averaging 22.3 ppg) looks like the real deal.

5. Fairfield (5-11, 3-3 MAAC) - Call me biased all you like, but I'd like to believe that a challenging out-of-conference record had this team ready to go in December, as evident in Fairfield's strong MAAC start. Ed Cooley is a motivator, and he'll used early season struggles as motivation for the rest of the season. The Stags have yet to find "Uncle Mo" this season, but might as well extend that search to another key component: consistency. After a nice conference start and a tremendous win over Franklin-less Siena, Fairfield dropped a pair of games to Loyola (Md.) and Marist. Now would be a good time for Jon Han and the boys to get back on track: four of the Stags' next five games are against MAAC opponents with records (overall and MAAC) south of the border.

More to come. Comments?

- Keith Connors (got it right this time!)


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bob jelenic said...

You're a coward for deleting my comment about you spelling your own name wrong. People make mistakes. That I can understand. But don't be a cowardly baby.

Keith Connors said...

Not only was your comment not deleted, but I acknowledged it in my post. Thanks for the views!

- Keith

bob jelenic said...

I was wrong. I apologize.