Monday, February 4, 2008

Scoutin' the Stags - Feb. 4th

Last Time Out:
Fairfield entered this weekend's series in Buffalo as an opportunity to assert themselves as a consistent MAAC team. The Stags left the weekend with a 1-1 mark, seemingly acceptable given the team was facing a good Niagara team on the road. However, I can honestly say I have never been more confused about this team as I am right now. A 28-point loss to Canisius? Canisius?! Truth be told, Fairfield was likely not up for the game at all - and who can blame them after a 7-hour bus ride on Super Bowl weekend. Anthony Johnson's absence and Frank Turner's offensive explosion may have been factors. A competitive, defensive-minded win over Niagara showed us the Stags team we expected. Where they go from here, though, is anyone's guess.

The Week Ahead:
  • As has been the case for most of the MAAC season, neither the Men nor the Women during the week. However, Both teams return to action on Friday night, February 8th.
  • One week after Buffalo was the theme for Fairfield basketball, it's "New York, New York" week for Fairfield. How appropriate - they are the Super Bowl Champs!
  • Ed Cooley and the Stags get back into action with a trip to the Bronx to challenge Manhattan. 7 p.m. is the tip-off time, and we'll be there live covering the action in our Mirror Sports Glog on the Men's Basketball blog.
  • The Stags finish the week on Sunday afternoon in the second game of a Harbor Yard double-header. Revenge is the theme for Fairfield as Iona comes to town in a game that has MAAC "play-in game" ramifications. It may be one of the bigger games this season.
  • For the ladies, Sabra Wrice and the crew take the trip down the Hutchinson Parkway to take on Iona at the Hynes Center. Given Iona's second-place standing in the current standings, not to mention the Gaels' win over the Stags earlier this month at AHY, this is a must-win for Fairfield.
  • Sunday's double-header begins with a Women's Basketball game against Manhattan. Tip-off is scheduled for 1p.m.
MAAC Game of the Week
Honestly, there are far too many great games to pick from. This week has the potential to be the best flurry of conference games we see all season. As if that's not enough, a peek at the standings shows that this week could give us a glimpse at potential MAAC tournament games.

Here's a quick top five:
  1. Marist vs. Siena - Big game in Albany against two teams that, only one week earlier, were my two top teams in the conference. One week later, the two are scrambling after the Rider Broncs rolled through both of them. Do both teams still have potential to win the MAAC tournament? Absolutely. Still, it's hard to ignore that Rider has now established itself as the clear-cut favorite to win it all. Marist and Siena's response to this is intriguing.
  2. Loyola (Md.) and Niagara - If Marist and Siena is a battle of two of the top three, then a game between the Purple Eagles and the Greyhounds is a "best of the rest" game. Niagara's 14-point rally against the Stags on Sunday just fell short. Still, no bonus points here for trying. If you want to be a MAAC contender, losing at home to a reeling Fairfield team is a bad sign. Loyola (Md.) could put a two-game separation between them and Jon Mihalich's team in the rankings with a win here.
  3. Siena vs. Marist - Part Deux. Except this time, the Saints have to fend with the Red Foxes at McCann. Big difference. Given that Marist dropped one to Rider at the Field House a week ago, I'd expect a different tune this week.
  4. Fairfield vs. Iona - Play-in game ramifications. See above.
  5. Rider vs. Niagara - Last season's champions against this season's counterpart? Time will tell. For Niagara, this is yet another chance to show that they are legitimate contenders in the league. For Rider, it is a prime opportunity to put an exclamation point on a difficult four-game stretch.
Off to the parade in NYC! G-Men!

- Keith Connors

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