Thursday, January 21, 2021

Melik Martin emerging as confident linchpin of Monmouth's front line

Melik Martin is on his way to becoming latest senior success story for King Rice and Monmouth. (Photo by Karlee Sell/Monmouth University Athletics)

In King Rice’s decade on the bench at Monmouth, two constants have come to define the Hawks’ program.

An uptempo, fast-breaking style, which Rice modeled after the brand of basketball he himself learned and played under the late great Dean Smith at North Carolina has always been the status quo in West Long Branch since the former point guard assumed the reins from Dave Calloway in 2011. Soon after, the expectation of each member of the current season’s senior class saving his best for last and having a career year to close out his career became the second hallmark on the Jersey Shore.

And following in the lineage of Dion Nesmith, Jesse Steele, Andrew Nicholas, Justin Robinson, Ray Salnave and Deion Hammond is a rapidly emerging option who, when reopening his recruitment from the Division II level, was not even in the stream of consciousness until then-assistant coach Duane Woodward plucked him away from Putnam Science Academy and into an environment that not only fostered his development, but enhanced it by allowing him to improve at his own pace.

At 6-foot-6, Melik Martin may not look physically imposing on paper, but in a Monmouth lineup predicated on pushing the pace and spacing the floor to create mismatches with its smaller and faster look, the native of York, Pennsylvania is all over you on both ends of the floor with boa constrictor-like defense and an offensive stroke that has gained confidence as the de facto center on a Hawk front line that is still nursing Nikkei Rutty and Jarvis Vaughan back to full health.

“Melik knows what we want from him,” Rice reflected after the senior scored a career-best 23 points as Monmouth erased a double-digit deficit to defeat Quinnipiac on January 15. “And then I give him a lot of freedom to go do it. Some nights are like tonight, some nights it’s like (it was) at Siena, but he’s so young.”

“I don’t think anything’s changed,” Martin interjected. “It was just a rough weekend at Siena and I’m happy I was able to bounce back, but every night’s going to be a battle.”

The weekend Martin described at Siena was one in which he scored a combined eight points on just 2-of-11 shooting as the Hawks opened 2021 with a pair of losses to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference favorite Saints. But following a resurgent week against Marist, he established himself anew against Quinnipiac, following up his career-high with a more yeomanlike nine points this past Saturday, which showcased another dimension to his game, that of a determined grinder who will stop at nothing to get results.

“We all know what Melik could do,” George Papas echoed. “He’s come in with a lot of energy to start his senior year, and we tell him, ‘If you’re open, don’t be afraid to shoot the ball.’ We’ve seen him make it countless times.”

“He’s my roommate, so we talk it about all the time,” Marcus McClary said of Martin’s evolution and upswing. “We’re always talking about just playing with confidence. We’re both in the same spot, so we know what we’re going to get, what kind of shot we’re going to get. I tell him all the time, we both know we could hoop, so I definitely try to tell him to believe in himself, to keep on being him.”

Another area in which Martin has believed in his own ability to grow has come as a leader on the floor and in the locker room, with a voice of experience serving as a guiding influence on one of the newest generation of Hawks.

“Melik is a great player, but he’s a great leader also,” said freshman Myles Ruth. “When I first got here, he was the person that guided me through this, he was the person that showed me the ropes, how everything worked, how King coached. And with his help, it helped me also. It helped me become a great Hawk and a great point guard.”

“I think earlier in his career when I would yell at him and get after him, it would make him sit back and go, ‘Whoa, Coach is crazy!’ Rice opined. “And now he’s older, and he knows that sometimes I react that way. Now he’s so comfortable around what we do, and he’s really finding himself off the court. He’s a tremendous kid, so I think positive things are going to happen for him this year, next year, whenever he gets to go out into the real world and play, or go into the business world. Melik is just that sharp of a dude that you just think great things are going to happen for him.”

A-10 Tempo Thursday: January 21, 2021

By Ray Floriani (@rfloriani)

Staying healthy meant a team would have to avoid injuries to operate at an optimum level. In these times, healthy has taken on a greater meaning.

Conference favorite Saint Louis was set to host St. Bonaventure on Saturday. That game is now postponed. Travis Ford’s Billikens have not played since December 23. Richmond got off to a good start in Atlantic 10 play before temporarily shutting down. Following a team stopping activity due to COVID-19, the concern, after the safety of everyone in the program and school, is how will that team respond when activity is resumed.

Everyone will take a good look at Saint Louis in particular. How will this layoff affect them? How soon can they get back on track?

The A-10 tournament has been moved out of Brooklyn, and rightfully so. No matter where the tournament is held, there will be a close watch on teams just getting back into action following a delay. When the tournament arrives in March, we will watch who may be coming off a shutdown, or who may enter such a period of inactivity on the eve of the tournament. The best to hope for is all the teams maintain good health from this point on. Realistically, it’s an ideal situation and a lot to hope for in these times. Staying healthy never meant more.

The following numbers are for conference games only, and courtesy of KenPom:

Efficiency Margins and Records

1) St. Bonaventure (+17, 5-1)

2) UMass (+15, 4-1)

3) Davidson (+12, 5-2)

4) Richmond (+11, 3-1)

5) Dayton (+10, 4-2)

6) Rhode Island (+5, 4-4)

7) VCU (-1, 3-2)

8) George Washington (-2, 2-3)

9) George Mason (-3, 3-4)

10) Duquesne (-5, 3-4)   

11) La Salle (-10, 3-4)   

12) Saint Joseph’s (-16, 0-6)

13) Fordham (-25, 1-6)  

Saint Louis (+18, 7-1 OOC)

By virtue of its come-from-behind win over VCU at Reilly Center, St. Bonaventure grabbed the top spot in the conference. The Bonnies have several teams on their heels. UMass has been a pleasant surprise. Richmond is off to a good start? but is currently in the midst of a COVID pause. Davidson and Dayton are both starting to gain momentum, and VCU is still formidable. Lest we forget, conference favorite Saint Louis has yet to line up for an A-10 game this campaign.

Offensive Efficiency Leaders

1) Richmond (112)

2) Davidson (110)

3) Dayton (109)

4) UMass (105)

5) St. Bonaventure (104)

Defensive Efficiency Leaders

1) St. Bonaventure (87)

2) UMass (90)

3) Rhode Island (95)

4) VCU (96)

5) Davidson (97)

It’s the defense: Up in Amherst, Matt McCall has the services of a talented duo in Carl Pierre and Tre Mitchell leading the way. There is an uptempo, high-octane offense in place. For the Minutemen, make no mistake: It starts on the defensive side of the ball. 

Let’s look at UMass since McCall’s arrival three years ago:

2018: 116 defensive efficiency, 5-13 A-10 record

2019: 110 defensive efficiency, 4-14 A-10 record

2020: 103 defensive efficiency, 8-10 A-10 record

2021: 90 defensive efficiency, 4-1 A-10 record

There is a corresponding improvement in defensive efficiency and the win-loss ledger each season. One of the components on the defensive end is the ability to force turnovers. UMass’ opponents are turning it over at a 21 percent rate, good for fourth-best in the conference.

The Minutemen began conference play with a double-overtime loss to George Mason. Since then, they’ve won three straight, highlighted by an overtime win over Rhode Island. A stern test will arrive on Saturday, when Davidson visits the Mullins Center. Given their defensive stature, it will be a test for Bob McKillop’s Wildcats as well.  

Tempo Leaders

1) VCU (76 possessions per game)

2) Saint Joseph’s (74)

3) UMass (72)

4) Rhode Island (71)

5) La Salle (70)

Slowest Tempo

T-1) Dayton and Fordham (63 possessions per game)

T-3) Duquesne and St. Bonaventure (65)

5) Davidson (66)

Defensive Turnover Rate Leaders

1) VCU (27 percent)

T-2) St. Bonaventure and Richmond (23)

T-4) UMass and La Salle (21)

Havoc went to the Lone Star State, but there is still evidence that Shaka Smart’s pressure defense dictating to offenses is alive, well and formidable in Richmond.

Games of Note

January 15: St. Bonaventure 62, Duquesne 48

Kyle Lofton scored a game-high 28 points and made a succession of big plays in the stretch as the Bonnies prevailed before a national television audience. Defense was another big factor, as Mark Schmidt’s group held the Dukes to a 79 offensive efficiency.

January 17: UMass 65, Fordham 46

The Minutemen took to the road and dispelled any hopes of another Fordham upset. UMass jumped out to a 55-15 halftime lead and was never seriously threatened. Fordham got the pace (65 possessions) it wanted, but the UMass defense, a 71 efficiency and 25 percent turnover rate, was too much for Jeff Neubauer and the Rams to handle.

Dayton 67, George Washington 54

Following the Flyers’ early losses to Fordham and George Mason, the venerable Blackburn Review was about to shovel dirt on their season. Dayton never trailed as it earned its third straight victory, handling the Colonials in a game played at George Mason. Anthony Grant’s Flyers posted a 107 efficiency and kept the turnover rate to a more than manageable 15 percent.

January 20: St. Bonaventure, 70 VCU 54

The visiting Rams appeared to be in the driver’s seat, racing out to a 15-point halftime lead. The final 20 minutes were, in Mark Schmidt’s estimation, the best half the Bonnies played during his tenure in Olean. The Bonnies held VCU to just 14 second-half points. VCU pounded the glass with a 46 percent offensive rebound rate, but St. Bonaventure inflicted its own damage, forcing the Rams into a 28 percent turnover rate and 81 offensive efficiency. 

On the Schedule

January 23: Dayton at VCU

The Flyers are on a roll, having won three straight. The host Rams will look to bounce back from their loss at St. Bonaventure and prove another test for Anthony Grant and Dayton.

St. Bonaventure at Duquesne

The Bonnies were set to travel to Saint Louis. That fell through early Wednesday, and instead, they will head to Pittsburgh. The Bonnies took the first meeting, but as noted previously, Duquesne is never an easy out.

January 24: Davidson at UMass

A battle of styles. UMass likes to put the pedal to the medal. Bob McKillop’s Wildcats will run, but set up if the break isn’t there. Whomever controls tempo has a definitive edge.

January 27: UMass at VCU

Another big home game for the Rams. Both teams get out in transition, and both teams play some strong defense. Handling VCU’s pressure (27 percent defensive turnover rate) will be a big factor for the Minutemen.


All-KenPom Team

Jordan Goodwin, Saint Louis

Jalen Crutcher, Dayton

Grant Golden, Richmond

Fatts Russell, Rhode Island

Jaren Holmes, St. Bonaventure

News and Notes

Jared Kimbrough of LaSalle entered Monday’s game against Saint Joseph’s averaging three points per game and using 14 percent of the Explorers’ possessions when he was on the floor. In the 90-83 victory at Tom Gola Arena, Kimbrough exploded for 24 points in 27 minutes. To no surprise, the 6-foot-8 forward stepped up, utilizing 24 percent of the possessions.

In Davidson’s 73-58 victory over Fordham on Wednesday, Kellan Grady was the Wildcats’ lone double-figure scorer. The senior guard went for 24 points, burying seven of nine 3-point attempts.

In Wednesday’s 70-54 win over VCU, St. Bonaventure allowed 40 points the first half, and only 14 following the intermission.

Conference Averages

Efficiency: 99

Tempo: 68 possessions per game

Turnover rate: 19 percent

Home team record: 21-19 (.525)

Blowouts: 7 of 40 (17.5 percent)

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Daly Dose Of Hoops Podcast #4: Jared Grasso on Bryant, recruiting and his coaching style

For the first time, I welcome a coach to the podcast, as I’m joined this week by Bryant head coach Jared Grasso, who shared his thoughts on the Bulldogs’ 10-3 start, his ideal player, how he recruits and develops talent, and the challenge that inspired him to set out on his own.

Listen and enjoy by clicking the video below:

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Kevin Willard quote book: Villanova

On Seton Hall’s final possession:
“We got a great stop down at the other end. We didn’t really want to call a timeout and let them set their defense up — they’re really good after timeouts, I’ve played them enough in close moments — we wanted to run a little action to try to get Sandro, they were going to switch, try to pop Sandro and then run a play where we’d get Jared coming out. I wanted either Sandro or Jared — or Shavar, really — to get a shot, and they went underneath a pick-and-roll and I thought he shot a pretty good shot. He’s made big shots and I have confidence in him to make those shots, and then it’s just a tough loose ball foul, but that’s just, you know, give credit to both teams for fighting for the rebound.”

On what Tuesday's game told him about his team:
“The same thing I’ve been saying: I like the way we’re progressing. We didn’t play well defensively early, I think the layoff hurt both teams, they didn’t play well defensively either, not the way they had been playing. But I like the way we’re progressing offensively, I like what the guys are doing. It was great to get Bryce back — I couldn’t believe I got 10 minutes out of him, I was really excited about that — so I think staying healthy and we keep on getting better, we’re progressing at a good pace.”

On preparing for Villanova after the Wildcats’ COVID pause:
“It’s what makes Jay Wright probably the best college basketball coach by far: You know exactly what he’s going to run, but you can’t stop him. He’s got great players. This is an older, veteran team, this Villanova team, so they had played nine games, you know what they’re going to do, you know what their rotations are going to be. We knew what they were going to do, they have one of the best point guards in the country in (Collin) Gillespie, and they’re a veteran team and they’re talented. So we knew what they were going to do, and they made some big plays down the stretch. I thought Jermaine Samuels played great, I thought he was really the difference-maker. If he continues to play like that for them, they’re going to be a tough out in March.”

On maintaining a positive morale after a tough loss:
“We lost a basketball game. We didn’t lose a puppy. When you’re playing on the road on a No. 3 team in the country, our third game in a row on the road going into our fourth game on the road, you’re going to win some good ones, you’re going to win some tough ones in this league. And Sandro played phenomenal. I would not have run that play if I knew we were going to have that much time on the clock. It kind of surprised me that we went to 1.9 (seconds), but we ran exactly what we wanted to, we got a good opportunity, but you’re going to miss shots. It’s having a short memory in this league.”

On his technical foul:
“Oh, I deserved it. I said a word I shouldn’t say, let’s just put it that way. I deserved it.”

Monday, January 18, 2021

5 Takeaways: St. John’s gets first signature win of 2021 at UConn

By Anthony E. Parelli (@reportedbytheAP)


No, you didn’t dream that.


Yes, St. John’s really went on the road, beat a ranked team and executed down the stretch. 

No, none of those are typos. 

The Red Storm was finally able to finish a game, coming back from a 14-point deficit to knock off No. 23 UConn, 74-70, in a Monday matinee at Gampel Pavilion. 


A typical slow start for St. John’s (8-7, 3-6 Big East) — particularly on defense, where UConn’s RJ Cole drilled four largely uncontested first half 3-pointers — forced coach Mike Anderson to burn a timeout in the midst of a 15-2 Huskies run.


Led by freshmen Posh Alexander and Dylan Addae-Wusu, who were high school teammates at Our Savior Lutheran in the Bronx, the Red Storm punched back with a 15-5 run of its own, cutting the deficit to 35-32 at the half.


It would take until the 6:35 mark in the second period for St. John’s to tie the game, and another 2:30 for the Red Storm to grab the lead. Finally able to shake off their crunch time woes, the Johnnies finished with stingy defense and timely free throws, especially from Julian Champagnie, who was otherwise uncharacteristically quiet with just 12 points on 2-of-9 shooting.


Here are my takeaways from the win:


Posh’s night

Alexander didn’t practice Sunday night after taking a physical beating in Saturday’s loss to Marquette. He seemed to wince every time he hit the floor on Monday. It didn’t matter, as the point guard was the best player on the floor, tying his career high with 18 points and adding four rebounds, six assists and three steals in 36 minutes of action.


UConn coach Dan Hurley summed up Alexander’s night perfectly: “Posh Alexander absolutely destroyed us off the dribble.”


Alexander has shown what he can do around the rim, his only criticism in his first collegiate season is his lack of a consistent jump shot, something he seems to be consciously trying to refine as the year wears on. Monday yielded the best returns of that endeavor, as Alexander went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.


Stepping up

With Champagnie battling an off day and Greg Williams Jr. held scoreless in just six minutes of action before exiting with a back injury, it was up to some of St. John’s ancillary players to answer the bell. The duo of Marcellus Earlington and Addae-Wusuwho at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds and 6-4, 230 look more like Division I defensive ends than basketball players, did just that. 


Earlington had 15 points and five rebounds, drilling all three of his 3-point attempts and Addae-Wusu had 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 28 minutes of action. He’s been a pleasant surprise as a true freshman and is starting to learn how to throw his weight around in the physical Big East.


Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back

Not only did St. John’s reestablish its conference rivalry with UConn with a win, the Red Storm did it at Gampel Pavilion for the first time since the general public was just getting over its fear of computers taking over the world in the year 2000. That losing streak was old enough to drink before Monday’s contest.


Things you love to see

After getting destroyed in the paint and on the glass on Saturday, St. John’s had a much more inspiring effort against UConn, winning the battle inside, 32-28, and staying even in the rebound battle at 34.


One-off, or the new normal?

St. John’s has showed it can win against the bottom-feeders in the Big East (Butler, Georgetown), but also that it can’t yet compete with the top of the conference (Creighton, Seton Hall), so to see the Red Storm down UConn, albeit without leading scorer James Bouknight, who is recovering from elbow surgery, is a promising development. Whether the Johnnies use Monday’s win as a jumping-off point to a late run remains to be seen.


Next up

St. John’s will head to a de facto bye week with nine days until it visits DePaul on January 27. While that layoff may kill some of the momentum the Red Storm has been trying to build, it will be a welcome break for Williams to get healthy. It also may provide enough time for transfer big man Esahia Nyiwe to complete his paperwork and join the Johnnies.

St. John’s grabs massive road win at UConn, first in 21 years

Posh Alexander’s 18 points and two-way toughness brought St. John’s back from 14-point deficit and seized win at UConn Monday. (Photo by USA Today Sports Images)

NEW YORK — Are you gonna wait for a sign, your miracle?
Stand up and fight
— Kenny Loggins, “This Is It”

For St. John’s, the first sign came with 12:46 remaining in regulation, the Red Storm having trailed longtime rival Connecticut by eight points at that juncture in Monday’s latest meeting between the two rivals.

It was at that point that UConn head coach Dan Hurley, citing St. John’s smaller lineup, made a substitution and lifted freshman Adama Sanogo from a game in which he had helped impose his will to give the hosts what appeared to be an unmatched advantage. But the scrappy Johnnies, led by freshman Posh Alexander, built on UConn’s shooting woes after a torrid start and slowly chipped away, eventually taking advantage to drive off to a 74-70 victory over the 23rd-ranked Huskies, the first for the program inside Gampel Pavilion since January of 2000, when Mike Jarvis, Erick Barkley and Bootsy Thornton would go on to win the Big East tournament two months later.

“We needed a win, period,” Mike Anderson assessed after St. John’s (8-7, 3-6 Big East) took its first lead at 64-63 on a Marcellus Earlington 3-pointer with 4:18 to play and never looked back on a day in which Julian Champagnie — the Big East’s leading scorer — struggled but still managed to amass 12 points. “I thought the game was another step in the right direction for our team in terms of where we want to be.”

“We’ve been in so many close games, where we were right in position to win it, and so confidence has to kick in when you’re playing against a UConn team that’s playing really well. And so for us, to come in off a tough loss to Marquette, I can’t say enough about the play of our guys.”

As for UConn, who opened up a 21-7 lead to start the proceedings in the absence of star guard James Bouknight, who continues to recover from elbow surgery? Hurley was left to lament one that got away, especially after the Huskies (7-2, 4-2 Big East) had chances to tie and win in the final seconds before Tyrese Martin missed a pair of free throws and Tyler Polley’s NBA-range three came up too strong.

“Brutal loss,” Hurley surmised. “Credit St. John’s, they’re relentlessly competitive, they were tougher than us, especially down the stretch. We obviously shot ourselves in the foot quite a bit there, with just our inability to guard the ball. Posh Alexander just absolutely destroyed us off the dribble, in both the first half and the second half.”

“They went so small in the last 10 minutes that we couldn’t play Adama,” he added, explaining his decision to pull Sanogo in the middle of a 49-41 lead. “Going zone and keeping him in just wasn’t an option, and then there was no one for him to guard. He’s probably the only good thing that happened today.”

His freshman forward, whose post presence resembled that of an upperclassman rather than an 18-year-old nine games into his career, a product of assistant coach Tom Moore's renowned work in developing big men, was cognizant of the decision behind not playing a role in the finish despite feeling he should be out there.

“At the end of the game, I think I should have played a little bit more,” Sanogo admitted. “But they were playing four guards, so it was a little bit tough for me to be in at the end of the game.”

Of the four guards employed by St. John’s, none were as ubiquitous on either end of the floor as Alexander, the Brooklyn native whose precocious development and prodigious talent signifies all the makings of a superstar over his next three years in Queens. His 18 points, six assists, four rebounds and three steals only scratched the surface of his bulldog-like defense, which only ramped up in pressure as the game reached a crescendo.

“I know what I can do, and I like to get my team involved,” Alexander reaffirmed, looking all the part of an elite-level point guard against the Huskies. “If it comes down to a situation where Julian can’t get a bucket, I like to step up and take over, and try to lead my team to a win.”

“Posh didn’t practice yesterday,” Anderson cited after his floor general was still feeling the effects of a hard hit against Marquette in the second half Saturday, from which he remained in visible pain down the stretch, and perhaps contributed to Rasheem Dunn handling the ball on the Red Storm’s ill-fated final possession. “His tailbone was hurt and he was getting treatment, so for him to come out and have that kind of performance, it says a lot about him.”

The two teams in Monday’s game both hit the road next, UConn heading to Creighton Saturday after its Wednesday game against Xavier was postponed due to the Musketeers’ current pause, while St. John’s has nine days to regroup before facing DePaul in Chicago. The Huskies will use that time to reevaluate an offense that, for stages, looked stagnant without Bouknight and his 20 point-per-game average.

“That’s a problem, and it’s going to be a problem,” a blunt Hurley stated. “We can overcome that problem, but we can’t give up 74 points. We’re not winning a game like today, that’s played in the seventies, with some of the limitations that we have offensively. There’s no one that can come anywhere close to filling the role that James can fill, but we need more from some people to overcome it. You take one of the best players in the country off your team, and that’s going to cause a lot of problems. We don’t have a lot of natural scorers.”

In the visiting locker room, however, a much-needed confidence boost arrived and had the necessary effect for a team that, when firing on all cylinders, can compete with the majority of the Big East.

“I personally feel like we can beat every team in the country,” Alexander gushed. “Now we’re coming together a little bit more, so it feels good at the moment, but we’re going to get right back at it next week.”

MAAC Monday: Quinnipiac’s return to league play, stat leaders, power rankings

Baker Dunleavy and Quinnipiac have returned from pause with focus on defensive intensity, and despite Bobcats’ 1-3 league start, potential and upside remains present. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

MAAC Monday returns this week in its usual three-segment format, updating stat leaders and power rankings, but spotlighting a program whose return to Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play happened a week ago, and despite its 1-3 record, has yielded many positives that can serve it well in February and March.

Sidelined for over a month after a COVID-related pause sacrificed the remainder of the December schedule for Quinnipiac, the Bobcats returned to the floor last weekend for the first time since December 6 when they welcomed Manhattan into the People’s United Center. After splitting two contests with the Jaspers, Baker Dunleavy’s team hit the road for a pair of games against Monmouth, controlling the majority of the first encounter before surrendering a late run to the Hawks that tied the game before Monmouth prevailed going away in overtime. This past Saturday, the Bobcats scored the first five points of the evening but were forced to play from behind after Monmouth took control and never looked back in a 70-63 decision at the OceanFirst Bank Center.

“King does a great job with the identity of his team,” Dunleavy said of Monmouth head coach King Rice, whose Hawks forced 27 Quinnipiac turnovers Friday. “They’re a team that plays at a great pace, really puts pressure on you to get back defensively, and I think it’s much easier to handle that in the beginning of a game when you’re fresh and locked in. I felt like we did a good job of getting our defense set, but they’re going to do what they do, and they’re hard to handle.”

On the Bobcats’ end, the growth of Jacob Rigoni was on full display as the senior anchored a multifaceted offense and proved he has become more than a perimeter threat. Dunleavy was confident in the offseason that Rigoni would be able to take on a greater load, and his optimism has been vindicated in the Australian becoming more of a rebounder and passer, ranking tied for second in the former category with an average of 7.5 boards per game.

“He’s known in our league as an elite shooter, and he is,” Dunleavy said of Rigoni. “But that’s something that teams are trying to take away. He’s had a few games this year where he’s had double-digit rebounds, and it’s really what we need from him at that position.”

Rigoni’s old role on the wing has been filled admirably as well, with freshman Tymu Chenery stepping in to not only space the floor and exploit the perimeter, but also to lead the Bobcats in scoring with help from guards Savion Lewis and Tyrese Williams.

“I can’t say that I knew he would come in and adapt from a scoring standpoint,” Dunleavy said of Chenery, a Philadelphian who seems to be a lock for MAAC all-rookie honors at his current pace. “He’s worked really hard since we’ve been here to get familiar with what we’re doing and hone into his fundamental skill set. He’s a talented player. He’s on the court because he’s a great defender, and while he’s on the court, he’s been aggressive offensively. That’s what we really like about him, and that’s what he’s got to continue to take pride in.”

Quinnipiac’s defense has taken on a different tenor this season as well, becoming more of a man-to-man outfit with promising results on that front. The Bobcats are yielding just 68 points per game, but early returns have indicated a much more stifling defense that harkens back to the aggressive and physical tones of Dunleavy’s predecessor in Hamden, Tom Moore.

“With our personnel, I think we’re longer and more athletic this year,” Dunleavy revealed. “When you have a guy like Seth Pinkney protecting the rim for you, Savion Lewis playing the ball, Tymu Chenery as a freshman — he’s a great defender — it’s something we didn’t get a lot of practice time with during the fall, but we spent the majority of our time working on our man-to-man defense. It’s something we wanted to be able to establish this year, and our mentality toward doing it has been very good. Considering the work that we’ve had, I like the concentration we’ve had on our defense. We’ve just got to be able to be more consistent.”

Quinnipiac returns to its home floor this weekend to host Niagara on Friday and Saturday after the latest round of schedule changes hit the MAAC. The Bobcats were initially slated to travel to Rider before Iona’s latest shutdown forced a shift in the conference schedule, but regardless of opponent, Dunleavy sees mounds of upside masked by a rocky start.

“I’ll be honest, I really like our team,” he said. “I like what I know we can be if we progress. It’s just unrealistic to judge yourself after what we’ve been through on your record. We’ve played well enough to be 3-1 at this point, but instead, we’re 1-3. We’ve just got to keep getting better. We’ve got a lot of young pieces that we’re putting out there, but overall, the thing I’m happiest about is we’ve shown effort and togetherness on the defensive side of the floor and we’ve got a lot of kinks to iron out, but the pieces are there and the formula’s there.”

Scoring Leaders
1) Isaiah Ross, Iona (22.3 PPG)
2) Deion Hammond, Monmouth (18.3)
3) Dwight Murray, Jr., Rider (14.9)
4) Anthony Nelson, Manhattan (14.4)
5) Jordan King, Siena (14.3)
6) Marcus Hammond, Niagara (14.3)
7) George Papas, Monmouth (13.7)
8) KC Ndefo, Saint Peter’s (12.8)
9) Manny Camper, Siena (12.7)
T-10) Majesty Brandon, Canisius (12.5)
T-10) Asante Gist, Iona (12.5)

Rebounding Leaders
1) Manny Camper, Siena (10.2 RPG)
T-2) Nelly Junior Joseph, Iona (7.5)
T-2) Jacob Rigoni, Quinnipiac (7.5)
4) Fousseyni Drame, Saint Peter’s (7.4)
5) Warren Williams, Manhattan (7.1)
6) Malek Green, Canisius (7.0)
7) Dylan van Eyck, Iona (6.9)
8) Marcus McClary, Monmouth (6.4)
9) Dwight Murray, Jr., Rider (6.2)
10) Jacco Fritz, Canisius (6.2)

Assist Leaders
1) Manny Camper, Siena (4.5 APG)
2) Dwight Murray, Jr., Rider (4.4)
3) Matthew Lee, Saint Peter’s (4.2)
4) Asante Gist, Iona (4.2)
5) Savion Lewis, Quinnipiac (3.9)
6) Raheim Sullivan, Marist (3.4)
7) Jordan King, Siena (3.3)
8) Jacco Fritz, Canisius (3.2)
9) Samuel Chaput, Monmouth (3.1)
10) Dylan van Eyck, Iona (2.9)

Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Kyle Young, Siena (.714)
2) Jackson Stormo, Siena (.697)
3) Ajiri Ogemuno-Johnson, Rider (.652)
4) Jordan Cintron, Niagara (.651)
5) Jordan Jones, Marist (.641)
6) Nelly Junior Joseph, Iona (.565)
T-7) Fousseyni Drame, Saint Peter’s (.524)
T-7) Melik Martin, Monmouth (.524)
9) George Papas, Monmouth (.517)
10) KC Ndefo, Saint Peter’s (.514)

Free Throw Percentage Leaders
1) Justin Roberts, Niagara (.917)
2) Jacob Rigoni, Quinnipiac (.900)
3) Dwight Murray, Jr., Rider (.891)
4) Ahamadou Fofana, Canisius (.889)
5) Taj Benning, Fairfield (.864)
6) Anthony Nelson, Manhattan (.857)
7) Jordan King, Siena (.821)
8) Asante Gist, Iona (.818)
9) Doug Edert, Saint Peter’s (.815)
10) Ricardo Wright, Marist (.800)

3-Point Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) George Papas, Monmouth (.484)
2) Jordan Henderson, Canisius (.455)
3) Tymu Chenery, Quinnipiac (.440)
T-4) Nick Hopkins, Siena (.438)
T-4) Brendan McGuire, Quinnipiac (.438)
6) Isaiah Ross, Iona (.424)
7) Asante Gist, Iona (.421)
8) Dwight Murray, Jr., Rider (.419)
9) Daryl Banks III, Saint Peter’s (.407)
10) Donovann Toatley, Monmouth (.405)

Steal Leaders
1) Berrick JeanLouis, Iona (2.3 SPG)
2) Elijah Buchanan, Manhattan (2.1)
3) Myles Ruth, Monmouth (1.9)
T-4) Deion Hammond, Monmouth (1.5)
T-4) KC Ndefo, Saint Peter’s (1.5)

Blocked Shot Leaders
1) KC Ndefo, Saint Peter’s (3.6 BPG)
2) Seth Pinkney, Quinnipiac (3.0)
3) Jordan Jones, Marist (2.1)
4) Warren Williams, Manhattan (1.8)
5) Nelly Junior Joseph, Iona (1.5)

Power Rankings
1) Siena (6-0, 6-0 MAAC)
Last Week: 1
Last Game: Saturday 1/16 at Rider (W 74-72)
Next Game: Friday 1/22 vs. Saint Peter’s, 7 p.m.

2) Monmouth (7-4, 7-3 MAAC)
Last Week: 2
Last Game: Saturday 1/16 vs. Quinnipiac (W 70-63)
Next Game: Friday 1/22 at Manhattan, 6 p.m.

3) Iona (5-3, 3-1 MAAC)
Last Week: 3
Last Game: Wednesday 12/23 vs. Coppin State (W 85-65)
Next Game: Saturday 1/30 at Marist, 1 p.m.

4) Saint Peter’s (6-5, 3-3 MAAC)
Last Week: 4
Last Game: Saturday 1/2 at Canisius (L 63-60)
Next Game: Friday 1/22 at Siena, 7 p.m.

5) Canisius (3-3, 3-3 MAAC)
Last Week: 5
Last Game: Saturday 1/2 vs. Saint Peter’s (W 63-60)
Next Game: Saturday 1/30 vs. Quinnipiac, 1 p.m.

6) Manhattan (5-4, 4-4 MAAC)
Last Week: 9
Last Game: Saturday 1/16 vs. Niagara (W 58-55)
Next Game: Friday 1/22 vs. Monmouth, 6 p.m.

7) Marist (7-5, 5-5 MAAC)
Last Week: 6
Last Game: Saturday 1/16 vs. Fairfield (L 55-52)
Next Game: Friday 1/22 at Rider, TBA

8) Niagara (5-7, 4-6 MAAC)
Last Week: 7
Last Game: Saturday 1/16 at Manhattan (L 58-55)
Next Game: Friday 1/22 at Quinnipiac, 4 p.m.

9) Quinnipiac (3-5, 1-3 MAAC)
Last Week: 8
Last Game: Saturday 1/16 at Monmouth (L 70-63)
Next Game: Friday 1/22 vs. Niagara, 4 p.m.

10) Rider (3-10, 3-7 MAAC)
Last Week: 10
Last Game: Saturday 1/16 vs. Siena (L 74-72)
Next Game: Friday 1/22 vs. Marist, TBA

11) Fairfield (3-12, 3-7 MAAC)
Last Week: 11
Last Game: Saturday 1/16 at Marist (W 55-52)
Next Game: Friday 1/29 at Monmouth, TBA