Wednesday, November 5, 2014

MAAC Preseason Poll: Quotes, Takeaways & Nuggets

While Iona's first-place prediction was expected, David Laury's Preseason Player of the Year honors were not. (Photo courtesy of the New York Post)

Iona senior forward David Laury, the preseason MAAC Player of the Year:
"I don't know if I can say I was surprised. It motivates me to take it to the next step a heck of a lot. I feel like I have a lot to prove, more so to myself. The past two years, I don't feel like I played to my potential."

Marist head women's basketball coach Brian Giorgis on his team, which was tied for first in the preseason coaches' poll:
"We don't care who gets it done, we can score from a lot of positions. Right now, we're still trying to get our identity."

Iona head coach Tim Cluess, picked first in the preseason coaches' poll:
"I hope they're right and that we're there at the end of the year. I think that's going to be the story of our year, what the 4 through 11 (on the roster) do for us. I'm hoping they all come together sooner rather than later."

Quinnipiac head women's basketball coach Tricia Fabbri on her team, which was tied with Marist for first in the preseason coaches' poll:
"This year, we're excited about having an experience to really draw upon. We have a senior-laden team with a lot of talented young ladies. Not a day goes by where we don't think about how we came up short. We don't lose sight of what we're playing for, why we do what we're doing on a daily basis. No words need to be spoken."

Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos, picked second in the preseason coaches' poll:
"I don't think it matters where you get picked. Do I care that the target is on our back? I think it already is. The good news is we're probably not a one-man band anymore. We don't have a star. We're going to be the sum of our parts."

Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello, picked third in the preseason coaches' poll:
"I'm really excited about this year for Manhattan basketball. We want to keep that momentum going and build on that. I think it's really going to come down to who's playing the best in February and March. The guys want to see the program do well. It's bigger than Steve Masiello, it's bigger than George Beamon, Rhamel, (Brown) it's about Manhattan and the program. It matters to them, and it's something that I'm proud of."

Masiello on his senior class:
"This senior class is a different class. Emmy, (Andujar) RaShawn (Stores) and Donovan, (Kates) they believed in a vision that wasn't there. They believed in me out of high school and committed to me as an unproven head coach. They believed in my vision before it was ever materialized into anything, so for me, it's a very special group. I want this group to go out the way they envisioned when they first committed and came to Manhattan."

On Albany hosting the MAAC Championship:
"We've never won there since I've been the head coach. Three games? I'm just trying to win one. That tells you the magnitude of how tough it is to win there. When those teams at Siena, like last year, and this year, are really good, that's one of the best home courts there are. It's a phenomenal atmosphere, the Siena fans are as passionate as any fans there are."

- Several surprises were revealed in the all-conference team voting, first among them being Iona's Isaiah Williams, who was projected as a second team selection, and a fringe first-teamer, being named to the third team. In addition, David Laury being named preseason Player of the Year was a shock to most MAAC insiders, many of whom expected his teammate, A.J. English, to have that honor bestowed upon him.

- Both Laury and Quinnipiac's Ousmane Drame were unanimous first team selections. On the women's side, both Iona selections were unanimous in Joy Adams and Player of the Year Damika Martinez, who seeks a third consecutive recognition as the best in the conference. Quinnipiac senior guard Jasmine Martin was also a unanimous choice.

- Only Canisius and Niagara did not have representation in any of the three all-conference men's basketball teams; however, both of the western New York schools had players on the women's second team in Kayla Hoohuli of Canisius and Niagara's Meghan McGuinness.

- As shocking as it was to see Quinnipiac ranked fifth on the men's side, it was equally as eyebrow-raising to see the Bobcat women tied for first alongside Marist in the polls. Iona, last year's regular season champion with a pair of first team selections on its roster, was selected third in a campaign where Billi Godsey must find replacements for three veterans in Aleesha Powell, Haley D'Angelo and Sabrina Jeridore.

Nuggets of Note
- Picked fourth, Saint Peter's brings a wealth of experience and four returning starters into John Dunne's ninth season at the helm. Coincidentally, the Peacocks were the No. 4 seed in 2011, when Dunne guided a team led by Wesley Jenkins into the NCAA Tournament after upsets of Iona and Fairfield saw Saint Peter's cut down the nets in Bridgeport.

- On that note, Iona is attempting to become the first preseason No. 1 pick to win a MAAC championship since Siena in 2010. That year was also the most recent in which the Times Union Center saw a champion crowned, and moreover, not only have both the Gaels and Saints changed coaches since then, each has also won a conference title in the last four years. Tim Cluess and Iona stood tall in 2013, while Jimmy Patsos celebrated an NCAA Tournament berth the year before, albeit with former MAAC member Loyola.

- Three teams were picked three spots higher than their regular season finish last year: Siena, (picked second, finished fifth) Saint Peter's, (picked fourth, finished seventh) and Monmouth, who was picked sixth after finishing ninth. Conversely, Canisius was picked six spots lower than their 2013-14 result, landing in the No. 10 spot after finishing fourth a year ago.

- On the women's side, each of the top three selections reached the semifinals in the MAAC tournament last season, while only two of the top three men's basketball picks (Iona and Manhattan) could make a similar claim.

- Finally, with the selections of David Laury and Damika Martinez as preseason Players of the Year, Iona has had a preseason or regular season men's or women's Player of the Year honoree in each of the last four seasons, with Michael Glover, (2011-12 Preseason Player of the Year) Scott Machado, (2011-12 Player of the Year) Momo Jones, (2012-13 Player of the Year) and Martinez (2012-13 and 2013-14 Player of the Year, 2014-15 Preseason Player of the Year) all taking home similar honors.

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