JERSEY CITY, NJ - The new year is upon us. Resolutions are hopefully still in place. In the college game, the conference season is in full swing.
Some leagues, such as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, gave us a few games as appetizers in December. For the most part, the opening six weeks was reserved for non-league meetings. Now, the conference games are in full force.
On Monday, we were reminded how the predictions of fall have no bearing on the games of winter. In a MAAC meeting at Saint Peter’s Yanitelli Center, the host Peacocks defeated league favorite Monmouth, 71-61. Saint Peter’s improved their conference record to 2-1.
Monmouth began with a 7-0 start before the Peacocks settled into a comfortable rhythm. The key factor on this evening was defense, individually (Chazz Patterson holding Monmouth’s Justin Robinson to 11 points) and collectively as the Hawks managed an offensive efficiency of 86, a strong performance to upend a formidable foe; and in the process, send a message regarding the quality of John Dunne’s group at Saint Peter’s.
Tough defense. That very well could be the message on this night. Defense will dictate. Standings and projections are fun. The contenders will distance from pretenders on their ability to defend night in and night out. The first night of MAAC play in 2017 emphatically proved this.
Monmouth huddles during an early timeout:
Antwon Portley looks for an opening against Monmouth's Je'lon Hornbeak:
Monmouth head coach King Rice and associate head coach Rick Callahan observe the action:
Je'lon Hornbeak on the move against the Saint Peter's defense:
Veteran official Ted Valentine worked the whistle on this contest, adding to the big-game atmosphere:
King Rice with The Shore Sports Network during Monmouth's radio postgame show:
From left to right: Chazz Patterson, head coach John Dunne, and Trevis Wyche address the media: