Wednesday, January 31, 2018

JP's 5 Thoughts: Seton Hall handles Providence for second straight win

Khadeen Carrington's 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting drove Seton Hall past Providence on a night where Pirates took control after 19-0 run in latter stages of first half. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Jason Guerette (@JPGuerette)

NEWARK, NJ -- Seton Hall returned home Wednesday night after righting their ship at DePaul over the weekend. That followed a bye week, so it’s been quite a while since they last took the floor at the Prudential Center. With a 73-57 win, the Pirates moved to 6-3 in the Big East and broke a tie with the visiting Providence in the league standings, ahead of a huge tilt with Villanova on Sunday.

Here are tonight's thoughts:

1. A Case Of The Run

This game was nip and tuck through the first 12 minutes or so, with Providence holding a 19-17 edge at the 8:33 mark of the first half. Then came the run that changed the game, a 19-0 thunderbolt by the Pirates that allowed them to take a firm grip on the contest and never let go. It started with four straight threes by Myles Powell, Khadeen Carrington (twice) and Desi Rodriguez. After the third of those, Ed Cooley called timeout, but it did nothing to stem the tide, as newly-minted Big East Chairman of the Boards Angel Delgado and Rodriguez scored the final seven points in the run. Providence in that span was all out of sorts, missing shots badly, and turning the ball over a couple times.

It gave the fans in attendance a tantalizing glimpse into just how good the Pirates can be when they are clicking. By the end of the run, everyone in the building was standing and cheering wildly.

2. Threes And ‘D’

The first half (thanks in part to that huge 19-0 run) was one of the best defensive halves Seton Hall has played this season, in fact, the Pirates' lowest point total given up in the first half all year. They held the Friars to 26 points on 33 percent shooting, and held point guard Kyron Cartwright (the key to the Friars’ offense) without a single point or assist.

But it continued into the second half as well. Coming in, Providence had Rodney Bullock (16.0), Alpha Diallo (11.9), Cartwright (11.6) and Jalen Lindsey (10.3) averaging double figures in scoring. Diallo finished with 25, but the other three had just 10 between them, all by Bullock as Lindsey and Cartwright went scoreless, with the latter going 0-for-9 from the floor with only two assists.

Aside from the fantastic defense, Seton Hall found their stroke from deep on their home floor again, going 9-for-21 from beyond the arc. After shooting 26 percent (21-for-81) from the great beyond in their losing stretch before the bye week, the Pirates have now shot 46 percent (17-for 37) in their last two wins. With a big body like Delgado inside and a transition game that’s deadly, when the Pirates add made shots to that, they’re an awfully tough squad to handle.

3. Pristine Khadeen

This was also one of the best games Khadeen Carrington had played all year. The senior had a remarkably efficient night with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and 3-of-7 from three, along with seven assists, a trio of steals and just one turnover. It was Carrington’s early offense that kept the Pirates close before the big run, and he kept it up the rest of the way.

I just made this point about the team as a whole, but the linchpin to that point has to be Carrington, who in his transition to lead guard has struggled at times with his own shot this year.

“It’s great to see him knocking his shots down (again),” senior forward Ismael Sanogo said afterwards. “If he’s knocking his shots down, teams have to press up (on defense) and he’s a great facilitator. It makes our team that much better.”

4. Complete Game

This was a great performance all around for the Pirates. They had balance (with four and nearly all five starters in double figures), they had what I call “spurtability” (with that 19-0 run that threw the entire momentum of the crowd their way), they had defense, they had the transition game working, and they played unselfish basketball with nearly as many assists (19, on 28 baskets) as Providence had field goals (22).

Coming off a bounce-back win at DePaul and with Villanova looming, this was an underrated big game in Newark to try and keep things going in the right direction. They also came in with an identical Big East record (5-3) as Providence.

“It was very important,” Sanogo said of the magnitude of the game tonight. “Not only because we have a big game on Sunday, but also we came in tied with Providence and now we move up to sole possession of fourth place or something like that, so it was a very big deal.”

“Coach came in telling us that this was a big game for the standings,” Powell said. “And in March, when they’re making our seed, this is the type of game they look at. He just kept expressing that this was an important game and we can’t worry about Sunday before we get this one.”

5. Into The Wildcats Den (Sort Of)

Now once again, we have Seton Hall and Villanova locking horns for the first time this season. This time, unlike last time and every time before that, the Pirates will play a true road game against the Wildcats at a place not named The Pavilion, as the game will take place Super Bowl Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center, home of the Flyers and 76ers, due to renovations being made at the normal site.

Thank goodness for that, as the on-campus arena at Villanova has been THE House of Horrors for the Hall -- they haven’t won a single game there since P.J. Carlesimo was on the sidelines and Bill Clinton was President of the United States. It may be a small thing relative to the game itself, but the Pirates could definitely use all the edges they can get against the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, even if they; more than any other Big East foe, have given the Wildcats a stiff test over the last four years or so.

That being said, it’s great that the Pirates were able to win tonight, but it’s even better to win the way they did tonight, with a team-wide great effort on both ends.

“I think it’s great for our seniors, for our confidence boost,” Powell said of this being the ideal way to go into a game against Villanova. “Now we can just focus on ‘Nova, what they have (in store) for us, and prepare to give them our best shot.”

“This was one of the best wins we had all year,” Delgado said. “When you win (on the road) and you have someone coming at you at home, you have to protect your house. We needed this win. Going to Villanova with two wins on our shoulders, it’s great. It’s good to have momentum, and that’s what we have to keep going.”

Kevin Willard quote book: Providence

On Khadeen Carrington's performance:
"I think Khadeen played -- again, I think he's been playing great all year -- I just think he's struggled at times making shots. I told him yesterday in practice he has to have the same confidence in his jump shot that I do. I think it's going in every time he shoots it, and he's got to keep on shooting it. I thought he played an extremely efficient game."

On defending Kyron Cartwright, who shot 0-for-9 from the floor:
"I think he's as good a guard as there is in the league, and I think he just had a bad night. He's been playing at a very high level -- I know he's been battling an ankle sprain over the whole thing -- the way he's been playing, I thought we did a good job early of kind of making him take some tough twos. We didn't give him any open threes, which I think he's been shooting the basketball very well. But for the most part, he's a phenomenal player. I just think he had a tough night. I think that kind of goes into that every once in a while."

On playing Seton Hall's bench in the first half:
"Yeah, we talked about that, I thought they got a lot more run against DePaul. I didn't sub as much in the second half, just because we've been -- we've had two bye weeks in the last three weeks and we haven't played as many games. I wanted to make sure our guys are game sharp, considering that we have a day off and we don't play again until Sunday, but I think our bench has been productive for what they need to do. They've been very efficient on the court. I think Myles Cale has been trending in a great direction for the last five, six games."

On Seton Hall's 19-0 first-half run:
"The biggest thing, I thought, Mike Nzei's offensive rebound and kickout to Khadeen for the three really kind of got us going, and Mike gets a lot of offensive rebounds. He gets a lot of long offensive rebounds and has a tendency to kind of pivot back in and put it back up, and we talked about the last couple days of when he gets his long rebounds, to kick it back out. It was a huge play. I thought it really kind of got the crowd going and got us going."

On perimeter defense being a key to Seton Hall's game plan:
"Yeah, I think the biggest thing is we wanted to try to make it hard early on for Cartwright, try to clog up the lane as much as possible. I thought (Alpha) Diallo played phenomenal. I was really impressed with his game in person, he's really improved. It makes them hard to guard when he's playing the way he is, but really, the start of the game was to kind of take away Jalen Lindsey and make it tougher for Kyron."

On Carrington's court vision:
"Again, I think he's getting a better feel as the teams have consistently gotten good -- I mean, we've played a tough schedule, but now you're playing someone -- you're playing against guys who have prepared for you every night. I think he's done a much better job of understanding he's got to get guys involved, he's got to get off the ball early, because eventually it's going to get back into his hands at the end of the play. I think he's -- I think that's one part that he's really understanding, and something that we're working hard with him, and to his credit, he's a good student."

On Eron Gordon as Carrington's backup:
"I think the biggest things for me, at those minutes, are -- it was tough for Jordan (Walker) -- he missed so many opportunities to play against some teams that he could get more minutes and I could get comfortable for him. I just thought Eron Gordon gives us a very calming influence out there, plus his size defensively right now is a little bit better. That was the main reason he played against DePaul -- DePaul has no small guards with Eli (Cain) and those guys, (Max) Strus -- so it was more or less trying to get him -- he's got a little bit more size and he's just a little bit more simpler on offense, and that's something with the minutes those guys are getting, we need."

On Providence's size and physicality against Angel Delgado:
"Yeah, I mean, I think that's everyone's game plan, to run as many big guys as possible. I know that's what Xavier did to him. With (Kalif) Young and with the other big guy, teams are throwing two or three big guys at him at a time. I think Angel's doing a great job -- he still had 14 -- they only had eight offensive rebounds and shot 38 percent, so I thought their guards hurt us more. Diallo had four offensive rebounds. That's one of our issues that we're dealing with -- their opposing forwards, not centers, are really actually hurting us on the glass."

On being 6-3 halfway through the Big East season, and on Villanova:
"We're 6-3, so I'm pretty happy. I have no thoughts on 'Nova. I've watched them, but I have not watched them where I could tell you about them, but you could probably tell me the same thing. They're really, really, really good, I mean, really good."

On Will Cody, the 14-year-old leukemia patient and special guest of Seton Hall who sat with the Pirates on the bench:
"Will was here last year, and we decided to bring him back for the Providence game. He's doing great health-wise. I told Will after the game -- I said, 'if we keep winning, I'm going to fire Fred Hill and you can have his spot,' -- and Fred agreed. He said, 'as long as we keep winning, I'll do anything.' All the guys were excited to have Will back and kind of see how he's progressed and see that he's doing well, and I think it's important for our guys to understand there's some kids out there -- there's people dealing with some really serious, tough stuff, and being part of the team technically as Will was, it's a good experience for him and it's great for our guys. I was glad we were able to do it."

Xavier outlasts St. John's as Ponds gets 1,000th point

By Jason Schott (@JESchott19)

JAMAICA, NY -- The Xavier Musketeers, who are ranked sixth in the nation, survived a big effort from St. John's, as they eked out a 73-68 win Tuesday night at Carnesecca Arena.

This was a big bounce back for St. John's after they lost at Butler on Saturday, but they are still winless in the Big East at 0-11, and are now 10-13 overall. They host Duke on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

St. John's started off strong, and got the crowd into it as they jumped out to a 14-8 lead in the opening minutes capped by a Bashir Ahmed layup. Xavier responded with a 15-3 run capped by a Quentin Goodin jumper at the 8:55 mark of the first half, and took a 37-32 lead into the half.

Xavier maintained that edge in the opening minutes of the second half, 41-36, but St. John's stormed back with a 9-2 run capped by a Shamorie Ponds layup off a Marvin Clark II steal at the 15:43 mark. The Red Storm kept it going, and led 55-51 on a Ponds jumper with 7:45 to play. Xavier came right back with a 10-1 run capped by Kerem Kanter free throws with 5:51 left that made it 61-56.

St. John's was within two, 63-61, when they got a break. Justin Simon was about to put up a layup before he got fouled by Trevon Bluiett. Since it appeared he didn't get the shot off, it should have been a 1-and-1, but instead, the officials ruled that it was in the act of shooting and gave Simon two free throws. Simon, a 65 percent free throw shooter, proceeded to miss both of them.

That was not it for the Johnnies, as they tied it at 67 on a Marvin Clark II three with 2:12 left, and he followed that up with a steal to give them a chance to take the lead with 1:45 left.

St. John's called a timeout with 24 seconds on the shot clock, and they came out of that with a play that would be run a lot later in the game. Ponds stood for about 15 seconds at the top of the key before passing to Clark next to him at the perimeter, then passing to Ahmed, who could not get a shot off as the shot clock hit zero.

Bluiett got to the line with1:04 left, and made both of his free throws to make it 69-67 Xavier. He then fouled Ahmed, and he missed one of two at the line with 42 seconds left. St. John's missed four of six free throws down the stretch, and were 10-of-16 from the line for the game.

Xavier took time on their ensuing possession, and Kanter put up a layup that appeared to be blocked by Tariq Owens. Instead, Owens was called for goaltending, awarding the basket to Kanter to make it 71-68 in favor of Xavier. This was a tough call, as the ball was barely out of Kanter's hands before Owens swatted it away. Normally, on a goaltend, the ball has to be going down. That was not at all possible on that play. Owens then proceeded to turn it over on a traveling violation with 11 seconds left, and Bluiett made two free throws with seven seconds on the clock to make it 73-68 and seal the win.

Ponds led the way for St. John's with 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting, with six steals, five assists and five rebounds. Clark had 19 points, seven rebounds, three steals, and two assists. Ahmed had 12 points with 10 rebounds to give him a double-double, along with an assist and a steal. Xavier was led by Bluiett, who had 14 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Kanter and Goodin had 13 points each.

Ponds said of St. John's falling to 0-11 in the Big East, “I don’t think we can believe it, but I mean there’s nothing we can do about it. We just have to go into each and every game knowing we can win. Even with our record, we have to take it one game at a time and try to break the ice. We have Duke on Saturday and we have to try to get it done at the Garden.”
Mullin said of whether it’s hard to believe that St. John’s is 0-11 in the Big East, “Yeah, they know that they’re right there. There’s no disputing that. It’s not up for debate. Again, tonight two possessions. That’s exactly what we’re dealing with. That’s where we’re at.”

Ponds said of handling the emotional recent games, “We are just trying to stay positive and have the right mindset. Day in and day out, there is nothing else to hold our head about, so we just have to stay positive."

Mullin said of keeping the team’s spirit up, “I wouldn’t say it’s easy. It’s job number one though. I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but it’s the way that we conduct ourselves through wins and losses. That’s consistent. To me, it’s really important right now, it has been this last month, that the way we handle this is the most important thing. I think they have done a good job with that process, but it’s something that I take very seriously because I think it’s important. They understand all the good things that they are doing, that they feel good about themselves, and last time I was here we talked about losing basketball games in this fashion and not being losers. Being consistent with your effort, being accountable with your actions, all of us, and I think when you do that, you learn a lot about yourself. I think they are all valuable lessons. Doesn’t make it easy at all, but this is what we are dealing with now. I think it’s important that we deal with it together and do it openly and honestly. When we get to the other side, we will look back and be proud of ourselves. I’m proud of the way they are playing. It’s just about getting that W, and that’s what we are going to keep working towards.”

On if there’s a common denominator in all the losses, Mullin said, “There’s been different things on each night. Minus three of those games, ironically it’s a five-point differential. I don’t think that means anything, but the one thing I would say is that we’ve had a hard time having five guys going [in the same game]. Like tonight, we had three guys going and our margin of error is pretty low. We’ve had a hard time having four or five guys click on the same night. We played seven guys tonight, so our margin of error is pretty small.”

Mullin said of the offense possibly becoming too reliant on Ponds, “We distribute the ball-handling duties to Justin quite a bit, and most of the time what we’re doing is collapsing the defense and looking for options. Marvin got great looks tonight, Bashir came back after having a tough first half with fouls, so stuff is out there. I thought tonight we got a little stagnant. I didn’t think that Justin was as aggressive as he was last time we played [Xavier], Tariq was in foul trouble, and if you were going to say that Tariq and Justin were going to combine for three points, I wouldn’t think that it would be a close game. There are reasons for our foul trouble, but if you look back on certain nights we haven’t had five guys clicking. If you told me that Tariq was going to have zero and Justin only three, I didn’t think we’d be in the game. That’s a plus, but also somewhat puzzling.”

Clark said of St. John's coming up just short, “Of course it’s disappointing because we want to win, but I’m not disappointed. We played very hard and it’s as well as a game we can play against them defensively. It’s tough to lose, but we have to keep our heads high against the No. 6 team in the country.”

On handling the emotional recent games, Clark said, “Just hanging in there and trying to continue being a family. We are in this together and the only way we are going to overcome it is together. We are just hanging in there being tough and trying to persevere. At the end of the day, everything I’ve been through; win, lose or draw, I always think back to what I’ve been through in my life and put it into perspective.”

Clark said of his message to the rest of the players after the game, “I just told the guys to keep our heads up. When the game ends the way it did or as hard as we fought for those 40 minutes against the No. 6 team in the country, all we can do is walk away with our heads high. I told them at the end of the game, it was something that we could control, and that was free throws. We missed a few of those, and if we made a few of those, we keep that lead. Overall, I told them keep their heads up and stay positive.”

Xavier head coach Chris Mack said of the game, “Life in the Big East. St. John's is a tough team. I know their record doesn’t show that, and I know that they are going through some things, but they're a tough matchup for us. We didn’t play particularly well, but I thought that St. John’s had a lot to do with that. They hit you with quickness on both ends of the floor. We lost way too many possessions through turnovers that result in Ponds, Simon, or whoever going the other way for two points. Give St. John’s credit, they pressured us and turned us over. I thought in the end, Kerem made two huge plays. We knew it would be a tough game, and we didn’t have inkling that it wasn’t going to be a tough game. We expected that coming in. We had a couple of plays that could have broken it to eight or nine in our advantage, but St. John’s fought and made some great plays.”

Mack said of St. John’s, “You sort of throw last Saturday’s game at Butler out the window. We knew that we would face a much-better test than they gave Butler. You look at when they played Villanova, that tough game against Georgetown where the kid throws in a three-pointer, and not to mention their best playmaker [Marcus LoVett] goes out for the rest of the year. They’re going to beat some teams, and I’m just glad that we don’t have to play them a third time during the regular season, because it very well could be us. That might be the best 0-11 team I’ve ever seen anywhere in a conference, period.”


Shamorie Ponds recorded his 1,000th career point with a layup at the 11:23 mark of the second half. That basket gave St. John's a 53-50 lead at the time.

Marvin Clark II said of playing with Ponds, “He’s one of the best players that I have ever played with and it’s great playing with him for me as a shooter. He draws a lot of attention and I get a lot of open shots. He’s an unselfish player, great playmaker, we are both lefties and it’s been great playing with him, I enjoy it night in and night out.”

(Photos by Jason Schott/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

LIU Brooklyn WBB vs. FDU Photo Gallery

Photos from LIU Brooklyn's 61-49 loss to Fairleigh Dickinson on January 29, 2018:

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Big East Bonanza: Midseason honors, stat leaders, power rankings

The midpoint of the Big East Conference season is upon us, and so too is the return of Big East Bonanza. As a result, the opening segment of our recap will focus on midseason recognitions before the traditional segue into stat leaders and power rankings. In this week's recap, all statistics reflected within were gleaned from the individual stat pages of each school's website for midseason awards, and from the Big East stat page for stat leaders.

Player of the Year: Jalen Brunson, Villanova (19.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.0 APG, 56% FG, 78% FT, 47% 3-pt FG)
CBS Sports college basketball insider Jon Rothstein said it best about Jay Wright's junior point guard: Brunson is a computer-generated floor general. Not only is he an adept scorer and a passer far beyond his years, he wasted little time picking up where Josh Hart left off as the face of the Wildcats, a leader both on and off the hardwood. As the first of six double-figure scorers on the Main Line, the 21-year-old is like a bottle of fine wine: He just gets better by the day.

Freshman of the Year: Omari Spellman, Villanova (10.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 1.4 BPG, 46% FG, 41% 3-pt FG)
Good things come to those who wait, and Spellman is proving the old adage true in his first season after being ruled ineligible a year ago. The redshirt freshman has fit right into Villanova's rotation, and has quickly asserted himself in the interior of Wright's outfit alongside Eric Paschall, giving the Wildcats more of a conventional look in the process.

Sixth Man of the Year: Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova (13.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 50% FG, 42% 3-pt FG)
Phil Booth's hand injury will likely cost DiVincenzo this honor at the end of the year due to the sophomore having started too many games, but DiVincenzo adds a completely different dimension than any other reserve in the conference, his tour de force against St. John's on January 13 being Exhibit A of just how valuable the Big Ragu can be. Should DiVincenzo ultimately exceed the criteria for sixth man honors, Xavier's Kerem Kanter would be next in line.

Defensive Player of the Year: Mikal Bridges, Villanova (16.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.9 SPG)
You may have noticed a recurring theme among our first four selections, and it only underscores the lethality of this year's incarnation of the Wildcats. For this award, it came down to Bridges and Creighton's Khyri Thomas, both of whom shared this distinction last season; and while Thomas' on-ball defense (see his work on Shamorie Ponds last week at St. John's among his many showcase performances) earns him top billing, the two-way ability of Bridges to alter shots in the paint and then get out in transition is second to none, which gives him the edge at the end of the day.

Most Improved Player: Markus Howard, Marquette (21.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.9 APG, 47% FG, 95% FT, 38% 3-pt FG)
Very rarely do you see the conference's leading scorer considered as the most improved player in the conference, but Howard has transformed in his sophomore season. The 18-year-old, in addition to his Big East-leading 21-plus points per game and explosive offense, has become a full-fledged superstar under Steve Wojciechowski's tutelage, expanding his game to solidify himself as a threat whenever he is on the floor, regardless of whether or not the ball is in his hands.

Coach of the Year (tie): Chris Mack, Xavier; and Greg McDermott, Creighton
Jay Wright being able to add perhaps his finest work to the Villanova tapestry by shepherding the top-ranked team in the nation deserves its fair share of plaudits, but the nod here goes to coaches who were not expected to win as much as the Wildcats, yet have positioned themselves to overachieve with legitimate Final Four contenders. In the case of Mack, whose Xavier program comes into tonight's meeting with St. John's ranked sixth in the country, it is a case of the Musketeers putting last year's late-season struggle to rest and finding ways to impact the game beyond leading scorer Trevon Bluiett. For McDermott, it is the Bluejays' trademark efficiency, magnified by having to replace Justin Patton, that places him in the conversation for top coach honors, not to mention getting the most out of a nine-man rotation that added to its depth with Jacob Epperson making his debut against Georgetown.

Midseason All-Big East First Team (in alphabetical order)
Trevon Bluiett, Xavier (18.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 46% FG, 81% FT, 43% 3-pt FG)
Mikal Bridges, Villanova (16.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.9 SPG, 49% FG, 83% FT, 43% 3-pt FG)
Jalen Brunson, Villanova (19.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 5.0 APG, 56% FG, 78% FT, 47% 3-pt FG)
Angel Delgado, Seton Hall (13.2 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.0 BPG, 49% FG)
Marcus Foster, Creighton (19.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.8 APG, 51% FG, 79% FT, 45% 3-pt FG)

Markus Howard, Marquette (21.7 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.9 APG, 47% FG, 95% FT, 38% 3-pt FG)

Midseason All-Big East Second Team (in alphabetical order)
Jessie Govan, Georgetown (16.2 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.3 BPG, 49% FG, 76% FT, 33% 3-pt FG)
Kelan Martin, Butler (19.6 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.0 APG, 1.0 SPG, 45% FG, 85% FT, 32% 3-pt FG)
Shamorie Ponds, St. John's (19.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.7 APG, 2.3 SPG, 84% FT)
Desi Rodriguez, Seton Hall (17.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 50% FG, 71% FT, 36% 3-pt FG)
Andrew Rowsey, Marquette (20.5 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 43%% FG, 90% FT, 42% 3-pt FG)

Midseason All-Big East Third Team (in alphabetical order)
Kamar Baldwin, Butler (15.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.6 SPG, 44% FG, 75% FT, 34% 3-pt FG)
Kyron Cartwright, Providence (11.6 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 6.4 APG, 1.2 SPG, 47% FG, 83% FT, 45% 3-pt FG)
Marcus Derrickson, Georgetown (15.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 51% FG, 89% FT, 42% 3-pt FG)
Sam Hauser, Marquette (14.1 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.1 SPG, 50% FG, 91% FT, 50% 3-pt FG)
Khyri Thomas, Creighton (14.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.5 SPG, 50% FG, 84% FT, 38% 3-pt FG)

Midseason All-Big East Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
Rodney Bullock, Providence (16.0 PPG, 1.3 APG, 44% FG, 73% FT, 35% 3-pt FG)
Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova (13.7 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.2 SPG, 50% FG, 42% 3-pt FG)
Marin Maric, DePaul (12.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 51% FG, 88% FT, 33% 3-pt FG)
Justin Simon, St. John's (11.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 4.9 APG, 2.6 SPG, 47% FG, 43% 3-pt FG)
Max Strus, DePaul (17.8 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.2 SPG, 43% FG, 81% FT, 36% 3-pt FG)

Midseason Big East All-Defensive Team (in alphabetical order)
Mikal Bridges, Villanova (16.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.9 SPG)
Tariq Owens, St. John's (8.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 3.4 BPG)
Shamorie Ponds, St. John's (19.1 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.7 APG, 2.3 SPG)
Justin Simon, St. John's (11.6 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 4.9 APG, 2.6 SPG)
Khyri Thomas, Creighton (14.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.5 SPG)

Scoring Leaders
1) Markus Howard, Marquette (21.7 PPG)
2) Andrew Rowsey, Marquette (20.5)

3) Marcus Foster, Creighton (19.9)
4) Kelan Martin, Butler (19.6)
5) Jalen Brunson, Villanova (19.4)
6) Shamorie Ponds, St. John's (19.1)
7) Trevon Bluiett, Xavier (18.9)
8) Max Strus, DePaul (17.8)
9) Desi Rodriguez, Seton Hall (17.4)
10) Mikal Bridges, Villanova (16.7)

Rebounding Leaders
1) Angel Delgado, Seton Hall (12.0 RPG)
2) Jessie Govan, Georgetown (10.3)
3) Martin Krampelj, Creighton (8.1)
4) Omari Spellman, Villanova (7.4)
5) Justin Simon, St. John's (7.4)
6) Marcus Derrickson, Georgetown (7.3)
7) Ronnie Harrell, Jr., Creighton (6.6)
8) Rodney Bullock, Providence (6.6)
9) Kelan Martin, Butler (6.5)
10) Tariq Owens, St. John's (6.2)
11) Marin Maric, DePaul (6.2)

Assist Leaders
1) Kyron Cartwright, Providence (6.4 APG)
2) Quentin Goodin, Xavier (5.3)
3) Jalen Brunson, Villanova (5.0)
4) Justin Simon, St. John's (4.9)
5) Shamorie Ponds, St. John's (4.7)
6) Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall (4.3)
T-7) Eli Cain, DePaul (4.2)
T-7) Andrew Rowsey, Marquette (4.2)
9) Aaron Thompson, Butler (3.7)
10) Jonathan Mulmore, Georgetown (3.6)

Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Tyler Wideman, Butler (.679)
2) Martin Krampelj, Creighton (.671)
3) Tyrique Jones, Xavier (.657)
4) Kerem Kanter, Xavier (.566)
5) Jalen Brunson, Villanova (.555)
6) Kaleb Johnson, Georgetown (.553)
7) Toby Hegner, Creighton (.540)
8) Tariq Owens, St. John's (.531)
9) Eric Paschall, Villanova (.510)
10) Marcus Derrickson, Georgetown (.510)
11) Marin Maric, DePaul (.510)

Free Throw Percentage Leaders
1) Markus Howard, Marquette (.952)
2) Andrew Rowsey, Marquette (.901)
3) Marcus Derrickson, Georgetown (.889)
4) Marin Maric, DePaul (.883)
5) Eric Paschall, Villanova (.864)
6) Kelan Martin, Butler (.851)
7) Khadeen Carrington, Seton Hall (.839)
8) Khyri Thomas, Creighton (.836)
9) Shamorie Ponds, St. John's (.835)
T-10) Kyron Cartwright, Providence (.833)
T-10) J.P. Macura, Xavier (.833)

Three-Point Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Sam Hauser, Marquette (.496)
2) Jalen Lindsey, Providence (.478)
3) Jalen Brunson, Villanova (.472)
4) Marcus Foster, Creighton (.449)
5) Kyron Cartwright, Providence (.448)
6) Kaiser Gates, Xavier (.444)
7) Toby Hegner, Creighton (.435)
8) Trevon Bluiett, Xavier (.430)
9) Phil Booth, Villanova (.430)
10) Mikal Bridges, Villanova (.425)
11) Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova (.423)

Steal Leaders
1) Justin Simon, St. John's (2.6 SPG)
2) Shamorie Ponds, St. John's (2.3)
3) Mikal Bridges, Villanova (1.9)
4) Kamar Baldwin, Butler (1.6)
5) J.P. Macura, Xavier (1.5)

Blocked Shot Leaders
1) Tariq Owens, St. John's (3.4)
2) Omari Spellman, Villanova (1.4)
3) Jessie Govan, Georgetown (1.3)
4) Mikal Bridges, Villanova (1.2)
5) Matt Heldt, Marquette (1.0)

Power Rankings (last set of rankings are from January 17)
1) Villanova (20-1, 7-1 Big East)
Last Week:

Last Game: Sunday 1/28 at Marquette (W 85-82)
Next Game: Thursday 2/1 vs. Creighton, 6:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. CT)

2) Xavier (19-3, 7-2 Big East)
Last Week:

Last Game: Wednesday 1/24 vs. Marquette (W 89-70)
Next Game: Tuesday 1/30 at St. John's (Carnesecca Arena), 8:30 p.m.

3) Creighton (17-5, 7-3 Big East)
Last Week:

Last Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. Georgetown (W 85-77)
Next Game: Thursday 2/1 at Villanova, 5:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. ET)

4) Seton Hall (16-5, 5-3 Big East)
Last Week: 2
Last Game: Sunday 1/28 at DePaul (W 86-70)
Next Game: Wednesday 1/31 vs. Providence, 7 p.m.

5) Butler (15-7, 5-4 Big East)
Last Week: 7
Last Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. St. John's (W 70-45)
Next Game: Wednesday 1/31 at Marquette, 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CT)

6) Providence (14-7, 5-3 Big East)
Last Week:

Last Game: Tuesday 1/23 at Villanova (L 89-69)
Next Game: Wednesday 1/31 at Seton Hall, 7 p.m.

7) Marquette (13-8, 4-5 Big East)
Last Week:

Last Game: Sunday 1/28 vs. Villanova (L 85-82)
Next Game: Wednesday 1/31 vs. Butler, 8 p.m. (9 p.m. ET)

8) Georgetown (13-8, 3-7 Big East)

Last Week: 8
Last Game: Saturday 1/27 at Creighton (L 85-77)
Next Game: Saturday 2/3 at Xavier, 6 p.m.

9) DePaul (9-12, 2-7 Big East)
Last Week:

Last Game: Sunday 1/28 vs. Seton Hall (L 86-70)
Next Game: Saturday 2/3 at Butler, 11 a.m. (12 p.m. ET)

10) St. John's (10-12, 0-10 Big East)
Last Week:

Last Game: Saturday 1/27 at Butler (L 70-45)
Next Game: Tuesday 1/30 vs. Xavier (Carnesecca Arena), 8:30 p.m.

Monday, January 29, 2018

MAAC Monday: Midseason honors, stat leaders, power rankings

With the end of January marking the de facto halfway point in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference season, today's opening segment of MAAC Monday will be a list of midseason honorees for each of the award categories presented at the end of the regular season, plus three not officially awarded by the conference that will we include nonetheless. Following our recognitions will, per usual, be a refreshed set of stat leaders and power rankings. For this week's edition of MAAC Monday, all statistics reflected within were gleaned from the individual stat pages of each school's website for the midseason honors, and from the MAAC statistics page for stat leaders.

Player of the Year: Isaiah Reese, Canisius (16.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.3 SPG, 48% FG, 90% FT, 38% 3-pt FG)
The Golden Griffins' talented sophomore wing has done more this season than just elevate his game in the absence of Kiefer Douse, Kassius Robertson, and Phil Valenti. The Miami native has become half of arguably the MAAC's most explosive superstar duo alongside senior forward Jermaine Crumpton, and is a large reason why Reggie Witherspoon has brought the Griffs to the top of the MAAC standings. Reese's long road to Buffalo, profiled here in this excellent feature by Vincent Simone of NYC Buckets, which included Witherspoon initially recruiting him while still an assistant at Chattanooga, is not as circuitous two years later, but has shown to contain a valuable payoff in the form of becoming perhaps the MAAC's next household name.

Rookie of the Year: Takal Molson, Canisius (12.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 45% FG, 37% 3-pt FG)
The nod for top freshman in the MAAC is going to be a two-horse race between Molson and Rider's Jordan Allen, but the homegrown talent has given the Griffs a much-needed shot in the arm alongside Crumpton and Reese. A starter in all of Canisius' 22 games thus far this season, Molson has wasted little time making an impact for a team picked ninth in the MAAC preseason poll amid the roster turnover on Main Street, becoming a third double-figure scorer in one of the league's most gifted offenses while developing his defensive prowess further every time he steps on the floor. If he can avoid hitting the proverbial freshman wall, a piece of hardware could be his to call his own in just over a month.

Sixth Man of the Year: Chaise Daniels, Quinnipiac (11.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 52% FG, 1.2 BPG)
Daniels has proven his loyalty to the Bobcat program this year after rumors surfaced following former head coach Tom Moore's dismissal that the Connecticut native would join Mikey Dixon and Peter Kiss in transferring out of Hamden. Since then, the emotional senior leader has provided a valuable impact off the bench in Baker Dunleavy's four-guard attack, becoming Quinnipiac's most productive big man and an integral piece of the puzzle in the Bobcats' surprising 6-4 start to MAAC play. The race for sixth man honors is still wide open, but if Dunleavy sticks to his current rotation and keeps Jacob Rigoni in the starting lineup, Daniels will still be eligible to earn an honor he has demonstrated he deserves.

Defensive Player of the Year: Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (6.1 RPG, 2.5 BPG)
Isaiah Reese is a strong candidate to win this honor as well as the Player of the Year title, but Paulicap has given Manhattan in just three short months their most active rim protector since Rhamel Brown, who took this award home three years in a row. Seldom is there a game where Paulicap's presence is not felt on the floor when the Jaspers are in their element on defense, and the sophomore's value is high enough to where Steve Masiello named him a team captain before even making his program debut, something that had never previously occurred in his first six years at the helm in Riverdale.

Most Improved Player: Cameron Young, Quinnipiac (17.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG)
The MAAC does not officially present a Most Improved Player award, but if it did, Young would be the recipient in perhaps the easiest of choices this season considering he has come from seemingly out of nowhere to lead Quinnipiac in scoring and rank among the top ten in the conference after playing just eight minutes all of last season. Young's rise has coincided with a Bobcat team playing fundamentally sound basketball a year ahead of schedule to make a name for itself among the top half of the standings in a season where few expected them to win games in the heart of the league schedule.

Coach of the Year: Tim Cluess, Iona
Baker Dunleavy will undoubtedly be touted for this distinction, as will Reggie Witherspoon and Kevin Baggett. With no disrespect to either of those three, no coach has been able to get as much out of his team as Cluess has with Iona, no small feat considering the Gaels came into this season seeking a third consecutive MAAC title. What sets this year's incarnation of the maroon and gold apart, though, is the lack of a bona fide superstar player for the first time in Cluess' eight-year tenure. As a result, the proven winner has had to rely on a greater team dynamic than in any of his first seven campaigns, and the change in tactics has yielded an Iona outfit whose whole adds up to a greater sum than its parts in the wake of having to replace all-MAAC forward Jordan Washington. Rickey McGill has gotten little to no credit outside of New Rochelle for being a steady hand anchoring the backcourt, getting help from seniors the likes of Zach Lewis and Deyshonee Much, and the pairing of TK Edogi and Roland Griffin has filled Washington's interior role admirably. Of all the buttons Cluess has had to push over the years, this one may be his best work.

Midseason All-MAAC First Team (in alphabetical order)
Kahlil Dukes, Niagara (21.1 PPG, 3.4 APG, 48% FG, 91% FT, 45% 3-pt FG)
Stevie Jordan, Rider (13.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.8 SPG, 44% FG)
Tyler Nelson, Fairfield (20.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.4 SPG, 90% FT, 32% 3-pt FG)
Isaiah Reese, Canisius (16.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.3 SPG, 48% FG, 90% FT, 38% 3-pt FG)
Matt Scott, Niagara (20.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.3 SPG, 43% FG, 70% FT, 33% 3-pt FG)

Midseason All-MAAC Second Team (in alphabetical order)
Jermaine Crumpton, Canisius (16.6 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 47% FG, 83% FT, 32% 3-pt FG)
Rickey McGill, Iona (14.0 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.5 SPG, 45% FG, 70% FT, 36% 3-pt FG)
Austin Tilghman, Monmouth (11.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 48% FG, 78% FT)
Dimencio Vaughn, Rider (14.3 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 51% FG, 79% FT, 40% 3-pt FG)
Cameron Young, Quinnipiac (17.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.3 SPG)

Midseason All-MAAC Third Team (in alphabetical order)
Nick Griffin, Saint Peter's (13.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.4 APG, 41% FG, 75% FT, 37% 3-pt FG)
Takal Molson, Canisius (12.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 45% FG, 37% 3-pt FG)
Brian Parker, Marist (18.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.8 APG, 48% FG, 71% FT, 35% 3-pt FG)
Frederick Scott, Rider (13.6 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 51% FG)
Rich Williams, Manhattan (13.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.0 APG, 44% FG, 80% FT, 41% 3-pt FG)

Midseason All-MAAC Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
Jordan Allen, Rider (13.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 88% FT, 39% 3-pt FG)
Chaise Daniels, Quinnipiac (11.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 52% FG, 1.2 BPG)
Deyshonee Much, Iona (12.2 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 1.4 SPG, 42% FG, 84% FT, 40% 3-pt FG)
Tyere Marshall, Rider (10.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, 51% FG)
Zane Waterman, Manhattan (10.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 46% FG, 30% 3-pt FG)

Midseason MAAC All-Defensive Team (in alphabetical order)
Chaise Daniels, Quinnipiac (11.8 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 52% FG, 1.2 BPG)
Stevie Jordan, Rider (13.0 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 6.2 APG, 1.8 SPG, 44% FG)
Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (9.5 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 59% FG, 2.5 BPG)
Marvin Prochet, Niagara (9.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 1.0 BPG)
Isaiah Reese, Canisius (16.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.0 APG, 2.3 SPG)

Midseason MAAC All-Rookie Team (in alphabetical order)
Jordan Allen, Rider (13.2 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 88% FT, 39% 3-pt FG)
Deion Hammond, Monmouth (11.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 44% FG, 40% 3-pt FG)
Rich Kelly, Quinnipiac (10.3 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 5.3 APG, 77% FT)
Takal Molson, Canisius (12.8 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 2.9 APG, 45% FG, 37% 3-pt FG)
Roman Penn, Siena (9.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.3 SPG, 41% FG, 85% FT, 34% 3-pt FG)

Scoring Leaders
1) Kahlil Dukes, Niagara (21.1 PPG)
2) Tyler Nelson, Fairfield (20.8)
3) Matt Scott, Niagara (20.7)
4) Brian Parker, Marist (18.3)
5) Cameron Young, Quinnipiac (17.5)
6) Jermaine Crumpton, Canisius (16.6)
7) Isaiah Reese, Canisius (16.4)
8) Dimencio Vaughn, Rider (14.3)
9) Rickey McGill, Iona (14.0)
10) Nick Griffin, Saint Peter's (14.0)

Rebounding Leaders
1) Marvin Prochet, Niagara (7.9 RPG)
2) Matt Scott, Niagara (7.7)
3) TK Edogi, Iona (7.4)
4) Frederick Scott, Rider (7.3)
5) Zane Waterman, Manhattan (6.5)
6) Tyere Marshall, Rider (6.5)
7) Cameron Young, Quinnipiac (6.3)
8) Dimencio Vaughn, Rider (6.2)
9) Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (6.1)
10) Quinn Taylor, Saint Peter's (6.1)

Assist Leaders
1) Stevie Jordan, Rider (6.2 APG)
2) Rich Kelly, Quinnipiac (5.3)
3) Rickey McGill, Iona (5.2)
4) Austin Tilghman, Monmouth (5.1)
5) Isaiah Reese, Canisius (5.0)
6) Malik Johnson, Canisius (4.7)
7) Zavier Turner, Manhattan (3.9)
8) Kahlil Dukes, Niagara (3.4)
9) Tyler Nelson, Fairfield (3.3)
10) Roman Penn, Siena (3.1)

Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (.588)
2) TK Edogi, Iona (.571)
3) Chaise Daniels, Quinnipiac (.516)
4) Tyere Marshall, Rider (.513)
5) Frederick Scott, Rider (.507)
6) Dimencio Vaughn, Rider (.505)
7) Prince Oduro, Siena (.500)
8) Roland Griffin, Iona (.496)
9) Jesus Cruz, Fairfield (.484)
10) Brian Parker, Marist (.477)

Free Throw Percentage Leaders

1) Kahlil Dukes, Niagara (.905)
2) Isaiah Reese, Canisius (.900)
3) Tyler Nelson, Fairfield (.896)
4) Roman Penn, Siena (.845)
5) Sam Idowu, Saint Peter's (.837)
6) Schadrac Casimir, Iona (.833)
7) Jermaine Crumpton, Canisius (.829)
8) Zavier Turner, Manhattan (.798)
9) James Towns, Niagara (793)
10) Dimencio Vaughn, Rider (.787)

Three-Point Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Jacob Rigoni, Quinnipiac (.506)
2) Schadrac Casimir, Iona (.487)
3) Louie Pillari, Monmouth (.483)
4) Jan Svandrlik, Iona (.464)
5) Khalil Richard, Siena (.451)
6) Elijah Gonzales, Saint Peter's (.447)
7) Kahlil Dukes, Niagara (.447)
8) Zavier Turner, Manhattan (.442)
9) Rich Williams, Manhattan (.413)
10) Spencer Foley, Canisius (.406)

Steal Leaders
1) Isaiah Reese, Canisius (2.3 SPG)
2) Stevie Jordan, Rider (1.8)
3) Jesus Cruz, Fairfield (1.7)
4) Elijah Gonzales, Saint Peter's (1.7)
5) Rickey McGill, Iona (1.7)

Blocked Shot Leaders
1) Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (2.5 BPG)
2) Dominic Robb, Niagara (1.4)
3) Chaise Daniels, Quinnipiac (1.2)
4) Jonathan Kasibabu, Fairfield (1.1)
5) Marvin Prochet, Niagara (1.0)

Power Rankings
1) Iona (13-8, 7-2 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. Manhattan (W 78-65)
Next Game: Monday 1/29 at Fairfield, 7 p.m.

2) Rider (15-7, 8-2 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Friday 1/26 vs. Saint Peter's (W 63-60)
Next Game: Monday 1/29 vs. Monmouth, 7 p.m.

3) Canisius (13-9, 7-2 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. Niagara (L 105-89)
Next Game: Friday 2/2 at Marist, 7 p.m.

4) Niagara (14-9, 7-3 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Saturday 1/27 at Canisius (W 105-89)
Next Game: Friday 2/2 at Saint Peter's, 7 p.m.

5) Quinnipiac (9-13, 6-4 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. Fairfield (W 75-70)
Next Game: Friday 2/2 at Iona, 7 p.m.

6) Monmouth (7-13, 3-5 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. Marist (W 91-78)
Next Game: Monday 1/29 at Rider, 7 p.m.

7) Manhattan (10-12, 5-5 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. Iona (L 78-65)
Next Game: Tuesday 1/30 vs. Marist, 7 p.m.

8) Fairfield (7-13, 2-7 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. Quinnipiac (L 75-70)
Next Game: Monday 1/29 vs. Iona, 7 p.m.

9) Saint Peter's (8-12, 2-7 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Friday 1/26 at Rider (L 63-60)
Next Game: Monday 1/29 at Siena, 7 p.m.

10) Siena (6-16, 2-7 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Thursday 1/25 at Monmouth (L 67-56)
Next Game: Monday 1/29 vs. Saint Peter's, 7 p.m.

11) Marist (4-17, 2-7 MAAC)
Last Week:

Last Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. Monmouth (L 91-78)
Next Game: Tuesday 1/30 at Manhattan, 7 p.m.

LIU Brooklyn vs. Central Connecticut Photo Gallery

Photos from LIU Brooklyn's 94-89 overtime win over Central Connecticut on January 27, 2018:

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

LIU Brooklyn WBB vs. Sacred Heart Photo Gallery

Photos from LIU Brooklyn's 50-46 loss to Sacred Heart on January 27, 2018:

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

MAAC Tripleheader: 5 Observations

UNIONDALE, NY -- A test run for a potential Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament site produced mixed results.

The MAAC's much-hyped Nassau Coliseum tripleheader took place Saturday, with a close affair between Quinnipiac and Fairfield preceding Monmouth's businesslike victory over Marist and Iona's latest win at the expense of rival Manhattan, but the bottom-line figure of just 2,545 in attendance did little to promote the former home of the New York Islanders as a feasible venue for the conference's postseason championship over the 2020-22 seasons once Albany's contract expires at the end of next season.

There were several bright spots, however, as noted by our handful of observations from the day's transpirings on Hempstead Turnpike:

1) Quinnipiac will win a MAAC championship before their current freshman class graduates.
This is a takeaway that does not need statistics or any kind of numbers to back up. Sometimes, when watching a team and a coach, one can tell whether or not a program has it together, and the Bobcats certainly do. Head coach Baker Dunleavy has acquitted himself very well through guiding Quinnipiac to a 6-4 MAAC record thus far, good enough for a No. 5 seed and first-round bye at the Times Union Center if the season ended today. The former Jay Wright assistant's in-game coaching has been as good as advertised, and associate head coach Tom Pecora's combination of battle-savvy experience and recruiting prowess has already translated into the Bobcats being able to fortify their positions while maintaining a young roster that has already overachieved in Hamden. A similar standing at this juncture would have been expected had Tom Moore remained at the helm, as Mikey Dixon and Peter Kiss most likely would have stayed, but as long as Dunleavy is able to keep the uptick going, the current freshman class of Rich Kelly and Jacob Rigoni, along with seldom-used Matt Donahue, has both the intangibles and steady leadership necessary to cut down a net sooner rather than later.

2) Monmouth may finally be starting to reap the benefits of a challenging season.
The Hawks have won two straight to offset any negative feelings from a 1-5 start to MAAC play, and senior point guard Austin Tilghman had some resonating comments following Saturday's win over Marist.

"I think we made huge strides," he proposed following a take-charge stretch drive to cap a 24-point, 12-rebound, six-assist tour de force. "There's been lapses in games for four to six minutes where teams would go up, and I think we grew today, because we had a mental lapse when Micah (Seaborn) went down. We were up by 10 and they came back, but we were able to push through this time, and I think that's a statement to us growing up as a team and getting better."

Speaking of Seaborn, his latest setback, a hamstring injury suffered early in the second half, prompted his head coach to wonder if he rushed the junior guard back prematurely.

"How many times are we going to put him in when he's not 100 percent?" King Rice ruminated. "Everybody wants him back. That's where now I've gotta look at it and say, 'Did I bring him back too soon? Should I have brought him back for Iona?' He's not 100 percent, so he's compensating for all kinds of stuff, and then something else can happen. He's a competitor, but I feel tremendously bad for him just because little things. We need him on Monday (at Rider), and to throw him back out there after he got a new injury today, I don't think was the right thing. He's obviously one of the best basketball players in the MAAC, but I truly just hope that I can get the kid healthy so he can do all the things and shine the way he wants to."

In Seaborn's stead, freshman Deion Hammond, whose 24 points against Marist were a career-high in a promising rookie campaign, validated his coach's confidence.

"We were excited when we got Deion," Rice recalled. "We thought he would be good, and we felt that at some point during his freshman year, he had the ability to maybe be a starter. He made it happen faster than that. Deion has the greenest of green lights just to let it go on the break. He's been tremendous from the beginning."

3) Manhattan isn't hitting the panic button just yet.
For the second time in the conference season, the Jaspers followed up a pair of wins with back-to-back losses after falling to Iona Saturday night, the latest setback coming without Rich Williams being available after an injury suffered at Niagara.

"He's day-to-day," Steve Masiello revealed with regard to the fifth-year senior's status for Tuesday's game against Marist. "He has a cut on his shooting hand, and he tried to play in the game against Niagara. He went out there as the warrior he is, and couldn't play to his performance. It's a cut that he lacerated in a practice before we went up. He got some stitches, and we're just monitoring it. We want to make sure we have him for when it counts."

And in the face of an uncharacteristic inconsistency for a senior-laden team, at least in Manhattan's record, Masiello has remained his usual confident self, not looking to deploy the safety net for a team he feels is still lethal once the MAAC converges upon the Times Union Center in March.

"Not at all," he shot back when prompted to address a potential cause for concern. "I have great faith in myself, I have great faith in the kid next to me (Zane Waterman), I have great faith in Rich Williams, Z(avier) Turner, Calvin Crawford. I'll take those four any day of the week. I'll take those four in a MAAC tournament any day of the week, and good luck to anyone coming against us."

4) Tim Cluess isn't getting nearly enough credit for getting Iona to play team basketball.
Maybe it's being taken for granted that Iona just simply reloads every year and maintains its perch atop the MAAC, but Cluess is doing by far his best work in eight years in New Rochelle, keeping Iona near the top of the standings without a standout all-league talent, a luxury he has had in each of his first seven seasons; be it Mike Glover, Scott Machado, Momo Jones, Sean Armand, David Laury, A.J. English, or Jordan Washington. This incarnation of the Gaels is not as gaudy or flamboyant offensively in the vein that Cluess' past teams have been, but they do all the little things right, including defense, something that far too often gets lost in the shuffle of the maroon and gold championship elixir.

"Tonight, we did a great job, from the first man to the last man, to the guys that are on the bench," Cluess proclaimed. "It's a full team effort, and I was really proud of it."

5) Thoughts on a potential Long Island MAAC tournament?
For Cluess, a Floral Park native who talked up the positives of moving the postseason tournament to the Coliseum in last Wednesday's league-wide conference call, his heart remained partial to playing in familiar confines, but he gave an objective answer Saturday night.

"I don't make any of those decisions," he stated. "All I can say is it was a nice arena, it was a nice venue, it was fun playing here. It was kind of tournament-style, game after game after game. I thought it was great for our league and for exposure, and to get some fans that maybe normally don't see some of our teams play. The final decision's going to be a financial one, I'm sure, but whatever the league decides is what they decide. I'm sure they're going to make the best choice for us."

Masiello echoed the tournament atmosphere shortly after Cluess spoke, but acted as a voice of reason when offering a much more realistic state of affairs thereafter:

"I thought it had a real tournament-type feel to it," he admitted. "I was having flashbacks of different MAAC tournaments. It kind of brought me back to up in Springfield and up in Albany when we've played them before, and I kind of felt the game flowing that way."

"I think the MAAC needs change," he said when addressing a potential exodus from Albany. "I've been saying that not because it's Siena. It's just something we've done. I think Atlantic City's a phenomenal idea, I think Nassau's a great idea, I think Westchester -- I think there's a lot of great ideas. We've got to execute it, we have to have all eleven schools on board, we have to have all the presidents and ADs and coaches."

"There can be no sour grapes," he continued. "It has to be complete buy-in. We have to all stop being immature and understand there's going to be cycles. Some years it's going to benefit Manhattan, some years it's going to benefit Iona, some years it's going to benefit Siena. Whoever it is, let's all have ownership, invest in our conference, and then I think great things will happen for this conference. But if we're going to continue to be petty and secretly really not want things to be successful because, at the time, it's not advantageous to us as coaches, that's as immature and selfish as it gets, and that's as hypocritical as you can be in this business."