The latest MAAC Monday will once again take a closer look at a particular player in its opening segment before updating the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference stat leaders and weekly power rankings, with midseason awards being handed out next week. In the leadoff spot today will be the sophomore Player of the Year contender behind the resurgence of an unlikely ruler of the conference entering the halfway point of the season, a storyline that has taken center stage amid the unpredictability of the league. In this week's edition of MAAC Monday, statistics in the second segment were gleaned from the MAAC website, with the advanced numbers in the first section coming courtesy of Ken Pomeroy's rankings and more traditional stats compliments of Matt Reitnour, assistant athletic director for communications and men's basketball media contact at Canisius.
With that inadvertent giveaway, the Golden Griffins become the latest team to enter the spotlight in our curtain-raising segment, a place they have earned with their 7-1 start to MAAC play, punctuated by a regular-season sweep of Iona. While senior Jermaine Crumpton, a first team preseason all-MAAC selection, was expected to carry most of the load for the Griffs, very few expected Isaiah Reese to break out as much as he has.
Granted, Reese showed several flashes of brilliance as a freshman, but was concealed among the multifaceted attack Reggie Witherspoon was able to trot out on a nightly basis in the forms of Crumpton, Kiefer Douse, Kassius Robertson, Phil Valenti, and then-freshman point guard Malik Johnson. Therefore, the Miami native was able to fly under the radar going into his second campaign and first as a starter, but with the turnover on the roster in Buffalo, has cleared the runway to take flight toward the next level.
"He's really worked on his game, but I think he's healthy this year," head coach Reggie Witherspoon said of Reese, whose 16.5 points per game leads the Griffs. "Last year, he had a wrist injury -- he didn't say anything about it, we didn't talk about it -- and he did a lot of things last year even with that. Between the spring and the summer, he's really worked on his game, and he's just getting going, really. The sky's the limit, and he's really in a position where he can display a lot of skills."
That rich skill set, headlined by Canisius' first-ever triple-double in just the third game of the season, includes a steal percentage that ranks second in the MAAC to supplement his conference-leading 2.3 thefts per game on the defensive end, but is highlighted by a MAAC-best .600 effective field goal percentage and 118.0 offensive efficiency rating that is second only to crosstown rival Kahlil Dukes of Niagara in the league. Furthermore, his contributions seem to increase as his games go on, with 203 of his 346 points coming after halftime, translating to nearly 10 points in the final 20 minutes alone. Most notably, it is his two-way talent that shines when the game is decided, as 33 of his 48 steals have come in the final stanza as well. However, when it came time for other coaches across the MAAC to quantify Reese's impact on the Griffs, two of the conference's foremost authorities looked past the defense and marveled at the sheer volume by which his evolution has affected things when the ball is in his hands.
"I just think he's getting more attempts," Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello assessed after Reese singlehandedly burned the Jaspers this past Friday with all 22 of his points coming after the intermission in Canisius' 68-59 victory. "He's more a focal point of the offense."
"He's much more consistent," said Iona's Tim Cluess, whose proclamation that Reese is having a great year seems like a progressive understatement. "He's much more fluid in their offense and his range is deeper, and being the go-to guy for them, I think because he's getting a lot more shots, he's playing with that much more confidence. I think he's playing terrific."
And as the MAAC slate intensifies, so too has the knack for Reese to become the deciding factor in games. Only once since December 22 has he been held to less than 10 points, only scoring eight against Saint Peter's on January 12, and in his last three games, he has shot a combined 13-for-29 on three-point field goal attempts, including one from the edge of the midcourt logo in each of the Golden Griffins' contests against Manhattan and Iona this past weekend that harkened back to the range and explosiveness of the last elite scorer in the program, former MAAC Player of the Year Billy Baron.
"I saw it last year when he was a freshman," said Crumpton of Reese's potential. "He's a tremendous player. He can do it on both ends of the floor, and not only scoring-wise. He gets his teammates involved, and he's going to be a top player in this league for years to come. I tell him, 'Carry us, and we're going to follow your lead.'"
1) Kahlil Dukes, Niagara (21.2 PPG)
2) Tyler Nelson, Fairfield (21.1)
3) Matt Scott, Niagara (20.6)
4) Brian Parker, Marist (18.3)
5) Cameron Young, Quinnipiac (17.6)
6) Isaiah Reese, Canisius (16.5)
7) Jermaine Crumpton, Canisius (15.9)
8) Nick Griffin, Saint Peter's (14.3)
9) Rickey McGill, Iona (14.2)
10) Rich Williams, Manhattan (14.1)
1) Marvin Prochet, Niagara (8.1 RPG)
2) Matt Scott, Niagara (7.7)
3) Frederick Scott, Rider (7.6)
4) TK Edogi, Iona (7.5)
5) Tyere Marshall, Rider (6.4)
T-6) Zane Waterman, Manhattan (6.4)
T-6) Cameron Young, Quinnipiac (6.4)
8) Quinn Taylor, Saint Peter's (6.2)
9) Isaiah Reese, Canisius (5.8)
10) Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (5.8)
1) Stevie Jordan, Rider (6.4 APG)
2) Rich Kelly, Quinnipiac (5.4)
3) Rickey McGill, Iona (5.3)
4) Austin Tilghman, Monmouth (5.2)
5) Malik Johnson, Canisius (4.8)
6) Isaiah Reese, Canisius (4.7)
7) Zavier Turner, Manhattan (4.0)
8) Kahlil Dukes, Niagara (3.6)
9) Tyler Nelson, Fairfield (3.2)
10) Roman Penn, Siena (3.1)
Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (.603)
2) TK Edogi, Iona (.573)
3) Tyere Marshall, Rider (.533)
4) Chaise Daniels, Quinnipiac (.514)
5) Dimencio Vaughn, Rider (.513)
6) Matija Milin, Fairfield (.509)
7) Frederick Scott, Rider (.505)
8) Prince Oduro, Siena (.497)
9) Roland Griffin, Iona (.489)
10) Isaiah Reese, Canisius (.486)
Free Throw Percentage Leaders
1) Tyler Nelson, Fairfield (.904)
2) Isaiah Reese, Canisius (.900)
3) Kahlil Dukes, Niagara (.898)
4) Sam Idowu, Saint Peter's (.851)
T-5) Jermaine Crumpton, Canisius (.841)
T-5) Roman Penn, Siena (.841)
7) E.J. Crawford, Iona (.826)
8) Zavier Turner, Manhattan (.795)
9) Isaiah Lamb, Marist (.792)
10) James Towns, Niagara (.785)
Three-Point Field Goal Percentage Leaders
1) Jacob Rigoni, Quinnipiac (.494)
2) Jan Svandrlik, Iona (.473)
3) Louie Pillari, Monmouth (.471)
4) Schadrac Casimir, Iona (.464)
5) Zavier Turner, Manhattan (.455)
6) Khalil Richard, Siena (.451)
7) Kahlil Dukes, Niagara (.451)
8) Dimencio Vaughn, Rider (.436)
9) Rich Williams, Manhattan (.423)
10) Spencer Foley, Canisius (.406)
1) Isaiah Reese, Canisius (2.3 SPG)
2) Stevie Jordan, Rider (1.8)
3) Elijah Gonzales, Saint Peter's (1.6)
4) Jesus Cruz, Fairfield (1.6)
5) Rickey McGill, Iona (1.5)
Blocked Shot Leaders
1) Pauly Paulicap, Manhattan (2.5 BPG)
2) Chaise Daniels, Quinnipiac (1.4)
3) Dominic Robb, Niagara (1.3)
4) Jonathan Kasibabu, Fairfield (1.1)
5) Marvin Prochet, Niagara (1.0)
1) Canisius (13-8, 7-1 MAAC)
Last Week: 2
Last Game: Sunday 1/21 at Iona (W 84-82)
Next Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. Niagara, 7 p.m.
2) Iona (12-8, 6-2 MAAC)
Last Week: 1
Last Game: Sunday 1/21 vs. Canisius (L 84-82)
Next Game: Saturday 1/27 vs. Manhattan (Nassau Coliseum), 7 p.m.
3) Rider (13-7, 6-2 MAAC)
Last Week: 3
Last Game: Saturday 1/20 vs. Marist (W 60-57)
Next Game: Tuesday 1/23 at Fairfield, 7 p.m.
4) Manhattan (10-10, 5-3 MAAC)
Last Week: 4
Last Game: Sunday 1/21 at Saint Peter's (W 68-57)
Next Game: Wednesday 1/24 at Niagara, 7 p.m.
5) Niagara (12-9, 5-3 MAAC)
Last Week: 5
Last Game: Saturday 1/20 at Fairfield (L 104-85)
Next Game: Wednesday 1/24 vs. Manhattan, 7 p.m.
6) Quinnipiac (7-13, 4-4 MAAC)
Last Week: 7
Last Game: Sunday 1/21 vs. Siena (W 76-69)
Next Game: Thursday 1/25 at Marist, 7 p.m.
7) Saint Peter's (8-11, 2-6 MAAC)
Last Week: 6
Last Game: Sunday 1/21 vs. Manhattan (L 68-57)
Next Game: Friday 1/26 at Rider, 7 p.m.
8) Monmouth (5-13, 1-5 MAAC)
Last Week: 8
Last Game: Friday 1/19 vs. Iona (L 76-73)
Next Game: Thursday 1/25 vs. Siena, 7 p.m.
9) Fairfield (7-11, 2-5 MAAC)
Last Week: 11
Last Game: Saturday 1/20 vs. Niagara (W 104-85)
Next Game: Tuesday 1/23 vs. Rider, 7 p.m.
10) Siena (6-15, 2-6 MAAC)
Last Week: 10
Last Game: Sunday 1/21 at Quinnipiac (L 76-69)
Next Game: Thursday 1/25 at Monmouth, 7 p.m.
11) Marist (4-15, 2-5 MAAC)
Last Week: 9
Last Game: Saturday 1/20 at Rider (L 60-57)
Next Game: Thursday 1/25 vs. Quinnipiac, 7 p.m.