December 20th, 2005
College Basketball: New York Metro Ranking
Top two remain strong
In this the second installment of my ranking of the
college basketball teams in the New York metropolitan area, the turnover
takes place in the middle of the poll as the top two teams, Iona and
Hofstra, did nothing to justify dropping them in the rankings. The Gaels
have not played since a 79-76 win at Marist on the 11th, but they
should not be penalized for concentrating on their exams. Iona will put
their undefeated record (7-0) on the line at Kentucky on the 23rd
in what should be a good barometer for Jeff Ruland’s guys. Hofstra, with a
record of 6-2, rebounded nicely from a blowout loss at Virginia Commonwealth
with wins over Stony Brook and Dartmouth. Added to the rankings are the Red
Foxes of Marist, thanks to a 56-53 win over St. John’s. I figure that if the
Red Storm can be ranked, then something had to be done on behalf of Matt
Brady’s local squad. Below are the new rankings of the fourteen teams in
this week’s poll. (Read the previous poll.)
1. Iona (7-0) (last ranking: 1) - The backcourt
tandem of Steve Burtt Jr. and Ricky Soliver combine to average 41.2 points
per contest. But they will have their hands full with Rajon Rondo when they
head to Lexington for their next game. With a win over Iowa State already in
hand, could a win over Kentucky add to a possible at-large resume? We’ll see
2. Hofstra (6-2) (2) – The Pride may boast the
second best backcourt in the NYC area in the form of Antoine Agudio (15.0
ppg) and Loren Stokes (14.1 ppg). And playing in the tough Colonial Athletic
Association against the likes of Old Dominion, UNC Wilmington, and Virginia
Commonwealth (87-64 winners over the Pride on the 7th), they’ll
need all the help they can get.
3. Wagner (6-1) (7) – Seven Seahawks average
between 6.4 and 14.0 points per game, a scoring balance that has led
to a four-game winning streak. The most recent win was a 63-61 nail-biter at
Rhode Island. But we’ll find out how good this team can be when they travel
west to face UCLA on the 21st.
4. Seton Hall (6-3) (5) – Yes, the schedule hasn’t
been the toughest, and yes they lost a 44-42 decision to Northwestern on
Sunday. But did anyone honestly expect Donald Copeland to average 15.0
points and 4.0 assists per contest? Whether this continues into Big East
play remains to be seen, but the increased contribution from Jamar Nutter is
another bonus for the Pirates.
5. St. Peter’s (4-4) (11) – Making the largest
jump in the poll is St. Peter’s, owners of a four-game win streak as well
as a share of first place in the MAAC. Keydren Clark is up to the usual,
leading the Peacocks with 22.4 points per game. Add to this the scoring of
Raul Orta (13.0 ppg) and Todd Sowell (12.5 ppg, 10.1 rpg), and this has the
makings of a team that can make a move toward the top of their league. Next
up is a home game against Fairleigh Dickinson on the 22nd.
6. Columbia (6-2) (8) – The Lions hit a rough
spot, losing games to Army and Wagner after starting off 5-0. But thanks to
the trio of Brett Loscalzo (13 points), John Baumann (14), and Ben Nwachukwu
(15), Columbia rebounded with a 71-67 win over Lafayette. Next up are games
at Notre Dame and St. John’s, more than enough of a challenge for the Lions.
7. Farleigh Dickinson (5-4) (4) – The Knights of
FDU drop slightly, not so much for their 1-2 record in the past three as for
the play of the teams above. FDU, looking to make a return trip to the NCAA
Tournament, is off to a 2-0 start in the Northeast Conference. With a
non-conference schedule that has included Maryland and Seton Hall, and will
include Louisville (December 28th), the Knights will be
well-tested come January, when league play hits its peak.
8. Manhattan (3-4) (6) – After losing their first
four of the season, Bobby Gonzalez’s Jaspers have rebounded nicely in
winning their last three games by an average of 12.3 points per game. Yes,
the quality of their opponents leaves something to be desired (their last
two wins: North Dakota St., Loyola MD), but this is only fair when looking
at who they started the season out with. Next are games against Fordham and
St. Francis (NY) before they look to improve their undefeated record (2-0)
in MAAC play.
9. Marist (3-4) (not ranked) – Making their debut
in the poll are the Red Foxes of Marist, owners of the aforementioned win
against St. John’s. Will Whittington, who scored 20 points against the Red
Storm, was MAAC Player of the Week thanks to his contribution to the win.
And when you can make Darryl Hill go 6-for-19 from the floor, you may be on
to something. This being said, an allowance had to be made for the Red
Foxes, despite the distance in mileage (90 miles) from New York City.
10. St. John’s (5-3) (3) – A seven spot drop for a
5-3 team? Below two teams with identical 3-4 records? It goes something like
this...Manhattan beat Marist...which beat St. John’s, and that’s why the Red
Storm fell so far. Despite having four players in double figures and holding
Marist to 38% from the field, SJU came up on the short end of the stick
thanks to percentages of 33% from the field and 50% from the foul line.
Taking twenty-six three pointers while making only seven doesn’t help the
cause either. But look for Norm Roberts’ team to move up, even with a trip
to Duke on the 21st.
11. St. Francis-NY (3-5) (9) – The Terriers drop
two spots in the poll, but come off of a solid defensive effort in a 55-45
win over Hartford on the 18th. Not a high scoring team, St.
Francis has eight players averaging at least four points per game. Led by
Christian Brown’s 13.8 ppg, this team will have to rely on each other as
well as their defense in order to make noise in the Northeast Conference.
Upcoming games against Hofstra and Manhattan will be a good indicator of
where they stand in the NYC area.
12. Fordham (3-6) (10) – To say the least, this is
not what was expected of a team that some thought at the start of the year
could challenge for an NIT bid. With Bryant Dunston (16.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg)
leading the way, and Jermaine Anderson (16.2 ppg) and Marcus Stout (13.9 ppg)
helping out, things could improve for the Rams. But can these three continue
to average 30-plus minutes per game? In order for this team to qualify for
postseason play, they might have to.
13. LIU-Brooklyn (2-4) (12) – After winning games
against New Hampshire and Hartford, the Blackbirds gave ninety-one to
Harvard in a 12-point loss to the Crimson. In losses, LIU has given up an
average of 81 points per game, which is much too high for this team to be
successful. Six players average at least 6.7 points per game, led by James
Williams at 15.0 ppg. But if the Blackbirds can’t defend any better, then it
will be another year of wondering if Charles Jones can come back.
14. Stony Brook (0-6) (13) – Close losses to
Lehigh and Columbia, and four other losses by double digits. It’s going to
be a long season for Steve Pikiell and the Seawolves this season I fear.