Teams ranked in the 12-17 area of the final rankings are clearly in a position to either move up or down next season. The team with the best chance to make a significant move up the standings in their league would have to be Manhattan (12-19), who return all key contributors next season. Guard Antoine Pearson was a Third Team All-MAAC selection this season, and swingman Devon Austin went a long way in establishing himself as this team’s leader in the MAAC Tournament. Youngsters such as Chris Smith and Rashad Green should be ready to take on more responsibility next season as well.
Army (14-16), Columbia (13-15) and Hofstra (12-18) will all head into the off-season knowing that they’ve got some large shoes to fill in replacing Jarell Brown, John Baumann and Antoine Agudio respectively. But there are some promising returnees for next season, most notably Charles Jenkins (Hofstra) and Josh Miller (Army). Fairleigh Dickinson (8-20) will have to replace guards Manny Ubilla and Bernell Murray, but second-leading scorer Sean Baptiste is slated to return.
Lastly, an Iona (12-20) that went through the season on a virtual roller coaster can look forward to next season, which brings a solid recruiting class along with a pair of four-year transfers (Kashif Pratt from Seton Hall and Jonathan Huffman from Louisville). They’ll have to replace a trio of key contributors in Kyle Camper, Dexter Gray and Devon Clarke, but things are looking up for Kevin Willard’s program. But before ranking these six teams, here is the Third Team All-Metro squad along with some honorable mention choices.
Third Team All-Metro
G Jonathan Han (Fairfield) – 11.7 ppg, 6.2 apg, 44.7% 3PT
The junior from Brooklyn was Fairfield’s most consistent option on offense this year, and yet he still led the MAAC in assists per game. Selected to the conference’s Second Team All-Conference squad, Han was the catalyst for the Stags’ second half run that nearly got them to the top of the MAAC standings. Based on his improvement over the past year, Han should be a candidate for first team honors in 2008-09.
G Jaytornah Wisseh (Long Island) – 15.8 ppg, 5.1 apg, 4.8 rpg
Only a sophomore, Wisseh led the Blackbirds in scoring and was second in the Northeast Conference in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.58). His performance resulted in a selection to the NEC’s Second Team All-Conference squad, and it also played a big role in LIU’s best season in ten years. Like Han, Wisseh should definitely be a candidate for first team honors in his league next season.
G Drew Shubik (Sacred Heart) – 11.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.5 apg
One of the main reasons as to why the Pioneers once again reached the Northeast Conference final was Shubik, a jack-of-all-trades guard who was also a member of the Second team All-Conference squad. Shubik led Dave Bike’s team in both rebounding and assists, and was second in scoring behind Brice Brooks. The senior from Stoystown, PA leaves the Sacred Heart campus as the program’s seventh all-time assist man, and he also received a pair of academic honors as well. Shubik, named Northeast Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year, was also named to the ESPN the Magazine District I Academic All-America team.
F Ryan Thompson (Rider) – 15.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3.4 apg, 53.7% FG
Just like Shubik, Ryan was a guy who you could find all over the stat sheet just about every night for the Broncs. Thompson, a Second Team All-MAAC selection, was second on the team in points, rebounds and field goal percentage while leading the team in assists per game. With older brother Jason off to the NBA, Ryan will be expected to be one of the leaders in 2008-09. And he’s more than capable of stepping up to the plate.
F Anthony Mason Jr. (St. John’s) – 14.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.3 apg
Mason Jr. was Norm Roberts’ best offensive option this season, and he did either off the bench (six games) or in a starter’s (sixteen starts) role. An honorable mention All-Big East selection, Mason Jr. led the Red Storm in scoring and was third on the team in both rebounds and assists per game. Despite missing eight games due to injury, Mason Jr. was second on the team in both field goal and three point attempts, which should underscore just how important he was to his team’s success. His highlight this season may have been the game-winner he hit against Seton Hall on March 1st.
Honorable Mention All-Metro
G Antoine Pearson (Manhattan)
G Sean Baptiste (Fairleigh Dickinson)
G Harris Mansell (Rider)
F Robert Hines (St. Francis)
F JR Inman (Rutgers)
Final Rankings 12-17
12. Army (14-16)
The Black Knights finished just about where people thought they would in the Patriot League pecking order, taking sixth place. The positive to be taken out of this year includes their second straight trip to the Patriot League semifinals, and the fact that Josh Miller will be back next season. Miller was the only member of the league’s All-Tournament Team who didn’t play for either of the finalists, American and Colgate. But Jim Crews will have to figure out how to replace leading scorer Jarell Brown, but some of the key contributors from this season will be back at West Point in 2008-09.
13. Columbia (13-15)
Head coach Joe Jones will have quite the task ahead of him this off-season as he looks to replace six departing seniors from this year’s team. Led by two-time First Team All-Ivy selection John Baumann, this class is Columbia’s most successful since 1982-83. Key contributors slated to be back include guards Niko Scott and K.J. Matsui, and forward Joe Bova. There will definitely be some growing pains early for Columbia next season, as you don’t come across groups like the departing class every day. But they do have a chance to improve upon their .500 record in conference play next year.
14. Hofstra (12-18)
Well, it took Tom Pecora’s team some time to get acclimated to college basketball, and this young team understandably dealt with some setbacks in the early going. But a viable second option in freshman Charles Jenkins stepped to the plate as teams focused their attention on Antoine Agudio. Jenkins, named CAA Rookie of the Year after ranking tenth in the conference in scoring (15.1 ppg), will shoulder even more of the scoring load with Agudio graduating. Other newcomers who should be ready to go next season include Darren Townes and Nathaniel Lester. The Pride should be better than this season’s 12-18 finish, even with the loss of a player as special as Agudio.
15. Iona (12-20)
The good news in year one of the Kevin Willard era was that all hands were on deck for most of the season after last year’s injury-plagued two win debacle. But for some reason the Gaels just couldn’t maintain positive momentum. Prime example was the way in which they finished the season. An impressive win in the regular season finale over rival Manhattan, followed by a loss to Canisius in the first round of the MAAC Tournament.
But with a few of this season’s contributors (Gary Springer and Milan Prodanovic to name two) slated to return, the combination of transfers Kashif Pratt and Jonathan Huffman becoming eligible along with a solid recruiting class should give Iona a good shot at getting out of the Friday doubleheader in the MAAC Tournament.
16. Manhattan (12-19)
The primary lesson that the Jaspers learned was a rather simple one: when they committed to playing defense they were pretty good. Unfortunately for them the consistency wasn’t there, resulting in an eighth-place finish in the MAAC standings. But all major contributors should be back, led by Antoine Pearson and Devon Austin.
In their two games in Albany, you could sense that Austin was becoming more comfortable in leading this team, and head coach Barry Rohrssen noted as much after their loss to Siena, stating that it was “good to see him step up and emerge as a leader.” Along with these two, Chris Smith, Darryl Crawford and Rashad Green will return, as will interior players Laurence Jolicoeur and Andrew Gabriel. They should be in the top half of the MAAC standings next season.
17. Fairleigh Dickinson (8-20)
While this season didn’t end with a trip to the NEC Tournament, head coach Tom Green can take solace in the fact that Sean Baptiste will be back in Teaneck next season. The sophomore guard averaged 18.5 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds per contest this season and with Manny Ubilla and Bernell Murray both out of eligibility he should have even more chances to make plays next year. John Galvin and DeJuan Pursley will also have more opportunities to get some things done as three of the team’s top four scorers (Eric Hazard) won’t be around. It remains to be seen who will join the Knights next season, but there’s definitely room for improvement.
All-Metro Team & Ranking 1-5
All-Rookie & Ranking 18-23