Metro Area Review & Postseason Awards

April 6th, 2006
This season was to be the year when teams from smaller conferences would take over as the rulers of the New York metropolitan area. Teams like Iona, Manhattan, and Hofstra spent the majority of the season at or near the top of the area poll posted on this site throughout the season. Marist was a pleasant surprise, finishing third in the competitive MAAC, but the biggest surprise was Seton Hall. The Pirates, preseason pick to finish fifteenth in the Big East, finished seventh and received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. There were also some disappointments, most notably Wagner. The Seahawks were picked to finish third in the Northeast Conference, yet couldn’t even qualify for the conference tournament this season. Below are some of the superlatives from this past season, as well as the final poll.


Player of the Year: Keydren Clark (Senior G – St. Peter’s)


Clark was unable to defend his national scoring title, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort. Kee Kee scored 26.3 points per game, tops in the Metro Atlantic. What makes this figure even more impressive is the fact that opponents on a nightly basis knew that he was the focal point of the offense, and yet he still put up excellent numbers. The Peacocks hit a rough stretch early in January, losing four straight conference games due primarily to the fact that Clark’s young teammates struggled with their offense from time to time. But Clark’s leadership rounded teammates such as Raul Orta and Todd Sowell into form as the year progressed, enabling St. Peter’s to make it to the MAAC Tournament final. There, playing their fourth game in as many days caught up to them, resulting in an 80-61 loss to Iona. Clark leaves the Jersey City campus in sixth place on the NCAA’s all-time career scoring list with 3,058 points. An amazing career indeed.


Runners-up: Steve Burtt Jr. (Senior G– Iona), Loren Stokes (Junior G– Hofstra), Bryant Dunston (Sophomore F- Fordham).


Coach of the Year: Tom Pecora (Hofstra)


Pecora led the Pride to a record of twenty-six wins and seven losses, including 14-4 in the tough Colonial Athletic Association, good for second place. Hofstra beat the likes of St. John’s, and two wins each over Old Dominion and George Mason. Unfortunately for Pecora, ODU got a measure of revenge in ending their season in the quarterfinals of the NIT. Due to Hofstra’s success, as well as interest from Seton Hall regarding their head coach opening, the former Jay Wright assistant was recently rewarded with a five-year contract extension. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of America learns what many in the metropolitan area already know: Tom Pecora can coach.


Runners-up: Jeff Ruland (Iona), Bobby Gonzalez (Manhattan), Louis Orr (Seton Hall).


Biggest Surprise: Seton Hall (finished seventh in Big East despite preseason prognostications of fifteenth, as well as uncertainty of the program)

Biggest Disappointment: Wagner (finished tenth in the NEC; preseason pick to finish tied for second with Monmouth)


All-Metro Area First Team:

            G Steve Burtt Jr. (Senior- Iona): 25.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg

            G Keydren Clark (Senior- St. Peter’s): 26.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.4 apg

            G Loren Stokes (Junior- Hofstra): 17.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg

            F Bryant Dunston (Sophomore- Fordham): 16.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg

            F Kelly Whitney (Senior- Seton Hall): 15.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg


All-Metro Area Second Team:

            G Jared Jordan (Junior- Marist): 16.1 ppg, 8.5 apg, 4.8 rpg

            G Donald Copeland (Senior- Seton Hall): 16.1 ppg, 4.5 apg, 3.0 rpg

            G Ricky Soliver (Senior- Iona): 16.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.4 apg

            F Gordon Klaiber (Senior- Fairleigh Dickinson): 14.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg

            F/C Lamont Hamilton (Junior- St. John’s): 12.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg


Honorable Mention:

            G Chad Timberlake (Senior- Fairleigh Dickinson): 15.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 4.2 apg

            G Antoine Agudio (Sophomore- Hofstra): 17.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg

            G Will Whittington (Junior- Marist): 15.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg

            F Kiril Wachsmann (Senior- Iona): 11.5 ppg, 8.6 rpg

            F C.J. Anderson (Sophomore- Manhattan): 18.8 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 3.9 apg


Final Metro Area Team Rankings (previous ranking in parentheses):


1. Hofstra (1): With all three backcourt stars returning next season, why would Tom Pecora leave?

2. Iona (3): A rebuilding project awaits Jeff Ruland next season…whether it’s here or if he gets the Seton Hall job (he’s a long shot at best, however)

3. Manhattan (2): Jeff Xavier and most likely C.J. Anderson will return to a team that could be the preseason favorite in the MAAC

4. Seton Hall (5): No recruits coming in as of yet; currently interviewing candidates for their head coaching position

5. St. Peter’s (8): Life after Kee Kee will take some getting used to, but some experience will return next year

6. Marist (4): With guards Jordan and Whittington due back, the Red Foxes should be at or near the top of the MAAC

7. Fairleigh Dickinson (6): Knights must replace seniors Timberlake and Klaiber, but center Andrea Crosariol will be back

8. Fordham (7): Fordham should be even better next season; will have to prove that their third place finish in the Atlantic 10 was not a fluke

9. St. John’s (9): Losing Daryll Hill to a knee injury hindered the Red Storm down the stretch, but Norm Roberts has this program on the right track

10. LIU-Brooklyn (10): Expect improvement next year from a Blackbirds squad that loses only one senior (G Aubin Scott)

11. Wagner (11): Seahawks return all key players from this year’s team with the exception of guard DeEarnest McLemore; should be much better in 2006-07

12. Columbia (12): Columbia loses three seniors, and the experience returning could get the Lions into the top half of the Ivy League

13. St. Francis- NY (13): Must find replacements for departing seniors Sean Dantzler and Christian Brown, but should improve in the NEC next year

14. Stony Brook (14): A young team that had a tough season, the experience should help make the Seawolves a tougher foe in America East