MAAC Players of the Decade
With this being the final day of the decade this is a good time to pick my personal players of the decade in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The MAAC has gone through quite the transformation over the last ten years, with the balance of power shifting from the New York-area schools north to the likes of Siena and Niagara as we look forward to the next ten years. The program of the decade: Siena.
The Saints endured their fair share of bumps and bruises in the early portion of the decade but they close it out with NCAA Tournament wins in two straight years and consecutive MAAC titles. Niagara also has an argument due to two MAAC Tournament titles and three runner-up finishes, and Iona and Manhattan both enjoyed success during the decade as well. As for the players, here are my selections for each of the ten MAAC schools. Enjoy, fuss...do as you wish. Happy New Year.
Canisius: G Kevin Downey (2002-06) Downey left the Buffalo school with a number of achievements, ranking second all-time in starts made with 116, sixth all-time in points scored (1,583) and second in both three pointers made (185) and attempted (477).
Fairfield: C Deng Gai (2001-05) Gai left Fairfield the all-time leader in blocked shots (444) and also ranked 14th all-time in points scored with 1,268 and 11th in rebounds with 699. His thirteen blocks in a game against Siena in 2005 shattered the school record and was one off of the NCAA record.
Iona: G Steve Burtt Jr. (2002-06) The son of another Iona great, Burtt Jr. became the second Gael to surpass the 2,000-point mark for his career (his father being the first). Nicknamed "All Day All Night" for his prolific scoring ability, Steve scored 2,034 point in 120 career games for the Gaels.
Loyola: G Gerald Brown (2006-08) He began his career at Providence but the Baltimore native returned home to earn First Team All-MAAC honors in 2006-07 and 2007-08. Brown scored 1,256 points in just two years as a Greyhound, averaging 20.3 points per game for Jimmy Patsos.
Manhattan: G Luis Flores (2001-04) Flores was a scoring machine for the Jaspers, scoring 2,153 career points while leading the school to back-to-back NCAA tournaments in 2003 and 2004. A First Team All-MAAC selection in all three years, Flores also won MAAC Player of the Year in each of those NCAA Tournament seasons.
Marist: G Jared Jordan (2003-07) The Magician was something else during his four years in Poughkeepsie. Jordan scored 1,538 points during his career while also finishing as the MAAC's all-time assist man with 813. He led the NCAA in that category in both his junior and senior campaigns and currently ranks behind only Siena's Ronald Moore in career assist to turnover ratio. Jordan won league Player of the Year as a senior and was a first-team selection in each of his final two years.
Niagara: F Juan Mendez (2001-05) Mendez helped lead the Purple Eagles to a pair of MAAC Tournament finals, falling to Manhattan in 2004 but coming back to beat Rider the following year. Juan scored 2,210 points in his career at NU and was a First Team All-MAAC selection in each of his final three years.
Rider: F Jason Thompson (2004-08) This one may have been the toughest school to decide upon; Jerry Johnson (2001-05) was no slouch himself with 2,047 points. But the vote here goes to JT, who finished his career as the MAAC's 9th-leading scorer with 2,040 points and also 1,171 rebounds. The rebounding total ranks behind only the great Lionel Simmons (La Salle), and Jason was also a First Team All-MAAC selection in each of his final two seasons (POY in 2007-08).
Saint Peter's: G Keydren Clark (2002-06) "Kee Kee" lit it up in Jersey City, scoring 3,058 points in four years at the school. He ranks behind only Lionel Simmons (there's that name again) in that category and got his work done despite being the focus of attention without much help from his supporting cast. Clark was a First Team All-MAAC selection in each of his final three years (POY as a senior) and as a freshman was a Second Team member in addition to being named Rookie of the Year.
Siena: G Kenny Hasbrouck (2005-09) Hasbrouck received my vote for his importance to the revival of the Siena program as well as his own achievements. Kenny scored 1,917 points in four years and left Siena with a number of individual honors. Rookie of the Year, Second Team All-MAAC as a sophomore and back-to-back First Team honors to go along with Player of the Year as a senior. But his (and Tay Fisher's) decision to stick around when Fran McCaffery was hired is a decision that to this day should be looked at as the genesis of the Saints' current run.
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About Raphielle Johnson
College sports has always been a source of excitement for Raphielle Johnson, be it through watching, writing, or taking a shot in the dark and walking onto a college football team just to live the life (Arizona Football, 2001). Raphielle is the assistant editor, providing his own work in addition to helping out with the site operations. When not writing for CHN, you can usually find him in front of a television set watching one of many pay-per-view sports packages that he owns. He can be followed at twitter.com/raphiellej.
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