NYC Metro Hoops
Welcome: College basketball in the New York metropolitan area. Big East, MAAC, NEC, Ivy and much more!
Edited By: Raphielle Johnson
Atlantic 10: Fordham forward Chris Gaston won his third Rookie of the Week award, sharing the honor this week with La Salle's Aaric Murray. In the Rams' loss to La Salle last week Gaston scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, posting his thirteenth double-double of the season.
Choice Hotels Player of the Week: F Corey Hassan (Sacred Heart)
Hassan won his third Player of the Week award this season, averaging 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in the Pioneers' 2-0 week.
Choice Hotels Rookie of the Week: F Russell Johnson (Robert Morris)
In the Colonials' 2-0 week on the road, Johnson averaged 11.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game. Johnson leads all conference freshmen in rebounding with an average of 5.8 boards per game.
Four games are on the schedule today in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, with Fairfield's trip to Iona (3:30 PM) being the game of the day. The Stags have won eleven of the last fifteen in the series but the last eight games are even at four wins apiece. Both teams have been playing solid basketball of late and while it may be a stretch to expect the winner of today's game to catch frontrunning Siena, the winner takes a step towards that two-seed with eight games left in the conference season.
It's a full weekend for the Northeast Conference with five games today and one matinee Sunday. And in that matinee Quinnipiac, winners of six straight, can take a significant step in the growth of their program with a win over Central Connecticut State (Noon Sunday, NESN). Talking with head coach Tom Moore yesterday, he made the point that there would be no complacency on the part of his team despite beating the Blue Devils by 31 (76-45) last week due to the respect they have for head coach Howie Dickenman and his program.
Wednesday's loss at the hands of Villanova has to make you wonder about the direction in which Fred Hill's program is headed and not because of the result. The Wildcats aren't going to lose many this season, but to go down in the fashion that the Scarlet Knights did was embarrassing. In regards to who played hard throughout, who else can you point out besides Hamady Ndiaye and Dane Miller? Jonathan Mitchell? Before getting into the importance of Rutgers moving forward it's important to revisit Wednesday's happenings in order to determine the ultimate destination.
The MAAC slate offers up a split schedule before the weekend, with two games tonight and three more on Friday. Siena hosts a shorthanded Loyola squad and Fairfield visits Marist in tonight's games, but one of the better matchups could be the one that's being televised by ESPNU on Friday night. Iona, winners of four straight and nine of their last eleven, take on Manhattan at Draddy Gymnasium with tip time set for 9 PM.
It's "Rematch Week" in the NEC with games being returns of last weeks' matchups. The game of interest tonight is Saint Francis (PA) visiting Monmouth, who will be without the services of leading scorer Travis Taylor. Taylor, who shared Choice Hotels Player of the Week honors with Quinnipiac's James Feldeine, is suspended for the next seven games for a violation of team rules. The good news (if there is any when you lose your leading scorer) is that the Hawks play their first two without Travis at home, where they're 3-0 in NEC games this season.
League favorite Siena established further separation between itself and the rest of the Metro Atlantic with their win at Fairfield on Saturday, opening a gap of two games between themselves and the Stags. But for the solid play of teams such as Fairfield, Iona and Saint Peter's, the bigger story may be the struggles endured by preseason contenders Niagara and Rider. What's up with these two?
Thanks to a phenomenal second half from freshman Karon Abraham we may be well on the way to separation within the Northeast Conference. In a matchup of two teams with one league loss Abraham scored twenty second-half points in Robert Morris' 80-73 win over Fairleigh Dickinson (4-13, 3-2) in Moon Township. The Colonials (9-8, 4-1) did a better job rebounding and scoring in the paint in the final twenty minutes and that was the difference. FDU, who was led by Alvin Mofunanya's 22 points, had their three-game win streak ended and fell to 3-2 in NEC play.
Included on Wednesday's area schedule are a pair of Big East games that the home teams can't afford to perform poorly in given the the pulse of the public. St. John's hosts Cincinnati in the first game of a doubleheader at Madison Square Garden, a game that many will watch because of the return of Brooklyn native Lance Stephenson. Stephenson had a few things to say in regards to why he chose Cincinnati instead of St. John's, but the Red Storm have more important things to worry about with their offensive efficiency being the chief concern.
The first Thursday of the new year brings a full slate of NEC games, with Robert Morris (7-7, 2-0) visiting LIU (4-9, 2-0) in a game matching NEC unbeatens (7:30 PM). The Blackbirds, currently mired in a six-game losing skid, can look no further than their turnover margin when looking for reasons why. LIU is currently a -4.6 in that department while the Colonials are a +1.4, and that statistic will play a major role in the winner of tonight's game. Mike Rice has juggled his rotation in recent weeks with freshman guard Karon Abraham leading the way.
Weekly Honors (announced Sunday & Monday)
America East: Stony Brook guard Bryan Dougher was honored for the first time this season, sharing Player of the Week honors with Vermont's Marqus Blakely. Dougher averaged 22 points per game in a 2-1 week for the Seawolves, including a 30-point outing in Stony Brook's 84-75 win at preseason favorite Boston University.
With all these lists out for players and teams of the decade it's only right that I do one for the NEC. It's been a calm decade (relatively speaking) in regards to conference membership, with UMBC leaving for America East following the 2002-03 season and not being replaced until the NEC added Bryant before last season. Due to that those two schools won't be included in this list, but there's some quality from which to choose among the other eleven schools.
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.
If told before the game that Seton Hall would shoot 16-for-33 from the foul line and 6-for-30 from behind the arc nine out of ten people would figure that Bobby Gonzalez's team were blown out. But what happened defied wisdom, with Seton Hall scoring twelve of the last fourteen points in regulation to send the game into overtime on a Jeremy Hazell three pointer. But all that shot did was delay the inevitable; West Virginia proved to be too much in winning the Big East opener 90-84 at the Prudential Center in Newark.
The results become that much more important for the Seton Hall Pirates (9-1) starting with Saturday's afternoon tilt with #6 West Virginia (9-0) at The Rock (3:30 PM on CBS). The lone college basketball game on the schedule is also the Big East opener for both, and with #5 Syracuse coming to town Tuesday night Bobby Gonzalez's squad can ill-afford to get off to an 0-2 start in conference play. Is this a winnable game for the Pirates? Certainly. But there are some things that they need to do in order to have a chance to knock off the Mountaineers.
After two days with just one game combined (Rutgers beating Rider in overtime last night) things will pick up some for the remainder of the week. St. John's made some news on the injury front today, announcing that senior Anthony Mason Jr. will be out three more weeks due to his hamstring injury. Mason Jr., who received a medical redshirt last season due to a foot injury suffered against Boston College, would likely be a safe bet to return around mid-January.
Player of the Year Possibilities
Iona, Niagara Pick Up Key Road Wins
Picked to finish ninth in the MAAC preseason poll, not much was expected from Kevin Willard's Gaels due to their overall lack of experience. But they've been far more competitive than that prognostication would indicate, with the Gaels' most recent success being a win at Providence on Saturday night. Kyle Smyth, who was named MAAC Rookie of the Week, led Iona with twenty-one points as they picked up their sixth victory of the season.
The month of December is when college basketball heats up thanks to the end of the college football season. There are also mid-season defections and transfers to account for, along with injuries. That's what teams in the New York metropolitan area have dealt with recently, beginning with Fordham firing Dereck Whittenburg following the decision of PG Jio Fontan to transfer. Assistant Jared Grasso has taken over and picked up a win in his first game as head coach, beating Stony Brook and scoring 93 points in the process.
America East: Stony Brook F/G Tommy Brenton was named to the conference's Honor Roll due to his averages of 10.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last week. The Seawolves are 3-0 for the first time since 1994.
Atlantic 10: Fordham F Chris Gaston was named to the Honor Roll due to his averages of fifteen points and ten rebounds per game in three games. The freshman has a pair of double-doubles to his credit thus far.
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.
In a gym near you