METRO ATLANTIC NOTES AND RAMBLINGS
-Niagara was placed in the opening round game of the NCAA Tournament, but the league is much better this year and the champion should get a better seed. METRO ATLANTIC TEAMS
-LOYOLA, MD has gone from the worst team in the league to one of the best in the three years head coach Jim Patsos has been at the helm. Last season the Greyhounds challenged for the league title and were playing very well down the stretch, but ended up in a tie for third place. Still, the program as a whole has improved dramatically over the years and they appear to be the favorites to win the league this year. Four starters are back, including guard Gerald Brown
who averaged over 22ppg last season. They are very strong at the guard position and play very aggressive defense. All and all, they are a very solid team, which has to be exciting for a program that has only been to one NCAA Tournament in their history.
-SIENA finished the season very strong last year by winning nine of their last ten games, but then fell to Niagara in the conference championship 83-79 in a close game that seesawed back and forth. They got a lot of contributions from some of their younger players, which bodes well for this season. Kenny Hasbrouck
returns at point guard, who averaged 16ppg last season, and he is someone theyll look to this year. One of the things the Saints will have to do is step it up in the paint. They lost a terrific post player in Michael Haddix, but even with him in the lineup they still struggled on the glass as a team. If they can find a way to improve upon that then they can contend for the league title.
-RIDER has four starters back as well this year, including forward Jason Thompson
, who averaged a double-double last season (20ppg, 10rpg) and will most likely be the best player in the league this year. They were 16-15 last season, which was a major improvement after winning just eight games the previous season. They should be even more improved this year and will likely finish at or near the top of the league. They showed signs of inconsistency last season, but now that they have more experience they should be more consistent this year. They are also one of the best defensive teams in the league, if not the best.
-NIAGARA was the conference champion a year ago, which earned them a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Surprisingly (at least to me) they were placed in the opening round game, but were able to win it and advance on to play Kansas in the first round. That was last year. Only one starter is back, and although Charron Fisher
is a terrific player and one of the best forwards in the league, they still arent likely to be as good as they were a season ago.
-FAIRFIELD was a respective 10-8 last season, but lost their best player to graduation. The good news is that the other four starters are back, and they appear to have a well balanced team. They got off to a 3-15 start to the season last year, but really improved as they got into conference play. That improvement should continue through to this season. This is a team that liked to push the pace last year, and will likely play the same way this year.
-Not much was expected out of MANHATTAN last season, especially since they had seven freshmen on their roster. They still managed to go 10-8 in league play, but really struggled down the stretch. They did come close to upsetting Siena in the conference tournament, but they still lost six of their last seven games. Nevertheless, they are much more experienced now and should be better. Like a lot of young teams, they were inconsistent last year, but they should be able to fix that this year.
-MARIST won 25 games last year and finished first in the conference standings. Their NCAA Tournament hopes came to an end when they were knocked off by rival Siena in the semifinals of the conference tournament. They also lost three of their best players, including Jared Jordan
, who is now in the NBA. They do appear to have a decent frontcourt, but they still lost a lot more than they retained and Id be surprised if they finished near the top.
-CANISIUS was just 12-19 last year, and they lost three of their best players from that team, so it isnt likely that theyll be competing for the league title this year. They do have some pretty good young players, but it still looks as if this is more of a building year than anything else.
-IONA won the league championship two years ago. They followed up that success by winning just two games last season, which sent head coach Jeff Ruland
packing. Part of the problem last year was that all five starters were gone, and two of the players that were expected to contribute missed time due to injuries and academic problems. This year, they are back at full strength, have a new head coach in Kevin Willard, and should be much better. Itd be hard for them to be any worse.
-SAINT PETERS was just 5-25 last season and finished with an RPI of 328, which is a big step back from the progress they appeared to be making. Four starters are back, so they should be more experienced, but its hard to say how many more wins that will generate.