Jaspers No. 1 In MAAC Menís Basketball Poll

Courtesy:  MAAC Sports
Release:  September 10, 2013
Manhattan the preseason choice.
Manhattan the preseason choice.
Courtesy: MAAC Sports

EDISON, N.J. – Manhattan College has been selected as the preseason favorite to win the 2014 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Championship, according to a vote of the MAAC’s coaches. The Jaspers, who appeared in last year’s MAAC Championship game against Iona, received 10 of 11 first place votes and 119 points.

Picked to finish second was defending champion Iona, who edged Manhattan in last year’s MAAC championship game, 60-57. The Gaels received the lone remaining first place vote and 108 points overall. Canisius finished third with 100 points, followed by Rider, which finished second in last season’s regular season race, with 85 points. Marist was fifth with 69 points, followed by Fairfield (61), Quinnipiac (58), last year’s regular season champ Niagara (39), Saint Peter’s (38), Siena (35) and Monmouth (14). Quinnipiac and Monmouth both will compete in the MAAC for the first time in the 2013-14 season.

Manhattan posted a 14-18 mark last season, but won seven of its last 10 regular season games to surge into the MAAC Tournament. The Jaspers upset defending champion Loyola in the quarterfinal round, and knocked off Fairfield in the semifinals before falling to the Gaels in the title game. The reigning MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, Rhamel Brown, returns to the frontcourt after averaging 11.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game. Also returning will be key contributors Michael Alvardo (8.4 ppg) and Emmy Andujar (8.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg), and the MAAC’s Co-Rookie of the Year, Shane Richards, who averaged 7.2 points and knocked down 40 percent of his three-point field goal attempts. The Jaspers welcome back 6-4 swing George Beamon, an All-MAAC selection who was sidelined last year after four games. Beamon averaged 19 points per game in the 2011-12 season.

Defending champ Iona, the No. 2 pick, looks to extend its NCAA Tournament streak to three straight. The Gaels return one of the top 3-point shooters in the country, 6-6 guard Sean Armand. Armand averaged 16.6 points and sank an Iona record 112 three-point field goals. Armand will be joined by 6-9 forward David Laury, who averaged a double-double (13.1 points, 10.3 rebounds) last year, and 6-5 senior guard Tre Bowman, who poured in 20 points in the MAAC Championship game.  A number of touted newcomers, including 6-5 Mike Poole, a seasoned transfer from Rutgers, will also be on hand.

Canisius, picked to finish third, is coming off a 20-win season and a 15-game turnaround from the previous campaign. Senior guard Billy Baron, the son of head coach Jim Baron, averaged 17.2 points and a league leading 5.0 assists per game for the Golden Griffs. The No. 4 pick Rider Broncs are coming off a 19-win season in Kevin Baggett’s first year as a head coach, and will look to senior leadership provided by a pair of returning third team All-MAAC seniors, forward Daniel Stewart and guard Anthony Myles. Stewart was the MAAC’s fourth rebounder (7.2), while Myles scored 12.4 points per game.

Rounding out the top five is Marist, picked to finish fifth. Under the direction of first-year head coach Jeff Bower, the Red Foxes return a pair of key veterans in swingman Chavaughn Lewis and forward Adam Kemp. Lewis was the fourth leading scorer in the MAAC at 16.7 as a soph last season, while Kemp averaged 10.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per outing. Fairfield, the No. 6 team in the preseason poll, will look to sophomore Amadou Sidibe for leadership up front. The 6-8 Sidibe, who has named captain of the 2013-14 Stags, was the MAAC’s Co-Rookie of the Year after averaging 5.7 points and 6.2 rebounds per contest.

Quinnipiac has been picked to finish seventh in its inaugural season in the MAAC. The Bobcats return their top two returning scorers in 6-7 junior forward Ike Azotam (13.6) and 6-4 guard Zaid Hearst (10.8).  Azotam also grabbed 7.9 rebounds per game. Niagara, the No. 8 selection, will have a new look after winning the MAAC’s regular season title last year with first-year head coach Chris Casey guiding the Purple Eagles. Casey will look to 6-3 guard Antoine Mason, the MAAC’s leading returning scorer at 18.7 points per game.

Saint Peter’s, picked to finish 9th, has enjoyed much success under the direction of eighth year coach John Dunne. The Peacocks shocked the MAAC in the 2011 Tournament to win the championship. Junior guard Desi Washington, who averaged 14.6 points per game, is the top returning veteran for the Peacocks. Siena, picked to finish 10th, will be under the direction of a new head coach, but one who is a veteran in the MAAC. Jimmy Patsos turned the Loyola program around in his nine years there as head coach, and is looking to revive the Saints. Juniors Evan Hymes and Rob Poole, a pair of guards, provide experience in the backcourt.

Monmouth rounds out the coaches’ preseason selections at No. 11. Coach King Rice is entering his third season as the Hawks head coach and will look to veterans such as Andrew Nicholas (13.9 points) and Tyrone O’Garro (2.5 points/3.8 rebounds) for leadership. Rice also welcomes eight freshmen and one red-shirt freshman to the fold.   

The Coaches Preseason Poll

1.       Manhattan


2.       Iona


3.       Canisius


4.       Rider


5.       Marist


6.       Fairfield


7.       Quinnipiac


8.       Niagara


9.       Saint Peter’s


10.   Siena


11.   Monmouth



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