Given Hofstra’s wins over Old Dominion and Drexel last week, it was easy to forget about Marist, who won 84-75 at Siena on Monday night. Four starters, led by Jared Jordan’s 24, scored in double figures, and the Red Foxes out-rebounded the Saints 38-30. The win left Marist in a three-way tie with Loyola (MD) and Manhattan atop the MAAC. As for the Jaspers, who have won their last five games, you have to wonder if this team is really turning the corner. Manhattan has improved, but is it a product of playing the bottom four teams in the MAAC? Their next three games are against Rider, Siena and Loyola (MD), so we’ll have a good idea of where the Jaspers stand after that stretch.
Columbia kicked off Ivy League play with an impressive home win over Princeton, but could not keep the ball rolling against Penn the following night. One night after four Lions scored in double figures in the 64-56 win over the Tigers, they were run out of the gym by the preseason favorite Quakers. When two players (Ben Nwachukwu and John Baumann) combine for twenty-five of your forty-three points, you know that you had an off night.
In the NEC, Sacred Heart and Fairleigh Dickinson remain near the top of the conference while Long Island and Wagner find themselves in the midst of a six-team logjam in the middle of the pack. Seton Hall split it two games, beating St. John’s then losing at Notre Dame. St. John’s, unfortunately, looks to be headed to another season without a Big East Tournament, given their offensive woes in losses to the Hall and Connecticut. The offense improved Tuesday night, but the Red Storm were unable to contain Wilson Chandler as DePaul dealt SJU their fourth straight loss. Here are five games over the next few days to pay attention to in the area.
Providence @ Seton Hall, Wednesday 7:30 PM EST
If you caught any of the first meeting between these two, then you know that Seton Hall had a tough time corralling the inside duo of Geoff McDermott and Herbert Hill. Hill currently leads the nation in field goal percentage, shooting 70.1% from the field. Given the number of layups and dunks Hill got in the Friars’ 91-69 rout a couple of weeks ago, you have to hope for Seton Hall’s sake that they find a way to limit Hill’s “zero-footers”. The Pirates will also have to deal with guard Sharaud Curry, who was reinstated the day before the Friars played at Louisville. Curry was rusty in that Providence loss, but look for him to be ready to go after a few more days of practice. Since both teams like to get up and down the court, this should be an entertaining game to watch.
Sacred Heart @ Robert Morris, Thursday 7:00 PM EST
Sacred Heart, tied for first place in the Northeast Conference with a 4-1 league record, visits the preseason favorite to win the league in this big matchup. After a 0-2 start to conference play, the Colonials have gotten back to .500 (3-3) and find themselves just a game and a half out of first place. With the majority of the league stuck between 4-2 and 2-3, a good weekend could put Robert Morris on track to meet preseason expectations. As for the Pioneers, a good weekend could mean some distance between themselves and the rest of the pack. These are two teams that can put the ball in the basket (Sacred Heart averages 75 points per game, RMU 72), so look for some points in this one.
Loyola (MD) @ St. Peter’s, Friday 7:00 PM EST
Not much going on in the area on Friday night (Fairfield @ Siena, Georgetown @ Seton Hall…but I already picked a Seton Hall game), so you may as well get a look at one of the best guards in the MAAC, Gerald Brown of Loyola. Brown, in his first year playing for the Greyhounds after transferring from Providence, leads the league in scoring with 23.4 points per game. Also, look for the Greyhounds to arrive in Jersey City in a bad mood thanks to their 70-62 home loss to Towson on Monday night. The Peacocks will look to counter with the inside play of Todd Sowell, but they will have their hands full with an athletic team averaging seventy-one points per game. On the other hand, SPC is averaging sixty-two points per contest.
Navy @ Army, Sunday 12:00 PM EST
One of the storied rivalries in all of sports plays out on the hardwood in the first of two meetings between the Cadets and the Midshipmen. Army, led by guards Matt Bell and Jarell Brown, rebounded from a disappointing effort against Holy Cross to defeat Lehigh at home on Saturday. Navy also rebounded from a loss this weekend, soundly defeating Lafayette 60-44. The Midshipmen are also led by a pair of guards, Greg Sprink and Kaleo Kina. Both teams go deep into their benches as well, and whenever these two schools get together you know that there will be a lot of intensity. This will be a fun game to watch, regardless of its effect on the Patriot League standings.
Siena @ Manhattan, Sunday 2:00 PM EST
You will have a little time before the start of the NFC Championship game, so you might as well watch this contest between a Siena team heading this week’s games a half-game behind the Jaspers for first place in the MAAC. While the Saints, preseason pick to finish third, were expected to hang around the top of the standings, Barry Rohrssen is starting to look like a candidate for MAAC Coach of the Year honors with his team’s 5-1 start. Siena is led by the trio of Michael Haddix (18.8 ppg), Kenny Hasbrouck (15.1 ppg) and Edwin Ubiles (12.8 ppg), a triumvirate that averages almost forty-seven of the Saints’ seventy-six points per game. The Jaspers will counter with the tandem of Arturo Dubois and Devon Austin.
Other games of note:
St. Joseph’s @ Fordham, Wednesday 7:00 PM EST
Marist @ Niagara, Thursday 7:00 PM EST
Iona @ Canisius, Thursday 7:00 PM EST
William & Mary @ Hofstra, Saturday 4:00 PM EST
St. Francis (NY) @ Wagner, Saturday 7:00 PM EST
Here are the updated rankings.
1. Marist (last week: 2): Marist only played one game, so they can thank Northeastern for Hofstra’s drop.
2. Hofstra (1): The loss at Northeastern isn’t as bad as it looks on paper, but it took away some of the momentum gained in wins over ODU and Drexel.
3. Seton Hall (4): Even though the Pirates lost at Notre Dame, due partly to the fact that they had no answer for Russell Carter, they never laid down for the Irish. That’s what you like to see out of a young team without much depth.
4. Fordham (5): Fordham split their two games last week (loss to Xavier, win over Duquesne), but they look a whole lot better than St. John’s did last week.
5. Sacred Heart (7): I will admit that I did not expect to see Dave Bike’s Pioneers in first place right now, but that tough non-conference schedule seems to have paid off. This is a balanced team that should hang around for a bit.
6. Army (6): The Cadets split their two games heading into the showdown with rival Navy this weekend.
7. St. John’s (3): The Red Storm had better be careful. They’ve lost their last four and find themselves in second-to-last in the Big East with a 1-4 conference record. To not make the conference tournament for a third straight year, with it being played in “your” building, would be embarrassing.
8. Fairleigh Dickinson (9): The Knights lost a tough one at home to Robert Morris on Saturday. How they rebound from a tough defeat will be on display Thursday night when they visit Central Connecticut State.
9. Manhattan (10): The Jaspers have won five in a row heading into their game against Rider on Thursday night. If they can get through the next two unblemished, then look out.
10. Columbia (8): A solid hard-fought win over Princeton was negated by a poor effort in a blowout loss to Penn. The game was essentially over at the half when Penn’s Brian Grandieri drained a 40-footer to make the score 37-23. However, all is not lost…the Lions are only one game out of first.
11. Wagner (14): The Seahawks move up three spots because they’ve played better basketball than some of the other options of late.
12. Long Island (13): The Blackbirds find themselves in the middle of a logjam in the NEC after their 61-48 loss to Central Connecticut State on Monday. But when Obie Nwadike goes for 18 and 17, not too many teams in the NEC are going to beat the Blue Devils.
13. Stony Brook (11): The Seawolves lost two tough ones on the road to Hartford and Albany. Next up is a home date Thursday with Boston University.
14. St. Francis (NY) (12): The Terriers put together their best effort of the season in beating LIU…only to follow that up with a 72-54 loss to Mount St. Mary’s. As head coach Brian Nash said, defense isn’t their problem; it’s putting the ball in the basket.
15. Fairfield (16): The Stags ended their five-game losing streak with an 83-76 win at Iona. Unfortunately for them they get to visit Siena Friday night.
16. NJIT (17): The Highlanders ended their thirteen-game skid with a 59-55 win over Longwood…then followed that up with losses to Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne and La Salle.
17. St. Peter’s (15): The Peacocks have lost their last nine, and with Loyola (MD) and Marist next up on the schedule, things could get worse before they get better.
18. Iona (18): The Gaels will surprise someone later in the season. But right now they need to concentrate on getting that first win and getting their injured players (Kyle Camper, Gary Springer) healthy. Also, losing Dexter Gray to academics after four games certainly doesn’t help Jeff Ruland’s squad.