Iona's won their last four games by nine points or more and looks to be a team coming to a better understanding of what Coach Cluess wants done on both ends of the floor. Iona is one of three MAAC teams who remain undefeated in conference play with one of those teams being a stunner. Marist, who went into the weekend having lost all six of their games by 20 points or more, picked off Niagara and Canisius to move to 2-0. You can in part thank Jay Bowie, the MAAC Rookie of the Week, for that as he followed up a 15-point, 10-rebound performance against the Purple Eagles with 12 and 9 in Sunday's win over the Golden Griffins. Maybe Chuck Martin's team is figuring this out at just the right time as their first six games brought about a feeling of "here we go again" in regards to a team that went 1-29 last season.
The last of the undefeated trio is Saint Peter's, who picked up a close road win at Loyola and followed up with an efficient win over Manhattan. It's obvious that the return of Wesley Jenkins adds a dimension to John Dunne's team offensively to go along with Nick Leon, Jeron Belin and Ryan Bacon. But when a Darius Conley steps up to add 11 points and five boards as he did in their 66-49 win over the Jaspers this is an even better team. But just as there are teams playing well there are those who haven't, most notably the bottom four teams in the standings. Manhattan and Niagara are both young teams that will have their fair share of issues as the season wears on, but at least Joe Mihalich can lean on point guard Anthony Nelson when needing an experienced hand to take over.
Barry Rohrssen has to rely heavily on newcomers Michael Alvarado and Kidani Brutus to go along with sophomore George Beamon on the perimeter. Nick Walsh provided a nice boost off the bench against Saint Peter's with 15 points against Saint Peter's but it's clear that they're in trouble when Walsh is their leading scorer. Manhattan didn't have the firepower to hang with Rider (88-59 loss), and they don't have enough players who can make things happen when faced with a stout defense like the Peacocks'. Loyola will likely have issues with consistency all season long, especially on the offensive end of the floor, and Canisius will likely need to lean on their defense in order to make any kind of noise in the MAAC.
But could there also be concern in regards to Siena? While the Saints do have a conference record of 1-0, overall they're 2-5 on the season and in search of answers outside of Ryan Rossiter. Clarence Jackson, while having the ability to explode offensively on any given night, is still having those bouts with inconsistency as first-year head coach Mitch Buonaguro has to rely on freshmen Rakeem Brookins and Trenity Burdine for quality minutes. Winners of 38 straight home games coming into the season, the Saints have lost all three home games and host preseason favorite Fairfield on Friday night. The Saints dropped a pair of tough overtime games last week, falling to Princeton and Albany, and the return of Kyle Downey should help in regards to shoring up the backcourt. Whether or not that will be enough for the Saints remains to be seen.
MAAC Player of the Week
Iona F Michael Glover: 29.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game in a 3-0 week for the Gaels.
Honorees to Date
11/15 Siena F Ryan Rossiter
11/22 Rider G Justin Robinson and Siena G Clarence Jackson
11/29 Iona G Kyle Smyth and Rossiter
MAAC Rookie of the Week
Marist G/F Jay Bowie: 13.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game in a pair of home wins for the Red Foxes.
Honorees to Date
11/15 Manhattan G Michael Alvarado
11/22 Loyola G Dylon Cormier
11/29 Niagara G Marvin Jordan
The Week Ahead (Wednesday thru Sunday)
12/8 7 PM LOYOLA at George Mason (MASN)
MANHATTAN at Fordham
NIAGARA at Buffalo
7:30 PM UMBC at RIDER
8 PM IONA at LIU
12/10 7 PM St. Francis (NY) at CANISIUS
FAIRFIELD at SIENA
7:30 PM Lehigh at MARIST
12/11 2 PM Fairleigh Dickinson at IONA
Binghamton at MANHATTAN
4 PM Mount St. Mary's at LOYOLA
NIAGARA at St. Bonaventure
RIDER at Drexel
7 PM SAINT PETER'S at Wagner
12/12 1 PM MARIST at Vermont
4 PM FAIRFIELD at Holy Cross
Games of the Week
- Manhattan at Fordham (Wednesday) The battle of the Bronx takes place at Rose Hill Gym and on paper it looks to be a toss-up as both programs are rebuilding. Tom Pecora made the move over from Hofstra and in sophomore forward Chris Gaston he's got one of the better frontcourt scorers in the Atlantic 10. It will be up to Andrew Gabriel and the rest of the Jasper front line to slow him down, and Mike Alvarado will need to be efficient in running the point.
- Fairfield at Siena (Friday) Both teams are 1-0 in league play heading into this matchup at the Times Union Center, a place where the Saints have yet to win this season and the natives may be getting restless as a result. The Stags have won four straight games going into Friday's contest and in point guard Derek Needham head coach Ed Cooley has just the guy who can exploit the Saints' ongoing need to establish the position. But do the Stags have an answer for Ryan Rossiter and O.D. Anosike inside? Ryan Olander will need some help if Fairfield is to neutralize Rossiter.
- Rider at Drexel (Saturday) The Broncs make the short trip west to Philadelphia to take on the Dragons in what should be a competitive matchup. Rider will need to show consistency on the defensive end as Bruiser Flint's teams do a good job of defending and making things difficult for teams offensively. Add in one of the top freshmen in the CAA in guard Chris Fouch and Drexel has more than enough to give Tommy Dempsey's team a road loss. But Rider has been successful on the road this season, which should help out in regards to confidence.
- Marist at Vermont (Sunday) This is the stiffer of the two tests for MAAC teams on Sunday, as we'll find out a lot more about the Red Foxes in regards to their ability to compete with teams from leagues closer to the quality of the MAAC. Forward Evan Fjeld is one of the best players in America East and he will give the Marist frontcourt a serious battle. The Catamounts gave UConn all they wanted for 25 minutes before falling a couple weeks ago, and they're traditionally a tough out in Burlington.
FAIRFIELD 72, Howard 52
Rutgers 64, MARIST 48
CANISIUS 73, South Dakota 69