My outrageously early 2010-11 rankings
By the time September rolls around, the MAAC landscape could look quite a bit different. But for now, we'll run with the flawed assumption that things will stay as they appear now, and go through a quick rundown of what the league pecking order should look like.
With that, the blog's admittedly premature 2010-11 rankings.
1. Fairfield: Won 23 games -- and came within a 15-foot jumper of the MAAC title -- with a freshman as its most dominant player. Losing Anthony Johnson and Mike Evanovich will hurt, but those losses could be offset by the returns of Warren Edney and Yorel Hawkins.
2. Siena: Those arguing the Saints will finish fifth or sixth are either insincere or delusional. They'll lose the best three-player class in recent history, meaning they're no longer the favorites. But I'll take my chances with Ryan Rossiter, Clarence Jackson, and the league's best recruiting class and coaching staff. That is, of course, if Fran McCaffery returns.
3. Iona: Won 21 games with one of the MAAC's youngest lineups. The Gaels return five starters from a team that finished third, and everyone on the roster should improve. But Kevin Willard's teams are 0-for-the-MAAC-tournament over the last three years -- a stat that can't be ignored.
4. Saint Peter's: Like Iona, the Peacocks return virtually everyone from a team that got a lot better over the past year. But like the Gaels, the Peacocks have shown an inability to win big games. Until that changes, I don't think they're title contenders.
5. Rider: Replacing Ryan Thompson -- unquestionably one of the five best players in school history -- won't be easy. So how will the Broncs replicate their fifth-place finish? Easy: Their two heralded freshmen are ready to contribute right away and, more importantly, the bottom half of the league will be far weaker than it was last year.
6. Manhattan: The Jaspers were wise to bring back Barry Rohrssen for at least one more year. Manhattan showed resolve in the face of adversity down the stretch, and with weaker competition throughout the league, Rico Pickett is poised for a dominant year.
7. Canisius: If the Golden Griffs finish seventh again, there's almost no way Tom Parrotta will be back in 2011-12. With that in mind, Parrotta needs to hope the four starters he has back will somehow play better without Frank Turner -- a scenario that's possible albeit unlikely.
8. Niagara: I trust Joe Mihalich enough to think that the Eagles won't be horrible, but it's hard to imagine them being a major factor without Tyrone Lewis, Bilal Benn or Rob Garrison -- players that have carried them over the past three seasons.
9. Loyola: The Hounds badly underachieved this past year and are staring at an uncertain future without Brett Harvey.
10. Marist: Chuck Martin's second year was so big a disaster that, between the astoundingly bad performance and the academic issues, the Red Foxes would have been justified in firing him. That's exactly what will happen a year from now if the Foxes don't show significant improvement.