With the way Ryan Rossiter is playing, Edwin Ubiles may be the fourth best Siena player.
This week's power rankings give me a chance to make a plea I've been meaning to make all year. Here's why: An anonymous commenter got on me after last week's rankings for saying that this year's Siena team isn't as good as last year's.
While I'm still not sold that last year's team -- which, lest anyone forgot, had a guy named Kenny Hasbrouck on the wing -- isn't better than this year's, I'd love to give that reader credit by name for lobbying on behalf of this year's team, which has looked more and more dominant as the year has gone on.
The more Northern Iowa, Georgia Tech and Temple pile up wins, the more it's starting to look like the St. John's game is the only thing that could be considered a bad loss for a team with Top 25 aspirations.
Given the reality that three of those teams are ranked this week, it's a safe bet that without the St. John's loss, SI's Seth Davis wouldn't be the only AP voter with Siena on his ballot. And even with that loss, I'm guessing more voters will join Seth and rank the Saints in the coming weeks.
So here's my plea: In the interest of making commenting as easy as possible, I'm not going to ban anonymous comments. If you really don't have the extra two seconds to write down your name, I've always let your comment go through anyway. But for the sake of good discussion, please, pretty please with a cherry on top, leave your name with your comment. If you don't post anonymously on message boards or in our live chats during games, don't do it in the comments section either.
With that out of the way, here's the PMI:1. Siena: Records: 15-4 overall, 8-0 in the MAAC; RPI: 33; Position: Stayed the same from last week
Here's how well Siena's starting five has played: If I had to pick a Player of the Year right now, Edwin Ubiles would be the fourth guy on my list -- that is, my list of Siena players. When he hasn't been hampered by injuries, Ubiles has still been very good this year, but he's had less of an impact than Ronald Moore, Alex Franklin and Ryan Rossiter.
And though it's always dangerous to pick a team to go undefeated (see this year's Colts and Saints), I keep looking at Siena's schedule and wondering which games will even be close.2. Fairfield: Records: 13-5, 6-2; RPI: 117; Position: Stayed the same
The more the Stags fall behind early in games, the more reluctant I become to rank them this high. Sooner or later, these halftime deficits are going to turn into losses, especially on the road. But given the kind of year Canisius is having, I can't penalize Fairfield for beating the Golden Griffs, who have played extremely well over the past two weeks.
Derek Needham has been talked about so much he's almost becoming old news, but that doesn't change the fact that he may be deserving of first-team all-MAAC honors.3. Iona: Records: 13-6, 5-3; RPI: 76; Position: Stayed the same
Aside from Siena, there isn't a hotter team in the MAAC than the Gaels, who have posted back-to-back easy wins over Niagara and Rider and won nine of 11 overall. They've done all this without much of a post presence aside from Alejo Rodriguez, but they've shot so well from the perimeter and are so deep -- they predictably outscored Rider 31-16 in bench points Monday night -- that they've gotten along just fine anyway.4. Saint Peter's: Records: 10-8, 5-3; RPI: 178; Position: Moved up one spot
Man, am I glad I wasn't at the Peacocks' game Sunday against Loyola, when they scored 14 points in the first half, shot 32 percent from the floor and 18 percent from 3, and somehow managed to WIN by five points.
But when you enter the game off of back-to-back impressive wins, you can afford to turn in an ugly performance as long as you win. I'm also impressed that they won despite getting only four points from Wesley Jenkins, who went off for 27 against Niagara and 26 against Rider.
They've had some awfully puzzling performances over the last two months, but nearing the half-way point, they're back in the same spot I had them in at the beginning of the year.5. Niagara: Records: 11-9, 4-4; RPI: 137; Position: Moved down one spot
Choosing between the Eagles and their cross-town rivals at Canisius was the hardest choice I had to make this week. With the teams tied in the MAAC standings and touting relatively similar resumes, the first place I turned was their performances against common opponents.
Even that, however, didn't push me one way or another. Niagara, for instance, convincingly beat Fairfield, a team that swept Canisius. But the Golden Griffs thumped Iona, a team that recently finished a sweep of Niagara.
In the end, I chose the Eagles based on this factor: If you told me the teams were playing tonight on a neutral court, I'd bet on Niagara to win.6. Canisius: Records: 9-10, 4-4; RPI: 176; Position: Moved up one spot
That the Griffs are even on the same level as Niagara speaks to the strides they've made over the last two years, when they've gone from a punchline to a formidable team capable of beating anyone in the league other than Siena.
Based on what I wrote above, I ranked them below Niagara, but they'll get a shot at their Big Four rivals for the first time on Jan. 29 at home.7. Rider: Records: 10-10, 3-5; RPI: 168; Position: Moved down one spot
Tommy Dempsey swears the Broncs are as together now as they've ever been -- that no one is pointing fingers or quitting on one another. If that's the case, good for them. But it sure hasn't helped on the court, where Rider has lost five of seven and doesn't seem capable of beating anyone other than Manhattan, Loyola and Marist.8. Manhattan: Records: 7-11, 2-6; RPI: 223; Position: Stayed the same
Much like Niagara and Canisius, Manhattan and Loyola are awfully close. I've given the benefit of the doubt, though, to the Jaspers, whose two wins have been far more convincing than the Hounds' two wins, and who have lost to Rider and Canisius by a combined three points.9. Loyola: Records: 9-9, 2-6; RPI: 188; Position: Stayed the same
I really thought the Hounds would be better than they were last year, and even thought they'd have a chance to finish in the top four if they got good play from Shane Walker and continued stardom from Jamal Barney. But Walker hasn't been a huge difference-maker, Barney has regressed, and Loyola is lucky to have two wins.10. Marist: Records: 1-17, 1-7; RPI: 340; Position: Stayed the same
I feel bad for Chuck Martin. He has to sit there after every game and try to find SOME positives -- a task that isn't easy when you're one of the worst teams in the country.
At this point, though, maybe the Foxes have nothing to lose. They're not in danger of going winless, which means they're not bad enough to go down in national infamy even if they lose all of their remaining games. That means they can focus on the development of a group of talented freshmen without worrying about wins and losses.