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Welcome back to the Trentonian's Full-Court Press blog. Yes, we're still alive, and with the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, it's time to fire up the old blog for another season. Check back here throughout the year for updates on all things Rider and Princeton, including coverage of both the MAAC and Ivy League. Feel free to drop me a line on twitter @kj_franko ( or email

Thursday, March 7, 2013

MAAC tourney wide open

Juan'ya Green is a standout guard for Niagara/ Photo by JOHN  BLAINE

When Niagara coach Joe Mihalich tells you the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is wide open, he means it.

And he’s not just talking in coach speak.

“Every coach in America is going to say it’s wide open and anybody can win it. If anybody really means it, it’s the 10 coaches in this league,” said Mihalich, whose Purple Eagles are the top seed and await the winner of the play-in game between eighth-seeded Marist and ninth-seeded Siena.

Niagara went 18-12 this season and 13-5 in the league, claiming the regular-season title outright.
Rider and Loyola finished one game behind with Canisius and Iona coming in two back.

“The charm of our team is that we can lose to anybody,” Mihalich said.

Really, anybody in the top eight has a chance to get to the final. It’s what makes this tournament so compelling.

“I think we have the best true mid-major league in the country,” said outspoken Loyola coach Jimmy Patsos, whose team is trying to repeat as tournament champions in its last season in the MAAC before leaving for the Patriot League.

“Our teams just rotate. We’ve been bad. We’ve been good. Rider is probably the surprise team this year. This is a tough league. It’s a great mid-major league. … It’s not just 1 and 2 playing and saying what a great game.”

Players to Watch
MoMo Jones (Iona) — Senior guard leads the league in scoring at 23.2 points per game which also ranks him third nationally. He’s the best pure scorer in the conference and has the ability to get 35-40 points on any given night and beat you by himself.

Juan’ya Green (Niagara) — Purple Eagles’ point guard does it all. He can score (17 ppg) or set teammates up (5 apg). “He makes this team win,” Mihalich said. “He put his team in first place. Juan’ya Green’s team is in first place.”

Antoine Mason (Niagara) — Second to Jones in scoring at 18.3 ppg, Mason, the son of former NBA All-Star Anthony Mason, missed four games with a sprained ankle but returned for the final three contests. Mihalich said he’s ready to go and 100 percent.

Billy Baron (Canisius) — What a difference a player makes? Baron’s a major factor in Griffs’ turnaround. He averages 16.6 ppg, while dishing out a league-best 5.1 assists per contest.

Erik Etherly (Loyola) — Greyhounds forward averages 16.2 ppg and gives them an inside presence that’s tough to stop.

O.D. Anosike (Siena) — Last song for Saints’ senior, who once again leads conference in rebounding at 11.4 per game. Siena’s bad, but Anosike’s had a fine career.

Danny Stewart (Rider) ­— Junior forward can put up a double-double on any given night and undersized Broncs need him to clean the glass.

The Favorite
Niagara’s the top seed and has the dynamic Green/Mason backcourt.

“Last year, we played all those freshmen and they got better,” Mihalich said. “They got more confidence and they’re pretty darn good. It’s a good group of guys that has a will to win and a toughness about them.”
The Sleeper
It’s hard to call the No. 2 seed a sleeper, but Rider still seems to fly under the radar.

The Broncs are the hottest team, coming in winners of five straight and seven of eight and have the best player nobody talks about in Jon Thompson.

The Pick

Loyola leaves with a nice going away present.

The Greyhounds get after it defensively and stifle Jones’ Iona in the final.


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