Metro Atlantic Notebook
Da King a’New Yawk: Manhattan Head Coach Bobby Gonzalez is certainly earning that 2-year contract extension awarded last year. The Jaspers are 9-1 and champions of the recent Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival. After out-dueling Fordham in the first round game, Manhattan bumped Iona 69-58 in an all-MAAC final. This is was the first of what could be three previews of the MAAC championship. Not only are the Jaspers tops in the conference (as of 12/29), but they are also the best team in the New York area. They have now knocked off the likes of Fordham, Hofstra, Iona, St. John’s, Long Island and St. Peter’s. Hunter College-School of Social Work has not yet accepted the Jaspers challenge. Stay tuned.
And Speaking of Iona: It’s Alive! Yes, the Gaels have risen from the grave. Since starting out the 2001-02 campaign 0-6, Jeff Ruland’s club has won five out of the last seven, including a 73-70 win against Seton Hall in the first round of the Madison Square Garden Holiday Festival. The Gaels are 2-1 in the MAAC and are starting to look like the team picked to repeat as conference champs. They’ve gotten a lift from Junior Guard Courtney Fields, who has been averaging 13.6 points in his last 6 games.
Foxxy!: While Manhattan and Iona try to rip each other’s throats out, Marist will be creeping up on them. The Red Foxes (I’ve never seen one any other color) are 7-3 going into New Year’s and just lost to a gutsy and surprisingly good LaSalle team 70-64. Every night sees a different hero on this club. If it’s not well-rounded point guard Sean Kennedy (13.6 points and 5.7 assists per game) it’s the other guard Rick Smith (11.7 points per game), the MAAC’s Player of the Week. Look for Marist to steal a game or two from Iona and/or Manhattan this year.