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Metro Atlantic Offseason News

October 10, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Metro Atlantic Offseason Update

by Adam Shandler

Conference Racks Up: The MAAC needed a Mack truck to take home all the hardware it collected at the NIT/Met Basketball Writers Association’s 70th annual Haggerty Awards held in May. At the ceremony, staged at the New Jersey Meadowlands, Manhattan’s Luis Flores received the Lt. Frank J. Haggerty Award for Metropolitan Area Player of the Year. Keydren Clark of St. Peter’s was bestowed with the Met Rookie of the Year honor, and Manhattan’s Bobby Gonzalez was given the Peter A. Carlesimo/Met Coach of the Year Award.

The Haggertys reward the top players and coaches in New York Metro Area College basketball.

In addition to their gilded mantelpieces, Flores and Clark were also named to the All Met Men’s Division I First Team along with Fairfield’s Deng Gai. Flores’s fellow Jasper Dave Holmes and Jerry Johnson of Rider were named to the second team and Jared Johnson of Manhattan and Courtney Fields of Iona received third-team nods.


Ravello Dismissed: Griffs junior guard Chris Ravello has been dismissed from the program, citing team rules violations. Ravello was not a major contributor last season but saw action in 21 games, where he averaged 4.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists. Ravello appeared in 51 Griffin games in his career and started one game last season.

Mush!: Coach Mike McDonald’s club will head to the last frontier to participate in the Great Alaska Shootout, over Thanksgiving weekend. Their first matchup of the contest will be against Liberty on Thanksgiving Day. Joining Canisius and Liberty in this exciting eight-team field will be Duke, Seton Hall, Purdue, Texas State, Pacific and host Alaska-Anchorage.

The Griffs officially open the season on November 15 at Buffalo.


J’Accuse!: Like so many of their NCAA hoops brethren, the Fairfield Stags are also trying to fend off a scandal. In the beginning of August, the Connecticut Post reported that former players stated that they were given cash, had their homework done for them and had drug tests falsified. All of this allegedly went on during current coach Tim O’Toole’s tenure. The university quickly went into action, re-opening an investigation and hiring an Overland Park, KS law firm.

An internal investigation in March found that the hoops program had done nothing wrong.

Aloha Means Tip-off: There are worse places you could start your season. The Stags will open up their 2002-03 campaign against Bowling Green in Hawai’i’s Rainbow Classic. Fairfield will be part of the tourney’s second day of action, and more if Tim O’Toole’s club can knock off the Falcons. Joining Fairfield and BGU in the eight-team extravaganza are Lamar, East Tennessee State, IUPUI, Pepperdine, American and host school Hawai’i.


Jenkins Ready to Shoulder the Load: Senior Forward/Center Greg Jenkins missed most of the 2002-03 season with a shoulder injury, but he rehabbed himself as a member of the NIT All-Star summer team and put up respectable numbers. The 6-9, 245-pound Jenkins averaged seven points and 5.4 rebounds as the All-Stars went a perfect 7-0 in a week-long August tournament in the Bahamas.

Jenkins has not played competitive college ball since December 5, 2002, when he injured his shoulder in a game against Wagner.

Field-ing Other Options: Courtney Fields, one of the more prolific Gael scorers, has decided not to pursue his fourth year of eligibility. Technically a senior last year, the guard/forward was granted an additional year of play by an NCAA bylaw that states that a player can participate in intercollegiate athletics while working on his or her degree. Fields sat out the 1999-2000 season, honoring his eligibility requirements.

Fields, who spent the summer in Celtics mini-camp, has stated that he will pursue professional basketball opportunities both in the U.S. and abroad.


Breeding Hounds: If head coach Scott Hicks wants to get his Greyhounds out of the MAAC cellar, he may need to do it with rookies. Hicks capped off a fine recruiting season by bringing in a fine class of newbies. The gem of the bunch has to be point guard Jamaal Dixon of Braintree, Mass. The four-year starter at Thayer Academy was an All-State Selection twice and an honorable mention All-America. Dixon averaged 15 points and eight assists at Thayer.

Dixon’s backcourt mate may be 6-4 Ken Burr, a superb shooting guard from large Lexington High School in South Carolina, a state champion in that state last year. Two Canadian National Team Members, guard Shane James and forward Michael Tuck, both of Markham (ONT.) High School round out the campaign.

Loyola begins season play on November 21st against UMBC in the Battle of Baltimore.


The Wizard of…Riverdale?: Manhattan Senior Guard Luis Flores was named to the 2003 John Wooden Preseason All-America Team, joining 49 other Division I players. Last year’s MAAC Player of the Year will join some lofty company. St. Joe’s Jameer Nelson, Missouri’s Ricky Paulding, Seton Hall’s Andre Barrett, Arizona’s Salim Stoudamire and Ben Gordon and Emeka Okafor of UConn are just some of the big guns named to the prestigious squad this year.

Flores will get his first crack at showing his Woodenism when he and the MAAC champion Jaspers go up against Columbia on November 24 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY.


Ryan’s Hope: Versatile 6-8 forward Ryan Stilphen has signed with the Red Foxes, and the freshman from Cleveland should provide Dave Magarity’s club with a big man who’s tough to defend. Stilphen is the fifth player in Marist’s 2003 recruiting class. Stilphen averaged 17.6 ppg at St. Ignatius in Cleveland and can knock down the three, as his 40% clip can attest.

The Red Foxes will host Hofstra in their opener, in round one of the pre-season NIT on November 18.


Purple Till 2010: Niagara loves coach Joe Mihalich so much, they’ve signed him to a contract that’s good through the 2009-2010 season. Mihalich led the Purple Eagles to a 17-12 season and 12-6 mark in the MAAC last year. Mihalich has five winning seasons and two MAAC regular-season titles to his credit.

In addition, the Niagara Athletic Department announced the appointment of former Eagle Luke Dobrich to their assistant coaching staff.


Dempsey Hired: Tommy Dempsey, a junior college coaching guru, joins the Bronc bench as an assistant coach. Last season, Dempsey led Lackawanna to the National Junior College Division II title game, and in 2002, led Keystone to the NJCAA Division III tournament. Dempsey leaves three years of junior college coaching with an impressive 88-12 record.

Big Fellah: Don Harnum wasted no time replacing 6-10 center Robert Reed. On April 28, Harnum announced the signing of 7-footer Steve Castleberry of Dixie State College in Utah. Dixie is a junior college that went 30-6 last season and finished third in the Junior College National Championships last year. Castleberry actually makes a return to the MAAC. In 2001-02, he started as a red-shirt freshman for rival Marist College.

St. Peter’s

Clark Honored: During the regular season, Keydren “KiKi” Clark led all NCAA D-I freshmen in scoring and was sixth on the charts overall. So you’ve gotta give a guy props. The 5-8 point guard from the Bronx was named to the Division I All-Rookie team after averaging 24.9 points per game and hitting for 109 three-pointers, a new national record for freshmen.

Clark highlights an entourage that included Orangeman-cum-Denver Nugget Carmelo Anthony, Carolina’s Rashad McCants and Duke’s J.J. Reddick.


Staffers Sainted: During the off-season, Siena basketball announced the appointment of two new basketball staffers. Eric Street, who spent last season as a grad assistant at Slippery Rock, becomes the new Director of Basketball Operations. Street replaces Cameron Newbauer, who will assume a grad assistant role at Georgia. Manager John Phelps moves into a newly formed role: undergraduate administrative assistant. The appointments were made official on September 19.


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