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Metro Atlantic Notebook

February 25, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Metro Atlantic Conference Notebook

by Jesse Ullmann

Nine Lives

Iona guard DeShaun Williams has support coming from within. Last week, head coach Jeff Ruland and the athletic department consulted with three of William’s professors. Williams, who transferred to Iona from Syracuse, will now be allowed to finish up with his schoolwork and get the diploma, barring another screw up.

The former Third Team All-Big East selection was kicked off the Gaels basketball team two weeks ago because he had not met academic requirements instilled by that of the university. Now it has come out that Williams also missed shoot around that particular week, possibly another reason why he was shown the exit.

Judging from the reactions of his teammates, though struggling on the court, they seem to be relieved that Williams will no longer be around.

Bracket Buster Saturday

Mike Konovelchick’s dunk as the buzzer sounded sealed an 83-76 Manhattan victory over Horizon League leader Wisconsin-Milwaukee Saturday afternoon in a nationally televised Bracket Buster Saturday on ESPN2.

Senior guard Luis Flores played big finishing with a game high 27 points, including three shots from downtown to pace the Jaspers. The bench played fantastic and Manhattan saw six players finish with seven or more points.

Manhattan (52 RPI) is looking for that automatic bid in case they do not win the conference tournament. 1995 was the last year two teams from the MAAC made the NCAA’s.

MAAC Player of the Week

Since the Fairfield Stags lost their leading scorer Deng Gai with a severe ankle injury on January 18, senior Rob Thomson has taken his game to another level. This past week, Thomson averaged nearly 22 points and 12 rebounds per game in wins over Iona and Rider. Foul trouble seems to be a problem with Thomson, but somehow he manages and has become a dominating presence in the paint.

For the season, Thomson is leading the team in scoring with 13.1 points per game and in rebounding with 8.2 rebounds per game. Thomson is tenth in conference scoring and fifth in rebounding.

In the press conference following Fairfield’s win over Iona, Ruland complimented Thomson on his style. “He’s big for them. I recruited the kid when he was in high school and he just didn’t want to come here. He liked Fairfield and he’s turned out to be quite a success.”

Update on Gai Injury

With the emergence of Thomson, junior forward Deng Gai is looking to try and make a comeback before season’s end. The Sudan native is off the crutches after suffering an ankle injury versus Manhattan on January 18th and has removed the air cast. According to team officials, Gai, apart from the team, is practicing lightly on strength and conditioning but will not rush a return. He has missed 11 games so far and was originally expected to be out three to four weeks.

1. Manhattan Jaspers 15-1, 21-4

One month ago Iona figured out how to beat Manhattan by holding Flores to three of 17 shooting, handing the Jaspers their first (and only) conference loss of the season.

Heading into last Saturday’s battle with Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Jaspers had reeled off seven straight victories, including a 76-52 romping of Marist on Wednesday.

Luis Flores hit his free throws down the stretch and the Jaspers increased that streak to eight with an 83-76 win over the Panthers at the Klotsche Center in Milwaukee. Manhattan has clinched the regular season title and secured the top seed in the MAAC tournament, set to start March fifth.

Flores scored a game high 27 while forwards David Holmes and Peter Mulligan had 14 apiece. In front of 4,752 Manhattan controlled the tempo for a full 40 minutes, shooting 77.8 percent from the foul line. The Jaspers turned the ball over just 11 times. Kenny Minor came off the bench to score eight points for the Jaspers.

Next in action: Thursday @ Rider at 7:30 p.m., Sunday v. Marist at 2 p.m.

2. Fairfield Stags 11-5, 18-9

Fighting back from a 23-point deficit to win versus a fierce Niagara team last Monday, Fairfield had momentum this week against Iona and Rider. Both meetings capping a four-game stretch at home, Iona was first up on Thursday and Rob Thomson sent a message. Trailing early on to the Gaels, Thomson and guard Ty Goode took control of the game, taking a 39-25 lead into the half.

Thomson ended the game with 21 points and 14 rebounds, his eighth double double of the season, leading the Stags to an 82-57 victory. Goode finished with just nine points but was vicious on defense forcing Ricky Soliver, Steve Burtt and Marvin McCullough to turn the ball over 11 times.

Thomson, playing in his final home game as a Stag Sunday afternoon at Harbor Yard, scored a game high 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds in Fairfield’s 70-59 win over Rider.

Next in action: Wednesday @ Loyola at 8:30 p.m., Saturday @ Siena at 7 p.m.

3. Niagara Purple Eagles 11-5, 17-8

The Purple Eagles looked shaky at home against Loyola Thursday in a 69-62 win and had little time to think about recovering. Niagara was headed to Jersey City for a Saturday matinee with No. two St. Peter’s. A win for Niagara would put them in a three-way conference tie for second place with the Peacocks and Fairfield.

Keydren Clark’s 33 points were not enough to stop Niagara as four Purple Eagles scored double figures in a 91-82 victory. Niagara forward Juan Mendez led the way with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Guards Tremmel Darden and David Brooks scored 18 and 16, respectively.

Despite three technical fouls on Niagara and a career high 21 points from St. Peter’s Jamie Sowers, it was foul trouble in the end that plagued four of the five Peacock’s starters. Niagara shot an impressive 84.6 percent from the charity stripe including a perfect 12 of 12 from the free throw line in the second half.

Next in action: Thursday @ Marist at 7:30 p.m., Sunday v. Canisius at 6 p.m. (MSG)

4. Saint Peter’s Peacocks 11-5, 15-10

Keydren Clark has solidified his spot as the nation’s most prominent scorer. Along with Julius Page of Pittsburgh, Clark was voted to the National Association of Basketball Coaches Division I All-District three, second team last week. The accolades will continue to pile on; however, if head coach Bob Leckie has anything to say about it, there are more important things in store for the Peacocks.

St. Peter’s split a pair of road games, winning versus Canisius 103-89 and falling to Niagara 91-82. Forward Jamie Sowers scored a career best 21 points against Niagara and Clark had another incredible performance, with a game high 33 points on 10 of 26 shooting.

Next in action: Friday @ Iona at 7:30 p.m., Sunday v. Rider at 3 p.m.

5. Rider Broncs 9-6, 15-11

The Broncs squeaked out a win against the Griffs last Monday 66-63 in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. Rider was led by guard Jerry Johnson, who hit five threes, and finished with 25 points. Forward Ed Muniz contributed with 15 points and three steals.

When Rider traveled to Bridgeport to take on Fairfield, Rider trailed by just five points at the half but never got over the hump and Fairfield eventually too control, winning handily 70-59. Again Johnson led all scorers with 22 points (eight turnovers) and was just one of two Rider players scoring in double figures. Terrance Mouton came off the bench to score ten points.

Next in action: Tuesday @ Iona at 7:30 p.m., Thursday v. Manhattan at 7:30 p.m., Sunday @ St. Peter’s at 3 p.m.

6. Siena Saints 7-9, 10-15

7,270 fans watched the Siena Saints defeat Dave Magarity and his Marist Red Foxes 71-65 Saturday evening at Albany’s Pepsi Arena. Siena’s only game of the week, guard Mike Beers scorched Marist, coming off the bench for 15 points on 10 of 15 shooting from the floor.

Beers was one of three players to score in double figures for Siena, led by 22 points from Michael Haddix. The pesky Guard Jamal Jackson scored seven points and Antoine Jordan went six of six from the free throw line, finishing with eight points in the win.

Next in action: Thursday v. Canisius at 7 p.m., Saturday v. Fairfield at 7 p.m.

7. Iona Gaels 5-10, 7-17

Iona head coach Jeff Ruland called his team’s play Thursday night against Fairfield “comparable to the Punk’D television show on MTV.” Iona came out aggressive and when the Stags decided to throw some aggression back in the Gaels’ face, Ruland’s team folded.

Iona dropped their fifth straight in an 82-57 thrashing at Fairfield Thursday. Ricky Soliver was the spark early on for the Gaels, but went cold in the last 25 minutes of action. Soliver finished with 18 points.

Guard Steve Burtt had a good showing dropping in 10 points, the only other Iona player scoring double figures. This was Iona’s only game of the week and the team is in a serious drought with free throw shooting, perimeter shooting and enthusiasm lacking in nearly every category.

Next in action: Tuesday v. Rider at 7:30 p.m., Friday v. St. Peter’s at 7:30 p.m.

8. Canisius Griffs 5-11, 10-17

Canisius split games this week with a loss to St. Peter’s and a win on Senior Day over Loyola. The red-hot Peacocks scored 103 points as Keydren Clark dropped in 33 points and dished out eight assists. This is the first time in the history of the Koessler Center any opponent has scored 100-plus points.

Canisius head coach Mike MacDonald, coming off a big overtime win at Fairfield last week, said the defensive effort just was not there. Senior Toby Foster, who was one of five Griffs to score in double figures, finished with a team high 16 points while freshman guard Chuck Harris scored 11 points and dished out a career best eight assists in the losing effort.

Seniors Toby Foster and Jon Ferris went out with a bang. In the last home stand of the season, the two veterans combined for 35 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Ferris became just the fifth player in school history to score more than 1,000 career points, grab 500-plus rebounds and hand out 200 career assists. Canisius defeated Loyola 83-67.

Next in action: Thursday @ Siena at 7 p.m., Sunday @ Niagara at 6 p.m. (MSG)

9. Marist Red Foxes 4-12, 6-19

Marist had a brutal week, dropping two against MAAC leader Manhattan as well as Siena. Last Wednesday the Red Foxes welcomed the Jaspers to town, handing over a 76-52 win. Again, in an effort to distribute equal playing time to nearly all of his players, head coach Dave Magarity ran 13 guys. Center Will McClurkin was the lone Marist player scoring in double figures, barely, with 12 points. Marist had no answer for Luis Flores, whose 30 points virtually put the game away in the first 10 minutes. Marist shot 27.3 percent from behind the arc.

Next in action: Thursday v. Niagara at 7:30 p.m., Sunday @ Manhattan at 2 p.m.

10. Loyola Greyhounds 1-15, 1-24

The Greyhounds are on their way to finishing in last place for the second straight season, dropping two games this past week. Loyola was almost able to pull off the upset of the year traveling to Niagara. The Greyhounds led 6-0 early and kept it close but would fall in the ladder stretch, eventually losing to the Purple Eagles by the final score of 69-62.

This was a five point contest with less than seven minutes to play, largely in part to guard Charlie Bell, who scored a team high 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Guard Shane James had 10 points and forward Michael Tuck finished with 11 points on five of 13 shooting.

Loyola would next travel to the Koessler Center for Senior Day at Canisius. The Griffs dominated and Loyola was handed their sixth straight loss, 83-67. The Greyhounds had balanced scoring with Bell, again, leading the way with 15 points. Senior forward Lindbergh Chatman was a nice spark coming off the bench to score 12 points in 27 minutes of action.

Next in action: Wednesday v. Fairfield at 8:30 p.m., Sunday v. Iona at 4 p.m.


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