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Metro Atlantic All-Tournament Team

March 11, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Metro Atlantic Conference All-Tournament Team

by Jesse Ullmann

Albany, NY – In March, come tournament time, the high profile players usually bring their A-game and rise to the occasion with scoring-savvy performances, usually, that is. In the 2004 MAAC championship tournament, it was the role players who elevated their level of play and although the official league all-tournament team almost got it right with their list, there need to be a couple of adjustments.

1. Luis Flores, Manhattan Jaspers

Lets get him out of the way immediately. Uncontested this man is the best player in the conference. The senior guard from New York City scored 32 points in a semifinal showdown versus Saint Peters and the nation’s leading scorer sophomore guard Keydren Clark. In the finals Flores was held to 14 points but was pesky on defense forcing three turnovers in 40 minutes of action in the win. Flores, one of three mid-major All-American nominees (Blake Stepp, Corey Violette from Gonzaga), averaged 24.1 points per game during the ’03-04 campaign and is the reason for the Jaspers top seeding in this year’s tournament.

2. Ricky Soliver, Iona Gaels

This sophomore guard lost minutes when Iona acquired Syracuse transfer, an All-Big East Team selection, DeShaun Williams. Williams, as expected, was kicked off the team and Soliver since has excelled. Also born In New York City, Soliver put his smooth-style game on display scoring 31 points and grabbing eight rebounds to go along with five steals in a second round loss to No. Two Niagara. Soliver scored a game-high 19 points, dished out five assists and had nine rebounds in a first round win over Canisius.

3. Michael Haddix, Siena Saints

With an upset over No. Three Fairfield and a five point loss to Niagara in a semifinal showdown, Six-seeded Siena saw the future of their program step up in big-game situations. The sophomore forward shut down Niagara’s star player Juan Mendez, a First-Team All-MAAC selection, holding him to ten points and four fouls. Haddix scored a team-high 21 points and pulled down eight rebounds against Niagara. Haddix averaged 12.5 ppg plus a combined nine blocks versus both Fairfield and Marist.

4. Juan Mendez, Niagara Purple Eagles

Mendez is an extremely versatile athlete, able to hit the ten foot jumper, post up down low or drive hard to the basket. He showcased his abilities this weekend as the catalyst for his No. Two seeded Purple Eagles. With teammate Tremmel Darden in foul trouble, Mendez dominated the Gaels, who were clearly on the verge of a big-time upset over the Two seed. The Montreal-born Mendez drove on nearly every possession forcing four Gaels to foul out and three others to pick up four apiece. Mendez scored 27 points and grabbed a career high 16 rebounds.

In three games in as many days, he averaged 22 ppg, 12 rebounds per game and had a combined seven blocks.

5. Tremmel Darden, Niagara Purple Eagles

A senior guard, Darden proved why he is, arguably, the most versatile player in the MAAC. Trailing by double figures in the title game versus Manhattan, Darden scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half. While the Jaspers looked to run away with their second consecutive conference title, the senior Darden came up big, clawing away at Manhattan forcing fouls and putting Niagara in the double bonus with over seven minutes to play in the second half.

In Sunday’s overtime win against Iona, Darden scored 21 points on seven of 13 shooting while scoring six of his 23 points in the final 34 seconds of Sunday’s 79-74 semifinal win over Siena.


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