Saint Peter’s racked up their first win of the season over a Big Ten team. The MAAC now has wins over teams from the Atlantic 10, ACC, Big Ten, Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference in the season’s first calendar month. Who might be next? We may have to wait another week, as conference play starts for the MAAC.
Stock Up: Schadrac Casimir, Iona — They could have put lids on the basket at the Hynes Athletic Center and the Gaels would have put up 200 points if they had another 20 minutes against Delaware State on Wednesday. The biggest question for Iona was how will they develop depth beyond A.J. English, David Laury and Isaiah Williams. They have been able to do that thanks to Schadrac Casimir, who will have to be the leader for MAAC Rookie of the Year one month into the season. Head coach Tim Cluess knew that Casimir’s game would translate to Division I, but how quickly he has made a difference is why the Gaels have been able to be one of the best offenses in the country, yet again.
Stock Down: Manhattan — After one month where the Jaspers could have put themselves on the map, as head coach Steve Masiello would like to, on the national level; Manhattan whiffed in their first three chances and followed it up by losing a heartbreaker down at George Mason. The Jaspers dropped the game at UMass in overtime, but trailed Florida State by double digits for most of the second half. They also picked a bad time to have their worst offensive performance to date in a battle with CAA favorite Notheastern, who put them away in the first half. When the Jaspers get a healthy Jermaine Lawrence back, their fortunes should change, but it will be interesting to see how Manhattan fares this weekend with two winnable games at Fairfield and Marist to start conference play. That could be the kick they need to bounce back and then follow that up with chances to win games against Rutgers and Pittsburgh.
Orlando Classic Carnage Report: Rider — The Broncs, who had to play Kansas, Michigan State, Georgia Tech and Santa Clara as part of the Orlando Classic, became the fourth MAAC team to go winless in the event. They dropped the final game to Santa Clara, after letting them go up 6-0 early, fought back and made it a two-point game late until an untimely block call prevented the Broncs charge late in the game. The last win for a MAAC team in the Orlando Classic was Marist’s 50-33 victory on Nov. 23, 2012 over a Vanderbilt team that finished under .500.
The event is starting to become a difficult place for any MAAC team to come up with a win, much less two. The Siena team that earned a 9-seed in the NCAA tournament lost all three games back in 2008 and the only team to ever win multiple games was Marist in the inaugural event in 2006. Monmouth will head to Orlando next year and they will face at least three teams, maybe more with a possible game prior to the event, from teams like Alabama, Dayton, Iowa, Notre Dame, Southern California, Wichita State and Xavier.
Interesting Conference Games: As conference play descends, this will become more important, but for now let’s highlight a couple of key matchups that are coming this week.
Thursday Dec. 4: Monmouth at Marist — The number to know for this game is 1, that’s the total of conference road wins the Hawks have in their one-year history in the conference. They could double that and show that their early season efforts will translate towards taking a step in conference play with a win over the Red Foxes.
Friday Dec. 5: Quinnipiac at Siena — The Bobcats have high expectations and could have beat La Salle on their home floor, but dropped that game late. The Saints picked up one Atlantic 10 win and go for another tonight at Fordham, but this game will be a test of how strong their front court is up against Quinnipiac’s, which should be one of the best in the conference.
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.