Iona Takes Top MAAC Player Awards, Rider’s Kevin Baggett Wins Coach Of The Year

For a team that won the MAAC regular season by two games, it was fitting that the Iona Gaels receive plenty of conference awards on Friday night.

David Laury earned the MAAC Player of the Year honor, after being named the league’s top player in the preseason. The 6’9″ senior led the Gaels with 20.1 ppg, ranking a shade short of Marist’s Chavaughn Lewis (20.5 ppg) through games played on Thursday. Laury ranked second in the conference in rebounding (9.5 rpg), seventh in field goal percentage (48.4%) and 13th in assists (2.7 apg).

Laury becomes the third player in the last four years to win the MAAC Player of the Year award. He as well as his former teammates Lamont “MoMo” Jones (2013) and Scott Machado (2012) have taken the league’s top award.

After a prolific first season, earning a spot on the second team All-MAAC earlier in the week, the freshman Schadrac Casmir carried the MAAC Rookie of the Year award honors.

Casimir ranked seventh in the conference in scoring (15.2 ppg), leading all freshmen in the category. He becomes the first Iona player since Scott Machado in 2009 to win the MAAC Rookie of the Year.

Iona could not sweep every award, as Rider head coach Kevin Baggett took the MAAC Coach of the Year honors. His team finished second in the league for the second time in his three seasons.

The Broncs were picked seventh in the league’s preseason poll and managed to finish 15-5 in conference play thanks to the play of first team All-MAAC center Matt Lopez. Rider will be without Lopez for the remainder of the season, after he tore his ACL against Quinnipiac.

Cluess, who won Coach of the Year for the first time last season, failed to become the first head coach since Tim Welsh to win back to back Coach of the Year awards. Welsh did it with the Gaels in 1997 and 1998.

Quinnipiac senior Ousmane Drame picked up the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award, leading the conference with 2.9 blocks per game. Monmouth senior Andrew Nicholas and Rider junior Zedric Sadler shared the Sixth Man of the Year award.

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.