Canisius could have been forgiven for being blown out by Iona. They weren’t the first, and surely aren’t the last – even if the Gaels do not quite look like their dominant selves this season – to be buried in a flurry of three-pointers at the Hynes Center.
First-year coach, team picked closer to the bottom of the MAAC than the top. Not that big a deal, right?
But Reggie Witherspoon and the Golden Griffins left New Rochelle Sunday night with a bad taste in their mouths. Despite the coaching change, they’re a largely veteran outfit and despite what the experts or anybody else thinks, feel they’re a contender for the MAAC title.
Tuesday night, they set out to prove it, and – despite digging an early 8-0 hole – were dominant in almost facet in rolling to a 86-72 victory at Webster Bank Arena.
But what we think can be fluid, can’t it? Iona entered the season ahead of Fairfield in the MAAC preseason poll, albeit only by a couple of spots (3rd and 5th, respectively). But the Gaels’ reputation as defending champions and perennial MAAC power makes the eyebrows raise when a score like: Fairfield 93, Iona 87 comes across your computer (or phone).
However, especially without Deyshonee Much (more on that below), it might just be that Fairfield, now full of experienced players that tasted a little bit of success, might be a better team right now. Although Iona (9-6, 2-2) made a late run to grab the lead and nearly stole the game late, the Stags led for nearly 37 minutes.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Let’s be honest, we all thought the Runnin’ Stags thing was just a clever gimmick for Sydney Johnson and Fairfield, right? Coming off 7-25 and 7-24 campaigns, Fairfield again started 0-3 and then struggled to beat then fellow-struggler Sacred Heart in overtime.
That game went 82 possessions, but it was seen more as Sacred Heart’s doing than Fairfield’s, but the 89-possession pummeling of Maryland-Eastern Shore that followed was an eye opener, and the Runnin’ Stags dragged 75 trips out of a pretty good Columbia team and beat them in doing it. The real turning point from ha-ha to hmmm came right after Christmas when Fairfield ran current Patriot League leader Bucknell out of Sojka Pavilion 101-91 in 86 (?!?) possessions.
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Fairfield’s two leading scorers (and only two averaging double digits) – Marcus Gilbert and Tyler Nelson – combined for just two points (both Nelson’s), the Stags committed 13 turnovers, and … had a 16-point lead at the half over Manhattan Sunday afternoon?
Manhattan battled back from there, but was never quite able to get over the proverbial hump, falling for the 10th straight trip to Webster Bank Arena, 80-70.
LEWISBURG, Pa. – It’s never easy for first-year head coaches, but that can be doubly true when trying to step in at a program that’s used to having success.
Nathan Davis has plenty going for him at Bucknell, not the least of which is his tenure as an assistant coach on the most successful Bucknell teams of all-time: the 2004-05 team that upset Kansas (and won an ESPY for doing so), and the squad the following year that went undefeated in the Patriot League (and 28-5 overall), getting a No. 9 seed in the NCAAs and beating Arkansas in the first round.
Fairfield went nearly 17 minutes without a field goal at the end of the first half and the first 13 minutes of the second, and that, friends, is never good. The end result was an ugly 54-36 to Wofford to open the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Webster Bank Arena Friday night.
Quite frankly, the 36 flattered Fairfield, who took 30 minutes to get to 20 and at one point were 4-of-32 from the floor. But at least they don’t have to sit around and stew over it; the Stags will play twice more this weekend (against Sam Houston St. and South Dakota in quite the diverse exempt tournament).