Monday, March 8, 2010

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: At the MAAC Women's Tournament

by Ray Floriani

ALBANY, NY - On Friday it was New York’s capital city for six, yes six games. The women’s quarterfinals tipped off at 9:30 a.m. The men’s first round doubleheader started at 7:30 p.m. and ended up somewhere around midnight. For the basketball fanatic who revels in the reality of such a schedule, the ‘MAAC six pack’ is as good as it gets.

This is a great opportunity to take a statistical and analytical look at the women’s quarterfinals with the men’s doubleheader to follow later. The scores:

TeamScore TeamScore
Iona59 Siena43

Times Union Center, Albany, NY
30 minutes before Women's Tournament tip off

The following chart shows how the teams fared in their quarterfinal meetings. We limited the four factor section to effective field goal percentage and turnover rate to display a noticeable trend throughout the morning, and afternoon.


A noticeable common thread is offense, or the struggle to produce it. Call it good defense and the heightened urgency of ‘survive and advance’ tournament time. No team had an offensive efficiency of 100. Niagara, which narrowly missed triple digits OE, and Fairfield were the only teams to crack 50% in effective field goal percentage. Again, the defense digs in a little more come March.

Marist, 15-3 the regular season champion, values the ball and defends extremely well. Coach Brian Giorgis would have it no other way. Red Foxes had a great 11% TO Rate (TO% - no shock) but their 38% eFG mark kept the OE under 100. Again, the defense was paramount with Canisius losing a quarter of their possessions to turnovers and failing to hit 30% for the eFG category. Those miscues were extremely costly for the Griffs as Marist enjoyed an 18-8 edge in scoring off turnovers.

Good officiating friend Joe Barrise was on the first game. Joe & crew enjoyed a nice tempo with the first foul not occurring until 8:05 had elapsed.

Iona coach Tony Bozzelli had a priority against Siena -- contain Serena Moore, the saints’ main inside threat. Mission accomplished. Moore scored 14 points but was 3 of 11 from the field. For the Gaels their outstanding forward Thazina Cook, committed 5 of Iona’s 20 turnovers. All was forgiven as Cook in general had an outstanding game leading all with 19 points 11 rebounds in 35 minutes.

I never tire of watching, and admiring, the play of Marist's Rachelle Fitz. The MAAC Player of the Year never forces a thing, is the consummate unselfish and fundamentally sound performer. Fitz, a 6-0 senior forward, had a solid 12 point 8 board effort for the Red Foxes.

Stephanie Geehan of Fairfield, the MAAC defensive player of the year, came up with sixteen rebounds (14 defensive) four blocks and four steals against Loyola. A 6-2 senior center, Geehan showed per prowess is not limited to the defensive end as she led the way with 22 points. Geeham was over 50% inside and out shooting 7 of 13 (54%) from two point range and 2 of 3 (67%) beyond the arc.

The sacred arc. The three pointer is a weapon. It can get you back in games or at times, when misfired, bury you deeper in deficit. During the four games it was evident the three was very much in use. Teams used it to try to come from behind or when the opposing defense didn’t give up much inside and the shot clock was ticking. The following chart is the percentage of field goal attempts from beyond the arc in the quarterfinal contests.


Canisius’ best inside player Ellie Radke (3 points 1 of 9 shooting) was smothered by the Marist defense so the three was necessary for Terry Zeh’s club. Iona shot a number of threes but didn’t hit many (5 of 22). Their overall shooting was not a strong point but the defense was. Fairfield is a good outside shooting team with All-Rookie guard Katelyn Linney, a deft three point shooter. Not much of a need for long distance with Stephanie Geehan controlling the paint. Manhattan trailed by 4 at the half then fell behind by double digit’s the second half. Still, the Lady Jaspers did not shoot threes until the latter desperation minutes. They basically stuck to their half court game plan and tried to attack the basket.

Move over Wilt and Bevo. Small samples may give good insight but beware. Case in point Maggie Blair of Manhattan. The 5-10 freshman guard played the last four minutes and scored 10 points, second on the team to Michelle Pacheco’s 11. Blair’s numbers project to a 100 point scoring effort. Again, watch those small sample projections. The high scoring likes Wilt Chamberlain and Bevo Francis did not have the three pointer in their day. Blair did and two treys didn’t hurt those numbers. The following is the breakdown for that four minute effort. Her efficiency was 11 with an eff/min an unheard of 2.75. Any efficiency per minute even just past 1.00 is outstanding.

Blair’s abbreviated outburst marked her only points, of the season. She had appeared in five games without a point. It also tells us coach John Olenowski will give Blair a good long look next pre-season.


The first round was on Thursday with Canisius defeating St.Peter’s 65-57 and Siena knocking off Rider 45-25. I was not in attendance but that latter game simply begs for study and mention. The numbers:


It was the tournament record for fewest combined points in a game. Rider set a single game low, breaking Loyola’s 27 of a year ago. In fact Marist media relation staff jokingly said a record they thought would last was gone in a year. In last year’s MAAC tournament the Marist women held Loyola to 27 points in an early round victory.

The Rider efficiency , if not the lowest , is one of the lowest in my two decades or so of studying points per possession. The eFG mark of 16% has to be the lowest uncovered. Then again when turnovers (16) are twice the number of field goals (8) this is what you get.

Siena did not actually put up world beating numbers. The Saints led 18-11 at the half before significantly pulling away after intermission. In fact the offensive efficiency at the half was:


So at least Rider could take solace in having played a better final twenty minutes.

“People are saying Marist might get beat (in the MAAC tournament) but they did go 15-3 (conference) and lost to nationally ranked Oklahoma in overtime. They are a team whose big stars make plays and unheralded players step up. “ - Canisius coach Terry Zeh

MAAC coach of the year Kendra Faustin of Niagara
takes post game questions with two members
of the Purple Eagles squad

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