Sunday, March 6, 2011

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: First Day at the MAAC Tournament

by Ray Floriani

BRIDGEPORT, CT. - Friday's MAAC 'marathon' session is in the books. Six games. The four women's quarterfinals followed by a men's first round double header. All at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport.

About 9 am at Harbor Yard
Note the Sleepy's ad -- How appropriate.

The scores...

Women's Quarterfinals:

Marist6133St. Peter's

The Men's First Round


Game of the Day...
Loyola's 68-53 win over Canisius in overtime. The regulation finish sparked the ongoing debate, when you have a three point lead with seconds left do you concentrate on defense or give a foul or two even if it puts an opponent on the line?

Micayla Dysdale of seventh seeded Canisius hit two free throws to give the Griffs a three point lead with three seconds left. Canisius coach Terry Zeh discussed fouling with his staff during the time out after Drysdale's shots. Zeh decided not to foul. Following the time out, Loyola pushed the ball and Miriam McKenzie proceeded to release a defended three that saw nothing but net at the buzzer.

Head Coach Terry Zeh (r) discusses the first half
with his Canisius staff

In overtime, Loyola scored first, then got a defensive stop. Even with over four minutes to play Canisius was a beaten team. The efficiency numbers bear this out. At the end of regulation the score was tied at 49. Each team had 58 possessions and an 85 offensive efficiency. Let's look at the totals for overtime:


Clearly, Loyola was dominant in the extra session from tip to buzzer. The final numbers:


Credit McKenzie's shot for the huge swing in second seeded Loyola's favor. Zeh could only second guess. "To the day I put my foot in the grave I will regret the decision not to foul," he said. His philosophy is if you are small do not foul as the opponent can rebound a missed second shot. But as Zeh noted Canisius is big, rebounding wasn't a major issue. He just made a decision that did not work in the long run. The Four Factors:


Not a bad way to start with the 9:30 a.m. game. Turnover rates were impressive. Griffs owned a 20-10 edge on the offensive glass. Their 1 of 11 overtime shooting had a negative result on eFG. Trailing early in OT, Canius got into an early fouling mode which explains the free throw rate disparity.

Official Jon Levinson during a break in the action.

Record Game of the Day...
Siena's 36-33 victory over Fairfield set the record as the lowest scoring women's game in MAAC tournament history. The halftime score was 15-7 Fairfield. In 27 possessions the offensive efficiencies:


Saints shot 3 for 25 (12%) the opening 20 minutes. They did put the first points on the board on a Serena Moore baseline jumper five and a half minutes into the contest. The final efficiencies:


Imagine giving up an efficiency of 63, and still losing? The Four Factors:


Three of the four factors were relatively normal. Even the TO rate was borderline but not excessive. The field goal shooting, as both coaches pointed out, was most affected by defensive efforts which were present on both ends. The game had two double digit scorers with Maja Gerlyng of Siena leading the way with 14 points. Moore of Siena, a versatile threat had a commendable 9 point 10 rebound effort, but was 2 of 14 from the floor. The two teams shot 49% from the field, combined. Fairfield checked in at 26.5% while Siena was 23.4%. As Siena coach Gina Castelli said, "it (the game) was hard fought, there was some great defense, especially on Fairfield's part the first half, out there but face it. It was ugly. Everyone saw it."

The Guiness stand.
An 'oasis' yours truly had to bypass.

Men's First Round
It has been another struggle for the Marist men but they did earn a quarterfinal berth with their win over Niagara. The pace and efficiency:


Marist entered the game with a -18 efficiency margin (offense minus defense). Their average offensively was 91 and defense checked in at 109. So this was as good a performance as the Red Foxes have had this year. The Four Factors:


Chucky Martin's team clicked on all cylinders. Marist shot the ball well and took care of the ball, two vital areas. They were only 5 of 17 (29%) from three but were 22 of 41 (54%) from two point range. An impressive showing.

In the paint Marist enjoyed a 42-26 scoring edge. While Niagara did not commit many turnovers, they paid dearly was the Red Foxes had a 20-10 advantage in points off turnovers.

With little consistent help, Niagara's fine senior guard Anthony Nelson led all scorers with 28 points.

The Streak Lives
The nightcap saw Siena defeat Manhattan in overtime. Siena, winner of three straight MAAC championships has not lost a conference tournament game since 2007 when Niagara defeated the Saints, ironically at Harbor Yard in the final.

The pace was in the moderate range:


Siena had a high 26% TO rate. They were able to offset that a bit with their 51% eFG mark and a 44% OREB percentage. The Jaspers managed only 39% in that latter category.

Ryan Rossiter, Siena's 'double-double machine' , scored 17 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. A big difference was Clarence Jackson. The Siena senior guard stepped up and hit a game high 24 points for the Saints. Interestingly neither Rossiter nor Jackson has experienced a MAAC tournament loss in their careers.

The obligatory cheer shot -- Siena cheerleaders

With overtime games to start and end the 6 game session, fans were treated to almost 15 hours of basketball.

On the officiating front, a number of friends worked games during the tournament. On the women's side Joe Barrise and Jon Levinson, whom I have had the pleasure to work with, had Marist-St. Peter's. Gary Schimel, an instructor at a few officiating camps I attended, had the 'famous' Siena-Fairfield matchup. In the evening Brian O'Connell and Brian Dorsey, again another pair I have been fortunate to work with, had Marist-Niagara.

No predictions but…Marist, with a defensive efficiency of 69 for the year (they held St. Peter's to 47 in the quarterfinal), will be awfully tough to dethrone from the top spot in the women's tournament. On the men's side, Fairfield is the favorite but any of the other top four seeds, Iona, Rider or St.Peter's, could challenge.

Harbor Yard on the exit
as Paul Simon would say 'late in the evening'

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