Taking a Look at the MAAC's Biggest Disappointments of 2009-10
In what has been a wild year in the MAAC, the conference has seen its fair share of surprises and disappointments. This slideshow will focus on the disappointments, but you can check back for this year's surprises later.
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Niagara Purple Eagles
Benson Egemonye's graduation was supposed to hit Niagara hard, but the Purple Eagles were expected to use their abundant, strong guard play to overcome their lack of a capable post presence.
The first expectation came to fruition. Niagara lost games by being out-rebounded and averaged 3.3 less rebounds per game than its opposition.
The latter assumption, however, made an a-s-s out of u, me, and MAAC coaches, who slated Niagara as Siena's runner-up in the preseason poll. The guards simply couldn't carry the team.
Sure, you can say the Purple Eagles got off to a slow start without Tyrone Lewis, who suffered an ankle injury nine minutes into the season opener at Auburn. You can also say the team began to gel during its three-of-four surge upon Lewis' return but took a step back when Bilal Benn missed three games because of knee surgery.
Regardless, the guard play was simply inconsistent. With a few exceptions, Niagara won when it received offensive production from its guards and lost when it didn't.
Five games ago, the Purple Eagles were 11-12, 4-7 MAAC. They've taken four of five since then, though, defeated league favorite Siena, and have a chance to finish 10-8 with games at Manhattan and Fairfield, both of whom Niagara has already beaten.
A 10-8 MAAC finish is far from what the Purple Eagles could have and should have achieved, but they still have time to right the ship by making noise in the MAAC tournament.
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Ryan Thompson and the Rider Broncs
Picked as the MAAC's Preseason Player of the Year, Ryan Thompson has drastically underachieved in his senior campaign.
Here's a look at Thompson's stats from 2008-09:
18 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.7 turnovers, 1.8 steals, 50.9 percent FG, 77.3 percent FT, 42.2 percent 3 PT, and 1.49 points per shot.
Here's a look at the dropoff in Thompson's stats this season: 16.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.1 turnovers, 1.1 steals, 42.2 percent FG, 80.6 percent FT, 33.6 percent 3 PT, and 1.39 points per shot.
To make matters worse for the senior guard, his team has struggled as well. The Broncs, who received one first place vote from their head coach in the preseason poll, have won five of seven, but their current hot streak could not erase their miserable first half. With two games left, Rider can finish no higher than fifth.
This team simply isn't as good as many believed.
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Loyola's Jamal Barney, who was selected to the MAAC's Preseason Second Team, will not receive any accolades in the postseason.
After averaging a conference-high 18.1 points per game in 2008-09, Barney has not been the same scorer in 2009-10. His average has dipped to 11.5 points per game while his field goal percentage is sub-.400.
The Providence transfer also missed six games due to personal reasons. The Greyhounds went 2-4 with two wins over league-worst Marist during that stretch.
Is it really necessary to explain this one?
The Red Foxes were an obvious last place pick in the preseason poll, but 1-25 with three games left? Come on.
The conference's RPI and reputation have both taken severe hits from Marist's gruesome season.
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Last year, Jimmy Patsos' lunacy made national headlines. Twice.
First, Patsos handed the controls over to his assistant coach and sat in the crowd during a November loss to Cornell. He had already been slapped with one technical foul, and the official warned him he would be ejected if he said another word.
A week later, the Greyhounds played Davidson. Patsos decided to double-team Stephen Curry the entire game. Curry used his wits to loiter in the corner, enabling his teammates play four on three. The results: Curry left scoreless, Loyola lost by 30, and Patsos made national headlines.
Unfortunately, Patsos didn't do anything crazy/idiotic/hilarious enough to garner national attention this year.
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