With the season approaching, it's time to speculate how the preseason all-conference teams will take shape. Transfers and freshmen were not included in my selection.
Ryan Rossiter, Sr., Siena
The conference’s most fundamentally sound big man, Rossiter posted a double-double of 13.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game a year ago. Add his hustle and leadership qualities to the mix and you have an ideal basketball player for your program.
Rossiter, a common pick for Preseason POY, will be the focus of opposing defenses now that they won’t be preoccupied with Edwin Ubiles, Alex Franklin and Ronald Moore. Regardless of defensive attempts to shut him down, Rossiter will still be Siena’s MVP and arguably the MAAC’s best player.
Derek Needham, So., Fairfield
Needham, who averaged 16.4 points, 5.2 dimes and 1.8 swipes per game as a frosh, is the league’s top returning scorer, distributor and pick-pocket. Although Needham needs to cut down on his turnovers and improve his offensive efficiency, anyone who watched him play last year will tell you he’s a special talent and belongs on the First Team.
Clarence Jackson, Sr., Siena
After posting career-bests in points (13.6 ppg), steals (1.8), three-point percentage (.357) and points per shot (1.24) as a junior, Jackson hopes an offseason foot injury won’t affect his playing status come November—most signs indicate it won’t hamper him much.
Jackson, along with Rossiter, will be a top scoring option on Siena and will likely see his numbers rise. With a sweet stroke and an ability to throw down thunderous dunks, Jackson is a multi-faceted threat to opposing defenses.
Yorel Hawkins, Sr., Fairfield
Hawkins spent the final 12 games of the 2009-10 season on crutches, but he averaged 14.6 points, 5.5 boards and 1.3 steals per game, while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 80.5 percent from the charity stripe in 19 games played.
At 6’5”, Hawkins can play down low and around the perimeter. He and Needham will pose quite a threat to opponents.
Scott Machado, Jr., Iona
Until Needham stole the show, Machado was the most highly touted point guard in the MAAC. He averaged 12.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game while also becoming a legitimate deep threat last year.
Iona is expected to challenge Fairfield and Siena for the conference title and although Machado’s numbers aren’t gaudy, the Gaels would be a mediocre MAAC team without their point guard.
Anthony Nelson, Sr., Niagara
After averaging 9.9 points on 1.45 points per shot, five assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game a year ago, Nelson will need to take on more of a scoring role this year. Niagara’s point guard has shown he can pour in the points in the past—he scored 15 or more points seven times as a No. 4 option last year.
Nelson returns the league’s best assist/turnover ratio of 1.92/1.
Julius Coles, Sr., Canisius
Perhaps overshadowed by Frank Turner or underappreciated because he plays for Canisius, Coles has not received the respect he deserves. He averaged 13.6 points and 4.6 boards per game while shooting 34.4 percent from deep.
Turner’s gone and Coles will shine for the Golden Griffins in 2010-11.
Justin Robinson, Sr., Rider
Returning as the MAAC’s best three-point shooter at 44.8 percent, Robinson will handle the ball much more without Ryan Thompson. The English guard averaged 13.3 points, 2.8 dimes, and 1.5 steals per game last year and should see his statistics improve as he commands the Broncs’ offense.
Ryan Bacon, Sr., St. Peter's
Bacon, a capable offensive threat and an imposing defensive presence, averaged 10.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.5 swats and one steal per game last season. With Wesley Jenkins sidelined with an ACL injury, Bacon will need to provide consistent offense in addition to his defense.
Jamal Barney, Sr., Loyola
Entering his final year of eligibility, Barney is poised to return to his 2008-09 form. He and coach Jimmy Patsos have worked to improve their relationship, which should help Barney play at a better, consistent level.
Barney only posted 12.6 points per game last year but he is capable of carrying the Greyhounds offensively—he led the MAAC with 18.1 points per game in 2008-09.
Nick Leon, Sr., St. Peter's
With Wesley Jenkins sidelined, Leon will be asked to score more. He’s shown an ability to score in droves and will probably raise his 13-point average from last season.
Leon is prone to turnovers—he averaged 3.2 last year—and will need to take better care of the ball as he will get even more touches without Jenkins, but there’s no denying he is a top-15 MAAC player.
Novar Gadson, Jr., Rider
Gadson, the MAAC’s version of Zach Randolph, averaged 11.2 points and 7.5 boards per game as a sophomore.
Shot selection has been an issue for Gadson, and he will receive even more offensive opportunities without Thompson. If Gadson can be more selective and consistent, he can be one of the league’s best forwards.
Mike Ringgold, Sr., Rider
Only Ryan Rossiter and Ryan Bacon averaged more offensive rebounds per game than Ringgold, who cleaned the offensive glass 3.6 times per contest last season. By keeping possessions alive, Ringgold wears out defenses and capitalizes by converting his boards into points.
Ringgold averaged 11.2 points per game and was also a reliable post defender in 2009-10.
Tomas Vazquez-Simmons, Sr., Canisius
Vazquez-Simmons’ ability to alter shots (2.3 blocks per game) has earned him the reputation of an elite defensive player in the MAAC. Vazquez-Simmons is not a one-dimensional player—he averaged 6.8 points on 47.9 percent shooting, as well as 6.7 boards last season. Also a threat from long range, Vazquez-Simmons converted 22 of 55 three-point attempts.
Kashief Edwards, Jr., Niagara
Based on last year’s statistics, Canisius’ Greg Logins should have the final spot. However, Edwards will be a veteran leader on a young Niagara team.
After averaging 7.8 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor a year ago, Edwards will see his numbers rise as his playing time increases from 20.9 minutes to probably 30-35 minutes per game.
Third Team Honorable mention: Greg Logins
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