- Matt Cox
- St. Peter's
All Conference Awards
POY: Justin Robinson, Sr., Monmouth
Coach of the Year: Jimmy Patsos, Siena
Newcomer of the Year: Sam Cassell, R Sr., Iona
Freshman of the Year: Dimencio Vaughn, Rider
Key Returners: Justin Robinson, Je'Lon Hornbeak, Micah Seaborn
Key Losses: Deon Jones
Key Newcomers: Ray Salnave, Sam Ibiezugbe
Postseason Prediction: Bubble - NIT
For those of you bitter about the committee's inexplicable at-large snub of Monmouth last season, I come to you bearing comfort and optimism in the form of a scorching hot take - the Hawks will be dancing next March.
Undeniably the mid-major darlings of the '15-'16 campaign, Monmouth returns almost all of their key pieces from a year ago led by their engine, point guard Justin Robinson. Despite an underrated sophomore campaign two seasons ago, it turns out all Robinson needed to take division 1 basketball by storm was a little bit of help - and that's precisely what he got last year with the addition Je'Lon Hornbeak and Micah Seaborn. While both Hornbeak and Seaborn are both dynamic scorers in their own right, it was their outside shooting that made the Hawks offense so potent. The three-headed monster of Robinson, Hornbeak and Seaborn connected on 40% of their 3-balls collectively making this perimeter unit a nightmare to guard in the half-court. However, when the Hawks are able to flex their muscles in transition (which head coach King Rice devoutly preaches) they are even tougher to stop, especially when Robinson gets the initial outlet pass on the break. He is an absolute blur with the ball in his hands, and rarely misses Hornbeak or Seaborn for an open transition 3, which is assuming he doesn't get all the way to the rim himself.
While the combination of a high-octane offense and a Broadway-caliber bench show were primarily responsible for Monmouth's newly acquired fame, it was in-fact their stout defense that was truly stuffing the win column. Robinson, Hornbeak, along with Josh James & Austin Tilghman, spearhead a disruptive defensive backcourt that posted the nation's 20th-best steal rate last season. Monmouth's top-70 nationally ranked overall defense also returns its interior anchor in senior big man Chris Brady. At 6'10 250 pounds, Brady's size and paint presence is a major reason the Hawks were able to bang down low with the likes of UCLA, USC, Notre Dame & Georgetown. Brady posted a top-125 ranked offensive AND defensive rebounding percentage last season, to go along with a top-60 block rate. The scary thing is that Rice has plenty of depth at the 5 behind Brady with Diago Quinn and Zac Tillman, both of whom also tower over the majority of MAAC bigs.
All eyes will be on Monmouth this season, which means no power 6 team will be taking them for granted in the non-conference slate. However, the Hawks themselves will not be taking any of the inferior MAAC competition lightly either, which is precisely what may have cost them an at-large bid last season (see losses to Canisius & Manhattan). With arguably the best backcourt of any mid-major school in the country and with power-6 size down low, the Hawks should be the unquestioned favorite in the MAAC this season.
Key Returners: Brett Bisping, Javion Ogunyemi, Nico Clareth, Marquis Wright, Lavon Long
Key Losses: Ryan Oliver, Kenny Wormley
Key Newcomers: Kadeem Smithen (Richmond transfer), Khalil Richard
Postseason Prediction: NIT - CBI/CIT
Thanks to Monmouth and Iona stealing the MAAC headlines with three epic battles last season, the Saints are flying way too far under the radar heading into this year. Similar to Monmouth, Siena loses only one key contributor from last year's roster (Ryan Oliver), but should get a full season out of their primary perimeter playmaker and point guard, Marquis Wright, who missed 15 games last year with a foot injury. Wright gives this Saints team an explosive dynamic that is critical in a league whose top teams feature lightning quick backcourts (see Monmouth and Iona). He is also one of head coach Jimmy Patsos' most efficient outside shooters, which he'll need to maintain this season with Oliver's sharpshooting no longer in the mix. Wright and his starting backcourt mate Nico Clareth, along with a few key off the bench pieces (Evan Fisher and Richmond transfer Kadeem Smithen), should get plenty of open looks from the outside with the amount of attention Siena's forwards warrant.
The three headed monster of Brett Bisping, Javion Ogunyemi and Lavon Long make up what is arguably the best frontline in the MAAC. Both Bisping and Ogunyemi were all-conference performers last season, so throw in Long's 10/5/3 per game production on the wing and Patsos is licking his chops with the mismatch nightmares he can create for opponents. The key to Siena's offensive efficiency, which was incepted in the program back when Patsos took over in 2013, is their relentless pursuit of 2nd shot opportunities on the offensive glass. Since Patsos arrived, Siena has ranked 11th, 25th and 6th nationally in offensive rebounding %, much of which can be attributed to this this trio of juniors. While Ogunyemi and Long do most of their damage in the paint, Bisping is the matchup headache for other MAAC teams, with his ability to step away from the basket and shoot it from the outside.
While the frontcourt is the obvious strength here, my primary reason for being bullish on the Saints is that their two main deficiencies from last year seem to be repairable this season. The first was their carelessness with the basketball, a lot of which was due to Wright's struggles in his limited time on the floor. However, just two seasons ago Wright did prove he's capable of being a reliable ball handler, so now that he's fully healthy, I'd expect to see consistently better decision-making this year. The 2nd - and perhaps only other flaw of this Siena group - is their poor transition defense, much of which is simply a byproduct of their commitment to get to the offensive glass. Patsos needs to solve this conundrum, especially against the likes of Iona and Monmouth, who can expose the Saints in the open floor when they secure a first shot defensive rebound. Wright again comes into play here - he could be used as a dedicated safety valve and use his speed to retreat back on defense the second any shot goes up on the offensive end. While perhaps there's a more sophisticated solution to this issue, Patsos needs to figure out someway to reduce easy transition opportunities for other teams, especially if they hope to challenge both Iona and Monmouth for the league crown.
Key Returners: Jordan Washington, Deyshonee Much, Shadrac Casimir
Key Losses: AJ English
Key Newcomers: Sam Cassell (UConn transfer), Jon Severe (Fordham transfer), DeAndre Turner (JUCO), Jan Svandrlik (JUCO), EJ Crawford
Postseason Prediction: NIT - CBI/CIT
The Gaels of Iona officially morphed into the villain of the MAAC last season. With all of the non-conference publicity that Monmouth generated over the first couple of months of the year, the Gaels clearly took the lack of respect personally, which ultimately materialized into one of the more entertaining post game brawls in recent memory....
Iona would eventually get the last "punch" in, knocking off the Hawks 79-76 in the conference tournament title game to "punch" (yup, I did it again) their ticket to the big dance.
It will take some time getting used to watching Iona without AJ English running the show, who was a fixture in Tim Cluess' backcourt for the last 4 years. Cluess now hopes an influx of top-notch transfer talent can help the Gaels fill the scoring, shooting and passing voids left behind by English. The headliners here are UConn transfer Sam Cassell and Fordham transfer Jon Severe. Both were highly regarded recruits coming out of high-school and should bring a jolt of talent to an already stout backcourt, led by incumbents Shadrac Casimir and Deyshonee Much.
Casimir returns after missing all of last season with a hip injury, but started almost every game for the Gaels the year prior. Both Casimir and Much have proven to be efficient high-volume 3-point shooters (see Casimir '14'-15 and Much last year), which is precisely what makes Iona so lethal offensively, especially in transition. Severe and Cassell should fit in nicely to Cluess' free flowing offense, especially as bigger, athletic guards that should garner a ton of off-ball defensive attention. This should allow Casimir and Much get plenty of spot-up opportunities from 3, both in the half-court and out on the break.
The gem that emerged last year for the Gaels was a go-to interior scoring option in Jordan Washington. While some may argue he used up a little too many of Iona's possession, his presence on the low-block created exceptional floor spacing for the Gaels in the half-court. He'll play alongside Taylor Bessick, who was a fantastic rim-protector in limited minutes last season. Bessick will have big shoes to fill with Aaron Roundtree departing, who was hands down Iona's best all-around defender last season.
Compared to the two seasons prior, the Gaels did have some struggles consistently knocking down outside shots and taking care of the ball. However, they managed to cover up these flaws with a shocking uptick in their defensive effort, something that's been absent over the past 5 years. What had been a downy soft zone press in recent memory suddenly showed signs of effort and disruption. The Gaels generated the 3rd most turnovers in the league, which in-turn led to additional scoring opportunities in transition. With AJ English and Roundtree gone, the backcourt unit of Cassell, Severe, Casimir, Much and rising sophomore Rickey McGill, will need to replicate that havoc on the defensive end this year, in order to take some pressure off of their reliance on the 3-ball.
Key Returners: Tyler Nelson, Curtis Cobb, Jerome Segura
Key Losses: Marcus Gilbert
Key Newcomers: Olivier Cadieux, Nemanja Zubec, Deniz Celen
Postseason Prediction: None
Fairfield leads off the beginning of the MAAC's 2nd tier teams, which fall significantly below the big 3 of Monmouth, Siena and Iona. Head coach Sydney Johnson decided to shake up his entire offensive philosophy last season, which saw his Stags go from one of the slowest teams in the conference to the third fastest behind Monmouth and Iona. After years of instilling his Princeton style methodical half-court offense, Johnson gave his lead guards an unprecedented level of freedom to make individual plays, which created fantastic floor spacing off drive and kicks. The play of point guard Jerome Segura, along with off-guards Tyler Nelson and Curtis Cobb, are critical in this new system, given they own the bulk of the ball handling and playmaking responsibilities. Cobb and Nelson both shot the ball decently well last year from behind the arc, and should each see their 3-point volume go up this year, especially with Marcus Gilbert graduating.
The big boost this season for the Stags will be an improved frontline, which now gets Amadou Sidibe back in the rotation after dealing with tendonitis issues last year. His return is well timed for Johnson, given just how badly the Stags were gashed on the boards last season. Jonathan Kasibabu also showed some promise as a freshman, and should be ready to take on an even bigger portion of the rebounding load this season. Both Kasibabu and Sidibe will fit nicely next to the odds on favorite to start at the 4, Matija Milin. Milin helps space the floor in the half-court, with his exceptional mid-range shooting touch that provides even more room for Segura and Nelson to penetrate in the half-court.
Sydney Johnson's epiphany to re-shape Fairfield's entire offensive identity worked wonders last season, as the Stags ranked in the nation's top-200 in offensive efficiency for the first time since 2010 (Ed Cooley was head coach at the time). With decent continuity returning from that experiment last year, expect the Stags to continue taking major steps forward offensively, and hopefully shore up most of the rebounding deficiencies that began to surface last year.
5. Saint Peter's
Key Returners: Quadir Welton, Antwon Portley, Trevis Wyche, Chazz Patterson
Key Losses: Elisa Desport
Key Newcomers: Cavon Baker (Houston transfer), Nnamdi Enechionyia (Samford transfer), Nick Griffin (George Washington transfer), Quinn Taylor
Postseason Prediction: None
If Saint Peter's fulfills my prediction as the 5th place team in the MAAC, the top-5 teams in the league standings will be no different from a year ago. Both the Stags and the Peacocks finished 12-8 in-conference last season, 3 games ahead of the 6th place team Manhattan. And just like Fairfield, St. Peter's returns the bulk of their core from last year, which make them a safe pick to finish in the upper half of the league yet again.
The Peacocks return their top-4 scorers from last season, including the backcourt unit of Trevis Wyche, Chazz Patterson and Antwon Portley, to go along with their anchor inside, Quadir Welton. Wyche tends to be a bit overshadowed by AJ English and Justin Robinson when discussing top point guards in the MAAC, but his talent is right up there with the best in the conference. Wyche's forte is his ability to finish at the rim against bigger defenders, but is also a willing distributor when additional helpside defenders step over to contest his drives. He also was the Peacocks most efficient long range shooter last season at 43% on 61 attempts and is a deep sleeper to win POTY, especially if St. Peter's can tally a few big wins against Iona, Monmouth and Siena in league play. The key for St. Peter's to improving their inefficient offense from last season is whether or not Patterson and Portley can make a higher percentage of their 3s, especially with just how many they chuck up. Patterson and Portley shot a combined 33% last year from behind the arc on 330 attempts, a major reason why the Peacocks' effective field goal % ranked 256th in the country. Nick Griffin coming over from George Washington should be able to help in this department, who was essentially an off-the-bench shooting specialist two seasons ago for the Colonials.
While Wyche & Portley are hugely important to the Peacocks' offensively, Quadir Welton's presence on the defensive end is truly the heart & soul of this team. Welton's physicality at the rim has been the identity of Saint Peter's defensive minded teams over the past three years, which is why head coach John Dunne wasted no time sliding him into the starting lineup as a young freshman. Welton is the primary reason why the Peacocks were a top-60 team nationally in 2-point % defense, and why opponents have a difficult time getting many easy looks at the rim. Expect nothing different from Saint Peter's on the defensive end, so a significant leap forward offensively is all the Peacocks need to breakthrough in 2016-17.
Key Returners: Rich Williams, Zane Waterman, Calvin Crawford
Key Losses: Shane Richards
Key Newcomers: Zavier Turner (Ball St. transfer)
Postseason Prediction: None
If I were more creative, I would come up with a better nickname for head coach Steve Masiello than my piss-poor attempt of "the Turnover Tyrant". The bottom-line is that if you are a diehard Manhattan fan, you have witnessed more turnovers than any other person on Earth over the past 5 years. The Jaspers routinely display poor decision-making with the basketball themselves, but more often than not, will take the ball right back on the defensive end. Last season was certainly no exception, with Manhattan ranking 7th in the country in forcing turnovers on a per minute basis, but ranked an abysmal 310th in offensive turnover rate.
Masiello sorely missed his versatile forward Emmy Andujar last season, who did just about everything for the Jaspers over his 4-year career. Without Andujar in the mix last season, Manhattan was especially poor at hauling in their opponents' misses and just as bad at protecting the rim. The frontline unit of Calvin Crawford and Zane Waterman, along with wing Rich Williams, will be responsible for fixing these issues this year, or else the Jaspers may finish below .500 in back-to-back seasons, something Masiello has never done during his time at Manhattan.
While Waterman's six boards a game last year is nothing to sneeze at, his 6'9 220 frame make him vulnerable to being bullied by stronger interior bigs in the conference. Crawford proved how valuable his athleticism is on the defensive glass in limited time last year, and should now get big minutes this season as a junior. And unlike the thin builds of Waterman and Crawford, the 190 pound Williams is as strong as any player in the league, which helps him contribute a ton on the defensive glass, despite standing only 6'5.
The real key will be the play of two backcourt pieces - senior Tyler Wilson and incoming Ball St. transfer Zavier Turner. Turner was the MAC freshman of the year two seasons ago and arrives at the perfect time for the Jaspers who are in desperate need of another ball handler and playmaker next to Williams. Wilson, on the other hand, is one of the more interesting case studies in the MAAC. His 34% assist rate and 3% steal rate ranked 3rd and 8th in the conference respectably last year, but his 34% TO rate was one of the worst in the conference with his volume of minutes. Wilson also led the entire country in FT rate, which exemplifies his non-stop attack mode with the ball in his hands, which sometimes gets out of control. Freshman Aaron Walker has also garnered a lot of buzz this offseason, so expect him to be another key contributor in Masiello's turnover-focused defense.
Manhattan should be much improved this year on both ends of the floor, but the focus of Masiello this offseason must be tightening up the defensive pressure. The Jaspers gave up way too many easy looks at the basket last season, which made them even more leveraged on their ability to force turnovers. Given Masiello's impressive track record in the MAAC, I'll bet on the Jaspers being safely in the upper half of the league standings by next March.
Key Returners: Kassius Robertson, Phil Valenti, Jermaine Crumpton
Key Losses: Malcolm McMillan
Key Newcomers: Malik Johnson, Spencer Foley, Dantai St. Louis, Isaiah Reese
Postseason Prediction: None
After a strong 4-year tenure in Buffalo, the Golden Griffins say goodbye to collegiate hoop lifer, head coach Jim Baron. The athletic department wasted no time finding what seems to be an excellent replacement, at least on paper, in ex-Buffalo head coach Reggie Witherspoon. Though Witherspoon was fired from the neighboring school in 2013, he was coming off a successful 20-11 season, many of which felt made his send off a bit unwarranted. However, when you have the opportunity to bring in a rising star in Bobby Hurley to coach in upstate New York for a relatively forgotten MAC program, you really have no choice but to take it. But as the old saying goes, a door closing has now opened a window of opportunity for Witherspoon, who now finds himself back in a city/territory he knows well.
Witherspoon inherits a decent returning roster, but will rely heavily on his big 3 of Kassius Robertson, Phil Valenti and Jermaine Crumpton to shoulder the bulk of the scoring. Valenti and Robertson are tough matchups for opposing teams in the MAAC, given their versatility offensively to play both inside and out. Valenti in particular assumes a unique role as a de-facto point-forward, as Baron often ran the half-court offense through him. Valenti may actually be relied on even more as a distributor this season, given senior point guard Malcolm McMillian will no longer be around to handle the ball and facilitate for others. Valenti, Robertson and Crumpton are all capable of stretching the defense with proven shooting range from distance, particularly Robertson who cashed in 40% of his 200+ trey bombs last year.
The real concern for this Canisius team is on the defensive end, specifically the defensive boards. Chris Bleeker was far and away the Griffins' best interior rim-protector and rebounder on both ends last season, so Witherspoon will need to get a ton of production from Robertson and Valenti in these departments this season if he has any hope of improving upon the 2nd worst defense in the MAAC last year. And while one could claim a new look defensive scheme could be the answer, Witherspoon should actually play a similar full-court zone pressing style as his predecessor Baron did. So while the roster continuity should be a nice transition for Witherspoon in year 1, that doesn't address the lingering issues on the defensive glass that persisted so often for this team a year ago.
Key Returners: Khallid Hart, Brian Parker
Key Losses: Eric Truog
Key Newcomers: Tobias Sjoberg
Postseason Prediction: None
The Red Foxes of Poughkeepsie, NY are the reigning dwellers of the MAAC celler, coming off a 4-12 record in conference play last season. However, they do return all 5 starters, including a legitimate POTY candidate in Khalid Hart, so a valid case can be made that they are placed far too low in these rankings.
The perimeter combo of Hart and Brian Parker will surely be the focal point of opposing defenses this year. Parker was simply outstanding as a freshman and wasted no time asserting himself as the co-lead in the backcourt next to Hart. At 6'2, 195, Parker excels at using his strength to get into the teeth of the defense off the dribble. Given he isn't a great outside shooter, Parker is the perfect complement next to Hart as a true pass-first guard, evidenced by a team best 22% assist rate last season. Hart, on the other hand, can score from pretty much everywhere on the floor, but is at his best when he can attack the rim, where he often draws contact and gets to the charity stripe. However, Hart is more than capable of making defenses pay from beyond the arc, evidenced by a team best 39% clip from downtown last season.
Both Parker and Hart should have the ball in their hands a ton this season, which will likely open up a plethora of long range looks for Ryan Funk, Isaiah Lamb and Kristinn Palsson. The trio of sophomores got a taste of how nice it is to have a pair of teammates that consistently demand defensive attention (Parker & Hart), which opened up a combined 380 3-point attempts for them last year. Now it's just a matter of knocking down those looks more consistently, which they should be able to do now in their second year playing in head coach Mike Maker's spread-it-out, drive-and-kick system.
While the offensive upside will be fun to watch this season, the defensive woes are likely to linger once again this year. The loss of big Eric Truog will be enormous, but the Red Foxes do return their senior leader Kentrall Brooks, who is far and away their most reliable rebounder on the defensive end. Marist really struggled when Truog came off the floor last season, and were forced to play the undersized Palsson at the 5, which did not bode well for their rim-protection or defensive rebounding. It's hard to make a case for a significant improvement defensively for the Foxes this season, especially since the young offensive-minded wings provide minimal value on the other end.
Key Returners: Kahlil Thomas, Xavier Lundy, Jimmie Taylor
Key Losses: Teddy Okerafor
Key Newcomers: Norville Carey (Southern Miss transfer), Dimencio Vaughn, Jordan Allen, Tyere Marshall, Xzavier Malone, Stevie Jordan
Postseason Prediction: None
The buckin Broncs of Rider were slightly disappointing last year, given they returned a core veteran roster that seemed poised to make some noise in the MAAC. However, a 1-8 start to the year derailed any and all confidence this group had, as Rider limped to a 12-19 overall record and a 8-12 showing in league play. The loss of Teddy Okerafor cannot be understated, given how critical his playmaking was to a team that struggled mightily to score and score efficiently.
With that said, head coach Kevin Baggett brings back a formidable frontline, led by Kahlil Thomas and Xzavier Lundy. The pair of seniors each scored in double figures a year ago, but much of their scoring was a result of Okerafor's playmaking and dump-offs for easy baskets. Thomas does his damage almost exclusively in the paint area, where he feasts on 2nd chance opportunities at the rim. Lundy, on the other hand, is the much more skilled offensive player, who is comfortable stepping away from the basket and knocking down midrange jumpshots against bigger opponents when they sag off. However, both Thomas and Lundy provide their biggest value on the defensive end, specifically as shot-blockers at the back of Baggett's zone press scheme. A sneaky good addition to the interior unit was Southern Miss transfer Norville Carey, who should provide some immediate depth behind Thomas and Lundy.
The major gash to this Rider squad will be the defensive havoc that Okerafor and Zedric Sadler brought to the mix. Just two years ago, Rider's de was tops in the conference on a points per possession basis, much of which was due to the turnovers that Okerafor and Sadler caused in the press. Jimmie Taylor returns as the lone proven contributor on the perimeter, but his core strength his scoring/shooting, and doesn't possess the defensive prowess that Okerafor and Sadler brought to the table. Baggett will need a major leap from sophomore guard Kealen Ives, who showed flashes of becoming a defensive menace last year.
Key Returners: Daniel Harris, Chaise Daniels, Abdulai Bundu, Donovan Smith
Key Losses: Giovanni McLean
Key Newcomers: Mikey Dixon, Peter Kiss, Phil Winston (JUCO), Reggie Oliver (JUCO), Cameron Young (JUCO), Ja'Kwan Jones (JUCO)
Postseason Prediction: None
I'm not sure who's in charge of running Quinnipiac's website, but it was one of the last schools to post an updated roster, which they finally did with less than two weeks before the season tips off. However, with Tom Moore still at the helm, you don't even need to look at the personnel to know what Quinnipiac's calling card will be this season - rebounding.
It's quite impressive how consistently the Bobcats rank among the nation's best in offensive rebounding efficiency, which goes to show how this is truly a product of Tom Moore's system and not simply attributable to just one or two players. The same commitment to controlling the offensive boards also holds true on the defensive end, where Moore preaches a packline style of defense that prides itself on limiting 2nd shot opportunities. In a conference that features an array of teams that throw out chaotic, full-court pressing defensive looks, Moore has clearly decided to "zig" while the rest of the league "zags".
Moore will look to a trio of forwards to lead the rebounding charge this season, including incumbent starters Chaise Daniels and Abdulai Bundu, as well as senior Donovan Smith, all of whom hauled in at least 7 boards a contest a year ago. However, despite their elite rebounding and shot-blocking production, their efficiency converting in the paint area was simply abysmal last season. Daniels in particular shot under 40% from inside the arc on over 200+ attempts, a big reason the Bobkittens ranked 3rd to last in the country in effective FG%.
If the Bobcats hope to show any signs of competence offensively, they'll need a breakout senior campaign from Daniel Harris, the only, and I mean only, capable shooter from outside of 15 feet on this team. Harris connected on over 40% of his trey bombs last season, and will likely have to slide over and play a decent amount of point this year, especially with Giovanni McClean graduating.
Key Returners: Matt Scott, Marvin Prochet
Key Losses: Emile Blackman, Justin Satchell, Cameron Fowler
Key Newcomers: Kahlil Dukes (USC transfer), James Towns, Shane Gatling, Kierell Green
Postseason Prediction: None
The Buffalo native Purple Eagles were absolutely gutted by the transfer wire this offseason, losing a trio of juniors in Emile Blackman, Cameron Fowler and Justin Satchell who ranked 1st, 4th & 5th respectively in total minutes played last year. So while Niagara will likely bring up the rear in the final MAAC standings, they should be sneaky competitive throughout league play, particularly at home.
The purple Eagles are young and have a few pockets of talent on the roster, most notably in junior floor leader, Matt Scott. Scott did just about everything last year for this group, putting up a cool 15 points a game, to go along with 7 boards and 3 dimes a contest. With Emile Blackman's 15 points a game no longer in the mix, Scott’s usage should be among the highest in the conference this season. The question is who will emerge as a reliable 2nd scoring option on the perimeter next to Scott...
The likely candidates are incoming USC transfer Kahlil Dukes, who played sparingly for the Trojans two years ago in LA. Chris Barton had a sneaky good freshman campaign, and showed glimpses of his upside throughout conference play last season. However, neither is a proven long range shooter, which was a major issue for the Purps last year (ranked 4th to last in the country in 3-point shooting).
And while the interior unit looks small on paper, the combination of Marvin Prochet and Dominic Robb comprise what is the most undervalued asset on this roster - rim protection. Despite standing only 6'7 a piece, Prochet and Robb seemed to fit nicely within head coach Chris Casey's zone schemes defensively, which gives them a decent amount of freedom to contest shots anywhere within 6-8 feet of the rim. Prochet and Robb's effectiveness was a big reason the Eagles ranked in the nation's top-50 in 2pt% defense a year ago.
A valid argument could be made that Niagara has some serious upside this season, given they return three freshmen who played big minutes last season, as well as their do-everything guy in Scott. However, it may be a tall task to ask a young core to replace the production left behind by the three transfers this offseason.