Saturday, February 24, 2018

5 Thoughts: Seton Hall essentially locks up NCAA berth with overtime win at St. John's

Khadeen Carrington's 22 points, capped off by fast-break dunk in final seconds of overtime, lifted Seton Hall past St. John's and firmly into NCAA Tournament field. (Photo by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

NEW YORK -- Considering the odyssey Seton Hall endured just to get to Madison Square Garden Saturday afternoon, perhaps it was only fitting that the Pirates needed five extra minutes to secure one of their most important victories of the season.

Less than 48 hours removed from having to complete a suspended game at Providence on the Friars' campus Thursday afternoon after the floor at the Dunkin' Donuts Center was deemed unsafe, and without Desi Rodriguez after the senior sprained his ankle in the first half of the Providence game Wednesday evening, Seton Hall clinched its third straight 20-win season and all but guaranteed themselves an at-large spot in next month's NCAA Tournament, defeating St. John's by the final score of 81-74, using an 11-4 run to dominate the overtime period.

In a back-and-forth battle that neither side led by more than five points until Khadeen Carrington scored the last of his 22 points on a breakaway dunk in the final seconds of overtime, Seton Hall (20-9, 9-7 Big East) was able to use its depth, even without Rodriguez, to wear down a six-man St. John's rotation that was led by 25 points from Shamorie Ponds, a deciding factor behind the Pirates winning their third consecutive game to erase any lingering doubts after dropping four in a row to begin February.

Up next for Seton Hall is a much-anticipated rematch with Villanova Wednesday night at the Prudential Center, a contest where Angel Delgado already predicted the Pirates would execute better in the wake of their loss to the Wildcats three weeks ago in Philadelphia. Currently the No. 3 seed in the Big East Tournament if the season ended today, momentum is once again coming back to South Orange, with even more to be gained from the final stretch of the regular season as we offer our traditional handful of takeaways from Saturday's midtown Manhattan matinee:

1) Deep Impact
Without Rodriguez and given the fact that Seton Hall's bench was in need of a breakthrough to match some of their earlier success in the non-conference season, Kevin Willard handled this game extremely well, all things considered. Largely an eight-man rotation Saturday, not counting the brief action seen by Jordan Walker and Eron Gordon, the Pirates' X-factor on this day was one hardly anyone could have envisioned, as walk-on Philip Flory provided arguably the biggest lift for the Pirates, logging 17 minutes.

"When Desi went down, Myles (Cale) is technically his backup defensively and offensively, and Phil's the only one that really knows what he's doing from the offensive side from that spot, whether it's zone, whether it's underneath out of bounds plays," head coach Kevin Willard assessed of Flory, a former commit to Marquette. "I think we all have a lot of confidence in Phil when he's out there, because he's tough, he'll defend and rebound, and when he's open, he could make a shot."

2) Myles and Myles
Making his first career start Saturday in place of Rodriguez, Myles Cale did not disappoint, scoring 10 points to offset three first-half fouls and offer a positive outing on the whole. Sophomore Myles Powell made more of an impact off the ball than Pirate fans are accustomed to seeing, supplementing his 18 points with eight rebounds and six assists to outduel Justin Simon of St. John's, whose Swiss Army knife capabilities were neutralized by the Pirate defense, held to just eight points, five assists and four rebounds.

3) Sa-no-go for Shamorie Ponds.
The talented sophomore still managed to put 25 points on the board, but had to take 22 shots to get there, all the while fighting off Ismael Sanogo and his suffocating defense as Willard switched the stalwart onto Ponds to keep Angel Delgado hidden in the pick-and-roll against a smaller Red Storm lineup.

"We tried to hide the big fella a little bit because they went small, and I think they really did a good job of kind of switching," said Willard. "We moved Angel around so they couldn't just get Angel in a pick-and-roll, which is tough when they're that small, and obviously Ish is; as we think, one of the best defenders in the country and Shamorie's one of the best guards, so it was a good matchup."

4) Homeward Bound
Not only does Seton Hall return to Newark Wednesday night, they were able to win a quasi-home game today in front of 18,840 patrons at the Garden, many of whom were clad in St. John's red. Still, that did not stop the Pirates from recapturing the magic at the World's Most Famous Arena, a success that has translated into an 8-3 record for this year's senior class inside the home of the New York Knicks, and forebodes a bright future heading into March.

"I think I learned how deep we can go," Carrington said in a revelatory moment for Seton Hall. "Everybody played absolutely well today, and I just talked to the guys -- I said everybody's got to step up since Desi's sitting out -- and I think everybody did a great job. Phil came in and gave us great minutes, Myles Cale played terrific, I stepped my game up. Myles (Powell) didn't shoot it well, but he made some big plays down the stretch, and we got the big fella right here (Delgado), so I'm proud of my team."

"I definitely think we regained it," he added with regard to the Pirates' swagger. "I don't think I was really worried when we went on that little (losing) streak, because every team hits walls during the season. It just happened that ours came late."

5) "I'm a warrior."
Delgado opened the game on a roll, scoring the first six Seton Hall points before letting the game come back to him in the second half and in overtime, ending the day with 14 points and 13 rebounds for his 20th double-double of the season, and 70th of his career. There was also a brief scary moment in which the senior center, who has battled through a dislocated kneecap, was inadvertently elbowed by Sanogo late in the second half, but the All-America candidate shook it off and did what he does best.

"I'm a warrior," Delgado declared. "I'm always going to come right back. I'm not letting my team down right now just because something hurts. If something hurts, it's gotta go away at some point, so I'm always there. I'm always ready to play."

Seton Hall outlasts St. John's in overtime for 20th win of season

Khadeen Carrington, Jordan Walker and Ismael Sanogo celebrate at center court after Seton Hall's overtime victory over St. John's. (Photo by Jason Schott/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

By Jason Schott (@JESchott19)

NEW YORK -- Seton Hall notched their 20th victory of the season, as they outlasted St. John's in overtime, 81-74, Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.

A de facto magic number for an NCAA Tournament bid, the Pirates are now 20-9 overall and 9-7 in the Big East, tying them with Butler and Providence for third in the conference. St. John's has now dropped two straight after their magical four-game winning streak, falling to 14-15 overall and 3-13 in the Big East, now in last place in the conference since DePaul beat Marquette Saturday afternoon.


Seton Hall was led by Khadeen Carrington, who had 22 points with eight rebounds, six assists, and a steal. Angel Delgado got another double-double, the 70th of his career and 20th on the season, as he had 14 rebounds on a superb 7-9 from the field and 13 rebounds. Myles Powell came close to a double-double of his own, as he had 18 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Myles Cale, who started for the first time in his career in place of the injured Desi Rodriguez, had 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, and two rebounds. Ismael Sanogo also had 10 points on 5-of-7 from the field, with six rebounds. St. John's was led by Shamorie Ponds, who finished with 25 points. Just as it was Wednesday against Marquette, Ponds' point total was impressive, but was kept in check as he shot 9-for-22 from the field and was 0-for-6 from behind the arc. The sophomore did finish with six assists, two rebounds, and two steals as well. Marvin Clark II had a double-double with 19 points on 8-12 from the field and 3-5 on threes, and 10 rebounds. He also had three steals and three turnovers.

This game was a very even battle, with seven lead changes and the score tied 15 times. Seton Hall got the edge in the first half, powered by 12 points from Carrington and 10 from Delgado to take a 38-34 lead into halftime. In the second half, the Pirates opened up a 63-58 lead on a Cale layup with 6:13 remaining in regulation. St. John's came right back, as Clark drained a three right after that, and eventually tied it at 68 on a Ponds layup with 51 seconds left. On Seton Hall's ensuing possession, Ponds was called for a reach-in foul on Powell with 38 seconds left, an ambiguous call as it did not appear to the live crowd that Ponds had made contact on Powell.

Powell went to the foul line and drained both free throws to make it 70-68 Seton Hall. He then fouled Ponds as he went up for a shot with 16 seconds left, and Ponds made both free throws to tie it at 70. Seton Hall had plenty of time to get a game-winning shot, but Powell's three-point attempt rimmed out to send the game to overtime.

The extra period began with Delgado and Ponds trading baskets to start, followed by Delgado getting a layup to make it 74-72 Pirates one minute into the extra session. St. John's then had three chances on their ensuing possession, as Clark and Ponds missed threes and Bashir Ahmed missed a layup.

The most consequential play happened with 1:02 on the clock, when Clark fouled Carrington. The senior made both ensuing free throws to extend the Seton Hall lead to five, at 77-72. Ponds then responded with a pair of free throws with 55 seconds left to make it 77-74, and Ahmed got to the line for a one-and-one with 28 seconds left, but missed the front end. St. John's then took too long to foul, finally sending Carrington to the line with 16 seconds left, where he made both shots to seal the victory before adding a dunk in the final seconds to provide the final margin.

Seton Hall outscored St. John's, 11-4, in the overtime period.

Kevin Willard quote book: St. John's

On Seton Hall's response to the past 72 hours, including the suspended game against Providence and Friday's report involving Tiny Morton and Isaiah Whitehead:
"I'm really proud of the way these guys focused in and were able to really restart their minds on Thursday, because we were playing so well Wednesday night when the game stopped, and then really a light practice yesterday. But we were very focused, and I think they really respect this St. John's team. We knew how good they've been playing, we knew how good they are, and then I think anytime you play at the Garden, you have to respect the greatest venue ever, and I knew these guys would come out and play their hardest."

On Friday's report being a factor:
"Absolutely nothing. It had nothing to do with them. They had -- these guys -- have practiced, we had a nice team meal and they played video games."

On the short turnaround between Providence and St. John's, and being a helpful factor in the Big East Tournament:
"I think these guys are pretty used to the quick turnaround by now. I think for the younger guys they were a little bit mentally tired, but Myles Cale did a phenomenal job, Sandro played really well, so I thought all of them really kind of bounced back nice."

On walk-on Philip Flory playing 17 minutes:
"When Desi went down, Myles (Cale) is technically his backup defensively and offensively, and Phil's the only one that really knows what he's doing from the offensive side from that spot -- whether it's zone, whether it's underneath out of bounds plays -- and I think we all have a lot of confidence in Phil when he's out there, because he's tough, he'll defend and rebound, and when he's open, he could make a shot."

On his reaction to Friday's report published by Pete Thamel of Yahoo:
"The school has put out a statement. The only thing I'll say is that we've already hired an outside law firm to come in and do an investigation, and as a staff and as the head coach, I am looking forward to having them come in. We're going to be 100 percent open, we're going to be 100 percent honest, and I have a lot of confidence in my staff and ourselves in what we've done in the past, and I'm glad the school has moved quickly on this so we can move on from it."

"I have no other comment besides that. I can't comment on anything else because there's nothing else to comment about. There's just nothing else. That's my comment. I've got great players in my program with great kids and a perfect graduation rate and guys doing a lot of great stuff. I like where my program is."

On whether he addressed the report with the players:
"No, I don't think we talked about that. When I walked into the locker room -- I mean, you can't get away from it, it's on ESPN, it's on FS1, it's everywhere -- but we're focused on this team and what we're doing, and I'm focused on -- I'm enjoying coaching these seniors the last few weeks I'm going to have them. I'm enjoying every second with them because I'm going to miss them tremendously, and that's our focus."

On confidence that people connected to ASM sports are involved with this group of Seton Hall players:
"Again, I'm not going to comment on that. The only thing that I've seen is the Yahoo report, and I don't know -- there's no other facts or details about anything else out there -- so I can't comment on that, and I can't comment on something -- we haven't done our investigation and there's nothing to do. We were confident, we went through an investigation one other time early on that came out clear, and we'll go through it again. I'm confident -- again -- we'll come out, everything that we did and that we're supposed to do, we did the right way."

On Ismael Sanogo's defense on Shamorie Ponds:
"We tried to hide the big fella a little bit because they went small, and I think they really did a good job of kind of switching. We moved Angel around so they couldn't just get Angel in a pick-and-roll, which is tough when they're that small, and obviously Ish is; as we think, one of the best defenders in the country and Shamorie's one of the best guards, so it was a good matchup."

On Angel Delgado sitting out in practice:
"We didn't practice this week, so --  we played four games, technically, this week -- we played Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday. We'll take off tomorrow, he'll practice Monday, he probably won't practice Tuesday that much, but no one really practices much this time of year days before a game. But he likes to practice, I like when he's out of practice because he really is a pain in the butt in practice, (joking) but for the most part, I think his knee's doing pretty good. His shoulder's a little banged up, but for the most part, I think he's playing pretty well."

On Seton Hall's senior class accomplishments being vacated and any possible concern:
"Absolutely not. This has been a phenomenal group that has done tremendous things on and off the court, community service, they're all going to graduate, they've all played this game tremendously and again, I'm looking forward to getting the outside law firm in and then moving forward."

Updated MAAC tiebreaker scenarios; February 24, 2018

Updated after Fairfield's 69-66 victory over Monmouth Saturday, here are the latest Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tiebreaker scenarios leading up to next week's MAAC Tournament in Albany:

Rider (14-3 MAAC): Has already clinched a first-round bye AND no worse than No. 2 seed. Broncs will open MAAC Tournament on Friday, March 2, either at 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Can clinch regular season MAAC championship, and automatic bid into National Invitation Tournament, with a win Sunday vs. Iona.


Should Rider and Canisius finish tied and Niagara finishes as No. 3 seed:

Rider would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed by virtue of 1-0 record against Niagara, while Canisius is 1-1.

Should Rider and Canisius finish tied and Iona finishes as No. 3 seed:

Canisius would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed by virtue of 2-0 record against Iona, while Rider is 0-1.

Should Rider and Canisius finish tied AND Iona and Niagara finish tied:

Tiebreaker will be combined record against Iona and Niagara. Currently, Rider is 1-1 combined, while Canisius is 3-1. Therefore, Canisius would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed and automatic NIT bid by virtue of better head-to-head record among the group.

Canisius (14-3 MAAC): Has already clinched a first-round bye and no worse than No. 2 seed. Golden Griffins will open MAAC Tournament on Friday, March 2, either at 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Can clinch regular season MAAC championship, and automatic bid into National Invitation Tournament, with a win Sunday vs. Marist AND a Rider loss Sunday vs. Iona.


Should Canisius and Rider finish tied and Niagara finishes as No. 3 seed:

Rider would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed by virtue of their 99-76 win over Niagara on December 31, while Canisius is 1-1.

Should Canisius and Rider finish tied and Iona finishes as No. 3 seed:

Canisius would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed by virtue of their regular-season sweep of Iona, while Rider is 0-1.

Should Canisius and Rider finish tied AND Iona and Niagara finish tied:

Tiebreaker will be combined record against Iona and Niagara. Currently, Rider is 1-1 combined, while Canisius is 3-1. Therefore, Canisius would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed and automatic NIT bid by virtue of better head-to-head record among the group.

Niagara (12-6 MAAC): Has already clinched a first-round bye and can finish as either No. 3 or 4 seed. Purple Eagles will open MAAC Tournament on Saturday, March 3, either at 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Can clinch No. 3 seed with an Iona loss Sunday at Rider, OR a Canisius win Sunday vs. Marist.


Should Niagara and Iona finish tied and Rider finishes as No. 1 seed:
Iona would have tiebreaker and earn No. 3 seed by virtue of their 91-64 win over Rider on January 14, while Niagara is 0-1.

Should Niagara and Iona finish tied and Canisius finishes as No. 1 seed:

Niagara would have tiebreaker and earn No. 3 seed by virtue of their 105-89 win over Canisius on January 27, while Iona is 0-2.

Should Niagara and Iona finish tied AND Canisius and Rider finish tied:

Tiebreaker will be combined record against Canisius and Rider. Currently, both Niagara and Iona are 1-2 combined against Canisius and Rider.
If Rider defeats Iona Sunday: Niagara is No. 3 seed with 1-2 record against the group, Iona would be 1-3
If Iona defeats Rider Sunday: Iona is No. 3 seed with 2-2 record against the group, Niagara would be 1-2

Iona (11-6 MAAC): Has already clinched first-round bye and can finish as either No. 3 or 4 seed. Gaels will open MAAC Tournament on Saturday, March 3, either at 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Can clinch No. 3 seed with a win Sunday at Rider AND a Canisius loss Sunday at Marist.


Should Iona and Niagara finish tied and Rider finishes as No. 1 seed:
Iona would have tiebreaker and earn No. 3 seed by virtue of their 91-64 win over Rider on January 14, while Niagara is 0-1.

Should Iona and Niagara finish tied and Canisius finishes as No. 1 seed:

Niagara would have tiebreaker and earn No. 3 seed by virtue of their 105-89 win over Canisius on January 27, while Iona is 0-2.

Should Niagara and Iona finish tied AND Canisius and Rider finish tied:

Tiebreaker will be combined record against Canisius and Rider. Currently, both Niagara and Iona are 1-2 combined against Canisius and Rider.
If Rider defeats Iona Sunday: Niagara is No. 3 seed with 1-2 record against the group, Iona would be 1-3
If Iona defeats Rider Sunday: Iona is No. 3 seed with 2-2 record against the group, Niagara would be 1-2


Above chart shows all possibilities for top four seeds between Canisius, Rider, Niagara, and Iona. (Prepared by Brian Beyrer, senior associate athletic director for communications at Iona College)

Fairfield (9-9 MAAC): Can finish as either No. 5 or No. 6 seed. Stags can clinch No. 5 seed and first-round bye with a Manhattan loss Sunday vs. Quinnipiac.


Should Manhattan defeat Quinnipiac, Stags will earn No. 6 seed as Manhattan will have tiebreaker by virtue of their regular-season sweep.

Manhattan (8-9 MAAC): Can finish as either No. 5 or 7 seed. Jaspers can clinch No. 5 seed and first-round bye with a win Sunday vs. Quinnipiac.

Should Manhattan and Fairfield finish tied at 9-9, Jaspers will have tiebreaker and earn No. 5 seed by virtue of their regular-season sweep.


Should Manhattan and Quinnipiac finish tied at 8-10 while Fairfield finishes 9-9 and Monmouth finishes 7-11, Jaspers will earn No. 7 seed by virtue of Quinnipiac's regular-season sweep of Manhattan.


Quinnipiac (7-10 MAAC): Is assured of competing in an opening-round game Thursday, March 1. Can finish as either No. 6 or 7 seed.

Should Quinnipiac defeat Manhattan, Bobcats will have tiebreaker and earn No. 6 seed by virtue of their regular-season sweep of Manhattan.

Should Quinnipiac and Monmouth finish tied at 7-11, Bobcats will have tiebreaker and earn No. 7 seed by virtue of their 78-76 win over Monmouth on December 28.


Monmouth (7-11 MAAC): Will be the No. 8 seed in the MAAC Tournament, and will face the No. 9 seed, either Saint Peter's or Siena, at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 1.


Saint Peter's (5-12 MAAC): Is assured of competing in an opening-round game Thursday, March 1. Can finish as either No. 9, 10, or 11 seed. Peacocks can clinch No. 9 seed with a win Sunday vs. Siena.


Should Saint Peter's and Siena finish 5-13 while Marist finishes 4-14, Peacocks will earn No. 10 seed as Siena will have tiebreaker by virtue of their regular-season sweep of Saint Peter's. 

Should Saint Peter's, Marist and Siena finish tied at 5-13, Peacocks will earn No. 11 seed as Siena will have best head-to-head record among the group at 3-1, followed by Marist at 2-2 and Saint Peter's at 1-3.


Siena (4-13 MAAC): Is assured of competing in an opening-round game Thursday, March 1. Can finish as either No. 9, 10, or 11 seed. Saints can clinch No. 9 seed with a win Sunday at Saint Peter's.


Should Siena, Marist and Saint Peter's finish tied at 5-13, Saints will have tiebreaker and earn No. 9 seed with best head-to-head record among the group at 3-1, followed by Marist at 2-2 and Saint Peter's at 1-3.


Should Siena and Marist finish tied at 5-13 or 4-14, Saints will have tiebreaker and earn No. 10 seed by virtue of either their 65-62 win over Canisius on January 7, or their 82-78 win over Iona on February 12.


Siena can earn No. 11 seed outright with a loss Sunday at Saint Peter's AND a Marist win Sunday at Canisius.


Marist (4-13 MAAC): Is assured of competing in an opening-round game Thursday, March 1, either at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. Can finish as either No. 10 or 11 seed. Red Foxes can clinch No. 10 seed with a win Sunday at Canisius.


Should Marist, Saint Peter's and Siena finish tied at 5-13, Red Foxes will earn No. 10 seed as Siena will have best head-to-head record among the group at 3-1, followed by Marist at 2-2 and Saint Peter's at 1-3.


Should Marist and Siena finish tied at 5-13 or 4-14, Red Foxes will earn No. 11 seed by virtue of either Siena's 65-62 win over Canisius on January 7, or their 82-78 win over Iona on February 12.



Above chart shows all possibilities for bottom three seeds between Saint Peter's, Siena, and Marist. (Prepared by Brian Beyrer, senior associate athletic director for communications at Iona College)

These tiebreaker scenarios will be updated frequently, both on this site and on Twitter (@DalyDoseOfHoops) in the days leading up to the opening-round games on Thursday, March 1.

Casimir's 30 help Iona end slump with win over Manhattan in home finale

Schadrac Casimir's 30 points fueled Iona as Gaels completed sweep of Manhattan in last home game of regular season. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- In the past, Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello has described the never-say-die nature of his Jasper teams with a five-word piece of cautionary advice.

"You have to kill us," the two-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion mentor has publicly stated, an homage to his program's scrappy style and relentless heart.

Once again, though, Schadrac Casimir; as he has done several times against Manhattan, played the role of assassin to a near-perfect cadence Friday night.

Casimir's 30 points, amassed on just 13 shots, proved to be the difference as his Iona Gaels broke out of a funk that brought about three losses in four games, defeating the Jaspers by the final of 88-75 on senior night at the Hynes Athletics Center.

"I don't know what it is," Casimir said after his latest dominance against the Gaels' fiercest rival, which was reflected in the redshirt junior's first 30-point game since scoring 33 against Marist on February 8, 2015. "Maybe it's the pace."

"I don't know, but I want everyone we play to wear green," head coach Tim Cluess quipped when asked to articulate just what about Manhattan brings out the best in Casimir. "I think it's just a great rivalry with both teams, and the players on both teams just bring a tremendous amount of energy to that game. He's been fortunate enough to have good games. I'm not surprised when anyone on either team has a good game, because the energy level is just different."

Iona (17-12, 11-6 MAAC) led for all but 16 seconds of the contest, conceding a Tom Capuano layup two seconds in off a fast break from the opening tip before biding their time long enough for Rickey McGill to drain a three-pointer for the Gaels' first field goal of the night. Casimir struck for the first time nearly a minute later before sparking a 16-4 Iona run that put the hosts ahead by 16 points, at 30-14, with just over eight minutes to play in the opening stanza.

Tempers flared shortly thereafter, as the emotions of one of the MAAC's strongest rivalries boiled over in the form of Manhattan's Zane Waterman taking his aggression out on McGill under the basket adjacent to Iona's bench with 7:02 left in the first half. As the two were fighting for a rebound, the senior forward shoved McGill, who landed backward onto the baseline press table in plain sight of official Kevin O'Connell. Waterman was promptly assessed a technical foul, which actually galvanized the Jaspers (13-16, 8-9 MAAC) for a stretch, as the visitors went on a 10-2 run to pull within seven points. The Gaels would restore order going to the locker room, however, regaining control to take a 47-34 lead into the intermission.

Iona came out of the halftime break just as strong, leading by as many as 20 before Manhattan slowly began to chip away. The Jaspers drew within six points as sophomore forward Pauly Paulicap (16 points, 13 rebounds) led the charge, but the early hole they had dug proved to be too much to overcome, as a 9-3 Iona run effectively slammed the door on a comeback that would have harkened back to 2012, when Manhattan used a game-ending 27-7 run to stun a Gaels team that would go on to make the NCAA Tournament.

"Iona has such an ability to go on these runs under Tim for years, and they can go on 8-0, 12-0 runs quickly," Masiello said, praising the Gaels' transition game. "They're one of those teams where you have to control those a little bit, and I thought for the most part, we did that, but I thought we let them have one too many of those. Give them credit. I thought Casimir played terrific and we did a poor job defensively on him."

"We knew what we were coming into," he added. "They had a full week to prepare coming off the loss to Niagara, so we knew; on their senior night, what this game was going to be in this building. We knew it wasn't going to be easy. I just didn't think we shot particularly well in the first half, and I thought our defense was sub-Manhattan, but give Iona credit for that."

Despite the loss, Manhattan still controls its destiny for the No. 5 seed and last first-round bye in next week's MAAC Tournament, which they can clinch by defeating Quinnipiac in their regular season finale Sunday. A loss will relegate the Jaspers to either the No. 6 or 7 seed, contingent on what Fairfield does Saturday against Monmouth. For Iona, they are locked into either the No. 3 or 4 seed, and have one more chance to cultivate more momentum Sunday as they attempt to thwart Rider's chances of winning the league's regular season crown.

"Hopefully, we just go out and compete again like we did today," said Cluess of the clash in New Jersey against the Broncs, whom Iona defeated by 27 in the previous meeting between the two schools on January 14. "To me, the biggest thing is, do we compete? If we compete and make shots, we have a really good chance. If we don't do both of those, we don't have a good chance. When you compete, you give yourself a chance in any type of game, and tonight, I thought we competed for 40 minutes. We have to do that the rest of the season, Sunday and then next week in the playoffs."

Friday, February 23, 2018

Updated MAAC tiebreaker scenarios: February 23, 2018

Updated after Friday's victories by Iona, Niagara and Saint Peter's, here are the latest Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tiebreaker scenarios leading up to next week's MAAC Tournament in Albany:

Rider (14-3 MAAC): Has already clinched a first-round bye AND no worse than No. 2 seed. Broncs will open MAAC Tournament on Friday, March 2, either at 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Can clinch regular season MAAC championship, and automatic bid into National Invitation Tournament, with a win Sunday vs. Iona.


Should Rider and Canisius finish tied and Niagara finishes as No. 3 seed:

Rider would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed by virtue of 1-0 record against Niagara, while Canisius is 1-1.

Should Rider and Canisius finish tied and Iona finishes as No. 3 seed:

Canisius would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed by virtue of 2-0 record against Iona, while Rider is 0-1.

Should Rider and Canisius finish tied AND Iona and Niagara finish tied:

Tiebreaker will be combined record against Iona and Niagara. Currently, Rider is 1-1 combined, while Canisius is 3-1. Therefore, Canisius would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed and automatic NIT bid by virtue of better head-to-head record among the group.

Canisius (14-3 MAAC): Has already clinched a first-round bye and no worse than No. 2 seed. Golden Griffins will open MAAC Tournament on Friday, March 2, either at 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Can clinch regular season MAAC championship, and automatic bid into National Invitation Tournament, with a win Sunday vs. Marist AND a Rider loss Sunday vs. Iona.


Should Canisius and Rider finish tied and Niagara finishes as No. 3 seed:

Rider would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed by virtue of their 99-76 win over Niagara on December 31, while Canisius is 1-1.

Should Canisius and Rider finish tied and Iona finishes as No. 3 seed:

Canisius would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed by virtue of their regular-season sweep of Iona, while Rider is 0-1.

Should Canisius and Rider finish tied AND Iona and Niagara finish tied:

Tiebreaker will be combined record against Iona and Niagara. Currently, Rider is 1-1 combined, while Canisius is 3-1. Therefore, Canisius would have tiebreaker and earn No. 1 seed and automatic NIT bid by virtue of better head-to-head record among the group.

Niagara (12-6 MAAC): Has already clinched a first-round bye and can finish as either No. 3 or 4 seed. Purple Eagles will open MAAC Tournament on Saturday, March 3, either at 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Can clinch No. 3 seed with an Iona loss Sunday at Rider.


Should Niagara and Iona finish tied and Rider finishes as No. 1 seed:
Iona would have tiebreaker and earn No. 3 seed by virtue of their 91-64 win over Rider on January 14, while Niagara is 0-1.

Should Niagara and Iona finish tied and Canisius finishes as No. 1 seed:

Niagara would have tiebreaker and earn No. 3 seed by virtue of their 105-89 win over Canisius on January 27, while Iona is 0-2.

Should Niagara and Iona finish tied AND Canisius and Rider finish tied:

Tiebreaker will be combined record against Canisius and Rider. Currently, both Niagara and Iona are 1-2 combined against Canisius and Rider.
If Rider defeats Iona Sunday: Niagara is No. 3 seed with 1-2 record against the group, Iona would be 1-3
If Iona defeats Rider Sunday: Iona is No. 3 seed with 2-2 record against the group, Niagara would be 1-2

Iona (11-6 MAAC): Has already clinched first-round bye and can finish as either No. 3 or 4 seed. Gaels will open MAAC Tournament on Saturday, March 3, either at 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m. Can clinch No. 3 seed with a win Friday vs. Manhattan AND a Canisius loss Sunday at Marist.


Should Iona and Niagara finish tied and Rider finishes as No. 1 seed:
Iona would have tiebreaker and earn No. 3 seed by virtue of their 91-64 win over Rider on January 14, while Niagara is 0-1.

Should Iona and Niagara finish tied and Canisius finishes as No. 1 seed:

Niagara would have tiebreaker and earn No. 3 seed by virtue of their 105-89 win over Canisius on January 27, while Iona is 0-2.

Should Niagara and Iona finish tied AND Canisius and Rider finish tied:

Tiebreaker will be combined record against Canisius and Rider. Currently, both Niagara and Iona are 1-2 combined against Canisius and Rider.
If Rider defeats Iona Sunday: Niagara is No. 3 seed with 1-2 record against the group, Iona would be 1-3
If Iona defeats Rider Sunday: Iona is No. 3 seed with 2-2 record against the group, Niagara would be 1-2


Above chart shows all possibilities for top four seeds between Canisius, Rider, Niagara, and Iona. (Prepared by Brian Beyrer, senior associate athletic director for communications at Iona College)

Manhattan (8-9 MAAC): Can finish as either No. 5, 6, or 7 seed. Jaspers can clinch No. 5 seed and first-round bye with a win Sunday vs. Quinnipiac.

Should Manhattan and Fairfield finish tied at 9-9, Jaspers will have tiebreaker and earn No. 5 seed by virtue of their regular-season sweep.


Should Manhattan, Fairfield and Quinnipiac finish tied at 8-10 while Monmouth finishes 7-11, Jaspers will earn No. 6 seed as Quinnipiac will have best head-to-head record among the group at 3-1, followed by Manhattan at 2-2 and Fairfield at 1-3.


Should Manhattan, Fairfield, Quinnipiac and Monmouth finish tied at 8-10, Jaspers will earn No. 6 seed as Quinnipiac will have best head-to-head record among the group at 4-1, followed by Manhattan at 3-3, Monmouth at 2-3 and Fairfield at 2-4.


Should Manhattan and Quinnipiac finish tied at 8-10 while Fairfield finishes 9-9 and Monmouth finishes 7-11, Jaspers will earn No. 7 seed by virtue of Quinnipiac's regular-season sweep of Manhattan.


Fairfield (8-9 MAAC): Can finish no higher than No. 5 seed, and no lower than No. 8 seed. Stags can clinch No. 5 seed and first-round bye with a win Saturday vs. Monmouth, AND a Manhattan loss Sunday vs. Quinnipiac.

Should Fairfield and Manhattan finish tied at 9-9 and Quinnipiac finishes 8-10 or worse, Stags will earn No. 6 seed as Manhattan will have tiebreaker by virtue of their regular-season sweep.

Fairfield can also finish as No. 6 seed with 9-9 or 8-10 record if Manhattan wins Friday at Iona AND Sunday vs. Quinnipiac. Should Fairfield and Quinnipiac finish tied at 8-10 and Monmouth finishes 7-11 or worse while Manhattan finishes 9-9 or better, Stags will have tiebreaker and earn No. 6 seed by virtue of their wins over Niagara and Iona.


Should Fairfield, Monmouth and Quinnipiac finish tied at 8-10 while Manhattan finishes 9-9, Stags will earn No. 7 seed as Quinnipiac will have best head-to-head record among the group at 2-1, followed by Fairfield at 2-2 and Monmouth at 1-2.


Should Fairfield, Manhattan and Quinnipiac finish tied at 8-10 while Monmouth finishes 7-11, Stags will earn No. 7 seed as Quinnipiac will have best head-to-head record among the group at 3-1, followed by Manhattan at 2-2 and Fairfield at 1-3.


Should Fairfield and Monmouth finish tied at 8-10 while Quinnipiac finishes 7-11, Stags will earn No. 7 seed as Monmouth will have tiebreaker by virtue of their 91-77 win over Rider on February 22.


Should Fairfield, Manhattan, Quinnipiac and Monmouth finish tied at 8-10, Stags will earn No. 8 seed as Quinnipiac will have best head-to-head record among the group at 4-1, followed by Manhattan at 3-3, Monmouth at 2-3 and Fairfield at 2-4.


Quinnipiac (7-10 MAAC): Can finish as either No. 5, 6, 7, or 8 seed.


Should Quinnipiac, Fairfield, Manhattan and Monmouth finish tied at 8-10, Bobcats will earn No. 5 seed as Quinnipiac will have best head-to-head record among the group at 4-1, followed by Manhattan at 3-3, Monmouth at 2-3 and Fairfield at 2-4.


Should Quinnipiac, Fairfield and Monmouth finish tied at 8-10 while Manhattan finishes 9-9 or better, Bobcats will earn No. 6 seed as Quinnipiac will have best head-to-head record among the group at 2-1, followed by Fairfield at 2-2 and Monmouth at 1-2.

Should Quinnipiac and Manhattan finish tied at 8-10 while Fairfield finishes 9-9 and Monmouth finishes 7-11, Bobcats will have tiebreaker and earn No. 6 seed by virtue of their regular-season sweep of Manhattan.


Should Quinnipiac and Fairfield finish tied at 8-10 and Monmouth finishes 7-11 while Manhattan finishes 9-9 or better, Bobcats will earn No. 7 seed as Fairfield would have tiebreaker by virtue of their wins over Niagara and Iona.


Should Quinnipiac and Monmouth finish tied at 7-11 while Fairfield finishes 8-10 or better, Bobcats will have tiebreaker and earn No. 7 seed by virtue of their 78-76 win over Monmouth on December 28.


Quinnipiac can earn No. 8 seed outright with a 7-11 record if Fairfield and Monmouth both finish 8-10 while Manhattan finishes 9-9 or better.


Monmouth (7-10 MAAC): Is assured of competing in an opening-round game Thursday, March 1. Can finish as either No. 6, 7, or 8 seed. Hawks can clinch No. 6 seed with win Saturday at Fairfield AND TWO Quinnipiac losses, Friday vs. Saint Peter's and Sunday at Manhattan.


Should Monmouth and Fairfield finish tied at 8-10 while Quinnipiac finishes 7-11, Hawks will have tiebreaker and earn No. 6 seed by virtue of their 91-77 win over Rider on February 22.


Should Monmouth, Fairfield, Manhattan and Quinnipiac finish tied at 8-10, Hawks will earn No. 7 seed as Quinnipiac will have best head-to-head record among the group at 4-1, followed by Manhattan at 3-3, Monmouth at 2-3 and Fairfield at 2-4.


Should Monmouth, Fairfield and Quinnipiac finish tied at 8-10 while Manhattan finishes 9-9 or better, Hawks will earn No. 8 seed as Quinnipiac will have best head-to-head record among the group at 2-1, followed by Fairfield at 2-2 and Monmouth at 1-2.


Monmouth can also earn No. 8 seed outright with a 7-11 record while Fairfield, Manhattan and Quinnipiac finish 8-10 or better.



Above chart shows all possibilities for middle four seeds between Manhattan, Fairfield, Quinnipiac, and Monmouth. (Prepared by Brian Beyrer, senior associate athletic director for communications at Iona College)

Saint Peter's (5-12 MAAC): Is assured of competing in an opening-round game Thursday, March 1. Can finish as either No. 9, 10, or 11 seed. Peacocks can clinch No. 9 seed with a win Sunday vs. Siena.


Should Saint Peter's and Siena finish 5-13 while Marist finishes 4-14, Peacocks will earn No. 10 seed as Siena will have tiebreaker by virtue of their regular-season sweep of Saint Peter's. 

Should Saint Peter's, Marist and Siena finish tied at 5-13, Peacocks will earn No. 11 seed as Siena will have best head-to-head record among the group at 3-1, followed by Marist at 2-2 and Saint Peter's at 1-3.


Siena (4-13 MAAC): Is assured of competing in an opening-round game Thursday, March 1. Can finish as either No. 9, 10, or 11 seed.


Should Siena, Marist and Saint Peter's finish tied at 5-13 and Siena defeats Saint Peter's on February 25, Saints will have tiebreaker and earn No. 9 seed with best head-to-head record among the group at 3-1, followed by Marist at 2-2 and Saint Peter's at 1-3.


Should Siena and Saint Peter's finish tied at 5-13 and Saint Peter's defeats Siena on February 25 while Marist finishes 4-14, Saints will have tiebreaker and earn No. 9 seed by virtue of their 65-62 win over Canisius on January 7.


Siena can also earn No. 10 seed outright by finishing 5-13 while Marist or Saint Peter's finishes either 6-12 or 4-14.


Should Siena and Marist finish tied at 5-13 while Saint Peter's finishes 6-12, or tied at 4-14 while Saint Peter's finishes 5-13, Saints will have tiebreaker and earn No. 10 seed by virtue of either their 65-62 win over Canisius on January 7, or their 82-78 win over Iona on February 12.


Siena can earn No. 11 seed outright with a loss Sunday at Saint Peter's AND a Marist win Sunday at Canisius.


Marist (4-13 MAAC): Is assured of competing in an opening-round game Thursday, March 1, either at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m. Can finish as either No. 10 or 11 seed.


Should Marist, Saint Peter's and Siena finish tied at 5-13 and Siena defeats Saint Peter's on February 25, Red Foxes will earn No. 10 seed as Siena will have best head-to-head record among the group at 3-1, followed by Marist at 2-2 and Saint Peter's at 1-3.


Marist can also earn No. 10 seed outright by finishing 5-13 while Saint Peter's finishes 6-12 and Siena 4-14.


Should Marist and Siena finish tied at 5-13 while Saint Peter's finishes 6-12, Red Foxes will earn No. 11 seed by virtue of either Siena's 65-62 win over Canisius on January 7, or their 82-78 win over Iona on February 12.



Above chart shows all possibilities for bottom three seeds between Saint Peter's, Siena, and Marist. (Prepared by Brian Beyrer, senior associate athletic director for communications at Iona College)

These tiebreaker scenarios will be updated frequently, both on this site and on Twitter (@DalyDoseOfHoops) in the days leading up to the opening-round games on Thursday, March 1.

Battle of Brooklyn Photo Gallery

Photos from LIU Brooklyn's 81-76 victory over St. Francis Brooklyn in the Battle of Brooklyn, on February 22, 2018:

(All photos by Bob Dea/Daly Dose Of Hoops)

Jaspers look to further late surge against Iona

Rich Williams has sparked Manhattan's late surge, averaging 25 points over his last two games heading into pivotal showdown with Iona. (Photo by Vincent Dusovic/Manhattan College Athletics)

Win or lose, two words have come to define Manhattan College basketball over the years: Defense and culture.

The former is ubiquitous in every facet of the Jaspers' on-court demeanor, forging an identity built on the fearless nature and unrelenting tone of a New York-centric core whose imports have wasted little time adopting the ways of the native sons. The latter is but an intangible, a quality that serves as a shining beacon through the obscure points of the journey, an indelible bond and a permanent adhesive.

The defense is interwoven into the culture, and together, both have returned Manhattan from the doldrums of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference into more familiar territory toward the top of the conference standings. And as the calendar prepares to flip from February into March, a time symbolic of the synergy and fusion reaching a crescendo in and around Riverdale, players and coaches alike know what time it is, so to speak.

"We know the time is winding down, so our sense of urgency is going up now," Rich Williams said as the Jaspers (13-15, 8-8 MAAC) embark upon their final regular-season road trip, making the short trek into Westchester County Friday to face longtime adversary Iona at 9 p.m. "It hasn't been up, so I'm getting whatever is coming to me, and it's been working out well the last two games."

Williams, a fifth-year senior cognizant of the eleventh hour in which his collegiate career has now entered, has thrust his game into another gear in recent weeks, scoring a career-high 29 points against Quinnipiac eight days ago before backing it up this past Sunday with 21 points in a win over Niagara that provided a significant boost to Manhattan's chance of earning a first-round bye in next week's MAAC Tournament, which has been described by his head coach in the past as "all that matters," but is still on the back burner for another several days.

"We're not even thinking about that right now," Steve Masiello boldly stated, focusing on the first order of business that awaits he and his players. "All we're worried about is whoever is the next team on our schedule. That's it. We'll worry about the conference tournament next Sunday. We've got 80 more minutes of basketball in this regular season that we're going to concentrate on."

Those 80 minutes begin with an Iona team that has taken five straight meetings with the Jaspers and seven of eight, Manhattan's 2015 MAAC championship victory the only score for the residents of Draddy Gymnasium in that stretch. Add the Gaels' record on their home floor in New Rochelle, where Manhattan has won only once under Masiello's watch; in his first season on an Emmy Andujar buzzer-beating three-pointer in 2012, and the margin for error becomes even more minuscule. With that said, the attention to detail in practice has grown even more meticulous.

"I'd say there's about 16-17 mistakes we've got to fix, just little things of mental focus that when you get in tournament time, that separates you advancing," Masiello said, with one eye on the prize at the end of the road, yet fully invested in the order that stands before the Jaspers on Friday. "When you understand that it's four minutes to go, the game's on the line and we're not giving a guy his strong hand, it matters, and that affects winning. Those are the things we want to clean up."

"There's so much potential left in this team," he added. "It's my job to get it out of them, and I think we're pushing it in the right direction. I think we're going in the right direction. If you look at our last four games, I think we're playing good basketball."

Iona looks to get back on track against Manhattan

Iona's recent slide has left Tim Cluess perplexed at times, but Gaels' head coach knows what his team needs to do to stem tide heading into MAAC Tournament. (Photo by Vincent Simone/NYC Buckets)

Projected to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference at the beginning of the season, Iona's current fourth-place standing in the league with two games remaining before the conference's annual postseason tournament may come as a mild surprise to the casual observer.

However, the Gaels' inconsistency reared its ugly head three times in a span of nine days, prompting the need to refocus in an attempt to bring momentum back within their walls as the final stage of a potentially historic championship defense awaits in Albany.

"It's always a next-game attitude," forward Roland Griffin said as Iona (16-12, 10-6 MAAC) takes the floor Friday evening for the penultimate contest of its regular season campaign, coming against bitter rival Manhattan in a 9 p.m. tipoff from the Hynes Athletics Center. "All the games, those are in the past now. We've got to just wake up and play the next one."

"We've got to get better," head coach Tim Cluess bluntly assessed. "It's kind of simple -- we've got to defend the ball. We need to have a guard that's going to sit down and guard somebody, we've got to make a shot. We keep making mental mistakes."

"We've been shooting the ball poorly for quite a while," he continued. "Our interior game has been solid. Our guard play -- they have to start making some shots."

Iona's recent spate of setbacks, beginning two weeks ago with a 22-point loss to Monmouth that became the Gaels' most lopsided defeat in MAAC play under Cluess and the lowest point output in his eight-year tenure, snowballed into an overtime loss at Siena and a missed opportunity last Friday when Niagara; who lost senior Matt Scott with an ankle sprain in the first half, came back from a double-digit deficit to defeat the two-time defending MAAC champions in New Rochelle. But if there is an encouraging parallel to be drawn from the skid, it is this: In 2012-13, Iona lost six of seven games in January and February by a grand total of 11 points before winning both of their final regular season contests en route to bringing home the program's first MAAC crown since 2006, and first under Cluess, eight days later in Springfield.

"We've talked about being in the same position in other seasons," Cluess said, referencing the downturn that was reversed at the most opportune time. "But the sense of urgency we had with those teams was really present, and we're trying to create that sense of urgency within this team. Hopefully if we get it, we'll have a chance just like everyone else does."

"We're in every game. We've had 14 games now decided by five points or less, so you're talking about one play here, one play there, and I think telling young men how important each and every play is, sometimes they don't grasp that. They don't grasp that a play five minutes into the first half they didn't hustle on that led to a basket is just as much a cause to you losing a close game as missing that four-footer with 30 seconds to go. It's all those plays, and we have to; at least effort-wise, be better and more consistent."

Still, even in the face of a short-term impression that may not be the most optimal entering a conference tournament, Cluess was just as quick to point out that in the grand scheme of things, the Gaels were in similar straits one season ago before succeeding in their quest to repeat as league champions.

"We're not far off, record-wise, from where we were last year," he reiterated. "That's the reality of it. We had ups and downs last year, too. It's whether or not you can get on a good swing when the playoffs come in. Can you make shots at that time? Whoever makes shots at that time is winning the tournament. Whoever misses shots is going home."