NEW YORK -- Before the crowd of coaches and players dissipated from the building here at Madison Square Garden, I got a chance to talk with Rider senior Jason Thompson, who was named the MAAC's Preseason Player of the Year earlier this afternoon.
Thompson spent the summer working out at the LeBron James, Amare Stoudemaire and Pete Newell camps and returns for his final year in Lawrenceville, N.J. as a potential NBA Draft pick next June.
And in talking with the 6-foot-11 forward, it's seemed to have paid off.
NEW YORK -- We're here at Madison Square Garden after sorting out a few issues with internet in the Theatre Lobby.
Things kicked off with the women's preseason poll and the conference's preseason player of the year candidates, and it looks like Marist, last year's Cinderella story after reaching the Sweet 16, is the favorite once again to top the MAAC.
The men's preseason poll and player of the year picks just got finished being announced, and despite losing two fifth-year seniors starters from last year, Siena seems to be the favorite to win the conference and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
KINGSTON, R.I. - Rhode Island began to assert itself in the final eight minutes of thehalf and with the help of some inspired bench play (12 points), lead 39-24 at the half.
The Rams went on a 13-2 run after the media timeout at 7:07, to extend to a 31-22 lead. A put back dunk by Joe Mbang led to a Jeff Ruland timeout just under four minutes, to stem the tide, but some dismal Gaels shooting added salt to the wound. Rhody wound up shooting .609 (14-for-23) in the first half; Iona shot .344 (11-for-32).
Will Daniels leads all scorers with 14 points and Rodriguez has six to pace the Gaels.
KINGSTON, RI - Both teams have shot well in the early going with Rhody hitting at a 50 percent clip and Iona going for 45 percent. The game is tied at 20-20 with 7:07 left in the half.
The Gaels have played inspired ball in the first 20 minutes with both De’Shaune Griffin and Mike Harris picking up the slack for injured teammate, Kyle Camper (foot injury Monday in practice, out indefinitely).
Rhode Island has found some early success trapping the Gaels at half court after made baskets, trying to take advantage of the loss of Camper. They should probably do more of it.
KINGSTON, R.I. - We're a few minutes from tip and the Ryan Center is slowly filling up.
Just to give some perspective on what the Gaels are facing (besides Rhode Island, a team that likes to run and gun), take a lot at this number: 5,040.
That's the number of career points the Gaels lost to graduation with the departure of Steve Burtt, Ricky Soliver, Marvin McCollough and Kiril Wachsmann. Now you know what they mean when they call this team the Young Gaels.
With the Camper foot injury (which we're hearing will require surgery), it appears the Gaels will start four freshmen with Mike Harris, DeShaune Griffin, Milan Prodanovic and Alejo Rodriguez
Newport, RI - Hang Time joined the winless Iona Gaels for a portion of the team’s pre-game meal at the Newport Marriott, four hours before tonight’s 7 p.m. tipoff against the Univeristy of Rhode Island.
Head Coach Jeff Ruland gave us a few minutes of time after his afternoon nap and the old “don’t wake a sleeping bear” thing came immediately to mind.
Ruland, now in his ninth season (137-110) as the head coach of the Gaels has seen rough stretches before and his NBA pedigree dictates that the lows never get too low and the highs never get too high.
Still, an 0-3 start in the midst of a challenging non-conference slate can lead to some dismal moments. Adding to Ruland’s woes is that junior college transfer and team captain, Kyle Camper, suffered a foot injury at the tail end of practice on Monday afternoon. He is likely out for an extended period of time.