Canisius was the surprise team of Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference basketball last season. It won’t be easy for the Golden Griffins to sneak up on the conference opposition this year, however.
Canisius was projected to finish second and its junior guard, Isaiah Reese, was named the Preseason Player of the Year on Tuesday night on the MAAC’s annual Preseason Awards Show.
Rider was the unanimous choice to win the conference championship.
Niagara’s men’s team was picked to finish ninth in a vote of the 11 MAAC head coaches.
On the women’s side, Canisius was picked for eighth and Niagara ninth in the preseason poll.
A year ago, coach Reggie Witherspoon’s Canisius men were tabbed for ninth place in the preseason MAAC poll and ended up tying for the regular-season title. The Griffs started 5-7 then won 15 times in a 17-game span. Canisius finished with a 15-3 MAAC record, and tied for first with Rider.
Canisius missed the top seed by virtue of the conference tiebreaker before finishing a 21-12 season with a loss to Quinnipiac in the MAAC tournament and to Jacksonville State in the postseason CBI Tournament.
Reese is the only Canisius player besides Billy Baron in 2013-14 to be named MAAC Preseason Player of the Year. The junior from Miami was second on the team in scoring with a 16.9 average in 2017-18.
Sophomore Takal Molson, the reigning MAAC Rookie of the Year after he averaged 12.6 points in 33 starting assignments for Canisius, was named to the Preseason All-MAAC second team.
Besides Reese and Molson, Canisius will have point guard Malik Johnson back from among the four players who started all 33 games last season.
Rickey McGill of Iona, Cameron Young of Quinnipiac, Stevie Jordan of Rider and Dimencio Vaughn of Rider were other first-team selections. Reese and Vaughn were unanimous choices.
Joining Molson on the second team were Roland Griffin (Iona), Pauly Paulicap (Manhattan), Brian Parker (Marist) and Frederick Scott (Rider).
Niagara senior Marvin Prochet, a 6-foot-7 forward from Brooklyn, was voted to the preseason third team. Prochet averaged 10.3 points and 7.9 rebounds, and made 38.1 percent of his three-point shots last season. He is the Purple Eagles’ leading returning scorer. Niagara lost Kahlil Dukes and Matt Scott, its top two scorers from last season, and is counting on an influx of four freshmen to help pick up the slack.
Besides Prochet, third-team selections included E.J. Crawford (Iona), Deion Hammond (Monmouth), Rich Kelly (Quinnipiac) and Jordan Allen (Rider).
After Rider (121 points) and Canisius (105) in the men’s poll came Iona and Quinnipiac (94 each), Monmouth (66), Marist (59), Fairfield (50), Manhattan (46), Niagara (45), Saint Peter’s (28) and Siena (18).
Sara Hinriksdottir of Canisius was named to the women’s second team. The senior from Keflavik, Iceland, led Canisius in scoring (14.9), rebounding (5.6) and assists (2.3) last season.
The Griffs will play their first season under coach Scott Hemer, who comes to Canisius after a successful tenure at NCAA Division III Geneseo.
Niagara’s Jai Moore, a junior guard, was named to the third team. She averaged 10.3 points and 3.0 rebounds in 30 games last season. Aryn McClure of Quinnipiac was picked as Preseason Player of the Year.
In addition to McClure, the first team included Alana Gilmer and Rebekah Hand of Marist, Jen Fay of Quinnipiac and Stella Johnson of Rider.
Quinnipiac, the two-time defending MAAC Champion, was the top choice to win the conference title with 10 of 11 first place votes and 120 points. Marist garnered the other first-place vote and 111 points, and Siena (96), Rider (85), Fairfield (75), Manhattan (68), Monmouth (53), Canisius (41), Niagara (34), Iona (31) and Saint Peter’s (12) rounded out the voting.
Canisius’ men will open the season at Bucknell on Nov. 13. The first home game will be Nov. 16 against Albany. The women will be host to Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 9.
The Niagara men will play Mercyhurst on Nov. 5 in an exhibition game and officially open the season with a home game against St. Bonaventure on Nov. 12. The women open with a home game against Bona on Nov. 6.
Two Griffs volleyball
players honored by MAAC
Canisius senior Sofia Lopez Acosta was named MAAC Libero of the Week in women’s volleyball and teammate Camila Vazquez was named Rookie of the Week after their roles in the Griffs’ three-set sweep of Niagara last week.
Lopez Acosta tallied 44 digs, 6 assists, 5 aces and 2 kills against the Purple Eagles and was a strong performer in wins over Siena and Marist.
Vazquez racked up 37 kills at a .552 hitting percentage, adding eight block assists for here week. She had 10 kills against Niagara as the Golden Griffins set a Canisius record with a .714 hitting percentage for the match. The middle hitter ended the week with a career-high 18 kills in the win over Marist.