In one season as the head coach at Marist Jeff Bower put together a record of 12-19 (9-11 MAAC), increasing the program’s conference win total by three games from the season prior. And with leading scorers Chavaughn Lewis and Khalid Hart returning, the Red Foxes may be able to take another step forward in 2014-15.
However, the Marist program may have to attempt to do so without its head coach. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, new Detroit Pistons president and head coach Stan Van Gundy is expected to hire Bower as his general manager. Bower has plenty of experience at the NBA level, including a seven-year stint as general manager in New Orleans, and he and Van Gundy have known each other since they were young college assistants.
Losing Bower, especially at this point in the offseason, would be a big loss for Marist to absorb. Marist will also have to account for the graduation of guard Jay Bowie and center Adam Kemp, who combined to average 22.2 points and 12.8 rebounds per game in 2013-14.
Marist did sign a five-member recruiting class for the 2014-15 season, a group that includes three front court players to help account for the loss of Kemp. But as is the case with any coaching change, the status of those recruits (and the players in line to return) will be dictated by who the school hires and how quickly that process is completed.
It didn’t have the atmosphere of a game that was one of the season’s biggest to date since it was played at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, but Baylor announced themselves to the country as a top team. They did it with Kenny Chery, a Junior College transfer in his first season with the program — leading the way. As good as Baylor looked as a team, Kentucky revealed more flaws that need correcting. John Calipari knows this and sees this. It is why he continues to make mention of the work that needs to be done with this Kentucky team. He has his hands full, especially with the tough stretch of games upcoming.
1) On the surface, many will think UC Santa Barbara beating California is an upset. When a team from the Big West knocks off a Pac-12 program, it almost always is one. But, make no mistake about it, this was an upset in name only. The Gauchos are really good, and they have one of the best forwards in the country you may have never heard of — read more here.
2) Pittsburgh continues their dominant ways by handily beating Loyola Marymount, 85-68. The Panthers stay perfect on the season, moving to 9-0. Pittsburgh is good, but when will Jamie Dixon put together a competitive non-conference schedule? Until they face an opponent that truly challenges them — either Stanford or Penn State has been their best opponent — it’s hard to know just how good Pittsburgh is.
3) In an underrated good game of what was otherwise a quiet night, Stephen F. Austin beat Towson, 79-69. The Lumberjacks are now 7-2 on the season; they and Oral Roberts are looking like the two top teams in the Southland Conference.
1) If not for Kenny Chery, Baylor loses to Kentucky. He tallied 18 points and five assists, along with hitting a critical shot in the final minute to make it a two-possession game.
2) Alan Williams for UC Santa Barbara missed consecutive games earlier this season due to back spasms. Tonight, against Cal, he was in his usual form beasting opposing frontcourts as he went off for 24 points and 12 rebounds in the win.
3) Conference play in the MAAC has officially begun, and Canisius’ center Jordan Heath had a big night against St. Peter’s totaling 28 point and 10 rebounds in an 82-67 victory.
4) Oklahoma State and Connecticut barely broke a sweat tonight as each cruised to wins over their opponents. The Huskies handled Maine, 95-68, and the Cowboys beat South Carolina, 79-52.
1) Jeff Bower hasn’t exactly gotten off to the best start in his second stint as a coach at Marist — nine games and nine losses. The latest one tonight came against Manhattan as the Red Foxes lost 70-59.
2) Fresh off of their 93-81 win over Oregon State, DePaul came out and laid an egg against visiting Arizona State, losing 78-56. As a team, they shot worse than 30% from the field with Cleveland Melvin — hands down their best player — going 2-12.
3) Alex Poythress is an enigma. The 6-foot-8 sophomore received a lot of hype, but hasn’t lived up to it. Once projected to be a surefire lottery pick in the NBA Draft who would most likely leave Kentucky after a year or two, Poythress is no longer going down that road. In the loss to Baylor, he played just six minutes and committed three fouls, while going 0-1 from the field and 0-2 from the line.
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
Last season was supposed to be the year that Manhattan, in Steve Masiello’s second year at the helm, made their move in the MAAC. They were coming off a 21-13 record in Masiello’s first year, and George Beamon, the leading scorer in the league in 2011-12, was returning for his senior season. An ankle injury to Beamon derailed Manhattan as they got out to a 6-15 start, yet they rebounded by making it to the MAAC championship nearly beating Iona. With a healthy Beamon back for a fifth year, Ashton Pankey, a Maryland transfer who sat out last season, now eligible, and two time defensive player of the year Rhamel Brown returning in the frontcourt, the Jaspers are the favorite to win the MAAC and return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004.
Many point to Iona, Manhattan’s bitter rival, as the primary challenger. Understandably so as the Gaels have been to the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons and return two of the league’s top players in Sean Armand and David Laury. While they will no doubt challenge, Canisius is poised to have a big year with Billy Baron returning for his senior season. Factor in guard Chris Perez, who is using his final year of eligibility after graduating from Stetson this past May where he earned All-Atlantic Sun Second Team, and Canisius has the top backcourt in the league.
Two programs that may be on the uptick are Rider and Marist. The Broncs surprised everyone last year finishing second in the league, and return two of the top players in Anthony Myles and Daniel Stewart. Marist, meanwhile, struggled for much of last season finishing with a 10-21 record, which proved to be the demise of Chuck Martin. In comes Jeff Bower, an assistant at Marist from 1986-1995 and former general manager of the New Orleans Hornets, to try and right the ship. He steps into a program that returns Adam Kemp and Chavaughn Lewis who both earned Third Team All-MAAC honors last season.
In their first season in the MAAC, Quinnipiac will be instantly competitive as they return Ike Azotam and Ousamane Drame in the frontcourt.
While they don’t figure to contend right away, Siena, under first year coach Jimmy Patsos, will be a story to watch all season. Patsos successfully transformed Loyola (Maryland), formerly of the MAAC, into one of the league’s top programs.
In: Monmouth and Quinnipiac Out: Loyola (Maryland)
PRESEASON MAAC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Billy Baron, Canisius
Baron (17.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 5.0 apg) has the ability to fill it up like a shooting guard, go off the dribble like a two-guard, and has the handle of a point guard. As Canisius’ starting point guard for the second season, Baron will look to lead Canisius to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996.
FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW
Antoine Mason, Niagara: Losing Juan’ya Green and Ameen Tanksley to Hofstra makes Mason, a First Team All-MAAC player from last season, the focal point for first year coach Chris Casey.
Sean Armand, Iona: One of the best shooters in the country at any level, Armand was one of just ten players to drill 100 or more three-pointers last season.
George Beamon, Manhattan: Arguably the top player in the MAAC, the Jaspers will go as far as Beamon takes them, and that may be to the NCAA Tournament.
Chavaughn Lewis, Marist: After averaging just a shade over 8 ppg midway through the non-conference schedule, Lewis ripped up the MAAC averaging nearly 20 ppg in league games.