Thompson likely MAAC player of year

It’s probably Charron Fisher’s misfortune to come along the same time as Jason Thompson.
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MAAC men’s tournament bracket

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It’s probably Charron Fisher’s misfortune to come along the same time as Jason Thompson.

Fisher, Niagara’s 6-foot-4 senior, is tied with Virginia Military Institute’s Reggie Williams for the national scoring lead at 27.8 points per game, but that probably won’t be good enough to earn him the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player of the year award.

Thompson, Rider’s 6-foot-11 center who is projected to be an NBA draft pick, will likely get player of the year when the MAAC

announces its season awards today following two women’s first-round games in the afternoon at the Times Union Center.

Siena can make a strong case for senior forward Laura Menty, the leading scorer in the conference, for the women’s player of the year.

Thompson is the second-leading scorer in the conference at 20.2 ppg, and leads the MAAC in rebounding (11.8 rpg) and blocked shots (2.80).

His rebounding average ranks second in the country, behind Kansas State’s Michael Beasley’s 12.6.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Thompson won both the player of the year and defensive player of the year awards. Siena’s Kenny Hasbrouck has the best steals-per-game average at 2.30, well ahead of Niagara’s Tyrone Lewis (1.93).

Niagara coach Joe Mihalich was given the opportunity to make an argument for Fisher during a conference call with all the MAAC coaches on Monday.

“I say this with the utmost respect for Rider and [head coach] Tommy Dempsey and Jason Thompson … Charron has had just an unbelievable season,” he said. “He finished the season as the leading scorer in the country, and we all know he’s, like, 6-4. And I obviously like my supporting cast, but we’ve played all year with a freshman point guard and with a big guy that was learning on the job.

“Every game Charron went into, he was circled on the scouting

report. People beat him up, people double-teamed him, triple-teamed him. Hey, listen, he looks at the

Internet, he looks at the papers, he had that pressure every game to score points. But more than anything else, he made us win. He just carried us on his back.”

The Purple Eagles are 12-6 in the MAAC and 19-9 overall, and are seeded third for the tournament.

The other players eligible for the player of the year, by virtue of

being selected to the all-MAAC first team, are Siena’s Hasbrouck and Edwin Ubiles, and Loyola’s Gerald Brown.

The rookie of the year candidates are Loyola’s Brian Rudolph, Marist’s Jay Gavin, Niagara’s Anthony Nelson, Rider’s Mike Ringgold and Saint Peter’s Wesley Jenkins.

Siena head coach Fran McCaffery, who is up for coach of the year, believes Rudolph is a lock for rookie of the year.

“You have to look at Rudolph as a guy who should’ve been on there [all-MAAC],” McCaffery said. “You look at where that team was headed until [head coach] Jimmy [Patsos] made that move, it was better for Brown, it was better for [Brett] Harvey … it just changed everything for that team. It just turned their whole season around. That kid, I was as impressed with him as I was with any freshman, and I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be the rookie of the year, in my vote.”

Menty has had a terrific season, despite dealing with a throat ailment that was diagnosed and treated last summer, and has limited her practice time.

“She just did a great job,” Siena head coach Gina Castelli said. “I give her all the credit for everything she’s done. We tried to manage her practices early on, then her minutes early on, but she’s just done a great job communicating and fighting through it, really. I can’t say enough about what she’s done.”

MORE SAINTS AWARDS

Siena’s Hasbrouck and Ubiles have each been named to the

National Association of Basketball Coaches Division I District 2 second team, to go along with their selection to the MAAC first team.

The 150 players from 15 NABC districts are eligible for the State Farm Division I All-America teams to be announced on Saturday,

April 5, at the NABC Convention in San Antonio.

District 2 consists of all Division I programs in New York state. It is the third straight year Siena has had a representative on the second team (Antoine Jordan, 2006,

and Michael Haddix, 2007).

Ryan Wittman (Cornell),

Michael Lee (St. Bonaventure) and Justin Burrell (St. John’s) joined Ubiles and Hasbrouck on the second team. Fisher, Donte’ Greene and Jonny Flynn (Syr­acuse), Antoine Aguido (Hofstra) and Bryant Dunston (Fordham) made up the first team.

FAN FESTIVAL

In conjunction with the MAAC tournament, the Sports Foundation of the Capital Region will host the first of three fan festivals to be held in downtown Albany from noon to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 5 to 8 p.m. on Monday.

The activities on South Pearl Street will include a “Guitar Hero” contest between county executive Michael Breslin, Times Union Center general manager Bob Belber and MAAC commissioner Richard

Ensor

Virtual guitar competition will be available to festival goers, too, in a heated tent that will also have meal discounts at area restaurants, photo magnets, face painters, car­icature artists and more.

Fans who show their MAAC game ticket will save 15 percent off their food order (beverages excluded) at the following restaurants: the Albany Pump Station, McGeary’s, Pearl Restaurant & Lounge and Victory Café.

Fans can also show their MAAC game tickets at the Bayou Café, Broadway Joe’s, Franklin’s Tower, Jillian’s or Savannah’s to receive a 15 percent discount off Albany Wings specials.

Fan fests will also be held at the ECAC Hockey Championship (March 21-22) and the NCAA Div­ision I men’s hockey East Regional (March 28-29).

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