The Saints will take their nation-leading 12 game winning streak to the McCann Center on Saturday to take on the reeling Marist Red Foxes (4pm, MAAC TV/MSG/ESPN360).
Marist has not been selling out the McCann Center, drawing only 1872 of a 3,200 capacity in last Saturday’s 80-64 loss to Loyola. Marist lost promising freshman Sam Prescott to being academically ineligible for the spring semester of play. Villanova transfer Casiem Drummond never qualified to play at Marist and transferred to an NAIA school after the fall semester.
All of this led to a scathing rant, filled with holes, op-ed on the Marist program.
But Martin’s emphasis has to become more on textbooks and less on playbooks. Right now, losing three players over the course of the season for academic reasons is a bigger error than the team’s 17 losses. Players progress faster by losing games than losing the ability to play at all.
Finding success at Marist College has never been an easy task. With higher academic standards than most of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference’s teams, it’s tougher to find recruits that can get into Marist, and it’s tougher to keep them eligible.
Marist has some of the finest tools to offer athletes to get their study halls in and get their work done on time. The athletic administration and coaching staffs are not the problem. Maybe the problem is patience. This has more to do with the fact Martin had a difficult time to start, coming in to a job where he had exactly zero recruits to start. Martin’s risk on Drummond didn’t pay off but that’s a risk that is assumed. It is nothing new in the MAAC to see players be suspended for the semester from play, sophomore R.J. Hall could not play during the first semester because of academic issues.
The academic standards argument is a misnomer. If a player can pay and help the team, a coach will convince his school that giving him a Division I basketball scholarship will be worth it. Remember, players coming to schools have to qualify through the NCAA and be accepted to their schools, and schools can give the benefit of the doubt when accepting student-athletes.
However, there is to be no doubt, Marist is reeling. The Red Foxes already have notched the record of consecutive 20-loss seasons for only the second time in school history. Marist had two 20+ loss seasons in 1991-92 and 92-93.
Their one win comes at home against Manhattan and they are currently on a nine-game losing streak. Going into Thursday night’s games Marist ranks last in the MAAC in offensive, defensive efficiency, as well as last in the MAAC in 2 point field goal percentage defense among many other statistical categories.
The Saints will probably prefer to go without the services of Edwin Ubiles and see if they can get more time in this game to develop the bench combination of O.D. Anosike and Kyle Griffin. However a win streak of 13 is not guaranteed when the Saints walk on the court in this rivalry game.
Marist’s last win over Siena was on February 24, 2007 to clinch then what was Marist’s regular season MAAC championship.