Canisius picked 6th in MAAC preseason poll, Niagara 11th; Valenti and Blackman to 3rd team


By Nick Veronica

Canisius was picked sixth in MAAC preseason poll, which was announced Wednesday night. Niagara was picked by the conference’s 11 coaches to finish last for the second consecutive season.

Canisius looks to build on last season’s 11-9 conference record, which earned the Griffs the fifth seed in the conference tournament. Niagara’s low ranking was expected with such a large roster turnover.

Canisius forward Phil Valenti and Niagara forward Emile Blackman were both named to the MAAC’s preseason Third Team. Blackman finished 11th in the conference in scoring last season at 13.5 ppg. Valenti averaged 9.4 points per game in 24 games, missing all of February with an ankle injury.

Iona was picked to win conference while its star guard A.J. English was named the league’s preseason player of the year.

Preseason rankings:


Rank Team (1st-place votes) Points
1. Iona (10) 119
2. Monmouth 105
T3. Manhattan (1) 91
T3. Rider 91
5. Siena 84
6. Canisius 67
7. Quinnipiac 49
8. Fairfield 42
9. Saint Peter’s 37
10. Marist 23
11. Niagara 18

Preseason teams:

First Team
G Marcus Gilbert, Fairfield, Sr.
G Schadrac Casimir, Iona, So.
G A.J. English, Iona, Sr. (unanimous)
G Justin Robinson, Monmouth, Jr.
G Teddy Okereafor, Rider, Sr.

Second Team
G Isaiah Williams, Iona, Sr.
G Shane Richards, Manhattan, Sr.
G Khallid Hart, Marist, Jr.
G Deon Jones, Monmouth, Sr.
G Marquis Wright, Siena, Jr.

Third Team
F Phil Valenti, Canisius, Jr.
G RaShawn Stores, Manhattan, Sr.
G Emile Blackman, Niagara, R-Jr.
G Jimmie Taylor, Rider, Jr.
F Brett Bisping, Siena, R-Jr.

Preseason Player of the Year
G A.J. English, Iona