To put it simply, the Card Chronicle just can't get enough of Marist basketball. With this in mind I turned to MC senior Brian Hodge, who writes a blog on the Red Foxes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, to provide some quality insight on the MAAC's top squad.
Brian showed up at Card Chronicle Headquarters right at the moment the sex scene from Taking Lives (which was on HBO) started. I'm not going to lie to you, it was awkward. And I mean, it's not like I was doing anything perverted, I was just trying to watch a movie I hadn't seen before, but because of bad timing I came off like a jackass.
I wasn't sure how to spin it, so I decided to go the route of just acting like I'm one of those guys who sees sex and nudity as the purest form of art, and isn't embarrassed by this type of situation. I kept the 145-foot flat screen rolling and greeted my guest. The scene raged on and the movie awkwardly blared in the background for the duration of the following chat:
Card Chronicle: Most of the country hasn't gotten a chance to see Jared Jordan, a player who might be the most fundamentally sound point guard in all of college basketball. What has he meant to the Marist program, and how do you feel about his chances of making it at the next level?
Brian Hodge: He's been monumental. Jordan, along with coach Matt Brady, have spurred a sort of Marist basketball revival both on campus and in the community. He is gaining a lot of attention lately - he was recently mentioned in Sports Illustrated and the New York Times - and deservedly so. He is a great story.
He was lightly recruited coming out of high school and has grown into a phenomenal college player. It looks like he genuinely enjoys making a great pass and that is a rarity today, which is a big part of why he's getting looks for the next level. If he gets there and succeeds is anyone's guess. It would have to be the right fit, the right offense, but at the same time he can make all the plays, all the passes, and his jump shot has gotten a lot better.
He would make an NBA team better tomorrow, there's no question about that.
Oscar? No. Basketball conversation
mood setter? You bet your ass.
CC: Jordan has garnered most of the attention, but Will Whittington has also had an outstanding season thus far. How important is it to have a second serious scoring option, especially when you have a guard who shares the ball as well as Jordan does?
BH: Whittington has been scoring ever since he got here. He is one of the best 3-point shooters in the country and clearly a beneficiary of Jordan's skilled passing. Ultimately, you need more than one scoring option, and Marist has a few. Will and Jared are neck and neck in terms of career points scored. They work great together.
CC: What happened in the game at Loyola?
BH: It's tough to say because I wasn't there, but just going by what I've heard and read, it was a simply tough conference road game. Loyola (Md.) is a good team with a veritable conference star in Providence College transfer Gerald Brown. The game kind of got away from Marist a bit in the second half. Marist made it a three point game with about four minutes to play, but couldn't come any closer than that. It's really tough to win every game in the conference, especially on the road.
CC: Marist is just about everyone's pick to represent the MAAC in the NCAA tournament this year, but the consensus is that the league is down quite a bit this season. Do you think this Marist team is as good as some of the stellar teams the conference has produced in recent years, i.e. the Manhattan teams from '03 and '04 and the 2000 and 2001 Iona squads?
BH: I remember seeing those Manhattan teams in person and coming away impressed with how they played, particularly Luis Flores. Marist is a bit similar in that they are also led by a star point guard who can take over a game. So, in that sense, I would say they match up pretty well.
Marist also has a 7-foot center in James Smith, who can also knock down some long range jumpers. If those teams were to play today, a la Rocky Balboa in the latest movie, it would be a good game. They can cause match-up problems with a lot of different teams.
In terms of the MAAC, there does seem to be a bit of attrition at the top of the conference. Manhattan lost their head coach in Bobby Gonzales to Seton Hall and one of their best players to Providence. Iona graduated their best players and some other teams are rebuilding, as well. Of course, all of this bodes well for Marist.
CC: How much would it mean to the Marist program and it's fans to get to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 20 years?
BH: Well, it would be huge. Twenty years is a long time no matter how you slice it. Both the campus and the community are really excited about the possibility of the team making it. It would mean a lot to this fan base who has seen some down years since Rik Smits graduated. And it would mean a lot to these players. They've worked hard together for years and it would be nice to see it pay off for them.
Marist boasts a great women's team, as well. They've made the dance twice in the past three years, but obviously it's a bit different.
CC: All right, it's time to give us some odds. First, the odds of the Red Foxes winning the conference tourney and going to the NCAA's, and second, the odds of Marist winning a game in the big dance.
BH: If they play the way they are capable of playing, they can run away with the conference title. I think they are the deepest team and most talented team in the conference and Matt Brady will have them playing some top-notch basketball.
If they make the tournament and can win a game? That's tough to say. It would depend on the seed they get and their match-up but it would be fun to watch. As I said earlier, they can cause problems by stretching the defense with the three-pointer and Jordan can completely take over a game. In March, teams with senior guards tend to become especially dangerous.
Manhattan took out Syracuse a few years ago, so it wouldn't be impossible to see them pulling a similar upset.
CC: Thanks a lot Brian and best of luck to the Red Foxes.