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A few more MAAC takeaways

Sam wasn’t done. He’s got some more thoughts on the first bit of action from the league.

Marist guard Jadin Collins attempts to finish at the rim against Army
Stockton Photo / Marist Athletics

1. Corey Washington’s 3s

In Corey Washington’s freshman year for Saint Peter’s, he took just 13.2% of the shots while he was on the floor. Of those shots, just two of them were jumpers. Washington attempted zero 3-pointers throughout the entirety of his first season, doing much of his damage at the rim as a cutter or offensive rebounder.

Over the offseason, Bashir Mason told me that the Arkansas native was working on adding a 3-point shot to his game. Through the first two games of Washington’s sophomore year, he’s attempted eight triples and 11 jump shots as a whole. In Saturday’s game against NJIT, Washington displayed not just his 3-point shot, but his ball handling. He scored a career-high 23 points, while also grabbing 10 rebounds.

It wasn’t simply the three trifectas that went down for Washington, but he sunk multiple mid-range jumpers, including one off the dribble. A player like Washington, who is already one of the best rebounders and defenders in the conference, becoming a creator of offense is a massive development, as the Peacocks needed somebody to step up. Jaheim Tanksley, who was expected to be the primary offensive creator, is missing the whole season with a broken fibula, so Washington’s scoring leap is just that much more important.

2. Marist is getting to the rim

Marist has taken 19% fewer jump shots than last season. The obvious reason is that Patrick Gardner, one of the best jump shooters in the conference, is no longer with the program. While that’s certainly a major reason, it doesn't explain what Marist’s plan of attack is without him.

The Foxes have largely played through Max Allen when he’s on the court, getting him the ball in post-up situations. Allen has taken shots on 33.6% of the possessions in which he’s on the court, only one of which was a 3-pointer. The San Jose State transfer leads the conference in post-ups per game with 6.5 so far this year.

Instead of Gardner popping to the 3-point line off ball screens, and getting into an above-the-break three or to speed downhill, Marist is prioritizing opening up driving lanes for guards. With Allen setting the spread ball screens, freshman guard Jadin Collins doesn’t rush to his decision. When faced with a defender going under the screen against UMBC, Collins pulled back, feigned to one side, and then exploded to the other after he got the defender to lean.

Last season, Noah Harris was the primary ball handler off of screens, and he would take a ton of 3s immediately from the initial separation. That’s not Collins’ game, and that’s working just fine for the moment. Collins being another reliable ball handler also allows Isaiah Brickner to slide away from the point guard spot, which he has managed very well.

3. Brycen Goodine is back and better than ever

Fairfield is already dealing with an injury crisis. The program brought in Alexis Yetna knowing that he’d be missing plenty of time, but when his presumed backup, Birima Seck also went down with an injury, it shifted more into question.

The Stags also missed Caleb Fields and Jalen Leach, two projected starters in the backcourt, for the first two games of the season — losses to Boston College and Rhode Island. Adding onto that, James Johns Jr. missed the first two games of the campaign after entering the transfer portal (I still am unsure of exactly what happened here, but he’s back with the program now).

With his team ravaged, and surrounded in the starting lineup by two freshmen and a JUCO transfer who had no Division I experience, Goodine was called upon immediately to provide a scoring punch. A four-star prospect out of high school, Goodine played his freshman season at Syracuse, then moved on to Providence where he played sparingly over two seasons. After dealing with a leg injury that kept him out for most of Fairfield’s season last year, Goodine was thrust into the primary scoring option role for the first time in his college career.

The fifth-year senior responded extremely well, scoring 22 points in each of the two opening games of Fairfield’s season on good efficiency. He also performed well in the Stags’ matchup with Division III Mount St. Mary’s (NY). Over the three games to start the season, the Massachusetts native is shooting 46% from beyond the arc on nearly 9 attempts per game. He was mostly an energy player at the high-major level, but he always had scoring promise since his days in high school. He’s now finally getting the chance to run the show, and early returns are positive.

Quick hitters

Idan Tretout is the man: Tretout’s 17-point performance in his Iona debut almost felt like an afterthought on Monday night due to all of the chaos, but he made sure that he wouldn’t be forgotten on Friday. In Iona’s win over Sacred Heart, Tretout canned seven threes en route to a career-high 34 points. In the first half, while Tretout had 19 points on 7-11 shooting, the rest of the Gaels team had just 20 points on 6-21 shooting. Down the stretch, Joel Brown and Sultan Adewale made big plays as the Gaels used a late run to burst past the Pioneers.

Siena is in panic mode: Michael Eley is currently sidelined with an ankle injury, and in the two games that he has missed, Siena has looked completely lost. The sophomore scored 24 points with 11 rebounds in the Saints’ win over Holy Cross, but the team has since fallen apart. The Saints lost by 42 points to Richmond, and then by 20 points to American. In those two games, the Saints turned it over 41 times.

BONUS: Budd Clark looks like a future MAAC star

Merrimack will be joining the MAAC next year, bringing a winning culture and zone defense to the conference. One of the players who will presumably be making the jump to the MAAC with the Warriors is freshman point guard Adam “Budd” Clark.

Clark, a Philadelphia native, was first-team All-Catholic League as a senior at West Catholic, leading the conference in steals. While he originally committed to Coppin State, he reopened his recruitment after Juan Dixon’s dismissal as head coach. Merrimack, who lost Javon Bennett, another small point guard with a nose for the ball, to the transfer portal after last season, emerged as a perfect fit for Clark.

When Jordan Derkack went down with an injury in Merrimack’s game at Maine, more offensive load was assigned to Clark in just his third collegiate game, and he delivered. The freshman scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, leading the Warriors to a road victory. Clark has scored in double figures in all three games, while also registering 12 steals and 12 assists.