Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Can We Get the MAAC Final Switched to the Garden, and Shift Knicks-Sixers to Springfield?
A week from tonight it is entirely possible that two New York-area teams involved in a bitter rivalry will play an exciting game with an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament on the line.
And if that Iona-Manhattan game happens in the MAAC Conference championship, it will take place in Springfield, Mass., some 140 miles from the Big Apple.
That same night, another New York-based team will play a fellow bottom-feeder under the bright lights of Madison Square Garden.
That would be the Knicks (21-39) and the Sixers (15-45) playing out the stretch in a season where neither is headed to the NBA playoffs, and only one is headed to the lottery (hint: It’s not the Knicks.).
So just as the NFL has flex scheduling, I appeal to the powers-that-be to have these locations switched. And by powers-that-be, I mean some combination of Knicks owner Jim Dolan, MAAC chairman Rich Ensor and New York college basketball insider Jon Rothstein.
Let’s play the critical Iona-Manhattan game under the bright lights of the Garden, and shift the meaningless Knicks-Sixers tilt to The MassMutual Center in Springfield.
“I would love to see it played in New York, whether it be the Barclays Center, the Garden [or] Westchester County Center,” Manhattan coach Steve Masiello said Monday on a conference call.
Masiello was referring to the location of future MAAC tournaments, not necessarily to this year.
But I’m sure if he could sign on for an Iona-Manhattan final Monday at the Garden, he’d jump at the chance.
Iona and Manhattan are seeded-1-2 in the upcoming MAAC tournament, which tips off Thursday, and always provide entertaining basketball.
Yet if we get an Iona-MAAC final it could be played before a sparse crowd on Monday night in Springfield.
When Iona beat Manhattan, 60-57, in last year’s MAAC title game, the announced crowd was 1,493.
Move it to New York and you’d almost certainly draw a bigger audience.
“I think with so many teams from the metropolitan area, so many players from the New York area, I think getting the tournament back here where you could have better fan following and those type of things, I think it appeals more to the rivalries,” Masiello said.
“Regardless of who it is, Manhattan-Iona, there’s Fairfield, there’s Rider, Quinnipiac there’s a ton of teams. This conference is made up of a lot of teams from the New York/New Jersey/Connecticut area.”
The event moves to Albany next year for three years, which Masiello called “a major homecourt advantage” for Siena going forward.
“Jimmy [Patsos] will definitely benefit from that,” Masiello said, “and that’s a great thing for Siena and I know they’ll draw well when Siena plays but I’d much rather see it down in New York City.”
Agreed, coach. How about on Monday night?
Photo: NY Post
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.