Where is the toughest place to play in the MAAC? Big Apple Buckets asked head coaches around the MAAC to find out where the toughest place to play on the road is…
Big Apple Buckets: Where is the toughest place to play on the road in the MAAC?
Rider’s Kevin Baggett: “I would say probably Niagara, I just think one: the fans, they have very good fans. I just think it’s been a tough place for us to play historically when you go back and you look at things, we’ve been able to beat them on our court but we go down and lose on their court. That’s a tough road trip too, it’s a long haul. In fact we bus to there now because of just getting snowed in with flights and everything so that makes it a little tougher. It’s a two game road swing where normally you’re just playing that one game so those are the things I think that contribute to it. I would say either between them or Siena, who’s been good and I think they have the best fans in the MAAC.”
Marist’s Chuck Martin: “I think the Buffalo trip is tough. Playing Niagara and Canisius because of the trip. Usually in February, its snowing it’s never a smooth trip up there whether flights are delayed or whether you’re trying to navigate through the snow if you bus up there it’s a six hour drive up there I think that takes a toll on our kids. I think the trip itself I don’t know if its necessarily Niagara or Canisius but the trip itself is the toughest trip I think.”
Siena’s Mitch Buonaguro: “For us it’s been Niagara since I’ve been here. Just a tough place, they’re right on top of you – its usually a long trip. You could play there on the second end of a trip, and their students are right on the floor I’d say Niagara, Gallagher Arena.”
St. Peter’s John Dunne: “Any given year it’s different. A couple years ago it was up at Niagara, when they were rolling or Siena, more recently it’s been Iona for us. So I guess, if you’re making me pick one, I would say right now I’d say Iona.”
Fairfield’s Sydney Johnson: ”I would say Siena. I think, it’s a nice arena it’s a shooters gym, they get a good turnout and it’s a bit of a ways to travel. So I think those components, where you got a hostile crowd and a lot of them and it’s a longer trip to get up there I think that helps them have a pretty good advantage. They’re used to winning at home so I think their kids believe that they’re supposed to go undefeated you saw last year where they beat us and they beat Iona on their home court, even though they weren’t in the top half of the league, that wasn’t an upset to them because those kids believe in themselves when they play in that home gym.”
Manhattan’s Steve Masiello: “At Siena. I think at Siena is just, when that place is going, it’s a very difficult place. There are no easy games. The Buffalo trip is tough in its own right, Rider’s tough, Iona’s a rivalry for us but I just – going to Siena is a very difficult game. They’re very good, they pack that place those fans are all over you. So I’d say at Siena is one of the tougher places to play.”
Loyola’s Jimmy Patsos: “Rider because they’re really on you, it’s really packed in. Every time we play Rider it’s been completely packed and they’re right on top of you.”
Canisius’ Jim Baron: “I played at Niagara when I had Rhode Island in the NIT and that’s a tough place. I’ve played at Manhattan, that’s a tough place. Siena, you know I mean they average 5,500 fans so they’re probably going to get 6, 7 thousand fans every night so that’s a tough. I don’t know, one place, I don’t know. I got to get around one time.”
Niagara’s Joe Mihalich: “I really think it’s a preconceived notion that’s been around this league for a long time that the Buffalo trip is a tough trip. And I am going to sound a little defensive here but you know when you break it down, it’s really not that tough.
A lot of the teams will come up here, stay at the Marriott there in Amherst, they come out of the hotel one night and go 20 minutes to Buffalo, they come out of the hotel the next night and go 20 minutes to Niagara Falls. But now when Niagara goes on the road Friday-Sunday we could be at Loyola Friday night and then at Iona on Sunday, now that’s a tough trip.
And then sometimes I’ll get to talking to coaches over the summer or recruiting and we’ll start talking about this and they’ll say ‘you know what? You’re right it’s not that bad a trip,’ and here’s the other thing there’s no traffic up here, the airports not tough to get in and out of, it’s a breeze but try flying into Newark, which is the worst airport in America, try flying into Newark and driving down to play any one of a bunch of schools and then playing Friday night and then driving somewhere, that’s a tough weekend there.”
Iona’s Tim Cluess: “I think they’re all tough to be honest with you, when the place is sold out on the road, they all have their own. Their own spots that make it very difficult to win in and play in. I mean Siena’s got that huge arena with 9,000 screaming people but you go to Manhattan and they’re literally breathing down your neck from two feet away. I think every game is a tough game.”