by, Pete Janny, Sports & Managing Editor
On Thursday, Nov. 5 the MAAC held its preseason awards show for men’s and women’s basketball. Aired on ESPN3, the program’s big announcements included the Preseason All-MAAC Teams, Preseason Players of the Years, and Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The Manhattan teams drew a lot of attention on the night, ahead of a season in which both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are hoping to do damage in the MAAC.
The Lady Jaspers, though, were the big winners. For the first time in program history, the Manhattan women’s basketball team was tabbed as the favorites to win the conference, their best preseason projection since being picked second for the 2002-2003 season. That year’s team lived up to the hype and beat Siena for the MAAC Championship. Now, this year’s iteration has their eyes set on the same end prize as they will look to improve on their 12-8 record in MAAC play from a season ago. The team surely wants nothing more than to officially put the memory of last season’s MAAC Tournament cancellation behind them once the new season tips off.
The Lady Jaspers return eight letterwinners from the 2019-2020 campaign and will have the services of D’Yona Davis and transfer Jenna Jordan available to make them even more dangerous. The group will be led by proven talents Courtney Warley, Emily LaPointe, and Gabby Cajou — all of whom were recognized on Thursday for their individual successes.
Warley and LaPointe were selected to the preseason All-MAAC First Team, coming off a season that saw the pair of teammates combine to average 24.1 points-per-game. With the amount of depth on this year’s roster, the duo may not even have to score as much as they did last year for the Jaspers. Nevertheless, you can still bet the lethal one-two punch of Warley and LaPointe will be ready for whatever the team asks of them on any given night.
“Not many people have a 6-3 kid that moves the way she moves and is also so completely committed to the team,” head coach Heather Vulin said about Warley, according to Go Jaspers.
And when speaking on LaPointe, Vulin offered similar praise saying, “She looks incredible, and she used this summer to become a separator.”
Rounding out the shout-outs for the Lady Jaspers was senior Gabby Cajou, who was named to the preseason All-MAAC Third Team. This year marked the third in a row in which Cajou was named to one of the three All-MAAC teams.
On the men’s side, Warren Williams was given some much-deserved love from the conference in being named to the All-MAAC Second Team. After a breakout freshman campaign during the 2018-2019 season, Williams had an up and down season last year playing in a similar role as former Jasper Pauly Paulicap. With Paulicap moving on to DePaul University, Williams will have a prime chance to leave his imprint on this season and to be even better than the player who scored in double-figures 16 times as a freshman.
Steve Masiello’s squad is slated to finish fifth in the MAAC, a few notches up from last season when the Jaspers finished tied for eighth with Fairfield with an 8-12 record against MAAC opponents.
Now in his tenth year at the helm, Masiello has participated in enough seasons to know which honors matter most to him. Regardless, he is proud of how far Williams has come in his time at Manhattan.
“It is a testament to Warren’s hard work and sacrifice that coaches feel he is one of the top players in the league,” Masiello said, according to Go Jaspers. “Although it is a great honor, the postseason awards are what matters most.”