The Marist Red Foxes are arguably the strongest team in the MAAC conference this season. The Red Foxes and Rider share first place with an overall 23-4 record and a 16-2 conference record. The two squads have demolished their competition all season long, and to no surprise, the top two players in the MAAC are Riders’ Stella Johnson and Marist’s Rebekah Hand.
According to ESPN.com, Johnson is the leading scorer in the country with 24.8 PPG. Even if she is scoring at a marginally slower rate in MAAC play, she is doing it just as efficiently. Johnson is sixth in the league in boards with 8.1, seventh in assists with 3.8 and first in steals with 2.9.
Johnson’s biggest competition for MAAC player of the year is Rebekah Hand. Hand, who is a guard, leads the MAAC in conference field goal percentage at 56% and ranks third in scoring with 18.3 PPG. She is also positioned sixth in assists with 3.8. With all of these accolades during her 2020 campaign, she could win a lot of conference awards.
To boast on Hand’s behalf, even more, she got off to a hot start to open up the season and has carried that into every game. She is now Marist’s second all-time scoring leader. Hand also has the chance to finish with more than 2,000 points throughout her illustrious career, a monumental achievement that has only been touched by seven women in college basketball history. She currently sits at 1,830.
Sitting behind Rachele Fitz on the Marist all-time scoring list, the two get compared often. The two of them have very similar careers. For instance, they both shined brightly throughout their freshman seasons. Both girls were named Rookie of the Year for the MAAC however, Hand has been the stand out star of a rebuilding program. Because of Hand’s success this season, she has taken Marist out of the rebuilding conversation and into title talks.
Hand’s senior campaign has by far been her best. Her statistics are eye-popping and will continue to grow, as there are two more games left in the regular season for Marist. Throughout the year she has shot over 50% from the field, 41.6% from the arc, a career-high in points, and a career-low in turnovers. Her offensive abilities are what help set the tone for the Red Foxes. When Hand is playing well, her team is playing well. Marist feeds off of Hand’s tenacity and style of play. She is the type of player that needs to have the ball in her hand during the last possession for her team.
Yes, we all expect Hand to win her usual accolades. Such as All MAAC First Team and MAAC All-Academic Team. However, she deserves to take home the MAAC Player Of The Year award. Marist is in the best position to take home a MAAC title, more than ever. With a special talent like Hand and the perfect assets around her, it is now title or bust for the Red Foxes.