Hosted by Bridgeport's Webster Bank Arena Connecticut athletes prepare to hit the floor at 2011 MAAC basketball tournament

Image: MAAC logoAs the race for the 2011 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) basketball championship begins this week in Bridgeport, Conn., emotions are high for a number of student-athletes from Connecticut who are preparing to hit the floor and give it their all.

Ryan Olander, a 6-foot-11 forward from Mansfield, Conn., has always dreamed of playing in a big-time basketball tournament, and said, "We've worked hard all season to get to this point so it will be nice to have the support of our students, family and friends."

Olander, a junior standout plays for Fairfield University's top ranked men's team, and is one of 16 local players who will be participating in this year's MAAC tournament.

The awe of the tournament for Olander has given way to a desire to win a title at home. "It's very exciting," said Olander. "It's great that my whole family will be able to come to the tournament." Fairfield's basketball teams play their home games at the arena.

For Casey Dulin, a freshman from Milford, Conn., this will be her first trip to a post-season basketball tournament, and the 5-foot-10 guard hopes to lead the nationally ranked Red Foxes from Marist College to another MAAC championship. Since 2006, the Red Foxes have dominated the women's side of the MAAC tournament with a 14-0 record. "It should be a fun tournament, but we know we have our work cut out for us because the conference is so competitive," she said.

Dulin, who has played in 26 games this season, knows how important it is to see friendly faces in the stands. "When we played against Fairfield during the regular season I had a lot of great support from my family, friends and old teammates. I am looking forward to that same support this weekend in Bridgeport," said Dulin.

The five-day basketball competition is scheduled for March 3-7, and with a total of 20 teams and 18 games scheduled, players know the atmosphere of the tournament will be intense. The winner of the 2011 Spark Energy Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) Men's and Women's Basketball Championships will each receive the conference's automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA basketball tournament.

Kara Kochanek, a junior from Iona College knows the importance of what's on the line. "It's already a great opportunity to play in the MAAC Championship with an NCAA tournament berth at stake," said Kochanek. The 6-foot-2 forward from South Windsor, Conn., said it is the thrill of playing in her home state in front of her friends and family that makes it an exciting tournament.

Since 2002, the MAAC basketball tournament has welcomed more than 325,000 fans, and this year marks the second time that Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard will host a major Division I basketball tournament.

The MAAC features the following member schools: Fairfield, Canisius, Iona, Loyola, Manhattan, Marist, Niagara, Rider, Saint Peter's and Siena. The following is a list of students from Connecticut who are playing in the MAAC:

Men's Basketball
Fairfield University
Ryan Olander Jr. F 6-11 Mansfield, Conn./E.O. Smith
Saint Peter's College
Jeron Belin Sr. F 6-6 Meriden, Conn./Monroe C.C.
Steven Samuels So. G 6-4 Windsor, Conn./Windsor
Chris Prescott Jr. G 6-2 Bloomfield, Conn./Saint Joseph's
Women's Basketball
Fairfield University
Kelly Romano Sr. G 5-7 Westport, Conn./Staples
Alexys Vazquez Fr. G 5-10 Berlin, Conn./Berlin
Desiree Pina Jr. G 5-6 Plainville, Conn./Plainville
Joelle Nawrocki Sr. G 6-0 Unionville, Conn./Farmington
Katie Cizynski Fr. F 6-2 Southbury, Conn./Pomperaug
Iona College
Robin Felder Jr. G 5-5 Bridgeport, Conn./Warren Harding
Marist College
Casey Dulin Fr. G 5-10 Milford, Conn./Jonathan Law
Saint Peter's College
Charlene Riddick Sr. F 6-0 Waterbury, Conn./Chase Collegiate School
Siena College
Kate Zarotney Fr. F 6-0 Berlin, Conn./Berlin
Allison Mullings Fr. G 5-8 Bloomfield, Conn./Northwest Catholic
Kanika Cummings Fr. G 5-8 Monroe, Conn./Masuk


Tournament games will be televised live on ESPNU, ESPN2, MSG, MSG 2, MSG Plus or The complete broadcast schedule and tournament details can be found at

To purchase tickets for the 2011 MAAC tournament please visit Ticketmaster at or charge by phone at (800) 745-3000.

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Media Contact: Mark Gregorio, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647,

Posted on March 2, 2011

Vol. 43, No. 217

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