Checking in on the… NECPosted by rtmsf on February 20th, 2009
Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC Conferences.
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The Northeast Conference season is in the home stretch. The top eight teams qualify for the post season. Each round is held at the home court of the higher seed. The tempo free breakdown as of Friday February 20.
Note : EM is efficiency margin or the difference between offensive and defensive points per possession.
* The order is by standings which hold true to form in relation to efficiency margin. The lone exception in the EM pecking order is Quinnipiac who is discussed below.
** The average pace of NEC games is 68 possessions. Around mid-pack so to speak. Not NASCAR (mid seventies) and not pedestrian either.
Why they play. Monmouth 60, Robert Morris 57. The Hawks upset highly regarded Robert Morris in West Long Branch, NJ, on Thursday. Tempo free evaluations pointed to a business like, probably double digit win by the visitors. On the floor for forty minutes the issue was settled and the upset recorded. Monmouth got the upset thanks to a superlative defensive rating of .85 (.16 better than their average). The offense was actually sub par at .86 , but with a defense under .90 it’s almost hard not to lose. One assumes Monmouth mentor Dave Calloway will get a few requests for the tape of that Robert Morris game as NEC conference play arrives.
Everything holds true to form as noted by the tempo free stats. If your efficiency margin is positive you have a winning program. Except for Quinnipiac. Their offense is not great but the defensive mark should be enough to insure a better mark in conference play. A closer look shows in games decided by 5 or less points (the Al McGuire ‘white knuckler’ type) the Bobcats are 3-4. Even two of those losses put in the win column have them a top four seed.
St. Francis (PA) needs help in every area, especially defense, and not surprisingly holds the bottom spot. Coach Don Friday, in his initial year on the job, is trying to do things the right way. Friday realizes you must walk before running. Instead of stealing a few games with an uptempo style he has committed to a slow pace. Simply, learn how to play half court before full court. Wish some of the high school and youth coaches I officiate for would realize that.
Robert Morris prides itself on defense. A year ago they were tied for the top spot in the NEC in defensive points per possession at .93. Mike Rice and co. captured the NEC regular season title while Mount St.Mary’s cut down the nets with the post season title. The Mount, ironically, was the team that tied Robert Morris in that defensive efficiency category. In general, and the NEC specifically, look at your defensive pace setters as March comes upon us.