Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on December 11th, 2009


Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences. 

LYNDHURST, NJ – The latest news in the Northeast Conference centers around the start of conference play.  As it is for most conferences, the bulk of the action is after New Year’s. But the NEC members get a few games in the books prior to January 1st.


nec standings 12.11.09

The tempo free breakdown, with gratitude to Basketball State.

nec off eff 12.11.09

Top Storylines

Player of the Week. Devin Sweetney (G/F), SR, St. Francis (PA) – Sweetney recorded a pair of double-doubles in a 2-0 week for St.Francis. The Red Flash posted victories over Wagner and pre-season favorite Mount St. Mary’s.

Rookie of the WeekJamal Olasewere (F), FR, LIU– The LIU frosh averaged 11.5 points, a team-high 8 rebounds and shot over 70% from the floor as the Blackbirds got off to a 2-0 start in conference play.

Hatfields vs. McCoys?  It is four and a half hours driving distance from Emmitsburg, MD, to Coraopolis, PA. Yet there is something when Robert Morris and Mount St. Mary’s meet, as they did recently for the 13th time since the 2005-06 season. The RM Colonial victory gives them a 9-4 edge during that time and four straight over the Mount. The schools have faced each other for four straight seasons in the NEC tournament, as Robert Morris rallied to defeat the Mount in last years NEC title game. The previous three years the team that swept the regular season series lost to the other in the NEC playoffs. In 2008 the fourth seeded Mount defeated top seed Robert Morris 83-65 in the semis en route to the NEC title.


  • Bryant’s 62-46 loss at LIU was one, or two for the books. It was Bryant’s first NEC game and LIU’s 1,100th program victory. 
  • Mount St.Mary’s senior guard Jeremy Goode cracked the 500 career assist mark in the loss at Robert Morris.
  • Ryan Litke recently canned his 200th career trey. The Sacred Heart senior has 208 for his career. The NEC record holder in that category? Monmouth coach Dave Calloway who knocked down 260 treys during his career (1987-91) with the Hawks.

Alumni.  Former Quinnipiac guard Jared Grasso was named interim head coach at Fordham. Grasso got his first win over Stony Brook earlier in the week.

Team Breakdowns

  • Bryant – A rough go at 0-3 with losses to LIU, St. Francis (NY) and Army. Senior guard Chris Birrell led the way averaging 10 points for the week including a career high 20 against Army. Birrell was 6 of 11 against the Cadets with every attempt beyond the arc. A little closer to the basket, sophomore center Papa Lo  leads the NEC with 23 blocked shots for the season.
  • CCSU – A trip to Brooklyn was a split. The Blue Devils defeated St. Francis (NY) 63-50 before losing at LIU 69-65. Guard Shemick Thompson and forward David Simmons, both juniors, had consistently strong performances in those two conference meetings. Simmons missed the first two games of the year and is rounding into mid-season form. He had CCSU’s first double-double this season against St. Francis with 11 points and 14 boards.
  • FDU – Another rough week for FDU, with losses to Houston Baptist and Quinnipiac to get the Knights off to 0-1 in conference play. The play of senior guard Sean Baptiste was a positive, averaging 26 points on the week. Baptiste scored 21 against Quinnipiac and is rebounding well with an average of 7 boards for the two games.
  • LIU – For the first time in nine years, LIU is 2-0 in conference. The Blackbirds are also 4-0 at home to date this season. Jaytornah Wisseh posted the first double-double of his career with 10 points and 10 rebounds against Bryant. Wisseh is now 13th on LIU’s all time scoring list with over 1,300 points. Jamal Olasewere  (NEC Rookie of the Week) continues to provide support inside for LIU. Over his last four games  the shooting touch of Michael Culpo  has been dangerous to opponents. The sophomore guard is 11-18 (61%) beyond the arc in that stretch.
  • Monmouth – Sacred Heart defeated the Hawks in conference, then traveled in-state and went down after battling with Big East rep Rutgers. Against sacred Heart, Monmouth trailed 41-16 with five minutes to play in the first half. Down the stretch, it  was a two-possession game with the Pioneers eventually holding on. Senior guard Whitney Coleman had 26 against Sacred Heart which included 6 treys. Coleman is set to become the 18th Monmouth player to hit 1,000 points since they became Division I.
  • Mount St. Mary’s – Tough week with losses to Georgetown (not a surprise), Robert Morris (mild surprise) and St .Francis (PA) (a more than mild surprise). The Mount started 0-2 in conference play last year as well. The offense is struggling. The Mountaineers average 68 points, are shooting 36% from the field and the tempo-free chart shows that they are in the bottom half of the league averaging .88 points per possession. Senior guard Jeremy Goode continues to play well but consistent contributions from teammate will be accepted.
  • Quinnipiac – Dropped close ones to Navy and UMass before a solid conference win at home against FDU. The loss to Navy was on a half-court shot at the buzzer. Senior guard James Feldeine had three strong showings surpassing 20 points each time out. Junior forward Justin Rutty averaged a double-double for the week and was instrumental in a competitive and close (62-58) loss at UMass. Rutty had 13 rebounds against the Minutemen, nine on the offensive glass.
  • Robert Morris – After an 11-day layoff the Colonials returned home posting NEC wins over Wagner and Mount St.Mary’s. Minus a Player of the Year candidate , balance is the key for Mike Rice’s club. Over the first seven games, eight players led or tied for the lead in scoring honors.  Senior guard Jimmy Langhurst led the way against the Mount with 11 points.
  • Sacred Heart – The Pioneer defense was the key in wins over Columbia and Monmouth. Both were home games and neither of the two visitors reached 40% shooting from the field. Senior guard Chauncey Hardy was suspended for the Columbia game. Picking up the slack was Ryan Litke, another senior, who responded with 19 points, including five three pointers. Hardy was back for the Monmouth game, scoring 18 points and draining four treys.
  • St. Francis (NY) – Terriers split two NEC games at home, losing to CCSU and defeating Bryant. Twenty-eight percent shooting from the floor was a major setback in the 63-50 loss to the Blue Devils. In a televised matchup with Bryant, St. Francis scored the games final 12 points to erase a seven-point deficit with  just under three minutes to play. Bryant missed all five field goal attempts and both free throws during that stretch run. Senior forward Kayode Ayeni hit career highs of 23 points and 14 rebounds against Bryant.
  • St. Francis (PA) – The Red Flash eclipsed a five game losing streak with two NEC conquests at home. The 69-42 win over Wagner was their easiest in conference by margin in almost ten years. St. Francis shot 46% from three and was 6 of 6 from the line in the final 45 seconds to post that huge 73-66 win over the Mount. Senior guard Mike Sweetney (Player of the Week) was instrumental in the two victories. Freshman guard Anthony Irvin also had a solid week averaging double figures while shooting 55% from the field and 63% ( 7 of 11) beyond the arc.
  • Wagner – Rough going continues for the Seahawks. Two road games saw a lopsided loss at St. Francis (PA) and a tough 73-70 decision at Robert Morris. The latter game, indicative of NEC play, had 21 lead changes and Wagner led most of the way before Robert Morris pulled out the win. Sophomore guard Chris Martin had 16 points for Mike Deane’s club that bombed at will. Wagner was 13 of 28 (46%) beyond the arc. A good sign despite the loss as three point shooting had been a definite liability (14% the  prior three outings) entering that game.


  • 12/13 – Quinnipiac-Vermont
  • 12/15 – Robert-Morris-Cleveland State
  • 12/17 – Wagner-BYU
  • 12/19 – Manhattan-LIU
  • 12/19 – Monmouth-Rider
  • 12/19 – Mount St.Mary’s-Pittsburgh
  • 12/19 – Wagner-Nevada
  • 12/20 – Bryant-Boston College
  • 12/22 – CCSU-Northeastern
  • 12/22 – Sacred Heart-Hoy Cross
  • 12/22 – St. Francis (PA)-Duquesne
  • 12/23 – Bryant-St.John’s
  • 12/29 – St. Francis (NY)-Fairfield
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