Checking In On… the NECPosted by Brian Goodman on November 24th, 2011
Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.
Early-season returns proved Long Island will have some challenges if they hope to defend their Northeast Conference crown. Wagner is off to a good start with a competitive loss at Connecticut being their only blemish so far. Robert Morris likewise, is fast out of the gate. Central Connecticut found some scorers which will make them a more dangerous club and take pressure off their senior do-everything star Ken Horton. Quinnipiac found another tough rebounder and will prove again to be a force under the glass. St. Francis (NY) lost at Seton Hall in overtime and the Terriers have struggled thanks to some late game problems.
Player of the Week: Ike Izotam, 6’7” So. F, Quinnipiac – Averaged 16 points and 16 rebounds in a 2-0 week for the Bobcats. Izotam is tied for first in the nation and leads the NEC in rebounding with 14.0 per game.
Rookie of the Week: Kyle Vinales, 6’4” guard, Central Connecticut – In a 39 point outburst against Niagara, Vinales scored 29 in the first half, including 16 in the game’s opening six and a half minutes. That performance marked the most points by a player in this young season.
- Wagner (4-1): Lost at Connecticut before winning two straight over NC Central and Lafayette. In the two wins the Seahawks shot 81% from the line over the game’s final five minutes. Jonathan Williams scored 11 points and pulled down five rebounds in his first two games for Wagner. Williams then went for a career-high 28 points and five rebounds against NC Central. Senior Tyler Murray is 99 points away from joining Wagner’s 1,000-point club.
- Robert Morris (3-1): Two games away from home saw a split, with a win over St. Peter’s and a close loss at Penn. The latter was a homecoming for Colonial coach Andy Toole, a former player for the Quakers. Redshirt junior guard Velton Jones averaged 17.5 points (on 52.2% shooting) and seven assists for the two games. The win at St. Peter’s gave Robert Morris its first 2-0 start since 2007-08.
- Sacred Heart (3-2): Defeated Stony Brook before dropping consecutive games at Rutgers and Richmond. The latter pair of games were part of the Cancun Challenge. The challenge is in its fourth year and Sacred Heart is the first Northeast Conference team to participate. The Pioneers shot a season-best 51% at Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights were on fire shot 63% for the game and 80.8% the second half. The Pioneers’ Evan Kelley hit a career-high 16 points at Rutgers converting all five of his shots.
- Central Connecticut State (2-2): Split a pair with a loss at Niagara in overtime followed by a win at home over Army. Senior guard Bobby Ptacek scored a career-high 31 points in the win over Army. Freshman guard Kyle Vinales scored 39 in the loss at Niagara. Senior Ken Horton has yet to lead Central in scoring, which is a good sign that the Blue Devils have other threats to support Horton.
- Quinnipiac (2-2): Defeated Yale and Navy to improve to 2-1 before losing by one to American. Senior guard James Johnson scored 25 against Yale. Johnson and sophomore forward Ike Izotam combined for 62% of the Bobcat points against Yale. Izotam scored 17 points and grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds against Yale. Against Navy, the Bobcats had a dozen players enter the scoring column.
- Long Island (2-3): Split four games losing at Old Dominion and Penn State before earning wins over Radford and Vermont. The latter two were at Springfield in the Hall of Fame Classic. Julian Boyd averaged 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game for the week. He broke out with double-doubles against Radford and Vermont. Balance was a key. LIU had at least four players hit double figures every game and had five do so against Radford.
- Farleigh Dickinson (1-3): Split a pair losing to Lehigh before defeating St. Peter’s. The Knights handed out 17 assists in St. Peter’s game, more than any single game from last season. Kinu Rochford scored 18 points and grabbed 15 boards against Lehigh. It was his second straight double-double of the young season.
- Mount St. Mary’s (1-3): Split with a loss to Siena and a win at Hartford. The Siena game was the team’s home opener. Sophomore point guard Josh Castellanos played all but twenty seconds in the two games. Castellanos had career highs of 16 points and nine assists at Hartford.
- Bryant (1-4): They lost to Dartmouth and Army to drop to 1-4 on the season. Bryant had four players in double figures with Alex Francis leading the way with 14 points. Francis also added a team-best eight rebounds and two assists. Bulldogs shot 46.5% from the field against Dartmouth, including 46.2% from long range.
- St. Francis (PA) (0-4): Lost to Lafayette and Bucknell to fall to 0-4. Umar Shannon, last season’s leading scorer for the Red Flash, is out for the year with an injury.
- St. Francis (NY) (0-4): Two games the past week, at Lafayette and Hofstra before losing to St. John’s this week. The 0-4 start is especially frustrating given St. Francis has led the Lafayette and Hofstra games with under ten minutes to play. Travis Nichols is averaging a team high 17.3 points per game. The Terriers are out-rebounding opponents, with a +5 rebounding average, but getting outscored by 44 points from the charity stripe.
- Monmouth (0-5): The Southern tour was not too hospitable for the Hawks, who dropped games at Virginia Tech and George Mason. Last season, Monmouth hit a program low 63.9% from the free throw line. Through three games the percentage is even lower, at 58.2%. The shooting woes extend to the arc as the Hawks are connecting on only 19% (12-65) from downtown.
Featured games for the upcoming week have LaSalle squaring off against Robert Morris in the Philly Hoop Group Classic in Philadelphia this Friday. Two days later, the Colonials take on Pittsburgh in that same event. On November 28, Long Island visits a strong Iona team. On December 1, the conference teams begin their pre-New Year’s portion of the NEC slate.