Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on January 6th, 2012

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

Reader’s Take


Looking Back

  • That is why, the cliché tells us, “they put erasers on pencils.” At any rate, Wagner has suddenly emerged as the team to beat in the NEC. There will be competition from LIU, Robert Morris and Central Connecticut. Regardless, Danny Hurley’s team has our undivided attention — and the attention of folks outside of our time zone as well (going into Pittsburgh to defeat Pitt, then winning the Cable Car Classic out West will do that).
  • At any rate, out-of-conference skirmishes are done and in the books. NEC play is now full speed ahead…


Team, MAAC record, overall record:

Robert Morris 2-0, 11-4
LIU 2-0, 8-6
Central Connecticut 2-0, 5-7
St. Francis (PA) 2-0, 3-10
Wagner 1-1, 10-3
Quinnipiac 1-1, 8-5
Sacred Heart 1-1, 7-8
St. Francis (NY) 1-1, 4-9
Mount St. Mary’s 0-2, 2-11
Monmouth 0-2, 2-12
FDU 0-2, 1-11
Bryant 0-2, 1-12


NEC Co-Players of the Week

  • Latif Rivers, 6’1″, So., G, Wagner – Averaged a team-best 18.7 points per game for the last three contests. Scored all 18 points the second half of the big win at Pitt. Rivers iced that one with six free throws in the closing seconds. Averaged 19 points to capture Cable Car Classic MVP honors.
  • Julian Boyd, 6’7″, Jr., F, LIU – Recorded a pair of double-doubles as the Blackbirds stretched their winning streak to three games. Scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half of the win over NJIT.

NEC Rookie of the Week

  • Ousmane Drame, 6’9″, Fr., F, Quinnipiac – Averaged 9.7 points, 10.3 rebounds in a three-game stretch. Drame also had a six-block game to complement his 10-point, 10-rebound performance in the win over Boston university.

Latif Rivers And Wagner Have Become Serious Contenders For the NEC Crown (AP)

Power Rankings

  1. Wagner: Scored a big win at Pitt just before Christmas. The Seahawks followed that up defeating Air Force and host Santa Clara to win the Cable Car Championship. It was Wagner’s first in-season tournament title since they took the 1997 Marist Pepsi Classic. Latif Rivers was named Cable Car MVP while sophomore Kenneth Ortiz was named Most Inspirational Player. Ortiz’s game winning shot against Santa Clara has had over a million visitors view it on the internet (more on that incredible shot below).
  2. Robert Morris: Captured two-of-the-last three games it has played. Defeated Hampton and won at Youngstown State before dropping a decision at Memphis. Scoring defense has been a key for the Colonials start. Through 15 games Robert Morris has held opponents to 60.6 points per game. Tempo free analysis shows the defensive efficiency at 94. An excellent showing for Andy Toole’s club.
  3. Long Island: Defeated Texas State and NJIT to close out the year. The 100-84 win over Texas State marked the first time LIU hit the century mark in scoring in five years. Blackbirds shot 63% and knocked down 11 3-pointers in that contest. Julian Boyd led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Sophomore Jason Brickman also hit a double-double, the first of his career, with a 12-point, 11-assist effort.
  4. Central Connecticut: Blue Devils had an Atlantic 10 “flavor” the last two outings. Unfortunately, both games saw Howie Dickenman’s club on the short end against LaSalle and at UMass. Senior Ken Horton missed the LaSalle game due to an injury but returned to post a 16-point, 12-rebound performance at UMass.
  5. St. Francis (PA): Lost at St. Bonaventure and Drexel. Red Flash have won three straight at home but are 0-7 on the road. Kameron Ritter is coming on at the guard spot. The 6’3″ sophomore had two assists his first seven games but has posted a 13-6 assist-to-turnover showing his last five games. Anthony Ervin has hit double figures scoring in seven of his last eight outings.
  6. Quinnipiac: Won three straight defeating Niagara, Colgate and Boston University. Ike Azotam scored a career-high 32 points against Niagara. Four Bobcat players had double figures in the road win at Colgate. Quinnipiac shot 57% from the floor in the second half of that victory. A 13-point first half deficit was erased by Quinnipiac in the win over Boston University. Ousmane Drame had an impressive 10-point, 14-rebound effort in that comeback victory.
  7. Sacred Heart: Captured a 77-59 road win at New Hampshire just before the new year. Shane Gibson led the way with his first double-double, 22 points and a career high 10 rebounds. Pioneers pace the NEC with 14.6 assists per game. The New Hampshire game closed the ‘book’ on non-conference play. Sacred Heart has NEC competition from here on.
  8. St. Francis (NY): Defeated Brown and lost at Army. Four St. Francis players hit double figures as the Terriers recorded their first home win of the year against Brown. Sophomore guard Ben Mockford leads the NEC with 3.08 three pointers per game and hit four at Army. Freshman power forward Jalen Cannon made his first career start at West Point and responded with 13 rebounds.
  9. Mount St. Mary’s: Defeated American and lost to Albany to close 2011. Win over American snapped a nine-game losing streak and was the first home victory of the year. Defense has improved as opponents are shooting 39.8% from the floor over the last five games.
  10. Monmouth: Dropped road games at Lafayette and North Carolina. Jesse Steele had 17 points and a career high nine assists at UNC. Monmouth is now 0-19 versus nationally ranked opposition after the loss at #6 North Carolina.
  11. Fairleigh Dickinson: Lost at NJIT just before the new year and at Columbia a day after New Year’s. Junior Lonnie Robinson came off the bench to pace FDU with 12 points against the Highlanders. Kinu Rochford scored 15 points and added six rebounds against Columbia.
  12. Bryant: Suffered losses at Arizona and against Lehigh to drop to 1-12. Sophomore Corey Maynard had a career-high and game-leading 22 points at Arizona. It was Bryant’s first contest against a Pac-12 school in program history.

A Second Look

A big reason for Wagner’s climb up our power rankings was the club’s remarkable last-second victory over Santa Clara. While there are a plethora of final-possession victories each season by teams all across the country, this one was special even in that regard. Why? Check it out for yourself:

Upcoming Schedule

Some of the more notable NEC games to keep an eye out for:

  • Thursday, January 12: Monmouth at St. Francis (NY), FDU at LIU, Bryant at Wagner, Central Connecticut at Mount St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart at St. Francis (PA), Quinnipiac at Robert Morris
  • Saturday, January 14: FDU at St. Francis (NY), Monmouth at LIU, Bryant at Mount St. Mary’s, Quinnipiac at St. Francis (PA), Sacred Heart at Robert Morris, Central Connecticut at Wagner
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