Checking In On… the NECPosted by rtmsf on February 3rd, 2012
Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.
The general consensus is that LIU Brooklyn and Wagner are the top two teams in the conference. With less than a month remaining in the regular season, however, there are five programs with a legitimate shot at the top. Keep an eye on LIU vs. St. Francis (NY) at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. It is a St. Francis “home” game and it gives the Terriers another opportunity to achieve a statement victory.
Team, MAAC record, overall record:
|St. Francis (NY)||9-2, 12-10|
|Robert Morris||7-4, 16-8|
|Central Connecticut St.||7-4, 10-11|
|Sacred Heart||4-7, 10-14|
|Mount St. Mary’s||4-7, 6-16|
|St. Francis (PA)||4-7, 5-17|
|Fairleigh Dickinson||1-10, 2-20|
NEC Player of the Week:
Shane Gibson, Sacred Heart, 6’2″, Jr., G – Averaged 30.5 points per game last week to increase his NEC scoring average to 21.6 points per game. Gibson shot 51% from the field and added 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 steals for the Pioneers in their two games. Gibson ranks fourth nationally in scoring and is averaging 26.1 points in NEC action.
NEC Rookie of the Week:
Ousmane Drame, Quinnipiac, 6’9″, Fr., F – Averaged 8.5 points, and12 rebounds for the week. Drame posted career-highs with 13 points and 15 rebounds in a comeback overtime win over Mount St. Mary’s.
- LIU Brooklyn – On the conference’s “Western” swing, the Blackbirds lost at Robert Morris and defeated St. Francis (PA). Before that loss to Robert Morris, LIU had won 18 (21 including the tournament) straight NEC games dating back to last season. Julian Boyd scored 25 points and added 12 rebounds against the Colonials. Jamal Olasewere enjoyed his seventh double-double of the season with a 26-point, 10-rebound outing at St. Francis. Jason Brickman added 12 assists.
- Wagner - Went 2-0 in New England, defeating Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac. Seahawks have won 10 of their last 11. The eight straight road wins matches the program mark set in 1978-79. They limited their two opponents to a combined 4-of-26 (15%) from three-point range. Tyler Murray averaged 15 points for the week and was deadly from downtown. Murray shot 80% (8 of 10) from three-point land. A second half team on defense, the Seahawks have held NEC opposition to 38% shooting following intermission.
- St. Francis (NY) - Earned a big road sweep defeating St. Francis (PA) and Robert Morris. It marked the first sweep on this particular two game swing since 1998. Sophomore point guard Brent Jones enjoyed a 19-point outing at Robert Morris. Junior forward Akeem Johnson tied his career-high with 22 points at St. Francis (PA). Johnson also grabbed a team-high nine rebounds in that victory. Travis Nichols supplied a big lift off the bench against Robert Morris with a 16-point showing in 22 minutes. St. Francis leads the NEC averaging 8.1 three-pointers a game. They knocked down 10 in each of the two wins the past week.
- Robert Morris – Defeated LIU Brooklyn before losing to St. Francis (NY). Junior guard Velton Jones had a dependable week for the Colonials averaging 22 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4 assists. Colonials grabbed 20 offensive rebounds against St. Francis. Big difference in the 81-68 setback was Robert Morris’ two top scorers, Velton Jones and Coron Williams, who combined on a 10-of-40 (25%) shooting night from the field. Colonials take to the road for a three-game swing, highlighted by a visit to Wagner.
- Central Connecticut State – Split with an overtime loss to Monmouth before defeating FDU. Games at CCSU drew the Blue Devils’ two largest crowds of the season with 2,100 and 2,400 respectively. Senior Ken Horton moved over 1,900 career points against FDU on Saturday. That game saw 65 CCSU alums return for the contest. Blue Devils are 2-7 on the season away from home.
- Quinnipiac - Defeated Mount St. Mary’s before dropping a one-point decision to Wagner. Ike Azotam and Ousmane Drame continued to pace the Bobcats with their outstanding efforts up front. Azotam averaged 17.5 points and 11 rebounds for the two games. Drame averaged 12 rebounds. Quinnipiac came from 15 points down at the half against Mount St. Mary’s to force overtime and eventually pulled out the victory. Bobcats had only eight turnovers (14% TO rate) and enjoyed a 40-31 rebounding edge in the close loss to Wagner.
- Monmouth – Big road sweep with an overtime win at CCSU followed by a victory at Bryant. It was the first time since January 2006 that Monmouth won both ends of a road double header. Three-point marksmanship was crucial in the win at CCSU as the Hawks buried 11 from beyond the arc. Hawks are getting hit hard on the line. Opponents have shot 128 more free throws than Monmouth. Win at Bryant was the school’s 250Th NEC triumph.
- Sacred Heart - Suffered two losses at home, to Wagner and Mount St. Mary’s in double overtime. Shane Gibson became the first Pioneer to hit the 40-point mark in a gamesince Sacred Heart turned Division I. Gibson scored 41 points in the loss to Mount St. Mary’s . His 20 points against Wagner made it 11 of his last 12 games that Gibson scored 20 or more points. Sacred Heart scored a season-low in their 73-54 loss to Wagner. Junior Nick Greenbacker had a strong 14-point, 7-rebound and career-high 4 block effort against Wagner. Pioneers shot only 3-of-20 beyond the arc in that loss.
- Mount St. Mary’s - It was overtime in New England. The Mount dropped an extra session meeting at Quinnipiac before defeating Sacred Heart in two OTs. Julian Norfleet led the way with 22 points at Quinnipiac. Against Sacred Heart Josh Castellanos scored a career-high 19 points, hitting the game winning free throws with six seconds left. The win was sealed on the opposite end as Danny Thompson blocked Shane Gibson’s potential winning three-point attempt.
- St. Francis (PA) - Lost to St. Francis (NY) and LIU Brooklyn. Freshman Ollie Jackson’s NEC best was 12 points prior to the LIU Brooklyn games. Against the Blackbirds, Johnson went for 15 first half points on the way to a career-high 24. Another career-high was in order as Anthony Ervin scored 27 in the loss to SFNY. Stephon Whyatt, a freshman guard, also had his best scoring outing to date, 14 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor in that contest against St. Francis (NY).
- FDU – Earned a win on the road at Bryant before dropping a competitive game at CCSU. The 66-63 victory snapped a 16-game, school record, losing streak. It also ended a nine-game NEC losing skid and 12 games without a road win dating back to last season. Junior Lonnie Hayes went the full forty minutes both games. Hayes scored a career-high 25 points with 6 rebounds in that win at Bryant. Melquan Bolding sat out the two games, suspended due to violation of team rules.
- Bryant – Dropped an out-of-conference game to Brown before losing to FDU and Monmouth. Junior guard Frankie Dobbs was consistent, scoring 22 points against FDU and 23 versus Monmouth. Sophomore Alex Francis contributed a strong 17.5 points per three-game average. Francis shot 61% from the floor and 84.6% from the charity stripe.
Some of the more notable NEC games to keep an eye out for:
- Saturday, February 4: Sacred Heart at FDU, Bryant at St. Francis (NY), St. Francis (PA) at Wagner, CCSU at LIU Brooklyn, Quinnipiac at Monmouth, Robert Morris at Mount St. Mary’s
- Wednesday, February 8: LIU Brooklyn vs. St. Francis (NY) at Madison Square Garden, Wagner at Mount St. Mary’s, Monmouth at FDU, CCSU at Quinnipiac, Bryant at Sacred Heart, Robert Morris at St. Francis (PA)