O26 Weekly Awards: St. Francis, Denzel Livingston, Jeff Neubauer & Texas Southern

Posted by Tommy Lemoine on December 23rd, 2014

Throughout the season, the Other 26 microsite will run down our weekly superlatives, including team, player, coach and whatever else strikes our fancy in that week’s edition.

O26 Team of the Week

St. Francis (PA). After going 7-6 down the stretch last season and winning 10-plus games for the first time since 2011, St. Francis (PA) entered this season with more optimism and higher expectations than it has had in a while. Not only were the Red Flash picked fourth in the NEC preseason poll, but they even received a first-place vote – major respect for a program that hadn’t finished in the upper half of the league for a full decade. After picking up road wins at Duquesne and Rutgers this week, however, it appears that respect was well-warranted – and maybe even insufficient.

St. Francis (PA) is our O26 Team of the Week. (Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports)

St. Francis (PA) is our O26 Team of the Week. (Jim O’Connor-USA TODAY Sports)

In both victories, SFU got the job done with defense, rebounding and strong efforts from forwards Earl Brown and Ronnie Drinnon. On Wednesday, Rob Krimmel’s bunch held the Dukes’ usually-proficient offense to just 52 points on a season-low 0.83 PPP, crushing the home team on the offensive glass – despite entering the night as the worst offensive rebounding team in the NEC – and maintaining a comfortable lead for all 40 minutes. Brown led the Red Flash with 16 points in the triumph while Drinnon grabbed 15 rebounds, a pair of solid outings that still couldn’t match what they accomplished on Saturday. As if man-handling an A-10 team was just another day at the office, SFU then headed to Rutgers, fell behind by 16 points, came out of the locker room unfazed, and used a 27-11 second-half run to beat the Scarlet Knights, 73-68, over the weekend. Brown’s 23 points and Drinnon’s 16 boards again paced Krimmel’s team, and the win – SFU’s first over a Big Ten school other than Penn State – turned heads across college basketball. Now 6-4 and nearing the KenPom top-150, the Red Flash are starting to look more like ‘NEC favorites’ than merely ‘NEC contenders.’

Honorable Mentions: Quinnipiac (2-0: vs. Lehigh, vs. Oregon State); American (2-0: at LaSalle, vs. Mount St. Mary’s); St. Francis (PA); VCU (2-0: at Belmont, at Cincinnati), Cal Poly (2-1: at San Francisco, vs. Northeastern (N), vs. Gonzaga (N-loss))

O26 Player of the Week

Incarnate Word's Denzel Livingston was a monster this past week. (Edward A. Ornelas / San Antonio Express-News )

Incarnate Word’s Denzel Livingston was a monster this past week. (Edward A. Ornelas / San Antonio Express-News )

Denzel Livingston – Incarnate Word.  By his own lofty standards, Livingston was rather underwhelming during Incarnate Word’s improbable upset of Nebraska last Wednesday: The senior scored just 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting. So what changed in a week? For his team, not much – the Cardinals just kept on winning – but for the 6’4’’ senior, he re-established himself as the go-to player in a pair of close, dramatic victories against Grand Canyon and UMKC. On Wednesday, against the Antelopes, Livingston put together a pristine offensive effort, scoring 34 points on 65 percent shooting (on a season-high 20 shots), recording zero turnovers and nailing the game-winning jumper with 22-seconds to play. Just three days later, the Southland Player of the Year candidate (watch out Jacob Parker!) came up with an even more complete performance – on both ends of the floor – in IW’s 110-104, triple-overtime victory at UMKC; Livingston played all 55 minutes, scored 30 points and added 11 rebounds and four steals. Now 8-1, the Cardinals boast the Southland’s most efficient offense and look capable of competing for the conference title in just their second season at the Division I level. Livingston and his gaudy numbers are a major reason why.

Honorable Mentions: Amere May – Delaware State (48 points at St. Francis (NY)… 16 points at Oregon); Brad Waldow – Saint Mary’s (25 points, 16 rebounds, six assists vs. Northern Arizona… 26 points, 11 rebounds at St. John’s); Jameel Warney – Stony Brook (19 points, 18 rebounds at Canisius… 18 points, 11 rebounds, eight blocks vs. Loyola (MD); Tyler Harvey – Eastern Washington (26 points at Sam Houston State… 31 points at California)

O26 Coach of the Week

Jeff Neubauer got the most out of his team against Miami this weekend. (HERALD-LEADER)

Jeff Neubauer got the most out of his team against Miami this weekend. (HERALD-LEADER)

Jeff Neubauer – Eastern Kentucky. Whatever Neubauer said to his team on Friday before it played #18 Miami clearly worked, because the Colonels – who had just lost at home to East Tennessee State three days earlier – absolutely demolished the Hurricanes. Not only did Eastern Kentucky never trail during the game, it opened up a 22-2 second-half run to blow the doors off its ACC opponent and ultimately win by 28. Neubauer’s club got the job done with defense (Miami scored just 0.80 points per possession) and hot perimeter shooting, torching the nets to the tune of 53.8 percent (14-of-26) from behind the arc. “Our whole goal going into the game was there’s no way we were going to allow Miami to get to 50,” Neubauer said after the game. “You can have 49 points but they’re not getting 50. Somehow that came true here tonight.” Credit the 10th-year head man for convincing his team that such a lofty goal was achievable.

Honorable Mentions: Joe Callero – Cal Poly; Murray Garvin – South Carolina State; Mike Davis – Texas Southern; Tom Moore – Quinnipiac

O26 Upset of the Week

Texas Southern shocked the Spartans on Saturday. (Al Goldis / AP)

Texas Southern shocked the Spartans on Saturday. (Al Goldis / AP)

Texas Southern over Michigan State, 71-64. Michigan State fans might want to retire those NJIT shirts, because they have nothing on Michigan anymore. Much like the Highlanders did in Ann Arbor earlier this month, Texas Southern – also 24.5-point road underdogs – went into East Lansing and downed the Spartans on Saturday night. The Tigers entered the contest 1-8 and had not finished within 10 points of a top-300 KenPom opponent all season, yet never allowed Michigan State to lead by more than eight points, ultimately using an 11-2 run in the final seven minutes to close the gap and force overtime. In the extra period, Texas Southern kept attacking and the Spartans kept missing (4-of-21 threes on the night), which enabled Mike Davis’ club to finish off what could be the most improbable upset of the year; per KenPom, the Tigers faced an even lower win probability (2%) than NJIT (2.5%) did against the Wolverines. For Davis, the victory is a light near the end of a brutal non-conference tunnel, the kind of positive step that could propel his transfer-laden team to a SWAC title. For the Texas Southern bookstore, it’s the kind of victory that should propel an upswing in merchandise sales.

Honorable Mentions: Eastern Kentucky over Miami, 72-44; Northern Arizona over Saint Mary’s, 73-71; Arkansas-Pine Bluff over Houston, 61-56; Lehigh over Arizona State, 84-81

O26 Dunk of the Week

Josh Adams – Wyoming. Seems like every week’s Dunk of the Week comes out of Laramie, which kind of makes sense when you think about it – Adams, Larry Nance Jr., Derek Cooke Jr. and Jason McManamen have all made the SportsCenter Top 10 during their Wyoming careers. At just 6’2’’, Adams might be the best dunker among them.

O26 Set Piece of the Week

Green Bay goes off-the-backboard for an ‘oop…in traffic…on purpose. This is a thing of beauty.

O26 Insanely Historic Offensive Outpouring of the Week 

Colorado State over Denver, 85-84. What made this game so special? According to Andy Glockner, it may have been the most efficient game in the history of college basketball (or at least since 1996-97). Denver scored an incredible 1.53 points per possession, shot 17-for-31 from behind the arc…and still lost.


Tommy Lemoine (250 Posts)

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