Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent or the MAAC and NEC.
A Look Back
The NEC conference schedule actually tips off before Thanksgiving leftovers are gone. Due to a scheduling quirk, Central Connecticut hosts Monmouth on November in the NEC opener. It all finishes an interesting November which saw a few surprises and strong showings by NEC clubs. Not to mention a 6 and 8 AM contest.
Player of the Week
Ken Horton, Central Connecticut – Averaged 29 points, 10 rebounds and shot 66% from the floor for the two contests. Horton scored a career high 34 points while adding 9 boards in the win at Army.
Co-Rookies of the Week
Alex Francis, Bryant – Scored 19 points with 8 rebounds in a loss to Army.
Julian Norfleet, Mount St. Mary’s – The 6’1 guard averaged 11.5 PPG, 3.5 APG and committed just one turnover in 75 minutes of action. His three treys sparked the Mount’s first win of the season.
- LIU (4-0) – Has hopes of an NEC title this season and the Blackbirds got off on a positive note. They defeated Texas State (91-67) and Manhattan (91-80) to finish with a perfect first week. Senior guard Kyle Johnson, a key figure in the LIU attack, averaged 18 PPG for the two games. Sophomore forward Kenny Onyechi had an impressive 18 point 11 rebound (both career highs) effort at Manhattan.
- CCSU (3-1) – Earned a pair of road wins over Army (101-87) and UMBC (82-74) to advance to 3-0. It marks Central’s best start since 1998-99 and it was the first time in three years the Blue Devils scored over 80 points in back to back contests. Shemik Thompson scored his 1,000th career point against UMBC. Ken Horton is back in the groove as a key contributor after missing last season with an injury.
- Quinnipiac (3-1) – Defeated Harvard (66-64) before dropping a 79-75 squeaker to Vermont. James Johnson, a junior guard, led the way with 20 PPG for the week. Senior forward Justin Rutty was a major contributor as well with a double-double average for the two contests. Rutty averaged 14.5 PPG and 10.5 RPG and has 32 career double-doubles.
- Wagner (2-1) – Embarked on an NBA-style seven game road trip with a split. Seahawks lost (73-57) at Lehigh, the defending Patriot League champions before earning a 58-54 decision at Stony Brook. Junior guard Tyler Murray has been an early season revelation. He leads the Seahawks in scoring (19 PPG) and he shot seven of nine from beyond the arc in the win at Stony Brook.
- Monmouth (1-1) – Earned a split dropping a 51-49 decision to Stony Brook in the 6 AM game, part of ESPN’s Marathon. The Hawks came back to edge Lehigh 69-68. Sophomore forward Ed Waite had a pair of strong performances with 13 rebounds in the opener and 20 points against Lehigh. Freshman guard Jordan Davis had a noteworthy six assist/no turnover outing against Lehigh.
- Robert Morris (2-2) – The Colonials a tough one (62-59) to Kent State as part of the ESPN Marathon before coming back to defeat Duquesne 69-63. Sophomore guard Karon Abraham continues his fine scoring. He averaged 14 PPG for the week highlighted by 15 over Duquesne. Robert Morris is giving up a stingy 51.7 PPG.
- St. Francis (PA) (2-2) – Faced three Patriot League squads. The Red Flash defeated Colgate and Bucknell while losing to Lafayette. Sophomore guard Umar Shannon with a career high 23 points, ignited a late run to defeat Colgate. St. Francis trailed by seven with three minutes to play before rallying for a 69-66 victory. Sophomore forward Will Felder had a solid and consistent week highlighted by a career high 21 points and nine boards against the Bison.
- St. Francis (NY) (1-2) – Dropped a three point game to South Florida before defeating Howard 70-52. Senior guard Akeem Bennett scored the first 11 points of the Howard game, finishing with 19. Fellow senior guard Ricky Cadell was on fire in Tampa. Against USF, he scored 28 points (six of nine from three) as the Terriers battled South Florida to the wire.
- Bryant (1-3) – Lost the lone game of the week, 76-66 to Army. Bryant led with five minutes to play before the Cadets made a late run to pull away. Young players made the mark as Freshman forward Alex Francis and sophomore guard Frankie Dobbs had 19 points apiece against Army. Already one win is already in the books, a last-second triumph over Iona at the World Vision Classic in Cleveland.
- Mount St. Mary’s (1-3) – Defeated Savannah State (68-62 in OT) for the first win under new coach Robert Burke. Senior forward Shawn Atupen has hit double figures in scoring all three games. Mount received clutch outside shooting from NEC Co-Rookie of the Week Julian Norfleet in the win over Savannah State.
- Sacred Heart (1-4) – Defeated New Hampshire 50-42 to snap a four game losing streak and post win number one of the season. Guard play has been the Pioneers’ main source of offense to date. Redshirt sophomore guard Shane Gibson and senior Jerrell Thompson are both averaging double figures. Freshman guard Evan Kelley shooting 55% (6-11) from three has provided significant minutes in relief.
- Fairleigh Dickinson (0-2) – Dropped the first two games of the season to Stony Brook (66-59) and Albany (72-46) both at home. The Knights’ problems centered on a basic fundamental – Shooting. Over the two games their combined field goal percentage was 31%. Senior guard Mike Scott, an all-NEC pick pre-season, was the lone marksman of note for FDU. Scott averaged 21.5 PPG on 49% shooting from the floor.
- The note that Robert Morris is playing great defense because they surrender just 51.7 PPG almost had this correspondent salivating. Stats like this require a quick visit to statsheet.com or bbstate.com for a closer look. On Stat Sheet, it was revealed the Colonials’ defensive efficiency was 85, an excellent mark. The Robert Morris pace is 67 possessions per game, not exactly walking it up the floor. The offense needs to be addressed a bit, as the efficiency on that side is a bit subpar at 88. An eFG% mark of 38.7 seems to be the major culprit.
- Last year, Bryant was 1-29. This year, the Bulldogs are 1-3. They still give up too much defensively (113.6 Defensive Efficiency to date). On the other hand, points are coming a little easier. A year ago, Bryant had an 81 offensive efficiency rating in NEC play. To date, no conference games have been contested, but the Bulldogs show an OE of 90, A significant improvement.
A Look Ahead
The NEC gets an early start on conference play, while some teams continue the pursuit of strong turns in the non-con.
November 27 – LIU at St.Peter’s
November 28- Bryant at Lehigh
November 29 – Wagner at Bucknell; Robert Morris at Cleveland State; Central Connecticut at Providence; Monmouth at Davidson; Navy at Mount St. Mary’s
December 1 – UMass at Quinnipiac; Bryant at Fairleigh Dickinson; Robert Morris at LIU