Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the Northeast and MAAC conferences.
A Look Back
The Northeast Conference is known for its parity and competitiveness. With the race virtually half over, there have been surprises. Favored Quinnipiac hit a few bumps in the road and is at mid-pack. Long Island has taken advantage of Quinnipiac’s struggles to spurt into first place. Robert Morris, Central Connecticut and Wagner are right on LIU’s heels. As noted, there is time and half a season to play. The only thing certainty is that nothing is guaranteed and you can expect the unexpected regarding the final standings.
1. Long Island (14-5, 5-2) The Blackbirds continued their winning ways, dominating Wagner 85-54 before heading on the road and winning 83-67 at Robert Morris. An uptempo club, LIU averages 75 possessions per game and their respective paces were 70 and 69 in the two games. Both meetings saw the Blackbirds post an outstanding 120 offensive efficiency while the two opponents were under 100.
Notable: Freshman guard Jason Brickman had six assists without a turnover against Wagner. LIU shot 63% from the floor the second half against Wagner to turn a three-point lead at intermission into a 31 point win. Six LIU players hit double figures in that contest.
2. Wagner (9-10, 5-3) – An 84-54 drubbing at the hands of LIU was cleansed with an impressive 90-80 home conquest of Quinnipiac. The Seahawks gave up a 108 efficiency to Quinnipiac, but its 122 offensive efficiency was a season-best for the team. In that game, an outstanding 71% eFG mark for Wagner negated a 50-21% Quinnipiac dominance in OREB percentage.
Notable: Junior guard Tyler Murray paced the Seahawks with averages of 19.5 points, three rebounds and three assists in a two-game stretch. Freshman forward Orlando Parker is emerging, as he averaged 11.5 scoring for the two games to compliment a team best 8.5 rebounds.
3. Quinnipiac (12-7, 5-3) The road was unkind as the Bobcats dropped games to Brown (87-78) and Wagner (90-80). Both games saw Quinnipiac register OE’s over 100 but on defense, the numbers were 116 and 122 respectively. The two opponents found shooting profitable with 57% and 71% eFG marks. On the season, the Bobcats’ defensive eFG rate is 48%.
Notable: Bobcats lead the nation with 43.8 rebounds per game despite having the 13th-shortest team in the country. Quinnipiac also paces the NEC and is ranked tenth nationally with a +8.6 rebound margin. Besides the boards, the Bobcats have another area of distinction as they have made at least one trey in 300 consecutive games.
4. Central Connecticut (12-7, 5-3) The Blue Devils split on the road, being edged73-68 at Quinnipiac before defeating Monmouth 66-47. A 96 defensive efficiency team, Central gave up a disappointing 111 to the Bobcats. Against Monmouth, the DE was an outstanding 75. The Blue Devils average 102 in offensive efficiency and were consistent with a 103 and 105 in the two respective games.
Notable: Senior guard Shemik Thompson had 12 points, six rebounds, seven assists and zero turnovers against Quinnipiac. Thompson has 403 career assists, second among active NEC players and fifth in school history. In one three game stretch, Thompson had 22 assists against four turnovers, an outstanding 5.5 assist/turnover ratio.
5. Robert Morris (9-10, 5-3) Had a three-game NEC win streak snapped with an 83-67 loss at home to LIU. The previous game at the ‘Chuck’ saw the Colonials edge Monmouth 60-57. The Colonials’ defensive efficiency average is 98, but LIU ran up a 120 figure in that meeting. Robert Morris also allowed a 61% eFG mark but did force the Blackbirds into a 25% TO rate.
Notable: Sophomore guard Karon Abraham averaged 21 points, 3.5 rebounds and two steals in a three-game stretch to earn Player of the Week honors.
6. Bryant (6-14, 4-4) The Bulldogs are on a four-game conference win streak following a victory at Sacred Heart and a 74-71 home triumph over FDU. The two games saw impressive offensive displays by Bryant, with a season high 128 OE against FDU. The eFG mark was over 55% in the two contests and the TO rate, a note worthy 19% against FDU.
Notable: Freshman forward Alex Francis captured Rookie of the Week accolades by averaging 17.5 points and nine rebounds per game while shooting 50% from the floor as the Bulldogs captured two road games.
7. Mount St. Mary’s (7-14, 5-3) Swept two games with a win at St. Francis (NY) 70-61 and at home against Sacred Heart (61-45). Both opponents were held under 100 in the offensive efficiency department. Other signs of stellar defense came in the Sacred Heat game as the Mount limited the Pioneers to 34% eFG percentage and forced them into a 29% TO rate.
Notable: MSM shot a season high 58% in the win at St. Francis (NY). Junior forward Danny Thompson scored a career-high 16 points while grabbing eight boards against the Terriers. Mount has won two NEC road meetings, after going 0-9 in non-conference play away from home.
8. St. Francis (NY) (8-11, 3-5) The Terriers are mired in a two-game slide, having lost at home to Mount St. Mary’s 70-61 and at St. Francis (PA) 75-56. The two games saw the Terriers held to a mark under 100 in offensive efficiency and over 100 on the defensive side. The game in Loretto was the extreme ,as the Terriers posted an OE of 86 and gave up a 115 defensive efficiency against St. Francis (PA).
Notable: St. Francis never led in the game against Mount St. Mary’s. It was their first loss at home after beginning with seven straight wins at their Pope Center. Junior guard Dre Callaway scored a team high 15 points in that meeting. St. Francis has just six games with scoring outputs over 70 under its belt this season. Last season, they did not hit that figure in any regulation length game.
9. St. Francis (PA) (6-13, 4-3) The Red Flash extended its win streak to three with home conquests of FDU (69-55) and St. Francis (NY) 75-56. Efficiency marks were outstanding in both games, with OE ratings of 111 and 115, respectively. On the defensive end, the marks were 89 and 86. The 115 OE rate against St. Francis (NY) came despite a 23% TO rate.
Notable: Sophomore guard Umar Shannon matched his career high with 24 points while adding four rebounds and five assists against FDU. Shannon went 8-12 from the floor and scored 18 points after halftime.
10. Sacred Heart (8-11, 3-5) – The Pioneers are reeling in the midst of a three-game conference tailspin. Sacred Heart dropped a 72-59 decision to Bryant at home before losing at Mount St. Mary’s. Both games were contested at a 62-possession pace. Bryant managed an impressive 116 offensive efficiency against the Pioneers largely due to a 57% eFG mark.
Notable: Sophomore guard Shane Gibson netted 18 points in the loss to Bryant. Junior forward Stan Dulaire turned in the top rebounding performance for Sacred Heart this season with 12 boards, including ten on the offensive glass, against Bryant.
11. FDU (4-14, 2-6) The Knights defeated Houston Baptist 75-64 in a home non-conference meeting. They then took to the road and dropped a 74-71 decision at Bryant. That game had some interesting numbers. It was a 58-possession affair, and FDU had their best offensive efficiency, 122, of the season but gave up a whopping 128 on the other end. Both eFG marks were lights out as FDU was 60% and the host Bulldogs 63%.
Notable: Senior guard Mike Scott ranks in the top ten in five of the NEC’s major categories. Senior forward Kamil Svrdlik is also among conference leaders, as he is second in blocks (1.5) and field goal percentage (54%) and seventh in rebounding (6.7).
12. Monmouth (6-14, 2-6) The Hawks were defeated 60-57 at Robert Morris before losing at home to Central Connecticut (66-47). Offensive efficiency was only 75 in the latter contest. Turnovers are a problem on both ends. The TO rate was 35 and 29%, respectively, in the two games. Defensively, Monmouth could not force either opponent over 19% in the same category.
Notable: The Hawks have lost four of 11 games decided by five points or less. Sophomore guard Jesse Steele tallied a career high 21 points at Robert Morris. Steele was 6-11 from the floor, including 4-8 beyond the arc.
A Look Ahead
We get closer to calling a conference winner with exciting matchups on tap for Thursday and Saturday.
- Wagner at Bryant
- LIU at FDU
- St. Francis (PA) at Quinnipiac
- Robert Morris at Sacred Heart
- St. Francis (NY) at Monmouth
- Mount St. Mary’s at Central Connecticut
- LIU at Monmouth
- Mount St. Mary’s at Bryant
- Robert Morris at Sacred Heart
- St. Francis (PA) at Quinnipiac
- Wagner at Central Connecticut
- St. Francis (NY) at FDU