Bracket Prep: LIU-Brooklyn, South Dakota State, Valparaiso, Bucknell

Posted by BHayes on March 14th, 2013

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Over the course of the last two nights, four more teams made their Big Dance dreams a reality. As each of the 31 automatic qualifiers plays their way into the Dance over the next week, we’ll take some time to give you an analytical snapshot of each team that you can refer back to when you’re picking your brackets next weekend.

LIU-Brooklyn

It's An NEC Tournament Three-Peat For The Blackbirds.  Welcome Back To The Big Dance!

It’s An NEC Tournament Three-Peat For The Blackbirds. Welcome Back To The Big Dance!

  • NEC Champion (20-13, 15-6)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #178/#184/#162
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +0.2
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #16

 Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. While it might be a bit of hyperbole to announce the Long Island Blackbirds as a NEC dynasty, three conference tournament titles in a row will get that conversation started. LIU may have found the transition under new coach Jack Perri to be slightly rougher than expected – they were just 5-10 before winning 10 of their final 13 games – but a familiar destination has appeared at the end of the road – the NCAA Tournament. And while the Blackbirds haven’t completely embarrassed themselves in the past two NCAA Tournaments (losing by 15 and 22 points, respectively), can this year’s team make the next step and put a real scare into one of the field’s top teams?
  2. Normally, a team playing at the 29th quickest tempo in the nation would be lauded for their freneticism, and yes, LIU does play fast. But after back-to-back years of holding a top three spot in the metric, things have slowed down a bit in Brooklyn. The offensive personnel on this team is impressive. Junior point guard Jason Brickman is the nation’s leader in assists at 8.5 per contest, while his backcourt mate CJ Garner has been on a scoring tear, going for 30+ in three of the Blackbirds last four. Neither is the team’s most talented player, however; senior Jamal Olasewere plays power forward for LIU at 6’7”, but would seamlessly fit in on most any power conference team at the two or the three. A phenomenal athlete who can both put the ball on the deck and score with his back to the basket, Olasewere is a match-up problem waiting to happen.
  3. It’s fun to watch LIU play offense. Too often though, it’s just as fun to watch their opponents play offense. LIU ranks 318th nationally in defensive efficiency, and gave up at least 89 points to each of their three power conference foes this season — Kentucky, Maryland, and Seton Hall (yes, the same Seton Hall that managed a total of 81 regulation points during its two-game Big East Tournament run.) None of those three games were particularly close. The offensive firepower gives the Blackbirds more bite than your typical #16 seed, but their profound inability to get stops is the reason they will likely be in that slot. LIU might have a little bit of fun at the Big Dance – maybe 20 minutes or so – but nothing they have done so far suggests they are capable of hanging with the nation’s elite for the full 40.

South Dakota State

Next Stop For The Jackrabbits: The Big Dance

Next Stop For The Jackrabbits: The Big Dance

  • Summit League Champion (25-9, 16-3)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #65/#103/#94
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +4.6
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #13-#14

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2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Northeast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 26th, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the NEC.

Top Storylines

  • A Dynasty Grows In Brooklyn: It’s probably fitting that the Northeast Conference administrators chose the brand-new Barclays Center to host its annual media day. The NEC trophy has resided in this borough two straight years and LIU Brooklyn is planning on a unique ‘three-peat’. In the NEC’s 32-year history, no team has captured the title for three straight seasons. LIU Brooklyn is primed to finish the trifecta, but there will be stiff competition. Mainstays Robert Morris, Quinnipiac and Wagner will be in the hunt, and don’t forget ‘Battle of Brooklyn’ nemesis, St. Francis, just a mile away in Brooklyn Heights. The Terriers surprised last season and have enough returning talent to continue their recent success.
  • They’re Watching And Noticing: One of the significant aspects of the NEC’s improvement can be seen in coaching mobility. The higher-level schools are looking at and hiring mentors who prove they can X and O in this conference. Three years ago, Mike Rice went from Robert Morris to Rutgers. This past season, Duquesne chose LIU Brooklyn’s Jim Ferry, while Rhode Island, another Atlantic 10 school, obtained the services  of Danny Hurley, who quickly reversed fortunes at Wagner. As one coach noted at media day, “you have a group of good, aggressive coaches here who can build and run a program.” No surprise NEC coaches are on the big boys’ short lists.

LIU Brooklyn’s Julian Boyd Returns For NEC Favorite LIU Brooklyn. (AP)

  • Circle the Date: Wagner faces off against Temple, Syracuse, Penn, Princeton, Hofstra  and plays in the Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara. However, a relatively early game of note is January 10 at LIU Brooklyn. The Seahawks have a four-game losing streak in the series and Wagner coach Bashir Mason all too well knows the the road to the NEC title will go through Brooklyn.

Reader’s Take I

Early Power Rankings (last season’s record in parentheses)

  1. LIU Brooklyn (25-9, 16-2 NEC): The Blackbirds seemingly have it all: Experience, depth and recent success of enviable excellence. And talent. Start with returning NEC Player of the Year, Julian Boyd. The 6’7” senior forward put together a sterling season where he averaged 17 points and nine rebounds per contest, highlighted by 14 double-doubles. Jamal Olasewere, another first team All-NEC pick, returns up front as well. In the backcourt is junior Jason Brickman. Seventh nationally with 7.3 assists per outing, Brickman has drawn praise from rival coaches for his passing ability and expertise in controlling the game. Coach Jack Perri is now at the helm with Jim Ferry gone to Duquesne. The transition has been very smooth for the former LIU assistant. Winners of 34 of their last 36 conference games, the Blackbirds are NEC favorites. Read the rest of this entry »
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Bracket Prep: Davidson, Harvard, LIU, Lehigh & Montana

Posted by EJacoby on March 8th, 2012

As we move through Championship Week, we’ll continue to bring you short reviews of each of the automatic qualifiers to help you fill out your bracket next week. In this post, we have your SoCon, Ivy, NEC, Patriot, and Big Sky conference champions. Here’s what you need to know about these recent bid winners.

Davidson

  • Southern Conference Champion (25-7, 19-2)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #66/#67/#69
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +8.8
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #13-#14

Davidson Is Back in the Dance Looking For More McKillop Magic (AP/B. Leverone)

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. First of all, let’s put this to rest immediately. Although Davidson’s record of 25-7 is nearly the same as it was in 2008 when the Wildcats came within a long three-pointer of the Final Four, this year’s team is not nearly as good as that one, led by a young Stephen Curry. But it wouldn’t be a Bob McKillop-coached team if it wasn’t dangerous, and the Wildcats are certainly that, as their mid-December upset win over likely #1 seed Kansas attests. Led by a group of sophomores and juniors who can score inside and out, Davidson likes to get out in transition and spread the floor in the halfcourt. All five starters are capable of hitting the three-ball (34% to 37%), and although the Wildcats won’t beat you that way, they use the threat of it to find easy looks inside. Whoever draws this team in its first game will have its hands full with the Davidson offense.
  2. McKillop’s defense, however, is a bit of a different story. The Wildcats don’t turn teams over and, at least against good opponents, have a lot of trouble stopping dribble penetration. Duke dropped 82 on the Wildcats as Austin Rivers and Seth Curry had 17 points each; Vanderbilt went for 87 as Jeffery Taylor and John Jenkins combined for 52 points; Wichita State had 91 in a win where Joe Ragland dropped 30 and his backcourt mate Toure’ Murray added 16 more. You get the point. Athletic scoring guards are a big problem for the Wildcats.
  3. Given those conditions, Davidson is projected to play a #3 or #4 seed in next week’s NCAA Tournament. Among the teams in that group, there are a few that they absolutely do not want to see under any circumstances. For example, Michigan’s Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway, Jr., would be disastrous. On the other hand, Georgetown’s Jason Clark and Martel Starks would be much more manageable. As the Wildcats have already shown against the Jayhawks once this year, they are a dangerous squad if the conditions are right. We wouldn’t bet on them pulling another first game upset this year, but keep an eye on teams built like them (high offense, no defense) for possible victims.

Harvard

  • Ivy League Champion (26-4, 12-2)
  • RPI/Pomeroy/Sagarin = #36/#38/#43
  • Adjusted Scoring Margin = +8.4
  • Likely NCAA Seed: #10-#11

Tommy Amaker Has His Harvard Team Focused on the NCAAs (US Presswire/G. Cooper)

Three Bruce Pearls of Wisdom.

  1. Harvard basketball has been in the news a lot lately, mostly due to former player Jeremy Lin’s emergence as an NBA star point guard. But when Tommy Amaker and his team watched Penn lose to Princeton on Tuesday night, the Crimson sealed their first NCAA Tournament berth in 66 years. Not once did this team make it during Lin’s tenure, and Harvard is finally back in the Big Dance this year thanks to a terrific defense and overall efficient team. This squad challenged itself in the non-conference and won the Battle for Atlantis Tournament that included a field of Connecticut and Florida State. They also defeated St. Joseph’s and finished with a strong 12-2 record in the Ivy League with only two close losses to top competitors Princeton and Penn. Read the rest of this entry »
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Behind the Numbers: Considering Point Guard “Purity”

Posted by KCarpenter on November 10th, 2011

Kellen Carpenter is an ACC microsite staffer and an RTC columnist. Each week, BTN will take an in-depth look at some interesting aspect of college basketball’s statistical arcana.

The phrase “pure point guard” is loaded. It implies that there is a Platonic notion of point guard which all mortal players can only aspire to. We are just fools in a cave looking at a shadow on the wall, but that is all we have when the purest conception of the point guard is beyond our field of vision. I can only assume that this unknowable figure looks something like Bob Cousy. It also implies that outside of “pure point” play, there exists a realm of impure play where the division of basketball labor isn’t as orthodox as it is inside Plato’s basketball cave.

This is What a Pure Point Looks Like

In a point guard, “purity” is code for being a pass-first lead guard. To the traditional school of thought, the roles on a basketball team are strictly regimented: The point guard passes, the shooting guard shoots, but not as much as either forward. The center, near-immobile but Mikan-like in his hunger for loose balls has a single task: rebound the basketball and get it to the point guard. Of course, this idea of the traditional division of labor in basketball hasn’t really held since the days of Mikan himself. Modern basketball, by which I mean basketball since the mid-sixties, has embraced the hybridization of positions. Basketball has for years acknowledged the idea that team roles are mutable and that positions are flexible.  While few have embraced the full-on positional revolution explicated by Bethlehem Shoals and the NBA-heads of the dearly-departed Free Darko, most of us have made peace with the idea that it’s okay for point guards to score occasionally. Kemba Walker and Jimmer Fredette were the break-out stars of the past college basketball season and both undoubtedly play point guard in a thoroughly impure way. If those guys aren’t pure then shouldn’t we all hope to be dirty?

In all seriousness, the concept of the purity of the lead guard is a silly concept to dwell on. Still, like all sports cliches, the idea persists because it’s a convenient way to sum up the play of pass-first point guards, who somehow pay homage to a golden era of basketball which is more than ancient history. Still the idea of the pass-first point guard is an intriguing one in this era of high-scoring combo guards. Like the crocodile, the pass-first guard is a relic of a by-gone epoch, a living fossil and a reminder of the dinosaurs who ruled the earth during that time. Is the crocodile a better predator than the tiger? This isn’t a debate that I’m interested in. The pass-first point guard, by mere value of their odd, antiquarian style is a unique species worth studying.

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NEC Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 3rd, 2011

 

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC conferences. With the tournament set to tip Thursday, get up to speed on the NEC with the following wrap-up and postseason preview.

The Northeast Conference postseason tournament tips off Thursday with four quarterfinal games. In the NEC, only the top eight finishers qualify for postseason play, and each game is played on the home court of the higher seed. On Sunday there will be two semifinals and the final will be aired on ESPN the following Wednesday.

Postseason Prospects

Aside from St. John’s recapturing New York City, LIU might be getting headlines as the New York area’s best shot at getting into the Big Dance. The Blackbirds are “flying” under the radar, but that’s fine with coach Jim Ferry. They just go out and win.  The first order of business is to win the conference tournament. The NEC is a one-bid league and even their 24 win season, impressive as it is, would not earn an at-large invite.  LIU is an uptempo 75 possession team. Their TO rate is 21%, but they only force opponents into a 20% on the defensive end. Don’t be fooled by that defensive number regarding turnovers. The Blackbirds play solid defense as shown by their 98 defensive efficiency. On the offensive end, their efficiency is a 109. The margin, offense minus defense, a very healthy +11 for all games. Another of the Four Factors that stands out is free throw rate. LIU checks in at 51% while opponents are 26%. Simply, Ferry’s club does not allow their opponents to get to the line. Looking at individual pace, LIU dictates as a number of their games have been contested at a rapid 70 possession or more tempo.

Last year, the nation found out about the NEC as Robert Morris took second-seed Villanova to OT before losing in the NCAAs. Historically, teams representing the conference haven’t been the easiest out for highly regarded opposition. LIU fits that mold perfectly.

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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 23rd, 2011

 

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the Northeast Conference.

A Look Back

The top spot is decided, as Long Island clinched the regular season title on the road last week. In the NEC, the top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament. The individual games are at the home court of the higher seed, and this week’s action will have bearing on that all important seeding.  Heading into the final week, three teams are battling for the number four spot. Another three are in the hunt for the eighth and final seed. Wagner could finish anywhere from the second to seventh seed, depending on how the week plays out.  Two days of action are left, and scoreboard-watching will be very much in vogue in the NEC.

Power Rankings

1. LIU (22-5, 14-2) The Blackbirds won twice away from home to wrap up the conference, edging Wagner 83-79 before an ‘easier’ win at Mount St. Mary’s, 84-64. The Blackbirds are averaging 75 possessions per game and were over 70 in both games the past week. Efficiency margin was modest, +5 (109-104) at Wagner. The EM at the Mount was outstanding, +27 with a 115-88 difference. Despite the ‘NASCAR’ pace, the offensive TO rate is a vanilla 21% on the season.

Notable: Freshman point guard Jason Brickman was selected NEC Rookie of the Week. Brickman averaged 8.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2 steals and had only three turnovers in 63 minutes for the Blackbirds.

2. Quinnipiac (19-8, 11-5 overall) A clean sweep on the road. The Bobcats defeated Bryant 80-60 before getting a nailbiter, 68-67 , at CCSU. Efficiency margin was an outstanding +31 (125-94) in the win at Bryant. At Central Connecticut, the margin was more down to earth at +1 (106-105). The Bobcats had a 23% TO rate in the Bryant win, but that was offset by an outstanding 61% eFG percentage. The Offensive rebounding percentage in that game was 40-24% in Quinnipiac’s favor.

Notable: James Johnson averaged 17 points for the week. The senior guard scored 24 points against Bryant, going 7-11 from three point range. Johnson has the Quinnipiac Division-I record with 91 consecutive games started.

3. Central Connecticut (18-9, 11-5). If nail-biters are your specialty, Central was the team to watch. The Blue Devils split at home, edging  Sacred Heart 57-56 before falling 68-67 to Quinnipiac. The efficiencies mirrored the closeness of the scores. CCSU enjoyed an 86-85 advantage against Sacred Heart and was on the short end of a 106-105 offensive efficiency against Quinnipiac. The Blue Devils forced Sacred heart into a 32% TO rate.

Notable: Ken Horton, the NEC Co-Player of the Week, averaged 26.5 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. The junior forward scored a career high 35 points against Quinnipiac.

4. Robert Morris (14-13, 10-6). A good road weekend was had by RMU with victories at Fairleigh Dickinson (74-50) and Monmouth (62-60). The Colonials enjoyed a +38 (117-79) efficiency margin in the win at FDU. The TO rate in that game was an outstanding 6%. The Monmouth game was a tougher go as the Colonial TO rate increased to 26% and the host Hawks enjoyed a 56% eFG showing.

Notable: Russell Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, hit a jumper with 3.3 seconds left to defeat Monmouth. Johnson finished with 13 points, 9 rebounds and three assists. Sophomore forward Lijah Thompson averaged 13.5 points, 5 rebounds on the week.

5. Wagner (13-14, 9-7) The Seahawks lost two at the friendly confines of the Spiro Center. LIU defeated Wagner 83-79 before St. Francis (NY) emerged a 77-73 victor. Averaging 69 possessions per game, both outings were faster than the norm. The Pace was 76 and 71 possessions in the respective meetings. Wagner shot a gaudy 61% eFG mark against St. Francis but were guilty of a 28% TO rate, six percentage points above the season‘s average.

Notable: A three-pointer with three seconds remaining by Chris Martin forced overtime against LIU. Martin finished with 16 points, 14 after halftime. Latif Rivers, a freshman guard, enjoyed an 18 point, six-rebound, five-assist day against the Blackbirds.

6. St. Francis (NY) (13-14, 8-8). The flair for the dramatic. The Terriers captured road games over Mount St. Mary’s, 63-60 and Wagner 77-73. St. Francis averages 98 in offensive efficiency and was over 100, highlighted by the 108 at Wagner, both games. On the defensive end, they allowed a 99 efficiency. The TO rate was only 15% at the Mount. On defense, the Terriers force opponents into a 25% To rate. At Wagner that defensive number was  above average at 28%.

Notable: Senior guard Ricky Cadell earned NEC Co-Player of the Week accolades averaging 22 PPG for the two games. The Terriers clinched an NEC tournament berth and Cadell scored 13 points the final three minutes in the win at Wagner.

7. Mount St. Mary’s (10-19, 8-8) missed a chance to move up. The Mount suffered two home losses, to St. Francis (NY) 63-60 and LIU 84-64. The efficiency margin was a -5 against St. Francis but a whopping -27 (88-115) in the LIU meeting. The Mount had an impressive 57% eFG showing in the St. Francis game. Both contests, though, saw the Mount post a high 23% TO rate.

Notable: Senior forward Shawn Atupem scored 23 points against LIU on Senior Day. Atupem is coming on strong of late. Over the last five games he is averaging 15.2 points and shooting 73% from the floor.

8. Bryant (9-19, 7-9). Two games dropped at home. Quinnipiac defeated Bryant 80-60 before Sacred Heart squeaked by 83-77. Bryant averages 99 in offensive efficiency and exploded for a 126 against Sacred Heart. Bulldogs TO rate has been under 20% the last three games. Despite a one-sided loss to Quinnipiac, the Bulldogs did force a 23% defensive TO rate in that meeting. Both recent opponents also shot over 60% eFG percentage against Bryant.

Notable: Senior swingman Cecil Gresham averaged 20 points for the two games. Gresham scored a season-high 29 points against Sacred Heart on Bryant’s Senior Day.

9. St. Francis (PA) (8-19, 6-10) came up short, 57-51 at Monmouth but bounced back for a 77-65 victory at FDU. The EM (efficiency margin) was -11 at Monmouth, but a few days later, it improved dramatically to +19 (122-103) in the victory at FDU. The Red Flash were strapped with a 25% TO rate at Monmouth. Against FDU, the offense was in better synch. St. Francis To rate was only 19% and their eFG percentage, a sparking 67%.

Notable: A deadly three point shooter, sophomore guard Umar Shannon exploded for 25 points on 7-10 from beyond the arc. In the win at FDU. Shannon added 5 rebounds and two assists.

10. Sacred Heart (10-17, 5-11) – The Pioneers were one for two on the road. They dropped a close one, 57-56 at Central Connecticut. Sacred Heart rebounded to defeat Bryant 83-77. After posting an 85 offensive efficiency at CCSU, Sacred Heart had a season high 136 at Bryant. A 65% eFG percentage and a fine 18% TO rate helped the offensive cause. The defense was a season high in opposition efficiency as Bryant rang up a 126 in that contest.

Notable: Inserted as a starter four games ago, freshman forward Louis Montes has made an impact. Montes is averaging 12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and shooting 62% from the field during that stretch.

11. Monmouth (9-19, 5-11) Took a home split. The Hawks downed St. Francis (PA) 57-51 and were nosed out by Robert Morris 62-60. Monmouth had an outstanding 86 defensive efficiency against St. Francis. That contest was a deliberate, even by Monmouth’s 65 average standard,   59 possession affair. Hawks’ defense gave up a 102 efficiency mark to Robert Morris, but hung close, as the Colonials were guilty of a 26% TO rate.

Notable: Jesse Steele came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points against St. Francis (PA). The sophomore guard averaged 16 points, 3.5 assists and had no turnovers in the two games.

12. FDU (2-14, 4-23) Two home losses, to Robert Morris 74-50 and St. Francis (PA) 77-65. The Knights have lost ten straight and 20 of 21. Defensive woes continued as the last two opponents were over 50% eFG and under 20% in TO rate. FDU had a -38 (79-117) efficiency margin against Robert Morris and -19 (103-122) in the St. Francis (PA) contest.

Notable: John Galvin scored his 600th point and Terence Grier his 800th in a senior day loss to St. Francis (PA). Galvin had his fourth double-double of the season in that game with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

A Look Ahead

February 24:

  • Mount St. Mary’s at Robert Morris
  • FDU at Sacred Heart
  • Bryant at LIU
  • Wagner at St. Francis (PA)
  • Central Connecticut at St. Francis (NY)
  • Monmouth at Quinnipiac

February 26:

  • Central Connecticut at LIU
  • FDU at Quinnipiac
  • Monmouth at Sacred Heart
  • Bryant at St. Francis (NY)
  • Monmouth at St. Francis (PA)
  • Wagner at Robert Morris
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Behind the Numbers: The Other Guys of the Year

Posted by KCarpenter on February 16th, 2011

Kellen Carpenter is an RTC contributor.

The Player of the Year race in college basketball is an interesting and bizarre thing. The most talented player is rarely selected, and the winner is seldom a National Champion. I don’t want to go so far as to say the race is a popularity contest, but it’s something akin to one. Instead of picking the best player, the voters like to pick the most emblematic player, or failing that, the most interesting. Oh, and that player has to almost inevitably be a bit of a ball hog. Evan Turner was not the best basketball player in the country last year, as fans of the Philadelphia 76ers know all too well, but he was a skilled-enough, multi-talented player on a pedigreed team that won a lot of games. With that logic in mind, it’s pretty safe to pencil in Jimmer Freddete, Jared Sullinger, Derrick Williams, Kemba Walker or Nolan Smith as the front-runners of that race. This was true in December, as well. I don’t want to say that the national Player of the Year race is dead, just that it’s perpetually unsurprising, even if the final result does have that extra spice of arbitrariness thrown in for good measure.

Walker Headlines a Strong NPOY Group of Candidates

So instead of breaking down the Player of the Year race and debating just how good, on the scale of really good to incredibly good all those familiar faces are, I thought we could take some time to show some love to some mostly unfamiliar faces who are having extraordinary and superlative seasons of their own. Maybe they don’t play a great all-around game, maybe their teams don’t win, and maybe some of them aren’t good so much as weird, but let’s celebrate them all anyway. We need a name for this party, though, so let’s call it the Other Guys of the Year Awards, dig into the depths of Ken Pomeroy’s stats tables, and hand out some imaginary statuettes.

The first awards go to a pair of players who play for the same team in the Big South. The Iron Man Award goes to Khalid Mutakabbir of Presbyterian who has played 96.1% of all available minutes, a greater percentage than any other player in Division I. Mutakabbir has used those minutes well, shooting a high percentage from the field, and a very impressive 51.7% from beyond the three-point line. The Ultimate Ball-Hog Award goes to Mutakabbir’s teammate, Al’Lonzo Coleman, who somehow comes off the bench, yet uses 36.3% of all possessions, more than The Jimmer himself. While Coleman is undoubtedly president of the Ball-Hog Club, let’s give some special recognition to the other players who, despite living outside the national limelight, have managed to dominate the ball more than Mr. Fredette: Special thanks to Keion Bell of Pepperdine, Anatoly Bose of Nicholls State, Brandon Bowdry of Eastern Michigan, Adrian Oliver of San Jose State, and Will Pratt from Northwestern State. You have all out-Jimmered the Jimmer, except for, you know, the winning games thing.

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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 9th, 2011

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC.

Heading into the final third of the NEC race, Long Island is in the lead. Favorite Quinnipiac has hit a few rough spots, but is still in contention. Just ahead of the Bobcats and hot on LIU’s heels are Central Connecticut and Wagner.  It is a cliché that every game matters, but it nevertheless holds true in the NEC. Even the contenders know that teams in the second half having struggles of their own can be dangerous and spring an upset.

Power Rankings

1. LIU (18-5, 10-2) Extended its win streak to four with victories over Sacred Heart (81-69) and Quinnipiac (84-74). The Blackbirds were very consistent on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. The efficiency margin against Sacred Heart was +16 (107-91) and +13 (108-95) in the win over Quinnipiac. Jim Ferry also preached a favorable pace; A 75-possession club, LIU’s two games were played at 76 and 78-possession tempos, respectively.

Notable: Jason Brickman was selected as Co-Rookie of the Week for his fine play at the lead guard position. Brickman averaged 11.5 points, 6.5 assists and committed only three turnovers in 52 minutes of action the last two outings.

2. Central Connecticut (16-7, 9-3) So much for the dreaded ‘western’ swing. The Blue Devils swept road games against St. Francis (PA) 86-79 and Robert Morris 80-58. The offensive efficiency marks were 119 and 121m respectively. In the latter game, Central earned a big win at a traditionally tough location by holding Robert Morris to an 88 OE and enjoyed a 53%-39% edge in offensive rebounding percentage.

Notable: Ken Horton earned NEC Player of the Week honors with double-doubles in both games. The 6’6 junior forward averaged 24.5 points and 10 rebounds on the road kick.

3. Quinnipiac (15-8, 7-5) Split the Brooklyn trip with a conquest of St. Francis (NY) 74-60 before losing at LIU (84-74). Efficiencies give a clear picture of the two games. Against the Terriers, Quinnipiac had a 106-86 edge in offensive efficiency. Two days later, LIU enjoyed the 108-85 advantage. Turnover rate, in this case, did not affect the Bobcats’ OE. Their TO rate was 26% at St. Francis and only 9% at LIU.

Notable: Senior guard James Johnson averaged 20 points and six rebounds on his homecoming swing (Johnson played his high school ball at Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn). Justin Rutty, sidelined seven games with an elbow injury, was back in action. The senior forward averaged 16 points and seven rebounds.

4. Mount St. Mary’s (9-16, 7-5) Earned a two-game homestand sweep over Monmouth (56-54) and Fairleigh Dickinson (70-59). The Mountaineers average 65 possessions per game, though the Monmouth game was a slower 55. The FDU meeting was right on the 65 possession tempo. Both games saw the Mount over 100 in OE while keeping the opposition under 100. The high mark was a 108 OE against FDU. Mount shot only 46% eFG percentage that fame but their TO rate was an outstanding 8%.

Notable: Julian Norfleet, a freshman guard, hit the deciding shot, a three-pointer, with 0.6 seconds remaining to defeat Monmouth. Senior forward Shawn Atupem paced the Mount with 17 points versus FDU on 8-14 shooting from the floor.

5. Wagner (11-11, 7-4) The Seahawks swept home games over New Jersey foes. First, a 61-57 win over FDU, followed by a 63-60 decision against Monmouth. The offense was subpar, but defense did the job against FDU. The efficiency margin was +6, thanks to a defense allowing only an 85 in offensive efficiency. Wagner had only a 12% TO rate while forcing FDU into an extremely high 31% rate. Head coach Danny Hurley and his brother and assistant Bobby were on hand for Bob Hurley Sr.’s 1,000th win at St. Anthony’s on Wednesday.

Notable: Gathering his six Rookie of the Week honor this season was Latif Rivers. The freshman guard actually shared the award by putting together an outstanding two games. Rivers averaged 19 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

6. St. Francis (NY) (11-12, 6-6) Defeated Sacred Heart, 78-51 after losing to Quinnipiac, 74-60. Terriers had an efficiency margin swing of 50 in those two games. Against Quinnipiac, the margin was -20 (86-106 efficiencies). The Sacred Heart game saw a +40 (115-75) clip. A 56% eFG percentage was largely responsible for the better offensive showing against Sacred Heart.

Notable: Ricky Cadell scored 16 in the win over Quinnipiac. The senior guard reached 1,500 points, the 55th player in the NEC annals to do so. Sophomore guard Travis Nichols added 15 points against the Bobcats, behind 3-4 from beyond the arc.

7. Robert Morris (10-13, 6-6) In one of the most difficult two-game stretches to ponder, the Colonials scored an easy 91-38 win over Bryant, then two days later were dominated 80-58 by Central Connecticut. Both games were at home. The efficiency margin swing in these two games was off the charts at -119. Against Bryant the efficiency margin was +86 (147-61). The CCSU contest saw the Colonials’ efficiency margin at -33 (88-121). Robert Morris had drastic changes in virtually every category over those two games. The eFG percentage, for example, went from 70% against Bryant to 38% in the CCSU meeting.

Notable: Lijah Thompson averaged 13 points, 4.5 rebounds and shot 56% from the field over the two contests. The sophomore forward tallied a career-high 18 points against Bryant.

8. Bryant (8-16, 6-6) The Bulldogs split on their trip to Western Pennsylvania. Bryant was decimated 91-39 (no misprint) at Robert Morris. They bounced back, less than 48 hours later, for a 70-69 win at St. Francis (PA). The Robert Morris game showed the extremes, as Bryant’s OE was 61 and the defense allowed a 147. The Bulldogs converted just ten field goals and shot 27% eFG percentage against the Colonials. At St. Francis (PA), the OE was a more respectable 106, largely due to a healthy 54% eFG showing.

Notable: Frankie Dobbs drove the length of the floor and hit a fade away shot at the buzzer to defeat St. Francis (PA). Earlier this season, the sophomore guard hit the game winning shot in a victory over FDU.

9. St. Francis (PA) (7-16, 5-7) Two home games. Two home losses. The Red Flash were defeated by Central Connecticut (86-79) and Bryant (70-69). Offense was strong, posting efficiencies of 110 and 105. Defense ? Not too strong, allowing marks of 119 and 106. St. Francis was guilty guilty of a 26% TO rate against Bryant, in a 66-possession game.

Notable: Sophomore guard Umar Shannon averaged 21.5 points for the two games on 46% shooting from the floor and a perfect 14-14 from the charity stripe. Shannon hit the go-ahead basket with six seconds to go against Bryant, just prior to Frankie Dobbs’ last second heroics.

10. Sacred Heart (9-14, 4-8) A trip to Brooklyn saw the Pioneers on the short end both times out. Sacred Heart lost at LIU (81-69) and St. Francis (NY) 78-51. Both ends of the floor were problematic on the road. Sacred Heart posted offensive efficiencies of 91 and 75 while giving up over 100 on the defensive end in the two games. St. Francis (NY) was a struggle, as the Pioneers managed only 36% eFG shooting while allowing a 115 efficiency.

Notable: Shane Gibson paced the Pioneers with 18 points at LIU. A sophomore guard, Gibson hit his eight straight double-figure scoring games and has led Sacred Heart in scoring sixteen times this season. Freshman guard Chris Evans continues to impress. Evans had 12 and 17 respectively in the two games in Brooklyn.

11. FDU (4-18, 2-9) The FDU Knights have now dropped three straight. First, they lost to NJIT in overtime, 64-62. Then, they took to the road and were defeated by Wagner (61-57) and Mount St. Mary’s (70-59). FDU held NJIT and Wagner to low offensive efficiencies (83 and 91, respectively). Knights couldn’t hit 90 in either game on their own OE end. The 81 against NJIT was partly due to a porous 33% eFG percentage.

Notable: Terence Grier came off the bench to score a career high 25 points at Wagner. The senior guard tied his personal field goals record (10) set a few days earlier against NJIT. Senior forward Kamil Svrdlik scored a game-high 19 points at Mount St. Mary’s.

12. Monmouth 2-9 (6-17 overall) It is four straight losses for the Hawks following bumps in the road at Mount St. Mary’s (56-54) and Wagner (63-60). Monmouth had a 39-22% OREB percentage edge at the Mount. Still, they came up short, as the Mountaineers posted a 55% eFG percentage. The Hawks average 65 possessions per game, but the contest at the Mount was even slow by Monmouth’s standards as it was a 55-possession affair.

Notable: Hawks received solid frontcourt contributions. Junior forward Mike Myers-Keitt averaged 14.5 points with 5.5 rebounds. Marcus Ware, a sophomore forward, paced Monmouth with 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds for the two game stretch.

A Look Ahead

February 9

  • Bryant at Central Connecticut
  • FDU at Monmouth
  • Wagner at Mount St. Mary’s
  • Sacred heart at Quinnipiac
  • St. Francis(NY) at LIU
  • St. Francis(PA) at Robert Morris

February 12

  • LIU at St. Francis (NY)
  • Monmouth at FDU
  • Central Connecticut at Bryant
  • Mount St. Mary’s at Wagner
  • Robert Morris at St. Francis (PA)

February 14

  • Quinnipiac at Sacred Heart
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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 24th, 2011

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.

Power Rankings

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.

January 27:

  • 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

January 29:

  • 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
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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 2nd, 2011

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC conferences.

A Look Back

The last of the non-conference games are being contested. Just after the ball drops at Times Square, well a few days after, the Northeast Conference gets into high gear. Given some of the road games and arduous early season schedules it is often difficult to get a totally accurate read on a club. One certainty is Quinnipiac seems to be a step ahead of the competition at this point. In the course of the weeks ahead things can, and often do, change.

Power Rankings

1. Quinnipiac: (1-0, 9-2 overall) Defeated Rhode Island at home and Niagara on the road. Bobcats enjoy a healthy +9 efficiency margin. OE is 105 while the defensive efficiency is a tidy 96.  OREB percentage is a major asset for Quinnipiac. Their OREB percentage is an outstanding 44% while the opposition checks in at 29%. Bobcats have been under 100 OE only three times this season, two of those games resulted in close losses to Vermont and UMass.

Notable: Bobcats receive a boost when 6’6 freshman Trevor Baskin gains eligibility this week. Senior forward Justin Rutty is the NEC’s active scoring leader with 1,305 points.

2. St. Francis (NY): (2-0, 7-5 overall) Dropped games to Northwestern and Davidson at the MSG Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden. Terriers have a good defensive efficiency of 98 and are forcing opponents into a 25% TO rate. Moreover, they recorded only an 81 OE in the 92-61 loss to Northwestern, their second lowest of the season.

Notable: Senior guard Ricky Cadell earned all-tournament honors at the MSG Holiday Festival. Cadell had a game-high 21 points in the consolation loss to Davidson.

3. Fairleigh Dickinson: (2-0, 3-7) Lost in state contests at Rutgers and St. Peter’s. The Knights enjoy a 2-0 conference record. However, there is a need for improvement on both ends of the floor. OE is 92, a 43% eFG and 22% TO rate are main reasons. On the defensive end, the DE mark is 105. The tough non-conference slate is part of the reason for these numbers. In the two NEC games, FDU’s efficiency numbers are 102 on offense and 93 on defense.

Notable: Senior guard Mike Scott tied a career high with 23 points against Rutgers. Scott went 11-11 from the line against Mike Rice’s team.

4. Wagner: (1-0, 5-7 overall) Dropped games with Princeton and at Texas A&M. OE is 92, but the main problem is the offensive boards. Seahawks’ OREB percentage is 20% while opponents dominate with a 36% showing in the same category. Against the Aggies, an 86-51 setback, Wagner posted a season-low 73 OE.

Notable: Naofall Folahan – The 6’11 freshman center, scored a career high 19 points and rejected seven shots in the loss to Princeton. Folahan captured NEC Rookie of the Week honors.

5. LIU: (1-1, 7-4 overall) Split two games, losing at Northwestern before heading home to defeat Army. Blackbirds’ ‘NASCAR’ pace of 75 possessions suits their personnel fine. OE is a gaudy 107. DE a fair mark of 99. LIU is shooting a 51eFG mark. The only area begging for improvement offensively is the 22% TO rate.

Notable: LIU had seven players in double figures against Army. Jason Brickman, a freshman guard, scored a career high 11 points while equaling his collegiate best of seven assists.

6. Robert Morris: (1-1, 4-8 overall) Mired in a three-game skid after dropping games on the road to Appalachian State and Arizona. Colonials continue to defend with a creditable 98 DE. Offense has sputtered. OE is 94 and in 11 games, the mark has been over 100 only twice. A 45% eFG mark on offense is a major setback.

Notable: Redshirt sophomore forward Russell Johnson hit for 26 points at Appalachian State. Johnson was 11-18 from the floor and 4-8 beyond the arc.

7. Central Connecticut: (1-1, 7-5 overall) Dropped a heartbreaker at Albany before defeating Niagara at home. Defense forced the Great Danes into a 33% TO rate and Niagara into 25% in the same category. On their own end, Central is committing turnovers at a 22% rate but showed only 16% in that win over Niagara. Offensive efficiency of 104 against Niagara, was the Blue Devils third best all season.

Notable: Ken Horton posted a 25 points and ten boards in the win against Niagara. It was Horton’s third 20-point game of the season.

8. Mount St. Mary’s: (1-1, 3-11 overall) Dropped a home game to American and road meetings with Northwestern and Vermont. Efficiency margin is a -11. OE is 92 but the defense is an above average 103. Mount is committing turnovers, 21 % TO rate and not forcing enough on defense as the opposition rate is 19%. Boards are a concern as well. The OREB percentage is 29% compared to opponents’ 39%.

Notable: Sophomore forward Raven Barber shot 9-10 in a loss to Albany. Barber scored 20 points and leads in the NEC with a 66% field goal percentage.

9. Monmouth: (0-1, 4-9) Dropped games to Rutgers and Rider. The Hawks’ offensive efficiency is 91 for the season, but against Rider (77) and Rutgers (85) came a pair of sub par offensive performances. Pace is still one of the most deliberate rates around, at 65 per game. A 46% eFG percentage and 23% TO rate are the main problems with the offense.

Notable: Senior swingman R.J. Rutlegde scored a team-best 17 points with a career high five treys in the loss to Rutgers.

10. Bryant: (0-1, 2-11) Dropped a tough one at Columbia before losing another road game at Boston College. Offensive efficiency is a season high 115 at BC. On the flip side, they gave up a season high efficiency of 139 to the Eagles. Turnovers were a big story in the 93-77 loss at BC. Bryant’s TO rate was 25% while the Eagles were at only 8%. Bulldogs enjoyed a 46% offensive rebounding percentage against BC, their best showing in that category to date.

Notable: Freshman guard Matt Lee scored a career high 15 points against Boston College in his first career start.

11. Sacred Heart: (0-2, 4-8 overall) Split road games winning at Yale and losing at Providence. Last three games the OE has been over 100. On the season the efficiency is 91,. A 45% eFG percentage and 24% TO rate are largely responsible. DE is a respectable 99. Pioneers are forcing opposing offenses into a 23% TO rate.

Notable: Shane Gibson – The 6’2 sophomore guard scored a career high 23 points while adding eight rebounds in the win over Yale. Gibson earned NEC Player of the Week honors. Gibson sank five treys in the win at Yale.

12. St. Francis (PA): (0-1, 2-10 overall) Dropped a close (61-57) one to Drexel but were routed at Cincinnati. The Red Flash have had four games over 100 OE, but on the season, they check in at a rather subpar 89.  A 25% TO rate is a glaring problem. Defensively, the 108 (only three opponents were held under 100 OE) surrendered needs improving as conference play unfolds.

Notable: Senior forward Mislaw Jukic tied a season high with 21 points in the loss to Lehigh.

A Look Ahead

January 2

  • Robert Morris at Ohio University
  • Mount St. Mary’s at Virginia Tech

January 3

  • UMass at Central Connecticut
  • Bryant at Monmouth
  • Wagner at Quinnipiac

January 6

  • Quinnipiac at Monmouth
  • St. Francis (PA) at Mount St. Mary’s
  • LIU at Bryant
  • Robert Morris at Wagner
  • St. Francis (NY) at Central Connecticut
  • Sacred Heart at FDU
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