RTC Summer Updates: Northeast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 19th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest and final update comes courtesy of our NEC correspondent, Ray Floriani.

Summer Storylines

  • Monmouth Makes Noise - First came the hiring of King Rice to take over for Dave Calloway. Rice promises a significant upgrade, change in culture and return to winning ways for the New Jersey Shore-based school. To beef up its revenue stream, the university recently announced a partnership with New Jersey’s Millennium Radio Group. As part of the deal, all Monmouth games will be aired on WOBM-AM for the next three seasons. Each Monday, the King Rice Show will also be broadcast on the station. Finally, Monmouth accepted a bid to play in the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Hawks will face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in the East Regional. Other teams in that group are George Mason and Florida International.
  • Phenomenal Phelan: NEC Hall of Famer Jim Phelan will receive the Lapchick Character Award at Madison Square Garden. The former Mount St. Mary’s mentor joins Hall of Famer Pete Carril and Virginia women’s coach Debbie Ryan in receiving this year’s honor. The trio has enjoyed wonderful and winning careers punctuated with loyalty, longevity and success.
  • Red Flash Commemorates History: St. Francis (PA) looks to improve and be competitive in the NEC, but not without forgetting its past. St. Francis will honor the “Golden” basketball legacy between 1940 and 1970. Players from that area will be nominated and reviewed by a selection committee to be included in an extended wing of the St. Francis Hall of Fame. As 1970 alumnus Bob Moore said, “Small Catholic colleges, particularly in the East, ranked among the nation’s collegiate powers.  To pay tribute to those early players and the teams St. Francis produced is long overdue.”
  • Hurley Hunkers Down: Wagner head coach Danny Hurley is getting his teams exposed to the highest level and toughened up for league play. His Wagner club will visit 2011 NCAA Tournament representatives Princeton, UConn and Pittsburgh on the road.  The Seahawks will also travel to the Cable Car Classic out west in December. Wagner opens that tournament with Air Force before facing Santa Clara or Eastern Michigan in the next round.
  • More of Moore: Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore was awarded a well-deserved extension through the 2015-16 season. Terms of the pact were not disclosed. Moore led Quinnipiac to 23 victories and a NEC regular season title in 2010.

CCSU's Ken Horton Leads The Charge For The Blue Devils. (CCSUBlueDevils.com)

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Morning Five: 08.19.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 19th, 2011

  1. It’s official.  USC point guard and best returning player Jio Fontan will miss the entire 2011-12 season with a torn ACL in his left knee suffered during an exhibition game in Brazil earlier this week.  Fontan was flown back to the US for an MRI, but word leaking out of the USC camp all week indicated that this was a rather concerning injury rather than a simple sprain.  Fontan was to be the Trojans’ only returning starter from a team that snuck into the NCAA Tournament as a member of the inaugural First Four, and as the captain and floor leader, he was going to be relied upon to shoulder much of the responsibility in leading a young team.  Head coach Kevin O’Neill will now have to hope that incoming freshman guard Alexis Moore, a three-star player from nearby Long Beach, will be up to the task.  The only possible silver lining Trojan fans can draw from this is that next year’s team will develop considerable experience on the fly so that when Fontan hopefully returns in 2012-13, USC will be in a much better position to make another run at the postseason.
  2. Duke’s next great freshman made his debut in China this week during the Blue Devils’ exhibition tour, and although he did not manage to get into a chair-throwing brawl, he had his ups and downs.  In two exhibitions against the Chinese junior national team, Austin Rivers had 18 points (8-15 FG) and five assists in a 77-64 victory Wednesday, followed by a 12-point (5-16 FG), seven-turnover performance in a 76-66 victory on Thursday.  Duke won both games despite a herculean effort on the part of the Chinese referees (yes, we may have discovered the one place in the world…) — in their two games, China shot 72 free throws to a Duke total of 25, nearly a 3:1 ratio (you may recall that Georgetown got a little perturbed by a similar officiating pattern in its game on Wednesday).  Notwithstanding the choppy play of Rivers, it has been Duke’s junior forward, Ryan Kelly, who has looked fantastic thus far.  Kelly has averaged 17/11 while shooting a scorching 75% from the floor in the two games.  Considering that China has significant size in its lineup and that the frontcourt represents Mike Krzyzewski’s greatest area of concern heading into next season, Kelly’s play is tremendous news for Duke fans worldwide.
  3. Villanova rising junior and team captain Isaiah Armwood announced on Thursday that he will be transferring out of the program.  Although he started in every game on VU’s recent exhibition trip to Europe and is considered a key “heart and soul” type of player, it didn’t appear that the minutes were going to be there for him in a crowded frontcourt next season.  The Wildcats return an improved Mouphtau Yarou and adds freshmen Markus Kennedy and JayVaughn Pinkston (back from suspension), so Armwood perhaps saw the writing on the wall in deciding to leave.  He will have two years of eligibility remaining and is reportedly looking at schools such as Maryland, George Washington, Iowa and Texas Tech.  Armwood hails from the Baltimore/DC corridor and has ties to former VU assistant coaches now at Iowa and TTU.
  4. Thursday the MAC announced that it would be changing its 2012 MAC Tournament format to give its two best teams byes to the conference tourney semifinals in the hopes that one of its best teams will ultimately win the league and represent itself well in the NCAA Tournament.  This mirrors what the Horizon League has done for the better part of a decade, and although there’s no Butler in the MAC, five of the last seven MAC Tournament champions were seeded #4 or worse coming into the postseason.  The new format will give the top two seeds a significantly greater chance of winning the coveted automatic bid, and presumably, a better chance to do some damage in the NCAAs (although #9 seed Ohio still says hello, Georgetown).  We’re on board with this idea in principle — whatever these smaller conferences can do to make the regular season more meaningful is a good thing from our view.
  5. The Lapchick Character Award is given annually to coaches who “have shown the characterand coaching ability of [St. John’s and New York Knicks head coach] Hall of Famer Joe Lapchick.”  This year’s trio is no exception, and well known to students of the game: former Princeton legend Pete Carril, former Mt. St. Mary’s head coach Jim Phelan, and former Virginia women’s head coach Debbie Ryan.  The three will be honored at a ceremony on November 17 at Madison Square Garden during the 2kSports Classic (of which St. John’s is a participant).  They collectively won over 2,000 games — Phelan, 814; Ryan, 739; Carril, 514 — and never ran afoul of any ethical behavior over their many years of coaching.  A deserving honor to three tremendous coaches.
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RTC Live: Detroit @ Syracuse

Posted by rtmsf on November 16th, 2010

Game #14.  To the Carrier Dome for another first-time visit, where Syracuse will welcome an interesting team from the Motor City.

Having recently ascended into the top-5 echelon for total career wins and fielding a team ranked in the top ten, it’s fair to say that most coaches would be somewhat pleased. Not Jim Boeheim. The head coach of the Syracuse Orange earned career victory No. 831 with a win over Canisius this past Sunday, climbing a rung above former Mount St. Mary’s coach Jim Phelan and into rarified air as the fifth most-winningest coach in the history of Division I basketball. That didn’t stop Boeheim from calling out his squad after the victory, citing the 2010-11 incarnation of the Orange as the “most overrated team that I’ve ever had.” Boeheim’s vocal displeasure might be hard to fathom given that the Orange have averaged a 30-point differential in their four wins thus far this season, but what has most likely drawn the coach’s ire is the team’s penchant for letting opponents hang around. In both the win over Canisius and a victory over Northern Iowa last Friday night, the Orange led by just three at halftime. Tonight’s game against Detroit, who recently dropped a competitive contest to New Mexico, offers Syracuse the opportunity to display the level of dominance necessary to satisfy its demanding coach.

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Summer School in the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 2nd, 2010

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC conferences.

Around the NEC

  • The NEC will have a different look this fall with coaching changes abound, including two of the top three schools from last season (conference champs Robert Morris and third-place finisher Mount St. Mary’s) undergoing changes at the helm.
  • Mount St. Mary’s head man Jim Phelan never had to go through a change of address during his tenure, but Mountaineer fans will miss him and his famous bow tie pacing along the sideline. Phelan retired after last season, capping a career during which he amassed 834 wins over nearly half a century, all of which was spent in Emmitsburg.
  • Postseason success remains hard for the NEC to come by. Despite Robert Morris giving Villanova all they could handle in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, the Wildcats escaped with a 73-70 overtime victory, leaving the NEC with an all-time 3-29 record in the Big Dance.

James Feldeine may be gone, but Quinnipiac is positioned to for a run at the NEC title.

Power Rankings:

  1. Quinnipiac: The Bobcats lost a heartbreaker in the NEC final to Robert Morris, but a strong returning cast labels Tom Moore’s group as the NEC favorite heading into the fall. James Feldeine, the team’s leading scorer at 16.5 PPG game last season, exits, but Justin Rutty and James Johnson make for a returning duo who will bring their combined 27 PPG back to Hamden. Rutty, who averaged a double-double last year, also makes a living on the glass and is one of the best offensive rebounders in the college game. Seniors Jonathan Cruz and Deonte Twyman will also be counted upon to make key contributions.
  2. Robert Morris: The Colonials promoted assistant Andrew Toole when Mike Rice exited for a Rutgers program in shambles. As is often the case with coaches who guide mid-major teams to successful runs, Rice’s departure for a higher-profile school comes as one of the more predictable moves in the off-season. He had a solid three year run at Robert Morris capped off by a near upset of two seed Villanova in the NCAA tournament opening round.  Toole is fortunate in that Rice’s recruits stayed committed to RMU when he exited, a definite benefit of promoting from within. Toole was able to finish off the recruiting class over the spring and summer months, and Toole is confident they will mesh with the returnees to continue the recent success.
  3. Mount Saint Mary’s - Losses include outstanding lead guard Jeremy Goode. The Mountaineers also lose an accomplished player and double digit scorer in 6’5 Kelly Beidler.  Paramount among those need replacing is assistant coach Milan Brown who accepted the head coaching position at Holy Cross. Robert Burke, an American University assistant last winter and former Georgetown aide, is on board to replace Brown. The Mount has enjoyed recent success and Burke has a solid coaching pedigree. A lead guard replacement for Goode is a primary concern entering this season, and Jean Cajou, a returning starter, will look to fill that hole as a senior. Read the rest of this entry »
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2009-10 Conference Primers: #30 – NEC

Posted by rtmsf on October 6th, 2009

seasonpreview Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC conferences.   Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials..

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Mount St. Mary’s (15-3)
  2. Robert Morris (14-4)
  3. Quinnipiac (13-5)
  4. Central Connecticut (12-6)
  5. LIU (10-7)
  6. FDU (9-9)
  7. Monmouth (8-10)
  8. Sacred Heart (7-11)
  9. St. Francis (NY) (6-12)
  10. Wagner (5-13)
  11. St. Francis (PA) (4-14)

 All Conference Team:

  • Jeremy Goode (G), 5’9 Sr., Mount St.Mary’s
  • Jaytonah Wisseh (G), 6’1 Sr., LIU
  • Rob Robinson (F), 6’8 Sr., Robert Morris
  • Ken Horton (F), 6’6 Jr., Central Connecticut
  • Justin Rutty (C/F), 6’7 Jr., Quinnipiac

6th Man of the Year. Julian Boyd (F), 6-1 So., LIU Newcomer of the Year. Mike Scott (G), 6-0 Jr., FDU

nec logo

What you need to know.

  • The Northeast Conference is composed of 12 members. Eleven compete for the championship as newest member Bryant will not be eligible for the NEC title or NCAA tournament appearances until 2013.
  • The NEC is primarily a guard/small forward conference. Solid big men ruling the blocks are rare. Interestingly one who went on to a nice career hailed from the NEC. Rik Smits of Marist owned the low post in the mid-80s before heading to David Stern’s league.
  • The NEC post season tournament is contested among the conference’s top eight finishers. Naturally, a good deal of scoreboard watching is in vogue past Valentine’s Day. In addition some non-qualifiers can still play the spoiler in their last regular season games so the conference schedule carries weight throughout the campaign.
  • The ’Battle of Brooklyn’ is waged every year. LIU and St. Francis (NY) square off for bragging rights. The two schools are about a mile apart in distance.
  • The dreaded ’Western swing’ has had an effect and separated contenders from pretenders. The Western swing is the trip to the two Western Pennsylvania schools, St.Francis (PA) and Robert Morris.

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Checking in on the… NEC

Posted by rtmsf on February 6th, 2009

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the NEC and MAAC Conferences.

NEWARK, NJ – Player of the week was Joey Henley, a senior forward,  who averaged a double-double (15 points, 11.5 rebounds) in two Sacred Heart victories. LIU freshman forward Julian Boyd earned his fourth Rookie of the Week honor with a 15 ppg, 8 rebound showing in a 1-1 week.

The standings as of Friday February 6, 2009:

  1. Robert Morris        10-1
  2. Mount St. Mary        8-4
  3. LIU                7-4
  4. Central Ct.            7-5
  5. Sacred Heart            7-5
  6. Quinnipiac            6-6
  7. St.Francis (NY)        5-7
  8. FDU                5-7
  9. Monmouth            4-7
  10. Wagner            3-9
  11. St.Francis (PA)        2-9
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Checking in on the… NEC

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

Ray Floriani of College Chalktalk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC Conferences.

SOUTH ORANGE , NJ –  There were a few tough starts for teams in the Northeast Conference. Chalk it up to difficult opponents, road games and just heartbreaking disappointments. On the bright side were several individual accomplishments standing out to give their respective programs something to build on.

FDU got off to an 0-3 start. The schedule was not too forgiving as the Knights faced three strong teams on the road. They dropped decisions in the Legends Classic at Washington State and Mississippi State and lost at Pitt.

Central Connecticut State lost a pair of contests decided  literally in the final seconds. The Blue Devils were defeated by Colgate on a Mike Venezia jump shot at the buzzer. Additionally, Central rallied from 18 points down and took a lead against Albany. Following a turnover, Albany’s Tim Ambrose hit a shot with 3.8 seconds to give the Great Danes the victory. A bright spot for Howie Dickenman’s club is the fine play of  sophomore forward Ken Horton who had 33 points against Albany.

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