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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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 January 9th, 2011

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

(ed. note – this week’s check-in was penned before Friday night’s action.)

A Look Back

The week brought on the resumption of Northeast Conference play. Thursday saw the membership battling in conference meetings, which continue until late season.

Besides NEC play heating up again, there was a milestone to remember. Dave Bike of Sacred Heart won his 500th game, as the Pioneers downed Holy Cross 77-75 on January 2. Bike has been on the Sacred Heart sideline for 33 years and had an overall record of 500-451. Make that 501 as the Pioneers defeated FDU on the road in their first NEC get-ogether of the new year.

Power Rankings

1. Wagner (3-0, 7-7 overall) is enjoying a two game winning streak with home wins over Quinnipiac and Robert Morris. Both victories came after the new year. Danny Hurley’s club averages an offensive efficiency of 97. Against Qunnipiac, they were 116 and followed that up with a 117 in the recent win over Robert Morris.

Notable: The backcourt starred in a loss to Texas A&M. Junior guard Chris Martin scored 17 points, hitting four of nine attempts from beyond the arc. Freshman guard Latif Rivers added 13 points.

2. Central Connecticut (1-1, 8-3 overall). Central ran away from, UMass 92-63 in their first contest of the new year. Offensive efficiency was an outstanding 130 while the Minutemen were held to 89. CCSU also forced a 24% TO rate in a 71 possession contest. Later on, they defeated St. Francis (NY) 61-43, for a fifth straight win. The Blue Devils sported a season best defensive performance, holding the Terriers to 66 OE.

Notable: Junior forward Ken Horton hit the 1,000 point milestone. He hit the select circle faster than any player in the Blue Devils’ 25-year history.

3. FDU (2-0, 3-8 overall) The Knights dropped a fifth straight game, losing 98-92 to Lafayette in two overtimes on Sunday. An 88-possession game saw FDU post a 104 OE only to give up 111 on the other end. The score at the half was 29-26 in FDU’s favor. In the two overtimes, Lafayette outscored the Knights 31-25 as the points came fast and furious. In NEC action, FDU tied a season low, 75 OE in a 67-50 loss to Sacred Heart.

Notable: Senior guard Mike Scott had a ‘stat stuffer’ game against Lafayette. Scott tied his career high with 23 points while adding seven rebounds and eight assists. Senior forward Kamil Svrdlik has four double-doubles on the season.

4. LIU (2-1, 10-4 overall) Resumed conference play with a 75-55 victory at Bryant. The Blackbirds have won fourth straight and been over 100 offensive efficiency in each game. For the season, the uptempo (76 possessions per) LIU club averages an OE of 107.

Notable: Freshman guard Shane Brickman captured Co-Rookie of   the Week accolades with 14 points and eight assists per game performance in two road wins. Brickman shot 57% from the floor over those two contests.

5. Quinnipiac (2-1, 10-3 overall) A 70-possession pace team, the Bobcats were slowed into a 65-possession affair in their 72-70 win at Monmouth. Keys in this contest were Quinnipiac’s outstanding 19% TO rate and a fine 1.28 assist to turnover ratio. A 99 defensive efficiency team, the Bobcats gave up an abnormally high 108 efficiency but still managed a tough road win.

Notable: Senior forward Justin Rutty scored 26 points while grabbing ten rebounds in a win over Boston University. It was the 36th double-double of Rutty’s career.

6. St. Francis (NY) (2-1, 7-7 overall) The Terriers were dealt their first conference loss of the season, a 61-43 beating at Central Connecticut. St. Francis averages a 96 offensive efficiency clip, but was held to a season-low 66 by the Blue Devils. In a strange sequence, St. Francis forced Central into a 31% TO rate and had an excellent 16% in the same category. A forgettable 25% eFG mark by the Terriers goes a long way in telling the story of the outcome.

Notable: Senior guards Ricky Cadell and Akeem Bennett came close to outscoring the opposition. The pair combined for 38 points in a 72-47 rout of NJIT.

7. Mount St. Mary’s (2-1, 4-12 overall) Ended an eight-game losing streak with a 63-56 win over St. Francis (PA) at the Knotts Center. Despite a tough non-conference start, the Mount is in the NEC picture with their only loss being a tough two-point setback to pre-season favorite Quinnipiac.

Notable: Junior guard Lamar Trice averaged 1.9 points per game last season. Currently, Trice leads the Mountaineers in scoring at a 12.8 points per game clip. Trice led the Mount with 15 points on five treys in a loss to Virginia Tech.

8. Monmouth (1-1, 5-7 overall). Defeated Bryant 66-57 in a home game just after new years. Defensive efficiency was an outstanding 85 in that meeting. For the season, Monmouth’s DE is a dead-on average 100. Offensive efficiency was 99 against the Bulldogs, nine higher than their season norm. The Hawks then dropped a 72-70 home decision to Quinnipiac. A 25% TO rate largely contributed to the Hawks undoing.

Notable: Will Campbell hit for 17 points in a narrow loss to Harvard. The junior guard logged 27 minutes and shot 3-6 from three point range. Campbell, unfortunately, was one of four players recently suspended indefinitely by coach Dave Calloway due to academic reasons.

9. Robert Morris (1-2, 5-9 overall) Dropped an 83-78 contest at Wagner. The Colonials give up a 99 defensive efficiency mark but allowed an extremely high 117 in the loss to the Seahawks. All three of Robert Morris’ NEC contests have been away from the Sewell Center’s friendly confines.

Notable: Sophomore guard Karon Abraham averaged 16.7 points per game over a three game stretch. Abraham hit a career high 28 points in an OT win over Ohio University.

10. Sacred Heart (1-2, 6-8 overall) Scored a nice 67-50 road win at FDU. Sacred Heart had been winless in NEC action and FDU had taken both conference meetings at home. In a 67 possession game, FDU was forced into a 24% TO rate and held to an offensive efficiency of 75.

Notable: Shane Gibson, a sophomore guard, earned NEC Player of the Week honors with 26 and 21 points in respective outings against Providence and Holy Cross.

11. Bryant (0-3, 2-13 overall) The efficiency margin (offense – defense) is better than last year but still a -17 in need of improvement. This was reflected in a 75-55 home loss to LIU, where the Bulldogs were 80 on the offensive end and 109 defensively. To rate was an impressive 16% against the Blackbirds.

Notable: Freshman forward Alex Bryant averaged 20.3 points, 9.7 rebounds for the Bulldogs. Bryant earned NEC Co-Rookie of the Week honors.

12. St. Francis (PA) (0-3, 2-12 overall) Not an easy road for the Red Flash. Following non-league road losses at powerful Cincinnati and North Carolina, they resumed NEC play at Mount St. Mary’s. The result was closer but similar as the Flash suffered a 63-56 setback.

Notable: Sophomore forward Will Felder paced St. Francis with a 15-point, eight-rebound average in two games just prior to the resumption of NEC action. Felder had 18 points and seven boards in the loss at North Carolina.

A Look Ahead

January 13:

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

January 15:

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

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 10th, 2010

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

Close games and dramatic finishes are normally the order in the NEC. The first weekend of conference play provided just that and hinted that the conference race will be an interesting affair.  Quinnipiac rallied from four down in the final minute at home to defeat Mount St.Mary’s. Bobcat junior James Johnson scored eight points in the final minute, including the game winner just before the buzzer.  A few hours later, St. Francis (NY) came from four down to edge defending NEC champion Robert Morris in Brooklyn. Senior guard Akeem Bennett hit two free throws with four seconds left to put the Terriers on top. Bennett then raced down court and blocked a potential game winning three-point attempt to seal the verdict.

It is going to be that type of year….

1. St.Francis (NY): (4-3) (2-0) – The Terriers are off to a fast start in conference play, beating St. Francis (PA) and Robert Morris before capping off the week with a non-conference conquest of Colgate. St. Francis plays at a moderate 65-possession pace, but their defense has managed to force opponents into a 27% TO rate. Overall defensive efficiency is at an impressive 95.

Notable: Akeem Bennett, the Co-Player of the Week in the NEC, averaged 24.6 points and 6.5 rebounds to earn the honors. A senior guard, Bennett was instrumental in conference wins over Robert Morris and St. Francis (PA).

2. Fairleigh Dickinson: (3-4) (2-0): The Knights proved their readiness for conference by toppling Bryant and Central Connecticut at home. They then went on the road, losing at Connecticut, an outcome to be expected. The offense has been the issue with an efficiency of 93 and eFG mark of 43%.

Notable : Junior forward Kamil Svdrlik earned Co-Player of the Week honors averaging 18.9 PPG and 9.3 RPG. Svdrlik has given coach Greg Vetrone the inside presence he needed.

3. Quinnipiac: (6-2) (1-0)– The Bobcats came up just short to UMass, and went on to take it out on Mount St. Mary’s and Lehigh in a pair of wins. A wild team, Quinnipiac went from giving up an efficiency of 97 to the Minutemen to 117 against the Mount. In that latter game, the Bobcats enjoyed a 120 OE of their own to pull off the win. A decisive offensive rebounding core has a major strength.

Notable: junior guard James Johnson had a well rounded week of 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

4. Wagner (4-4) (1-0): The Seahawks sandwiched a win over Sacred Heart in NEC play between losses to St. John’s and Columbia. Defense has been an above average trait for the Seahawks as they hold opposition to 99 OE and force a turnover rate of 21%.  Offensive efficiency of 96 begs for improvement.

Notable: Freshman guard Latif Rivers earned NEC Rookie of the Week honors with a 17.3 points, 4.7 rebound per game week for the Seahawks. Junior guard Tyler Murray continues to do it all for Wagner. He enjoyed another excellent week, with 20 points per game in three games.

5. Long Island (5-3) (1-1): The Blackbirds bean conference play, dropping a tough one to Robert Morris at home before rebounding to defeat St.Francis (PA). LIU then went on the road, losing to Iona, to close out the week. Efficiency was outstanding offensively at 113 in the Robert Morris game. Unfortunately, they gave up a 115 rate to the visiting Colonials. Jim Ferry’s club is playing at a quick 75 possession pace, which is to their advantage.

Notable: Sophomore guard C.J.Garner averaged 17 points 3.5 assists and shot 50% from the floor for the week.

6. Central Connecticut (4-4) (1-1): CCSU had a rough go of it, losing three straight games. The last two, against Fairleigh Dickinson and Dayton, were heartbreakers, with a combined losing margin of four. The Blue Devils sported an outstanding 86 defensive efficiency at FDU, but the offense, struggling of late, produced a paltry 82 rating. Shooting, with an eFG percentage of 47%, is a major culprit.

Notable: Junior forward Ken Horton paced the offense, scoring 12.5 points and adding 6.5 rebounds per game.

7. Robert Morris (3-5) (1-1): RMU salvaged a split in Brooklyn, defeating LIU before dropping a close one to the Terriers. The Colonials were soundly defeated at West Virginia to close out the week 1-2. A defensively stout group, RMU forces a 24% turnover rate, which nets them extra possessions. Robert Morris was without the services of junior forward Lawrence Bridges (concussion) and sophomore guard Karon Abraham (suspension) on the Brooklyn trip.

Notable: Redshirt sophomore forward Russell Johnson averaged 17 points, 6 rebounds on the week.

8. Mount St. Mary’s (3-6) (1-1): Road games saw the Mount win at Sacred Heart before dropping tough ones to Quinnipiac and Penn State. Defense has been acceptable, with a DE mark of 99. Quinnipiac, though, was an aberration as the Mount ‘generously’ gave up a 120 OE to the Bobcats. Cutting down on the TO rate of 22% will raise the Mount’s below par OE of 96.

Notable: Junior guard Lamar Trice averaged an impressive all-around 15.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists.

9. Monmouth (3-5) (0-1): Three close calls – The Hawks defeated Eastern Michigan at home and North Dakota on the road. The lone loss was to the Vandals of Idaho, also on the road. The offense enjoyed a breakout 114 offensive efficiency rat at Idaho..

Notable: A pair of juniors, guard Will Campbell and forward Mike Myers-Keitt were named to the Basketball Travelers Classic all-Tournament team. The Hawks went 2-1 in the Idaho-based event.

10. Bryant (0-1) (1-7): Life in D-I is still a challenge. The 102 OE rating at FDU was the second highest of the season. The eight opponents this season have not cracked a 50% eFG percentage, which largely explains Bryant’s outrageously high 113 defensive efficiency.

Notable: Cecil Gresham had an outstanding 28-point, 6-rebound performance in a competitive conference loss at FDU. He shot 9-17 (53%) from the floor, including 6-14 from three-point range.

11. St.Francis (PA) (2-6) (0-2): A tough stretch for the Red Flash included losses at Youngstown State, LIU and St. Francis (NY). Opposing shooters are having a field day with a 51% eFG percentage. Depth is a major concern.

Notable: Sophomore guard Umar Shannon paced the team with 17 points and 3.5 rebounds per game on the week. Shannon led the Red Flash with 15 points at St. Francis (NY) and 19 at LIU.

12. Sacred Heart (2-7) (0-2): Snapped a three-game losing streak with a 56-55 win over Hartford in which they came back from a 51-31 deficit. Offensive efficiency is lacking, and a TO rate of 24% is not helping the cause. Their defensive efficiency of 99 could improve but not bad overall. It’s the offense, over 100 in OE only twice in nine games thus far.

Notable: Redshirt sophomore guard Shane Gibson scored a career high 21 points in the loss to the Mount. Gibson was 8-15 from the field (3 of 6 from three point range).

A Look Ahead:

The NEC takes a load off to attend to final exams, but the conference will hope to make a splash with games against Rhode Island (Quinnipiac), Rutgers (Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth) and Northwestern (St. Francis – NY).

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