Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on February 6th, 2010

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

LYNDHURST, NJ – Coaches talk about separation. The ability to get stops, score on your end and open a lead on an opponent. In the NEC race Robert Morris is starting to gain that separation. The race is not over with Quinnipiac just a game behind,  but the Colonials, by virtue of a hot 9-1 January, are now on top of the NEC. Finishing in that spot would be a definite plus. The conference postseason tournament is at the higher seed’s home court throughout. Not having to leave ‘The Chuck’ (Charles Sewall Center) where Robert Morris is awfully tough to beat would be huge for Mike Rice’s club. Still, with three weeks remaining in NEC play, there is not enough time for Robert Morris to rest on its first place laurels.

Player of the Week: Devin Sweetney (SR), F, St. Francis (PA) – In a 2-0 week he averaged 25.5 PPG while collecting 8 rebounds an outing. Sweetney had 23 in the win over St. Francis (NY) and hit his third double-double of the season with a 28-point, 10-board effort in an overtime victory over LIU. Jones was instrumental in sparking a 12-2 Colonial second half run that turned the tide against the Blackbirds.

Rookie of the Week: Velton Jones (FR), G, Robert Morris – Jones became the third different Colonial in three weeks to earn this honor. Averaged 14.5 PPG while handing out 4 assists per game. Paced Robert Morris with a career high 21 points in the win over LIU.

Rivalry Week. The NEC Rivalry week called for a game February 4 and the two teams meeting at the other’s location two days later. Rivalries included FDU-Monmouth (Battle of New Jersey) , LIU-St. Francis (NY) (Battle of Brooklyn) and St. Francis (PA)- Robert Morris to name a few.

Codey Trophy. Two years ago Monmouth and FDU, recognizing their Garden State rivalry , instituted the Richard Codey Trophy. FDU won it the last two years. It goes to the school who has the best record in the head-to-head series for women’s and men’s games. In case of a tie, a total point aggregate settles the score. The trophy is named after the former Senate leader and twice acting New Jersey state governor who is an FDU (Class of ‘81) alum and has graced RTC in an article last year.

Milestones

  • Sacred Heart senior forward Corey Hassan became the sixth NEC player this year to hit the 1,000 point mark. Hassan also had ten three-pointers against Wagner which broke the school single game record of nine.
  • The Wagner-Sacred Heart matchup featured coaches with a combined 929 wins. Dave Bike of Sacred Heart has coached 32 seasons with 493 victories. Mike Deane of Wagner has 436 wins in 25 seasons. Make that 437 as the Seahawks edged Sacred Heart recently.
  • Jeremy Goode, a regular in this featured milestone category,  broke into the top ten in conference career steals. Goode, with 234 thefts, has a shot at the top five. Clear leader of the group is Robert Morris’ Chipper Harris ( 1981-84) with 382.  Goode is also fifth in NEC career assists at 560. Again, he could move up a few notches.  But the leader, Drafton Davis with 804, is quite safe. Davis played at Marist, an NEC school back then, in the early Eighties.

Team Breakdowns

  • Bryant – Dropped home games to FDU and Monmouth last week. Senior captain Chris Birrell led the way averaging 13.5 PPG for the week. Shot selection? For the two games Birrell attempted 25 shots and 24 were from beyond the arc. A little closer to the basket, freshman forward Vlad Kondratyev averaged double figures for the week and sophomore center Papa Lo blocked two shots against Monmouth and is third in the NEC in blocked shots this season.
  • Central Connecticut State – Swept Monmouth and FDU last week to get back in the thick of things. Senior guard Joe Seymore sparked the Blue Devils hitting 17.5 PPG for the week. Junior guard Shemik Thompson scored 24 versus FDU. The visiting Knights were down 19 the first half and rallied to take a lead late in the game. Thompson took over scoring eight straight and got a steal as CCSU never looked back. Thompson buried four threes and was 8 of 11 from the line.
  • FDU – Defeated Bryant and lost at Central Connecticut. The Knights shot 56% the final half at Bryant and on the defensive end held the Bulldogs to 27% shooting. Senior guard Sean Baptiste led FDU with 21 points in the CCSU game. Baptiste is the leading scorer (14.7 PPG) for the Knights who have four players averaging double figures. Senior forward Alvin Mofunanya continues his strong inside play and is closing in on 100 career blocked shots.
  • LIU- Dropped road games to Robert Morris and St. Francis (PA). Blackbirds put up some impressive numbers in those two close losses. They had a +13 rebounding edge over RMU and shot 26 of 33 (79%) from the charity stripe in the overtime loss at St. Francis (PA). The problem at Robert Morris was LIU’s season low 27% shooting from the floor. Senior guard Jaytornah Wisseh had his seventh 20-point outing during the week.
  • Monmouth – Split on the road losing to Central Connecticut while defeating Bryant. Sophomore guard Will Campbell and freshman forward Ed Waite excelled offensively for the Hawks. Campbell hit four treys in the second half in the Bryant contest. Campbell’s shooting helped the Hawks rally from an 11 point first half deficit. Junior forward Nick DelTufo had a big hand in the Bryant game as well with a career high 15 points.
  • Mount St. Mary’s – It’s been a rough go but the Mount swept the week with much needed wins over Sacred Heart and Quinnipiac. The games were at home where the Mount has now won 13 of its last 14 against NEC opposition. Junior guard Jean Cajous averaged 12 PPG and 5.5 RPG for the week. Cajous was instrumental on the defensive end as both times out he drew the opposition’s best scorer and did an admirable job. Senior guard Jeremy Goode has been lauded for his scoring and playmaking, and he is alsothe conference pace setter in steals.
  • Quinnipiac – Defeated Wagner and lost to Mount St. Mary’s. The loss at the Mount snapped the Bobcats’ eight game win streak and leaves them a game out of first. Junior forward Justin Rutty had a pair of double-doubles, giving him 21 for his career. Rutty had a 15 rebound effort, to go along with 18 points in a losing effort at the Mount. Senior guard James Feldeine paced Quinnipiac with 21 points in the win at Wagner. The Bobcats have outrebounded the opposition in every one of their 21games to date.
  • Robert Morris – Swept LIU and St. Francis (NY) to gain sole possession of first place in the conference race. The Colonials have captured seven straight and finished 9-1 for the month of January. A rookie and veteran mix, freshman guard Karon Abraham had a big week while another guard, senior Mezie Nwigwe averaged 15 PPG and 6.5 RPG for the two games. During the seven-game win streak the Colonials have surrendered only 60 points per game. A closer look shows the opposition hitting just 35% from the floor during that time. Overall, Robert Morris has an outstanding 89.0 defensive efficiency in NEC action.
  • Sacred Heart –  Dropped road games at Mount St. Mary’s and Wagner. Senior forward Corey Hassan exploded for a 28.5 PPG scoring week. Hassan added 5.5 RPG and shot 59% from the field. He scored a career high 36 points in the Wagner game. The three-point shot has been a major part of the Pioneer arsenal. They rank fourth in the country with 9.3 three pointers per game and are fifth nationally with a 40% mark from beyond the arc. Sacred Heart’s 52.6 eFG% is second in the NEC.
  • St. Francis (NY) - Dropped road games to St. Francis (PA) and Robert Morris. The Terriers had a four-game NEC win streak stopped with the 0-2 ‘Western’ swing. Sophomore guard Justin Newton is second in the conference assist/turnover ratio (1.88). Newton exited the Robert Morris game with a knee injury. In his absence junior guard Akeem Bennett will handle the point guard duties. Terriers have yet to hit 70 points this season and have an offensive efficiency of 90 (tied for second lowest) in NEC play.
  • St. Francis (PA) - Swept games over St. Francis (NY) and LIU (in overtime). That gives the Red Flash seven wins on the season and exceeds the six-win total of each of the past two years. Defense did the job against the Terriers as SFPA had 14 steals and forced 24 turnovers. Senior forward Devin Sweetney had a huge 28 point, 10 rebound performance in the win over LIU. The win over LIU was only the third this season that the Red Flash pulled out when trailing at halftime. Junior guard Sorena Orandi hit two free throws with four seconds remaining to capture the 74-73 win over LIU.
  • Wagner – Split two games, losing to Quinnipiac and edging Sacred Heart. Sophomore guard Chris Martin hit a runner in the lane with six seconds left to give the Seahawks the victory over SHU. Martin leads Wagner in scoring with 12.9 PPG. Senior center Michael Orock continues his fine inside play and leads the NEC with a 58% field goal percentage. The Seahawks have been hampered by a 26% TO RATE, the highest in the conference.  You don’t want to lead in this category.

Upcoming Games of Note

February 11

  • St. Francis (PA) at Bryant
  • Robert Morris at CCSU
  • Mount St. Mary’s at Monmouth
  • Wagner at FDU

February 13

  • Mount St. Mary’s at FDU
  • LIU at Quinnipiac
  • St. Francis (NY) at Sacred Heart
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ATB: Mike Singletary Redefines “The Zone” Tonight

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2009

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Redefining The ZoneTexas Tech 88, Texas A&M 83.  Mike Singletary set a new career-high tonight in Texas Tech’s first round Big 12 Tournament game against Texas A&M… in the last ten minutes of the game.  That’s right, Singletary caught lightning in his shooting hand, as he exploded for 29 straight points (9-10 FG; 8-10 FT) in the last quarter of the game (previous career high: 25) as he brought his team back from a 21-pt second half deficit.  His performance was the second-longest such conflagration of consecutive points, ranking only behind (you know this one, right?) Bill Mlkvy from Temple fifty-eight years ago, who threw up an ungodly 54 in a row in a game against Wilkes.  Courtesy of ESPN FC, we got to see the second half of this one, and we’re glad we did.  Singletary didn’t look particularly quick or athletic or smooth – he just hit nearly everything he threw up at the rim.  Oh, and did we mention that he didn’t even start the game tonight – maybe Pat Knight should just play him in the final ten minutes of the game from now on.  Texas A&M, on the other hand, may have just watched its NCAA dreams die with their second-half gag (Mark Turgeon, double-team the guy torching your defense!!!) tonight.  Probably not, though – the Aggies’ RPI is still strong, and they did finish hot down the stretch.

Other Important Bubble Games.

  • Providence 83, Depaul 74.  PC allowed the Blue Demons to hang around in this one, and by virtue of playing the 0-18 team, they probably didn’t help their RPI or SOS any… but a win is a win, and with the win comes the opportunity to play #1 seed Louisville in the Big East quarters tomorrow.  The good news for the Friars is that Louisville is lifetime 1-3 in this tournament, but the bad news is that the only team that has beaten them all three times has been Pittsburgh.
  • Baylor 65, Nebraska 49.  NU probably didn’t have much of a case for an NCAA bid, but this loss solidifies their exclusion.   The more important question is whether Baylor can salvage their extremely disappointing season by going on a run to win the Big 12 title.  They will play #1 seed Kansas tomorrow, and although highly unlikely, KU is still a rather young team and could be vulnerable.
  • Oklahoma St. 81, Iowa St. 67.  OSU will get a chance to renew bedlam with Oklahoma tomorrow based on their handling of ISU tonight.  The Pokes were already in solid RPI position, but this win ensures their bid.  Now it’s a question of seeding, and with two hard-fought Ls to Oklahoma already, will the third time be the charm?
  • West Virginia 74, Notre Dame 62. ND meekly slithered into the night (NIT) with their loss to WVU today.  The Irish really needed a strong run into the late rounds of the Big East Tournament, and instead they couldn’t out-physical a team that thrives on that style of play today.  Alex Ruoff had 25 pts and Devin Ebanks had 7/18 in the winning effort; the Mountaineers will get Pittsburgh tomorrow in what is sure to be a slugfest.

14 Down, 51 To Go...

#13 – Robert Morris (24-10, 15-3 NEC). Dallas Green instantly became a NEC legend tonight as his shot from the baseline after scooping a loose ball off the floor was the game-winner that sent RMU to it’s sixth NCAA Tournament, but its first since 1992.  It was his only basket of the game, and even his coach said “oh no” when the ball scooted to his direction. Much-maligned Mezie Nwigwe scored three points in eighteen minutes of play.

RMU Begins Celebrating (Gene Puskar/AP)

RMU Begins Celebrating (Gene Puskar/AP)

Projected Seed: #14

Something to Remember: Although it didn’t show tonight (4-14), the Colonials are a strong three-point shooting team, averaging 39.1% throughout the season.  They hit nine against Miami (FL) in an 8-pt road loss.

#14 – Portland St. (23-9, 11-5 Big Sky).  PSU nearly let their second consecutive Big Sky title get away from them tonight, as they allowed upstart Montana St. to come back from ten pts down late to tie the game.  But it was Julius Thomas’ dunk with 3.5 seconds remaining that gave the Vikings the lead back and a strong defensive effort on the ensuing MSU possession ensured that Jeremiah Dominguez and company will make a return appearance in the Big Dance.

Projected Seed: #14

STR:  Beware.  This team is an experienced squad that lost by one point at Pac-10 champion Washington and beat Gonzaga by seven.  #1 Kansas ripped them last season, but they should have a higher seed this time around, and if they can catch a somewhat limited offensive opponent, they have a chance to pull the upset.

Other QnD Tourney Updates.

A10.  St. Louis, St. Joseph’s, Duquesne and Richmond all advanced to the quarterfinals tomorrow.  RTC Live is there with College Chalktalk live-blogging all of the action.  The best game of the day Thursday will likely be the streaking Richmond Spiders (6 of 7) taking on Dayton.

Big 12.  The only other game not covered so far was Texas’ win against Colorado.  There are some juicy matchups in Oklahoma City tomorrow, but we’re most looking forward to the third incarnation of Bedlam – OU vs. OSU in a true neutral venue.  OSU just might do this one.

Big East.  Marquette had an easy time with St. John’s and Syracuse got into a bunchastuff with Seton Hall before finally pulling away late.  We’re going to say it right here, right now.  Tomorrow’s quarterfinal round is the greatest collection of teams in a conference tournament’s quarterfinals round EVER.  There are four teams with realistic F4 chances and seven teams with legitimate S16 possibilities.  Providence is the only weak link, and they managed to beat a #1 team this season.  All of the games are worth watching (damn you, Dauster), but we’re most excited about the Marquette-Villanova game at 2:30 EDT so we can see how to parse these two teams.

Big West. Two minor upsets with UC Davis and UC Riverside today, but this league is completely wide open.  Don’t be surprised if an eight-seed wins this thing.

CUSA.  Over in the Retread Conference, Rice (Ben Braun), S. Miss (Larry Eustachy), Tulane and Houston (Tom Penders) all advanced today.  The best game tomorrow is the Houston-UTEP matchup.

MEAC.  No upsets in this league tonight, as all the higher seeds but one (who will play tomorrow) advanced to the semifinals.

Mountain West.  In the opening round game, Air Force knocked off Colorado St.  Tomorrow keep an eye on UNLV-San Diego St., a game with potential bubble implications depending on how deep the winner of this one goes.

Pac-10.  Stanford and Wazzu advanced to the quarterfinals tonight.  Several good games in the quarters tomorrow, but we’re most interested to see how UCLA responds after its loss a couple of weeks ago to Wazzu, who they’ll play again tomorrow night.

SWAC.  The top two seeds in the SWAC advanced tonight.  Two other quarterfinal games continue tomorrow.

Starting Tomorrow.

ACC.  The first round matchup of Miami (FL) and Virginia Tech holds the most interest, as both teams have been slumping down the stretch, but have enough talent to turn things around in short order.

Big 10.  The first round begins tomorrow, and clearly the best game here is the Northwestern-Minnesota game.  Neither team will get in from winning this one, but they will assuredly be out if they lose it.

MAC. The MAC continues with its quarters after a day off as well.  No idea which game to keep an eye on here.  None whatsoever.

SEC.  None of the first round games are very good, but if you must pick one, go with Kentucky’s attempt to win 4-in-4 to keep the NCAA streak alive, starting with Ole Miss.

Southland. The quarterfinals begin, and Stephen F. Austin is the favorite.

WAC. The WAC is picking back up after a day off in its quarterfinal round.  Remember that RTC Live will be there for the Utah St. vs. Fresno St. game, which should be the most interesting game of this round.

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March Madness Indeed

Posted by nvr1983 on March 10th, 2009

With all the college basketball news floating around the Internet right now I also missed an interesting piece of news about the Robert Morris basketball team and I’m sure the administration at wishes I had. According to police reports, Mezie Nwigwe, the Colonials’ leading scorer (6.5 PPG) off the bench, was involved in an altercation that left 2 men with minor injuries. Apparently Nwigwe was with 3 of his teammates (Jeremy Chappell, Rob Robinson and Velton Jones) when the fight allegedly happened at 2:20 AM on Saturday. Although Nwigwe was not arrested he was issued a court summons on an assault charge.

Nwigwe is a Valuable Asset (photo credit: syracuse.com)

Nwigwe is a Valuable Asset (photo credit: syracuse.com)

Normally this wouldn’t make headlines on a national blog like Rush the Court, but the Colonials will be playing for the Northeast Conference championship game against Mount St. Mary’s tomorrow night with a trip to the NCAA tournament on the line. Of course, this leaves the Robert Morris athletic department and administration with a dilemma. What did they do? Initially Robert Morris was uncertain about what they should do with Nwigwe. However, after a few hours of deliberation they reached a surpisingly firm decision that Nwigwe would play. Maybe I have become a little jaded with the way schools handle athletics today, but I’m pretty sure Robert Morris wouldn’t be as firmly behind Nwigwe if this had happened to him prior to a game against Mount St. Mary’s in the middle of January. I think this one falls under Bobby Bowden’s Variable Laws where punishments depend on the importance of next weekend’s game. And I am sure the $125k that the NCAA gives each tournament team per game didn’t have any influence on their decision. . .

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