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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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on January 11th, 2010

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

LYNDHURST, NJ – Conference play has began to heat up and a few points stand out. Mount St. Mary’s had a murderous non-league schedule. Maybe too murderous as an 0-3 start in NEC play was not expected in Emmitsburg. The Mount did get in the conference win column with a 69-65 victory at Sacred Heart on Saturday. Suddenly there is optimism at FDU as the Knights are 3-1 and the memory of a succession of pre-NEC defeats is now in the past.  Here are the standings through Sunday:

The regularly scheduled tempo free breakdown, with gratitude to Basketball State.  Conference games only.

News & Notes

Experience may not be necessary. Newcomers are making their presence known in the NEC. Currently four statistical categories are paced by new faces.

  • Karon Abraham of Robert Morris leads in free throw percentage at .886.
  • Akeem Bennett of St. Francis (NY) is first with 2.3 steals per game.
  • Umar Shannon of St. Francis (PA) sets the pace with .488 three point shooting.
  • St.Francis( PA)’s Chris Johnson has a 2.41:1 assist/turnover ratio to set the standard in that category.
  • Bennett is a junior, the remaining three players are freshmen.
  • Quinnipiac’s Justin Rutty and his board prowess has been documented a number of times. Rutty is not the only Bobcat to hit the glass with a vengeance. Quinnipiac has yet to be outrebounded this season and enjoys a +10.7 overall edge over opponents in rebounding this campaign.

Player of the Week. Liam Potter (C), Sacred Heart - Potter averaged 14.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks during a 3-1 stretch for the Pioneers. Potter also had three double-doubles during that run.

Rookie of the Week. Karon Abraham (G), Robert Morris - Averaged 18.7 points and 4.0 rebounds during a 2-1 holiday week for the Colonials. Abraham shot 61% (11 of 18) from three-point range.

Milestones

  • Senior guard Ryan Litke reached the top of Sacred Heart’s all time three-point shooting chart on December 30th. Litke broke Darrin Robinson’s record of 219 treys.
  • St.Francisv(NY) junior guard Ricky Cadell hit the 100th three-pointer in his career against Lafayette.
  • Cecil Gresham of Bryant made his 100oth career point against St. John’s.
  • Alvin Mofunanya has 80 blocks for FDU and is in the school’s top ten all-time list. The 6’8 senior is only in his second year playing for the Knights.
  • Monmouth senior Whitney Coleman has over 1,000 points and is ready to move into #15 on the school’s all-time scoring list.
  • Jeremy Goode is third all-time at Mount St. Mary’s with 210 steals.
  • Kelly Biedler became the second player in Mount St. Mary’s history to post 800 points, 500 rebounds, 100 assists, 100 steals and 80 blocks. Alex Watson was the first in the early 90s.

Team Breakdowns

  • Bryant - A 66-50 loss to FDU dropped the Bulldogs to 0-15 on the season. Bryant had taken a 10-1 lead early at FDU but the Knights regrouped. Leading scorer Cecil Gresham (14.5 PPG ) is out for the season with an injury. Freshman guard Rapheal Jordan is the current scoring leader with 7.1 ppg and he was scoreless at FDU. Freshman forward Vlad Kondratyev has played well of late and he had 16 at FDU. The Bulldogs had a murderous non-league slate with the likes of Providence, St. John’s, Boston College, Indiana, Harvard and Cornell to name a few.
  • Central Connecticut – The Blue Devils earned a 2 OT win over UMBC just before the new year. The first meeting of 2010 saw CCSU fall 70-53 to Holy Cross in a game played at Mohegan Sun. CCSU is in a stretch that will see them play six games in 13 days. Sophomore guard Bobby Ptacek had a game high 23 in the win over UMBC and has emerged as a consistent scoring threat. The Blue Devils had five players in double figures in that UMBC contest (with 2 OTs they had the time to do it). The last time they had that many hit double figures was February of 2008.
  • FDU – Trailed Sacred Heart by 22 with 12 minutes left and rallied to post an 88-85 victory on January 2. The Knights followed up with a solid 66-50 victory over Bryant on Thursday and an 83-74 decision over CCSU on Saturday. Junior guard Mike Scott has been outstanding with 18 assists and zero turnovers for the Sacred Heart and Bryant games. The return to the lineup of 6-8 senior Alvin Mofunanya helped the inside game. John Galvin, a 6’8 junior, came off the bench to post 11 points against Bryant. Senior guard Sean Baptiste had a season-high 24 points against Sacred Heart and followed up with 18 in the win over Bryant.
  • LIU – Lost two (Chattanooga and Morgan State) at the Dr. Pepper Classic in Chattanooga just before the new year. Senior guard Kyle Johnson (15.5 PPG) was named to the all-tournament team. Johnson hit for a season-high 21 points in the consolation loss to Morgan State. Freshman guard Corey Wright earned his first starts at the tournament. Wright showed poise handing out seven assists and committing just three turnovers. ‘Pleasant under glass.’ LIU has yet to be outrebounded in a game since their first two meetings of the year.
  • Monmouth – Won both games over the break including a NEC clash just after the new year.  The Hawks defeated Quinnipiac 72-60 . Since getting the starting nod a few games ago, sophomore guard Will Campbell has given Dave Calloway’s club some instant offense. Campbell’s offensive exploits have complemented those of classmate Travis Taylor, a double-figure scorer in 16 straight games dating back to last season. The Hawks are in the midst of a five-game home stand in their new facility.
  • Mount St. Mary’s – They put four players in double figures and got in the NEC win column with a narrow victory at Sacred Heart The Mount had dropped non-league games to Boston University, Vermont and Siena before the Sacred Heart contest. The Siena game was a heartbreaker on the road where the Mount led by seven with just over 90 seconds to play. Siena scored the last seven points then pulled it out in overtime. The Vermont game saw the Mount go down with 2.5 seconds to play. The offense is beginning to come on as of late. Jeremy Goode is still having a great year at the point. The senior guard is getting steady help from senior forward Kelly Biedler, something that will be needed, and expected, in conference play.
  • Quinnipiac – Quinnipiac took a tour of the Ivy defeating Columbia and Dartmouth before dropping a conference game to Monmouth. Senior guard James Feldeine averaged 14 PPG during that stretch. Freshman guard Dave Johnson averaged a dozen points the last week and is a newcomer to watch. The Bobcats held Columbia to 26% second half shooting to come from behind in the 63-51 victory. Junior forward Justin Rutty, an inside force, recorded his fourth double-double of the season (10 pts and 14 rebounds in 25 minutes) against Dartmouth. Rutty is also getting help from Jamme Jackson, a freshman forward out of storied St. Anthony’s High School in Jersey City (NJ).
  • Robert Morris - Took two out of three defeating Youngstown State and Ohio but losing to Kent State. The Ohio win improved Robert Morris to 18-1 under the direction of Mike Rice (third season). Freshman Karon Abraham was outstanding again. On the downside was the loss of senior guard Jimmy Langhurst who suffered a knee injury in practice the day after Christmas. Senior forward Rob Robinson and redshirt freshman Russell Johnson picked up the scoring slack as both players averaged double figures during that three game stretch.
  • Sacred Heart – Comebacks have been the trademark of the Pioneers this season. Thus far they have won four games where they trailed at intermission. They came from 16 down in the second half to defeat Stony Brook and trailed Holy Cross by eleven at the break before rallying to win. Ironically, Sacred Heart was victimized by a comeback in their January road loss at FDU. The 8-5 start for Sacred Heart is their best ever at the Division I level. Senior center Liam Potter recorded three straight double-doubles in late December.
  • St. Francis (NY) - Not an overly optimistic scenario with junior forward Alexander Harrington and senior forward Nigel Byam out for the season with injuries. The Terriers continue to hang in. They rallied from seventeen down the second half before falling short in a loss to Lafayette. St. Francis led Fairfield at the half before the Stags eventually pulled it out 65-58. A season-high 25 turnovers by St. Francis was the deciding factor against the Stags. Sophomore forward Stefan Perunicic hit a season high 23 points against Lafayette, including 6 of 12 beyond the arc.
  • St. Francis (PA) – Snapped a four-game losing streak with a 64-52 victory over Hartford. The Red Flash held Hartford to 16 first half points and shot 6 of 12 from three. St. Francis sealed the verdict by hitting 12 of 14 free throws in the final three minutes after the Hawks had closed the gap. Whom do you foul? St. Francis is now hitting 93% from the line (28-30) in the final three minutes of games with a ten or less point differential. Senior forward Devin Sweetney averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds in the two most recent games (loss to Duquesne and win over Hartford).
  • Wagner – Split the last two games at the Las Vegas Classic defeating Jackson State and losing to Chicago State. The Seahawks came back east and dropped tough games to Princeton and NJIT. The latter was their second loss to the Highlanders in their home and home series this season. Sophomore guard Chris Martin continues to lead Wagner in scoring (13.7 PPG) while senior center Michael Orock continues his fine inside play (10.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG). Mike Deane is also getting contributions from a pair of freshmen, guard Ryan Conrad and forward Josh Thompson.

Upcoming Games

January 9

  • CCSU at FDU

January 14

  • FDU at Robert Morris
  • LIU at Wagner
  • Monmouth at St. Francis (PA)
  • Quinnipiac at CCSU

January 16

  • Quinnipiac at Bryant
  • LIU at Mount St. Mary’s
  • Sacred Heart at CCSU
  • St. Francis (NY) at Wagner
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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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Running Into Frantz Pierre-Louis…

Posted by rtmsf on January 27th, 2009

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

IRVINGTON, NJ – Never know who you will meet up with. The past weekend did not bring any games to go out and cover but there were officiating assignments. On Saturday morning was a grade school doubleheader at the Good Shepherd Academy in Irvington. Worked the two girls games which were followed by the boys. After my games I spoke with a gentleman who arrived at half time of the second girls contest. Frantz Pierre-Louis, a dominant Northeast Conference player in his late nineties days at Wagner, was there to watch his son who plays on the 5-6th grade boys team.

frantz-pierre-louis

Pierre-Louis had a great career at Wagner and we spoke of his days in the NEC when teams were chasing the likes of LIU with sharp shooting Charles Jones. “I really enjoyed the league,” Pierre-Louis said. “I saw a lot of double teams (even occasional triple teams) but it was a great time.”

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Checking in on the… NEC

Posted by rtmsf on December 29th, 2008

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

NEWARK, NJ – The Northeast Conference Co-Players of the Week were James Feldeine and Jeremy Chappell. Feldiene, a junior guard for Quinnipiac,  averaged 27.5 ppg, 8 boards and 5 assists in a spectacularly well rounded week. Quinnipiac went 1-1 during that stretch.  Chappell, a senior guard for Robert Morris and one of the NEC’s elite, averaged 22 points, 7 rebounds over a three game stretch that saw the Colonials take road games against Lafayette and Central Michigan. The latter was played at the Detroit Pistons home at the Palace at Auburn Hills.

Rookie of the Week was Central Connecticut freshman Bobby Ptacek. The  6-3 guard had career highs of 20 points 6 rebounds in the Blue Devils’ win over Princeton.

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2008-09 Season Primers: #26 – Northeast

Posted by rtmsf on October 15th, 2008

Ray Floriani from College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the Northeast (NEC) and Metro Atlantic Athletic (MAAC) conferences.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Mount St. Mary’s  (20-9) (15-3)   
  2. Central Conn. St. (19-9) (14-4)
  3. Sacred Heart   (17-10) (13-5)
  4. Robert Morris    (17-12) (12-6)
  5. FDU    (14-14) (10-8)
  6. Quinnipiac   (13-14) (8-10)
  7. LIU    (11-16) (7-11)
  8. Monmouth   (11-17) (6-12)
  9. Wagner   (11-18) (5-13)
  10. St. Francis (NY)  (9-20) (4-14)
  11. St. Francis (PA)  (5-23) (3-15)

What you need to Know (WYN2K). The Northeast Conference, in its 28th season of operation,  formed in the Eighties from the old ECAC Metro. The eleven school league has granted admission to Bryant University who begins NEC play in 2012. The league postseason tournament admits the top eight finishers. Each game is played on the home floor of the high seed in the pairings. What this all means is February games are played hard each night out. Teams are fighting for a tournament berth, a higher seeding or to just become a spoiler. After Valentine’s Day everyone is scoreboard watching. The nation’s fourth most improved conference (behind the Southland, MAAC and Sun Belt) a year ago will see 60% of its starters return. Featured among them are All-NEC performers Jeremy Chappell, a senior swingman for Robert Morris, and  LIU junior guard Jaytomah Wisseh. Central Connecticut also welcomes back 2008 NEC Rookie of the Year, sophomore point guard Shemik Thompson.
 
Predicted Champion. Mount St.Mary’s (#16 NCAA). The NEC defending tournament champs return four starters from a team that captured nine of their last ten games and took the tournament title on Sacred Heart’s floor. Junior lead guard Jeremy Goode, the team leader in scoring, assists and steals is back. Sophomore guard Jean Cajou caught fire late last season and wound up as NEC tournament MVP. Talent plus the momentum of a year ago, which included a play-in win over Coppin State, certify Mount as the favorite. Look for another 16 seed – could a Tar Heel rematch be in the works?

Others Considered. Central Connecticut St. will be in the mix. Four starters return and veteran coach Howie Dickenman is certain to have the Blue Devils playing their best as the season winds down. Sacred Heart finished as tournament runner-up the last two seasons and cannot be counted out. The same goes for Robert Morris, last year’s regular season champion who was upset in the NEC semis and represented the conference in the NIT.

Important Games.

  • Mount St.Mary’s @ Sacred Heart  (12/4/08)
  • Mount St.Mary’s @ Central Connecicut  (12/06/08)
  • Quinnipiac @ FDU  (01/03/09)
  • Robert Morris @ Mount St.Mary’s  (1/25/09)
  • Sacred Heart @ Central Connecticut State  (2/19/09)
  • Mount St.Mary’s @ Robert Morris  (2/28/09)

RPI Boosters.

  • FDU @ Pitt  (11/14/08)
  • FDU @ Wazzu  (11/18/08)
  • Rhode Island @ Monmouth (Hoop Group) (11/20/08)
  • FDU @ Mississippi St.  (11/22/08)
  • Monmouth @ Villanova (Hoop Group) (11/25/08)
  • Mount St.Mary’s @ George Mason  (11/25/08)
  • Akron @ FDU  (11/30/08)
  • Mount St.Mary’s @ Georgetown  (12/20/08)
  • Robert Morris @ Xavier  (12/31/08)
  • FDU @ TBA in Bracketbuster  (02/20/09)

Neat-o-Stat. The NEC boasts three coaches who have hit the 400 win total. Dave Bike (464-414) of Sacred Heart leads the way. Mike Deane of Wagner and FDU’s Tom Green hit the magic number this past season. Deane, in his sixth year at the NEC school, has a 416-292 mark. Green, entering his 26th season at FDU, has a 400-328 ledger.  Of the trio, Bike owns a national championship. He led the Sacred Heart Pioneers to the D2 crown in 1986.

Neat-o-Stat con’t. Robert Morris owns the best overall record among conference schools over the past two seasons even though it hasn’t won the tournament title. The Colonials are 43-19 during that time. Interestingly they did it with two different coaches. Mark Schmidt put together a 17-11 record in 2006-07 before heading to St. Bonaventure, and last season, in his first year in Coraopolis, Mike Rice’s club was a gaudy 26-8.

65 Team Era.  NEC life usually means facing a #1 or #2 seed (20 of the past 24 years), and unfortunately, the NEC has yet to defeat one of those teams in the first round. FDU under Tom Green has been competitive each time out. In 2005, they gave top ranked Illinois a battle for twenty minutes, and have also given #1Michigan (1985) and #2 UConn (1998) scares over the years. Last season, conference tournament champion Mt. St. Mary’s defeated Coppin State in the play-in game before running into the UNC juggernaut the next time out.  
 
Final Thoughts. In a perfect world the NEC would be a multiple bid conference. This is not a perfect world (see the $700 billion bailout) so the conference gets one invitation to the Big Dance. From a fan perspective that makes for added drama as the regular season and postseason tournament takes on huge meaning. The championship is especially intense as teams vie for that one spot on Selection Sunday.  Geographical proximity is another issue. You have three schools (St. Francis (PA), Robert Morris and Mt. St. Mary’s) ‘way out west’. But a good percentage of the membership is in relatively close driving distance of each other. In fact, FDU, LIU, Wagner, Monmouth and St.Francis (NY) are all within a 40-mile radius which affords their fans an easy, nearby road trip.  Another attractive feature of the NEC is that players stay around. If a coach recruits a player, then outside of transfer or academic issues, they are typically on board for the duration. No ‘one and done’ to David Stern’s league here.

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