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.
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
- Robert Morris at Ohio University
- Mount St. Mary’s at Virginia Tech
- UMass at Central Connecticut
- Bryant at Monmouth
- Wagner at Quinnipiac
- 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