RTC Conference Primers: #20 – Northeast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 17th, 2011

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

Reader’s Take I

Top Storylines

  • Coaches Enjoy Honors: In September, Mount St. Mary’s coach Robert Burke coached in the Congressional County All-Star Classic. Burke coached a team of members of Congress while George Washington mentor Mike Lonergan guided a team of lobbyists.  The game was at GW’s Smith Center. Hopefully Burke did not allow his ‘club’ a lengthy recess. In other news, Wagner assistant Bobby Hurley was inducted into the Duke University Hall of Fame in September. Hurley scored over 1,700 points, handed out an NCAA record 1,076 assists and led Duke to two national titles during his playing days (19989-93).
  • A Long-Awaited Repeat In The NEC? Long Island is attempting to become the first NEC school in nearly two decades to successfully defend its conference title. The last? Current  MAAC  member Rider, which captured the NEC crown in 1993 and 1994.

Can LIU Capture the Blackbird Magic Again? (credit: NY Post)

  • The Numbers Game: Among starters lost, FDU and Quinnipiac lead the way with three each. It’s a matter of perception. FDU, coming off a five-win season, can look at this as a fresh start. Quinnipiac, a 22-win team from a season ago, has spots to replace. Tom Moore has options as he has the Bobcats primed for another run. The program with the least amount of starters lost? Wagner. The Seahawks, coming off an encouraging 9-9 conference slate good for a sixth-place tie, have every starter back on board.
  • Sacred Heart Mourns Loss Of Former Star: On a sad note, Sacred Heart is mourning the passing of Chauncey Hardy, a prolific player for the Pioneers from 2006-10. Hardy scored over 1,200 points during his Sacred Heart career and was playing professionally overseas in Romania at the time of his tragic death, which came after Hardy was assaulted in a pub.

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Quinnipiac Keeps Two Players Charged With Assault On The Team

Posted by nvr1983 on September 21st, 2011

One of the major tenets of the American legal system is the concept that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. It is a principle that is commonly cited by defense attorneys and supporters of the accused. However, in the world of college sports, most programs keep this principle confined to the legal system and usually suspend the athletes while the school and legal system investigate the charges. Quinnipiac apparently is not one of those programs. Early Sunday morning, James Johnson, who was 1st team All-NEC while averaging 16.1 PPG last year as a junior, and Ike Azotam, who averaged 5.2 PPG and 5.5 RPG last year as a freshman, were arrested after allegedly assaulting two other students during a fight on-campus.  Johnson and Azotam were both charged with third-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace and detained before being released on $5,000 bond.

Azotam (L) & Johnson (R) Are Due In Court On Monday (Credit: Hamden Police)

While this is an unfortunately not uncommon occurrence on college campuses it was strange to hear that the school has reportedly decided to keep the two players on the team while they are investigating the matter. In reality, this is probably a trivial matter as the two players are due in court next Monday, September 26, but the standard protocol in college sports over the years has been to suspend the players while the investigation is on-going regardless of how light the penalties may be (see the recent cases of Erik Murphy and Jerime Anderson). For their part, neither Azotam nor Johnson have alluded to the incident on their Twitter accounts although Azotam has kept tweeting as if nothing had happened (unless you count this) while Johnson has been silent.

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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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O26 Primers: America East, Missouri Valley, and Northeast Conference Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 3rd, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

Three more conferences get underway this evening with teams in the America East and NEC all gunning for the coveted automatic-bid to the Tournament, while the Missouri Valley is vying to send two teams to the Dance. Boston University is all of a sudden the favorite to win the America East with the uncertainty of Evan Fjeld‘s ankle, while Missouri State and Long Island are the favorites in their respective leagues. Something tells me though that the Wichita State Shockers will be looking for vengeance following their two losses to the Bears earlier this year.

America East

The Favorite: Vermont appears to be the favorite, but a lot depends on the status of Evan Fjeld’s ankle that he injured in UVM’s final regular season game against Boston University. In what very well could be the America East championship game, BU went on to defeat the Catamounts in overtime. Allison Shepherd told John Fantino of the Burlington Free Press Blog that: “[Fjeld] is receiving daily care and treatment for the injury. We will have a better idea regarding his playing status for the upcoming America East tournament as the weekend approaches.” Something tells me that even if Fjeld and his ‘Stache are able to go, he will not be at 100%. I like Boston University.

Dark Horse: Behind senior Tim Ambrose, Albany is a team that has come on strong as of late and is capable of making a run in the A-East tournament. The Great Danes have won four straight to end the regular season, but getting by Stony Brook will be no easy task in the first round.

Who’s Hot: Boston University has not lost in February and is 8-0 during the month. They defeated Vermont to conclude the regular season and are flying high with John Holland—arguably the league’s best player—leading the way.

Player to Watch: John Holland has been a staple in BU’s rotation since the day he stepped on campus. The senior has averaged double-figures in scoring for all four years, and his 19.2 points a game this year is tops in the league.

First-Round Upset: Hartford over Maine. The Black Bears were an intriguing team and story to follow early on in the season. They beat a solid Penn State team and began league play with an 8-1 record, but since then they have fallen flat on their faces. Although their date with Hartford is technically not in the first round—the America East essentially has a play-in game between the #8 and #9 seeds to begin the tournament—fourth seeded Maine will have their hands full with Hartford who has already beaten them twice.

How’d They Fare? As a 16 seed last year, Vermont could not handle the athleticism or shooting ability of Syracuse as they lost 79-56.

Interesting Fact: Not an interesting fact, but simply one of my favorite NCAA Tournament highlights of all-time:

Easily the best part of the clip is Tom Brennan’s reaction after T.J. Sorrentine swishes home the three from about 35 feet away, and if you look even further past Brennan the reaction of the guys sitting on press row are priceless too. This is what makes March so Mad!

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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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The Other 26: Week 15

Posted by KDoyle on February 26th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.

Introduction

And down the stretch they come! Just like a commentator of a competitive horse race fervently belches when the horses make the final turn, college basketball commentators, analysts, and enthusiasts alike all speak of the game with greater eagerness and zeal at this time of the year. Judgment Week—still am not sure what ESPN is trying to do with this—has passed us, Championship Week is nearly upon us, and we all know what comes after that: the Madness!

While the majority of Other 26 teams around the country still have one or two remaining games left in the regular season, there are a handful of teams out there who have completed the second part of their season. Many coaches, especially those coaching in perennial single bid leagues, break down their year into three seasons: 1) the non-conference, 2) conference play, 3) the postseason. The opportunity is presented for many teams that have struggled during much of the season to get hot at the right time and advance onto the greatest postseason tournament in all of sports.

At the beginning of conference play, I wrote in a previous article the concept of “three games in March” which is often the mentality of teams from smaller conferences who have to win three games, or four in some cases, to advance to the Dance—it is their only way in. Well, here is that opportunity.

The conference tournaments will officially begin in the middle of next week with a few of the smaller conferences going at it. If one really wants to get technical though, the argument can be made that the Ivy League has a season-long conference tournament that commences at the beginning of league play.

The Other 26 Rankings

Tidbits from the Rankings

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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 23rd, 2011

 

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the Northeast Conference.

A Look Back

The top spot is decided, as Long Island clinched the regular season title on the road last week. In the NEC, the top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament. The individual games are at the home court of the higher seed, and this week’s action will have bearing on that all important seeding.  Heading into the final week, three teams are battling for the number four spot. Another three are in the hunt for the eighth and final seed. Wagner could finish anywhere from the second to seventh seed, depending on how the week plays out.  Two days of action are left, and scoreboard-watching will be very much in vogue in the NEC.

Power Rankings

1. LIU (22-5, 14-2) The Blackbirds won twice away from home to wrap up the conference, edging Wagner 83-79 before an ‘easier’ win at Mount St. Mary’s, 84-64. The Blackbirds are averaging 75 possessions per game and were over 70 in both games the past week. Efficiency margin was modest, +5 (109-104) at Wagner. The EM at the Mount was outstanding, +27 with a 115-88 difference. Despite the ‘NASCAR’ pace, the offensive TO rate is a vanilla 21% on the season.

Notable: Freshman point guard Jason Brickman was selected NEC Rookie of the Week. Brickman averaged 8.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2 steals and had only three turnovers in 63 minutes for the Blackbirds.

2. Quinnipiac (19-8, 11-5 overall) A clean sweep on the road. The Bobcats defeated Bryant 80-60 before getting a nailbiter, 68-67 , at CCSU. Efficiency margin was an outstanding +31 (125-94) in the win at Bryant. At Central Connecticut, the margin was more down to earth at +1 (106-105). The Bobcats had a 23% TO rate in the Bryant win, but that was offset by an outstanding 61% eFG percentage. The Offensive rebounding percentage in that game was 40-24% in Quinnipiac’s favor.

Notable: James Johnson averaged 17 points for the week. The senior guard scored 24 points against Bryant, going 7-11 from three point range. Johnson has the Quinnipiac Division-I record with 91 consecutive games started.

3. Central Connecticut (18-9, 11-5). If nail-biters are your specialty, Central was the team to watch. The Blue Devils split at home, edging  Sacred Heart 57-56 before falling 68-67 to Quinnipiac. The efficiencies mirrored the closeness of the scores. CCSU enjoyed an 86-85 advantage against Sacred Heart and was on the short end of a 106-105 offensive efficiency against Quinnipiac. The Blue Devils forced Sacred heart into a 32% TO rate.

Notable: Ken Horton, the NEC Co-Player of the Week, averaged 26.5 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. The junior forward scored a career high 35 points against Quinnipiac.

4. Robert Morris (14-13, 10-6). A good road weekend was had by RMU with victories at Fairleigh Dickinson (74-50) and Monmouth (62-60). The Colonials enjoyed a +38 (117-79) efficiency margin in the win at FDU. The TO rate in that game was an outstanding 6%. The Monmouth game was a tougher go as the Colonial TO rate increased to 26% and the host Hawks enjoyed a 56% eFG showing.

Notable: Russell Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, hit a jumper with 3.3 seconds left to defeat Monmouth. Johnson finished with 13 points, 9 rebounds and three assists. Sophomore forward Lijah Thompson averaged 13.5 points, 5 rebounds on the week.

5. Wagner (13-14, 9-7) The Seahawks lost two at the friendly confines of the Spiro Center. LIU defeated Wagner 83-79 before St. Francis (NY) emerged a 77-73 victor. Averaging 69 possessions per game, both outings were faster than the norm. The Pace was 76 and 71 possessions in the respective meetings. Wagner shot a gaudy 61% eFG mark against St. Francis but were guilty of a 28% TO rate, six percentage points above the season‘s average.

Notable: A three-pointer with three seconds remaining by Chris Martin forced overtime against LIU. Martin finished with 16 points, 14 after halftime. Latif Rivers, a freshman guard, enjoyed an 18 point, six-rebound, five-assist day against the Blackbirds.

6. St. Francis (NY) (13-14, 8-8). The flair for the dramatic. The Terriers captured road games over Mount St. Mary’s, 63-60 and Wagner 77-73. St. Francis averages 98 in offensive efficiency and was over 100, highlighted by the 108 at Wagner, both games. On the defensive end, they allowed a 99 efficiency. The TO rate was only 15% at the Mount. On defense, the Terriers force opponents into a 25% To rate. At Wagner that defensive number was  above average at 28%.

Notable: Senior guard Ricky Cadell earned NEC Co-Player of the Week accolades averaging 22 PPG for the two games. The Terriers clinched an NEC tournament berth and Cadell scored 13 points the final three minutes in the win at Wagner.

7. Mount St. Mary’s (10-19, 8-8) missed a chance to move up. The Mount suffered two home losses, to St. Francis (NY) 63-60 and LIU 84-64. The efficiency margin was a -5 against St. Francis but a whopping -27 (88-115) in the LIU meeting. The Mount had an impressive 57% eFG showing in the St. Francis game. Both contests, though, saw the Mount post a high 23% TO rate.

Notable: Senior forward Shawn Atupem scored 23 points against LIU on Senior Day. Atupem is coming on strong of late. Over the last five games he is averaging 15.2 points and shooting 73% from the floor.

8. Bryant (9-19, 7-9). Two games dropped at home. Quinnipiac defeated Bryant 80-60 before Sacred Heart squeaked by 83-77. Bryant averages 99 in offensive efficiency and exploded for a 126 against Sacred Heart. Bulldogs TO rate has been under 20% the last three games. Despite a one-sided loss to Quinnipiac, the Bulldogs did force a 23% defensive TO rate in that meeting. Both recent opponents also shot over 60% eFG percentage against Bryant.

Notable: Senior swingman Cecil Gresham averaged 20 points for the two games. Gresham scored a season-high 29 points against Sacred Heart on Bryant’s Senior Day.

9. St. Francis (PA) (8-19, 6-10) came up short, 57-51 at Monmouth but bounced back for a 77-65 victory at FDU. The EM (efficiency margin) was -11 at Monmouth, but a few days later, it improved dramatically to +19 (122-103) in the victory at FDU. The Red Flash were strapped with a 25% TO rate at Monmouth. Against FDU, the offense was in better synch. St. Francis To rate was only 19% and their eFG percentage, a sparking 67%.

Notable: A deadly three point shooter, sophomore guard Umar Shannon exploded for 25 points on 7-10 from beyond the arc. In the win at FDU. Shannon added 5 rebounds and two assists.

10. Sacred Heart (10-17, 5-11) – The Pioneers were one for two on the road. They dropped a close one, 57-56 at Central Connecticut. Sacred Heart rebounded to defeat Bryant 83-77. After posting an 85 offensive efficiency at CCSU, Sacred Heart had a season high 136 at Bryant. A 65% eFG percentage and a fine 18% TO rate helped the offensive cause. The defense was a season high in opposition efficiency as Bryant rang up a 126 in that contest.

Notable: Inserted as a starter four games ago, freshman forward Louis Montes has made an impact. Montes is averaging 12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and shooting 62% from the field during that stretch.

11. Monmouth (9-19, 5-11) Took a home split. The Hawks downed St. Francis (PA) 57-51 and were nosed out by Robert Morris 62-60. Monmouth had an outstanding 86 defensive efficiency against St. Francis. That contest was a deliberate, even by Monmouth’s 65 average standard,   59 possession affair. Hawks’ defense gave up a 102 efficiency mark to Robert Morris, but hung close, as the Colonials were guilty of a 26% TO rate.

Notable: Jesse Steele came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points against St. Francis (PA). The sophomore guard averaged 16 points, 3.5 assists and had no turnovers in the two games.

12. FDU (2-14, 4-23) Two home losses, to Robert Morris 74-50 and St. Francis (PA) 77-65. The Knights have lost ten straight and 20 of 21. Defensive woes continued as the last two opponents were over 50% eFG and under 20% in TO rate. FDU had a -38 (79-117) efficiency margin against Robert Morris and -19 (103-122) in the St. Francis (PA) contest.

Notable: John Galvin scored his 600th point and Terence Grier his 800th in a senior day loss to St. Francis (PA). Galvin had his fourth double-double of the season in that game with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

A Look Ahead

February 24:

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

February 26:

  • Central Connecticut at LIU
  • FDU at Quinnipiac
  • Monmouth at Sacred Heart
  • Bryant at St. Francis (NY)
  • Monmouth at St. Francis (PA)
  • Wagner at Robert Morris
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The Other 26: Week 14

Posted by KDoyle on February 18th, 2011


Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor

Introduction

If you are a true fan of Mid-Major basketball, then this is the weekend for you. Many fans who find a whole lot of joy in watching teams from the smaller conferences compete, share the common gripe that there is not nearly enough coverage of these teams. Well, at no other point during the season will you see ESPN dedicate an entire Saturday of basketball almost exclusively to the best Mid-Major teams around the nation.

Playing against the same faces within a team’s conference can become monotonous, but the BracketBuster weekend enables 114 teams around the country a brief recess before the final stretch of the regular season and tournament time to play an opponent they would otherwise never play. Although many of these games will have little meaning in the grand scheme of things, there are a select few that have serious implications as several Mid-Major teams partaking in the BracketBuster weekend sit squarely on the bubble.

Brace yourself for a great day of college hoops on Saturday. With so many of the top Mid-Major teams in the country playing—George Mason, Utah State, St. Mary’s, Cleveland State, Old Dominion, Missouri State, and Wichita State—you can bet that at least one of these teams, if not more, will be wearing Cinderella’s slipper come March.

The Other 26 Rankings

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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 9th, 2011

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

Heading into the final third of the NEC race, Long Island is in the lead. Favorite Quinnipiac has hit a few rough spots, but is still in contention. Just ahead of the Bobcats and hot on LIU’s heels are Central Connecticut and Wagner.  It is a cliché that every game matters, but it nevertheless holds true in the NEC. Even the contenders know that teams in the second half having struggles of their own can be dangerous and spring an upset.

Power Rankings

1. LIU (18-5, 10-2) Extended its win streak to four with victories over Sacred Heart (81-69) and Quinnipiac (84-74). The Blackbirds were very consistent on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. The efficiency margin against Sacred Heart was +16 (107-91) and +13 (108-95) in the win over Quinnipiac. Jim Ferry also preached a favorable pace; A 75-possession club, LIU’s two games were played at 76 and 78-possession tempos, respectively.

Notable: Jason Brickman was selected as Co-Rookie of the Week for his fine play at the lead guard position. Brickman averaged 11.5 points, 6.5 assists and committed only three turnovers in 52 minutes of action the last two outings.

2. Central Connecticut (16-7, 9-3) So much for the dreaded ‘western’ swing. The Blue Devils swept road games against St. Francis (PA) 86-79 and Robert Morris 80-58. The offensive efficiency marks were 119 and 121m respectively. In the latter game, Central earned a big win at a traditionally tough location by holding Robert Morris to an 88 OE and enjoyed a 53%-39% edge in offensive rebounding percentage.

Notable: Ken Horton earned NEC Player of the Week honors with double-doubles in both games. The 6’6 junior forward averaged 24.5 points and 10 rebounds on the road kick.

3. Quinnipiac (15-8, 7-5) Split the Brooklyn trip with a conquest of St. Francis (NY) 74-60 before losing at LIU (84-74). Efficiencies give a clear picture of the two games. Against the Terriers, Quinnipiac had a 106-86 edge in offensive efficiency. Two days later, LIU enjoyed the 108-85 advantage. Turnover rate, in this case, did not affect the Bobcats’ OE. Their TO rate was 26% at St. Francis and only 9% at LIU.

Notable: Senior guard James Johnson averaged 20 points and six rebounds on his homecoming swing (Johnson played his high school ball at Bishop Loughlin in Brooklyn). Justin Rutty, sidelined seven games with an elbow injury, was back in action. The senior forward averaged 16 points and seven rebounds.

4. Mount St. Mary’s (9-16, 7-5) Earned a two-game homestand sweep over Monmouth (56-54) and Fairleigh Dickinson (70-59). The Mountaineers average 65 possessions per game, though the Monmouth game was a slower 55. The FDU meeting was right on the 65 possession tempo. Both games saw the Mount over 100 in OE while keeping the opposition under 100. The high mark was a 108 OE against FDU. Mount shot only 46% eFG percentage that fame but their TO rate was an outstanding 8%.

Notable: Julian Norfleet, a freshman guard, hit the deciding shot, a three-pointer, with 0.6 seconds remaining to defeat Monmouth. Senior forward Shawn Atupem paced the Mount with 17 points versus FDU on 8-14 shooting from the floor.

5. Wagner (11-11, 7-4) The Seahawks swept home games over New Jersey foes. First, a 61-57 win over FDU, followed by a 63-60 decision against Monmouth. The offense was subpar, but defense did the job against FDU. The efficiency margin was +6, thanks to a defense allowing only an 85 in offensive efficiency. Wagner had only a 12% TO rate while forcing FDU into an extremely high 31% rate. Head coach Danny Hurley and his brother and assistant Bobby were on hand for Bob Hurley Sr.’s 1,000th win at St. Anthony’s on Wednesday.

Notable: Gathering his six Rookie of the Week honor this season was Latif Rivers. The freshman guard actually shared the award by putting together an outstanding two games. Rivers averaged 19 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.

6. St. Francis (NY) (11-12, 6-6) Defeated Sacred Heart, 78-51 after losing to Quinnipiac, 74-60. Terriers had an efficiency margin swing of 50 in those two games. Against Quinnipiac, the margin was -20 (86-106 efficiencies). The Sacred Heart game saw a +40 (115-75) clip. A 56% eFG percentage was largely responsible for the better offensive showing against Sacred Heart.

Notable: Ricky Cadell scored 16 in the win over Quinnipiac. The senior guard reached 1,500 points, the 55th player in the NEC annals to do so. Sophomore guard Travis Nichols added 15 points against the Bobcats, behind 3-4 from beyond the arc.

7. Robert Morris (10-13, 6-6) In one of the most difficult two-game stretches to ponder, the Colonials scored an easy 91-38 win over Bryant, then two days later were dominated 80-58 by Central Connecticut. Both games were at home. The efficiency margin swing in these two games was off the charts at -119. Against Bryant the efficiency margin was +86 (147-61). The CCSU contest saw the Colonials’ efficiency margin at -33 (88-121). Robert Morris had drastic changes in virtually every category over those two games. The eFG percentage, for example, went from 70% against Bryant to 38% in the CCSU meeting.

Notable: Lijah Thompson averaged 13 points, 4.5 rebounds and shot 56% from the field over the two contests. The sophomore forward tallied a career-high 18 points against Bryant.

8. Bryant (8-16, 6-6) The Bulldogs split on their trip to Western Pennsylvania. Bryant was decimated 91-39 (no misprint) at Robert Morris. They bounced back, less than 48 hours later, for a 70-69 win at St. Francis (PA). The Robert Morris game showed the extremes, as Bryant’s OE was 61 and the defense allowed a 147. The Bulldogs converted just ten field goals and shot 27% eFG percentage against the Colonials. At St. Francis (PA), the OE was a more respectable 106, largely due to a healthy 54% eFG showing.

Notable: Frankie Dobbs drove the length of the floor and hit a fade away shot at the buzzer to defeat St. Francis (PA). Earlier this season, the sophomore guard hit the game winning shot in a victory over FDU.

9. St. Francis (PA) (7-16, 5-7) Two home games. Two home losses. The Red Flash were defeated by Central Connecticut (86-79) and Bryant (70-69). Offense was strong, posting efficiencies of 110 and 105. Defense ? Not too strong, allowing marks of 119 and 106. St. Francis was guilty guilty of a 26% TO rate against Bryant, in a 66-possession game.

Notable: Sophomore guard Umar Shannon averaged 21.5 points for the two games on 46% shooting from the floor and a perfect 14-14 from the charity stripe. Shannon hit the go-ahead basket with six seconds to go against Bryant, just prior to Frankie Dobbs’ last second heroics.

10. Sacred Heart (9-14, 4-8) A trip to Brooklyn saw the Pioneers on the short end both times out. Sacred Heart lost at LIU (81-69) and St. Francis (NY) 78-51. Both ends of the floor were problematic on the road. Sacred Heart posted offensive efficiencies of 91 and 75 while giving up over 100 on the defensive end in the two games. St. Francis (NY) was a struggle, as the Pioneers managed only 36% eFG shooting while allowing a 115 efficiency.

Notable: Shane Gibson paced the Pioneers with 18 points at LIU. A sophomore guard, Gibson hit his eight straight double-figure scoring games and has led Sacred Heart in scoring sixteen times this season. Freshman guard Chris Evans continues to impress. Evans had 12 and 17 respectively in the two games in Brooklyn.

11. FDU (4-18, 2-9) The FDU Knights have now dropped three straight. First, they lost to NJIT in overtime, 64-62. Then, they took to the road and were defeated by Wagner (61-57) and Mount St. Mary’s (70-59). FDU held NJIT and Wagner to low offensive efficiencies (83 and 91, respectively). Knights couldn’t hit 90 in either game on their own OE end. The 81 against NJIT was partly due to a porous 33% eFG percentage.

Notable: Terence Grier came off the bench to score a career high 25 points at Wagner. The senior guard tied his personal field goals record (10) set a few days earlier against NJIT. Senior forward Kamil Svrdlik scored a game-high 19 points at Mount St. Mary’s.

12. Monmouth 2-9 (6-17 overall) It is four straight losses for the Hawks following bumps in the road at Mount St. Mary’s (56-54) and Wagner (63-60). Monmouth had a 39-22% OREB percentage edge at the Mount. Still, they came up short, as the Mountaineers posted a 55% eFG percentage. The Hawks average 65 possessions per game, but the contest at the Mount was even slow by Monmouth’s standards as it was a 55-possession affair.

Notable: Hawks received solid frontcourt contributions. Junior forward Mike Myers-Keitt averaged 14.5 points with 5.5 rebounds. Marcus Ware, a sophomore forward, paced Monmouth with 15.5 points, 6.5 rebounds for the two game stretch.

A Look Ahead

February 9

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

February 12

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

February 14

  • Quinnipiac at Sacred Heart
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The Other 26: Week 12

Posted by KDoyle on February 4th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor

Introduction

Parity is a great thing in sports. Not many enjoy watching a league where one team consistently dominates the competition and all the others are simply happy to compete with the top team. In the West Coast Conference this was the case for years. Gonzaga would roll right on through league play, win the conference championship, and then head onto the NCAA Tournament. Sure the ‘Zags would be upset on occasions, but those occasions were few and far between. This year, that is hardly the case in the WCC. St. Mary’s is the current leader, but there are a few other teams that are capable of knocking off the Gaels—Portland already has. The WCC is not the only conference where there is parity. How about the wacky Conference USA? It seems that every team in that conference has a shot to win it. The Atlantic 10 and CAA both have a couple teams at the top, but there are several others right below them that are just waiting for the right time to pounce on the top dogs. The MAC is the perfect instance of parity this year. You may call it mediocrity, but you cannot say that 11 teams with records ranging from 3-5 to 6-2 is not parity.

One can argue that parity is essentially synonymous with hope. Fans of every team that is right in the thick of things within their conference have legitimate hope that their guys will pull through and be the last one standing come the conclusion of their conference tournament.

Parity…Hope…Sports

The Other 26 Rankings

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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 24th, 2011

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

A Look Back

The Northeast Conference is known for its parity and competitiveness. With the race virtually half over, there have been surprises. Favored Quinnipiac hit a few bumps in the road and is at mid-pack. Long Island has taken advantage of Quinnipiac’s struggles to spurt into first place. Robert Morris, Central Connecticut and Wagner are right on LIU’s heels. As noted, there is time and half a season to play. The only thing certainty is that nothing is guaranteed and you can expect the unexpected regarding the final standings.

Power Rankings

1. Long Island (14-5, 5-2) The Blackbirds continued their winning ways, dominating Wagner 85-54 before heading on the road and winning 83-67 at Robert Morris. An uptempo club, LIU averages 75 possessions per game and their respective paces were 70 and 69 in the two games. Both meetings saw the Blackbirds post an outstanding 120 offensive efficiency while the two opponents were under 100.

Notable: Freshman guard Jason Brickman had six assists without a turnover against Wagner. LIU shot 63% from the floor the second half against Wagner to turn a three-point lead at intermission into a 31 point win. Six LIU players hit double figures in that contest.

2. Wagner (9-10, 5-3) – An 84-54 drubbing at the hands of  LIU was cleansed with an impressive 90-80 home conquest of Quinnipiac. The Seahawks gave up a 108 efficiency to Quinnipiac, but its 122 offensive efficiency was a season-best for the team. In that game, an outstanding 71% eFG mark for Wagner negated a 50-21% Quinnipiac dominance in OREB percentage.

Notable: Junior guard Tyler Murray paced the Seahawks with averages of 19.5 points, three rebounds and three assists in a two-game stretch. Freshman forward Orlando Parker is emerging, as he averaged 11.5 scoring for the two games to compliment a team best 8.5 rebounds.

3. Quinnipiac (12-7, 5-3) The road was unkind as the Bobcats dropped games to Brown (87-78) and Wagner (90-80). Both games saw Quinnipiac register OE’s over 100 but on defense, the numbers were 116 and 122 respectively. The two opponents found shooting profitable with 57% and 71% eFG marks. On the season, the Bobcats’ defensive eFG rate is 48%.

Notable: Bobcats lead the nation with 43.8 rebounds per game despite having the 13th-shortest team in the country. Quinnipiac also paces the NEC and is ranked tenth nationally with a +8.6 rebound margin. Besides the boards, the Bobcats have another area of distinction as they have made at least one trey in 300 consecutive games.

4. Central Connecticut (12-7, 5-3) The Blue Devils split on the road, being edged73-68 at Quinnipiac before defeating Monmouth 66-47. A 96 defensive efficiency team, Central gave up a disappointing 111 to the Bobcats. Against Monmouth, the DE was an outstanding 75. The Blue Devils average 102 in offensive efficiency and were consistent with a 103 and 105 in the two respective games.

Notable: Senior guard Shemik Thompson had 12 points, six rebounds, seven assists and zero turnovers against Quinnipiac. Thompson has 403 career assists, second among active NEC players and fifth in school history. In one three game stretch, Thompson had 22 assists against four turnovers, an outstanding 5.5 assist/turnover ratio.

5. Robert Morris (9-10, 5-3) Had a three-game NEC win streak snapped with an 83-67 loss at home to LIU. The previous game at the ‘Chuck’ saw the Colonials edge Monmouth 60-57. The Colonials’ defensive efficiency average is 98, but LIU ran up a 120 figure in that meeting. Robert Morris also allowed a 61% eFG mark but did force the Blackbirds into a 25% TO rate.

Notable: Sophomore guard Karon Abraham averaged 21 points, 3.5 rebounds and two steals in a three-game stretch to earn Player of the Week honors.

6. Bryant (6-14, 4-4) The Bulldogs are on a four-game conference win streak following a victory at Sacred Heart and a 74-71 home triumph over FDU. The two games saw impressive offensive displays by Bryant, with a season high 128 OE against FDU. The eFG mark was over 55% in the two contests and the TO rate, a note worthy 19% against FDU.

Notable: Freshman forward Alex Francis captured Rookie of the Week accolades by averaging 17.5 points and nine rebounds per game while shooting 50% from the floor as the Bulldogs captured two road games.

7. Mount St. Mary’s (7-14, 5-3) Swept two games with a win at St. Francis (NY) 70-61 and at home against Sacred Heart (61-45). Both opponents were held under 100 in the offensive efficiency department. Other signs of stellar defense came in the Sacred Heat game as the Mount limited the Pioneers to 34% eFG percentage and forced them into a 29% TO rate.

Notable: MSM shot a season high 58% in the win at St. Francis (NY). Junior forward Danny Thompson scored a career-high 16 points while grabbing eight boards against the Terriers. Mount has won two NEC road meetings, after going 0-9 in non-conference play away from home.

8. St. Francis (NY) (8-11, 3-5) The Terriers are mired in a two-game slide, having lost at home to Mount St. Mary’s 70-61 and at St. Francis (PA) 75-56. The two games saw the Terriers held to a mark under 100 in offensive efficiency and over 100 on the defensive side. The game in Loretto was the extreme ,as the Terriers posted an OE of 86 and gave up a 115 defensive efficiency against St. Francis (PA).

Notable: St. Francis never led in the game against Mount St. Mary’s. It was their first loss at home after beginning with seven straight wins at their Pope Center. Junior guard Dre Callaway scored a team high 15 points in that meeting. St. Francis has just six games with scoring outputs over 70 under its belt this season. Last season, they did not hit that figure in any regulation length game.

9. St. Francis (PA) (6-13, 4-3) The Red Flash extended its win streak to three with home conquests of FDU (69-55) and St. Francis (NY) 75-56. Efficiency marks were outstanding in both games, with OE ratings of 111 and 115, respectively. On the defensive end, the marks were 89 and 86. The 115 OE rate against St. Francis (NY) came despite a 23% TO rate.

Notable: Sophomore guard Umar Shannon matched his career high with 24 points while adding four rebounds and five assists against FDU. Shannon went 8-12 from the floor and scored 18 points after halftime.

10. Sacred Heart (8-11, 3-5) – The Pioneers are reeling in the midst of a three-game conference tailspin. Sacred Heart dropped a 72-59 decision to Bryant at home before losing at Mount St. Mary’s. Both games were contested at a 62-possession pace. Bryant managed an impressive 116 offensive efficiency against the Pioneers largely due to a 57% eFG mark.

Notable: Sophomore guard Shane Gibson netted 18 points in the loss to Bryant. Junior forward Stan Dulaire turned in the top rebounding performance for Sacred Heart this season with 12 boards, including ten on the offensive glass, against Bryant.

11. FDU (4-14, 2-6) The Knights defeated Houston Baptist 75-64 in a home non-conference meeting. They then took to the road and dropped a 74-71 decision at Bryant. That game had some interesting numbers. It was a 58-possession affair, and FDU had their best offensive efficiency, 122, of the season but gave up a whopping 128 on the other end. Both eFG marks were lights out as FDU was 60% and the host Bulldogs 63%.

Notable: Senior guard Mike Scott ranks in the top ten in five of the NEC’s major categories. Senior forward Kamil Svrdlik is also among conference leaders, as he is second in blocks (1.5) and field goal percentage (54%) and seventh in rebounding (6.7).

12. Monmouth (6-14, 2-6) The Hawks were defeated 60-57 at Robert Morris before losing at home to Central Connecticut (66-47). Offensive efficiency was only 75 in the latter contest. Turnovers are a problem on both ends. The TO rate was 35 and 29%, respectively, in the two games. Defensively, Monmouth could not force either opponent over 19% in the same category.

Notable: The Hawks have lost four of 11 games decided by five points or less. Sophomore guard Jesse Steele tallied a career high 21 points at Robert Morris. Steele was 6-11 from the floor, including 4-8 beyond the arc.

A Look Ahead

We get closer to calling a conference winner with exciting matchups on tap for Thursday and Saturday.

January 27:

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

January 29:

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