2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Northeast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 26th, 2012

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the NEC.

Top Storylines

  • A Dynasty Grows In Brooklyn: It’s probably fitting that the Northeast Conference administrators chose the brand-new Barclays Center to host its annual media day. The NEC trophy has resided in this borough two straight years and LIU Brooklyn is planning on a unique ‘three-peat’. In the NEC’s 32-year history, no team has captured the title for three straight seasons. LIU Brooklyn is primed to finish the trifecta, but there will be stiff competition. Mainstays Robert Morris, Quinnipiac and Wagner will be in the hunt, and don’t forget ‘Battle of Brooklyn’ nemesis, St. Francis, just a mile away in Brooklyn Heights. The Terriers surprised last season and have enough returning talent to continue their recent success.
  • They’re Watching And Noticing: One of the significant aspects of the NEC’s improvement can be seen in coaching mobility. The higher-level schools are looking at and hiring mentors who prove they can X and O in this conference. Three years ago, Mike Rice went from Robert Morris to Rutgers. This past season, Duquesne chose LIU Brooklyn’s Jim Ferry, while Rhode Island, another Atlantic 10 school, obtained the services  of Danny Hurley, who quickly reversed fortunes at Wagner. As one coach noted at media day, “you have a group of good, aggressive coaches here who can build and run a program.” No surprise NEC coaches are on the big boys’ short lists.

LIU Brooklyn’s Julian Boyd Returns For NEC Favorite LIU Brooklyn. (AP)

  • Circle the Date: Wagner faces off against Temple, Syracuse, Penn, Princeton, Hofstra  and plays in the Cable Car Classic in Santa Clara. However, a relatively early game of note is January 10 at LIU Brooklyn. The Seahawks have a four-game losing streak in the series and Wagner coach Bashir Mason all too well knows the the road to the NEC title will go through Brooklyn.

Reader’s Take I

Early Power Rankings (last season’s record in parentheses)

  1. LIU Brooklyn (25-9, 16-2 NEC): The Blackbirds seemingly have it all: Experience, depth and recent success of enviable excellence. And talent. Start with returning NEC Player of the Year, Julian Boyd. The 6’7” senior forward put together a sterling season where he averaged 17 points and nine rebounds per contest, highlighted by 14 double-doubles. Jamal Olasewere, another first team All-NEC pick, returns up front as well. In the backcourt is junior Jason Brickman. Seventh nationally with 7.3 assists per outing, Brickman has drawn praise from rival coaches for his passing ability and expertise in controlling the game. Coach Jack Perri is now at the helm with Jim Ferry gone to Duquesne. The transition has been very smooth for the former LIU assistant. Winners of 34 of their last 36 conference games, the Blackbirds are NEC favorites. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 24th, 2011

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

Looking Back

Early-season returns proved Long Island will have some challenges if they hope to defend their Northeast Conference crown. Wagner is off to a good start with a competitive loss at Connecticut being their only blemish so far. Robert Morris likewise, is fast out of the gate. Central Connecticut found some scorers which will make them a more dangerous club and take pressure off their senior do-everything star Ken Horton. Quinnipiac found another tough rebounder and will prove again to be a force under the glass. St. Francis (NY) lost at Seton Hall in overtime and the Terriers have struggled thanks to some late game  problems.

Player of the Week: Ike Izotam, 6’7” So. F, Quinnipiac – Averaged 16 points and 16 rebounds in a 2-0 week for the Bobcats. Izotam is tied for first in the nation and leads the NEC in rebounding with 14.0 per game.

Rookie of the Week: Kyle Vinales, 6’4” guard, Central Connecticut – In a 39 point outburst against Niagara, Vinales scored 29 in the first half, including 16 in the game’s opening six and a half minutes. That performance marked the most points by a player in this young season.

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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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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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