NEC Weekend Preview

January 23rd, 2010

It's a full weekend for the Northeast Conference with five games today and one matinee Sunday. And in that matinee Quinnipiac, winners of six straight, can take a significant step in the growth of their program with a win over Central Connecticut State (Noon Sunday, NESN). Talking with head coach Tom Moore yesterday, he made the point that there would be no complacency on the part of his team despite beating the Blue Devils by 31 (76-45) last week due to the respect they have for head coach Howie Dickenman and his program. 

"In my opinion Coach Dickenman is the best coach in the league," said Moore. "They've done (3 NCAA berths) what we hope to do and we've never swept them in our time here." And with four upperclassmen in his starting lineup showing up should not be an issue. Coach Moore also made the point that in regards to the first meeting the majority of people asked "what's wrong with CCSU instead of what's right with Quinnipiac", noting that the win was the most complete performance for the Bobcats in his three years as head coach. In addition to the offensive ability of James Feldeine and Justin Rutty this is a team that's bought in on the defensive end of the floor.

Quinnipiac leads the NEC in both field goal percentage defense and rebounding margin, two areas the Bobcats have looked to establish in the three years under Coach Moore. The keys defensively? Rutty and Jeremy Baker, who Coach Moore described as their "glue guy and toughest competitor". Baker can play the 3 or the 4 when QU goes small, and Justin Rutty has improved as a defender since last season. "He's a better defender, both team and individual, and a better defensive rebounder as well." Rutty is among the best in the NEC in defensive rebounding this season, a good development for a guy thought of as only an offensive rebounder last season.

The Blue Devils will need a big afternoon out of Shemik Thompson if they're to beat a team that's 7-0 at home (4-0 in NEC home games) this season. The Blue Devils, who have been without leading scorer Robby Ptacek for the last three games due to a leg injury, will need to be efficient offensively if they're to have any chance of knocking off Quinnipiac in Hamden. But while the Blue Devils are a bit down this would still be a solid victory for Coach Moore's program.

Saturday's Games

3:30p Bryant at Sacred Heart
4p Robert Morris at Monmouth
4:30p Wagner at St. Francis (NY)
4:30p Mount St. Mary's at LIU
7:30p Saint Francis (PA) at FDU 

Game of the Day: Robert Morris at Monmouth
The Colonials won their meeting last week 78-67 and that was with Travis Taylor in the lineup for the Hawks. With him serving a seven-game suspension due to a violation of team rules Monmouth is going to need increased production from the likes of Ed Waite and Mike Myers-Keitt if they're to pick up the home win. In their win over Saint Francis (PA) on Thursday night it was a team effort, with every player who played double-digit minutes besides Dutch Gaitley scoring between five and twelve points.

Their defense was also up to snuff as the Red Flash made just 26.7% of their shots from the field. They'll need that kind of defensive effort in slowing down freshman guard Karon Abraham, who can be among the most explosive offensive players in the NEC. Abraham scored just nine in the win over FDU but with Russell Johnson and Gary Wallace combining to score 28 points off the bench the Colonials were still able to control the game. Look for this to be an entertaining matchup in West Long Branch.