NEC Weekend Preview: "Separation Weekend"?

February 11th, 2010

With six games left in the regular season this is a big weekend for the NEC with spots three through ten separated by just two games. Robert Morris and Quinnipiac look to be the class of the NEC while Wagner and Bryant have an uphill climb to say the least in regards to simply making the tournament. The most important game on Thursday's schedule: Mount St. Mary's visiting Monmouth with both things in the thick of the NEC race for at the least a spot in the NEC Tournament. Milan Brown's Mountaineers have won four straight but they are 4-11 in road games this season, and the lone road win of their current streak came at Wagner.

This is an experienced team with guards Jeremy Goode and Jean Cajou leading the way, and they've been through this before as they needed a run last season that ended up with an appearance in the NEC Tournament final. The key against the Hawks will be defense; the Hawks will be without leading scorer Travis Taylor for the seventh and final game due to a violation of team rules and Dave Calloway's team is 2-4 in their last six. Monmouth has shot better than 37% from the field just once in those games and that was a win over Saint Francis (PA). Whitney Coleman and Will Campbell will need to shoot well and the same goes for Ed Waite if they're to defend their home floor.

Thursday's Games 

7p Saint Francis (PA) at Bryant
7p Wagner at FDU
7:30p Mount St. Mary's at Monmouth
7:30p St. Francis (NY) at Quinnipiac
7:45p LIU at Sacred Heart
8p Robert Morris at CCSU 

Game of the Night: St. Francis (NY) at Quinnipiac
This is a dangerous home game for the Bobcats, who sit just a game out of first place going into tonight's action. In James Feldeine and Justin Rutty QU has one of the better inside/outside tandems in the NEC, and defensively the Bobcats are one of the NEC's best. They'll need to be with Ricky Cadell and Akeem Bennett having the ability to be a handful offensively for opponents, and Brian Nash will need those two to be on their game in order to win. A win in Hamden would be huge for the Terriers given their game at Sacred Heart on Saturday matches two teams in the middle of the dogfight to qualify for the conference tournament. 

Saturday's Games

1p Saint Francis (PA) at CCSU
2p LIU at Quinnipiac
3:30p Robert Morris at Bryant
3:30p St. Francis (NY) at Sacred Heart
7p Wagner at Monmouth
7:30p Mount St. Mary's at FDU

Game of the Day: Saint Francis (PA) at CCSU
Both teams are on the tail end of the race for NEC Tournament berths, making this matchup vitally important regardless of Thursday's outcomes. The Red Flash have lost two straight and the formula for success for Don Friday's team is rather simple: make sure Devin Sweetney doesn't have to do it all by himself. Umar Shannon is the key in that regard; if he can get the job done on the perimeter that makes Sweetney's job that much easier. As for the Blue Devils, Shemik Thompson has been one of the leaders for a team that's won four straight and anyone who's followed NEC basketball knows better than to count out a Howie Dickenman-coached team. If Central brings their customary defensive effort it will be tough offensively for the Red Flash; should be a solid game. 

Weekly Honors (announced on Monday)

Choice Hotels Players of the Week: G Sean Baptiste (FDU) and G James Feldeine (Quinnipiac)
Baptiste averaged 25.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game in the Knights' two wins over Monmouth while Feldeine averaged 24.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game in two wins over Sacred Heart. 

Choice Hotels Rookie of the Week: G Karon Abraham (Robert Morris) 
Abraham averaged 13.5 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in two wins over Saint Francis (PA), winning the award for the fourth time this season.