Somerset, NJ -- Following a thrilling run to the 2011 Northeast Conference (NEC) men's basketball title, head coaches have picked Long Island to repeat as NEC champion. The announcement was made on Wednesday morning during a media teleconference to promote the tipoff of the 2011-12 season, the 31st in the league's history. The Blackbirds, who won the 2011 NEC Tournament crown with an 85-82 overtime victory over Robert Morris, claimed 10 of the possible 12 first-place votes.
Horton is joined by a pair of Long Island junior forwards in Julian Boyd (San Antonio, TX/William H.
With the start of the season right around the corner (and the preseason NEC Coaches Teleconference coming up on Wednesday morning), this is a good time to rank the backcourts and frontcourts of the Northeast Conference. First up are the top six backcourts in my opinion. Teams 7-12 will follow shortly, with the frontcourt rankings on deck. Feel free to comment below; I welcome solid hoops discussion.
Fri 12 vs. Cleveland St. (World Vision Basketball Classic) 7:00 PM
Sat 13 vs. Kent St. (World Vision Basketball Classic) 3:30 PM
Sun 14 vs. Iona (World Vision Basketball Classic) 3:00 PM
Wed 17 Salve Regina (exhibition) 7:00 PM
Sat 20 Army 3:30 PM
Wed 24 Harvard 4:00 PM
Sun 28 at Lehigh 7:00 PM
Thu 2 at Fairleigh Dickinson * TBA
Wed 8 Yale 7:00 PM
Sat 11 at Columbia TBA
Sun 19 at Boston College TBA
An eventful offseason for New York metropolitan area college basketball is steadily transitioning into the 2010-11 season, with individual workouts and team lifting sessions leading into the start of practice in four weeks. That also means the official release of schedules for most of the team, and you can find them here.
The Met Basketball Writers Association announced their annual honors on Wednesday, naming Hofstra junior guard Charles Jenkins the winner of the Haggerty Award (Player of the Year). Winning the award for the second consecutive year, Jenkins joins the following list of players to have won the Haggerty two or more times in their collegiate careers:
Seven teams get to continue their seasons in postseason play; while the New York metropolitan area goes another year without a participant in the NCAA Tournament there's value in being able to play somewhere. Three schools will take part in the NIT with Seton Hall and Stony Brook hosting games while St. John's hits the road. Three other schools will play in the CBI and CIT tournaments (Quinnipiac added in for a full article), meaning that just under a third of the twenty-four schools will play in a postseason tournament.
The top two seeds in the Northeast Conference tip off in less than two hours in Hamden with the winner earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Robert Morris and Quinnipiac met just once in the regular season with the Bobcats winning 87-79 back on February 20th. Tom Moore's team is 14-0 in home games this season, most recently surviving a challenge from LIU in Sunday's NEC semifinal. RMU, on the other hand, whipped Mount St. Mary's to earn their third consecutive NEC title game appearance.
With the top four seeds all moving into the NEC Tournament semifinals we should have two very good matchups on Sunday. The headliner: Mount St. Mary's visiting Robert Morris (7 PM, NortheastConference.TV) in the third meeting between the two this season. This also marks the fifth consecutive NEC Tournament in which the Mountaineers and Colonials play each other, with RMU winning last year's NEC final in Moon Township. The two teams split their regular season meetings with the home team winning both.
One of the eight teams in the Northeast Conference is just three wins away from earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with quarterfinal play kicking things off tonight. Quinnipiac and Robert Morris shared the regular season crown with matching 15-3 league records but Tom Moore's Bobcats get the top seed as a result of their head-to-head win in the lone meeting between the two.
The Northeast Conference announced its all-conference teams and major individual honors on Tuesday morning. The honorees are:
Jim Phelan Coach of the Year: Tom Moore (Quinnipiac)
Player of the Year: F Justin Rutty (Quinnipiac)
Rookie of the Year: G Karon Abraham (Robert Morris)
Defensive Player of the Year: G Mezie Newigwe (Robert Morris)
Most Improved Player: C Liam Potter (Sacred Heart)
The final weekend of the regular season is here in the NEC and there are just two available spots for the NEC Tournament and four teams fighting for them. Monmouth is the one team with the ability to punch their ticket tonight but they'll have quite the task at Quinnipiac. A game behind them in the standings are CCSU and St. Francis (NY), and those two meet on Saturday in Brooklyn with the winner likely qualifying for the NEC Tournament. And Sacred Heart is the team with the most left to do at this point, sitting at 6-10 in the standings.
Atlantic 10: Fordham freshman forward Chris Gaston was named to the league's Honor Roll on Sunday, averaging 23 points and 12 rebounds per game in the Rams' two contests.
Big East: A pair of Scarlet Knights were honored on Monday with Dane Miller winning his third consecutive Rookie of the Week award and Hamady Ndiaye being named to the Honor Roll. Miller averaged 12.5 points and 8.0 rebounds while Ndiaye added 14.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocks in Rutgers' 1-1 week.
This time around Syracuse didn't wait to get going against Georgetown, racing out to a 20-6 lead in the game's first six minutes. Things didn't get much better for the Hoyas despite Chris Wright scoring 12 first half points as they went into the locker room trailing by thirteen (44-31), and the Orange increased the lead to as many as 23 points (60-37) by the time the second half was less than eight minutes old.
Weekly Honors (announced on Monday)
Choice Hotels Co-Players of the Week: F Kelly Beidler (Mount St. Mary's) and G James Johnson (Quinnipiac)
Beidler averaged 15.5 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.5 rebounds in wins over Monmouth and FDU last week, helping the Mountaineers move their win streak to six games. Johnson averaged 20 ppg last week as the Bobcats locked up at least one NEC Tournament home game with wins over SFNY and LIU.
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.
Thursday marks the beginning of "Rivalry Week" a concept the NEC has adopted this season with all six games matching familiar foes, and the games will be repeated at the opposite site on Saturday. While LIU/St. Francis (NY) and Monmouth/FDU could be the most competitive matchups (Quinnipiac/Sacred Heart shouldn't disappoint either) on paper, there's also the matter of the league's hottest team (Robert Morris) taking its seven-game win streak on the road.
Choice Hotels Player of the Week: F Corey Hassan (Sacred Heart)
Hassan won his third Player of the Week award this season, averaging 21.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in the Pioneers' 2-0 week.
Choice Hotels Rookie of the Week: F Russell Johnson (Robert Morris)
In the Colonials' 2-0 week on the road, Johnson averaged 11.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals per game. Johnson leads all conference freshmen in rebounding with an average of 5.8 boards per game.
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.
It's "Rematch Week" in the NEC with games being returns of last weeks' matchups. The game of interest tonight is Saint Francis (PA) visiting Monmouth, who will be without the services of leading scorer Travis Taylor. Taylor, who shared Choice Hotels Player of the Week honors with Quinnipiac's James Feldeine, is suspended for the next seven games for a violation of team rules. The good news (if there is any when you lose your leading scorer) is that the Hawks play their first two without Travis at home, where they're 3-0 in NEC games this season.
Thanks to a phenomenal second half from freshman Karon Abraham we may be well on the way to separation within the Northeast Conference. In a matchup of two teams with one league loss Abraham scored twenty second-half points in Robert Morris' 80-73 win over Fairleigh Dickinson (4-13, 3-2) in Moon Township. The Colonials (9-8, 4-1) did a better job rebounding and scoring in the paint in the final twenty minutes and that was the difference. FDU, who was led by Alvin Mofunanya's 22 points, had their three-game win streak ended and fell to 3-2 in NEC play.
Included on Wednesday's area schedule are a pair of Big East games that the home teams can't afford to perform poorly in given the the pulse of the public. St. John's hosts Cincinnati in the first game of a doubleheader at Madison Square Garden, a game that many will watch because of the return of Brooklyn native Lance Stephenson. Stephenson had a few things to say in regards to why he chose Cincinnati instead of St. John's, but the Red Storm have more important things to worry about with their offensive efficiency being the chief concern.
The first Thursday of the new year brings a full slate of NEC games, with Robert Morris (7-7, 2-0) visiting LIU (4-9, 2-0) in a game matching NEC unbeatens (7:30 PM). The Blackbirds, currently mired in a six-game losing skid, can look no further than their turnover margin when looking for reasons why. LIU is currently a -4.6 in that department while the Colonials are a +1.4, and that statistic will play a major role in the winner of tonight's game. Mike Rice has juggled his rotation in recent weeks with freshman guard Karon Abraham leading the way.
With all these lists out for players and teams of the decade it's only right that I do one for the NEC. It's been a calm decade (relatively speaking) in regards to conference membership, with UMBC leaving for America East following the 2002-03 season and not being replaced until the NEC added Bryant before last season. Due to that those two schools won't be included in this list, but there's some quality from which to choose among the other eleven schools.
Player of the Year Possibilities
The month of December is when college basketball heats up thanks to the end of the college football season. There are also mid-season defections and transfers to account for, along with injuries. That's what teams in the New York metropolitan area have dealt with recently, beginning with Fordham firing Dereck Whittenburg following the decision of PG Jio Fontan to transfer. Assistant Jared Grasso has taken over and picked up a win in his first game as head coach, beating Stony Brook and scoring 93 points in the process.
Just like the MAAC the Northeast Conference is a league that starts league play in December due to its eighteen-game schedule and early March conference tournament. And the league schedule-makers gave their fans a treat with the last two conference champions meeting on Thursday night. Mount St. Mary's (2008 champ) heads to Moon Township to take on Robert Morris (2009 champ) in the league's opening night showcase game. The game will be the Colonials' first home game of the season and their current record (1-4, 0-3 on the road) could mean that a return home is welcome.
America East: Stony Brook F/G Tommy Brenton was named to the conference's Honor Roll due to his averages of 10.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game last week. The Seawolves are 3-0 for the first time since 1994.
Atlantic 10: Fordham F Chris Gaston was named to the Honor Roll due to his averages of fifteen points and ten rebounds per game in three games. The freshman has a pair of double-doubles to his credit thus far.
About Raphielle Johnson
College sports has always been a source of excitement for Raphielle Johnson, be it through watching, writing, or taking a shot in the dark and walking onto a college football team just to live the life (Arizona Football, 2001). Raphielle is the assistant editor, providing his own work in addition to helping out with the site operations. When not writing for CHN, you can usually find him in front of a television set watching one of many pay-per-view sports packages that he owns. He can be followed at twitter.com/raphiellej.
In a gym near you