Player of the Year Possibilities
With finals week now upon us and many NEC members taking on lighter workloads on the court this is a good opportunity to talk about some of the possible Player of the Year candidates at the halfway point of the season. For three of the likely leaders you can head to Connecticut, where Corey Hassan (Sacred Heart), Justin Rutty and James Feldeine (Quinnipiac) are plying their trade. Hassan, who was named Choice Hotels NEC Co-Player of the Week, leads the NEC in scoring (23.3 ppg) and ranks second in rebounding (8.7 rpg). A 6-5 wing that started his collegiate career at Boston University, Hassan also leads the NEC in made three pointers per game (4.2) and ranks fourth in three-point percentage (45.2%).
Rutty, also a senior, leads the conference in both rebounding (9.3 rpg) and double-doubles (3) to this point in the season. As for what Rutty, who was a first-team All-NEC selection last year (and in the preseason), can do in a single game check out his line against Rhode Island last week: 30 points and 15 rebounds. That performance marked the fourth time in his career in which he finished a game with 20+ points and 15+ rebounds. And with a capable perimeter player in James Feldeine helping to handle the scoring load for the Bobcats opponents can ill-afford to focus all of their attention on Rutty.
Feldeine currently leads the Bobcats in scoring at 19.8 points per game and he's right up there with Hassan and Sean Baptiste (FDU) when it comes to filling up the basket. James averaged 24 points per game in two games last week and it wouldn't be a stretch to say that kind of output is par for the course for the senior. Could he and Rutty "cancel" each other out? It's more than possible but if it comes to that then the likely outcome would be very good for Quinnipiac fans in regards to their team's fortunes.
There are definitely other candidates for this award, including Jaytornah Wisseh (LIU), Jeremy Goode and Jean Cajou (Mount St. Mary's), Travis Taylor (Monmouth), Ricky Cadell (St. Francis-NY) and Devin Sweetney (Saint Francis-PA). Rob Robinson (Robert Morris) could also enter consideration provided he plays with consistency. As is normally the case how well your team performs will play a role in who wins the Player of the Year award, but if the first six weeks of the season are any indication of the future then we're in for a wild ride.
Choice Hotels Players of the Week: G/F Corey Hassan (Sacred Heart) and F Travis Taylor (Monmouth)
A senior and a sophomore shared the Player of the Week honor, with Hassan earning his second award of the season. In a 1-1 week for the Pioneers Hassan averaged 22.0 points and 10.5 rebounds while making 47.5% of his shots from behind the arc. Taylor did the bulk of his work inside the three-point line but was just as effective, averaging 24 points and 7.5 rebounds in a 1-1 week for the Hawks. Travis made twelve of fourteen field goal attempts in Monmouth's 80-75 win over Penn.
Choice Hotels Rookie of the Week: G Karon Abraham (Robert Morris)
Abraham won his first Rookie of the Week award thanks to eighteen points scored in the Colonials' lone game last week, a 59-54 loss at Duquesne. Abraham, who leads the NEC in free throw percentage (88.9%) while also ranking in the Top 10 in both three-point percentage (45.9%) and made threes per game (2.13), actually leads the Colonials in scoring at just under ten points per game (9.6).
The Week Ahead
12/15 Robert Morris at Cleveland State 7:00 pm
12/16 Monmouth at Princeton 7:00 pm
Youngstown State at Saint Francis (PA) 7:00 pm
12/17 Wagner at Brigham Young 9:00 pm (Las Vegas Classic)
12/19 Saint Peter's at FDU 7:00 pm
Manhattan at Long Island 7:00 pm
Rider at Monmouth 7:00 pm
Mount St. Mary's at Pittsburgh 4:00 pm
Appalachian State at Robert Morris 7:00 pm
Wagner at Nevada 10:05 pm (Las Vegas Classic)
12/20 Bryant at Boston College 4:00 pm
Stony Brook at Sacred Heart 1:00 pm
Saint Francis (PA) at Akron 2:00 pm
Game of the Week: Rider at Monmouth (December 19th)
This should be interesting as Jhamar Youngblood returns to West Long Branch as a member of the Rider Broncs. Youngblood spent two seasons as a Hawk before a mutual parting of ways following the 2007-08 campaign. This matchup is intriguing because of the Broncs' occasional tendency to struggle defensively, and Dave Calloway's got a number of offensive weapons who can take advantage of that. The best individual matchup: Travis Taylor vs. Mike Ringgold. Both are undersized for their position but will work their tails off on both ends of the floor. Rider will be favored to win but don't be surprised if the Hawks pull the upset.