Thursday NEC Preview

January 21st, 2010

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. The player to keep an eye on: freshman forward Ed Waite, who averages 9.1 points per game with a field goal percentage of just 39.6%.

As for the Red Flash, they've dropped three of their last four conference games but they've got one of the better freshmen in the NEC in guard Umar Shannon. Shannon is second on the team in scoring (Devin Sweetney) and has reached double figures in seven of his last eight games. But of importance on this night, especially when dealing with Monmouth head coach Dave Calloway's defense, is that he's also had two or more turnovers in seven of his last eight. Monmouth opponents have turned the ball over an average of 15.9 times thus far and with SFPA averaging just over sixteen turnovers per game this could be the imperfect storm for the Red Flash.

The Hawks will likely win because they have a larger array of offensive weapons while Saint Francis leans on Shannon and Sweetney to make things happen. In SFPA's current 1-3 stretch the senior has shot better than 40% from the field once, making six of eight shots in their two-point win over FDU on Saturday. Look for Monmouth's slightly better efficiency on both ends of the floor to be the difference in West Long Branch.

Thursday's Schedule

7:30p Bryant at Quinnipiac 
The Bulldogs are still in search of their first win of the season and they're going to have a tough go in Hamden against a Quinnipiac team that's won five straight with just one of those wins (64-63 over Mount St. Mary's) coming by single digits. James Feldeine, Justin Rutty and company led the Bobcats to a pair of impressive wins last week, seemingly taking some mercy on Bryant (80-66) after pasting CCSU by thirty-one in the prior game. And that was with Rutty scoring just seven points; Jeremy Baker and James Johnson are also more than capable of scoring as well. The Bobcats, who look more and more like a team capable of getting to the NCAA Tournament, simply have too much firepower for Bryant. 

7:30p Mount St. Mary's at St. Francis (NY)
The Terriers won three straight games, including one at The Mount, before dropping a road game at a bad Dartmouth team on Monday. SFNY shot 48.9% from the field in their win over the Mountaineers while holding Milan Brown's team to 34.5%. Those numbers bailed out the Terriers, who turned the ball over seventeen times to just nine for The Mount. The key for Jeremy Goode and company: slow down Ricky Cadell, who led SFNY to that win with 21 points. Neither of the Mount St. Mary's guards (Goode and Jean Cajou) shot well, combining to make just six of twenty-three baskets, something that has to change if they're to make a second-half run reminiscent of last season's streak. Don't be surprised if this comes down to the game's final possession. 

7:30p Robert Morris at FDU
Each team finished last week's meeting with four players scoring in double figures but Karon Abraham's second-half outburst was the difference in Moon Township. The key for the Colonials all season long has been consistency, which they have lacked at crucial times. FDU has won three league games after a rough start to the season under interim head coach Greg Vetrone and they're very much in the same boat as RMU when it comes to getting consistent performances from their upperclassmen. The triumvirate of Terence Grier, Sean Baptiste and Alvin Mofunanya has the ability to score points but the Knights will need PG Mike Scott to run the show in order to be successful. In last week's meeting the junior college transfer had seven turnovers, something that can't happen in tonight's rematch.  

7:30p Wagner at LIU
The Seahawks are one of two teams winless in conference play so it's a good thing that they picked up a couple of wins in their non-conference schedule. In last week's meeting the Blackbirds won by fifteen thanks to solid performances from David Hicks, Jaytornah Wisseh and Kyle Johnson, and defensively LIU forced eighteen Wagner turnovers. Michael Orock leads the way for Wagner but their youth, especially in the backcourt, has been an issue for much of the season. LIU is the NEC's most efficient team from an offensive standpoint while Wagner ranks 11th in that category. That's the difference despite the fact that these are the NEC's two worst teams when it comes to defensive efficiency. LIU should take care of business to remain atop the NEC standings.  

7:45p CCSU at Sacred Heart  
This matchup produced the surprising result of last week's games with the Blue Devils knocking off the Pioneers just two days after having their doors blown off by Quinnipiac. Shemik Thompson led four Blue Devils in double figures with 27 points and CCSU won 88-65 without leading scorer Robby Ptacek. Of the thirty field goals made by Howie Dickenman's team nineteen were assisted and the Pioneers turned the ball over twenty-one times. SHU isn't lacking when it comes to offensive firepower with Corey Hassan leading the way but when they have nights like that they're going to find themselves in trouble. Unless one team turns the ball over an incredible amount it's tough to see this one not being a hotly-contested game.