The regular season has come to an end. The season always seem to go be so fast every year especially if your team is having a successful season. On Tuesday, the NEC will announce their yearly men’s basketball postseason awards and since it being award season, it is time to hand out some fictional hardware.
I’m doing it a little bit different though. Not only am I giving my picks for the NEC Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most-Improved Player of the Year, Player of the Year and All-NEC rookie, first, second and third teams, I’m also giving some awards for NEC MBB Game of the Year, Play of the Year, best announcers on NEC Front Row, best home crowd, best TV game, and best individual performance of the year. With that, let’s hand out some awards. Let’s begin with the the fun awards first and then get to the major awards at the end.
Best NEC MBB Individual Performance of the Year: Sam Prescott, Mount St. Mary’s.
Prescott scored 44 points on Valentine’s Day, hitting on 10 of 14 three pointers and making 16 of 24 shots in 33 minutes of playing time. Crazy thing is that he only scored 2 of his 44 points from the free throw line. It was an amazing shooting night for the junior guard. Honorable mentions goes: Kyle Vinales of CCSU (42 pts on that same day), Matt Hunter of CCSU (40 pts), Jonathon Williams (33 pts & 17 rebs)
Best Home Crowd: Bryant University
In what was an amazing turnaround season for the Bryant Bulldogs, Bryant had two biggest and best crowds of the season when they hosted two of the biggest NEC games this year when LIU Brooklyn and Robert Morris visited the Chace Athletic Center. The line to get in these games went out the door and the student sections were fire code threatening-packed! Ironically, both games resulted in losses but the Bryant fans and student body should be recognized for giving their team an amazing sixth man for their biggest games this season.
Best Announcers on NEC Front Row: Seth Cantor, Jaden Daly and Jamaal Womack, St. Francis Brooklyn
Both Seth Cantor and Jaden Daly do a great job calling the play-by-play at Terrier home games. Without a doubt, the most entertaining color guy on NEC Front Row is Jamaal Womack. The former Terriers star drops great one-liners, has great energy and does a nice job analyzing the action. For me, this group is on the best listen on NEC Front Row. No doubt, Womack might not be everyone cup of tea but for me, I take him over the loud, overly obnoxious homer guys who can’t get the names of players on the opposing teams right, any day of the week. Those guys know who they are.
Best TV Game: LIU Brooklyn at Wagner, 2/24/13
This game appeared against the Oscars a couple of Sundays ago and it was worthy of an award itself. The nationally televised ESPNU game had it all. High scoring, big defensive plays, the road team getting up double digits, questionable officiating, the home team coming back in the second half, the road team making a furious comeback in the last two minutes to tie it and a last second layup to give the home team the win. In the end, it was a game many people were talking about on social media and was a great showcase for the NEC.
NEC Play of the Year: Who else, Mr. Clutch himself Robert Morris’ Velton Jones hitting game-winner vs LIU Brooklyn 2/2/13
No one else in the NEC is more worthy of the title, Mr. Clutch than RMU’s Velton Jones. He added to that reputation when he hit this game winner vs LIU Brooklyn to give RMU the win in their only meeting this season. He did this just two days after missing most of his previous game where he hurt his shoulder. For most of this game, he was the one-armed man. When it counted the most, he delivered.
NEC Game of the Year: Robert Morris at Bryant 2/28/13
There were three legit candidates for this award. LIU Brooklyn at Wagner on 2/24/13, LIU Brooklyn at Bryant on 1/26/13 but I have to go with the game that meant the most which was RMU at Bryant. The winner would get #1 seed. In front of packed Chace Athletic Center, Bryant would get up by 9 in the first half before RMU would come back. In the final five minutes, RMU would go ahead and not give back the lead as RMU won a close affair 77-75.
Now time to hand out the major hardware:
NEC Defensive Player of the Year: Matt Hunter, CCSU
It may be hard to fathom that any CCSU player could be good enough to be considered for this award much less win it. Just look at his numbers. Hunter is number one in the NEC in steals (2.7 spg), tenth in blocks (0.9 bpg), seventh in rebounds (7.7 rpg). He is second in the NEC in steal rate. Yet, he probably won’t get a sniff at the actual award. Honorable mentions: Kenneth Ortiz of Wagner and Ousmane Drame of Quinnipiac.
NEC Most-Improved Player of the Year: Jalen Cannon, St. Francis Brooklyn
Cannon at one time was looking like the NEC Player of the Year early on. Inconsistency scoring, especially down the stretch of the NEC season hurt his chances of that, but he made major strides to his offensive game from his freshman year to his sophomore year this season. He began developing a three point shot this season and made 55% of his shot for the second straight season. He increased his free throw percentage to nearly 68% and averaged 8.9 rebounds per game and a steal per game. His rebounding numbers stayed steady near the very top of the NEC.
NEC Rookie of the Year: Shivaughn Wiggins, Mount St. Mary’s
In what was a two person battle for most of the season between Wiggins and E.J. Reed of LIU Brooklyn, Wiggins just edges out Reed for the award. Wiggins’ late season surge is what put him over the top. Wiggins since getting inserted into the Mount’s starting lineup has averaged 14.5 points per game over the last 14 games including a career-high 28 points vs FDU in the regular season finale. Reed had a higher points per 40 minutes played and also a slightly better effective field goal percentage than Wiggins. Wiggins had 13 double digit scoring games, Reed had ten. In a close call, to be fair, I have to give the edge to Wiggins although I wouldn’t be surprised if Reed got the award. Both are pretty deserving.
NEC Coach of the Year: Tim O’Shea, Bryant
Bryant completed one of the biggest one-year turnarounds in NCAA history under fifth-year head coach Tim O’Shea. Last season, Bryant won two games and just one in the NEC. This season, the Bulldogs won 19 games and won 12 games in conference. Honorable mentions: Jamion Christian of MSM, Jack Perri of LIU Brooklyn, Andy Toole of RMU.
NEC Player of the Year: Jamal Olasewere, LIU Brooklyn
Olasewere took over the main man role on his LIU Brooklyn team after reigning NEC Player of the Year Julian Boyd went down on December 12th at Rice to a torn ACL. Olasewere is third in the NEC in scoring (19.2 ppg), fourth in rebounding (8.4 rpg), ninth in field goal percentage (51%), tied for eighth in steals (1.5 spg), in the top 10 in blocks, second in points per 40 minutes played (25.3). He was third in the nation in fouls drawn per 40 minutes (7.9), second in the nation in free throws attempted (235) and seventh in the nation in free throws made (163). He is one of the hardest player to matchup against in the NEC. He was simply the best all-around player in the conference this season.
BHJ’s All-NEC Rookie Team:
Shivaughn Wiggins – G – Mount St. Mary’s
E.J. Reed – F – LIU Brooklyn
Brandon Peel – F – Central Connecticut
Eric Fanning – G – Wagner
Ben Millaud-Meunier – G – St. Francis University
BHJ’s All-NEC First Team:
Jamal Olasewere – F – LIU Brooklyn
Alex Francis – F – Bryant
Shane Gibson – G – Sacred Heart
Jason Brickman – G – LIU Brooklyn
Kyle Vinales – G – Central Connecticut
BHJ’s All-NEC Second Team:
Jalen Cannon – F – St. Francis Brooklyn
Jonathon Williams – F – Wagner
Dyami Starks – G – Bryant
C.J. Garner – G – LIU Brooklyn
Lucky Jones – G – Robert Morris
BHJ’s All-NEC Third Team:
Kinu Rochford – F – Fairleigh Dickinson
Ike Azotam – F – Quinnipiac
Frankie Dobbs – G – Bryant
Kenneth Ortiz – G – Wagner
Karvel Anderson – G – Robert Morris