September has arrived and the fall semester is in session at pretty much every NEC school by now. There is it folks, the summer is sadly coming to an end. But day by day, we are getting closer to the return of college basketball as we are now just under a month until the unofficial start of the college basketball season when teams can begin practices for the upcoming season. We now enter the preview season as schedules, rosters, teams, conferences, coaches, players, stats, you name it gets looked at and glossed over meticulously to extract as much information and opinion as humanly possible. It is one of the fun times of the year. The first of many college basketball preview magazines has already hit newsstands and college hoops writers and bloggers will begin giving everyone their two cents and that is when the debate begins and fun truly starts. Got to love this time of the year as much as when the games start tipping off. With that let’s get back in the swing of things with the end-of-summer return of the News and Notes Around the NEC: The back-to-school edition.
Schedule Releases: Eight of the ten NEC men’s basketball teams has released their full 2013-14 schedule. Bryant, Central Connecticut, Fairleigh Dickinson, Mount St. Mary’s, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, St. Francis (PA) and Wagner have all put out their complete schedules. LIU Brooklyn (as most of us already know) and Robert Morris are the last two NEC schools to yet release their schedules.
Some of the most intriguing non-conference games for the schedule releases are Bryant at Gonzaga in the season opener, St. Francis Brooklyn at Syracuse, Wagner taking on St. John’s on the road. The award for hardest non-conference this season has to go to Mount St. Mary’s. They play their first five games on the road and the first three against difficult opponents, at West Virginia, at Villanova and at BYU. Plus they have games at Michigan State (!), at Penn State and at Texas Tech. The Mount will definitely have plenty of opportunities to get a big win or two under their belts this season. Honorable mention goes to Bryant. Their schedule has some tough games, as I mentioned at Gonzaga, then later home vs. Vermont, at Harvard, at Notre Dame, and at Ohio State.
Skinner joins Bryant’s staff: Former Rhode Island and Boston College head coach Al Skinner has joined Tim O’Shea coaching staff at Bryant this season as an assistant coach. Skinner’s last season as a head coach was in 2009-10 at Boston College. He took the Eagles to seven NCAA tournaments in thirteen seasons as well as taking Rhode Island to two NCAA tournaments in nine seasons there. He immediately becomes one of the most experienced assistant coaches in the NEC.
Sacred Heart’s Summer Trip to Canada: New Sacred Heart men’s basketball coach Anthony Latina took his team to Quebec province in Canada for their summer trip and played a few games against several Canadian schools. The guys over at Big Apple Buckets (Sacred Heart Alum Ryan Peters and John Templon) were all over this and gave a nice recap and of course, a tempo-free insight on what to possible expect from Sacred Heart as they transition from long-time former head coach Dave Bike to Latina this season.
Prediction Season Begins: The Sporting News 2013-14 College Basketball preview magazine is the first preview mag to hit the newsstands for the new season. They predict Mount St. Mary’s to win the NEC this season followed by Robert Morris, Bryant in their top three. They predict LIU Brooklyn to finish fourth. If you can’t find one at a newsstand near you, you can order one here.