NEC MBB Week 1 Recap

With LIU Brooklyn in the middle of a ten day layoff between games, it is a good time to review the first week of the NEC basketball season and see how the rest of the league has started out their 2013-14 campaign.

– One upset and one near close upset was the story of the NEC the first few days, both from the Brooklyn teams. St. Francis Brooklyn beat the ACC’s Miami (FL) on the road in overtime and LIU Brooklyn was one Jason Brickman shot away from beating Indiana on their home court, losing by one. Plus there was some other good wins for the NEC: Robert Morris winning on the road at Lafayette and Bryant’s throttling of Vermont at home.

– Yes, its just week one but you have to pay attention to the numbers Bryant’s Dyami Starks is putting up. Through his team’s first three games, Starks has already scored an even 100 points! He dropped back-to-back 35 point games in a opening game loss at Gonzaga and a win at Dartmouth and then he eased up and scored just 30 on Vermont in the Bulldogs’ home opener on Saturday. Starks is currently the nation’s leading scorer at a 33.3 ppg clip. What is more impressive, he is shooting 54% from the field and 44% from three. He has started the year on fire in helping Bryant get off to a 2-1 start.

– Another player who is a national statistical leader in LIU’s Jason Brickman. Through LIU’s first two games, Brickman has 25 assists after getting 14 vs Saint Peter’s and another 11 vs Indiana (most of the national sport sites have him at 24 assists with just 10 asts vs Indiana but he did end up with 11 versus IU). Brickman is currently the only player nationally averaging double-digits assists at 12.5 apg. Brickman, at this current pace, will break the NEC career assist record of 804 (Drafton Davis, Marist, 1984-88) on December 5th at Seton Hall, LIU’s seventh game of the season. He is currently 61 assists away from the record.

– Teams who has surprised early: Bryant and St. Francis Brooklyn. Bryant is off to a 2-1 start as I mentioned. The Bulldogs are off to a flying start offensively averaging an NEC-leading 83.3 ppg. Along with Starks’ hot start, the Bulldogs are getting big contributions from their other starters Alex Francis, Joe O’Shea and Corey Maynard. Francis is averaging 16.7 ppg/7 rpg, O’Shea is averaging 11.7 ppg and Corey Maynard running the point is averaging 9.3 ppg/6.0 rpg/4.3 apg. Bryant is shooting a blistering 52.8% from the field through their first three games and knocking down almost 33% of their three-pointers. Something to watch out for though is the amount of minutes their big four is logging early on. Starks/Francis/O’Shea/Maynard all are playing 30 mpg-plus to start. We’ll see how all these minutes will effect them come later in the season. St. Francis Brooklyn is also off to a 2-1 start but they have been doing it on the defensive end of the floor. Their are currently at the top of the NEC in scoring defense allowing just 65.7 ppg. They are currently the only NEC team allowing under a point per possession defensively (0.89 ppp). Jalen Cannon is off a great start to his junior season with 14.3 ppg/9.0 rpg through their first three games. But it has been the early play of freshman forward Wayne Martin who has opened some eyes at St. Francis Brooklyn. Martin is the Terriers’ second-leading scorer and rebounder at 12.7 ppg/6.0 rpg. Martin was been key in their two wins at Miami (FL) and at Florida Atlantic. He was named the first NEC Rookie of the Week of the season.

– Two teams who have been a disappointment early: Central Connecticut and Mount St. Mary’s. Central Connecticut is off a 0-3 start after losses to Yale, Purdue and Northeastern. Grant it, they have yet to play a home game but this is a team that was expected to get off to a better start. Kyle Vinales has picked up right where he left off last season averaging 26.0 ppg in his first two games but missed the team’s last game at Northeastern with an undisclosed injury. The Blue Devils have lost every game so far by an average of 22 points. They are dead last in the NEC in scoring defense allowing 95 ppg and defensive PPP at 1.22 ppp. After Vinales, they have no one else averaging in double-digit scoring. Mount St. Mary’s in now 0-4 after four straight road losses to some teams (West Virginia, Purdue, BYU, UMBC). The Mount blew a 23-point lead to UMBC with 14 minutes to play and lost in overtime on Sunday afternoon. Although Julian Norfleet is having an excellent start to his senior year (19.8 ppg/5.8 apg/45 FG%), his teammates haven’t been as fortunate. Sam Prescott in particular is off to a real tough start (7.0 ppg/26.5 FG%). Their schedule and travel has been brutal to start and they have yet to play at Knott Arena but they were hoping to get off to better start than this. Mount Mayhem has yet to get into full effect. They’re scoring offense and offensive PPP is the middle of the pack and are near the bottom in scoring defense and defensive PPP.

– How do you score 118(!) points….and still lose. That was what Sacred Heart was pondering on Wednesday night after losing to Holy Cross in double overtime 122-118. Sacred Heart blew a four-point lead with 13 seconds left to go to overtime and then lose. Both teams scored 98 points in regulation. Evan Kelley, back from missing most of last season with injury, scored a career-high 32 points, Steve Glowiak put in 28 points off the bench yet couldn’t fend off the Crusaders at the end. A tough loss for the Pioneers.

– Lastly, last night it was the rematch between Robert Morris and Kentucky and this time around, it wasn’t a contest. Kentucky and their new band of future NBA stars, took it to RMU early and routed the Colonials 87-49 at Rupp Arena. RMU shot just 23.2% on the Wildcats and superior size, speed and strength. No one on RMU with the exception of Desjuan Newton (11 pts/6 shots/5 rebs/19 mins) and off the bench had a good game in this one. RMU though is still off to a good 2-2 start.

Comments

  1. Dan from Staten Island says:

    Hi, Nellie! Was just wondering whether, based on some of the overall results from this young season, whether you would revise your projected finishes for any of the NEC schools. As far as the suddenly-promising Terriers are concerned, think that we all are taking a wait-and-see approach to what will unfold as it gets deeper into the season. Things would look a bit better if the Terriers had at least one more consistent long-range shooter to pair up with Mockford or to substitute for him when he goes into one of his cold spells. Think that Mockford’s entire game would rachet up a notch if he looked to drive a bit more and got to the foul line. He’s an excellent free throw shooter, but never gets the opportunity because he’s always trying to score from a different zip code. So far, it appears that Isailovic is still trying to get himself untracked (really disappointing because he came into the program with the rep as an outstanding juco three-point gunner), Braica continues to be more comfortable with Santavenere in a limited role, and both Hagigal and Hopkinson still have to get their feet wet in Div I play before they see any appreciable court time. The one thing that will apparently sustain the Terriers throughout the season will be their tenacious defensive mentality.

    • Dan from Staten Island says:

      Just finished watching Terriers vs Coastal Carolina. Hard to believe that this is the same team that took the floor vs Miami and Syracuse. Have to keep remembering that it’s tough playing on the road game after game. These guys desperately need some home cooking! And fast!!!

  2. Dan From Staten Island says:

    Based on what we’ve seen out of the NEC teams so far, how would you now rate their chances in the league based on the early season results?

    • Hi Dan, I think St. Francis Brooklyn has moved up to sleeper status with the way they have started out the season. I mean, how could you not after watching them play against Miami and Syracuse on the road. I still wouldn’t put them in upper tier just yet. Their defense has been excellent so far but I still have concern with their backcourt. Martin is definitely the early front runner for NEC POY. Cannon is great. Mockford I’m still not high on. I’m still taking a wait and see with the Terriers before I’m can give them real serious consideration to be an NEC contender.

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