NEC First Look: Central Connecticut State

 

This is the start of our NEC First Look series in which we take a early glance at all ten Northeast Conference men’s basketball teams for the 2015-16 college basketball season. 

Gone:

Malcolm McMillian (G) – Played in only two games before a back injury ended his season. Transferred to Canisius.

Matt Mobley (G) – NEC’s third leading scorer at 17.7 ppg. All-NEC Second Team. NEC Most Improved Player. Transferred to St. Bonvaventure.

Greg Andrade (G) – 3.0 ppg. 11 starts in 30 games last season.

Faronte Drakeford (F) – 12.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg. 28 starts in 30 games last season.

Juwan Newman (F) – Redshirted in ’14-’15. Played one season at CCSU, 3.8 ppg in ’13-’14. Transferred to Southwesten Oklahoma State.

Additions:

Eric Bowles (G)
Jahail Nails (G)
Austin Nehls (G)
Malik Toppin (F)
Evan Phoenix (F)
J.J. Cratit (G) (JUCO transfer)
Tidell Pierre (F) (JUCO transfer)

Pluses:

There weren’t many positives with this team last season. One bright spot was the play of sophomore guard Matt Mobley who increased his scoring average from 6.7 ppg his freshman year to 17.3 ppg last season to be named NEC Most Improved Player of the Year. He has fourteen games of 18 points or more.

Another bright spot was the play of their two front court guys in Faronte Drakefore and Brandon Peel. Drakeford averaged 12.9 ppg along with 7.0 rebounds while Peel finished with 9.1 ppg and 8.8 rpg. The two guys combined for 13 double-doubles.

Minuses:

Oh, where do we begin. Things went sour for them before the season ever even began. Senior Kyle Vinales didn’t make it to game one after being suspended and then ultimately leaving the program after getting arrested last October on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and third-degree assault. Then in game two of the season, senior Malcolm McMillian goes down with a bad back and missed the rest of the season. It was nothing but bad news from then on out as the Blue Devils went on to have a forgettable 5-26 season and fans were calling for the head of longtime head coach Howie Dickenman.

On offense, they had trouble scoring (last in scoring efficiency in the NEC) and on defense, they had trouble stopping anybody (last in defensive scoring efficiency in the NEC).  They were last in the NEC in points per game and points per possession. They turned the ball over in nearly 14% of their possessions. They had losing streaks of seven, eleven, six and two during the season. After the season, their two best returning players in McMillian and Mobley decide to transfer, leaving behind a gaping hole in the Blue Devils’ offense. They have just two players returning who averaged more than 9.0 ppg and they are Khalen Cumberlander and Brandon Peel. After that they don’t have a player returning who averaged more than 4.0 ppg last season. There are a ton of serious question mark for CCSU going into next season.

Potential Starting 5:

Kevin Seymour (G) – 3.9 points and 3.4 assists per game last season in 28 games last season. 21 starts.

Khalen Cumberlander (G) – Averaged nearly 10 points per game last season in 28 games last season. Started 23 games. Shot 40.6% from floor.

J.J. Cratit (G) – Recently committed to CCSU on June 21st. Played at Lewis and Clark CC last season. Averaged 14.6 points and 3.9 rebounds last season in 26 games played. Started in 23 games. Shot 39.2% from three.

Brandon Peel (F) – 9.1 points, 8.8 rebounds per game last season. Recorded eight double-doubles. 46.8% FG shooter last season.

Corey Barrett (F) – Played in 27 games. 2.1 ppg last season in limited playing time.

Early Outlook:

Bleek, unfortunately. I foresee more of the same this upcoming season. Beyond Peel, who I believe is going to have an outstanding season, who is going to step up for this team and put up some offense? Who is going to step up and be their Matt Mobley this upcoming season? Can Cumberlander be that guy and become an answer for them offensively or will they have to look elsewhere in new guys like J.J. Cratit or one of the freshman to provide that lift? There are just so many holes and so many questions mark on this team.

This is also Dickenman’s final year on his contract and the clamor by many CCSU supporters to make a change is getting louder and louder each disappointing season. This could be a program in turmoil if they don’t get off to a fast start in November and in January when NEC play begins.

CCSU has released their non-conference schedule. They have three home games in November, all against America East teams in Hartford, Binghamton and Maine. December is going to be no picnic for them with games at Fordham, at Rutgers and then closing the month at Connecticut before hosting Yale before going into NEC play.

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