2017 BHJ’s NEC Postseason Awards

It was another season of change in the Northeast Conference in 2016-17. Only one NEC first-team selection and six players from the three All-NEC teams returned back this season resulting in a new wave of talent getting their opportunity to shine.

After four hard-fought months of basketball and two months of battling each other for NEC supremacy, it is time once again to dish out our version of the NEC postseason awards and gives recognition to all those who had excellent seasons in 2016-17 for their teams.
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Fairleigh Dickinson snaps LIU Brooklyn’s six-game win streak with impressive 83-66 win

In the battle of 6-1 teams, it was a dominating home performance by FDU over LIU Brooklyn. (Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ)

In the battle of 6-1 teams, it was a dominating home performance by FDU over LIU Brooklyn. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

It was supposed to be a premier matchup between two of the three first-place teams in the Northeast Conference entering today. But Fairleigh Dickinson came with their explosive offense and added a strong defensive game and took advantage of LIU Brooklyn miscues in the first half to open up a healthy lead which LIU couldn’t overcome and snapped the Blackbirds six-game win streak with an impressive 83-66 win at the Stratis Arena in Teaneck, NJ.

LIU lead for all of 15 seconds in this game in the early stages as FDU were quick to take advantage of LIU turnovers and turn them into points.

LIU were able to stay with the Knights even after going cold from the field due to FDU’s foul woes that saw LIU reach the double bonus with 10:46 left in the first half.  [Read more…]

2016 BHJ’s NEC Postseason Awards

This season was a season of transition for the Northeast Conference. Nine of the fifteen players who were selected on the three All-NEC teams last season were seniors including the entire All-NEC first team.

With that, new opportunities emerged and the spotlight began shining on players who never previously got the playing time or were in the shadows of talented upperclassmen on their teams.

Now, that the 18-game, two-month grind that is the NEC regular season is now over, it is once again time to hand out our annual imaginary awards and recognized those here at Blackbirds Hoops Journal feel should get the recognition for a season of outstanding play for their teams. [Read more…]

FDU gets season sweep of LIU as Darian Anderson hurts ‘Birds once again

FDU's Darian Anderson hit this fadeaway jumper over LIU's Trevin Woods with 17.9 seconds left which proved to be the game-winner Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Bob Dea - BHJ)

FDU’s Darian Anderson hit this fadeaway jumper over LIU’s Trevin Woods with 17.9 seconds left which proved to be the game-winner Saturday afternoon. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

Time to introduce everyone to the new LIU Brooklyn killer. His name is Darian Anderson and he plays for Fairleigh Dickinson.

For the second time in nine days, Darian Anderson and his ability to step up when his team needed him to do so, scored the game-winning basket on a baseline fallaway jumper with 17.9 seconds remaining to give FDU a 88-85 victory over the Blackbirds on Saturday afternoon at the Steinberg Wellness Center in front of their biggest home crowd of the season for LIU Brooklyn Hall of Fame Day and thus take the season sweep over the Blackbirds. [Read more…]

Blackbirds allow 62 points in the second half in loss at FDU

LIU Brooklyn couldn't hold on a fourteen-point second half lead as FDU came back to beat LIU Thursday night. (Photo: Bob Dea)

LIU Brooklyn couldn’t hold on a fourteen-point second half lead as FDU came back to beat LIU Thursday night. (Photo: Bob Dea – BHJ)

LIU Brooklyn was eleven minutes away from a perfect 3-0 road trip. They had a ten-point lead, they were once up fourteen points and things looked good for the Blackbirds.

Unfortunately, Fairleigh Dickinson went back to a tactic that was successful in the first half. The full court press. FDU caused LIU to commit twelve second half turnovers and shot 58 percent from the floor in their 101-95 come-from-behind win at Stratis Arena Thursday night. [Read more…]

2015-16 Northeast Conference Men’s Basketball Awards Predictions

Another great season of college basketball is about to unfurl as we creep towards Halloween and November which means it’s time to start making predictions for the upcoming 2015-16 Northeast Conference season.

This season, only four of the fifteen players who were named on the three All-NEC teams last season return back as well as just one of the four individual player award winners. This opens up room for some new, young and up-and-coming stars in the conference to begin getting the opportunity for recognition in a league which seems to be once again wide open.

Now, it is time to unveil the Blackbirds Hoops Journal’s prediction for the 2015-16 NEC awards beginning with the All-NEC Rookie Team. [Read more…]

2015 BHJ’s NEC Postseason Awards

With another exciting Northeast Conference men’s basketball regular season now in the books, it is time to get ready to hand out some imaginary hardware.

Coming into this season, there were a handful of players who we knew would have outstanding seasons and lead their teams to great success. Yet, there was a lot of unknown with the large amount of turnover the NEC had after last season with many of their stars graduating and a lot of new faces entering the conference.

But the season once again showed it is good to have star players on your team and this season in particular showed that there is a lot of good talent that is going to be around for the next few years.

So let’s get started! Here are my picks for All-NEC teams, NEC Rookie of the Year, NEC Most Improved Player of the Year, NEC Defensive Player of the Year, NEC Coach of the Year and NEC Player of the Year.

BHJ’s All-NEC Third Team

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Graphic courtesy of Basketball State (bbstate.com)

BHJ’s All-NEC Second Team

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Graphic courtesy of Basketball State (bbstate.com)

BHJ’s All-NEC First Team

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Graphic courtesy of Basketball State (bbstate.com)

Before I get to my All-NEC First Team, putting together the All-NEC Third team was by far the toughest task. I started out having seven players for five spots. After doing some comparables, I had to reluctantly eliminate Bryant’s Joe O’Shea and FDU’s Mustafaa Jones from the list. I was also reluctant to put two freshman on the All-NEC second team. RMU’s Marcquise Reed is deserving of not just second team but probably even first team but with five worthy upperclassmen on the first team, second team it is for Reed. Originally, I had Cane Broome on my All-NEC third team but his numbers were so good and his impact to Sacred Heart was so great, I had to move him up to second team. Now, to my All-NEC First Team:

Jalen Cannon (F) St. Francis Brooklyn – The best forward this season in all of the NEC by far. A double-double machine, Cannon collected 18 double-doubles this season. Even more impressive, he fouled out just once the entire season and didn’t get four fouls in any game this season with the exception of the game he fouled out in. That is truly remarkable especially in the NEC. He finished the regular season averaging a double-double 16.5 ppg and 10.2 rpg. You can go on and on about this guy. One of the best players in NEC history.

Brent Jones (G) St. Francis Brooklyn – I have to issue a personal apology to Brent Jones. Watching him play in his freshman and sophomore years, I thought his game was a determinant to his team. He was a turnover machine who couldn’t shoot and I thought the Terriers wouldn’t win with him. Well, I was wrong. He turned it around his junior year in a big way and was the best point guard in the NEC in his senior year. His game improved dramatically in his final two seasons and is one of the reasons why the Terriers were the best team in the NEC this season.

Earl Brown (F) Saint Francis U. – Brown has been a steadily improving force for the Red Flash throughout his career. Each year, he got better and better and this season will post career-highs in nearly all major categories. Without Brown to help lead the way for this veteran SFU team, this would probably be a team that struggle to even get into the NEC tournament. He posted eleven double-doubles this season. Well deserving of this spot.

Marcus Burton (G) Wagner – It is safe to say, if Wagner didn’t have Marcus Burton on their team this season, they wouldn’t be playing this week in the NEC tournament. There is no doubt in my mind. Burton is currently second in the NEC in scoring at 17.5 ppg. He had thirteen games this season in which he scored twenty or more points in a game and three times he went for over thirty points.

Dyami Starks (G) Bryant – It is no secret that Dyami Starks is a volume shooter and is part of the reason why he leads the NEC in scoring this season at 18.5 ppg. Yet, Starks has had an outstanding senior year to go with an outstanding three-year career at Bryant. He is Bryant’s go-to scorer and although he can be very streaky shooting the ball, there is no doubt he is one of the most feared shooters in the NEC. Ten times this season he scored over twenty points in a game. He also rarely comes out of the game, six times this season he played the full forty minutes. You have to give Starks his due.

BHJ’s All-NEC Rookie Team

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Graphic courtesy of Basketball State (bbstate.com)

BHJ’s NEC Rookie of the Year

Marcquise Reed (G) Robert Morris – It is incredible how RMU’s head coach Andy Toole does it. He loses one of the best pure shooters in the NEC last season in Karvel Anderson and he goes out and finds another great shooter to replace him. Reed is as impressive a freshman I have seen come into the NEC since Kyle Vinales stormed into conference for Central Connecticut three seasons ago. Reed’s shooting numbers are insane for any class but for a freshman it is almost hard to comprehend. He is shooting 50% from the field, for a guard! He is shooting 42.4% from three this season, for a freshman! He is second in the NEC in steals, he is first in the NEC in points scored over 40 minutes at 21.7 points per 40 minutes. Nine times scored at least 20 points in a game. He has had just a remarkable freshman campaign and will likely be a preseason All-NEC team selection next season.

BHJ’s NEC Most Improved Player

Matt Mobley (G) Central Connecticut – No player is more worthy of this award than CCSU’s Matt Mobley. Mobley averaged a respectable 6.7 ppg in his freshman year last season. This season, he had to take over the scoring load with no Kyle Vinales (0 games) or Malcolm McMillian (2 games) available and he nearly tripled his scoring output to 17.1 ppg. He started his season by scoring 30 points vs Fairfield and went from there. Eleven times this season he went for at least 20 points in a game and four times he scored at least 30 points in a game. He shot 40% from the floor and nearly 36% from three while playing the second most minutes of any player in the NEC. Quite a remarkable season for the sophomore.

BHJ’s Defensive Player of the Year

Amdy Fall (F) St. Francis Brooklyn – Another reason for the amazing season the St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers are having is due to play of junior forward Amdy Fall. Fall came into the NEC last season with a bit of reputation for being a strong interior defender and rebounder. He put that on display last season and this season, he took his defensive game to a new level. He is first in the NEC in blocks at 3.0 blocks per game. He almost doubles the next player on the list in blocks in the conference. It is not only that he blocks shots and play good interior defense, he gets timely blocks at crucial times and gets them in bunches. Eleven times this season he got at least four blocks in a game and twice got as high as six blocks in a game. No other player in the NEC has more than four games of at least four blocks this season. He is also a good rebounder and twice collected ten rebounds in a game. Hands down the best defensive player in the NEC this season.

BHJ’s NEC Coach of the Year

Glenn Braica – St. Francis Brooklyn – This was easily the hardest award to determine. There was several worthy candidates this season but in the end, St. Francis Brooklyn’s Glenn Braica deserves the honor. Braica coached a team that even though they were picked to win the NEC by the NEC coaches in the preseason, he did win unexpectedly dominating fashion in getting his team to a 15-3 mark in conference. He guided them to 21 wins in the regular season and that was after starting the season 0-5. It is never easy to finish on top when you have to the expectation to be the best but Braica did an outstanding job all season long of managing expectations and taking the pressure off his team even as the attention and notoriety kept building as they kept winning and winning.

BHJ’s NEC Player of the Year

Jalen Cannon (F) St. Francis Brooklyn – If there was really any doubt of who else it could really be. As I alluded to earlier, Cannon dominated through the NEC this season averaging a double-double for the season in points and rebounds. He led the NEC in double-doubles this season. He became the NEC’s all-time career rebounding leader and also became St. Francis Brooklyn’s all-time career scoring leader as well. He does all his damage without fouling much. He turned himself from just a dominating rebounder to an insider-outside scoring threat to go with his tremendous rebounding. He has had an amazing career at St. Francis Brooklyn for a player that was very likely recruited coming out of high school and will look to end it with getting his team into the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever in program history.