NORTHEAST CONFERENCE PREVIEW
-1. ROBERT MORRIS. When it comes to experience and talent the Colonials appear to have as much as anyone this year. They return four starters who averaged in double figures last year. Their most effective player on the offensive end is forward A.J. Jackson who averaged 17ppg and 9.3rpg a season ago. Tony Lee and Jeremy Chappell
make up a very good backcourt as well. They ended the season by losing four of their last six games, but all and all they appear to be the most talented team in the league this year.
-2. LONG ISLAND. The Blackbirds could really be the dark horse of this league. They ended last season by winning four of their last five before losing in the conference tournament. This year they have all five starters coming back and four other players who contributed minutes off the bench. Senior guard James Williams is a major impact player for them. He averaged 16.6ppg a season ago and is someone that they will heavily depend on. Aubin Scott is another good perimeter player for the Blackbirds. They only managed 12 wins a season ago, but they have a lot of potential to make a statement in the league this year.
-3. MONMOUTH. The Hawks really got hot toward the end of last season winning nine of their last twelve games, including the conference tournament and the opening round game in the NCAA Tournament. They did lose two of their starting guards, but they return sophomores Whitney Coleman and Michael Shipman who both saw significant minutes as freshman a year ago. Forwards Marques Alston and Dejan Delic are both big contributors underneath. Neither are very big, but both averaged in double figures last year. The Hawks have a very good chance at repeating as conference champions this season.
-4. CENTRAL CONNECTICUT. The Blue Devils lost two very good guards from last years team. They do have a good guard returning in Tristan Blackwood (14.3ppg), but it wont be easy for them to replace what they lost on the perimeter. Obie Nwadike (12.3ppg, 10.3rpg) will be a major force underneath. However, those are the only two starters the Blue Devils have coming back. They should still be a good team, but with six newcomers they appear to have more questions than answers at this point.
-5. SACRED HEART. The Pioneers really struggled down the stretch last season and lost 9 of their last 11 games, but with four starters coming back and forward Joey Henley back from an injury, they could be competitive in the league this year. Henley is a force underneath averaging 12.3 ppg and 5.7 rpg. They also have another excellent forward in Jarrid Frye who lead the team in scoring last year with 16.1ppg. If the perimeter guys can step up this team might be able to make some noise in league play.
-6. WAGNER. The Seahawks are a very hard team to figure out. They began last season 7-2 and even took UCLA to the wall early in the season. Not only did they look like one of the better teams in the conference, they looked like they were capable of hanging with and possibly upsetting some of the big boys. Then league play started and they totally fell apart. During one stretch they lost 10 of 12. They have four starters returning, including forward Durell Vinson who averaged 15.2ppg and 9.6rpg a season ago. Mark Porter should also be a contributor out on the perimeter. They werent a good outside shooting team last year, but if they can improve on that and play like they did during the non conference portion of the season they could be a very dangerous team.
-7. MOUNT SAINT MARYS. The Mountaineers are going to have a hard time replacing Landy Thompson, who was their leading scorer a season ago. Guard Mychal Kearse will really need to step up this season. Last year he was effective from the field and on the glass averaging over 7 rpg, which is excellent for a guard. Freshman guard Jeremy Goode should also see significant minutes and be a major contributor as well.
-8. QUINNIPIAC. The Bobcats play a fast paced offensive oriented type game. The problem is that they are a horrible defensive team. They did show signs of promise last year, especially in their final game against Fairleigh Dickinson in the conference tournament where they lost by just one point, but they are too inconsistent and a lack of defensive play will hurt them. They do have four starters coming back and have the ability to go deep into their bench. Theyll win some games this year and give some teams some trouble, but chances are theyll be too inconsistent to end up at the top of the standings.
-9. FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON. Fairleigh Dickinson won the regular season title last year, but lost most of their scoring and rebounding. They do have a good forward in Mike Peeples, but other than that they appear to be lacking in experience and depth, especially compared to the teams theyve had the past two seasons. It looks as though this will be a rebuilding year for the Knights.
-10. SAINT FRANCIS, NY. This team plays a very controlled half court style of offense and intense defense. They have a pretty good forward in Allan Sheppard, but dont really appear to be all that strong in any other areas. There are six new players on the team this year, including four junior college transfers, so its hard to say how good they are going to be until we see some of the new guys in action.
-11. SAINT FRANCIS, PA. The Red Flash won just four games a season ago and were among the worst teams in all of div1. They return four starters and have two big guys underneath in J.R. Enright and Jelani Lawrence, but they dont have much in the way of depth and that wont be easy to overcome.
RANDOM ORDER OF FINISH
-For those that missed my first blog entry, each conference preview will also include a random order of finish. It sounds just like what it is. Teams are drawn at random and placed in order. The purpose for this is to demonstrate that at the end of the season, generally every single major and minor media preseason preview (including my own) isnt all that more accurate than simply randomly picking the teams.
1. Fairleigh Dickinson
2. Long Island
4. Mount Saint Marys
6. Robert Morris
7. Sacred Heart
8. Saint Francis, NY
9. Saint Francis, PA
11. Central Connecticut
-Please feel free to send me feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org, whether its good or bad. Some conferences are harder to research and write about than other conferences, so every comment and critique helps so long as its constructive.