Conference Play Begins This Week (NEC Version)

December 2nd, 2009

Just like the MAAC the Northeast Conference is a league that starts league play in December due to its eighteen-game schedule and early March conference tournament. And the league schedule-makers gave their fans a treat with the last two conference champions meeting on Thursday night. Mount St. Mary's (2008 champ) heads to Moon Township to take on Robert Morris (2009 champ) in the league's opening night showcase game. The game will be the Colonials' first home game of the season and their current record (1-4, 0-3 on the road) could mean that a return home is welcome.

As for the Mountaineers they were last in action on Monday night, losing to Georgetown in the nation's capital. Two NEC Player of the Year candidates will be on display in The Mount's Jeremy Goode and RMU's Rob Robinson and this is the conference's headline rivalry. The key for the Colonials, who have lost their last two conference home openers, will be defense. According to Ken Pomeroy's numbers RMU ranks seventh in the NEC in adjusted defensive efficiency (285th nationally) while the Mountaineers lead the conference (116th) in that category. Should be an entertaining game at the Sewall Center.

As for the state of the NEC as a whole, Quinnipiac (3-3) is the lone team with a winning record currently and ten of the twelve teams have losing records. Such is life when you play a number of your games on the road against superior talent. Monmouth was able to go on the road and knock off Wyoming in Laramie but they dropped the final two games of that in-season tournament. St. Francis (NY) beat Colgate on the road thanks to a Ricky Cadell corner jumper as time expired on Saturday and LIU owns a good win over Saint Peter's. Other than that the highlights have been few and far between for the NEC. 

Schedule (12/2-12/8)

12/2 Quinnipiac at Massachusetts 7p
FDU at Houston Baptist 7:35p
12/3 CCSU at St. Francis (NY) 7p
Mount St. Mary's at Robert Morris 7p
Bryant at LIU 7:30p
Wagner at Saint Francis (PA) 7:30p
12/5 Bryant at St. Francis (NY) Noon
Monmouth at Sacred Heart 1p
FDU at Quinnipiac 2p
CCSU at LIU 4:30p
Mount St. Mary's at Saint Francis (PA) 7p
Wagner at Robert Morris 7p
12/7 Army at FDU 7p
12/8 Columbia at Wagner 7p
Hartford at St. Francis (NY) 7p
Mount St. Mary's at Old Dominion 7p
Quinnipiac at Rhode Island 7p 

This Week's League Honors

Player of the Week: Long Island guard Jaytornah Wisseh 19.0 ppg and 3.5 rpg in two games last week for the Blackbirds.

Rookie of the Week: Monmouth forward Ed Waite 11.5 ppg and 6.0 rpg in three games for the Hawks last week. 

Most Important Game This Week: Monmouth at Sacred Heart. Having already previewed the matchup between the Mountaineers and Colonials, let's take a look at a game between two teams with realistic hopes of finishing in the top half of the NEC. Monmouth and Sacred Heart are two of the NEC's better offensive teams when it comes to efficiency and they're also two of the top five scoring teams in the conference. The question: which team will defend better? The numbers point towards the Hawks, who lead the NEC in three-point percentage defense and that should come in handy against Corey Hassan. Whitney Coleman can light it up for the Hawks and both teams boast a number of perimeter scoring options. Monmouth may have the edge up front however with Ed Waite playing well since his insertion into the starting lineup.