NEC: Semifinals Preview & Notes

    
March 7th, 2009
With quarterfinal play now in the books, the 2009 NEC Men's Basketball Tournament resumes with semifinal action on Sunday, March 8. Top-seeded Robert Morris hosts #5 Quinnipiac in a game to air live at 2:00 pm on MSG and Fox College Sports. FSN-Pittsburgh will air the game on delay at 8:30 pm. The second game of the day features a rematch of the 2008 NEC title game as defending champion and #2 seed Mount St. Mary's hosts #3 Sacred Heart. Tipoff is at 7:00 pm. The winners will face off for the NEC championship on Wednesday, March 11 at 8:00 pm on ESPN2.

#1 Robert Morris (22-10, 15-3 NEC)
• Top-seeded Robert Morris raced out to a 22-point first half lead and held off a late St. Francis (NY) charge for a 73-60 win in an NEC quarterfinal matchup in Moon Township on Thursday.


• NEC Player of the Year Jeremy Chappell (Cincinnati, OH/Northwest) led the way for the Colonials with 19 points, five rebounds and six assists, while second team all-NEC performer Rob Robinson (Waldorf, MD/Globe Institute of Technology) chipped in with nine points and 13 rebounds.

• Robert Morris has won nine straight games at home and is 13-2 at the Sewall Center on the year.

• The Colonials will take on #5 Quinnipiac in Sunday's semifinals in a game to air live at 2:00 pm on MSG and Fox College Sports, and on delay at 8:30 pm on FSN-Pittsburgh.

• Robert Morris and Quinnipiac have never met in the postseason. The Colonials swept the Bobcats during the 2008-09 regular season.

• In the two games this season against Quinnipiac, Robinson averaged 18.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg and 4.5 spg.

• The Colonials have now reached the NEC semifinals in three of the last four years.

• Robert Morris claimed its second straight NEC regular-season championship and sixth overall (eight if its 1981-82 and 1982-83 divisional championships are included) with a 15-3 league record.

• In two seasons under Mike Rice, the Colonials are 31-5 (.861) in NEC play, the second-best two year stretch behind Marist's 28-4 (.875) run from 1986-88.

• Robert Morris is 48-18 (.727) overall the last two seasons.

• The Colonials received a vote in the AP Top-25 poll on February 9th and 16th and reached as high as #23 in the CollegeInsider Mid-Major poll on February 16th. During this period, RMU won 13 straight NEC games.

• Robert Morris set a new NEC record with 15 straight road wins over league opponents before the two-year streak was snapped with a three-point loss at Monmouth on February 19th.

• Robert Morris has posted back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 1988-89 (21 wins) and 1989-90 (22 wins) and second time in school history.

• The Colonials have won a league-high five NEC titles, all between 1982 and 1992.

• Robert Morris has won the NEC championship in three of its four previous appearances when seeded first (1989, 1990 and 1992). The top-seeded Colonials were knocked by Mount St. Mary's in the 2008 semifinals.

• Robert Morris is 12-6 all-time in NEC Tournament games at home.

• The Colonials are 9-0 against the second through sixth seeds in the NEC Tournament. The team's three conference losses on the year came to #7 Wagner, #8 St. Francis (NY) and Monmouth, which didn't make the field.

• Junior guard Jimmy Langhurst (Willard, OH/Willard) is second in the NEC in 3PFG% (.423).

• Senior guard Jeremy Chappell (Cincinnati, OH/Northwest) has established a school record with 121 games played and 117 starting assignments. On Thursday, he eclipsed Chipper Harris' (1980-84) program record with 97 double-digit scoring games.

• Chappell (16.7 ppg, second in NEC) is the leading active scorer and ninth in league annals with 1,824 points.

• Chappell is the only player in NEC history with over 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 250 assists, 250 steals and 200 three-pointers. He enters the postseason with 1,824 points, 661 boards, 330 assists, 261 steals and 235 3PFG.

• Chappell ranks in the NEC top-15 in nine individual categories, including first in steals (2.5 spg, 13th in nation).

• The Colonials lead the NEC in 3PFG percentage (.399) and are second in FG percentage (.476).

 

#2 Mount St. Mary's (18-12, 12-6 NEC)
• Defending NEC champion and #2 seed Mount St. Mary's held serve at home on Thursday, ousting #7 Wagner by a 72-62 margin in quarterfinal play.

• Sophomore guard Jean Cajou (Fairfax, VA/Paul VI) scored a game-high 21 points against Wagner, including seven points in the last two minutes of the contest. With Mount St. Mary's ahead by two, Cajou nailed a three-pointer to give the Mount a 64-59 leads with 1:35 left on the clock.

• Sophomore forward Shawn Atupem (Newport News, VA/Woodside) scored 16 points off the bench, while junior forward Kelly Beidler (Virginia Beach, VA/Tallwood) added 15 points and seven boards.

• Mount St. Mary's and Sacred Heart have met just once in NEC Tournament competition, with the Mountaineers going on the road to defeat the Pioneers, 68-55, in the 2008 NEC title game.

• The Mount and Sacred Heart split their two regular season games with each team winning on its own home floor.

• The Mount has won nine straight home games and is 11-2 at Knott Arena this season. It is the longest homecourt win streak by the Mount since winning 16 in a row from 1994-96.

• The Mount has qualified for the NEC semis in each of the last three years following a six-year absence.

• The Mount will attempt to become the first NEC program to repeat as champions since Rider in 1993 and 1994.

• Mount St. Mary's captured its three NEC titles in 1995, 1999 and 2008.

• The Mount owns the distinction of being both the lowest (#6 seed in 1999) and second-lowest (#4 seed in 2008) seeded teams to win the NEC Tournament.

• Mount St. Mary's is 16-10 all-time in NEC Tournament games, including 5-3 under Brown. The Mount's .615 winning percentage in the postseason ranks second among current NEC institutions.

• The Mount's #2 seed is the highest for the program since a #1 seed in 1996. That year, the Mount fell to Rider in the semifinals. In 1995, the Mountaineers won their first NEC title as the #2 seed.

• Mount St. Mary's is 9-4 all-time in NEC quarterfinal games with victories in each of the last three years.

• Mount St. Mary's is 18-12 this season, the third-most wins by a Mount team since moving to NCAA Division I in 1988-89. The record is 21 set by the 1995-96 squad (21-7), while the Mountaineers went 19-15 during last year's NEC Tournament run.

• The Mount is 7-2 all-time at home in the NEC Tournament.

• The Mount's 12-6 conference record tied for the second-most league wins in program history. • Mount St. Mary's leads the NEC in scoring defense at 63.3 ppg.

• First team all-NEC guard Jeremy Goode (Charlotte, NC/Providence Day) stands fourth among active NEC players with 1,254 points. Goode ranks 23rd on the NEC's career assist list with 460.

• Cajou is second on the team in scoring with 13.5 ppg. He leads the NEC and is seventh nationally in FT percentage (.891).

• The Mount is one of just four teams in the nation to start the same lineup in every game this year. The others are Butler, Clemson and North Dakota State.


#3 Sacred Heart (17-13, 12-6 NEC)
• In NEC quarterfinal action on Thursday, #3 seed Sacred Heart defeated in-state rival CCSU for the third time this season with a 76-64 win over the sixth seeded Blue Devils in Fairfield.

• Junior guard Chauncey Hardy (Middletown, CT/Xavier), who had missed the previous two games with a wrist injury, scored a game-high 22 points in the victory.

• First team all-NEC forward Joey Henley (Kent, WA/Kentride) recorded a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

• Sacred Heart now gets a long-awaited rematch with Mount St. Mary's, which beat the Pioneers in last year's NEC championship tilt, 68-55.

• The Pioneers and Mountaineers split their two regular season meetings with each defending its home court.

• A win will give Sacred Heart its third consecutive NEC title game appearance. The Pioneers are 5-3 all-time in the tournament.

• Sacred Heart is now 3-2 against CCSU in NEC Tournament play. The Pioneers have faced the Blue Devils in each of their five NEC Tournament appearances.

• The Pioneers have won six straight games by an average margin of 19.3 points.

• Sacred Heart has now posted three straight winning seasons, a first at the Division I level and first time since the 1987-88 (16-13), 1988-89 (22-10) and 1989-90 Division II campaigns (15-14).

• The Pioneers are the NEC's top scoring team, averaging 73.8 ppg. Sacred Heart also paces the league in field goal percentage (.483, 15th nationally) and assists (17.1 apg, 10th in nation).

• Over the last seven games, Sacred Heart is producing 84.5 ppg, while allowing just 67.4 ppg.

• Sophomore forward Mehmet Sahan (Istanbul, Turkey/Tilton School) averaged 14.5 ppg and shot 82.3 percent (14-17) from the floor in two games against the Mount this season.

• Since inserting junior guard Corey Hassan (Merrimack, NH/Merrimack (Boston U.)) into the starting lineup, the Pioneers are 13-4.

• Last year the Pioneers went 7-3 down the stretch and finished 13-5 in conference play. In 2006-07, Sacred Heart finished 12-6 in the NEC and won five of its last six regular season games.

• Graduate student forward Joey Henley (Kent, WA/Kentride) leads the NEC and is sixth nationally in field goal percentage (.621). He is also sixth in the conference in scoring (15.7 ppg), sixth in rebounding (6.8 rpg) and fourth in blocks (1.3 bpg).

• Henley is up to 1,383 career points and 642 rebounds, both second among active NEC competitors.

• Four Sacred Heart players average in double figures: Henley (15.8 ppg), Hardy (11.5 ppg), Hassan (11.2 ppg) and senior forward Ryon Howard (Bronx, NY/Holderness School) (10.6 ppg).

• Bike, now in his 31st year at Sacred Heart, leads all current NEC coaches with 481 career victories.

 

#5 Quinnipiac (15-15, 10-8 NEC)
• The #5 seeded Bobcats were the only road team to emerge victorious in Thursday's NEC quarterfinals with an 86-78 overtime win at #4 seed Long Island. Quinnipiac swept all three games with LIU on the year.

• Quinnipiac led by 11 points with 2:37 to play, but LIU ended regulation with a 15-4 run, including a three-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime. In the extra session, senior guard Bryan Geffen (Queens, NY/St. Francis Prep (Boston U.)) hit a clutch three-pointer with 2:43 to go to give the Bobcats a four-point lead. Quinnipiac scored the remainder of their points from the line.

• Sophomore forward Justin Rutty (Newburgh, NY/Newburgh Free Academy), a first team all-NEC selection, had a monster game with 18 points and 16 boards. Junior forward James Feldeine (New York, NY/Cardinal Hayes), the winner of the inaugural NEC Most Improved award and a second team all-NEC performer, led all scorers with 22 points.

• The Bobcats last reached the NEC semifinals in 2007.

• Quinnipiac and Robert Morris have never met in the NEC playoffs. The Colonials won both outings against the Bobcats in the regular season.

• The Quinnipiac-Robert Morris game will air live on MSG and Fox College Sports at 2:00 pm.

• Feldeine averaged 21.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg and 3.5 spg versus the Colonials in two games this season.

• The Bobcats are 5-5 in NEC Tournament competition (3-0 at home, 2-5 on the road), including a run to the 2002 title game after entering the tourney as the #7 seed. That year, Quinnipiac knocked off #2 Wagner and #3 UMBC before falling to top-seeded CCSU, 78-71, in the championship.

• The Bobcats have now finished over .500 in NEC play in each of the last three seasons.

• Quinnipiac has been strong on the boards all year long. The Bobcats lead the NEC and rank 25th nationally in rebound margin at +5.7 per game.

• In league play, the Bobcats ranked first on the circuit in FG% defense at 40.7 percent.

• Feldeine is the NEC scoring leader at 17.0 ppg. He has more than doubled his scoring average from last season when he posted 8.3 ppg.

• Feldeine is averaging 21.7 ppg over his last three outings.

• Rutty is first in the league with 9.7 rpg (21st in the nation) and 12 double-doubles.

• Rutty ranks second in the nation with 4.5 offensive rebounds per game, second only to Pittsburgh All-American candidate DeJuan Blair.

• Rutty is also tenth in the NEC in scoring at 15.0 ppg, and sits second in the conference and 10th nationally in field goal percentage (.608).

• NEC All-Rookie guard James Johnson (Brooklyn, NY/Bishop Loughlin) is the league's freshmen leader in three categories with 4.1 apg, 1.6 spg and a 1.53:1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

• Geffen has hit 56 three-pointers on the year to pace the Bobcats.


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