Team of the Week: St. Francis-NY
Results: W 67-64 @ Long Island, W 74-70 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson
Well, the Terriers are at it again. Last season saw SFNY finish the regular season with a three-game win streak to nudge their way into the eighth seed in the Northeast Conference Tournament. And with their current two-game run the Terriers find themselves within striking distance of that final slot once again. With one game left in their season, SFNY is 4-13 in conference play, a half-game behind their namesakes from Pennsylvania. They’ll need a win over rival LIU on Thursday along with some help if they are to get into the tournament, but there’s a chance.
The three-point win at LIU last week was spearheaded by guards Kayode Ayeni (18 points off the bench) and Marcus Williams (15 and 10), a game won by the Terriers thanks to the advantage at the charity stripe. SFNY didn’t set the world on fire with their 16-for-27 effort, but they did outscore the Blackbirds by five from the line. Four players finished in double figures for Brian Nash’s club, ending a nine-game losing streak in the process. Two days later the Terriers won their final home game thanks in large part to senior forward Robert Hines, who went for twenty-three points and seven rebounds. Jamaal Womack (15 points) and Ricky Cadell (13 points, 4 assists) also reached double figures for SFNY, who also won the battle on the boards by a 41-22 margin. This can help you make up for a 9-for-20 effort from the foul line.
I’m not too sure if the Terriers can get into the NEC Tournament, as their fate will be out of their hands following the finale at LIU on Thursday. But to simply have a chance at a berth is something that I didn’t see happening a couple of weeks ago.
Honorable Mention: Fairfield (won games against Marist and Drexel to move their win streak to six); Hofstra (followed up a key CAA win over Towson with an impressive effort against Iona); Sacred Heart (conference win over Quinnipiac has them just one game back of Robert Morris and Wagner in the NEC).
Player of the Week: Charles Jenkins (Hofstra)
Numbers for the week: 17 points, 5 rebounds vs. Towson; 28 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists @ Iona.
If you’re looking for a reason as to why the Pride are riding a three-game win streak, look no further than the play of this redshirt freshman guard from Queens. While his game against Towson has become par for the course of late, Jenkins was phenomenal in Hofstra’s Bracket Busters’ game at Iona. Jenkins scored eighteen of his career-high 28 points in the first stanza, and the double-double was also a career first. 11-for-20 from the field in the Pride’s 81-63 win, Jenkins made three of his four attempts from behind the arc as well. Thanks to the improved play of Charles Jenkins, Tom Pecora’s squad has a chance to play themselves into better seeding for the CAA Tournament in their last two contests.
Honorable Mention: Brian Laing (Seton Hall): 22 points and 6 rebounds in a win over DePaul for Laing, who should be first-team All Big East; Drew Shubik (Sacred Heart): 10 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds in win over Quinnipiac; Marcus Stout (Fordham): 31 points in a win over Temple after scoring just ten against St. Louis.
-- Other Notes from the Past Week
- Rutgers will not be playing in the Big East Tournament this season. But the youngsters will continue to gain experience for next season.
With three games remaining in the season, the Scarlet Knights have been eliminated from contention. While they could catch DePaul with a three-game win streak, the Blue Demons own the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to their 75-73 win back on January 19th. But thanks to an excellent incoming class headlined by guard Mike Rosario coming in to help the returnees, Rutgers should experience more success in 2008-09.
- After a 2-0 start to conference play, Princeton has now lost seven straight games.
The problem for the Tigers, led by first year head coach Sydney Johnson (a one-time Ivy Player of the Year for Pete Carill), has been offense. Averaging a paltry 57.1 points per game, the Tigers are last in scoring offense and turnover margin (-2.42 per game). When you play an offensive system like the Princeton, it puts a premium on field goal percentage (on both ends of the floor) due to the number of possessions. Princeton shoots 42.6% from the field (6th in the Ivy League) while allowing opponents to shoot 46.7% (7th in the conference). That’s not going to get it done.
- Manhattan goes cold in a 66-56 loss to Binghamton, ending their three-game win streak.
In conference wins over Canisius, Marist and Siena, the Jaspers shot no worse than 48.3% from the field in any of those games. But in their Bracket Busters loss to Binghamton on Saturday, Manhattan hit only one third of their shots (16-for-48). Essentially, the game was a microcosm of the season for Barry Rohrssen’s team, as they shot poorly while allowing the Bearcats to make 49% of their shots. Manhattan ranks last in the MAAC in field goal percentage defense and seventh in field goal percentage. This is still a young team that could be a tough out in Albany, but only if they buckle down on the defensive end of the floor.
- Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth have played in the last four NEC Tournaments. If either one of them wants to make it five, they need to win out.
Both the Knights and Hawks find themselves in serious danger of missing the conference tournament, as only one spot remains for four teams. Both play St. Francis (PA) this coming week, and the Red Flash currently hold the eighth position. The two teams are the exact opposite of each other as well. FDU has a hard time stopping people from scoring (last in points allowed per game and eleventh in field goal percentage defense), while Monmouth has difficulty putting the ball in the basket themselves (last in both points per game and field goal percentage). With their next games coming against Wagner (FDU) and St. Francis-PA (Monmouth respectively), we should have our answer as to postseason plans on Thursday.
-- Games to keep an eye on
- #16 Connecticut @ Rutgers (Tuesday 7:30 PM, ESPN Full Court)
Even with their Big East Tournament hopes shot, the Scarlet Knights can play spoiler the rest of the way. First up is a UConn team fresh off of its first loss in eleven games hoping to stay in contention for the Big East regular season crown. Another storyline in this one is the return of G Jerome Dyson for the Huskies, and the RAC can be an unforgiving place for visitors if they’re not careful.
Lastly, while he may not possess the same height as Hasheem Thabeet, you can’t help but look at the strides already made by Hamadi N’Diaye and think that he can make the same kind of progress as Hasheem this off-season.
- Hofstra @ Delaware (Wednesday 7 PM)
With the Blue Hens just one game ahead of Hofstra in the CAA standings, this one is huge when it comes to seeding for the upcoming conference tournament. Thanks to a combined 46 points from Antoine Agudio and Charles Jenkins, Hofstra won the first meeting 64-58 back on February 2nd. A win here would give the Pride a shot at finishing .500 in conference play, something that seemed far-fetched after their 1-5 start to league play.
- Long Island @ St. Francis-NY (Thursday 7 PM)
The Blackbirds should be hungry for revenge after losing the first meeting between the two last Thursday. And after missing out on the NEC Tournament last season, what better way for LIU to head into the tournament this year than to make sure St. Francis doesn’t qualify? There will be some good guards on display, with Jaytornah Wisseh (LIU), Marcus Williams and Jamaal Womack (SFNY) looking to close out their season on a positive note.
- Manhattan @ Fairfield (Friday 7:30 PM)
“Senior Night” for Stags Marty O’Sullivan, Mamadou Diakhate and Geoff Middleton, with O’Sullivan being one of the key catalysts to Fairfield’s current six-game win streak. With some help along with two wins, Fairfield can get themselves at least a share of the MAAC regular season title, if not more. PG Jonathan Han, who should be up for consideration in regards to one of the all-conference teams, has been solid all year long for Ed Cooley. With the amount of talent returning for both teams in this one, the future is bright.
- Seton Hall @ St. John’s (Saturday 4 PM, ESPN Full Court)
By the time Saturday rolls around, the Red Storm could be fighting for their lives when it comes to simply qualifying for the Big East Tournament. And despite the season-ending injury to Paul Gause, the Pirates find themselves two games clear of thirteenth place in the conference standings. For the Johnnies to have a chance in this one, they’ll have to dominate the glass and limit their turnovers against the Seton Hall pressure. With so many players on both teams having New York roots, this one shouldn’t lack passion.
- Central Connecticut State @ Sacred Heart (Sunday 4 PM, ESPNU)
By the time this game rolls around, a share of the regular season title could be on the line for the Pioneers. The two teams are about even when you look at the stats, but the difference can be found in two categories: rebounding margin (CCSU +1.9, SHU -3.5) and turnover margin (SHU +2.41, CCSU -1.04). It’s almost like splitting hairs, even when it comes down to scoring as both rely on a committee instead of a couple of headliners to get the job done. The final game of the regular season gets a national audience, and it shouldn’t disappoint.
-- Updated Rankings (previous week in parentheses)
1. Sacred Heart (2)
2. Wagner (1)
3. Seton Hall (4)
4. Rider (3)
5. Columbia (5)
6. Fairfield (10)
7. Yale (6)
8. Fordham (8)
9. Army (7)
10. Hofstra (15)
11. Marist (9)
12. St. John’s (11)
13. LIU (13)
14. Iona (12)
15. Rutgers (14)
16. Manhattan (16)
17. FDU (17)
18. Monmouth (18)
19. St. Francis-NY (22)
20. Stony Brook (21)
21. St. Peter’s (20)
22. Princeton (19)
23. NJIT (23)