NEC Predictions

Chris’ NEC predictions:

 

  1. Central Connecticut State
  2. Sacred Heart
  3. St. Francis PA
  4. Bryant
  5. St. Francis Brooklyn
  6. Mount St. Mary’s
  7. Robert Morris
  8. LIU Brooklyn
  9. Fairleigh Dickinson
  10. Wagner

 

NEC championship game: Wagner over LIU Brooklyn

Player of the year: Jerome Frink, LIU

Coach of the year: Bashir Mason

Rookie of the year: Miles Wilson, Mount St. Mary’s. Also considered: Robert Montgomery, St. Francis Brooklyn.

Defensive player of the year: Nura Zanna, LIU. Also considered: Malik Miller, FDU

Most improved: JoJo Cooper, Wagner

First Team All NEC: Michael Carey (WAG), Junior Robinson (MSM), Jerome Frink (LIU), Earl Potts (FDU), De’Von Barnett (SHU)

 

Lee’s predictions:

 

  1. Central Connecticut State
  2. Sacred Heart
  3. St. Francis PA
  4. SFC Brooklyn
  5. Bryant
  6. LIU Brooklyn
  7. Robert Morris
  8. Mount
  9. Fairleigh Dickinson
  10. Wagner

 

NEC championship game: Wagner over FDU

Player of the year: Michael Carey, Wagner

Coach of the year: Bashir Mason

Rookie of the year: Miles Wilson, Mount St. Mary’s Runner up: Braden Burke, Robert Morris

Defensive player of the year: Nura Zanna, LIU

Most improved: Isaiah Still, Robert Morris

First Team All NEC: Michael Carey (WAG), Junior Robinson (MSM), Jerome Frink (LIU), Earl Potts (FDU), Isaiah Still (RMU)

 

 

 

Chris: I am so, so confident Wagner is in a class of their own in the NEC. I love this team. I have a man crush on their point guard, JoJo Cooper. I think Cooper, along with Mount St. Mary’s Chris Wray, are the two best perimeter defenders in the league. Wagner is also armed with three-point shooters in Corey Henson and Romone Saunders. Power forward Michael Carey is a beast too. He went No. 1 in our NEC fantasy basketball league. I’m not kidding. That’s a real thing.

 

In that same league, I took LIU power forward Jerome Frink. Point blank, Frink is the type of guy who can carry a team. He’s outstanding with his back to the basket. He’s a great rebounder. He can step out and shoot the three. He’ll steal your lunch money and eat the food right in front of you.

 

Do I love the rest of the LIU team? Not necessarily. But I think Nura Zanna could be the best rim protector in the NEC. That has to count for something, right? Right!? If there’s one think that could hinder the Blackbirds, it’s their backcourt. Losing Martin Hermannsson was a huge blow. They’ll count on Iverson Flemming and Joel Hernandez for buckets at the guard position. Not in love with that.

 

Let’s chat about the defending NEC champs, Fairleigh Dickinson. Is it bad I’m not super crazy about a team that tasted the NCAA tournament and returns almost every key player?

 

Yes, I picked them No. 2. I think that speaks more about the depth of the conference than it does FDU. I shouldn’t be worried. Earl Potts looks like a super duper star. Center Mike Holloway is a beast. I also love sophomore big man Malik Miller.

 

There are a few things I’m not buying in this FDU team. They stunk defensively last season. Can they really repeat as conference champs with a bottom-half NEC defense? Is it bad I’m still not sold on Darian Anderson? Listen, FDU finished 11-7 in conference play last year. They got the two seed courtesy of a three-way tiebreaker. They were good. They surprised the hell out of everyone. Were they THAT much better than everyone else in the league? Repeating is hard to do. Handling success might be even harder.

 

Speaking of things I’m not sold on, hello Bryant! The Bulldogs were the preseason No. 3 after winning eight games last season. Sad! Just kidding. But I’m not seeing what everyone else is seeing.

 

Here’s the case for Bryant: Power forward Dan Garvin shot 45 percent from the floor last season, a dip from 52.5 percent from the year before. He’s bound for a rebound. Hunter Ware is a legitimate threat from three. Nirse Zouzoua, who also shot 36 percent from three as a freshman last season, continues to improve. Marcel Pettway builds off a strong freshman campaign and finishes as one of the ten best big men in the league. Incoming freshman point guard Ikenna Ndugba wins NEC rookie of the year.

 

The case against isn’t hard either: Garvin has averaged 10 ppg his whole career. What if that doesn’t change? The Bulldogs finished ninth in defensive efficiency last season. They have no size. They’ve been a poor defensive team for years. They have no depth. So now you’re relying on Ware and Zouzoua to carry the offense.

 

Both St. Francis’ intrigue me. SFU has some sneaky-good potential because of Isaiah Blackmon and Josh Nebo. Mark my word: Blackmon will be the best guard in the league in two years. He’s recovering from a torn ACL, which will hinder him. Nebo shot 50 percent from the floor as a freshman.

 

The problem for St. Francis PA is their depth. I legitimately do not know who is coming off the bench for them.

 

As for St. Francis Brooklyn, I just trust them. I don’t think they’re going to win the NEC championship, but I think they’re going to be tough as hell defensively. Guard Glenn Sanabria missed the majority of last season with a shoulder injury. I’m not saying he’s going to win NEC player of the year, but if I was a betting man, I’d jump on his odds because of the value. The dude is super talented.

 

So where does this leave Robert Morris? Somewhere in the middle. I think they’re a year away. They’ll be better defensively then people give them credit for. They’re going to have some offensive growing pains. The thing that worries me about the Colonials is who is their go-to guy? Maybe it’ll turn out to be Isaiah Still. It’s to be determined.

 

By the way, did anyone see this gut-wrenching article on NYC Buckets from our friend Stephen Gertz about “what could have been”? Thanks for the cold sweats, Stephen!

 

Before I’m done rambling, I just want to say sorry to Sacred Heart. I feel so bad for them. They never had the “peak” roster. Cane Broome was the best player in the league last year, and he had to do it without De’Von Barnett. Their best roster, which was in 2015, was just a little too young.

 

Finally, I picked Central Connecticut State to finish last. Last year, I picked FDU to finish last and they won the whole damn thing! Congrats ahead of time on your championship, Blue Devils.

 

–@C_Cappella

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