Instead of just spouting off Ryan P. and I’s projected NEC standings we’re doing a little different. This is the third part of an email conversation between the two of us over the course of a couple weeks. Hopefully you’ll get some more insight into why we picked each team to finish where we did. For part 1 of the conversation, click here. For part 2, click here.
John: Now, now. I wasn’t being aggressive, though the heated topic of predicting the NEC standings certainly can bring that out in someone. The Pythagorean Theorem is based upon not game scores, but 900+ possessions during conference play. Therein lies the reason I’m confident about it. 18 games isn’t great as a W/L predictor, but 900+ possessions probably tells you a little something.
But anyways, back to the matter at hand. Of those three bottom teams, the one I think looks the best is Bryant. Fairleigh Dickinson doesn’t have an all-league type player on its roster and while Umar Shannon once was one for St. Francis (PA), I don’t know how we’ll he’ll do returning from injury. If Scott Eatherton hadn’t bolted or they hadn’t hired the AD’s son as coach maybe I’d have more confidence. Bryant has Alex Francis and he’s legit. Also, Frankie Dobbs is useful and maybe Joe O’Shea will get some PT after never getting off the bench at Holy Cross. I don’t think being the coach’s nephew will help, but the fact that he was a pretty well regarded prep player a while back might. Ah nepotism, an interesting facet of the NEC this season.
What do you think? Got FDU running the table this season?
Ryan: Do I have FDU running the table in the loss column? I don’t think they’ll be as bad as they were last season, but that isn’t saying much. They have a respectable rotation of small combo guards, but a lot of things need to go right for the Knights to be NEC playoff bound – Lonnie Haynes needs to fully recover from his broken foot last season, Melquin Boldin needs to tone down his shameless volume scorer routine, Mostafa Jones and Yves Jules need to be impact transfers off the bench, and Sekou Harris, who we both like down the road, has to develop ahead of schedule. Those are a lot of things. For now, I have FDU winning 5-6 conference games, which sadly may not be enough to save Greg Vetrone’s job.
But enough about our NEC team predictions. I think everyone has a solid understanding now on where we stand. I’d like to hear your thoughts on how the NEC will improve in terms of the other conference this season. Last year, Ken Pomeroy had the NEC ranked 26th. Can we expect an improvement given that only 3 of the 10 All-NEC 2012 selections have graduated?
John: I think we are guaranteed to see an improvement! I’ve seen the NEC ranked as high as 23rd in terms of the best conferences in the nation. Is that possible? Sure. The Big South, Southern and Big West conferences could finish behind the NEC this season. What this all comes down to though is non-conference play. And not non-conference play by Wagner or Robert Morris either. Last season LIU used non-conference as a way to “find itself”. Or at least that’s the way it seemed. Those Blackbirds have to carry the conference torch in a lot of big games this season. Also, the bottom of the conference has to win a little bit to be respectable. The improvement at Bryant and Mount St. Mary’s should help a bunch, but FDU might end up being a burden. We’ll know by the time 2013 starts whether or not this conference has actually improved. There’s a lot of talent and good young coaches, so this seams like a conference on the rise.
Finally, when we started this conversation the LIU situation hadn’t been settled yet. It is now. How do you think this impacts the top of the NEC? Want to change your prediction? I’m going to make a bold prediction and say that even with the four players suspended for the first two games, LIU still manages to win the conference regular season title. Who you got?
Ryan: Sorry for the late response, I needed time to celebrate the gift Sacred Heart got with the LIU suspensions! If SHU can’t beat a lineup that merely features Jason Brickman, Kenny Onyechi, Brandon Thompson, D.J. Griggs and the one and only Booker Hucks, then I need to revive my original Fire Dave Bike movement from 3 years ago.
Basically, you’d think SHU and Quinnipiac now have automatic wins at home against a diminished LIU roster. Two losses doesn’t sound like much in the grand scheme of the conference, but I think it’s enough to hand the regular season title back to Robert Morris. I can’t believe I’m agreeing with Jon Rothstein.
Note: Tomorrow we’ll reveal our predicted standings in full. I promise.