Northeast Conference Men’s Basketball Preview 2017-18

By Ryan Touhey,

Mount St. Mary’s hosts the Northeast Conference (NEC) title above their head as they enter this upcoming basketball season. After finishing under .500 for the 2015-16 season, the Mountaineers bounced back in 2016-17 to finish 20-16 overall last year, which included them dominating their NEC opponents, 14-4 in the season series. Their trip in the NCAA tournament was short-lived, as Villanova knocked them out in the first round.

This season, the defending NEC champions will be led by seniors that include Lamont Robinson, Junior Robinson, Chris Wray and Greg Alexander. Arguably, the biggest threats staring at the Mountaineers’ face are LIU Brooklyn and Wagner College.

LIU will have their hands full this upcoming season. They lack the senior leadership and will have to rely on juniors Joel Hernandez, Raul Frias, Raiquan Clark and Ganlandou Cisse to guide the team. Hernandez, who is 6-3 and plays guard, only played a total of 23 minutes last season, which was in a game against John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In 2015-16, Hernandez started in 30 of 31 games for the Blackbirds.

Wagner College, led by head coach Bashir Mason, finished third in the Northeast Conference last year in terms of their overall record, which was 16-14. The Seahawks were also tied for third in the Northeast for the best record against conference adversaries.

They finished 11-7 against their NEC foes. The Seahawks introduced numerous transfers this month that may play a huge role in the Seahawks’ future. Nick Madray of Mississauga, Ontario, is a transfer from Binghamton University.

According to Wagner’s website, Madray shot 43.7 percent from the floor during his freshman season and also shot 38 percent for three-points. He was however, limited to 13 games last season due to injuries. Similar to another Wagner transfer Lonnie Rivera, who came over from American University. Rivera averaged just 5.5 points per game in his sophomore season according to Cormac Gordon of Staten Island Live. However, his ability to handle the ball and shoot could be a big boost for the Seahawks.

In case for the other NEC teams, it’s seems like a tough hill to climb. Bryant and Robert Morris had disappointing seasons last year, finishing well under .500 overall and 9-9 against the NEC.

Sacred Heart University lost their best player in Quincy McKnight, who transferred to Seton Hall University. The Pioneers are a young team and they struggled last season, going 13-19 overall while going 8-10 in the conference.

Central Connecticut has only one senior on their roster for this upcoming season, Mustafa Jones. They do have a lot of talented juniors such as Eric Bowles, who played in 22 games last season for Central Connecticut. Bowles had also had games where he had three steals, a game-tying three-pointer against St. Francis Brooklyn and has had games of three or more assists on numerous occasions.

The NEC also hopes that one of its teams can make a run for the national championship this year. No team from the NEC has ever won a national title and all 10 teams look to change that this upcoming year.

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