We left off with John asking Ryan which teams he felt would make the NEC postseason. For a complete transcript of Part 1, click here.
Ryan: You seriously expect me to answer that question?! I think, perhaps, the more appropriate question is who will miss the playoffs. And even that question is wonderfully difficult to figure out. It’s really like throwing darts at a board at this point. But here it goes:
Robert Morris and Wagner at the top. Duh.
3) Bryant – Big time depth issues, but they have four major scorers. I still can’t believe I have them here, yet I love the job Tim O’Shea is doing.
4) Quinnipiac – Rebounding and defense should win them some games. But can they improve/generate some kind of offense in the half-court set?
5) St. Francis (NY) – Braica knows Cannon is the go-to-player now, but will the backcourt not screw it up?
6) LIU – I think Jason Brickman and C.J. Garner will eventually step up to reduce some of the offensive burden on Jamal Olasewere. It helps if E.J. Reed continues to develop while staying out of foul trouble.
You agree with those four in a different order, but they’re all in the NEC playoffs nonetheless. After that, I have no idea. None. And nor do you, or anybody else for that matter. So out of Sacred Heart, FDU, Monmouth, Mount St. Mary’s and CCSU, who fits into your final 2 playoff spots?
John: Oh Ryan, I can’t believe how much you’re underrating Central Connecticut. Howie Dickenman must be a wizard on the level of Nate Silver to have turned around the Blue Devils and managed a win at La Salle. While they’ve lost four in a row to fall to 4-7 in non-conference play, one of those was a tough home loss to St. Peter’s. I think that CCSU is going to make the tourney too.
That final spot in my mind comes down to Monmouth, Mount St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart. As I wrote in my 10,000 sims post, I think SHU has a little bit of a silver bullet in this race in that they get to play an (even more) undermanned LIU team. So maybe the Pioneers have a chance. Monmouth and Mount St. Mary’s will be the highest variance teams in the league. I’d bet that both beat a Top 4 team during the season, but it’s possible that they both could miss the tournament as well. Let’s finish out our fun conversation about the standings with this: What do FDU and St. Francis (PA) need to show you in order to declare progress has been made?
Ryan: For the record, I do think FDU has an outside chance at the postseason. They’ve shown glimpses (beating St. Peter’s on the road, won some close games) and Kinu Rochford is playing like a man possessed. Have you seen his numbers? Rochford has an offensive rating of 115 even though he has a high possession rate of 26%! Lonnie Robinson and Melquan Bolding are playing well too, but Vetrone needs more production out of the supporting cast. Their two point guards possess ugly turnover rates, so they must do better to protect the ball. Sadly, this is a team built to win now (Rochford, Bolding, Robinson are all seniors), therefore the Knights need to make the postseason. With this roster, there really isn’t “progress” if they improve from two to say six NEC wins. Win 8-9 NEC games, continue to develop Sekou Harris and the younger guys, and maybe just maybe Vetrone can stick around for another year.
For St. Francis, I want to see the frontcourt of the future in Ronnie Drinnon and Stephon Mosley continue to improve. They’ll win a few games, maybe even three or four, but I want to see this team compete, especially on the road. Can they go into Wagner or LIU and give those teams a minor scare or will they be completely noncompetitive? If this young team shows some resolve, then Rob Krimmel may actually have a decent foundation to build upon.
So, I will close on this note: I now have Sacred Heart (tear), Mount St. Mary’s, FDU, and St. Francis (PA) on the outside looking in. It pains me that I think my Pioneers with Shane Gibson and Swidowski as seniors could possibly miss the postseason for the 3rd time in four seasons. At least no one will ever accuse me of homerism. Any final thoughts before the NEC begins on Thursday? I seriously can’t wait.
John: Any thoughts about what the all-conference team might look like come season’s end? I want to go with:
F: Jalen Cannon, St. Francis Brooklyn
F: Jonathan Williams, Wagner
G: Velton Jones, Robert Morris
G: Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut
G: Jamal Olasewere, LIU Brooklyn
Is there anyone you would remove? Add? I can’t wait for Thursday either. Let’s play some games.
Ryan: You’ll get no argument from me with Cannon, Williams, and Olasewere, but I may have to tinker with the guards. Right now, I’d put Jason Brickman ahead of Jones. The junior has more than eight assists per game while sporting an awesome assist to turnover ratio of 2.4. Yes, people are turned off because he isn’t shooting much (Jaden Daly even called him a disappointment on Twitter!), but I do believe he’ll adapt his game a little in that regard. However, given the respect Jones has in this league, Brickman is going to have to do a lot more if he’s going to bump Velton off the first team.Vinales has struggled lately, so that will certainly require some monitoring. If he doesn’t drop at least 25 on St. Francis (PA) Thursday, I’m officially concerned that his insane minutes are beginning to sap his energy. Matthew Hunter and Shane Gibson could easily find their way onto this list at season’s end. But enough talking already, let the games begin!