Tempo-Free NEC: The Player of the Year Chase

The race for the NEC Player of the Year is picking up steam. I think most pundits would have Robert Morris’ Karvel Anderson leading Bryant’s Alex Francis at the moment. It certainly makes sense.

As I did with the MAAC Player of the Year race I pulled the splits for 10 key players in the NEC when they’re on and off the court. Just as we had in the MAAC there are some small sample size problems, especially considering how short the RMU and Bryant rotations are. Also, point guards such as Mount St. Mary’s Julian Norfleet and LIU Brooklyn’s Jason Brickman never come off the court.

Still, it’s at least interesting to see the results of the analysis. Here’s how much a player being on or off the court impacts their respective teams. (Note: This doesn’t include SFC’s game against CCSU last night.)

Last First Team Change Pythag In Pythag Off Pct. Played
Sanders Jr. Sidney Fairleigh Dickinson 0.356 0.554 0.199 66.3%
Jones Lucky Robert Morris 0.272 0.878 0.605 76.2%
Anderson Karvel Robert Morris 0.194 0.865 0.671 74.7%
Norfleet Julian Mount St. Mary’s 0.145 0.570 0.425 85.4%
Ortiz Kenneth Wagner 0.090 0.761 0.671 79.8%
Brickman Jason LIU Brooklyn -0.007 0.219 0.226 88.7%
Jones Brent St. Francis Brooklyn -0.025 0.578 0.603 64.3%
Francis Alex Bryant -0.028 0.681 0.709 88.8%
Maynard Corey Bryant -0.136 0.669 0.806 95.0%
Cannon Jalen St. Francis Brooklyn -0.164 0.550 0.715 79.4%

It isn’t any surprise to me that Sidney Sanders, Jr. comes out on top in this analysis. The FDU point guard has been slowed by injuries lately, but he’s the engine that drives the Knights. When Sanders is on the court FDU is 11 points better on offense per 100 possessions (115 vs. 104). He gives a little of it back on defense (the Knights are four points worse per 100 possessions), but that change is enough to take FDU from a team that wins 20% of its NEC games to one that wins half the time.

The two Robert Morris players are second and third, which is impressive considering how good the Colonials are no matter who is on the court. What’s most interesting is that they do it in different ways. Anderson’s value is on offense (almost 19 points better per 100 possessions), while Jones’ value is on defense where he’s almost 13 points better per 100 possessions. This makes intuitive sense. Anderson stretches defenses like no player in the NEC thanks to his dead-eye shooting and has a 131 offensive rating this season while using 24.4% of RMU’s possessions. Jones is excellent on the off-side wing in RMU’s 2-3 zone and provides protection for Stephan Hawkins up front.

The Bryant players definitely suffer from small sample sizes. Maynard in particular has taken just 38 possessions off during NEC play. (Crazy!) Francis (85 possessions off) and Brickman (83 possessions off) also never come off the court, making these comparisons much more difficult. It’s hard to read too much into those splits.

Personally, I think that Anderson probably deserves to be the current front-runner for NEC Player of the Year, but his teammate Jones should be in the conversation, as should Sanders, Jr. if FDU qualifies for the NEC tournament.

Two Other Players of Note:

Wagner performs as a 92% winning percentage NEC team when Naofall Folahan is on the court. How? No player has better defensive splits. When the 7-footer is on the court the Seahawks’ NEC opponents have scored just 83 points per 100 possessions. That’s stifling. Wagner is the best defensive team in the NEC on two-point field goals at 44.2%, but with Folahan on the court that drops to an unbelievable 37.9%. Opponents also shoot 27.9% from three when he’s on the court. It’s really impressive. Folahan has played 51.7% of Wagner’s minutes this season, but he deserves serious consideration for the NEC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

LIU Brooklyn’s E.J. Reed’s foul trouble has been the source of much consternation for Blackbirds fans. It’s understandable when you look at the splits. With Reed on the court LIU has played like a 30% NEC team, with him off it’s just a 9% winning percentage. While the sophomore from Texas doesn’t make LIU great when he’s on the court, he certainly is keeping the Blackbirds from being terrible. Most of Reed’s value comes on the offensive end. The Blackbirds score 10 more points per 100 possessions when on the court, but LIU has also been three points better per 100 possessions on defense as well.

Efficiency Margin Standings (Offensive Efficiency minus Defensive Efficiency):

  1. Robert Morris: 0.13 points per possession
  2. Bryant: 0.09
  3. Wagner: 0.08
  4. St. Francis Brooklyn: 0.03
  5. Mount St. Mary’s: 0.02
  6. Saint Francis (PA): -0.02
  7. Fairleigh Dickinson: -0.03
  8. Central Connecticut: -0.07
  9. Sacred Heart: -0.13
  10. LIU Brooklyn: -0.13


  • Best Offense: Bryant – 1.16 points scored per possession
  • Best Defense: Wagner – 0.96 points allowed per possession
  • Fastest Team: Mount St. Mary’s – 73 possessions per game
  • Slowest Team: Saint Francis (PA) – 65 possessions per game
  • Luckiest Team: Robert Morris – 1.3 wins above expectation
  • Unluckiest Team: Sacred Heart – 1.3 wins below expectation

While they’re not pictured here, Central Connecticut is currently the second luckiest team in the NEC after their stunning last-second victory over St. Francis Brooklyn. I’m wondering though if this is really something else – namely “the Kyle Vinales effect.” Vinales’ return has made CCSU quite dangerous. (They haven’t lost since his return against FDU.) The Blue Devils finish with three straight road games, but they could be a dangerous opponent to any first round opponent during the NEC tournament. Keep an eye on Howie Dickenman and company.

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