With 13-15 games in the books for each NEC squad, it’s time to break out an unofficial awards post! In assessing our midseason all-conference teams, we placed a little more weight on the four conference games when trying to decipher who does and doesn’t belong. So without further ado, let’s begin with our all-conference teams…
NEC Midseason All-Conference First Team
- Brent Jones, St. Francis Brooklyn
- Matt Mobley, Central Connecticut
- Dyami Starks, Bryant
- Earl Brown, Saint Francis U.
- Jalen Cannon, St. Francis Brooklyn
Four no-brainers and a lock for the NEC Most Improved Player of the season round out our midseason first team. There isn’t much to explain, another than possibly Mobley’s insertion, which doesn’t feel like much of a stretch since he leads the league in scoring as a sophomore. We’ll have more on Mobley later on.
NEC Midseason All-Conference Second Team
- Mostafaa Jones, Fairleigh Dickinson
- Rodney Pryor, Robert Morris
- Matt MacDonald, Fairleigh Dickinson
- Joe O’Shea, Bryant
- Ronnie Drinnon, Saint Francis U.
Jones is another example of why Greg Herenda is a great head coach. Under Herenda’s tutoring, Jones has progressed from a three-point launcher to a polished senior who’s scored in double figures in 13 of 15 games this season. His teammate, Matt MacDonald, owns a nationally ranked offensive rating thanks to a true shooting percentage of 55.5%. Speaking of excellent shooters, Pryor continues the theme as one of the NEC’s most lethal three-point threats (41% 3PT). After a tough start, O’Shea has been sensational in league play, averaging 16.3 ppg and 8.3 rpg while shooting 51.1% from the floor. Lastly, Drinnon has been fantastic on the backboards in his last seven games, ripping down 78 loose caroms and his scoring has predictably ticked up versus the smaller front courts of the NEC.
NEC Midseason All-Conference Third Team
- Cane Broome, Sacred Heart
- Marcquise Reed, Robert Morris
- Marcus Burton, Wagner
- Lucky Jones, Robert Morris
- Brandon Peel, Central Connecticut
Two rookies make up our third team, and quite frankly, this is the first time we’ve done this in quite some time. But Broome (14.1 ppg) and Reed (13.6 ppg) have been terrific and are legitimate scorers in this league, despite having just 16-17 games under their collegiate belts. Burton’s efficiency has dropped of a bit with an increased role, yet he’s scoring at a fine clip in conference play, averaging 21.3 ppg. Jones has struggled this season with his shot, yet he’s still rebounding (17.6% defensive rebound rate), defending (3.0% steal rate) and getting to the charity stripe at an elite level. Finally, Chris Capella of Colonials Corner recently called Peel the Tyson Chandler of the NEC. We love that comparison, given Peel’s dominance around the rim with 8.6 rpg and 1.5 bpg.
Our apologies to: Gregory Graves, Malik Harmon, Gerrell Martin, Xavier Harris
NEC Midseason All-Rookie Team
- PG: Elvar Fridriksson, LIU Brooklyn
- G: Cane Broome, Sacred Heart
- G: Marcquise Reed, Robert Morris
- G/F: Marques Townes, Fairleigh Dickinson
- PF: Nura Zanna, LIU Brooklyn
It’s so hard to pick five for the NEC all-rookie team, and we honestly keep changing our minds for the last three spots after Reed and Broome. Recently though, Townes has been fantastic off the Knights bench and sports a very good offensive rating of 104.6. It’s taken him a little time to adjust, but Zanna is a difficult player to contain in the low block due to his size and athleticism. Once Zanna learns how to avoid fouling out of games, he has the upside to be a great power forward in this league. Finally, Fridriksson has struggled lately, but there’s no ignoring the impact he’s had in running Jack Perri’s offense since the departure of Jason Brickman. His 28.6% assist rate is terrific for a rookie floor general.
Watch out for: Darian Anderson, JoJo Cooper, Romone Saunders, Hunter Ware, Elijah Minnie
NEC Midseason Player of the Year
Jalen Cannon, St. Francis Brooklyn – As the three-time NEC Player of the Week and leading rebounder of the conference (9.9 rpg), the mere mention of Cannon as the league’s best player on the league’s best team won’t garner any objection whatsoever. He’s simply a man among boys at this junction of his career. His efficiency rating (17.4) is tops in the NEC by a long shot, and he’s seen improvement both on the defensive end of the floor (career high block rate of 3.4%) and shooting the long-range jumper (33.3% 3PT). Like great players before him, Cannon continues to progress his game to the point where, as a senior, he’s putting up double-doubles with relative ease. A lot can change in the second half of the season, but we’d be surprised if Cannon’s game tails off even slightly. He’s that good.
NEC Midseason Most Improved Player
Matt Mobley, Central Connecticut – As big of a no-brainer Sidney Sanders, Jr. was in winning this honor last season, Mobley is just as obvious with his scoring average increasing from 6.7 ppg as a freshman to 18.4 ppg as a sophomore. Mobley hasn’t done much to fill up the rest of the stat sheet, yet he excels at one particular skill: volume scoring. Like Kyle Vinales before him, Mobley has been productive in handling 27% of CCSU’s possessions when on the floor, posting a respectable effective field goal percentage of 49.2%. He projects to be more efficient than his predecessor in terms of shot selection, given his willingness to attack the rim and get to the charity stripe more often. His 105 free throw attempts lead all NEC individual players by a wide margin. As a sophomore, that’s really encouraging and bodes well for his future projection.
Co-NEC Midseason Rookies of the Year
Cane Broome, Sacred Heart – Broome leads his team in scoring (14.1 ppg) and steals (1.6 spg) and is second in assists (2.5 apg), made free throws (47) and defensive rebounds (66). The latter shows off Broome’s sneaky good athleticism — despite his 6’0” 150 pound frame, he’s corralled 13.1% of the available defensive rebounds when on the floor. There’s the question of his under-utilization late in games, so it’ll be interesting to see if Anthony Latina leans on the freshman more in high pressure situations to improve upon Sacred Heart’s 1-5 record when the game ends within one possession.
Marcquise Reed, Robert Morris – In all honesty, Cane Broome was our ROY pick two weeks ago, but Reed has been playing better of late and has terrific numbers when measured on a per minute basis. It’s never an easy feat for a freshman guard to excel in creating his own shot, but the shifty Reed has done just that by shooting 56.0% and 38.9% on his twos and threes, respectively, while handling a heavy load of the Colonials’ possessions. Perhaps most impressive, however, is his phenomenal steal rate of 5.1%, good for ninth nationally among all Division I players.
NEC Midseason Coach of the Year
Rob Krimmel, Saint Francis U. – When deciding on a Coach of the Year candidate, it’s mostly about (at least to us) exceeding preseason expectations and Krimmel has done that with his veteran team. Picked fourth in the NEC Preseason Poll, the Red Flash have moved up 89 spots in KenPom rankings since the start of the season, thanks to victories over Albany, Duquesne, Rutgers and Robert Morris. The team is defending at an improved level (100.8 points per 100 possessions) when compared to the rest of the decade, and Krimmel has his guys buying into the team concept and their roles. Saint Francis is a bonafide contender, and for that, the third-year head coach deserves a lot of credit.
This is far from a perfect science, so if you disagree we’d love to hear your arguments in the comments section!