With the 2014-15 Northeast Conference regular season in the books, now is the time for John and I to announce our awards and all-conference teams for the end of the season. Since I announced my midseason picks back in early January, a lot has changed for several individuals, making the selections of our all-league teams brutally difficult. In our estimation, there were 20-21 legit candidates fighting for 15 spots. Let’s begin!
NEC All-Conference First Team
- Brent Jones, St. Francis Brooklyn
- Dyami Starks, Bryant
- Rodney Pryor, Robert Morris
- Earl Brown, Saint Francis U
- Jalen Cannon, St. Francis Brooklyn
As recently as three weeks ago, an argument would’ve been made for Brent Jones as the NEC Player of the Year. His shooting percentages have taken a slight step backwards with more possessions to handle, but the senior guard still posted career highs in points (13.6 ppg), rebounds (3.5 rpg), steals (2.0 spg) and free throw attempts (4.6) per game. Dyami Starks, Earl Brown and Jalen Cannon were all expected to be here by season’s end, and they delivered as the senior stars of their respective teams. Starks led the conference in scoring (18.5 ppg), Brown posted nine double doubles in NEC play, and Cannon matured into an all-time great by becoming just the second player in NEC history to score 1,500 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. The final selection of our first team may surprise, but truthfully few were as efficient as Rodney Pryor was shooting the basketball after posting a splendid 53% FG/43% 3PT/80% FT line. He was awesome.
NEC All-Conference Second Team
- Marcquise Reed, Robert Morris
- Matt Mobley, Central Connecticut
- Marcus Burton, Wagner
- Joe O’Shea, Bryant
- Daniel Garvin, Bryant
We don’t care much about a player’s class, hence our selection of Marcquise Reed here. He really was a hair away from making our top five (more on Reed later). Matt Mobley finished third in the NEC in scoring, which for an underclassman is nothing to sneeze at. Without Marcus Burton and his 17.5 ppg average, Wagner isn’t anywhere near eight wins this conference season. He’s been far from a volume scorer, though, as evident by his robust 108.1 offensive rating in league play. Joe O’Shea is an advanced metrics dream, as the versatile wing lacks a weakness on the basketball court. No one had a better offensive rating (127.9) or assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3) in league play than O’Shea. Finally, O’Shea’s teammate Daniel Garvin was sensational in the second half of the season, averaging 12.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg and 1.6 bpg in league play. He will be a nightmare to guard as an upperclassman.
NEC All-Conference Third Team
- Byron Ashe, Mount St. Mary’s
- Evan Kelley, Sacred Heart
- Lucky Jones, Robert Morris
- Gregory Graves, Mount St. Mary’s
- Amdy Fall, St. Francis Brooklyn
Byron Ashe’s selection seems rather unlikely, given the amount of time he spent in Jamion Christian’s doghouse. To his credit though, Ashe emerged as a better player and the Mount’s go-to-scorer, posting double-digit point totals in nine of his last 10 games. Sacred Heart had plenty of above average contributors in their somewhat surprising 15-win regular season, but program insiders will tell you that Evan Kelley is most deserving of this honor. His versatility, defensive acumen and ability to slash to the basket made him a player Anthony Latina couldn’t afford to be without during the Pioneers 8-4 finish in NEC play. After slumping during the non-conference season, Lucky Jones reverted back to his productive self by averaging 15.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg and 1.9 apg in his last eight. His ability to manufacture offense (5.0 fouls drawn per 40 minutes) and defend (2.5% steal rate) makes him a valuable asset for Andy Toole. Only six other players posted a better efficiency rating in league play than Gregory Graves. The favorable rating was due to Graves’ dominance on the boards, as he impressively grabbed 9.6% and 21.2% of the offensive and defensive rebounds, respectability. Brandon Peel and De’von Barnett had very good numbers too, but Graves earns the tiebreaker based on his team’s finish in the top four. Finally, we wanted to award defense by giving Amdy Fall a third team honor, even though he has virtually no chance of landing here for the real thing.
Strongly Considered: Brandon Peel, Central Connecticut; Mostafaa Jones, Fairleigh Dickinson; Tevin Falzon, Sacred Heart; Cane Broome, Sacred Heart; De’Von Barnett, Sacred Heart
NEC All-Conference Rookie Team
- Marcquise Reed, Robert Morris
- Cane Broome, Sacred Heart
- Martin Hermannsson, LIU Brooklyn
- Darian Anderson, Fairleigh Dickinson
- Junior Robinson, Mount St. Mary’s
There was a clear top three with Marcquise Reed, Cane Broome and Martin Hermannsson. We’ll have more on Reed and Broome coming up. After a tough start to his career, the Icelandic guard Hermannsson blossomed into Jack Perri’s best perimeter player. Of all the rookies, Hermannsson arguably put up the best raw stats (10.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.5 apg) this season. After that, it’s anyone’s guess, but we’ll reward the two feisty and athletic floor generals who each logged a considerable amount of time at the point guard position. Darian Anderson excelled at filling up the stat sheet under the guidance of Greg Herenda, averaging 11.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.0 apg and 1.8 spg. Junior Robinson, widely known as the shortest player in Division I basketball, utilized his elite speed and quickness to post double-digits in scoring for half of his conference games.
Strongly Considered: Marques Townes, Fairleigh Dickinson; Nura Zanna, LIU Brooklyn; Elijah Minnie, Robert Morris; Bosko Kostur, Bryant
NEC Player of the Year
Jalen Cannon, St. Francis Brooklyn – There isn’t much to explain here, since Cannon’s career has been rising in a straight line ever since he donned the Terrier white and blue as a rookie. In his final season, it all came together for him. As he led the conference in rebounding (10.2 rpg) and efficiency rating (18) while landing the top five in scoring (16.5 ppg), effective field goal percentage (57.5%), turnover rate (11.7%) and blocked shots (0.9 bpg). He’s a dominant force around the basket, and these days defenders must also worry about Cannon draining some timely long-range jumpers, as evident from his career high 31.9% three-pointer mark this season. He’s officially a complete and wonderful player.
NEC Rookie of the Year
Marcquise Reed, Robert Morris – A quick comparison study between the two best rookies of the conference:
Reed: 14.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.9 spg, 49.9% FG
Cane Broome: 14.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.1 spg, 44.2% FG
It’s fairly dead even, right? Well, a more detailed look at some advanced statistics, courtesy of Ken Pomeroy, highlight a winner in our humble opinion:
Reed: 104.0 ORtg, 53.9% EFG, 18.6% assist rate, 20.0% turnover rate, 4.1% steal rate
Broome: 101.0 ORtg, 49.3% EFG, 14.7% assist rate, 19.0% turnover rate, 2.0% steal rate
Breaking down each freshman’s play based on rates, Reed checks out as the more efficient and complete player at the moment. His ability to create offense off the dribble and affect the game on both ends of the floor was unmatched by any rookie in the conference. As one NEC head coach recently put it, “Reed is the type of (NEC) player that comes around once every 10 years.” He’s been that good, which is unfortunate for the uber-talented Broome. He would have easily been the recipient of this award had he been a rookie the previous two seasons after leading Sacred Heart in points and minutes played per game.
NEC Most Improved Player of the Year
Matt Mobley, Central Connecticut – The super athletic sophomore guard took full advantage of the opportunity when Kyle Vinales was dismissed from the team, morphing from a decent rookie with untapped potential into a future scoring champion of the NEC. He improved his scoring average from 6.7 ppg to 17.1 ppg and was more efficient shooting the basketball, posting a respectable 99.9 offensive rating after controlling 26% of his team’s possessions. Mobley’s 2014-15 season, in fact, was strikingly similar to Vinales’ sophomore campaign, which resulted in an all-NEC first team selection.
(Honorable mention goes to Byron Ashe (explained above) and Sacred Heart’s Tevin Falzon, who more than doubled his rebounding and blocked shot averages.)
NEC Coach of the Year
Glenn Braica, St. Francis Brooklyn – Sure, the Terriers head coach couldn’t ever exceed the lofty expectations of a first place finish back in October, but it was the way his Terriers coasted into the number one seed that left us the most impressed. SFC’s 8-1 record in league games decided by single digits was a little lucky, but the fourth year coach deserves credit for putting his team in a position to win every single night. With no other teams greatly exceeding preseason expectations, Braica is a no-brainer here.
NEC Defensive Player of the Year
Amdy Fall, St. Francis Brooklyn – There simply wasn’t a player who changed the game on the defensive end quite like the bouncy Fall. His incredible 13.1% block rate was seventh in the nation with the next closest NEC player falling six percentage points short of Fall’s mark (Darius Stokes, 7.1%). Moreover, Fall was terrific protecting the defensive glass, grabbing 17.1% of the defensive rebounds when he was on the floor. Because of Fall’s impact in the paint, opponents made a conference low 47.2% of their attempts near the rim (the NCAA median hovers around 56%).
And there you have it. Disagree with any of the selections? We’d love to discuss in the comments section!