Sacred Heart’s Cane Broome Should Win the NEC POY

In a league full of parity and teams that mostly pride themselves on balance and depth, Cane Broome has undoubtedly stood out from the rest of the pack.

In league play, Broome currently leads the NEC in scoring at 24.8 ppg, which is miles ahead of the next two players, Jerome Frink (17.3 ppg) and Martin Hermannsson (17.0 ppg). He’s cracked the 30-point threshold four times this season and his career high 39-point effort last Saturday at Fairleigh Dickinson singlehandedly pushed Sacred Heart to their 10th NEC victory. But he’s hardly a volume scorer, as evident from the analytics.

Cane Broome has guided Sacred Heart to a 10-6 NEC record. (Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
Cane Broome has guided Sacred Heart to a 10-6 NEC record. (Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)

The smooth sophomore guard has posted an efficient KenPom offensive rating of 107.7 against opposing NEC squads, despite taking a staggering 33.4% of his team’s shots when he’s on the floor. His season long possession rate (30.0%) lands in the top 40 nationally, yet the 6’0, 160 pound guard is converting 52.7% of his 2s on 277 attempts. He’s initiating contact and drawing fouls at a high rate (6.1 per 40 minutes), keeping his teammates involved (17.7% assist rate) and shooting the gap on passing lanes in order to accumulate steals (1.7 spg) and create opportunities in transition. And with 26 of 27 games ending in double figures for scoring, Broome has also been the most consistent among the NEC’s elite.

But that’s just one part of the story, with the other side serving as the subjective, and impossible to predict, eye test. Ask any coach in the league who the toughest player to defend and game plan for, and a majority of them will likely acknowledge that it’s Broome. Here’s a sampling from a few NEC coaches, including Broome’s own:

“You want to see a great player? You saw Cane Broome.” – Howie Dickenman after his Blue Devils lost in OT to Sacred Heart in January.

“I love the kid. He’s a great scorer. With [Broome] playing at that level, he just stretches [the defense] out so much. I’ve coached 33 years and he’s probably one of the top 10 scorers in the last 33 years at any level (that I’ve seen).” – Greg Herenda after his FDU Knights fell to the Pioneers last Saturday.

“Cane passes the analytics test, the eye test, the stats test – there’s no test he doesn’t pass… And the one thing you can hold over Sacred Heart’s head (in past seasons) is they’re not winning. Well that’s not the case anymore either. If he’s not the Player of the Year in the league, I don’t know who is. And this is not to knock anyone, but this is a case where I just think he’s done enough.” – Anthony Latina, after Saturday’s victory over FDU.

So with the stats, analytics and eye test on Broome’s side, what’s the big deal here? Just give him the coveted award already!

Well, there are a couple of hurdles for the sophomore to clear. First of all, at least some of the NEC coaches have historically treated all-conference selections as lifetime achievement awards, rather than simply picking the 10-15 best players regardless of tenure. I won’t get into examples to single out past individuals who may or may not have been deserving of an all-conference honor, but let’s just say this surely has happened before.

This train of thought may not extend out to the Player of the Year vote, and yet you have to go all the way back to the 1991-92 season to find a NEC underclassman who was voted as the league’s best player. It was Robert Morris 6’4 guard Myron Walker (thanks to NEC Associate Commissioner and historian Ron Ratner for the tidbit), who’s also a member of the NEC Hall of Fame. And that’s it. Since Walker’s selection 23 years ago, each and every NEC POY has been either a junior or senior.

Luckily for Broome, the other daunting hurdle may be soon cleared given Sacred Heart’s position in the standings. Most coaches clearly prefer that their POY selection resides on a team that’s the regular season champion, or at the very least inside the conference’s top 4. Not since Ron Robinson in 2004 has a POY been on a team outside the top 4.


Thanks to Broome and his teammates, though, Sacred Heart is in control of their own destiny for second place. All they need to do is defeat Robert Morris and SFU in their final two home games. A split will probably net them a home playoff game in the quarterfinals of the NEC tournament as well, and will give the Pioneer faithful one less thing to worry about come NEC POY selection time.

Two losses to close out the season — KenPom views that scenario as unlikely with an 8% chance  — could push the Pioneers to the bottom half of the league and give some coaches an unjustified reason to eliminate Broome from POY consideration.

Regardless of the team’s final standing and Broome’s underclassman status, it’s evident who deserves the award at regular season’s end. It’s Sacred Heart’s dynamic guard out of East Hartford, CT.

Cane Broome is the best player in the Northeast Conference and it’s not really that close.

You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride

19 thoughts on “Sacred Heart’s Cane Broome Should Win the NEC POY

  1. Your Twitter handle is @pioneer_pride… that alone should force the editors of this article to put an asterisk next to the title.

    While Cane is a tremendous scorer, I’m not sure it’s a foregone conclusion that he’s the best player in the league and therefore the Player of the Year. Will he win the award? Based on the last four game scoring output he probably will but…

    Let’s do a comparison of two players within the Northeast Conference:

    Player A – Averaging 17.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists (2.2 A/TO ratio) and 2.0 steals per game in league play while shooting 48% from the field, 37% from 3 and 91% from the FT line.

    Player B – Averaging 24.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists (0.8 A/TO ratio) and 1.6 steals per game in league play while shooting 45% from the field, 31% from 3 and 78% from the FT line.

    If you give 2 points for every assists (should probably give 2.1 or 2.2 based on 3’s, but we’ll give 2), Player A accounts for 27 points per game while Player B accounts for 30.4. If you want to dig a little further, Player B is turning the ball over 1.4 turnovers more than Player A.

    I would say, on average, this would probably be converted into 2 points going the other way on average. So if you dock Player B two points, he then accounts for 28.4 points per game compared to 27.0. While also shooting lesser percentages from the field. Not to mention the slight uptick of Player A in steals per game, which leads to more possessions for his team.

    Also – to finish out the season, Player A plays the two of the worst defenses statistically in the Northeast Conference while Player B plays two defenses in the top half.

    What does this all mean? Probably nothing – if Sacred Heart splits this week and finishes in the top tier, Broome most likely wins POY. But it’s not as clear cut as this article would lead a reader to believe.


    1. It’s comical that you’d insinuate (in your first sentence no less) that I’m a shameless Sacred Heart fanboy who’s merely leading the Broome for POY bandwagon. I challenge you to find any piece I’ve written, or any tweet, where I’ve come across as biased in favor of my Alma Mater. If anything I’ve swung in the opposite direction – I selected SHU to finish 6th this season and selected Pryor as my preseason POY. Heck, ppl in SHU’s program on Saturday were giving me flack for giving Holloway the slight edge over McKnight for NEC ROY. So please don’t play fanboy card here.

      There’s no question Martin Hermannsson, your Player A, is having a great year – a first team type of season – yet he hasn’t commanded the defensive attention or absorbed as many possessions as Broome (21.6% for MH, 30.0% for CB, that’s a HUGE difference) Also you talked about turnovers, well if you look at turnover rate which accounts for all the extra possessions CB has taken on, MH leads only a small margin (16.3% for MH, 17.7% for CB).

      Broome’s done heavy lifting all year and continues to shine despite the double teams, increased contact and fouling, etc. Hermannsson has Jerome Frink down low, so like I said on the ESPN3 broadcast, both of the LIU guys pretty much split the difference for NEC POY consideration. Plus SHU is currently 2 games ahead of LIU in the NEC standings, which IMO plays a slight factor.


      1. I think you’re hung up on the first sentence (which was – maybe an unnecessary – jab but one that I believe, with the last few paragraphs of this post, deserved at least mentioning). The tone of your post says it’s not close, which I don’t think is true.

        While you point out other numbers to defend everything, their efficiencies according to KenPom (118 to 103) are skewed well in favor of Hermannsson. Accounting for regression, as you are stating does happen due to number of possessions used and I agree with, I’m not sure Hermannsson slips 15 ORtg. points with a 8.4% usage rate bump. He could, but I’m not sure he does.

        So at the end of the day, what’s better – higher usage or more efficiency? Guess it’s a matter of preference. I would argue that Hermannsson is more of a true “take what the defense gives” player who creates for his teammates as much as he does for himself, while Broome is more of an “impose your will” type of lead guard. Nothing wrong with either, but the difference in styles of play also creates differences in numbers, too. Favoring each side differently.

        They’re different players. Both of them very good in their own rights and with two more years from each in the league, LIU and SHU should be very excited. But I’m just pointing out a few numbers that state the race isn’t quite the landslide that you describe. That’s the biggest issue from me. Plus the last two games that each team plays is a big difference in terms of opponent.

        If LIU ends up 10-8 & SHU 11-7, the last sentence in your prior post is pretty much a wash. Appreciate what this site does to provide coverage to a small league. Don’t take my disagreement as disrespectful.


  2. Don’t really believe that there is any writer bias in pointing out that Cane Broome of Sacred Heart warrants some serious consideration for POY honors. That’s a perfectly legitimate article on one of the better players to have come into the NEC in recent memory. However, think that there may be some disappointment among your readers, especially NEC fans, that you guys have not been covering the NEC action for each set of games at the level you had in the past. Those summaries featuring your writers’ take on all ten of the Conference teams are great reads and solid insights into each brace of games and have been a great feature of Big Apple Buckets. I always look forward to reading them twice a week. Like to see that level of coverage continue as we get into the home stretch for one of the most competitive seasons we have seen in a long time.


    1. I’ll certainly try to run the NEC Recaps for this week and for the playoffs, Dan. I think both John and I have been really busy in our day jobs and personal lives this season (I have a 2 year old daughter at home) so the coverage hasn’t been as strong as in season’s past.

      I’m still following the league closely and I’ve been ramping up coverage a little more recently and should continue to do so for the last few weeks of the season. The NEC tournament will be too exciting not to do that!


      1. Hey, Ryan! Thanks for responding. Know that it’s kind of difficult keeping up something like Big Apple Buckets when you have a full-time job and family time to worry about. Totally understand. Just noting that I miss the kind of coverage you guys always give. It’s always informing and entertaining. Looking forward to your coverage for the rest of the NEC season. As a Terrier fan, I hate to use this canine term, but it’s going to be a dogfight down the stretch and throughout the playoffs. Because the NEC this year has lost a few notches in the Conference rankings, it’s likely that the NEC Champ will face an NCAA play-in game this year. Whoever survives the playoffs will certainly be a battle-tested group going into this sort of mid-major NCAA match-up. Also, hope that Broome is the kind of kid who will stick with the SHU program. We’ve seen before how upper echelon players in this Conference can be wooed by schools a bit higher on the college basketball food chain. And that’s always a disappointing event.


      2. Actually, it’s not the upper echelon schools that woo mid-major players. It’s the players themselves wishing to be tested a bit higher level. Just want to clarify that.


  3. I know it is not feasible or economically viable, but this would be a fantastic year to have a neutral site NEC tournament! Oh, the parity! There is virtually no distinct separation 1 thru 8 this year… anyone has a legitimate chance to get hot and win three in a row at this point. Should be fun!


    1. Always felt that knocking only two schools out of the playoffs after the rigors of a balanced 18-game regular season may not really be fair to teams that have performed strongly all year. Everyone’s had the chance for a home-and-home tussle with all the other teams in the Conference. Since there’s no longer any team that is disadvantaged due to an unbalanced schedule, having only the top six teams make the playoffs may now make a little more sense. The quarter-final scenario would be having 3 play 6 and 4 play 5, with the top two Conference teams rewarded with a bye. The first place team would then play the lower surviving seed in the semi-final round, with the highest surviving seed hosting the championship game. The possibility of having the home court advantage for two playoff games would be the prize for the regular season winner, even though the second place team would also get a first round bye. Thoughts?


      1. Dan, I like your playoff setup.
        To be honest, coming in 1st or 2nd after the regular season deserves more of a reward.
        A bye in the first round would do just that.
        It would also help the NEC have a better chance of sending its best team to the NCAA tourney. Given the rule changes and the way Refs call a game, that still might not be the case lol.

        The Big Apple Buckets staff does a great job covering conferences that don’t get the big press.
        Keep up the good work guys !


  4. AS an FDU and NEC fan who has seen every team in the lead at least once. Kane Broome is the POY and it is not even close. Not only is he a great scorer ,but a fantastic player when it comes to crunch time in the game. A neutral site is a nice idea, but impractical for the NEC. A neutral site would mean playoff games with very poor attendance. Better a full gym for a playoff game with excited fans.


  5. Cane Broome is NEC POY and it really isn’t that close. If not Broome then who? I was thinking about first team and my five are Broome, Drinnon, Pryor, Frink and Junior Robinson. Wagner is currently in first but not sure they have a first team player. Dwaun Anderson would get my vote for defensive POY. Saunders, Carey and Henson could all make 2nd and third team. SFNY’s Tyreek Jewell and Y. Hopkinson, CCSU’s Brandon Peel, FDU’s Darian Anderson and Potts, MSM’s BK Ashe and LIU’s Hermansson should also get 2nd and 3rd team consideration. Greg Herenda of FDU is coach of the year and FDU’sHolloway is frosh of the year all-Frosh team is Holloway, McKnight. Still. Blackmon and Pettway.


  6. POY = Cane Broome
    NEC 1st Team = Henson, Pryor, Drinnon, Frink, Broome
    NEC 2nd Team = Carey, Hermannsson, Robinson, Anderson (FDU), Pettway
    NEC 3rd Team = Ashe, Jewell, Peel, Anderson (WAG), Potts
    ROY = McKnight
    COY = Herenda
    Biggest Disappointments = RMU, MSM


  7. How would Robinson be over Ashe. Ashe leads Robinson in every statistical category and had been the most consistent. He is even shooting a higher percentage. Its not even like the Mount is a great offensive team they are terrible. Ashe is the best defender statistically (and its not even close)on the best defensive team in the NEC. The Mount actually are worse with Robinson on the floor based on statistics (look up previous article). He even avgs more rebounds then Danaher and Wray. I know robinson is flashy but don’t overlook the better player but a lot. I know this is about Broome who should be Player of the Year(easily). Just had to add this


  8. One man’s opinion:
    POY: Cane Broome Sacred Heart
    Defensive POY: Dwaun Anderson Wagner
    Frosh of year: Holloway FDU
    Coach of the year: Greg Herrenda FDU

    First team: Broome, Pryor, Drinnon, Ashe and Frink.
    Second team: Hermansson, Junior Robinson, Darian Anderson, C. Henson and Tyreek Jewell
    Third team: Potts-FDU, Carey-Wagner-Peel-CCSU, Garvin-Bryant and Graves-MSM

    All-Frosh team: Holloway-FDU, McKnight-Sacred Heart, Pettway-Bryant, Blackmon-SFPA and Still-RMU.


  9. The fact everyone is leaving out Hopkinson from SFBK is ridiculous. Here is a guy who literally got thrown into the lineup after the starting PG Sanabria got injured and what has he done in conference with virtually no real back up?? 8th in scoring at 14.2 ahead of ashe and carey .8 behind robinson from Mount. Ahead 3.12 apg ahead of both robinson and as he. 3rd in FT pct in the league 2 in 3pt made only 1 behind Meunier…. 7th in assist to turnover ratio.. Team is tied for second and he is on no ones 3rd team…. Not buying it


    1. I will strongly consider Hopkinson for the 3rd team, James. Just not sure if I’d value him more than Jewell and/or Hooper at this point. He’s been on a roll lately, but he wasn’t the most efficient guy early in the conference season. There’s no doubt, however, that he’s a key to the Terriers emergence … I’d just like to see a bit more consistency.


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