Before we embark on what promises to be a fascinating conference tournament this week, we here at Big Apple Buckets would like to present our NEC awards and all-conference teams.
John Templon, Ray Curran and I each ranked our top 15 players — the same procedure the league employs with its head coaches — and the average was used as the final result. After the first couple of players, there was a lot of variation between the back end of the 1st team and the other two teams. Nevertheless, I’m pleased with how our final 15 were presented, although there could be a gripe or two. (I, for one, think Drinnon and Darian Anderson are a little low.)
But I’ll let you make the final call, so as always let us know in the comments section what you think. Without further ado!
Big Apple Buckets All-NEC First Team:
Cane Broome, Sacred Heart
Rodney Pryor, Robert Morris
Martin Hermannsson, LIU Brooklyn
Michael Carey, Wagner
Jerome Frink, LIU Brooklyn
I’ve gone to great lengths to explain why Broome is the NEC’s Player of the Year; we’ll have more on him later. Despite suffering from a concussion and working his way back, Pryor regained his mojo as one of the league’s most feared shooters (18.3 ppg, 2nd in the NEC) and was underrated on the glass (8.0 rpg, 6th in the NEC). Hermannsson is an analytics dream, even if some of us wish he was just a little more selfish. Nevertheless, the sophomore guard simply does it all with scoring (16.5 ppg), rebounding (4.4 rpg), passing (4.7 apg) and shooting (46% FG/37% 3PT/88% FT). Michael Carey collected 13 double doubles, had an indelible impact on the Seahawks’ 20-win season and, for the record, was selected by KenPom as the league’s best player. Finally, Frink rounds out the first team thanks to his dominance around the basket as a finisher (64.7% on FGs near the rim) and rebounder (9.1 rpg).
Big Apple Buckets All-NEC Second Team:
Earl Potts, Fairleigh Dickinson
Tyreek Jewell, St. Francis Brooklyn
BK Ashe, Mount St. Mary’s
Corey Henson, Wagner
Ronnie Drinnon, Saint Francis U
The 6’6 Potts was superbly efficient as the only player to finish in the league’s top 5 in both two-point and three-point field goal percentage in NEC play (60.9% 2PT, 43.2% 3PT). Jewell may not be the shooter Potts is, but the athletic guard does many other things very well on the floor, including defending his position at an elite level. Speaking of excellent defenders, Ashe was the best on-the-ball defender on a Mount St. Mary’s team that led the league in defensive efficiency. Oh, and he also led the team in scoring too (13.9 ppg). With a three-point percentage of 42.9%, Henson has been the most consistent scoring weapon in Bashir Mason’s deep rotation. Lastly, Drinnon was a rebounding monster in his senior season, ripping down a league leading 10.6 rpg while landing fifth overall in efficiency rating.
Big Apple Buckets All-NEC Third Team:
Junior Robinson, Mount St. Mary’s
Chris Hooper, St. Francis Brooklyn
Brandon Peel, Central Connecticut
Darian Anderson, Fairleigh Dickinson
Tevin Falzon, Sacred Heart
My previous post on Robinson fully explains why the 5’5 point guard was a hair away from landing in our top 10. Chris Hooper absorbed a lot of possessions for the Terriers, yet the skilled low-post big man still converted nearly 60% of his 2-point attempts. Even though Central Connecticut struggled on the offensive end, Peel had an excellent senior campaign to the tune of 11.7 ppg and 9.1 rpg, so his selection was far from a “lifetime achievement” award. Anderson, yet another sophomore in a league loaded with youth, posted a double-digit scoring effort in 14 of FDU’s 18 league games. Rounding out the top 15 was Falzon, an invaluable force down low (8.3 rpg, 4.7% block rate) for Anthony Latina’s squad. As Ray mentions here, Falzon’s play down the stretch was pivotal in the Pioneers’ midseason surge.
Big Apple Buckets NEC All-Rookie Team:
Marcel Pettway, Bryant
Quincy McKnight, Sacred Heart
Mike Holloway, Fairleigh Dickinson
Austin Nehls, Central Connecticut
Nisre Zouzoua, Bryant
McKnight was a stats machine as a NEC rookie, finishing in the top four of rookies in points (11.3 ppg), rebounds (5.2 rpg), assists (2.5 apg, first) and steals (1.6 spg, first). On a team that sorely needed a bruiser down low, Holloway provided Greg Herenda with that skill from day one. One criticism toward Nehls could be that he’s a one-dimensional player at the moment, yet he led the Blue Devils in minutes played, three-pointers made (71) and was second in free throw percentage (77.8%). Bryant may have struggled this season, yet Tim O’Shea has two freshmen to build his program around in Pettway and Zouzoua.
Big Apple Buckets NEC Player of the Year
Cane Broome, Sacred Heart – Well, that was easy. The sophomore will likely become only the second underclassman in league history to take home the league’s POY honor, and it was obviously well deserved. A KenPom offensive rating of 108.2 in league play is very good, but it’s even better when you take Broome’s huge possession rate (30.6%) into account. Quite simply, there was no one who was more valuable to his team.
Big Apple Buckets NEC Rookie of the Year
Marcel Pettway, Bryant – We here at Big Apple Buckets decided not to penalize Pettway for his team’s overall performance – if we did then it would’ve been a two-way race between Holloway and McKnight. From a consistency and upside standpoint, Pettway was the best rookie in the league. He not only posted double-digit scoring efforts in 13 of 18 league games, but he was also dubbed the KenPom MVP in five contests, which easily led all NEC rookies.
Big Apple Buckets NEC Coach of the Year
Bashir Mason, Wagner – With all apologies to Greg Herenda, who also had an excellent year, we awarded the coach on the NEC’s best team. This was a critical year for the four-year head coach and he delivered. Mason’s recruiting gets of Carey and Henry Brooks injected the right amount of experience and athleticism into the lineup, and allowed the Seahawks to return to the brand of defensive basketball the Bruiser Flint understudy has always coveted.
Big Apple Buckets NEC Defensive Player of the Year
Dwaun Anderson, Wagner – This was a split decision between the three of us, with Jewell earning the other vote. Despite the division, Anderson proved to be an invaluable defensive asset for a program that desperately missed his presence from the 2014-15 season. His elite athleticism was wisely harnessed to post nationally ranked steal and block rate percentages of 2.5% and 3.5%, respectively.
Big Apple Buckets NEC Most Improved Player
Earl Potts, Fairleigh Dickinson – In a season where there were plenty of quality candidates (Yunus Hopkinson, Stephan Jiggetts and Hunter Ware come to mind), Potts stood out given his final numbers of 14.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 1.4 apg – all of these statistics were at least doubled from the prior season. More importantly, Potts’ maturation was critical in guiding a FDU squad that was a nightmare to defend in the league (110.1 points per 100 possessions).
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride