The new season is upon us! As I did last season, here are some bold predictions about what’s going to happen in 2016-17.
But first, a quick review of last season’s bold predictions:
- NJIT will win the Atlantic Sun regular season title: Incorrect. The Highlanders tied for second.
- Stony Brook will not win the America East regular season title, but will dance for the first time in school history: Half right. The Seawolves actually won the America East title by a game and then made the NCAA tournament as a 13 seed.
- Princeton, Columbia and Yale finish in 3-way tie: Incorrect. Yale went a ridiculous 13-1.
- A.J. English will win the Haggerty Award: Incorrect. It went to Isaiah Whitehead of Seton Hall, who was certainly deserving.
- Denton Koon will be healthy all season and an all-CAA player for Hofstra: Half right. Koon was healthy all season, and while his tempo-free numbers were excellent he was overshadowed by his talented teammates.
- St. John’s and Rutgers will both finish in the basement of their respective leagues: Correct. Both teams went 1-17 in conference. Enough said.
- Fordham will go 10-1 in non-conference play, but still finish near the bottom of the Atlantic 10: Incorrect. But so close. Fordham went 9-2 in non-conference, but surprisingly jumped up to 8th in the A-10, going 8-10 in league play.
- LIU Brooklyn’s Jerome Frink will make all-NEC first team: Correct.
So let’s call is 3 of 8. Not exactly Nostradamus levels, but not terrible.
Here are some bold predictions for the 2016-17 season:
Monmouth will not win the MAAC regular season title.
This sounds crazier than it is in reality. The MAAC regular season, at least for now, is a 20-game slog. A lot can happen. I just think that the Hawks might finish this season still wondering about what could’ve happened if they’d received an at-large bid in 2015-16.
Justin Robinson will win the Haggerty Award.
I believe you’re required to take a guess at this one if you write in the New York City area. When Zach Braziller and Howie Kussoy made their picks for the New York Post they were split between Robinson and Hofstra forward Rokas Gustys. I’ll go with the senior.
Michael Carey will be the NEC’s Player of the Year.
My expectation is that Wagner will once again claim the NEC’s regular season title and with it will come accolades for their top two players, Carey and Corey Henson. Carey has a unique game in the NEC, and an offseason of development playing against professional level talent is only going to help his game.
Steve Pikiell’s old school and his new school will struggle.
This is a rebuilding year for Stony Brook and Jeff Boals is going to have to restock the cupboard in order to get the team back to prominence in America East in the next few seasons. The guess here is that the Seawolves finish in the bottom half of America East. Pikiell has a lot of work to do at Rutgers. It’ll be hard for the Scarlet Knights to be the worst major conference team in college basketball again, but even a small step forward will leave the Knights stuck in the Big Ten basement.
St. Francis Brooklyn will finish better than the coaches expect (7th) in the NEC, but the Terriers still won’t need their dancing shoes.
The first part of this prediction is a bet on Glenn Braica. The expectation here is that despite personnel losses and some early injuries the Terriers will find a way to make noise in the NEC with a small-ball lineup and a new style of play. And while FDU went from picked 9th last preseason to winning the conference tournament, I don’t see a miracle run coming from SFC.
Fordham will take a slight step back in the A-10, but won’t fall to the basement.
Jeff Neubauer did great work in his first season in the Bronx, but Fordham had some key players graduate. The Rams won’t be able to maintain the momentum they found in 2015-16, so expect them to slide back a bit. But the Rams are too good and the bottom of the A-10, especially Saint Louis, too weak for Fordham to fall all the way back to the bottom.
One Iona transfer will be named All-MAAC.
Either Sam Cassell Jr. or Jon Severe (or both) is going to get the opportunity to put up big numbers for the Gaels. Both have a lot of talent. It’s just a mattter of who fits into Tim Cluess’s plans better night in and night out. (Also, Deyshonee Much and Jordan Washington will need shots too.) Still, I expect either Cassell or Severe to end up on an all-conference team by the end of the season.
Finally, I didn’t do bold projections about a few area teams. So quick thoughts:
- Manhattan: Better than last season. Fourth in the MAAC.
- Columbia: Down a bit from last season. Fourth in the Ivy League.
- LIU Brooklyn: Down a bit from last season. Make NEC tournament, but on the road.
- Hofstra: About the same as last season. Competing for CAA title.
- NJIT: About the same as last season. Competing for Atlantic Sun title.
- St. John’s: Better than last season. NIT.