Top NYC Players: 20-16

This is part two of this week’s series about the Top 25 players in the New York metro area. You can read part 1, which has an explanation and players 21-25, here.

20. Isaiah Wilkerson, NJIT — The Great West’s Player of the Year doesn’t get a lot of recognition, but he’s a unique player that did more than just score for the Highlanders, who finished 15-17 this season. Wilkerson averaged 16.2 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game for NJIT this season. The rebounding is remarkable considering Wilkerson is a 6’3″ guard. I adjusted Wilkerson’s numbers for the strength of NJIT’s schedule and he still ranked amongst the elites in almost every category. Like many of the better known players on this list he was an efficient, high usage player. NJIT almost advanced to the Tournament, but fell to North Dakota 75-60 in the final. Wilkerson scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the loss.

19. Bryan Dougher, Stony Brook — A four-year starter under Steve Pikiell, Dougher and the Seawolves couldn’t quite get over the hump and into the NCAA tournament. The senior from Scotch Plains, NJ saw his usage drop slightly this season, but he numbers in general improved and he became a key offensive component for SBU. Dougher averaged 13.2 points per game and shot 36% from beyond the arc. Dougher scored 20 points on just nine shots from the field (and 7-8 free throw shooting) in a 66-57 win over Boston University midway through the America East campaign. Unfortunately he struggled a bit in his last America East game, shooting 2-12 from the field and scoring eight points in SBU’s loss to Vermont in the finals.

18. Douglas Davis, Princeton — Like Dougher, Davis is one of those players that seems like he’s been around forever. Turns out that’s because he sort of has. Davis played at least 30 minutes per game in each of his four season for the Tigers. During his senior campaign he upped his scoring average to 13.8 points per game and shot 42% from three and 83% from the foul line. By the time his career was over Davis had scored the second most points in Princeton history. It’s his outstanding senior season that put him over the top.

17. Jamal Olasewere, LIU Brooklyn — Olasewere had a breakthrough junior season. He improved in almost every category and in the process turned the Blackbirds into a more dynamic offensive team. In just 26 minutes per game Olaswere scored 16.9 points and grabbed 7.5 rebounds. He shot 57% from the field overall and 34% from three. Occassionally he had a few too many turnovers, often related to offensive fouls on difficult drives to the basket, but there’s an argument to be made that was also LIU’s most dynamic offensive player. That never proved more true than when he scored 32 points on a perfect 11-11 from the field in the Battle of Brooklyn against St. Francis (NY). It was one of 10 games in which the 6’7″ junior scored 20 points or more.

16. Reggie Willhite, Yale — There’s another Bulldog coming up later in this countdown, but Willhite deserves a lot of recognition. The 6’4″ swingman was a defensive menace, playmaker and an incredibly complete basketball player for Yale this season. He averaged 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.2 steals per game in 31.9 minutes. Willhite particularly killed Columbia, scoring 24 and 20 points in two victories over the Lions. He also scored 20 points in a four-point win over Princeton and 23 in a two-point win over Sacred Heart. On a team with no true point guard it was Willhite that sometimes had to make the plays that got other teammates open shots. It’s his defense though that puts him over the top. Willhite ranked 29th in the nation in steal rate at 4.2% and was named the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Check back tomorrow as I count down 15-11 and the Big East gets into the act.

Awards Update: AP All-America Teams

No player on a New York City team made the AP All-America Teams this season, but three were named Honorable Mentions. Iona’s Scott Machado, LIU Brooklyn’s Julian Boyd and NJIT’s Isaiah Wilkerson were all included on the list. Considering these teams are made up of the best players in the country, being named is quite the honor. Also, Mike Glover is on JTM Basketball Blog’s Portsmouth Suggested Invites for 2012. I’m guessing that he has Machado as one of the seniors that wouldn’t accept an invite.

New York Mid-Major 2011-12 Teams

What a year it was for college hoops in New York City. Both Iona and LIU Brooklyn qualified for the NCAA tournament and Stony Brook also won the regular season title. A number of players were named to their All-Conference teams and garnered postseason awards. In fact, those awards are still coming in. Here I’d like to name my New York Mid-Major teams for the 2011-12 season.

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Catching up with the Great West

After a non-conference schedule spent barnstorming the country, the Great West schools toil in obscurity during their conference season. For a while there was a nice weekly update from Storming the Floor about the conference, but currently it’s tough to find any information about what’s going on. The winner of the conference tournament (which will be held in Chicago this season) gets an automatic bid to the Tournament. Since I’ll be tracking all the bids to both the CBI and CIT this Selection Sunday it’s time to take a refresher course on the six-team conference.

Where we stand right now:

1. Utah Valley — 7-0
2. Texas-Pan American — 5-2
3. NJIT — 4-5
4. North Dakota — 3-4
5. Houston Baptist — 2-5
6. Chicago State — 2-7

If you’re interested about conference only statistics the Wolverines are a really safe bet to take home the title. First of all, they’ll get a bye to the semifinals. Secondly they’re No. 1 in the conference in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Utah Valley has won a school record 11 games in a row, including two games against non-Division I opponents. Of course, not every win has been easy. UVU needed double-overtime to defeat NJIT, 99-97 in 2OT in the GWC game of the season thus far. Also, Chicago State put up a fight last time out, so if the Cougars were able to survive the first round of the conference tournament, you never know.

The tournament runs March 8-10. Who are some key players to watch out for?

  • Isiah Williams (Utah Valley) — 18.1 PPG
  • Isaiah Wilkerson (NJIT) — 17.6 PPG, 8.3 RPG
  • Ardarius Simmons (CSU) — 16.0 PPG, 4.3 APG
  • Jeremy Robinson (CSU) — 15.0 PPG, 9.1 RPG
  • Geddes Robinson (UVU) — 11.1 RPG (only guy average 10+ rebounds in conference play)

Simmons is a great story. He played in 30 games, but started just eight during his junior season at CSU. Now he’s playing 39.1 minutes per game in conference play and is the driving force behind an aggressive defense that leads the GWC in steal percentage. Williams is UVU’s first ever All-American, he received Honorable Mention honors after last season. He’s earning that spot again.

What happens next? Well there will be a conference tournament and then the GWC is going to be on some shaky ground. North Dakota and Houston Baptist aren’t the premiere programs in the league, but they’ll both be leaving at the end of the season. Can the other four schools find homes in other conferences? It seems like NJIT would be a decent fit with Stony Brook in America East, but I can’t find anything that suggests that could happen. The same is true for Utah Valley and the WAC. Then where would UTPA and Chicago State go? (No idea.) It seems like even post conference tournament the GWC is one to watch as the off season unfolds off the court in college basketball.

Julian Boyd leads Long Island past NJIT

Long Island let NJIT close a 21-point deficit to three in the middle of the second half, but thanks to Julian Boyd the Blackbirds persevered and pulled out the 84-74 victory at the Wellness Center on Friday night.

After Chris Flores’ lay up cut the Highlanders’ deficit to three with 9:12 remaining in the game, Boyd answered with a 12-7 run all his own to push the lead back up to eight with six minutes to play. The Highlanders got within seven once more in the game, but never truly threatened LIU again.

“It’s just a thing in me, a will to win,” Boyd said. “I want to win bad. I know everyone else on the team does too, but just seeing that lead diminish and wanting to get it back up it just made me work harder to try and do more things to try and get it back up.”

During the run Boyd scored eight points on free throws. He was a perfect 8-8 from the line in the game. Boyd, who was often guarded by the much smaller Isaiah Wilkerson, scored 18 of his game-high 22 points in the second half. He also grabbed 11 rebounds in 31 minutes

“What I said walking up the stairs was ‘Thank god Julian was here in the second half,'” said LIU head coach Jim Ferry afterwards.

The Blackbirds got solid contributions from a number of sources. Jason Brickman had a solid game with 18 points, six assists and only two turnovers. Jamal Olasewere had a double-double with 15 and 10 boards. Michael Culpo was the fourth LIU player in double-figures with 11.

The first was half was as close to perfect as LIU has played this season and the Blackbirds built a 40-23 lead at the break. But Ferry’s team failed to put NJIT away right after halftime. Wilkerson talked about playing together during halftime and with him on the bench other players stepped up. The Highlanders went on a 15-4 run to close the gap.

While NJIT was making the run, the bench provided the energy and enthusiasm. Loud chants of “Defense, defense,” came from the rambunctious bunch often standing on the sidelines near Engles. It was energy often reserved for last-second shots, but it was there the entire time NJIT made its move.

“The first half of this game I didn’t have one issue,” Ferry said. “I thought we did what we were supposed to do in the first half. We were focused. We had energy. We guarded. We played very unselfish offensively and it clicked. The second half we lacked urgency and we lacked focus.”

Eventually NJIT succumbed to Boyd’s incredible effort, but not until the Highlanders got 35 points off the bench, including 16 points from Arjun Ohri – who shot 4-6 from three. Chris Flores added 14 and five assists, and Wilkerson scored 13 and grabbed seven boards.

The Blackbirds now have six days before reopening NEC play at Sacred Heart on January 5. There’s still a lot for LIU to work on before then.

“Hopefully we learn from these games where we’ve given up leads,” Ferry said. “If we have breakdowns for five or six minutes in our conference we’re going to be in trouble.”

Notes: C.J. Garner had eight points and five assists (against zero turnovers) for LIU … NJIT attempted 70 shots … The Highlanders shot 9-18 from three during their second half comeback … LIU went 27-33 from the line … NJIT committed just eight turnovers … Brickman was 4-6 from three and 6-6 from the free throw line, Ferry called the play of his sophomore point guard “tremendous.”

Saturday Round Up: Hofstra gets big win

Saturday was a busy day in college basketball. Besides Columbia’s win over Manhattan, full coverage of which you can find below, there were five other games on the schedule. Hofstra got the biggest win of the day, a 63-53 victory over Cleveland State, but there were some other good wins as well.

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Saturday Round Up

Be sure to check out my recap of the Princeton-Wagner game below, but there were four other games involving area teams yesterday, including three against Big East teams. St. Francis (NY) came oh so close to scoring the first major upset of the season, but fell 75-71 in overtime to Seton Hall last night. Read more about that game and the other three contests after the jump.

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