The All-NEC One More Chance Team

As all of the NEC teams are entering the last few weeks of conference play and jockeying for position in the NEC Tournament, it got me thinking about all the players I’ve seen who never represented the conference in the ‘Big Dance.’ So, what if we were able to give all those players one last chance, on the same team! Continue reading “The All-NEC One More Chance Team”

Big Apple Buckets NEC All-Conference Teams and Awards

With the regular season in the rear view mirror, now is the time for John and I to release our consensus 2013-14 all-conference teams and awards. In all honestly, determining the award winners was easier than expected, while situating 15 all-conference players in their appropriate place proved to be more difficult. Nevertheless, here they are! Continue reading “Big Apple Buckets NEC All-Conference Teams and Awards”

Assist Trends of NEC Point Guards

NEC fans might not realize it, but they’re quite spoiled this season. The league features some of the best point guard play in the entire nation. Jason Brickman leads the nation in assists at 10.0 per game, but other players like Julian Norfleet, Brent Jones and Sidney Sanders, Jr. aren’t too shabby either. The four of them rank in the Top 9 in Assist Rate according to Continue reading “Assist Trends of NEC Point Guards”

NEC Power Rankings – Conference Preview

For the final part of our midseason NEC preview (here’s the email discussion and midseason awards post), it’s about time we broke out our NEC Power Rankings for the second time this season. Since our first installment, a little shuffling has occurred. Continue reading “NEC Power Rankings – Conference Preview”

Big Apple Buckets Weekly Awards – Dec. 2

What a week of college basketball! New York City had a ton of excellent games during the past week. One northern New Jersey team though rose up and stole the spotlight by taking down two major conference teams. Still, celebrate the week that was in New York area college basketball with our weekly awards. Continue reading “Big Apple Buckets Weekly Awards – Dec. 2”

NEC Team Capsule: Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

Head Coach: Greg Vetrone, 4th year (19-71)
Last Season: 3-26 (2-16 NEC), failed to qualify for the NEC tournament
NEC Preseason Coach’s Poll: 11th out of 12 teams
State of Program: Rebuilding on the fly
Key Players Lost: George Goode (12.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg), Briahn Smith (6.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg), Mohammed Lo
Incoming Players: Sekou Harris (PG), Sidney Sanders (G), Myles Mann (PF), Kyle Pearson (G/F), Xavier Harris (G/F)
Previous Posts: FDU Recruiting Recap

Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Sidney Sanders (played JC last season)
G: Lonnie Hayes (13.0 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.1 apg, 2.0 spg)
G: Melquin Boldin (15.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.9 apg, 76.4% FT)
F: Lonnie Robinson (6.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 35.4% 3PT)
PF: Kinu Rochford (9.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 0.9 bpg, 55.9% FG)

Key Reserves:
Mostafa Jones (G), Yves Jules (G), Mathias Seilund (F), Xavier Harris (G/F), Sekou Harris (PG)

Major Storylines:

  1. Stay Away from the Doctor – Vetrone’s Knights were bitten by the injury bug last season, both in the nagging and season-ending department. The latter got a hold of starting point guard Lonnie Hayes, who broke his foot 11 games into the season and was lost for the year. Hayes and Lonnie Robinson, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus, need to play at full strength in the conference season. To say their health is paramount for FDU would be an understatement.
  2. Chemistry May Trump Talent – Vetrone was on record last November saying his 2011-12 roster was the most talented it’s ever been since his arrival at FDU. That may have been true, yet none of the talent meshed particularly well, even before Hayes’ injury. This season, the pressure is on Vetrone to integrate this group into one cohesive unit, and it won’t be easy, especially with three transfers and three freshmen added to the roster.
  3. Who’s Playing the 4? – Senior Kinu Rochford is locked in as FDU’s starting center, but who will take over for the departed George Goode? Junior Mathias Seilund has the offensive skills, yet lags behind defensively and on the glass. 6-foot-6 freshman Myles Mann is out for the season with a torn ACL. Xavier Harris, Kyle Pearson, and Ayotunde Oyeniyi are also possibilities, yet they are unproven. Playing small – with Robinson at the “4” – is probably the most logical idea, but then how will this team match up against the terrifying frontcourts of LIU, Quinnipiac, and Robert Morris?

Team Analysis: Vetrone’s pivotal third year was a season to forget right off the bat. FDU was defeated in 10 of their first 11 games, and to make matters worse, the Knights lost their only point guard when Hayes broke his foot. A team predominantly made up of transfers never played as a cohesive unit, and nagging injuries limited the performances of George Goode (back) and Lonnie Robinson (knee). Heading into this season, Vetrone has much more depth and athleticism in his backcourt with point guards Sidney Sanders and Sekou Harris joining Hartford transfer Mostafa Jones and Hofstra transfer Yves Jules. Look for Sekou Harris, who has impressed Vetrone this preseason, to play a major role by logging 20+ minutes per game as a freshman. Along with Hayes and Melquan Bolding, Vetrone plans to employ a three-guard set with Sanders as the primary ball handler. Hayes, who may miss the first couple of games with an undisclosed injury, will play primarily off the ball in order to limit the pounding on his foot. Bolding, who averaged 15.1 inefficient points per game last season, will not be asked to do too much in an attempt to optimize his performance. In the frontcourt, opportunities are aplenty with Kinu Rochford as the only experienced presence. Harris and Seilund have a chance to contribute, but the athletic Pearson is likely a season away before becoming a factor. Most likely, Vetrone will implement an athletic small-ball lineup, with Robinson and Rochford as the big men down low. Right now, several Knight players are banged up (Jules – sprained ACL, Xavier Harris – shin splits, Hayes – undisclosed), so the goal for Vetrone is to get everyone healthy for the start of the season.

Coach’s Quotes:

“I went out and recruited three point guards to never have that problem again … I’m not going to ever get caught in that position again to not have a point guard play. I realized very quickly that if you don’t have a point guard play at any level, it’s tough.”
– Vetrone, when asked if recruiting point guard depth was a target for his last recruiting class 

“My expectation is that from day one we have to figure out how to get into the conference playoffs. That’s our goal. I don’t know how many games its going to take … how we are going to do it, but we’ll find a way. This year, I will say as a coach, I’m finding a way to get into the conference playoffs.”
— Vetrone, when asked if making the NEC playoffs was a reasonable goal for FDU
Ryan – If FDU’s athletic backcourt can finally gel as a unit, things will improve considerably in Teaneck. Other factors such as the play of Jones, Jules, and Seilund will determine if this roster is an injury or two away from complete disaster once again. The best case scenario probably lands FDU into the playoffs, but for now, I pessimistically think FDU doesn’t win more than 5-6 NEC games, which sadly may cost Vetrone his job.
John – There are plausible scenarios you can envision where FDU suddenly makes a big jump in the standings, but it’s just tough to predict. The more likely scenario is another tough season. Escaping the cellar of the conference will show progress and the Knights have to have better luck with health and point guard play this season.