UMass Lowell’s Kerry Weldon to Return for his Final Season

While the River Hawks might graduate Akeem Williams and America East Sixth Man of the Year Antonio Bivins, one senior will be returning to the program.

UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette confirmed that Kerry Weldon will return to the team to exercise his final season of eligibility. Continue reading “UMass Lowell’s Kerry Weldon to Return for his Final Season”

Greg Herenda Hired as Fairleigh Dickinson Head Coach

Nearly 51 days after Fairleigh Dickinson (FDU) failed to renew the contract of embattled head coach Greg Vetrone, the Knights have inked his replacement. Greg Herenda, the five-year coach of the Division II program UMass-Lowell will inherit the program as the sixth head coach in the FDU’s history.

A long time assistant, Herenda has slowly worked his way up the coaching ladder. After playing Division III basketball at Merrimack, the New Jersey native was an assistant at several Division I programs, including Holy Cross, Yale, Seton Hall, and East Carolina. From there he eventually landed at UMass-Lowell, where in his five seasons compiled an impressive 95-54 record. His River Hawk teams made an appearance in the NCAA Division II basketball tournament four of those five years.

UMass-Lowell recently announced the university will upgrade its athletic program to the Division I ranks, joining the American East conference. Though the move is effective immediately, the River Hawks must undergo an arduous transition process to fully integrate into the Division I game. The transition – similar to what Bryant had to recently endure with the NEC – includes a four-year postseason ban before UMass-Lowell is considered a full-time member of the America East conference. Given the difficult transition, it makes sense why Herenda would make the parellel leap to another program in a low mid-major conference.

Becoming the head coach at FDU certainly has its challenges, however. The three leading scorers from last year’s roster, Melquan Bolding, Kinu Rochford, and Lonnie Robinson, will all graduate leaving the roster devoid of talent and experience. There are some intriguing pieces Vetrone has left behind in soon-to-be sophomores Sekou Harris and Xavier Harris (not related) and red-shirt freshman Myles Mann, but rebuilding the program will be a significant challenge. The current starting lineup projects out to be:

PG: Sidney Sanders, Jr./Sekou Harris
SG: Mostafaa Jones
SF: Yves Jules
PF: Mathias Seilund/Myles Mann
C: Xavier Harris

Of those seven players mentioned above, only Sanders Jr. and Jones played more than half of the team’s available minutes last season (but barely). Moreover, only Seilund possessed a KenPom offensive rating above 92. This will undoubtedly be a team that struggles to score points. It should also be noted that the Knights were the eighth worst team nationally in KenPom’s defensive effeciency rating last season.

Tom Green was the last coach to get FDU to the NCAA tournament, and that was a long time ago. Since those “glory” days under Green, the Knights have amassed an unsatisfactory record of 41-158 in the past six seasons. To say Herenda has a monumental task ahead of him is an understatement. At the very least, the Knights have nowhere to go but up.

Ryan Peters covers Northeast Conference men’s basketball for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @pioneer_pride

America East to Add UMass-Lowell As Full Time D-I Member

Take a deep breath, NEC fans. The America East conference will not be raiding your conference any time soon.

Soon to be official, multiple sources have confirmed that the America East will add Division II member UMass-Lowell. UMass-Lowell, who’s been playing Division II sports in the Northeast-10 conference since 2000, will replace the departing Boston University when they head to the Patriot League for the 2013-14 season.

Sam Perkins of penned an excellent piece on his personal and prospective thoughts on the move. Perkins supports the move, but is rightfully critical of the conference’s lack of urgency the past few seasons when they failed to add schools such as Quinnipiac or Bryant when the opportunity arose. When the Terriers chose to join the academically elite Patriot League, the America East was finally forced to be, as Perkins calls it, reactively proactive.

In addition to UMass-Lowell, rumor has it that Great West member NJIT has been lobbying hard to join the America East, and currently has the support of four America East presidents. If they can garner the support of another president or two, then it’s possible NJIT will be announced as the tenth member of the conference in the coming days or weeks. Such an addition would certainly make sense for the conference, since it would give the America East a much-needed presence in the New York metro area.

For now, the news of the America East’s expansion ends the incessant rumors that NEC programs such as Bryant and Central Connecticut would jump at an opportunity to make a parallel leap into the America East. Several sources, including Sacred Heart’s beat reporter Bill Paxton, have confirmed that both schools turned down the America East’s overtures to join, which made it necessary for the mid-major conference to reach into the Division II ranks to grab a replacement school for Boston University.

Frankly, I never believed a move from the NEC to the America East would make sense for Bryant and Central Connecticut, mainly because of their loyalty towards the NEC and, perhaps more importantly, football. America East lacks a football conference, therefore the prospect of possibly not being granted an associate membership if they bolted, both Bryant and Central Connecticut likely deemed a move too risky. After all, the NEC presidents made a clear and conscious decision earlier when they decided to reject Monmouth’s associate membership for football when the Hawks announced they were joining the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) in the near future.

For now though, the NEC will remain at ten full-time schools, which is terrific news for the conference’s fans. It turns out a leap into the America East wouldn’t have been an upgrade after all.

Rest easy, NEC fans.