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Northeast Notebook

January 31, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Northeast Conference Notebook

by Chris Roddy

Central Connecticut: Turning the Beat Around

After selecting the Blue Devils to finish first in my NEC pre-season ballot and watching them perform poorly (losing six of seven), I was fearful my career as an oracle was a no go. But, CCSU has rebounded strongly with the commencement of inter-conference play, going 4-1 over their last five games and posting an overall 5-2 record in the NEC.

A recent 71-66 loss to Monmouth, currently in 2nd place, set the Blue Devils back to an even 8-8 record. Despite CCSU’s inability to dominate the league as they did last year, Howie Dickenman’s group looks like they’re finally starting to gel as a squad. Led by their no longer slothful swingman, junior Ricardo Scott, CCSU is starting to look like they could go back to The Dance for a second straight season. Scott, a second team all-NEC pick last year, has been struggling all season and was even benched from being a starter for four games. He scored 14 and 13 points respectively against Robert Morris and Fairleigh Dickinson last week. Scott added 11 rebounds in recording his first double-double of the year against FDU.

Bobcats Go From Growl to Purr

Consistency is a misnomer in the Northeast Conference, or at least with my friends at that hard-to-spell university. Playing tepid ball over the past month or so, Quinnipiac is riding a wacky roller coaster of momentum. They won six games, lost five, won two and then lost two. A sub-par conference record (2-4) has Quinnipiac headed toward a similar fate as last season.

Of course, that seemed to work out pretty well for the Bobcats last season as they coasted through the NEC tournament until succumbing in the championship against CCSU. With an 8-7 overall record, Quinnipiac can still align themselves into a higher spot before conference tourney time. Look for the ‘Cats to be led by junior forward Rashaun Banjo. Banjo has five 20-point outings this season and has been shooting over .700 over the past three weeks.

A Tale of Two Seasons

Monmouth is 6-1 in NEC play and 1-7 in non-league play. A tough schedule, which pitted the Hawks against Princeton, Kansas State, Seton Hall and Rider, may account for the club’s resiliency to start off inter-conference games on such a good foot. After a tough loss to NEC leader Wagner (63-45), Monmouth reeled off victories against Sacred Heart, Quinnipiac and CCSU.

Then again, perhaps the slow start for Monmouth has more to do with the maturation of freshman guard phenom Chris Kenny. He scored 18 points as the seventh man off the bench against Sacred Heart, including four free throws to ensure the win. Two days later, he threw down 19 points and went 5-8 from three-point range.

Could this turnaround have something to do with the Hawks’ stifling defense? Monmouth has held opponents to 33% shooting over the past two weeks (aside from the Wagner game) and improved their shooting to nearly sixty-percent.

The Magic Number is . . . 6

Long Island University has surpassed its win total from last season with a lot of hoops left to play. After beating UMBC twice last week, the second win being a thrilling 22-point comeback effort, the Blackbirds notched six wins. Last season, LIU won only five games total. The Blackbirds will not have the services of senior JaJa Bey for the rest of the season. He has reportedly left the team for personal reasons. He was the team’s second best scorer and only 22 points away from hitting 1,000 for his collegiate career.


Wagner is finally starting to hit its stride. A mediocre start to the season, much like CCSU, had critics (aka me) doubting if the Seahawks would even make it to the NEC tournament. Fear not. Wagner has rolled to an 8-2 record over the last ten games and put up 101 points against Robert Morris last week. Wagner has never started league play with a 6-1 record; the last time they went 5-1 was in 1992.

The Seahawks have been led by senior forward Jermaine Hall, averaging over 24 points a game and nearly ten rebounds. He has been awarded the NEC player of the week award four times already and poured in 31 points against Robert Morris. Hall (1,941) is five points away from passing NBA great Rik Smits and will become only the fourth player in NEC history to amass 2,000 points or more.

Of course, it helps if you have another stellar senior. Guard Dedrick Dye tied a school record with seven trifectas last week against Robert Morris and is Wagner’s all-time leader with 228 three-pointers.

Lastly (but not leastly, err, if that was a word) there is Nigel Wyatte, Wagner’s junior center. He’s starting to catch fire as he now has four straight double-doubles. Wyatte has been averaging nearly 17 points a game and 13 rebounds during his streak.

Icing on the cake? Wagner finally ended a fifteen game losing streak at Monmouth University. The Seahawks had lost very game at Boylan Gymnasium since 1986, but un-jinxed themselves with a 63-45 victory last week.


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