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Northeast Notebook

March 4, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Northeast Conference Notebook

by Chris Roddy


Team Rankings Almost Set in Stone

The table is set for post-season play for the Northeast Conference. All eight teams have clinched playoff berths with first place to be decided by week’s end. The tournament will take place at Wagner College in Staten Island, New York. Coincidentally, Wagner currently leads the league and would boast home court advantage for the duration of the tournament.

If the first-round was to take place today, it’d look something like this:

No. 1 Wagner vs. No. 8 Long Island University
No. 4 Quinnipiac vs. No. 4 St. Francis (PA) (same NEC record)
No. 2 Monmouth vs. No. 7 St. Francis (NY)
No. 3 Central Connecticut vs. No. 6 Fairleigh Dickinson

The tournament commences this Saturday, March 8th at the Spiro Center.

Muddy Playoff Picture Leaves No Favorite

The obvious choice is Wagner University, right? The Seahawks get to play at home. They have the top seed and will face an unpredictable and highly unstable team in Long Island University. Yet, the highly exciting NEC tournament had its’ share of upsets last year as Wagner (a pre-season favorite) was knocked out by a Quinnipiac team that ended the regular season in a skid only to advance to the championship game. Yet, keep in mind, the experienced Wagner squad has only lost two NEC conference games this season, both at the hands of Fairleigh Dickinson.

The match-up of number one versus number eight usually bodes well for the top seed. Yet, Long Island has one fellow who is a one-man wrecking crew, Antawn Dobie. Dobie, a senior guard, just recently played one of the NEC’s all-time best games — scoring a record 53 points and registering 15 assists in a 142-140 double-overtime loss to St. Francis (NY). He became the second player in conference history to score over 50 points in a league game (previously Marist’s Izett Buchanan, 1994, 51 points) and made a whopping 18 of 20 from the free throw line. Dobie has been named NEC player of the week twice this season and is the NCAA leader in single-game highs in points (53) and assists (17). The seasoned guard has the poise and talent to lead LIU to a championship, but will need to play flawlessly in order to propel the Blackbirds past Wagner.

But, Wagner has a blockbuster player of its own. Senior forward, Jermaine Hall, five-time NEC Player of the Week and two-time first all-NEC selection, has amassed over 2,133 points to date. Hall is currently fourth on the NEC all-time career points list. He has 52 games of 20 or more points and scored in double-figures in forty straight contests. Hall is 24th in the country in scoring average (21.6 points per game) and is the most likely candidate for league MVP.

Tournament Won’t Include Phelan

Mount St. Mary’s head coach Jim Phelan took the court for the last time in his 49 years of coaching Saturday, against Central Connecticut State. The Mount did not qualify for tournament play, but Phelan was honored for his outstanding accomplishments:

Most seasons coached in NCAA history (49)
Most games coached in NCAA history (1,352)
Third on all-time NCAA win list (829)

Several coaches around the NCAA wore bow-ties as a farewell gesture to The Mount’s coach on Saturday, March 1st.

St. Francis (PA) Has Rookie to Ride Through Playoffs

Darshan Luckey, a freshman guard, is first in the NEC and ranked 10th nationally in scoring with over 22 points per game. He would be the first freshman in the history of the NEC to lead the conference in scoring. Luckey is behind only St. Peter’s Keydren Clark (24 ppg) for NCAA freshman scorers. He has totaled 539 points to date for the season and is set (if he meets his average) to surpass the NEC freshman scoring record held by Chris McGuthrie, Mount St. Mary’s, 1992-93 (555 points).

Tournament Turnarounds

Three teams have staged substantial win/loss turnarounds and will appear in the 2003 NEC tournament this year. These teams did not play in the 2002 conference tournament.

Fairleigh Dickinson +8
St. Francis (PA) +7
Long Island University +3

(Mount St. Mary’s improved by seven games but did not qualify for the tournament.)

     

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