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NEC Offseason News Update

November 4, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Northeast Conference Offseason News Update

by Keith Burdette

The conference shrank from 12 to 11 teams as the University of Maryland Baltimore-County bolted for the America East. Power ratings for the league might actually improve though as UMBC finished last in the league with a 5-13 record and only two non-conference wins. Each conference team will continue to play 18 conference games with the top eight qualifying for the NEC tournament. Wagner will host the first two rounds for the third straight year with the championship game being played at the home of the highest remaining seed.

Central Connecticut State

For the sixth straight season, the Blue Devils will host the Mohegan Sun Classic. Loyola Marymount, Charleston Southern and Binghamton make the trek to Connecticut to try and upset the home team, something that has only happened once in the history of the Classic. Lamar Barrett joins the coaching staff after six years at Oxon Hill High School in Maryland. He replaces Patrick Sellers who took a similar position at the University of Massachusetts. Last season’s leading scorer Ricardo Scott transferred to Division II Stonehill College where he can play this season without having to sit out a year. Sophomore Jon Popofski also transferred, hoping to play for a school closer to his Ontario home.

Fairleigh Dickinson

Jared Stephans returns as assistant coach after a year away from the program; he had previously been a Graduate Assistant and Student Assistant Coach. Stephans replaces Winston Smith who left for Youngstown State.

Long Island

Jim Perry returns for his second season with the Blackbirds. He’s looking to replace six players including all-league performer Antawn Dobie who ended his career at LIU fourth all-time in scoring, third all-time in assists and sixth all-time in steals.


Senior forward Russell Anderson returns after sitting out last season with a hip injury. Brian Boxler is now eligible after sitting out last season for transferring. The Hawks open the season against Boxler’s former team, Appalachian State, in the University of Virgin Islands Paradise Jam.

Mount Saint Mary’s

Long time coach Jim Phelan retired with much admiration from his peers. On the day of his last game, numerous coaches including Roy Williams and John Calipari honored him by wearing a bow-tie, a trademark of Phelan’s since his first game. He leaves after 1354 games, 830 wins and 49 seasons on the bench with the Mountaineers. The 1354 games are a record for a college coach and the 830 wins trail only Dean Smith and Adolph Rupp in Division I. Replacing him is Milan Brown who was associate head coach for the team last season. He had returned to Mount Saint Mary’s after two years at William and Mary. Postseason appearances have followed Brown through out his career. In his first stint as an assistant with Mount Saint Mary’s, the team made its last NCAA tournament appearance. Before that, Brown was an assistant with an Old Dominion team that made the NCAA tournament. In his playing days, he led Howard University to their last NCAA tournament appearance in 1992.


Joe DeSantis was awarded a contract extension through the 2007 season. In seven years at Quinnipiac, he has posted a 73-120 record. The Bobcats will play their first-ever game at Madison Square Garden on January 3rd, 2004. The game against St. Francis NY will be the first of a quadruple-header. Holy Cross and Marist will play the second game; Fairfield and Michigan play in game three; while St. John’s and Niagara close out the marathon day of basketball.

Robert Morris

Daren Tielsch becomes eligible to play at the end of fall semester. The transfer from Penn State brings 28 games of Big Ten experience with him where he averaged 4 points and 3.4 rebounds a game. In his third year as head coach, Mark Schmidt looks to lead his team back to the NEC tournament after losing the head-to-head tie breaker for the final spot in last year’s tournament to Long Island.

Sacred Heart

The Pioneers 1985-86 Division II Championship team was inducted in the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. Current head coach Dave Bike coached that team and with the retirement of Jim Phelan now has the most wins of any coach in the conference with an even 400. Bike also championed the jump up to Division I from Division II in 1999.

Saint Francis (NY)

The Terriers open the 2003-04 campaign with a date at UMass with the NEC’s only entrant in the Preseason NIT. The winner will face either Davidson or Texas Tech in the second round. Utah, Connecticut, Georgia Tech and Minnesota are some of the other teams fighting for the title. Of NEC teams over the last five seasons, only Central Connecticut State has more conference and overall wins.

Saint Francis (PA)

JR Enright transferred to the Red Flash from the University of Nebraska. Currently nursing a stress fracture in his foot, Enright will become eligible in the 2004-05 season. Out of high school, Enright was recruited by Georgetown and Kansas but ultimately decided on his home state Cornhuskers. Rashaan Benton returns to the team after sitting out last season with a back injury. In 2001-02, he earned NEC all-rookie team honors.


After four years with the Seahawks, Derek Whittenburg took the head coaching position at Fordham University. Mike Deane takes over as head coach. Previously Deane coached at Lamar, Marquette and Siena, leading each school to at least one NCAA tournament appearance. Deane asked top assistant Jim Miel to return to the coaching staff. Miel had a large part in recruiting most of the current players.


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