The three days in March cliche holds up well for the Northeast Conference. The 10-member conference sends its top eight to the league’s postseason tournament. A team’s first priority is to get in the playoffs, then hope to get hot. The NEC is your traditional one-bid conference, so that first week in March looms crucial.
This past season, regular season champion Robert Morris held serve. The Colonials stayed at home through the postseason get-together, winding up with the conference regular season and tournament titles.
Records and Efficiency Margins (all figures courtesy of Basketball State)
1) Robert Morris (+8, 14-4)
2) Saint Francis U (+3, 13-5)
3) Sacred Heart (-1, 12-6)
4) Bryant (-1, 12-8)
5) Mount St. Mary’s (-8, 10-8)
6) Central Connecticut (-8, 9-9)
7) FDU (-10, 6-12)
8) St. Francis Brooklyn (-11, 6-12)
9) LIU Brooklyn (-19, 5-13)
10) Wagner (-21, 3-15)
Offensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Saint Francis U (92)
2) Robert Morris (90)
3) Sacred Heart (88)
T-4) Central Connecticut (85)
T-4) Bryant (85)
Defensive Efficiency Leaders
1) Robert Morris (82)
2) Bryant (86)
T-3) Saint Francis U (89)
T-3) Sacred Heart (89)
5) FDU (91)
Northeast Conference Championship: Robert Morris 65, Bryant 52
In a 70-possession paced final, the Colonials imposed their defensive will, limiting Bryant to a 71 offensive efficiency. The visiting Bulldogs showed a 17 percent TO rate and did have a 28-19 percent advantage in offensive rebounding rate, but coach Charlie Buscaglia’s group locked down defensively, limiting Bryant to a 33 percent effective field goal mark. On the offensive end, the Colonials recorded a high turnover rate at 22 percent. Shooting can atone for sins, and that was the case as Robert Morris was hot, shooting a 52 percent effective field goal percentage. A 7-of-15 mark from three-point range highlighted the effort. Leading the way for the Colonials was Anna Niki Stamolamprou. The senior guard scored a game-high 23 points while adding nine rebounds and five assists to an outstanding all-around effort.
Offensive Efficiency Comparison: Overall vs. Conference
1) Saint Francis U (92 overall, 93 in NEC)
2) Robert Morris (90, 93)
3) Sacred Heart (88, 93)
4) Central Connecticut (85, 89)
5) Bryant (85, 85)
6) Mount St. Mary’s (83, 89)
7) St. Francis Brooklyn (82, 86)
8) FDU (82, 84)
9) LIU Brooklyn (77, 80)
10) Wagner (76, 83)
With NEC schools often playing teams from higher-profile conferences before league play starts, it might be advantageous to measure the overall offensive efficiency against the efficiency in conference games. There was some disparity, but interestingly, not as great as anticipated.
Leading Scorers and Usage/Player Efficiency
1) Jessica Kovatch, Saint Francis U (21.2 PPG, 31.7 percent of team possessions, 15.4 player efficiency)
2) Anna Niki Stamolamprou, Robert Morris (16.6, 27.4, 14.2)
3) Shanovia Dove, LIU Brooklyn (16.5, 33.3, 12.0)
4) Alex Klein, Bryant (15.5, 27.3, 14.8)
5) Hannah Kimmel, Sacred Heart (15.3, 28.9, 14.2)
6) Kate Reese, Saint Francis U (13.5, 24.0, 9.6)
7) Kerstie Phills, Wagner (13.1, 27.0, 12.1)
8) Katherine Haines, Sacred Heart (12.9, 23.7, 16.4)
9) A’lexus Harrison, Saint Francis U (12.8, 23.6, 20.5)
10) Olivia Levey, St. Francis Brooklyn (11.9, 30.6, 9.9)
A’lexus Harrison of St. Francis proved to be a stat stuffer with the best efficiency despite finishing ninth in scoring. The senior forward grabbed 245 rebounds while coming up with 99 steals. She did commit 73 turnovers, with that number being offset by 68 assists and 28 blocked shots.
1) Saint Francis U (82 possessions per game)
2) Central Connecticut (72)
T-3) Bryant (71)
T-3) FDU (71)
T-3) Mount St. Mary’s (71)
T-6) Sacred Heart (70)
T-6) St. Francis Brooklyn (70)
T-8) LIU Brooklyn (69)
T-8) Wagner (69)
10) Robert Morris (68)
The conference was decidedly uptempo. Saint Francis U thrived in their fast pace, posting the NEC’s best offensive efficiency. Even at the opposite end of the spectrum, the 68-possession pace of Robert Morris is far from a walk up the floor.
Turnover Rate Leaders
1) Sacred Heart (18 percent)
T-2) Saint Francis U (19)
T-2) Central Connecticut (19)
4) Robert Morris (20)
5) Mount St. Mary’s (21)
Here lies a big reason behind the offensive efficiencies in the NEC. Only three teams turned it over less than once per five possessions. Even champion Robert Morris could not get under 20 percent.
FDU finished 6-12 in conference before being eliminated in the tournament opener by Robert Morris. The Knights lost nine of their conference games by 10 points or less, two of those setbacks coming in overtime. FDU’s struggles were largely on the offensive end, as their 81 efficiency ranked third-lowest in the NEC. A 22 percent turnover rate was compounded by not much help from the field, as the Knights shot a 40 percent effective field goal percentage. Coach Peter Cinella’s group did lead the conference with a 36 percent offensive rebounding rate, though. Cynics could quickly point out the Knights had enough opportunities given their shooting from the field. Overall, credit must be given as rebounding on the offensive end takes a share of physicality and tenacity.
A fast pace: Seven of the ten teams at 70 possessions or better.
Turnover-prone: The top three in the standings had turnover rates over 20 percent.
Double-digit efficiency: As noted, turnovers contributed significantly. Another factor was the plain and simple art of field goal shooting. Not one team hit 50 percent in effective field goal percentage. The defenses in the conference deserve credit. In a conference as the NEC with members facing each other twice, adjustments are made and have an effect the second time around.