In three seasons with the Blue Devils he scored 1,514 career points, averaging better than 17 points in game each year. The preseason all-NEC guard missed nine games last season due to a broken finger, but his return this season made the Blue Devils a pick to finish near the top of the conference standings.
In Vinales’ absence sophomore guards Matt Mobley (18.0 points per game) and Khalen Cumberlander (11.8 ppg) have picked up the scoring load, however, Central Connecticut State has dropped the first six games of the season.
Central Connecticut State senior guard Kyle Vinales was arrested and charged with one count of third-degree assault and one count of disorderly conduct after an alleged altercation with his girlfriend last Friday.
A team spokesman told Straub, “Kyle is not currently participating in men’s basketball activities,” and Vinales’ long-term status with the team is unknown.
Vinales was released without bail on a promise to appear in court on Dec. 5.
According to the police report, the woman told police Vinales “punched her on the forehead” and “put his hand on her forehead and squeezed hard causing her pain.”
Police were previously called to deal with a verbal altercation between the duo on Sept. 6, although no arrests were made.
This is certainly not good news for Vinales or Central Connecticut State, as the two-time All-NEC guard is one of the best players in the league. The 6-foot-1 guard has been a prolific scorer his first three years of college and his scoring average of 17.3 points per game during his junior season was actually a career low.
Vinales was picked to the preseason All-NEC team, and if he plays the full season, is on pace to break the Blue Devils’ career scoring mark that is currently held by Ken Horton.
With Vinales returning along with fellow seniors Malcolm McMillan and Faronte Drakeford, Central Connecticut State is expected to compete for the NEC title this year as all three players averaged double-figures in scoring last season.
Robert Morris head coach Andy Toole has guided his program to back-to-back 20-win seasons, although his Colonials have no NCAA tournament appearances to show for it. For two straight seasons, Robert Morris has been relegated to the NIT following an upset in its conference tournament at the hands of Mount St. Mary’s.
Despite having one of the best young coaches in the nation and arguably the conference’s top player again this season, the Colonials have had trouble navigating through the NEC field, and this season the conference could resemble a minefield.
The Colonials lose the back court of Karvel Anderson and Anthony Myers-Pate, but six returning players, led by all-NEC second teamer Lucky Jones, logged 15 or more during the 2013-2014 season. Toole also brings in a six-man recruiting class (two JuCo transfers), which should help add size up front and depth on the perimeter.
While Robert Morris looks to get back to the Big Dance for the first time since 2010, St. Francis (NY) is looking to qualify for the tournament for the first time in school history. The Terriers bring back six key contributors from a season ago, including all-NEC first team selection Jalen Cannon, who averaged 14.9 points and 8.2 rebounds as a junior. Bryant may be without Alex Francis and his 2,000-plus career points, but Dyami Starks gives Tim O’Shea a go-to scoring option for a team coming off a third-place finish.
One of the conference’s others top scorers, Kyle Vinales, was sidelined with a finger injury for Central Connecticut State last season. The 6-foot-1 Vinales is one of four returners for the Blue Devils, a team looking to jump from the middle of the pack to conference contenders. St. Francis (PA) also returns the bulk of its lineup, led by second-team selection Earl Brown.
Mount St. Mary’s, which reached the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008, has to account for the loss of three 1,000 point scorers. Wagner will be without the conference’s three-time defensive player of the year, Kenneth Ortiz and second-leading scorer, Latif Rivers. But both the Mountaineers and Seahawks have quality pieces that could continue to make this low-major conference and interesting one to track as the season shifts into March.
PRESEASON NEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Lucky Jones, Robert Morris
As a junior, playing alongside NEC Player of the Year Karvel Anderson, Jones averaged 13.9 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game, earning all-NEC second team honors. The 6-foot-6 wing will carry a heavy load for Robert Morris this season: on offense, on defense and on the glass. He’s been a stable part of the program’s success from its two regular season conference titles to his 15-point performance in the Colonials’ NIT upset win over Kentucky in 2013.