Tag: St. Francis (NY) Terriers

Jalen Cannon (AP Photo)

NEC Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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Jalen Cannon (AP Photo)

St. Francis of Brooklyn is the oldest college basketball program in New York City, dating all the way back to 1896. They also happen to be one of just five programs that have been in existence since the NCAA tournament began in 1948 to never take part in the event. That could very well change this year, as the Terriers head into March having clinched the outright regular season title two weeks ago. They’ll be tested — Bryant has the league’s best scorer, Mt. St. Mary’s is coming off of a title run last season, and Robert Morris is the NEC’s best program — but they’ll also be favored throughout, playing every game at home. Is this the year the streak ends?

READ MORE: NBC Sports’ latest Bracketology | The updated top 25

The Bracket


When: March 4, 7, 10

Where: Campus sites (better seed in all rounds, reseeded after quarterfinals)

Final: March 10, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

READ MORE: NBCSports.com’s 2015 Conference Tournament Previews

Favorite: St. Francis (NY)

The Terriers were the best team in the conference this season. They also have the league’s best front court player in Jalen Cannon as well as the conference’s best guard in Brent Jones. But there are two things to note: St. Francis split with the other three teams at the top of the conference, and they were just 9-1 in games decided by single digits. They win close games, but they’re not steamrolling the league. They’re beatable.

And if they lose?: Robert Morris

Andy Toole has kept Robert Morris in the conversation as one of the nation’s best mid-major programs, and while they’re not the favorite to win the automatic bid, they’re anything but a pushover. Bobby Mo has had some roster turnover in recent years, but they have three guys this year — Rodney Pryor, Marcquise Reed and Lucky Jones — who can take a game over.


  • Mt. St. Mary’s: Jamion Christian is another member of Shaka Smart’s coaching tree that has found instant success at his new school.
  • Bryant: No one has done as impressive of a job rapidly developing a program as Tim O’Shea has at Bryant. It helps when the league’s leading scorer — Dyami Starks — is one your roster.

Player of the Year: Jalen Cannon, St. Francis (NY)

Cannon will go down as one of the all-time greats in the NEC, finishing his career as the all-time leading scorer in St. Francis history and one of just two players to ever score 1,500 points and grab 1,000 rebounds in conference history. Cannon averaged 16.5 points and 10.2 boards this season.

Coach of the Year: Glenn Braica, St. Francis (NY)

The Terriers were predicted to win the NEC this season, but I’m not sure anyone expected them to clinch the regular season title with two weeks remaining. Playing all three rounds of the league tournament at home will make SFNY the favorite to win their first ever NCAA tournament berth.

All-NEC Team:

  • Cannon
  • Rodney Pryor, Robert Morris – Pryor was the most dangerous weapon for Andy Toole’s club this season, averaging 16.5 points and shooting 43 percent from distance.
  • Dyami Starks, Bryant – Starks was the league’s leading scorer this season, a veteran guard that can take over a game.
  • Brent Jones, St. Francis (NY) – Midway through the season, there could have been a strong case for Jones to be conference Player of the Year over his teammate, Cannon. His scoring numbers slowed down by season’s end, but that didn’t hurt the Terriers.
  • Earl Brown, St. Francis (PA) – The Red Flash struggled late in the season, but Brown did finish with nine double-doubles in league play, averaging 15.8 points and 7.6 boards on the season.

CBT PREDICTION: St. Francis (NY) makes their first appearance in the Big Dance.


Andrew Toole hoping Robert Morris can ‘get over the hump’ and back into NCAA Tournament in 2015

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

For 18 weeks last season Mount St. Mary’s carried a losing record. However, the Mountaineers picked up momentum beginning in March with four straight wins, three of which came in the Northeast Conference Tournament.

On March 11, Mount St. Mary’s ran away with an 88-71 win against top-seeded Robert Morris, dashing the Colonials NCAA tournament hopes for the second consecutive season.

A week later, one day after St. Patrick’s Day, the Mountaineers’ luck ran out, as Albany ended their season with a 71-64 victory in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament. On the same night, Robert Morris head coach Andrew Toole had a postseason game of his own, as the Colonials went into Carnesecca Arena and defeated St. John’s, 89-79, in the first round of the NIT.

For Toole it was his fourth postseason win in as many seasons since taking over the program in 2010, the biggest of which came in March 2013 when the Colonials upset reigning national champion Kentucky in the first round of the NIT.

Despite the postseason success and a 72-37 (42-11 NEC) record over the past three seasons, Robert Morris hasn’t appeared in an NCAA tournament since 2010 when it nearly upset No. 2 seeded Villanova.

Lucky Jones shoots over Archie Goodwin (AP)

Toole has maintained the success of the program, never finishing lower than third in the conference during his tenure as head coach. There’s an established tradition at Robert Morris with 11 regular season conference titles, but bittersweet success is what is driving Robert Morris during the first few weeks of practice.

“It’s something that pushes us and motivates us,” Toole told NBCSports.com. “We keep saying that if we continually get back to that spot you’ll eventually get over the hump. It’s not easy to get back into those tournament championship games.” 

This year more than others there is uncertainty around the league. Many of the top players have graduated, including Robert Morris guard Karvel Anderson, who was named NEC Player of the Year in 2013-2014. Mount St. Mary’s graduated three 1,000 career scorers. Wagner is without the conference’s three-time defensive player of the year, Kenneth Ortiz and Bryant forward Alex Francis, a two-time first team selection, is also gone.

“There is a lot of unknowns,” Toole added. “You look at that teams that return the most, a lot of people are choosing those teams toward the top of the league because they have more proven entities than some of the other groups.”

Central Connecticut State has four starters back, including a healthy Kyle Vinales. St. Francis (NY) returns six of its top nine scorers, including first-team all-conference forward Jalen Cannon. However, both those teams committed the most turnovers in the league last season. St. Francis (PA) has the same starting five as last year, but is this the year for the Red Flash to end a 23-year tournament drought?

Robert Morris, like Bryant, Wagner and Mount St. Mary’s has its personnel losses to overcome, however, each of those teams have the pieces to be in the conversation come March.

MORE: Northeast Conference Preview

By the end of the season, the Colonials were down to just eight scholarship players. Two of those players — Anderson and starting point guard Anthony Myers-Pate — exhausted their eligibility. Fortunately for Toole, all six of those returning players logged 15 or more minutes, headlined by wing Lucky Jones, who averaged 13.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in an all-NEC second team junior season.

The 6-foot-6 Jones has been a stapel in the Colonials lineup, starting 66 of 70 games in the past two seasons. He’s also a reliable big-game player, going for 25 points, nine boards and five assists in a NIT win over the Johnnies in March. The previous year, he scored a team-high 15 points in the monumental win over Kentucky.

“It’s huge [having Lucky],” Toole said. “He’s a guy that is so versatile and can do so many things on the floor, whether it’s rebounding, scoring or defending. He can give us a little bit of confidence as we go into games because we know what we can get from Lucky and we can build from there. Having him on the roster and him as a senior is invaluable to us.”

Will arguably the conference’s top player, six key contributors and a competitive non-conference schedule (North Carolina, Georgetown, Toledo) be enough to push the Colonials over that hump and into the field of 68? In a conference as unpredictable as the Northeast has been over the last few seasons it’s too early to tell. But one thing is for certain, Toole will have his guys ready.

“There are so many teams that can compete for a championship,” Toole said. “If you aren’t prepared or playing with the urgency you need to play with, I think that can beat you. That goes across the board, from top to bottom, in the conference. Like I said, there’s a lot of unknowns. Each and every game is going to be a challenge, as it has been every other year we’ve been in the NEC.

“It’s a long, long process and we can’t take any shortcuts as we build toward conference play because everyone is going to be at their best, everyone is going to try to win those league games and I think everyone believes they have chance.”

2014-2015 Northeast Conference Preview: Is it time for Robert Morris to dance again?

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

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.


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.


  • Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut State: Scoring averaged dipped to 17.3 points per game this past season. Missed nine games with broken finger.
  • Dyami Starks, Bryant: The top returning scorer in the conference at 18.9 points per game in his junior season.
  • Jalen Cannon, St. Francis (NY): Only returning first-team all-conference selection from 2013-2014.
  • Earl Brown, St. Francis (PA): Nine double-doubles last season. Averaged 14.4 points and 8.0 boards per game



1. Robert Morris
2. St. Francis (NY)
3. Bryant
4. Central Connecticut State
5. Mount St. Mary’s
6. St. Francis (PA)
7. Wagner
8. Sacred Heart
9. Fairleigh Dickinson
10. LIU-Brooklyn