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.
Central Connecticut State received its second commitment in the Class of 2015 on Friday night, as W.T. Woodson High (Virginia) point guard Eric Bowles announced that he had picked the Blue Devils.
“I’m thankful for all the support from my family and everyone who has been behind me. #CCSU #BlueDevil,” he tweeted.
The 6-foot point guard had been on campus that week, committing to Central Connecticut State over Rider, the other finalist, according to Brandon Parker of the Washington Post. He joins small forward Jahlil Nails, who committed on Sept. 2, in Howie Dickenman’s current recruiting class.
Central Connecticut State finished 11-19 (7-9 Northeast Conference) this past season, though, some of those struggles to start conference play should be attributed to Kyle Vinales missing nine games with a broken finger. With Vinales back along with its other top two scorers from a season ago, the Blue Devils could contend this season in the NEC. However, guards Vinales and Malcolm McMillan are out of eligibility after this season, same goes for forward Faronte Drakeford. Adding another guard will add depth to the back court in 2015-2016 which will still have sophomores Matt Mobley and Khalen Cumberlander.
Bowles spent this summer with D.C. Premier in the Under Armour Association. In 14 games he averaged 5.5 points points per game in a well-balanced offense.
According to Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant, junior guard and leading scorer Kyle Vinales will miss anywhere from five to six weeks after breaking the ring finger on his right (shooting) hand while lifting weights. Vinales, who averaged 21.6 points per game as a sophomore, is currently averaging 17.4 points and 3.7 assists per game for the Blue Devils, who are 4-9 on the season.
With Vinales out the Blue Devils’ other two double-figure scorers, freshman forward Faronte McDonald (12.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg) and junior guard Malcolm McMillan (10.1, 3.2, 3.2 apg) will be asked to do even more beginning with their game against Wagner on Thursday night. To say the least, this is a big personnel loss for CCSU.
“You hate to see it happen to someone who works so hard,” coach Howie Dickenman said. “The saying is that you can never have enough players, even when you have 13 or 14. Now, well, you can never have enough players.”
In an interesting scheduling “quirk,” Central Connecticut State will play its first four NEC games in New Britain, with Thursday’s opener followed by games against Saint Francis (PA), St. Francis Brooklyn and LIU Brooklyn. After that game against LIU, which has won the last three NEC tournament titles, on January 18 the Blue Devils won’t play another home game until February 6 against Bryant.
With this being the case those four NEC home games were already important, and to not have their leading scorer available is a major blow to the Blue Devils’ hopes of improving on their seventh-place finish last season.
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.
To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of the Conference Previews we’ve published, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.
One would have to go back to 2008 to find the last time an NEC team not named LIU Brooklyn or Robert Morris reached the NCAA Tournament. The two teams have had a stranglehold on the league during this stretch with LIU Brooklyn having won three straight league titles (2011-13) and Robert Morris two straight (2009-10). Even though the Colonials missed out on the big dance last season, you may remember they defeated Kentucky at home in the NIT. There’s little doubt who’s owned the NEC for the past half-decade, but that figures to change.
Although the Blackbirds won the NEC tournament last season, they finished 12-6 in the regular season – good for a three-way tie for second place. With graduation claiming Jamal Olasewere and sixth-year senior forward Julian Boyd — who will be out until at least January after re-tearing the ACL in his right knee — a question mark all season, LIU Brooklyn’s run atop the NEC is in danger. Robert Morris will challenge, but losing Coron Williams to Wake Forest and Velton Jones to graduation are big voids to fill.
There’s a new sheriff in town, and that’s the Wagner Seahawks. In his second season as head coach, Bashir Mason, the youngest coach in America, has Wagner in a prime position to build on their 12-6 conference record from last season. Mason, who took over for Dan Hurley in 2012, inherited a talented team with Southern Mississippi transfer Kenneth Ortiz in the backcourt playing alongside Latif Rivers. Perhaps Wagner’s top player, however, was watching from the sidelines last season – Jay Harris, a transfer from Valparaiso. Also keep an eye on former top 100 recruit and Michigan State transfer Dwaun Anderson.
Along with Wagner, upstart Bryant — who had won 19 games last season after just two in 2011-12 — will be a contender. Tim O’Shea returns perhaps the league’s best player in 6-foot-6 forward Alex Francis, along with sharpshooter Dyami Starks who connected on better than three three-pointers per game a season ago.
In: N/A Out: Monmouth and Quinnipiac
PRESEASON NEC PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Alex Francis, Bryant
Francis (17.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.8 apg) has been a staple in Bryant’s lineup since his freshman season. Assuming he scores at the same rate he did last year, he will eclipse the 2,000 point career scoring mark.
FOUR MORE NAMES TO KNOW
Kyle Vinales, Central Connecticut State: There was a moment where it looked like Vinales would transfer to Toledo, but in returning to CCSU he’ll have a chance to lead the NEC in scoring for the second straight year.
Jay Harris, Wagner: The transfer from Valparaiso who sat out last season will be a fixtutre in Bashir Mason’s lineup.
Jason Brickman, LIU Brooklyn: The best point guard in the NEC, Brickman ranked top five nationally in assists per game a season ago.
Lucky Jones, Robert Morris: Will step into more of a leadership and go-to scoring role this season; one of the top three-point shooters in the league.