In a reflection of the parity present, five different teams received first-place votes in the NEC preseason women’s basketball coaches’ poll.
Well how about the fact that three-plus weeks into the season, there are six NEC programs playing .667 ball or better.
With three teams (Long Island, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart) at 5-1 overall and another three (Central Connecticut, Bryant, Quinnipiac) sitting at 4-2, exactly 50 percent of the NEC’s membership is winning at least two-thirds of its games in the early going.
Heading into Saturday’s league openers (Dec. 3), NEC teams own a combined 38-34 record against representatives from other Division I conferences.
Notable NEC Victories
Long Island 60, Drexel 52 – Preseason WNIT (Nov. 11)
Robert Morris 78, Kent State 44 (Nov. 15)
Central Connecticut 58, Massachusetts 55 (OT) (Nov. 16)
Sacred Heart 68, Lehigh 51 (Nov. 16)
Long Island 62, Tennessee Tech 60 – Preseason WNIT (Nov. 18)
Robert Morris 64, Central Michigan 55 (Nov. 18)
Saint Francis (PA) 80, Akron 79 (OT) (Nov. 22)
Long Island 81, Charlotte 72 (Nov. 25)
Quinnipiac 64, Minnesota 62 (Nov. 25)
Monmouth 75, Lehigh 73 (Nov. 25)
Long Island 69, LaSalle 53 (Nov. 26)
Quinnipiac 69, St. Mary’s 67 (Nov. 26)
Fairleigh Dickinson 63, Buffalo 54 (Nov. 27)
Quinnipiac 66, Massachusetts 63 (Nov. 29)
Bryant 75, Rhode Island 62 (Nov. 30)
Those 38 wins include a perfect 4-0 showing by NEC against the FBS member Mid-American Conference. Robert Morris owns two of those victories, having topped Central Michigan and Kent State on its way to the best start (5-1) in team history. FDU (3-5) also notched a win over a MAC member, downing Buffalo at the UConn World Vision Classic over Thanksgiving Weekend.
After going 1-for-8 against the Atlantic 10 last year, NEC teams already have four wins over A-10 programs this season. Central Connecticut (4-2) and Quinnipiac (4-2) have each posted victories over UMass. Meanwhile, Long Island triumphed over an A-10 opponent on back-to-back days (Charlotte, LaSalle) at the LIU Turkey Classic.
LIU, which bowed out in the NEC quarterfinal round last year after being tabbed the “team to beat” in the preseason, looks ready to make a run at what would be its first title since 2001. Prior to taking the Turkey Classic title, the Blackbirds won two of three contests played at the Preseason WNIT. They topped CAA member Drexel and OVC preseason favorite Tennessee Tech but fell to Hartford in what is their lone loss thus far.
Sacred Heart (5-1) won its first four, all by no fewer than 17 points, before Saint Joe’s was able to cool off Ed Swanson’s Pioneers. SHU bounced back from the 63-54 defeat by blasting Stony Brook, 55-33.
Bryant (4-2) posted a win over Ocean State rival Rhode Island (A-10) as part of its best season start since beginning the transition into the Division I ranks. The Bulldogs are in their fourth season playing a full DI schedule and will become postseason eligible for the start of the 2012-13 campaign.
Somewhat surprisingly, neither Saint Francis (PA), the NEC preseason favorite, or Monmouth, which pulled in two top nods during the preseason survey, are amongst those teams with at least a .667 win percentage. The fact that the two teams who clashed in the 2011 NEC Championship Game sit seventh and ninth, respectively, in the league standings speaks volumes about how well the top half of the conference is playing.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see both Saint Francis (PA) and Monmouth pick up the pace and surge above the .500 mark. In fact, both the Flash and Hawks already appear on their way.
Saint Francis has shaken off season-ending injuries to two starters and an 0-3 start by bouncing back for wins over Akron and Bucknell.
Meanwhile, Monmouth, which is in its first season under head coach Jenny Palmateer, opened against three consecutive top-tier opponents. The Hawks dropped a four-point decision to America East Preseason No. 1 UMBC before falling at ACC member Wake Forest and Big East member Georgetown. MU put Palmateer on the board with back-to-back wins over Lehigh and Lafayette last weekend.
Here’s Jenny Palmateer following Win No. 1…
On pace for a landmark season in terms of non-conference success, all 12 NEC teams will get a taste of league play this weekend. There are 11 NEC games scheduled over the course of two days (Saturday and Monday) as fans get a sneak peek of conference competition.
Conference play doesn’t hit full-swing until January, and, with the way things are going during the schedule’s non-conference portion, NEC teams should be in no rush to begin beating up on one another.
Overtime! Tweet of the Day
@willsajagg9 – Great workout ready for what the day has to offer #TGIF
Other Top-rated Tweets
@MUHawksWBB – Travel day! Practice, then headed to Gabby’s house for a delicious home cooked meal, then checking into Pittsburgh! #hawks
@cakes89 – Don’t waste time regretting the past or fearing the future.
Articles of Interest
LIU stops Wagner – New York Post (Howard Kussoy)
Robert Morris’ strong first half holds up in victory – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
LIU Wins over NEC Rival Wagner College – New York Times
Central men jump ahead early, down Bryant – New Britain Herald (Matt Straub)
LIU gives Wagner College a rude awakening in NEC opener, 78-73 – Staten Island Advance (Cormac Gordon)
SHU finishes this one off, defeating Quinnipiac – Connecticut Post (William S. Paxton)
King Rice takes no positives from Hawks’ defeat – Asbury Park Press (Tony Graham)
Turnovers, shooting sink Hawks – Asbury Park Press (Tony Graham)
Blackbirds Begin NEC Defense at The WRAC – Brooklyn Daily Eagle (John Torenli)
Texas A&M fires football coach Mike Sherman – Yahoo! Sports (AP – Kristie Rieken)
NBA players authorize return of union – Yahoo! Sports (AP)
The latest episode of the Ed Swanson Show…
Postgame comments following SHU win over QU (MBB)…
Highlights from SFPA’s win over MON (MBB)…
Postgame comments following SFPA-MON MBB game…