Myriad NEC Tournament Thoughts: Evaluating Recent Performance and Players to Watch

Ah yes, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. Playoff time. When every eligible team in the Northeast Conference has a dream to reel off 3 straight victories and go dancing. This season the league was loaded with parity, that is until Merrimack ripped through the conference during the month of February. 

Ron Ratner has you covered here and here, but on the NEC Overtime! Blog I’d like to share some thoughts, numbers and key players as well ahead of the much anticipated single elimination tournament. 

The Latest Performance Snapshot

To start, one exercise I like to perform prior to the NEC tournament is to take a snapshot of a team’s last 4 weeks of league play. Obviously, this is far from a foolproof way to determine who’s hot going into March, but surely we’ll be able to decipher who besides Merrimack comes in playing well. Just look at this 8-game data… oh my…

RecordPoint DiffOffense PPPDefense PPPPoss/Gm (NEC Rank)
Merrimack7-1+831.010.8669.9 (3)
Stonehill5-3+191.010.9766.5 (8)
FDU4-4+171.111.0869.8 (T-4)
SHU4-4+101.031.0170.4 (2)
SFU4-4-31.041.0469.4 (6)
Wagner4-4+60.980.9761.8 (9)
CCSU4-4-41.021.0367.4 (7)
SFBK4-4-160.940.9769.8 (T-4)
LIU1-7-850.901.0571.9 (1)

A few notes based off this data:

  • Merrimack is head and shoulders above the rest of the league currently. That’s obvious. The thing that struck me was not the 7-1 mark, but the Warriors’ increased tempo in the month of February. They went from playing their first 8 league games at a tempo of 63.1 possessions per game to 69.9 over its last eight NEC contests. Why? Gallo has given his underclassmen more offensive freedom in allowing them to attack with movement early in the shot clock, which has led to shorter possessions overall. It’s crystal clear that players like Javon Bennett, Jordan Derkack and Devon Savage are much more comfortable offensively than they were 2 or 3 months ago. All 3 players have at least a 10.0 increase in their KenPom offensive rating when going from non-conference competition to league play. It’s no wonder all three are typically logging at least 28 minutes per game these days. 
  • One reason the lower seeded Wagner and St. Francis Brooklyn programs could be dangerous is each team is for the most part defending at a high level. The Terriers attempt to drive opponents off the 3-point line (26.8 3PA/FGA defensively, 1st in NEC) and reject shots around the basket (11.7% block rate, 1st in NEC). Armed with the league’s second best adjusted defensive efficiency in NEC play, Wagner does well to extract turnovers and keep opponents away from the offensive glass (24.6% defensive rebounding rate, 1st in NEC) in order to limit second chance opportunities. Defense travels! 
  • Sacred Heart has done a respectable job defending amid all of their injuries and a shortened rotation. With Nico Galette less than 100 percent – he admitted to Ron and I in the last On The Run Pod that he’s dealt with a pulled groin and lower back issues throughout the season – and Brendan McGuire presumably done for the season with a nagging hamstring injury, Anthony Latina must ride Kenny Womack a little more than anyone originally envisioned (more on him below). When the Pioneers hold opponents to under 1 point per possession, they are 8-3 on the season. 
  • CCSU is 3-8 this season with games decided by 2 possessions or less. It’s been a major problem for Pat Sellers’ group, but recently they’ve done better closing out strong in the final minutes with their 3OT thriller over Stonehill and tight road victory versus FDU illustrating progress. The regular season finale loss to Sacred Heart was a hiccup for the Blue Devils however, as CCSU struggled to keep the Pioneers off the free throw line while missing some critical charity stripe attempts down the stretch.

Which Coach Will Rise to the Top?

This will be the most inexperienced field with respect to the head coaches competing in the NEC tournament. Only four coaches have led their teams in this playoff format, while four others come in with a record of 0-0. 

  1. Rob Krimmel, 8-8
  2. Pat Sellers, 1-1
  3. Glenn Braica, 2-10
  4. Anthony Latina, 1-7
  5. Tobin Anderson/Donald Copeland/Joe Gallo/Rod Strickland, 0-0

It’s been a struggle in the single elimination format for Braica and Latina for various reasons. Braica got his two victories during St. Francis Brooklyn’s magical 2014-15 run that fell one possession short against Robert Morris in the final. While Latina has positioned his team well with respect to NEC tournament seeding – the Pioneers have earned a top 4 seed in 4 of the last 5 tournaments – the long-time head coach only has one playoff victory to show for it – a 61-59 squeaker over Mount St. Mary’s in 2020. Can either coach exercise those demons despite trotting out rosters that have been ravaged by injuries?

Copeland and Strickland may be new to this as head coaches, but Anderson and Gallo have demonstrated success in these formats when they led winning Division 2 programs. Gallo was 4-2 with one tournament championship in 3 seasons at Merrimack when the program was a NE-10 member, while Anderson won 6 East Coast Conference tournament championships and twice was the runner-up in 9 remarkable seasons at St. Thomas Aquinas College. Neither Gallo nor Anderson will be phased by the newness of the NEC tournament. 

Key Players to Watch

We already know the superstars of these NEC rosters. In this segment, I’m more looking at guys that mostly hover under the radar (with the possible exception of the first player listed). These are four student athletes that possibly have the power to advance their team into the next round of the conference tournament.

Maxwell Land, Saint Francis – It wasn’t a seamless non-conference season for Land, but the Red Flash guard has rebounded nicely against league competition to post a career high in KenPom offensive rating (108.9) fueled by a true shooting percentage of 55% that’s tenth among all NEC players. The absence of dynamic freshman Landon Moore has forced Rob Krimmel to play Land more than 80% of the team’s minutes over the past 2 months, and for the most part the junior has delivered with Land serving as the Robin to Josh Cohen’s Batman. When he plays well, Saint Francis does well as these splits illustrate:

–        In 9 SFU wins: 16.4 ppg, 51.4% 2PT, 48.6% 3PT, 1.4 A/TO

–        In 7 SFU losses: 10.3 ppg, 44.7% 2PT, 28.2% 3PT, 1.0 A/TO

If Moore does return from a finger injury for a quarterfinal showdown versus CCSU, expectations should be tempered given his absence over the past 12 games. With Ronell Giles exhibiting inconsistency off of last season’s knee surgery and a tough ankle sprain in November, a lot of the Red Flash’s hopes may hinge on Land’s performance in NEC tournament whether that’s fair or unfair. If the lefty gives Krimmel efficiency with an ability to score anywhere on the floor, then SFU has a chance to go dancing.

Devon Savage, Merrimack – Who’s the best 3-point shooter in the Northeast Conference? If you said Savage, then you are paying attention as the James Madison transfer has been a godsend for a Merrimack team that really struggled to make open shots in the first half of the year. Over the team’s past 3 games – all wins – Savage is on an incredible run, converting 16 of 25 (64%) of his long distance attempts, with 15 of those makes coming from an assist. Not only that, Savage has picked up Gallo’s zone incredibly well, posting the 4th best steal rate (4.0%) and 9th best block rate (2.6%). He’s the true epitome of a ‘3 and D’ player, a categorization we as fans often over use. With Savage however, this classification is apt. And if the defense doesn’t account for where Savage resides on the perimeter at all times – the sophomore has made 43% of his unguarded catch-and-shoot takes this season according to Synergy – knocking off the Warriors in their home confines could be next to impossible. Pick your poison: defend Jordan Minor one-on-one in the post, or double him and risk the ball finding its way to Savage in the corner.

Kenneth Womack, Sacred Heart – With Brendan McGuire reaggravating his hamstring injury in the team’s regular season finale, Womack will once again be asked to absorb the backup point guard duties for Sacred Heart. It’s a small sample, but the football wide receiver and basketball walk-on has done incredibly well filling the backcourt void. Per Hoop Explorer, the Pioneers are scoring 7.8 points per 100 possessions more and allowing 4.8 points per 100 possessions less when Womack is on the floor (for full transparency, it’s 231 possessions on, 1,810 possessions off). His 15-point, 8-assist breakout in a critical overtime win versus FDU was likely an outlier, yet his productive minutes down the stretch versus CCSU illustrates the trust Anthony Latina has in the athletic guard. His crafty finish in the paint with 5:26 remaining and his 2 free throws in the closing seconds of a one-possession game show Womack is ready to embrace the challenge of possibly becoming the most unlikely contributor on a team in the NEC tournament’s top four.

Davonte Sweatman, CCSU – Here’s a fun fact for Blue Devil fans when Sweatman is providing an efficient spark off the bench – CCSU is 6-2 in league play when he posts an offensive rating better than average (100.0). In those contests, the shortest player in the Northeast Conference is shooting 53% from the floor while taking care of the basketball fairly well (8 turnovers in 8 games). It’s clear Sellers trusts him given his crunch time minutes of late as well. If he can provide a spark in the NEC tournament quarterfinal at Saint Francis, the Blue Devils have a real opportunity to steal one in Loretto. In Sweatman’s last game versus the Red Flash, the sophomore poured in 20 points on 10 shots while compiling 5 boards and 4 assists. The playmaking Sweatman is a wildcard for sure.

Enjoy the tournament! 

An Analytics Driven Breakdown of the NEC’s Non-Conference Season – Part 1

Photo: Larry Levanti

With nearly two months of non-conference play in the books, have we learned anything tangible with respect to Northeast Conference basketball? Has a true favorite emerged from the pack? Well, if you value KenPom and BartTorvik’s numbers, and I do after 12-14 games of data, the answer to the question is Wagner. But then look at the glut of teams immediately after!

TeamMid-Major RecordProjected NEC Record (KenPom)Bart Torvik Reg Season Title Odds (Share)
Sacred Heart5-59-714.7%

The Seahawks may have a 50% chance to outright win or take a share of the league’s regular season title, but make no mistake most of the Seahawks’ conference counterparts have a legitimate shot to, at the very least, get into the league’s top 4 prior to the start of the single elimination NEC tournament. And as history has indicated, getting at least one home game is paramount to making a three-game run in early March that gets you dancing. 

Allow me to go into each team’s prospects as I build the case with help from analytics.


Non-Conference Summary: It’s been tough sledding for the Sharks in Rod Strickland’s debut, and the 21st toughest schedule in the nation according to KenPom hasn’t made things easier for a young LIU squad. By my estimation, LIU has had 5 guarantee games and squared off against some of the Big East’s best in UConn (KenPom #2), Marquette (#27) and St. John’s (#57). Even the mid-major matchups have been brutal, as UMass Lowell, Towson and James Madison (all KenPom top 100) are projected as frontrunners in their respective conference. Only 3 players – Jacob Johnson, Cheikh Ndiaye and RJ Greene – have played in all 12 LIU games, as injuries have littered the roster throughout the season. There have been games where Strickland has literally had six to eight scholarship players taking part in the pregame layup line. That’s not ideal. 

Photo: Larry Levanti

Best Performance: Despite losing to Towson by 10 points in a December matchup at the WRAC, the Sharks acquitted themselves very well throughout the first 33 minutes of the contest before Towson embarked on a 10-0 run – otherwise known as a Kill Shot according to EvanMiya – to put the contest out of reach. The Sharks posted a 1.7 A/TO, scored 1.02 points per possession (ppp) and illustrated good scoring balance with Marko Maletic, Quion Burns and Greene registering at least 12 points in the quality effort. It’s no surprise Bart Torvik issued LIU a season best Game Score of 30 in the tighter than expected defeat. 

What LIU Needs to Do to Succeed: Run, run and run. Per Synergy, the team has more than a 17% spread between its effective field goal percentage in transition (61.0% eFG) and half-court (43.6% eFG). Tre Wood, to no one’s surprise based on historical data, continues to excel in up-tempo environments with a 1.27 ppp mark when in transition. Jacob Johnson has converted 19 of 27 attempts in the open floor, and Maletic has been a catch-and-shoot marksman no matter the tempo, as evident by his 40.3% 3-point conversion rate when attempting a behind the arc shot in rhythm. Throw in Greene, who’s dished out 19 assists in transition opportunities according to Hoop Math, and Strickland has a roster loaded with guys who thrive in a frenetic environment. 

The problem has been staying healthy, so if the first-year head coach can somehow keep 10 scholarship players dressed for a game, he may be wise to implore his team to push the pace off live-ball turnovers, defensive rebounds and even off opponent makes. Get the dynamic and shifty Wood and Greene in the open floor, and the team’s efficiency should spike as a result. 

Furthermore, I’d like to see LIU’s ‘3 and rim’ rate of 70% increase for the sake of the team’s half court efficiency. One reason they hung around vs Towson was the majority of LIU’s shots were taken inside the paint or behind the arc – only three times in the contest did LIU take a mid-to-long 2-point jumper (categorized as 17 feet to the 3-point line) according to Synergy. When LIU’s slashers can get paint touches, the offense should open up in the half-court. 


Non-Conference Summary: The transition to a green backcourt has proven to be more arduous than expected for the Warriors, with the team struggling to score (adjusted offensive efficiency of 85.2, 363rd DI) after turning over more than half its roster in the offseason. Like LIU, a difficult non-conference schedule has thrown the young guards/wings into the fire from the outset, and navigating through November without star Jordan Minor – a POY contender – would have been an impossible endeavor for anyone. Nevertheless, no one’s counting out Joe Gallo’s team heading into conference play, as the head coach’s past history and defensive acumen should keep Merrimack competitive in every NEC contest. Remember, Gallo has a career NEC record of 28-8 when you take out his record against Jared Grasso, Bashir Mason and Dan Engelstad, three coaches who are no longer in the league. 

Photo: Larry Levanti

Best Performance: While there isn’t a specific 40-minute performance over the past 8 weeks for Merrimack to hang its hat on, the defense still trends as awesome. Despite squaring off against a top 75 strength of schedule, the Warriors have the best defensive efficiency in the league currently (102.8 adjusted defensive efficiency) and have extracted a turnover on 26.1% of their opponent’s possessions. Per Synergy, Merrimack’s zone defense has held opponents to a paltry 0.79 ppp and 41% shooting in half-court sets, and that vaunted defense gets even better out of time outs, with opponents shooting 34% and registering a meager 0.57 ppp. That speaks to Gallo and his staff being able to make adjustments on the fly, and defensively that continues to ring true despite the program dealing with its toughest stretch since Gallo started coaching at his alma mater.

From an individual standpoint, four players have steal rates at 3.0% or higher, with freshman Javon Bennett challenging his inner Juvaris Hayes with the second best steal rate in the nation at 6.3%. Devon Savage (5.1%), Jordan Derkack (4.2%) and Jaylen Stinson (3.0%) round out the team’s top four in steal rate, and all are newcomers who started their acclimation to the 2-3 zone back in the summer. Again, Gallo can really coach defense. 

What Merrimack Needs to Do to Succeed: Getting the offense toward the middle of the pack in offensive efficiency relative to its NEC foes is the obvious answer, and while it’s been a slog even with Minor back, there are positive signs that the team has potential to turn the corner. Derkack has shot 53% from the field, so if it wasn’t for a high turnover rate, the freshman would have a much more favorable KenPom offensive rating (currently 79.5). At a 25% success rate, the Warriors have really struggled to score from behind the arc despite posting the 10th best rate in terms of 3-point attempt frequency. The team’s free throw percentage of 71% shows that better days are likely ahead with the program’s long-range prowess. Also, I find it hard to believe that Merrimack will continue to shoot 29% on its unguarded catch-and-shoot opportunities according to Synergy. The fact that Merrimack has taken more unguarded shots (154 FGA) than guarded shots (144 FGA) this season bodes well for the argument that the offense execution is just fine going into league play. They just need to make open and semi-open shots. 


Non-Conference Summary: With three Division I victories away from their friendly confines, that achievement alone shows that Chris Kraus’ veteran group has adapted well to Division I basketball. They’ve also been competitive at various points in their other non-conference match-ups as well, illustrating that Stonehill will be far from a pushover in its inaugural foray into NEC play. Against mid-major competition, Stonehill’s bevy of skilled guards and wings have scored 1.05 ppp in seven games, and currently are posting an effective field goal percentage of 50.0% in all its games combined, a respectable mark that puts them at 173rd in college basketball. Who had the Skyhawks pegged for 3rd among NEC teams with a 0.91 ppp mark going into late December? 

Photo: Larry Levanti

Best Performance: The program’s win over Army in November at West Point served as a statement. The four-or-five-out motion offense flowed well that afternoon, as Andrew Sims, Thatcher Stone and Burnett combined to score 55 points on an efficient 35 attempts. The team’s collective shot chart was a thing of beauty to the analytics crowd, as the Skyhawks didn’t attempt a single long-range 2 (17 feet to the 3PT line) against the Patriot League foe according to Synergy. Even if Stonehill has to veer away from analytically friendly shots late in the clock, the team has been categorized as “very good” by Synergy with respect to being a jump shooting team, posting a league leading 1.02 ppp and 51% eFG. Furthermore, half of the team’s 24 attempts in isolation have gone in the basket (small sample size alert), grading above average relative to the other 362 Division I programs. 

What Stonehill Needs to Do to Succeed: In order for Stonehill to simulate Merrimack’s improbable yet deserving conquest of the 2019-2020 NEC regular season title, Kraus’ defense will need to elevate its level to middle of the pack status at the very least, while continuing to efficiently score the basketball. One thing that bodes well for Stonehill in late game situations: their 79% mark at the charity stripe is only bested by 8 other teams in college basketball. If they can get a lead late, Kraus’ team is equipped to hold it as evident from their current 3-1 record in games decided by 2 possessions or less. 

The defense needs work, but Kraus has been able to utilize the team’s quickness and perimeter comfort to generate nearly one turnover for every 5 possessions. Isaiah Burnett has been integral in that respect, with the 15th best steal rate nationally (5.3%). Winning the turnover margin and points scored off turnovers battle on a nightly basis will be critical in getting Stonehill in play for an upper-tier NEC finish.

Central Connecticut

Photo: Larry Levanti

Best Performance: In one of the more dominant performances we saw from a NEC school this non-conference season, CCSU went into Manhattan in December and led wire-to-wire. The Blue Devils had an answer every time the Jaspers attempted a run in the second half thanks to the Blue Devils stars doing exactly what Pat Sellers and many others had envisioned with this team back in the preseason. Nigel Scantlebury (12p, 6a, 5r, 2s) was the do-it-all floor general, Kellen Amos (20, 6 of 6 3PT) made shots and Jay Rodgers (15p, 6a) gave Sellers another efficient playmaker on the floor. Moreover, emerging sophomore center Abdul Momoh turned away 3 Jasper shots while also registering 11 points and 7 rebounds. It was an eye opening team performance where everyone had finally competed at a high level in the same game. It was a game that was rife with fine execution on the offensive end (1.18 ppp, 54.7% FG).

Non-Conference Summary: If it wasn’t for a nice 3 game pocket where the Blue Devils went 2-1 against the likes of Dartmouth, Fordham and Manhattan, the 2022 non-conference season would’ve been disappointing overall. There have been improvements in Sellers’ second season for sure – the team’s adjusted offensive efficiency is up 2.7 points per 100 possessions, while the defense has improved by giving up 1.8 points less per 100 possessions compared to last season. These are modest improvements and likely will tick up now that the guarantee games are behind them, but going on a sustained run will require consistency that CCSU hasn’t necessarily exhibited thus far. Perhaps somewhat concerning is CCSU’s 0-4 record in games decided by 2 possessions or less, but hopefully the experience of narrowly losing to Quinnipiac, Holy Cross and UMBC will make Sellers’ squad more resilient come February and March. 

What CCSU Needs to Do to Succeed: Excuse me as I put my nerd hat on, but the Blue Devils should become more analytically friendly with its shot selection, as currently only 297 of the team’s 830 field goal attempts (35.8%) have come at the rim though 14 games. As a result, CCSU’s free throw is last nationally at 18.1 FTA/FGA. Even when the team is getting to the rim, they’ve converted less than half of those attempts (49.8%), putting them in the bottom 3% percentile per Synergy. Those numbers need to improve, and likely will against the smaller frontcourts of the NEC, but nevertheless that’s something Sellers needs to leverage better instead of having his team rely solely on jump shots. For what it’s worth, the team has been a good jump shooting team relative to all of college basketball (0.97 ppp, 48% eFG), but more versatility would most definitely help the offense click. 

Amos, in particular, is someone who’s excelled around the basket (60% FG) but hasn’t gotten there a ton as only 35% of his shots have come near the rim. The uneven shot selection is even more pronounced for Rodgers (just 18% of his shots come at the rim), and he’s someone that Sellers said has a distinct ability to get downhill and attack the rim back in the preseason. This Blue Devil offense spacing should improve if Amos and Rodgers leverage their playmaking ability to get into the paint more often moving forward. CCSU is currently making 33% of their 3-point attempts – if they can get to 36% in league play then the Blue Devils will be a formidable opponent.

Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week!

Bold Predictions for the 2022-23 Northeast Conference Men’s Hoops Season

The 2022-23 season is almost upon us! And I’m back to bring you #NECMBB content on the NEC Overtime! Blog.

One of my favorite writers is The Athletic contributor Eno Sarris. The baseball/fantasy baseball/craft beer scribe seamlessly blends analytics, his eyes and intel from other sources to tell an informed story. It’s what I strive to do every time I write a post! 

One of his annual columns I most enjoy is his MLB Bold Predictions piece in March. In there he’ll do his best to make an educated, albeit partly outlandish guess for where a player or team might finish. Sometimes he’s right (Logan Gilbert was the best pitcher on the Mariners), sometimes he’s close (Texas’ Nate Lowe finished 3 homers short of Sarris’ 30 HR prediction), and sometimes he – pardon the pun – swings and misses (Joey Votto did not come close to hitting 40 HRs). 

Forgive me as I try to copycat Sarris with my own bold predictions post for the 2022-23 Northeast Conference season. I’m basing my educated guesses on what the coaches have told me about their squads and underlying statistics/analytics. Here are five boldish predictions that, if things break right, have a respectable chance to come to fruition.

Sacred Heart’s Brendan McGuire Will Lead the League in Assists Per Game

When Sacred Heart lost scoring point guard Aaron Clarke to the transfer portal this spring, many wondered where Anthony Latina would go for his next floor general. There was no obvious replacement on the roster – Joey Reilly and redshirt freshman Dom Mello are best off-the-ball in my humble opinion – so Latina leveraged one of his strengths as a head coach: he recruited the transfer portal to identify talent that would immediately upgrade his roster. Enter Brendan McGuire, a somewhat atypical floor general given his 6-foot-7 forward-like frame. 

McGuire averaged 2.6 apg under Baker Dunleavy at Quinnipiac in three seasons, so why do I think the Long Island native can find another level as the main facilitator in Sacred Heart’s system? Given Latina’s insistence on re-establishing a faster tempo, McGuire will be asked to advance the ball at every opportunity and utilize his vision and playmaking skill in the open floor. Think about the Pioneer offense under freshman Cam Parker in 2018-19, or Pioneers all-time leading assist man Phil Gaetano in 2014-15. Both pass-first guards thrived offensively in Sacred Heart’s two fastest seasons (relative to DI) under Latina with a bevy of finishers/shooters to feed such as Evan Kelley, Cane Broome, Sean Hoehn and E.J. Anosike.

Point GuardYearTeam Possessions per GameTeam Offensive EfficiencyPlayer Assists per GamePlayer Assist Rate
Phil Gaetano2014-1568.5 (22nd DI)103.4 (3rd NEC)5.8 (1st NEC)30.9% (76th DI)
Cam Parker2018-1972.0 (23rd DI)104.2 (3rd NEC)6.9 (1st NEC)37.8% (11th DI)

With playmakers abound at Sacred Heart such as Nico Galette, Raheem Solomon, Aidan Carpenter and sharpshooter Mike Sixsmith, McGuire should not lack options to feed the ball to. He routinely posted assist rates in the mid 20s at Quinnipiac; it wasn’t his skill but rather his inconsistent playing time that ultimately limited his overall assist totals.

Herein lies my boldish part of the prediction – in order for McGuire to average the 5.0 – 6.0 apg likely needed to become the conference’s leader, he must stay healthy and log a career high in minutes. McGuire’s coming off a 2021-22 campaign where he missed 11 of the Bobcats’ 31 games, and that’s what reportedly has sapped the point forward’s full potential to this point. It’s a matter of good health, a 72+ possessions per game pace and a gut feeling that it will all come together for McGuire in year four of his collegiate career. With his move from the MAAC to the NEC, he also enters a conference plentiful with scoring point guards (Nigel Scantlebury, Demetre Roberts, DeLonnie Hunt, to name a few) who aren’t likely to put up an overwhelming volume of assists. Based on the league’s recent history, 5.0 apg could be the magic number for McGuire to become the league’s assist leader, and that number is possible based on what I’ve heard out of the Pioneer camp.

The Red Flash Will Regain Its Spot as the League’s Best Offense

We knew it was going to be hard for Rob Krimmel to replace his back-to-back NEC Player of the Year stalwarts in Keith Braxton and Isaiah Blackmon after their graduation in 2020, but that was before a 100-year pandemic and plethora of injuries infected Krimmel’s roster over the past 2 seasons. The long-time coach has shuffled through 22 starting lineups since the fruitful 2019-20 campaign, greatly affecting SFU’s rotational consistency. It’s led to mediocre offensive performances:

SeasonPoints per GameAdjusted Offensive Efficiency3PT%FT%Unique Starting Lineups
2017-1879.0106.4 (1st NEC)37.177.28
2018-1976.3105.5 (2nd NEC)35.371.28
2019-2077.7107.6 (1st NEC)36.075.18
2020-21*68.994.7 (7th NEC)30.971.49
2021-2268.695.1 (7th NEC)31.564.513
*pandemic shortened season, only played 22 games

Talent always wins out, but it’s paramount to have good health and luck on your side too, and that’s been lacking in Loretto of late. During a productive four year stretch where the Red Flash made three NEC tournament finals from 2017-2020, the team’s stars routinely played at least 70% of SFU’s minutes (aka 28 minutes in every game). Red Flash players satisfied that minutes threshold 11 different times over that stretch, with the bulk of that met by all-conference first teamers Jamaal King, Braxton and Blackmon. Over the past two campaigns, junior guard Maxwell Land was the only player to cross the 70% minutes mark, achieving the feat once in 2021-22. 

Now with a healthy roster back along with reinforcements at the point guard position, Krimmel appears poised to get back to his bread and butter: efficient offensive basketball. The team’s shooting must vastly improve and return to the 35% 3PT/70% FT level during the program’s contender phase for this to happen. Several current players, in fact, have already illustrated their shotmaking prowess at one time or another in a Red Flash uniform. It simply needs to come together for one season with this collective group:

PlayerYearKenPom Offensive Rating3PT %FT %
Maxwell Land2020-2195.541.1%71.4%
Marlon Hargis2020-21125.541.7%81.2%
Myles Thompson2021-2298.538.7%63.9%
Brad McCabe2021-22111.841.3%80.0%

It’s fair to be optimistic about the Red Flash’s shooting if you assume the following: 1) mostly everyone will stay relatively healthy, 2) the guards/wings will continue to progress in year three of Krimmel’s system and 3) the players won’t be overburdened with too much on their plate given the program’s depth.

The last statement is particularly important, because if SFU can get a league average contribution at the point guard position from incoming freshmen Landon Moore and Cam Gregory and/or upperclassman Zahree Harrison, who’s considerably more trimmer this preseason, then the aforementioned veterans shouldn’t be tasked with more than they can handle on the basketball court.

“Some of it is just guys being in a position where they can play to their strengths,” Krimmel said at NEC Media Day in October. “When you have a roster that is depleted for different reasons, guys have to do on top of what they do really, really well.”

Quite simply: less is more. If every player can reduce their usage rate slightly and become more specialized toward their strengths, then the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. The program already boasts the league’s most efficient post presence in Josh Cohen (117.7 offensive rating, 57.7% 2PT), thus better playmaking and perimeter shooting could be what the doctor ordered for getting SFU back to being an elite and well balanced offensive unit once again.

Fairleigh Dickinson’s Trio of Division II Transfers Will All Land in the League’s Top 15

If you just look at the car without looking under the hood, I understand why FDU projects as a bottom third team in the conference to an algorithm. The Knights have a new coach, a roster with 8 new scholarship players, and are coming off a difficult campaign thanks to a defense that allowed 111.3 points per 100 possessions. The analytic sites such as KenPom, Bart Torvik, and others simply aren’t estimating the impact of the Knights incoming transfers, three of which come from Division II, hence the bearish projections.

For starters, Bart Torvik’s player replacement metric PORPAGATU! greatly devalues the Division II transfers in Demetre Roberts (0.3 in PORPAGATU!), Grant Singleton (0.3) and Sean Moore (0.3) despite their successes at St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC). Let’s use Roberts as my main example: the three-time East Coast Conference (ECC) first team selection is coming off an impressive senior season. Those gaudy numbers may not translate perfectly into NEC hoops, but even a modest downtick across the board produces far better than a 0.3 rating. Comparing his Division II numbers to another diminutive, yet speedy point in Jalen Benjamin tells the story:

Demetre Roberts2021-2216.
Jalen Benjamin2021-2213.

The overall speed shouldn’t be much different between the top half of the ECC (where STAC always resided under Anderson) and the NEC, but the effective height will play up. Given this, let’s assume Roberts’ 2022-23 numbers tick downward and possibly mirror Benjamin’s production at the Mount last season. Even still, Benjamin produced a 2.0 PORPAGATU! (t-13th NEC) in 2021-22, well above Roberts’ current projection at 0.3, which doesn’t make a ton of sense.

The same case could be applied to Singleton and Moore, with the latter offering more upside defensively. As a STAC freshman a year ago, the 6’4” forward anchored the front of Anderson’s full court press and earned two Defensive Player of the Week awards. His blend of athleticism, length, and instincts – a similar profile also possessed by returning junior Joe Munden, Jr. – could wreak havoc for some NEC backcourts, and allow Roberts, Singleton and others to hunt steals for easy buckets in transition. There’s nowhere to go but up for FDU in transition – last season the Knights were last league wide in effective field goal percentage during transition opportunities with a mark of 48.9%, according to Hoop Math. That number, along with a middling defensive turnover rate of 18.2% (185th DI), should be a lock to improve thanks to the STAC talent coming to Hackensack.

It also helps that Anderson isn’t a stranger to rebuilding quickly. Back in his inaugural season at STAC, Anderson inherited a downtrodden 5-win program and engineered an impressive 10-win turnaround in year one. I’m not guaranteeing the Knights will be victorious 14 times in 2022-23, but even a more modest win output could find FDU within title contention come February. If that’s the case, the trio of STAC transfers will have emerged as leading players within the conference.

Central Connecticut State Posts Its Best Offensive Output in a Decade

While FDU’s defense has a great opportunity to improve, the same could be said for Pat Sellers’ offensive unit. The Blue Devils last season struggled at times to score, failing to convert many of their inside the arc opportunities (42.6%, 353rd DI) while also struggling with turnovers during stretches (20.6% turnover rate, 310th DI). CCSU went 5-2 in games where they averaged more than 1.00 point per possession in a contest, and posted a 3-22 mark when scoring 1.00 ppp or less. The low hanging fruit for the squad in New Britain is the offense!

As you all know, Sellers enters his second season, which usually helps when it comes to improving offense with a rebuilding program. Take a look with how these NEC programs improved in their second year of rebuilding with a new head coach:

Team/New Head CoachFirst Year Adjusted ORtgSecond Year Adjusted ORtgDifference
SFU/Rob Krimmel93.496.4+3.0
Mount/Jamion Christian102.5107.8+5.3
SHU/Anthony Latina99.3103.4+4.1
CCSU/Donyell Marshall93.098.0+5.0
Mount/Dan Engelstad94.896.4+1.6
CCSU/Pat Sellers91.5??

If Sellers’ offense trends similarly, he can take solace in that Nigel Scantlebury and Andre Snoddy return. Scantlebury, a pick-and-roll dynamo who’ll make 3s off the catch-and-shoot and off-the-dribble, illustrated his scoring moxie late last season, averaging 20.8 points buoyed by a stout 48.5% free throw rate in the last 5 games of the season. The next step is to improve upon his 49.8% mark near-the-rim, while also honing his shot selection to whittle down his mid-range 2-point attempts. Those progressions are reasonable for a fifth year guy entering his second year with Seller’s “space and pace” concepts. 

Snoddy has the opposite program – his penchant for scoring inside the paint would become even more potent with a complimentary perimeter game. It’s something the sophomore – a 6-time NEC Rookie of the Week honoree last season – has assiduously worked on this offseason. I would certainly bet on Snoddy topping his 26.7% 2 and 3-point jumper percentage as a freshman by a healthy margin.

Additionally this offseason, Sellers wisely recruited more scorers to feature alongside Scantlebury and Snoddy, with Binghamton wing Kellen Amos and JUCO transfer guard Jay Rodgers joining the fray. While the two returning stars have their demonstrated strengths, Amos and Rodgers offer versatility, potentially giving the Blue Devils a more well rounded team on the floor. Amos’ lanky frame poses mismatch problems at the wing, and his “3 and rim” prowess – he made 60% near-the-rim last season per Hoop Math – will surely help a Blue Devils’ team that made just 51.5% of their near-the-rim takes last season. Rodgers, on the other hand, isn’t shy about getting downhill and finishing in traffic, and that’s complemented by a 40.1% conversion rate from deep at Cochise College last season.

Throw in second year players Jayden Brown, Joe Ostrowski, Davonte Sweatman and the expected jump they’re capable of, and I’d be very surprised if CCSU stays the same from an offensive efficiency standpoint as KenPom suggests in 2022-23. Like Saint Francis University, I see big things ahead for CCSU’s offense to the point where they could exceed the Blue Devils’ best offensive output in a decade. That would require a 6.0 jump in adjusted offensive efficiency in order to top Howie’s Dickenman’s 2013-14 squad when they posted an adjusted offensive efficiency of 97.4. That’s a big jump (these are bold predictions after all!), but nevertheless you should buy stock now on Seller’s offense. 

Rahmir Moore Will Lead Wagner in Scoring and Land in the NEC’s Top Five in the Same Category

Opportunities are plentiful in a league that lost much of its older talent, mostly via graduation. Some of those opportunities reside in Grymes Hill where after a fantastic 2021-22 campaign, the Seahawks start fairly anew after graduating five highly accomplished super seniors, including two-time NEC Player of the Year and one-time Defensive Player of the Year Alex Morales. Donald Copeland takes over the head coaching reins from friend and mentor Bashir Mason, and it’s because of those ties that I believe things stay the same for Wagner. Copeland said as much during NEC Media Day when asked if anything will change with Wagner basketball now that he’s in charge.

“I can’t say a whole lot,” Copeland admitted. “The motto is defense and toughness, so that’s what it’s going to be. Like Bash, I was raised that way within the game. It’s hard for me to just get off of it now.”

If you’re tough and willing to defend, you’ll enjoy more offensive freedom and more playing time. This is a major reason why Saint Joseph’s transfer Rahmir Moore should see the court quite a bit in his first season as a Seahawk – his defensive versatility, physical build and tenacity has been lauded by the Wagner coaching staff this preseason. The opportunity to score the ball on a team that graduated its top four scorers from a season ago is there as well.

“Those were two premier scorers in our league, Alex (Morales) and Will (Martinez), and there’s potential for that with Rahmir,” Copeland said when asked about how Moore compares to last season’s offensive talent.

Under Mason, the Seahawks thrived at attacking the rim and scoring in the mid-range, eschewing analytics and its love for ‘3 and Rim’ concepts in the process. With Morales, Martinez and Elijah Ford illustrating efficient pull-up jumpers while also thriving off the bounce, it was easy for Wagner to embrace the old-school approach while not sacrificing offensive efficiency. The same should now apply to Moore, who’s older brother Ramone was a standout player at Temple more than a decade ago.

At Saint Joseph’s under Billy Lange, Moore attempted 51.4% of his shots near the rim. Of his 58 makes by the rim in two seasons, only 15 of those were assisted, meaning Moore did well getting downhill and generating scoring looks by himself. A move from the Atlantic 10 to the NEC will make it easier for Moore to finish among opposing 4s and 5s, thus an improvement from a 46.4% conversion rate on near-the-rim attempts, per Hoop Math, makes sense.

Combine Moore’s skill set with a group of complementary guards led by Zaire Williams and DeLonnie Hunt, and he should fit in well as the off-the-bounce bull who makes a living at the charity stripe (career 73.8% FT). For me, Moore’s inevitable progression to a double digit per game scorer is exactly what Wagner needs, and if he matures to the 15 ppg level, then he’ll emerge as one of the premier scorers in the league.

Underrated Gems – Highlighting the NEC’s “All-Underrated” Team for this Season

With the Northeast Conference less than a week away from announcing the league’s best players at regular season’s close, I wanted to highlight some lesser known guys whose value has been undervalued by most. These players aren’t going to earn an all-conference distinction, nor will they typically find their way into the league’s weekly write-up as a Prime Performer. Despite this lack of recognition, it’s generally known among the coaches that these players have been invaluable toward their respective program’s successes. Allow me to highlight six such players to shine a spotlight on the NEC’s mostly quiet contributions.

Ja’Mier Fletcher, Wagner

Here’s a pop quiz, and don’t look head over to or KenPom to figure out the answer. From an offensive rating and effective field goal percentage standpoint, who’s been the most productive player in the Seahawks green and white this season? If I asked anyone this – the casual fan, the diehard blogger and everyone in between – I doubt they would peg third year power forward Fletcher, but here we are. As a reserve big on Bashir Mason’s important second unit, the bruising 6-foot-7 center has been a revelation, shooting 64.3 percent from 2 while grabbing 19.6 percent of the opponent’s misses on the floor. What’s more is Fletcher has used improved fitness and added dexterity to make him more nimble and rim-run on a Wagner squad that loves to get in transition off live-ball turnovers and defensive rebounds. It’s no wonder Fletcher has posted career highs in offensive rating (125.7), free throw rate (67.4% FTA/FGM) and turnover rate (10.8 percent) as a center best utlitized for 12-20 minutes off the bench. There are many stars and well-known role guys on this Seahawks group, but don’t let Fletcher be forgotten just because he backs up star big man Raekwon Rogers.

Tre Mitchell, Central Connecticut State

It’s been a tough go of it offensively for Mitchell this season, as the senior has struggled to make perimeter shots. While his inability to generate consistent offense has been a surprise, head coach Pat Sellers has encouraged the guard to make his impact felt on the other end of the floor. Mitchell has heeded his coach’s advice over the past month, consistently being tasked to defend the opponent’s best perimeter presence, while also serving as “the point guard of the defense.” Mitchell’s high basketball IQ, athleticism and astute positioning is a big reason why the Blue Devils are significantly better defensively when Mitchell is on the floor. Per Hoop Explorer, Central Connecticut gives up nearly 10 fewer points per 100 possessions (adjusted based on schedule) when the 6-foot-3 Arizona native is between the lines, a huge impact that quite frankly may not be met by any other player competing in the Northeast Conference. If the jump shot ever comes around – Mitchell has done better of late, making 10 of 30 from deep in his last 6 games – then Sellers is convinced the selfless guard would become a household name in NEC circles.

Luis Hurtado, Bryant

Here’s what one assistant coach in the NEC told me regarding Hurtado: “He’s only quiet from a number’s perspective… Super smart. Great passer. Gets them into the transition game. He’s awesome with the pieces around.” Well, there you go. WIth all of the defensive focus on the best scoring duo in the country in Peter Kiss and Charles Pride, the 6-foot-6 Hurtado is a forgotten man despite showcasing a multi-faceted skill set that’s pivotal in making Bryant’s offense tick. Just look at the analytical metrics – he’s third in offensive rating (118), first in effective field goal percentage (66.7 percent) and sixth in assist rate (24.7 percent) in league play while registering a pristine assist to turnover ratio of 3.0 (64 assists versus 21 turnovers). Not only is he a great teammate that helps contribute to Bryant’s league leading offensive efficiency, but on the other end his size, high IQ, and positioning – he’s very good at using his big frame to absorb contact and draw charges – is an underrated part of Bryant’s defense. Quite simply, he is the prototypical glue guy that keeps a shortened Bryant rotation together for Jared Grasso.

Jordan McKoy, Merrimack

In the absence of Devin Jensen for much of the season, Merrimack’s Jordan McKoy has stepped up to fill an invaluable need for the Warriors as a sharpshooting guard who’s been solid defensively in their hybrid 2-3 zone. His 21-point, 7-triple barrage several weeks ago in North Andover versus LIU single handedly carried his team to victory back then, and in other contests his complementary skill set to slashers like Malik Edmead and Mikey Watkins and post presence Jordan Minor has fit like a puzzle for Merrimack’s offensive attack. When McKoy posts a KenPom offensive rating in a contest north of 100, Merrimack is 10-5 in such games (and 3-10 in the other games). His strengths as one of the league’s most deadly catch-and-shoot weapons has been a pleasant surprise and shouldn’t go unnoticed despite being the 3rd and 4th option on the floor to score the basketball. The Warriors 3-point percentage dovetails from 34.9 percent to 26.7 percent when McKoy has a seat on the bench this season.

Kyndall Davis, LIU

While we’ve already seen plenty of Kyndall Davis’ athleticism showcased on scintillating dunks designed to end up in the NEC-9 and/or SportsCenter’s top 10, the sophomore guard is much more than just a highlight reel waiting to happen. His defensive impact is a significant reason why the Sharks are currently posting the third best defensive efficiency (97.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) and steal rate (11.4 percent) in league play. Per Hoop Explorer, the Sharks are 5.1 points per 100 possessions better offensively and 3.6 points per 100 possessions better defensively when the Chicago native is competing. For a 6-foot-5 guard, Davis offers that unique blend of finishing near the rim (57.1 percent 2PT) while registering nationally ranked block (3.4 percent) and steal (2.5 percent) rates. That combination serves Kellogg’s group very well when they are running down the floor; over the course of LIU’s current 4-game winning streak, the Sharks have outscored their opponents in fast break points 69 to 33. Davis is a big part of that.

Oscar Berry, Fairleigh Dickinson

Last, but not least, is the youngest member of my “all-underrated team” in freshman sharpshooter Oscar Berry. Despite missing the first four games of his collegiate career due to injury, the Melbourne, Austrailia native leads all NEC freshmen (yes, all freshmen) in Bart Torvik’s PORPAGATU! metric which measures a player’s value versus replacement value. He’s second in the metric on his team, only trailing the also underrated John “Mikey” Square, while leading his teammates in KenPom offensive rating (123.2), 3-point percentage (43.1 percent) and turnover rate (12.8 percent). Furthermore, Berry’s floor spacing ability gives Greg Herenda’s unit a boost offensively, making Fairleigh Dickinson 5 points per 100 possessions (adjusted based on schedule) better on the offensive end of the floor according to Hoop Explorer. There are plenty of exciting rookies on this Knights squad, and Berry is certainly among them.

Knight of the Road: NEC Roots Run Deep for CCSU Head Coach Pat Sellers

(Photo Credit: Steve McLaughlin)

If there was something needed to get the immensely athletic and talented 6-foot-8 Kaleb Bishop going, Patrick Sellers was the man for the job.

Back as a Fairleigh Dickinson assistant, Sellers was there at the Rothman Center to instill his years of wisdom and service for the betterment of the Knight players. He gladly embraced the role, even if it meant a grown man making a lawnmower sound before the typically difficult practice sessions engineered by the program’s leader, Greg Herenda.

“I’d walk up to (Kaleb) before practice or a game and I would act like I was starting a lawnmower, pulling the strings, telling him ‘we’re going to get this motor going, this motor going,’” Sellers recalled.

Bishop fondly remembers how the tradition, now a pre-practice, pre-game staple at Fairleigh Dickinson, Fairfield and Central Connecticut State, commenced. “He’d always say ‘KB, you have NBA ability, potential, just get the motor going’ because he coached so many guys at UConn and elsewhere,” the former Knight, now a professional player for Kagoshima Rebnise in Japan’s B3 league, said.

And so starting the lawnmower before every practice became a ritual the Knights openly embraced. It was especially embraced by Bishop, who not coincidentally enjoyed his two most efficient seasons when Sellers was on Fairleigh Dickinson’s bench. All of that extra time in the film room and after practice getting up shots with Sellers paid dividends, so to speak.

“I definitely do credit him as to why I had so much success,” Bishop, who averaged 9.2 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in his collegiate career, said. “He really helped me elevate my game. Even off the court we talked about different things, we talked about investing money right after college… he just made everybody around him better.”

After two years of coaching at DePaul, Sellers was close to accepting a scouting assignment before receiving Herenda’s call during the 2016 offseason. Herenda, in need of a qualified coach and bonafide motivator, convinced the well-traveled assistant to stay in coaching. All he had to do was traverse from Chicago to the Garden State for his next gig.

(Photo Credit: Larry Levanti)

“His love of the game is contagious, and that’s really Pat’s strength along with being knowledgeable and being brought up with (Jim) Calhoun, (Steve) Lappas, (Dave) Leitao and all the great coaches,” Herenda said when asked why Sellers received that call. “Experience at any level is important, so we had experienced players and experienced coaches and good ones at that. Pat fit like a glove.”

Mike Holloway, one critical part of the talented frontcourt trio that consisted of him, Bishop and Elyjah Williams, always enjoyed listening to Sellers’ “war stories” about his past basketball trials and tribulations. It was through these experiences of dealing with tough, hardened personalities that Sellers, a 1991 Central Connecticut State graduate, thrived in serving as the perfect antidote to a detailed and demanding coach like Herenda. 

“Coach Sellers was always good at getting me to calm down and get me back into the game mode and make me realize the bigger picture, what’s really at stake here,” Holloway, now a Knights graduate assistant coach, said.

(Photo Credit: Larry Levanti)

Perhaps more importantly, Sellers also effectively shielded Herenda’s ire at times when the big man made a mistake on the floor. That couldn’t have been more evident in the 2019 Northeast Conference tournament final at Saint Francis University, a team that Sellers was tasked with serving as a “scout” for throughout the 2018-19 season. 

Coming out of a timeout late in the first half, Sellers’ deep research on Rob Krimmel’s squad presented an opportunity.

“At the timeout, I said, ‘Hey look for this play, they are probably going to run this play,’” Sellers recalled of the moment. “They came out of the timeout and ran the exact play I was talking about and Mike Holloway doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do and they score it.”

Furious at Holloway missing a defensive rotation, Herenda frustratingly hurled his suit jacket in the direction of the Fairleigh Dickinson bench while simultaneously barking at his staff. The jacket unintentionally landed on Sellers’ head while sitting on the bench, all for every television viewer to witness. 

“He threw it in the area and it plopped right on my face on TV so all my boys saw it on TV and started laughing, cracking up,” Sellers said while laughing at the infamous moment.

To add insult to injury, the referee mistakenly thought Herenda’s outburst was directed toward the officiating crew. Not only did the Red Flash score the basket, but they were awarded two free throws after Herenda’s technical. 

Like Sellers, Holloway can do nothing but laugh about the moment, especially after the Knights pulled away in the second half to win the NEC tournament championship, 85-76, punching their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. “Coach (Sellers) knew exactly what was going on, I just didn’t execute the play and it all came down on me,” Holloway, who finished with 12 points and 6 rebounds in the win, said with a chuckle.

It was that attention to detail that made Sellers such an integral part of Fairleigh Dickinson. It led to the impression that the assistant made his home on the Hackensack campus.

(Photo Credit: Larry Levanti)

“I never knew where Pat lived for the entire time he (was at FDU),” Herenda joked. “He worked so hard … and he actually lived in Hoboken. I used to kid him all the time, I thought he slept at the bottom of the Rothman (Center).”

In a way you could forgive Herenda’s impression that the studious Sellers never left the campus. As a self described hoops lifer, the 53-year old has devoured basketball all his life, whether it was the NBA, college, and even the professional leagues overseas. 

Close friend and former colleague Anthony Latina, now the head coach at Sacred Heart, can attest to that. He and Sellers used to share a cramped office at Central Connecticut for four years when they served as assistants for Howie Dickenman.

“Pat is one of the biggest basketball junkies you’re ever going to meet,” Latina confirmed. “One of our biggest differences is Pat is a huge NBA guy, I’m more of a college guy. His favorite day of the year is opening day NBA.”

Bishop compares only his former high school coach at St. Anthony High, the great Bob Hurley, as someone who measures up to Sellers’ basketball knowledge and wisdom.

Back in the early 2000s, before NBA League Pass, the opening night of the NBA was like Christmas to Sellers. He’d hole up in his apartment that day with Dominos Pizza, Gatorade and watch the NBA triple header on TV. 

(Photo Credit: Larry Levanti)

“He actually made me like the NBA more because what he opened my eyes to was just how sophisticated their approach is,” Latina said. “People don’t realize the NBA is almost two or three years ahead of college in terms of schemes and things like that.”

Now three years removed from his memorable time at Fairleigh Dickinson and 20 years removed from Central Connecticut assistant coach days, Sellers will get a chance to square off against his former boss when his Blue Devils travel to the Rothman Center for a Northeast Conference battle with Fairleigh Dickinson on Saturday. There may be a gauntlet of emotions prior to the contest.

“I just loved seeing guys that I coach with become head coaches and I’m just really happy for Pat,” Herenda said. “It’s probably long overdue, but it’s fitting for him to go back there to start where he played.”

For a man who’s been a nomadic college basketball assistant for eight different schools prior to getting the head coaching job at Central Connecticut, the time is now to lead a once proud Blue Devil program back to relevance. And facing off against friends and former colleagues like Latina and Herenda will surely be fun as well.