Tag Archives: Wagner

A Look at the NEC’s Most Improved

As someone with two young kids, I’ve really come to appreciate efficiency. Getting everyone out the door, in the car, safely to daycare, and then to work in time for a 9:00 AM meeting poses major challenges without efficiency. And it increases my disdain for those who schedule 9:00 AM meetings.

If I make my lunch the evening before, that buys me five extra minutes to invest in the morning routine. If I lay out my clothes for the next day, there’s another two minutes. Change our toddler into his day clothes right after he wakes up in the morning, another minute. Back the car into the driveway the evening before so I don’t have to backout into the street the next morning, there’s 10 extra seconds! OK, maybe I’m a little crazy with this time efficiency stuff.

My love for efficiency extends to NEC hoops. I’m visiting KenPom.com more times each day than I’m going to my Facebook page. (Trust me, it’s better this way.) For this latest Overtime! Blog post I’m scouring KenPom to find some players who’ve greatly improved their efficiency numbers from last year. Consider this a compilation of the unofficial All-NEC Most Improved Team.

Let’s start with the most notable improver.

E.J. Anosike, Sacred Heart (87 ORtg in 2017-18 to 118 ORtg this season)

At NEC Social Media Day, Anthony Latina specifically targeted Anosike as someone who should strive to win the NEC’s Most Improved Player award. This declaration is close to coming to fruition, as Anosike, who no longer sits on the bench behind Joe Lopez and Mario Matasovic, has illustrated a stark improvement. The sophomore has excelled as the team’s primary power forward, improving his effective field goal percentage by almost 17 points in conference play! And that’s with far more usage. He’s expanded his shooting range (39.5% 3PT on 43 attempts), developed a much improved touch (60.3% on shots near the rim) and continues to rebound at a high level. Anosike’s statistic profile (14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg), size, position and bull-in-the-china shop game had me wondering how he stacks up next to a NEC all-time great when he was a sophomore:

  • Anosike, 2018-19: 118 ORtg, 22% possession rate, 55% eFG, 18% def rebound rate, 57% FTA/FGA
  • Jalen Cannon, 2013-14: 117 ORtg, 24% possession rate, 51% eFG, 20% def rebound rate, 55% FTA/FGA

Wow, that’s a heck of a comp for Anosike!

Adam Grant, Bryant (94 ORtg in 2017-18 to 104 ORtg this season)

On the surface Grant’s counting numbers over his 3-year career (13.4 ppg as freshman, 15.6 ppg as sophomore, 15.4 ppg as junior) doesn’t illustrate improvement, but a look under the efficiency hood depicts a different tale. We have always respected his ability to drain clutch perimeter shots, a skill that makes him one of the more talented guards in the conference. His quick release that requires very little separation is impressive to watch. Case in point:

 

 

Honestly, you can fall into a Twitter wormhole watching clips of Adam Grant clutch 3s (trust me, there’s plenty of them)! He’s always been a shotmaker from day one, but the addition of freshman Joe Kasperzyk and grad transfer Byron Hawkins into the backcourt has helped reduce Grant’s burden, putting him in better spots to succeed. The talent infusion has led to Grant shooting a career best 37.4% from behind the arc (41.2% in league play), while sporting a career low turnover rate (14.1%). He basically isn’t sacrificing scoring despite fewer shot attempts. Efficiency!

Jahlil Jenkins, Fairleigh Dickinson (102 ORtg in 2017-18 to 108 ORtg this season)

Jenkins is the lifeblood of the Knights, handling the point guard duties while playing nearly 92% of the team’s minutes this season. That’s A LOT of playing time, and yet Jenkins has managed to take a page out of the uber-efficient Glenn Sanabria book – post an assist rate north of 20%, turn the ball over infrequently with respect to a floor general and offer consistent production from behind the arc (37.8% in NEC play) and at the free throw line (88.6%, 37th nationally). It comes as no surprise that FDU is one of the most efficient offenses in league play, with the multi-faceted Jenkins playing a vital role.

Raul Frias, LIU Brooklyn (107 ORtg in 2017-18 to 120 ORtg this season)

The senior guard from Miami is the epitome of instant offense off the bench. With his long-range moxie as the focal point, Frias is posting the third highest efficiency rating in league play while also registering a solid 2.7% steal rate. He’s made a three-pointer in 17 of his last 18 games, a remarkable sign of consistency for someone who plays just 48% of the LIU Brooklyn’s minutes. Compared to last season, Frias has improved his scoring production by 290% (3.0 ppg to 8.7 ppg) and his rebounding numbers by 231% (1.3 rpg to 3.0 rpg), while improving his defensive profile as well. On a Blackbirds squad that prides itself on getting out in transition, Frias has emerged as the reliable scoring threat camped out behind the three-point line.


Kinnon LaRose, Sacred Heart
(112 ORtg in 2017-18 to 135 ORtg this season)

This tweet was probably what spurred the idea for me to write this post in the first place:

 

LaRose has always been an efficient player – competent three-point shooters who don’t turn the ball over usually are – but this year has been exceptional. He’s clearly the beneficiary of more talent around him, compared to last season when he and Sean Hoehn were forced to do much of the heavy lifting in the backcourt. Now with Cam Parker, Koreem Ozier and Aaron Clarke in the mix, LaRose has slotted into an off-the-bench, stretch-four role which has enhanced his strengths. There’s more space for him to make outside shots, he’s able to finish near the rim by blowing by bigger defenders and his savvy positioning has made him a sneaky good offensive rebounder (8.2% offensive rebound rate).

And now for an unconventional bonus selection…

 

Vado Morse, Mount St. Mary’s (111 ORtg this season)

Yes, the probable NEC Rookie of the Year obviously didn’t play for the Mount last season, yet his improved efficiency has been noteworthy from an intra-season standpoint. The Mount played a difficult non-conference schedule full of bigger, physical defenses which surely impacted Morse’s play from the start. Mount coach Dan Engelstad agrees, but he also believes there are other factors at play besides the non-conference schedule.

“Yeah I think that’s part of it, but I also think the game’s starting to slow down for him,” he said with respect to Morse’s improvement against NEC competition. “I think he’s done a lot of film study, I think he’s really become a student of the game, finding out where he can best put himself and our team in good situations and I think that’s showing up lately.”

In league play, Morse has been unguardable at times, showcasing a lethal quick release on the perimeter while flying by defenders when he puts the ball on the floor. Truth be told, he’s one of the toughest players to guard one-on-one, a scary predicament down the road for opposing NEC coaches. He’s posted a KenPom offensive rating of 100 or higher in 10 of 16 league games, compared to 4 of 10 in non-conference play. Any player who’s showing his productivity by shooting 56% from 2, 37% from 3 and 76% from the free throw line in league play, should be viewed as a serious candidate for an all-conference team.

And now for some honorable mention guys:

Deion Bute, Central Connecticut (102 ORtg in 2017-18 to 111 ORtg this season)
Joe Hugley, Central Connecticut (105 ORtg in 2017-18 to 109 ORtg this season)

Both junior college transfers have seen a steady growth the second year in Donyell Marshall’s system, although for Bute, it could be argued that he would’ve been more efficient in 2017-18 had he not injured his knee halfway through league play.

Elijah Davis, Wagner (95 ORtg in 2017-18 to 101 ORtg this season)

As awesome as Romone Saunders is, Davis may be just as critical to Bashir Mason from an offensive standpoint. In games where Davis has posted an offensive rating north of 100, Wagner is 10-3.

Chris Coalman, Robert Morris (93 ORtg in 2017-18 to 108 ORtg this season)

Coalman may have a limited role in Andy Toole’s rotation, yet something is going right when you’ve made 61% of your shot attempts, some of which came from downtown.

Randall Gaskins, Saint Francis U (intra-season improvement)

Gaskins struggled with his offense during the non-conference campaign, but has since rebounded big time to post a 64.3% effective field goal rate against conference foes.

Bowl-winning Quarterback Set to Join #NECFB Ranks

FIU transfer Christian Alexander

The 2018 Bahamas Bowl Offensive Player of the Game is heading to Staten Island.

After coming off the bench and leading Florida International to a bowl game victory, quarterback Christian Alexander has transferred to Wagner.

Alexander, a Sunshine State product, produced 292 yards of total offense in FIU’s 35-32 win over MAC champion Toledo this past December.

“I found out in the preparation for the bowl game when we found out what James’ injury was,” said Alexander after starting in place of James Morgan, the 2018 C-USA Newcomer of the Year who was sidelined by a sore shoulder.”

“I knew I had to carry the reins. James helped me along the way. Obviously he started all season long so he gave me pointers here and there, today especially. He showed me things he saw, things like that. I couldn’t have done it without my brothers.”

Upon his arrival on Grymes Hill, Alexander will enroll as a graduate student and will have one season of football playing eligibility.

“Christian is a mobile, dual-threat quarterback, who I’m confident has the chance to make a big impact this coming fall,” said Wagner head coach Jason Houghtaling.

FBS transfers to the NEC have had success in recent years at the quarterback position.

After receiving limited action at Boise State, Tommy Stuart moved east to Duquesne and went on to win the 2017 NEC Offensive Player of the Year award.

Tommy Stuart (2017 NEC OPOTY)

In 2018, Daniel Parr assumed the starting signal calling duties for the Dukes. Helping Duquesne to the 2018 NCAA FCS Playoffs, Parr, a transfer from Florida Atlantic, accounted for 27 touchdowns (20 pass, 7 rush) during his first season on The Bluff.

Bear Fenimore, who began his career at Houston, competed at Saint Francis for two seasons and threw 22 touchdowns while being intercepted only six times in 2018.

Bryant has started a FBS transfer under center each of the past four seasons. First, Dalton Easton went from Akron to Smithfield and proceeded to set the NEC single-season record for touchdown passes (28) in 2016. Over the past two years, Price Wilson has thrown for 5,685yards and 44 touchdowns in a Bulldogs uniform after transferring from Louisiana Tech.

 

 

Double The Fun: Wagner and Robert Morris Both Win in Empire State

Pretty good day for Northeast Conference lacrosse, wouldn’t you say?

The conference saw its men’s and women’s team champions triumph in NCAA Tournament action on Wednesday.

First, Wagner played host to Southern Conference champion Mercer in a NCAA Women’s Opening Round affair on Grymes Hill. The Seahawks saw their 5-0 lead evaporate, but eventually seized control for good midway through the second half.

By virtue of its victory, Wagner will have the chance to battle No. 7 Towson in the next round on Friday.

About an hour after Wagner concluded its victory in Staten Island, the Robert Morris men faced off against MAAC member Canisius on the opposite end of the Empire State. After watching the home team score first, RMU erupted en-route to a 12-6 victory in Downtown Buffalo.

Now, it’s on to College Park where the Colonials will try their luck against No. 1 Maryland.

Read more

NEC Lacrosse Finals Were Fantastic to the Finish

Two title games, two fantastic finishes, all on the same day.

Overtime was needed to determine a winner in both games.

First, top-seeded Saint Joseph’s erased a two-goal over the final 5:00 of regulation play in the NEC Men’s Lacrosse Championship Game. SJU’s Kyle Cain scored both goals, including the equalizer with 00:15 remaining, but those heroics will go down in history only as a footnote.

Overshadowing the host’s comeback effort, Tyson Gibson gave Robert Morris a sudden victory by rattling the cage with only 10 ticks left in overtime.

 

Gibson’s Gamewinner

 

The NEC Women’s Championship Game, which began one hour after the men’s start, concluded in most-memorable fashion, too.

Bryant’s Lauren Britton scored the go-ahead goal with only 1:00 remaining, but NEC Rookie of the Year Ally Alliegro responded for Wagner.

After producing the equalizer in the final minute of regulation, Alliegro ended the game in the third overtime period.

Alliegro Ends It

 

Greg Senat: Hoops ➡️ Gridiron ➡️ NFL Draft Pick

A former college basketball player became the first Northeast Conference athlete selected in the NFL Draft in nearly a decade.

Wagner offensive tackle Greg Senat, who originally attended the school on a basketball scholarship, went to the Baltimore Ravens in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Prior to Senat being selected with the No. 212 overall pick this spring, former Monmouth tight end, a four-time all-NEC honoree, was the conference’s last draft pick. Nalbone went to the Dolphins with the 161st pick in the 2009 NFL Draft (5th Round).

Although Senat is the first NFL Draft pick in Wagner’s NEC history, the Seahawks have had a presence in the NFL in recent years. Former all-NEC linebacker Julian Stanford has played in 59 NFL games since 2012 and the veteran signed a free agent contract with the Buffalo Bills this past offseason.

 

TWEET SHEET

 

 

 

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