NEC Daily Ball Screen: 12/1/21

Deandre Thomas. Clutch.


After Howard's Tai Bibbs hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to give the Bison a 1-point lead, Mezie Offurum found Thomas in the corner for a game-winning, buzzer-beating three. The shot was the 2nd time in 4 games that Thomas hit a big shot; in the Mount's win over Robert Morris, Thomas hit a corner three to send it to overtime, a game Mount St. Mary's ultimately won.


Thomas, a 6'5" wing who transferred in from Samford last season, finished with season-high 15 points (3 of 8 from downtown). He's really provided Engelstad with another shooter and capable ball-handler, allowing him to play Jalen Benjamin off the ball at times.


Speaking of Benjamin; it looks like he's finding his groove. The junior PG from UAB is averaging 17.2ppg over his last 4, and on the season he's got a 30.5% assist rate, and is shooting 33% from three and 93% at the free throw line. His ability to get downhill was huge in this one, as he was able to consistently make plays (21 points, 5 boards).


I'm not ready to go crazy for Mount St. Mary's; a 2-point home win over a short-handed and not very good Howard team doesn't suddenly make me think they're title contenders, especially since they allowed 1.05ppp. The Mount really struggled to contain Howard's freshman PG Elijah Hawkins, who had 19 points and 6 assists, and was constantly in the lane. Last year as a team, MSMU held opponents to a 45.4% eFG%, which was 10th nationally. So far this season, they've allowed 6 of their 8 opponents to put up a single-game eFG% above 50%, including Howard's 51.7% last night.


Worth mentioning; no Josh Reaves or Dakota Leffew in this one. Mezie Offurum had an efficient 16 points (7 f 12 from the field), though made just 2 of 6 at the charity stripe. Nana Opoku had 11 points and 7 boards, while Malik Jefferson grabbed 13 rebounds though was just 1 for 6 from the field. Engelstad got just 6 points from the bench, as all 5 starters logged over 30 minutes.


Manhattan 78, Fairleigh Dickinson 73

Man, I thought Pete Lappas was going to pull this one out.


With Greg Herenda not on the sidelines due to a "non-covid Illness", and star player Brandon Rush in street clothes, FDU jumped out to an early lead, and led 37-26 with 4 minutes left in the first half.


However, after a Mikey Square layup gave the Knights a 73-72 lead with 1:10 left, the Jaspers went on a 6-0 run to close it out. Despite the loss, let's not lose sight of these facts; a young FDU squad nearly knocked off a solid Manhattan team on the road.


Square led the way for FDU, scoring 19 points on 8 of 11 from the field, and chiping in 7 boards and 2 assists in 33 minutes. Devon Dunn was the only other Knight in double-figures (11 points, though just 4 of 15 from the field, and 5 assists). The story of the 1st half was little-used freshman Oscar Berry, who made 3 of 5 from downtown in 15 minutes. Freshman PG Antoine Jacks had 5 assists and 4 steals in 19 minutes.


FDU was able to stay in this game by killing the Jaspers on the offensive boards; they grabbed 18 of 'em (46%), including three each from Dunn, Square, Jacks, and freshman big Anquan Hill. Ironically, the struggled to rebounding on the defensive end (just 47%). That was ultimately the Knights' undoing.


Manhattan had 5 players in double-figures, including Warren Williams who scored 14 points and had 7 boards in just 11 minutes. Wondering why he didn't play more? He fouled out. Senior guard Samir Stewart added 14, and Jose Perez had 12 points and 6 assists.


Delaware 75, Long Island 67

The Sharks dug themselves a deep, early hole, with Delaware leading by as much as 16 in the first half, before nearly digging themselves out. Ty Flowers made a layup to tie the game at 57 with ~10 minutes left, but UD closed on a 20-10 run to put the game out of reach late.


For the Sharks, it was more o the same offensively; just 6 of 24 from three, and 16turnovers (23%), as Delaware controlled the tempo as the game featured just 69 possessions.


Eral Penn had perhaps his best game of the season, stuffing the stat sheet with 17 points, 8 boards, 6 assists, and 3 blocks. Ty Flowers (17 points, 9 boards, 4 assists) and Isaac Kante (14 points, rebounds) were also in double-figures. However, outside of those three, Derek Kellogg got just 19 points, 4 assists, and 7 turnovers.


Delaware's sophomore big Andrew Carr had a game-high 18 on 8 of 11 from the field, to go along with 4 steals. Delaware had a ton of success at the rim; 17 of 32.


NJIT 75, Sacred Heart 70

Sacred Heart's game down in New Jersey was a more extreme version of Long Island's last night; NJIT jumped out to a 31-7 lead, yet SHU stormed back and tied it at 70 with 1:30 remaining.


For the Pios; it was all about Tyler Thomas. The junior wing scored 29 points, making shots from all over the floor, and also added 7 boards and 3 steals. Aaron Clarke was the only other Pioneer in double figures with 11, though he did have 6 assists against just 2 turnovers. However, non-Thomas players were just 4 of 18 from three.


What has me concerned from the Sacred Heart POV is the defense. We knew coming in that they would not force many turnovers; Latina's defenses generally don't take unnecessary risks. Instead, they try to take away three-pointers. Last season, opponents just took just 33% of their field goal attempts from deep, which was 50th lowest nationally. However, that's ballooned to 41.3% so far this season, and teams are making those at a 37.8% clip.


Miles Coleman paced NJIT with 24 points, while Dylan O'Hearn added 20 and 4 assists. NJIT is now 2-1 against NEC teams this season, also beating FDU and losing their first game of the season to Merrimack.


Today

Another 4-game slate today, with two NEC home favorites.


Wagner at Seton Hall, 7pm, FS2

Bucknell at St. Francis (PA), 7pm, NEC FrontRow

St. Francis-Brooklyn at Fordham, 7pm, ESPN+/SNY

Holy Cross at Central Connecticut, 7pm, NEC FrontRow


1) How does Wagner look after a 2.5 week shutdown? I'm not even aware of how many practices they missed, who (if anyone) had covid symptoms, etc. Seton Hall is legit; they're 5-1 with a 3-point loss on a neutral to Ohio St., which just knocked off Duke. Kevin Willard is going to try to push the tempo, and given the expected rust from the Wagner side, seeing this game get into the 80s might not be good for the Seahawks.


2) Can CCSU put together a good 40 minutes? Over their last six games, they've been outscored by just 1-point in the 1st half, and by 64 points in the 2nd half (plus overtime). On Sunday against Fordham, the Blue Devils led 46-34 with 15 minutes left before losing in double OT. At Quinnipiac they had a 2 point halftime lead; they were ahead by 1 at intermission against NC State; and led by 8 against Brown with ~14 minutes remaining. Plus, in the win over Maine, they were outscored by 2 in the 2nd half. Normally I'd chalk it up to players getting tired, but Sellers has consistently gone 11 players deep, and no single player is averaging more than 27.4 mpg.


3) Can Brooklyn contain the dribble drive? Fordham has two lead guards in Darius Quisenberry and Antonio Daye who can both put the ball on the floor and penetrate, with Quisenberry (35%), Antrell Charlton (41%), and Kyle Rose (35%) able to make you pay from deep. The Rams live and die by the three; 43.5% of their shots come from deep, and when they're on, they're tough to beat. And when they're not, like Sunday at CCSU (just 7 of 26), they can be got.


4) Are you ready for a track meet? Bucknell wants to go, with an adjusted tempo of 72.1 possessions/40 minutes (36th fasted in the nation), while the Red Flash aren't far behind (70.2, 94th). The problem for SFU has been that their inefficiency shooting the basketball; they aren't taking/making many threes. However, they've really taken care of the basketball (just 16.3% turnover rate), and have done a nice job on the offensive glass (32.7%). Because of that, they've been able to score. Well guess what? Bucknell doesn't force turnovers (just 12.8%, 351st nationally), and they aren't a great defensive rebounding team. Look for Josh Cohen to continue to be effective inside, and for someone like Ronell Giles or Max Land to hit shots.


Best Bets


Woof. I got greedy yesterday and ended up going 0-3. And there was more; I took Duke -2.5 as well. Rough night for the ol' Fanduel account. But todays' a new day!


Season Record: 10-11


Today's Bet: Bucknell at St. Francis (PA) (-3.5)


With Ramiir Dixon-Conover back, and apparently healthy, plus Josh Cohen coming on as an offensive force, I like this matchup for the Red Flash. As I said up above; SFU is comfortable in a track meet, and the Bison haven't been good this season; currently ranked #299 at Kenpom, their lone wins were at home against Rider and Siena (in OT).