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NEC Mid-Range Jumper: 12/20/21

Fewer than 10 days until we get to see NEC on NEC action. Man, the non-conference season flew by..

Standings: As always during non-conference play, sorted by Adjusted Efficiency Margin (aka Kenpom rankings). Note: I've added Net Rankings into the graphic.

NEC Team of the Week: Long Island

Generally I try not to give this award to a team that only played once during the week, but it was light week schedule-wise, plus the Sharks were really good on Sunday in a 90-65 home win.

Long Island scored 1.19ppp, making 16 of 36 from three while holding Army to just 0.86ppp. Because of the win, LIU jumped up 19 spots at Kenpom in just one day, and after that rough spot, has now ascended to #254, which is 3 spots ahead of where they were during the pre-season.

NEC Team Performance of the Week: LIU 90, Army 65

What they said.

All five starters scored in double-figures, and 7 different players knocked down three-pointers. Tre Wood had 11 points and 7 assists against just 2 turnovers, Kyndall Davis knocked down 2 of 4 from three and also grabbed 6 boards, and Alex Rivera came off the bench to shoot 3 of 6 from downtown.

In two home D1 games, LIU has outscored its opponents by 59 points. Good luck to NEC teams going into the Steinberg Wellness Center.

NEC Player of the Week: Ronell Giles, Jr.

SFU's sophomore wing has taken off this December, and this week was probably his best as a collegiate player. In two games, a win over Hartford and a loss at Illinois, Giles averaged 16.5 points on a 54.5% eFG%, plus he had 5 assists against 1 turnover, and averaged 3.4 rebounds and 2 steals per ballgame.

NEC Rookie of the Week: Jayden Brown, Central Connecticut

The early odds-on favorite for Rookie of the Year, Brown scored 13 points on 5 of 6 shooting in CCSU's mid-week loss at Stony Brook, then scored 7 points while grabbing 9 boards in their win over UHart. Plus, he did this.

On the season, the 6'9" big leads all freshman in points (7.6 ppg), and is second in rebounds (4.6 rpg).

Weekly Leaderboard: Largest Minutes Increase

Every year we see players go from bit players to role players, or role players to rotation guys. However, we haven't seen much of that this season, and rightfully so; the majority of NEC programs returned most of their rotations, and the teams that didn't had a large influx of players, whether they were transfers (SFC) or freshmen (CCSU and FDU).

There are currently 10 players that have seen there minutes % increase by 15% or more:

Nico Galette is all alone at the top of that leaderboard. After being a bit player as a freshman last season, he's shown clear strides as a rim-running '4' who can step out and stretch the defense. He's clearly passed both Cantavio Dutreil and Matas Spokas on the depth chart, while Zach Pfaffenberger has been utilized less than most people expected.

Moreno has also seen a major bump, largely thanks to his ability to shoot the basketball (37% 3P%). He's played more than returning guards Rob Higgins and Trey Quartlebaum, both of whom were ahead of him on the depth chart in 20-21, as well as transfer Tedrick Wilcox, Jr.

Dakota Leffew has taken advantage of the fact that Deandre Thomas has missed the last two games, but he's also passed fellow sophomore Josh Reaves on the depth chart, while holding off newcomers Jaylin Gibson and Elijah Elliott. I'd imagine his ability to be a ball-handler and secondary play-maker has proved valuable in the post-Damian Chong Qui era.

FDU has two guys on this list; Devon Dunn was stuck behind Xzavier Malone-Key and Brandon Powell two seasons ago, while Mikey Square wasn't going to see much time as long as Elyjah Williams was manning the '4' for Greg Herenda.

SFU has three guys; the sophomore wings Giles and Land are playing more partially due to the transfer of Bryce Laskey and, in the case of Land, because he's been healthy. As far as Cohen goes; Krimmel has utilized him more and Mark Flagg less, but also Flagg did miss a game last week.

And finally, two guards; Tre Wood has ascended to the starting PG for LIU as Jermaine Jackson, Jr. and Virshon Cotton left the program. Merrimack's Malik Edmead has taken minutes, largely, from Devin Jensen as well as some from Mykel Derring.

Giles' Breakout

My NEC Player of the Week, Giles has really taken off as a secondary scorer for coach Rob Krimmel; he's scored in double-figures in each of the last 7 games, including 19 points at Cornell, 17 at Hartford, and 16 apiece at Illinois and Lehigh.

As a freshman, Giles did have some high-scoring games; he scored 15 or more in 4 times, including 21 in a January win over Bryant. However, he also had 9 games of 6-points or less. Essentially, he was inconsistent. However, he scored in double-figures in SFU's final 6 games of 2020-21.

Where's the difference been?

Clearly his overall efficiency has seen a jump, but no his shooting numbers; his 3P% is down to 29.6% so far this season after making 32.7% a season ago. However, his eFG% has seen a bit of a bump as he's been better from the mid-range; as a freshman he made just 27.5% of such shots, but this year he's making nearly 48%.

Where he's been better is taking care of the basketball; his assists are down, but so are his turnovers as he's been more in control and less likely to force things. Because of that, he's getting more run (up to 86.4% from 65.7%), and being utilized more in the offense. Ramiir Dixon-Conover, SFUs' engine, has been more efficient this season largely because Giles has been able to become a bigger part of the offense.

SFU currently has four players averaging between 11.4 and 13.9 points, and because of that ability to share the scoring, they've had the league's best offense (103.4 Adjusted OE) so far this year. And Giles has been a big reason why.

Adjusted Tempo Changes Year-over-Year

You have your uptempo coaches; Derek Kellogg, Jared Grasso, and Greg Herenda. And you've got your coaches who like to slow things down, namely Dan Engelstad and Joe Gallo. Everyone else is in the middle.

A few clear changes to note:

- Patrick Sellers has slowed it down compared to how Donyell Marshall played last season. Sellers did imply over the summer that he hopes to play at a faster pace, but I'm not sure he has the athletes on the wing to do that right now.

- Bashir Mason knows he has the horses and the depth to get out in transition, and there's been a clear movement towards pushing the tempo a bit from Wagner. However, it's still a small sample size as far as the Seahawks are concerned.

- Bryant's slowed down a bit, which is reasonable since Michael Green III is no longer running the point.

"Old Friend" Check-In

A part of Donyell Marshall's 2020 recruiting class, Greg Outlaw was, perhaps, the most exciting of a promising Blue Devil class as a 6'4" leaper who was dangerous in transition and around the rim. In 46 games (39 starts) at Central Connecticut, Outlaw averaged 9.5 ppg and 4 rpg, and was CCSU's leading scorer in 20-21.

After the coaching change, Outlaw headed west to Pacific and new head coach Leonard Perry. In 12 games, including 6 starts, the 3rd year player is scoring nearly 6 points per game, but has seen his efficiency tick up a bit as he'd been relied on a bit less (19% usage this season, compared to 24% at CCSU). He's made 7 of 13 from downtown, and has converted 50% at the rim. In a win over UCSB last week, Outlaw put up 15p and 8r.

The Tigers are currently 5-8, and ranked #225 at Kenpom.

Curiosities, Surprises, and Musings

This stupid pandemic; St. Francis-Brooklyn is currently on pause due to positive covid tests within its program, while Bryant's game at Cornell was canceled on Sunday. I don't think the season will get shut-down, but expect more cancellations, as well as teams having to play without key players as long as asymptomatic, vaccinated players are being tested...How good were the LIU forwards on Sunday? Eral Penn had 23 points on 8 of 13 shooting; Ty Flowers had 17 points and 9 boards; and Isaac Kante was 6 of 9 from the field, plus 11 boards...In 2 games at Steinberg Wellness Center, LIU is shooting 30 for 74 (40.5%) from three. In 7 road games, the Sharks have made just 26% of their 3P attempts...Kyndall Davis was 2 for 4 from three on Sunday, and in the Sharks' two wins he's made 5 of 10 from downtown. In the 7 other games? Just 5 of 19. Still; what an improvement after making just 3 of 22 from downtown as a freshman...I mentioned Dakota Leffew above as a guy who has seen an uptick in minutes this season, but it's worth noting how good he was in the Mount's win over Morgan St. 9 points, 7 boards, and 6 assists (0 turnovers). Over his last 4 games, he's got 15 assists against 2 turnovers, as he's provided Dan Engelstad with the ability to move Jalen Benjamin off the ball from time-to-time...Speaking of the Mount, Jaylin Gibson is an exciting freshman. The 6'3" wing has made 5 of 13 from downtown, and he has provided some strong perimeter defense...Jalen Benjamin seems to be settling into his role as a high-usage lead guard. In his first 4 games, he had 16 assists and 22 turnovers. Over the last 5? 30 assists and 15 turnovers...Devon Dunn returned after missing 2 games to score 16 points, including 4 of 10 from downtown...The FDU staff continues to mix-and-match lineups and rotations from game-to-game. P.O. Racine, the Knights' sophomore big, started the season's first 3 games and averaged 15mpg. Then, over the next 4, he played just 14 minutes total. However, he's back in the rotation and, after starting and logging 21 minutes Saturday, has played nearly 19mpg over the last three...Joe Munden has seen his minutes slide this season, from 53.3% as a freshman to 43% this year. He played just 9 minutes at Virginia...There are just 9 freshman playing at least 20% of their team's available minutes, with 4 of them playing for FDU and three for CCSU. For comparison's sake, there were 19 such freshman a season ago, and 18 in 2019-20...Speaking of freshmen, CCSU's Trenton McLaughlin had a nice game at Stony Brook last week, scoring 13 points including 2 of 3 from downtown. A shooter with length, McLaughlin has made 10 of 29 from downtown, and also 6 of 8 at the rim...I wasn't sure if CCSU had a top-15 player in the league coming into the season, but Nigel Scantlebury is on pace to most certainly find himself on one of the All-NEC teams. In two games last week, the 6'0" PG averaged 17.5 points, 5.5 assists, and 5 rebounds per game. He's shooting 44.4% from three and has a 28% assist rate, and is clearly enjoying playing in Patrick Sellers' heavy-ball screen offense...The Blue Devils' leading returning scorer, Tre Mitchell, was largely ineffective over the season's first 9 games, and he saw his minutes slip because of it. However, after Saturday's 12 point, 5 rebound, 4 assist showing, Mitchell has averaged 13ppg over his last three, making 7 of 16 from three and going a perfect 8-8 from the free throw line...Tre Wood had a season-high 7 assists on Sunday, and also scored in double-figures for the 2nd time this season. LIU doesn't need him to be a star, and if he can just knock down open threes and have a positive A:TO ratio, LIU can be consistently good offensively...Tyler Thomas and Aaron Clarke combined for 2-14 from three and 7 turnovers on Sunday. I don't think the Pios came win a game in which both of those guys struggle...Nico Galette was the Pioneers' best player on Sunday, scoring 13 points and grabbing 8 boards...Max Land was really good in the Red Flash's win over UHart, scoring 15 points on 9 field goal attempts. How's this for odd; over his last 4 games, he's scored 15, 0, 15, 0. A little more consistency would be good...Alex Rivera was moved out of the starting lineup on Sunday, and he responded by making three 3-pointers, and dishing out 4 assists with just 1 turnover...The Mount's Malik Jefferson was 1 for 5 from the field, and also had 5 turnovers in their win over Morgan St. However, he did grab 11 boards...Ian Krishnan scored 21 points in CCSU's win over UHart, making all 4 of his 3-pointers and also making 7 of 9 from the charity stripe. On the season, the 4th year junior is shooting a solid 35.5% from deep after making just 30.5% of his attempts a season ago. However, he's not providing much else offensively; he's making just 38% of his two-pointers, and has 5 assists on the year...A light week this week, with just 11 scheduled games, but I can't help but doubt the St. Francis-Brooklyn game against UMass-Lowell will be played. A bunch of winnable games, as the lone P5 matchups is CCSU-Rutgers...According to Kenpom, the NEC should have 28 D1 wins so far, but they have just 25...Finally; given all the cancellations across the country, how many NEC games will be played next Weds, 12/29? O/U 3.5?

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