All the preseason prognostications had Sacred Heart as the team to beat in the Northeast Conference. The Pioneers promptly started the season 0-6 and everyone had to be wondering if last year's near miss at a tourney bid was a fluke. But then things started to go SHU's way, and jump shots started to fall, and the Pioneers won 5 of 7 with their only losses coming at Boston College and Providence during the stretch.
So most folks thought that as the conference slate got going the Pioneers would be just fine. Afterall, they were 2-0 in league play, courtesy of a pair on December conference wins. However, an 0-2 road trip to start the month, losing to Wagner and St. Francis (NY) once again tempered expectations.
Since then, Sacred Heart has been nothing short of spectacular. The Pioneers have won five in a row including a pair of one-point nailbiting wins in Fairfield last week. SHU beat Long Island 77-76 on Thursday before clipping Quinnipiac 75-74 on Saturday ending the Bobcats four game win streak. Drew Shubik led the Pioneers with 20 against QU, while Brice Brooks had 24 in the win over LIU. Brooks leads the attack with 12 points a game, as SHU has 7 players who average 6.6 points per night or more. Brooks has been in double figures 12 of 15 games since the 0-6 start.
Team of the Week: We could easily say SHU here, but we just wrote 3 graphs on them. So let's go with St. Francis (PA), who had lost 9 in a row before winning a pair of games last week. The Red Flash downed name counterpart St. Francis (NY) in three overtimes to get the week started, before nipping Central Connecticut 73-72 on the weekend. Devin Sweetney was named NEC player of the week for his efforts averaging 19.5 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in the two wins. He scored 21 and grabbed 11 rebounds in 49 minutes during the OT thriller. The pair of wins jumps PA back into the NEC tournament picture, as only the top eight teams in the 11-team league participate. The Flash is now in 7th place.
Bare Week: The defending league champion had a chance to re-enter the league title chase if they could come away with a solid Western PA road swing. But they dropped a pair of games. First they lost by 11 at Robert Morris and then they dropped the heartbreaker to St. Francis (PA). The losses dropped Central to 5-5 in the league, all the way to sixth place in this conference.
Player of the Week: We gave Demario Anderson the nod last week, and we have to go back to the Bobcats senior again this week. Quinnipiac only played one game last week, the key encounter with Sacred Heart, and it was a loss for the Bobcats. But Anderson had 30 and 11. Those type of numbers keep the crown with Anderson this week.
Games to Watch:
Thursday 1/31 - Wagner @ Long Island - League leaders try to avenge its only loss
Saturday 2/2 - Robert Morris @ Mt. St. Mary's - Always some good action when these teams get together
Thursday 2/7 - Wagner @ Mt. St. Mary's - Mounties just missed in road comeback attempt on Staten Island, now the Seahawks come to the Knott