For the second part of our extensive NEC midseason preview (here’s part 1 in case you missed it), John and I present our midseason awards. There were surprises on each team, and as a result, plenty of notable players who didn’t make the cut. While past performance in previous seasons plays a small role in our determination, we aren’t in the business of issuing “lifetime achievement” awards like some voters (ahem, Velton Jones for the first team last year, ahem) do. Therefore, you won’t find guys like Kyle Vinales, Latif Rivers, and E.J. Reed on these teams – these players simply haven’t been consistent enough through the first 13-15 games of the season to warrant a selection.
Midseason All-Conference First Team
PG: Jason Brickman, LIU Brooklyn (12.2 ppg, 9.8 apg, 83.9% FT%, 3.0 A/TO)
PG: Julian Norfleet, Mount St. Mary’s (19.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 5.6 apg, 1.9 A/TO)
G: Karvel Anderson, Robert Morris (17.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 45.4% 3PT%)
PF: Alex Francis, Bryant (17.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 55.7% FG%)
PF: Jalen Cannon, St. Francis NY (14.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg)
Allow us to expound on Jason Brickman’s mastery later on. Heading south, another fantastic point guard has been Julian Norfleet, who has the second best efficiency rating in the conference behind Brickman. It’s with good reason, Norfleet is setting career highs in most statistical categories and without him, the Mount would have trouble qualifying for the NEC playoffs. The wrist is fully healthy for Karvel Anderson, I mean, how else would you explain his wonderful shooting percentages? He’s been a big time scorer and leader for Andy Toole. Trying to decide between the best NEC power forward would be virtually impossible, given the remarkable play of both Alex Francis and Jalen Cannon. Both present matchup nightmares for any opponent.
Midseason All-Conference Second Team
PG: Sidney Sanders, Jr., Fairleigh Dickinson (19.6 ppg, 4.9 apg, 1.6 spg, 2.0 A/TO)
PG: Kenneth Ortiz, Wagner (13.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.7 apg, 1.4 spg)
G: Dyami Starks, Bryant (21.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 88.3% FT%)
F: Lucky Jones, Robert Morris (14.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.5 apg, 40.5% 3PT%)
PF: Earl Brown, St. Francis (PA) (14.2 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 54.2% FG%)
Sidney Sanders, Jr. has been a godsend for Greg Herenda. He’s quadrupled his scoring from a season ago, yet he’s also posting the best A/TO ratio of his career. In 11 of 13 games, Kenneth Ortiz has posted an efficiency rating of 9 or better, making him the stable force on an otherwise inconsistent Wagner team. Dyami Starks leads the conference in scoring and has made a bigger contribution on the defensive end (improved steal rate from 0.9% to 1.8%). While Lucky Jones’ stats are virtually identical from a season ago, they’re still all-conference second team worthy. He is, after all, nationally ranked in several KenPom categories. Finally, Earl Brown could be wasting away in Loretto, but rather he’s expanded his offensive repertoire while taking on more possessions. It’s not easy to post a 104.6 ORtg on a team that ranks 339th nationally in offense efficiency, yet Brown is somehow pulling it off. Plus, he’s an absolute beast on the glass.
Midseason All-Conference Rookie Team
PG: Malik Harmon, St. Francis (PA) (8.8 ppg, 3.7 apg, 2.2 A/TO)
F: De’von Barnett, Sacred Heart (10.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 62.8% FG%)
F: Wayne Martin, St. Francis Brooklyn (8.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 50.0% FG%)
F: Jeremiah Worthem, Robert Morris (8.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
PF: Daniel Garvin, Bryant (6.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg)
This was the easiest team to select out of the bunch. Because he’s only played seven games thus far, I could have left De’von Barnett off the team in place of FDU’s Matt MacDonald, yet Barnett has been incredibly efficient scoring the basketball. As a collegiate novice, he already possesses a terrific mid-range game. Playing 30 minutes per night as a freshman point guard isn’t for the faint of heart, but Malik Harmon has handled the role incredibly well. His quickness allows him to create off the dribble, sometimes with ease. After an amazing start, Wayne Martin has cooled off recently. Nevertheless, the freshman bulldog has been fearless in the paint, while giving Glenn Braica another valuable piece in the Terrier’s rotation. Jeremiah Worthem, a preseason ROY pick of Big Apple Buckets, has been the solid inside/outside player we envisioned from the start. It wouldn’t shock us if Toole adds more to Worthem’s plate for the conference season. Even though Tim O’Shea has plenty of options off his bench, it speaks volumes that Daniel Garvin is now starting on most nights alongside Francis.
Midseason Player of the Year — Jason Brickman
This was a two man race for me, but Brickman barely earned the nod over Norfleet. Brickman has a chance to do a couple of remarkable things this season you may already be aware of: 1) become only the fourth player in NCAA history to post 1,000 career assists and 2) average at least 10.0 assists per game in a season for the first time this century. Did I also mention that Brickman is EASILY setting career highs in scoring, rebounding, and steals as well? He’s special, folks.
Midseason Rookie of the Year — Daniel Garvin
It’s difficult to make the case against Garvin, despite the fact that he barely played in Bryant’s first three games. Since his breakout performance versus Harvard, Garvin has been a revelation, and surprisingly so. The 6’6″ wing flashed his big time athleticism in high school, but O’Shea worried that the lower level of competition would force Garvin to play catchup as a rookie. That hasn’t been the case at all; in fact, he possesses the best efficiency rating of any freshman in the NEC.
Midseason Coach of the Year — Glenn Braica
Few expected Glenn Braica’s Terriers to be challenging for a NEC title in October. But two months in, the Terriers boast the best defense in the conference (0.94 points allowed per possession) and should be placed in the league’s top tier, no questions asked. Braica has a lot of athletic pieces to work with, and the veteran coach has used them masterfully in the early going.
Midseason Surprise of the Year — The Point Guard Production
With efficiency rating as the barometer, five point guards (Brickman, Norfleet, Sanders, Ortiz, Corey Maynard) comprise the top 11 individuals in the league, and I’m not even including Malcolm McMillan and Phil Gaetano, who’ve had productive seasons too. More often than not, quality point guard play is hard to come by, but most NEC teams are doing just fine.