CORRECTIONS IN NEC SCHEDULE. St. Francis (N.Y.) and Long Island games were home and away at wrong times on schedule. Teams were also flipped in second meeting near end of February.
Thanks to my previous knowledge of our schedule for next year, a couple Northeast Conference connects, and some friendly SIDs at bigger schools, I've rounded up almost all of the Mount men's basketball schedule for the 2010 - 2011 season.
For those living in the area, it isn't any more pretty than last year as far as home games. I've only confirmed three non-conference home games, but hope we can get one more, though there's not much room left on the schedule.
The ridiculous attempt by the NEC to force a rivalry week down the throat of a bunch of schools that have as much significant history with each other as they would with say, conference newcomer Bryant, continues. And as luck would have it, the conference still finds it appropriate to match us up with the Seahawks of Wagner for back-to-back games in that rivalry week, which is now later in the season. (Whoopie!)
A final note is that the league has returned its women's games to Saturday-Monday instead of Thursday-Saturday, which is the weekly format the men will continue to play, with few exceptions. This is significant because the absence of Thursday doubleheaders now means that men's games will not be at the mercy of a women's game that may go into overtime. Additionally, this makes the amount of time a men's team can take to warm up before a game virtually unlimited, as they were limited to roughly a half-hour in most cases last season. The only situation where this would still apply is Saturday doubleheaders, though most teams will probably still elect for four-hour gaps between scheduled tipoff times.
Without further ado, I give you our schedule.
As part of a yet-to-be-named tournament, the Mount will open the season with two of Ohio's powerhouses along with one of the NCAA Division I's worst teams of the last decade:
Nov. 13 @ Dayton (their schedule is posted, which led to a nice domino effect to figure out the rest of the games)
Nov. 15 @ Cincinnati
Nov. 20 @ Savanannah State
Nov. 27^ Florida A&M
Savannah State completed one of the last winless seasons in DI history and reportedly replaces Murray State on the schedule. The Racers, who scored an NCAA First Round upset as a 13 seed over No. 4 Vanderbilt, dropped this tournament, likely because of their invitation to the 76 Classic on Thanksgiving weekend. Although I have not officially confirmed Savannah St. as our replacement game on the schedule, someone with knowledge of the tournament is very confident that we will also play them and Florida A&M in the tournament. Dayton has all three of the other teams on its schedule as well, and plays Cincinnati on Nov. 27, which is why I am projecting that that's when we play Florida A&M. I also assume it's at home because none of our other games in the tournament are, and I can't imagine we'll be flying from the panhandle state and back home with only a day between games. (You'll get that in a second.)
The following are some home-and-home or annually scheduled games I still expect us to play:
Nov. 22 @ Niagara (We played them at home last year and lost.)
Nov. 29 Navy (We beat them in OT on the road last year. This would give us back-to-back home games two days apart. To follow the Florida A&M game.)
Dec. 11 @ Loyola (No explanation necessary.)
Dec. 20 American (We beat them on the road last year. They will be much improved.)
Dec. 29 @ Vermont
And the two money games I was able to confirm that we retained:
Dec. 7 @ Penn St.
Jan. 2 @ Virginia Tech
We played both of these teams down to the wire two years ago, even carrying a two-possession lead against the Hokies in the final three minutes of the game before the roof collapsed on us.
By my math, we still have another date open on the schedule after the non-conference games that I'll soon reveal. I would expect a team from the Atlantic 10, CAA, America East or Patriot League to round out the schedule. Unfortunately we are not on Holy Cross's schedule, so you can forget that fantasy for this year (and probably the near future to be honest.)
Not to brag or anything, but you guys really owe me for getting the NEC schedule. The powers that be must think Milan Brown is still the head coach because we got royally screwed as always:
Dec. 2 @ Sacred Heart
Dec. 4 @ Quinnipiac
Jan. 6 St. Francis (Pa.)
Jan. 8 Robert Morris
Jan. 13 @ St. Francis (N.Y.)
Jan. 15 @ Long Island
Jan. 20 Sacred Heart
Jan. 22 Quinnipiac
Jan. 27 @ Central Connecticut State
Jan. 29 @ Bryant
Feb. 3 Monmouth
Feb. 5 Fairleigh Dickinson
Feb. 9 @ Wagner (Wednesday game. I guess so we can have an extra day to recover between this intense rivalry.)
Feb. 12 Wagner
Feb. 17 Long Island
Feb. 19 St. Francis (N.Y.)
Feb. 24 @ St. Francis (Pa.)
Feb. 26 @ Robert Morris
That's right, we begin and finish with two games on the road. This puts even more pressure on the early NEC home games against contenders Robert Morris, Quinnipiac, and maybe even Sacred Heart. The only problem with that is that students will return from winter break Jan. 16. That means there will be only seven out of nine true home conference games for the Mount. And if we aren't somewhere near the top of the NEC standings, no students will bother coming to the last five home games except for homecoming, which I'm guessing will be the Feb. 5 game against Fairleigh Dickinson.
Of the nine road games on the NEC schedule, we played seven of those teams on the road last year and beat only one of them - 11th place Wagner, who only finished ahead of DI newcomer Bryant. The same teams we played once last year are on the schedule once this year - Bryant, Central Connecticut State, Fairleigh Dickinson and Monmouth.
If I can be frank, Bryant, FDU and Monmouth suck. Central was on the verge of sucking last season but will likely bounce back under coach Howie Dickenman this season. Bryant is coming off one of the worst DI seasons this decade, and though it will be much improved with new recruits, five players coming off of a redshirt and the return of its best player, Rafael Jordan (John Carroll grad - Bel Air, Md.), they will be extremely young. That being said, a one game and first time trip to the Rhode Island school - in January - may not bode well for the Mount. Let's pray that we drive there from CCSU and then fly home.
FDU's coach was promoted from the interim tag he carried last season, but he still looks more like he's about to be killed off in a Sopranos re-run than coach a basketball team, even if that team is from New Jersey. Not to mention that when we beat FDU on the road last season, he briskly shook coach Brown's hand before rushing off to the locker room, ignoring the rest of our coaches and the players. Even his own players apologized for his behavior as he stormed off. My point is, they're in disarray under a clown of a coach, and if you had a short list of team's in the NEC schedule you would definitely want to play twice this year, FDU would be on it along with Bryant, St. Francis (Pa.) and...
Monmouth is possibly the most dysfunctional program in all of college basketball, but certainly the NEC. Head coach Dave Calloway was a heck of a nice guy on the few occasions I talked to him, but he's losing players like the Kentucky Wildcats, though quitting or transferring is different than leaving to be a first round NBA draft pick. Four guys either quit the team or transferred out, including rising junior Travis Taylor, who took his nearly 18 points per game with him to Xavier. If that weren't enough, Whitney Coleman, who was arguably their second-most talented player, just graduated. That Monmouth zone better add some new wrinkles on the court or there will be plenty more off of it.
That we have to play Central just once is a small consolation considering the structure of the rest of our schedule. Head coach Robert Burke will certainly have his work cut out for him with Dayton, Cincinnati, Penn St. and Virginia Tech all looming large on the schedule. And that's to say nothing of road games at solid teams from Niagara and Vermont, and having to play the Catholic Clash on the road.
I won't mar the schedule with a prediction for number of wins, but I would be very pleased to earn a top four seed in the NEC tournament, and therefore a home playoff game. Essentially, equaling last year's accomplishments of the No. 3 seed and a first round win would be a success. Certainly a second NEC title in four seasons in not out of the question, but considering the players who left, the late recruiting Burke had to do, and the brutal schedule (which still needs another game that I haven't discovered) I will keep my expectations much lower than my support level, which remains as high as it can be.