On Monday we gave the Southern Conference a look. Today we move up the Eastern seaboard to the Northeast Conference. Let's meet our teams!
|Team||2015 Overall Record||2015 Conf. Record||2016 Preseason Top 20 Rank (USILA)|
|Mount St. Mary's||5-10||2-4||--|
(Italicized = #TheBigBBQ2015 participant.)
Teams to keep an eye on.
- Saint Joe's: The Hawks were the only team in the NEC with a record above .500 in 2015. Additionally, St. Joe's had some of the most thrilling regular season games in all of D1 last year (that come from behind, buzzer-beating win over Bryant was a classic). However, despite a great 2015, which included sweeping the NEC regular season and hosting the conference tournament, the Hawks lost in the NEC title game to Bryant. I think the Hawks will be even better in 2016 and I highly encourage you to check out a few of their games this year.
- Bryant: Despite starting out 2015 1-6, the Bulldogs battled back to secure a birth in the NEC tournament and steal the conference's AQ from St. Joe's. The resilience Bryant demonstrated last year was quite impressive. Led by their leader/BOSS, Mike Pressler, Bryant should be back in the mix in 2016 for the conference's AQ and as a certain (BELOVED!) team in Upstate NY knows, the Bulldogs are not to be trifled with if they make it to the dance.
- Mike Rastivo, St. Joe's: The Hawks junior has a special place in our hearts here at College Crosse. He was one of our "That Guy" ballers in our 2015 "Conference Spotlight: Northeast Conference." Rastivo went on to have a fantastic sophomore campaign, leading St. Joe's in points (62), goals (43), and assists (19). Additionally, Mike placed 38th in the nation in points per game, and he was named NEC Offensive Player of the year. Long story short, Rastivo was an issue for every defense he came up against in 2015. Any kid who makes us look good is ALWAYS welcomed around these parts. Nevertheless, despite a great 2015 season, Rastivo will need to raise his game even more this year, if St. Joe's is to have any chance at the NEC AQ.
- Luke Laszkiewicz, Robert Morris: The Oshawa, Ontario native certainly made all of Canada proud with a standout junior year. Luke led the team in goals with 30 (only RMU player with more than 22 goals) and was third on the team in total points (33). RMU will need even more production from Luke if they are to make a run in the NEC tournament.
- Gunnar Waldt: The only thing better than Gunnar's first name is how well he played in 2015. Indeed, the Freeland, MD native was named the NEC Defensive Player of the year, made the All-NEC First Team, and grabbed USILA 3rd Team All-American honors. The Bryant senior has had a fantastic three years at Bryant and if the Bulldogs are to have any chance at making #TheBigBBQ for the 4th time in a row, they'll need Gunnar to continue being a force field in goal.
Official College Crosse Conference Prediction: St. Joe's.
- The Hawks joined the NEC two years ago and have yet to lose an NEC regular season game. St. Joe's was the only team in the NEC to finish with a record above .500 record and would have made #TheBigBBQ were it not for a gritty effort from Bryant in the title game. Led by the Duke grad, Taylor Wray, St. Joe's is very fun team to watch and should once again be a formidable opponent for any NEC team with #TheBigBBQ2016 dreams.
Now in his fourth season at the helm, Coach Wray has quickly turned the program around. Remember, this team had a combined record of 9-33 in the three years prior to Coach Wray's arrival. After a 5-11 first season in 2013, the Hawks went on to post back-to-back 11 win seasons in 2014 & 2015. I expect St. Joe's to take the next step this year, nab the NEC AQ, and get on the #TheBigBBQ2016GuestList in May.
That's it for today. Look out for our (return of the) MAAC preview on Friday.
Oh ... I almost forgot ... I SEE YOU, WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGNER!!