New York state of mind among NEC locals entering season

Wagner’s Bashir Mason looks to guide his Seahawks into NEC playoff contention again.

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose of Hoops where I’m a staff writer.]

At the start of a new season, teams don’t necessarily forget the past’s accomplishments or failures, but they certainly do try to learn and grow from them. Depending on how they finished the year prior is how they will be fairly or unfairly judged.

As the 2016-17 season fades further away, the 2017-18 one fast approaches. Roster turnover through graduation and transfers, including the change of a coach, are what is on the minds of many who follow the Northeast Conference, and so also goes the predictions of where every team may or may not be positioned at season’s end.

Among the favorite responses to all this annual hoopla for this writer came from Manhattan head coach Steve Masiello, who tweeted the following in two weeks ago:

The yearly coaches’ poll is a way to sort out who could hoist the conference title at the end of it all, or be completely off and not see how good a team really is. Look no further than Saint Francis University. Rob Krimmel’s Red Flash went from being picked ninth, next-to-last in the conference last year to the predicted winner of the NEC this year, returning the bulk of a roster that reached the conference championship game last March.

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Blackbirds have new set of feathers with hiring of Derek Kellogg

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose of Hoops where I’m a staff writer.]

BROOKLYN — When a basketball program can have Kentucky head coach John Calipari quoted in a press release and have the Hall of Fame coach tweet about its new hire at the head coaching position, it’s doing something right.

Such was the case Tuesday morning, when LIU Brooklyn introduced its 14th head coach in Derek Kellogg before a contingent of local media inside Barclays Center.

“Coach Kellogg has a proven track record as one of the nation’s top recruiters who understands player development and how to build a winning program,” Calipari; who coached Kellogg at the University of Massachusetts and brought him onto his staff at Memphis, said in the release. “The future is bright for LIU with Derek Kellogg at the helm. I have witnessed firsthand his heart and love of the game as a player and a coach.”

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Wagner just now taking off on postseason flight after early-season odyssey

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops where I’m a staff writer.]

Bashir Mason’s Wagner Seahawks made a statement on game one of the college basketball season back in November: A stunning 67-58 win over the then-No. 18 ranked UConn Huskies, a highlight part of Wagner’s season; even this far in, according to Mason.

“I think that’s what the ceiling was for this group,” Mason reminisced. “That was a really good UConn team. We walked in there and beat them.”

To kick off non-conference play with such a loud bang, conventional wisdom would assume Wagner probably takes advantage of such incredible momentum and steam roll from there. But no one could have expected Romone Saunders, who dropped 15 points in their effort against UConn, to suffer a broken bone in his left foot that required surgery, as reported by the Staten Island Advance/SILive.com’s Cormac Gordon.

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Blink, but don’t miss the Red Flash

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]
FROM NINTH TO FOURTH

Back on a beautiful, partly cloudy late fall afternoon; October 26, 2016, the Northeast Conference men’s basketball preseason poll was announced at the fifth annual NEC Basketball Social Media Day at Barclays Center. And so far, it has been a good outlook on the 2016-17 season.

The Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, who were voted No. 1, are currently No. 2 behind the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers, who were picked tied for fourth with the LIU Brooklyn Blackhawks. While the Wagner Seahawks and the Bryant Bulldogs are both playing below expectations tied for fifth; each were looked at to be No. 2 and No. 3 in the conference, respectively, with the Seahawks tallying four first-place votes.

Robert Morris, St. Francis Brooklyn, Sacred Heart and Central Connecticut are all in the bottom half of the conference, where they were voted by the coaches. One team not mentioned, chosen to finish ninth and not receiving enough attention for how they’re performing is Saint Francis University, currently fourth in the NEC.

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In Blake Francis, Wagner has a shooter with a point guard mentality

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

IN LOSING, THERE CAME A LEADER

The Westfield Bulldogs of Chantilly, Virginia, lost the 6A state championship to the Colonial Forge Eagles of Stafford by the final of 47-46 to end the 2014-15 season. And although it may have been a disappointment, it helped give rise to the leadership of one of their own: then-junior guard Blake Francis.

Failing to capture the Virginia title, he felt an immediate sense of urgency to step up because of how far his team had made it without any of the satisfaction. Plus, he knew that in the following season, he’d be a graduating senior.

His coach at the time, Doug Ewell, placed the responsibility on Francis to relay the message to his teammates that now wasn’t the time to drift apart over losing one game, regardless of its importance. It was instead when they should come together to work toward satiating their ongoing hunger for their ultimate goal: winning it all.

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Michael Carey: A Seahawk flying under the radar no longer

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

“No limits, I don’t want any limits. When you limit yourself, you fall short. I want no limits, so I’m going to go hard and keep praying to God for no limits at all.” 

– Michael Carey, Wagner Seahawks senior guard, on what legacy he wants to leave behind as a player

TO BE CONSIDERED FAMILY, TRUST

Wagner head coach Bashir Mason called Michael Carey on the phone during his recruitment to see if he’d fit the team’s brand. That identity he was looking for is synonymous with Mason’s play as a former Colonial Athletic Association Defensive Player of the Year at Drexel as a freshman in 2003-04, just that: Defense. And it’s not only play on the court he keys in on, it’s how you conduct yourself off it around people on a daily basis and, of course, your teammates.

The thought behind it is simple: “Attitude next play.” What that phrase means is all the minute parts of the game that don’t appear on the back of a player card. It’s defensive deflections, offensive rebounds, taking charges, diving on the floor and assists. Also, it’s coupling the physical with the mental side of not becoming overly caught up in either a positive or negative way and moving on.

With all this in mind, Carey sold Mason on adding him to the roster by saying the following: “If I trust you, I’ll run through a wall for you. And if I don’t know why I’m running through a wall, I’m going to keep running until you tell me to stop.” After hearing that, Mason knew in that very moment Carey was the kind of player he wanted and one he’d like to coach because of the level of seriousness he gave off.

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Wagner sticking together to win it all through attitude

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

Former four-year Wagner veteran forward Josh Thompson remembered one experience at Wagner right away that he sees as shared with his teammates and family in being a part of something bigger than anyone: beating the Pitt Panthers in their own Petersen Events Center, who Thompson recalled being ranked No. 15 in the country at the time.

What it took to achieve what seemed prior to that game as a daunting task was Thompson and his fellow Seahawks knowing they had to go onto the Panthers’ home court and believe in each other. By doing just that, they made it come true through playing the game the way they always did.

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St. Francis Brooklyn building toward what they can become

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I was a breaking news intern from Jan. to Aug. ’16.]

After experiencing an historic 2014-15 season, when St. Francis Brooklyn tied a program record with 23 wins and earned their first Northeast Conference championship since 2003-04; plus an appearance into the National Invitational Tournament for the first time since 1963, finishing off 2015-16 with a 15-17 record was a step back of sorts, and early indications from college basketball insiders seem to think another may be on its way this year.

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Upcoming season could be return to form for LIU Brooklyn

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I was a breaking news intern from Jan. to Aug. ’16.]

Since being named LIU Brooklyn’s head coach in 2013, Jack Perri has seen his team teeter like a seesaw.

His first year showed off his ability toward continued success, and to no surprise due to his knowledge of the program after having spent seven seasons as an assistant under his predecessor Jim Ferry, the current Duquesne head coach.

Perri led his players to a 20-14 record in that 2013-14 campaign, which garnered the Blackbirds their third consecutive Northeast Conference championship and also rewarded him with the Joe B. Hall Coach of the Year award, given out annually to Division I first-year head coaches.

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Core group and depth two more keys to success for Wagner

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

Whenever every new season is fast approaching in mid to late-October, basketball coaches know every team is at the same place. They have a vision as to where they should be, and work toward reaching that point.

For a second time already, and the 2016-17 campaign hasn’t even begun, Wagner head coach Bashir Mason referenced the 10-win 2014-15 season when he had seven new players — five of which were freshmen. He said it was difficult starting all over again from the ground up because coaches and players alike were learning new things.

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‘Madness Before Midnight’ reminds Wagner of unfinished business

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

The 2015-16 season was one of program history-making accomplishments for the Wagner Seahawks.

It has been said and repeated, but they were the Northeast Conference regular season champions for the second time, earned their first-ever postseason win in the National Invitational Tournament, and posted 20 wins in a season for the seventh time.

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Wagner attitude married to size, speed & skill is recipe for continued success

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I’m a staff writer.]

After winning the Northeast Conference regular season championship, but falling short of earning the championship victory by a mere eight points to the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights with an NCAA Tournament berth on the line, the Wagner Seahawks will look to sustain the success they found for the upcoming year and not only maintain it for the future of the program, but to return to the conference’s final game and walk back onto the team bus with a trophy.

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Wagner enters season hungry for redemption

[Editor’s Note: Post originally appeared on A Daly Dose Of Hoops, where I was a breaking news intern from Jan. to Aug. ’16.]

March 7, 2017.

That’s the date of the Northeast Conference championship game. Entering his fifth season as the head coach of the Wagner Seahawks, Bashir Mason already has that date circled on his calendar and memorized.

Why? He and his players are starving to return to the big stage to reverse the loss they took to the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights, 87-79, in the same matchup and scenario last year.

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Mike Pfenninger: Mature, Versatile for the Love of the Game

On April 19 at 10:48 a.m., Michael Pfenninger, Manhattan Jaspers starting infielder, tweeted this:

https://twitter.com/Pfennyboy_27/status/722436647476977664

It’s such a mature message being posted by a 20-year-old. And for those who don’t know Pfenninger, they probably would be taken aback by it, especially in the 20th century. When asked about the tweet, Pffenninger said there’s actually a story behind it.

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Steve Masiello: Coach of a Lifetime

Manhattan Jaspers fans think they know Steve Masiello, their head men’s basketball coach, but they don’t.

They only see the side of him that’s very intense, driven; and a passionate for his program, players and winning whenever there is a home game in Draddy Gymnasium or any place there is a road game.

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