McCaffrey's Musings - 12/3/18

McCaffrey’s Musings 12-3-18

We welcome you to the 2018-2019 season and that means another year of the musings. It’s also darn close to Festivus so that brings us to the airing of the grievances. Without further adieu let’s look over the first month’s good, bad and ugly.

Ladies first in this edition and what a year so far for our three unblemished schools, Bentley, Jefferson, and the University of the Sciences. If Sciences and Bentley get to the holiday break without a slip then that will add to the fun of an already exciting match-up on December 28 in Waltham. We’re already getting ahead of ourselves. How good is the NE10 Northeast (NE) Division? Merrimack is 0-4 in league play and I think they would win the CACC North. We have the ‘Entirely Too Early Top Fifteen’ down below and no fewer than six teams from the NE10 NE Division reside in our rankings. The East Coast Conference appears to be the Haves vs. the Have-nots. The good are really good and the not-so-good are blah. Every program is entitled to a rebuilding year, but the CACC North is in a division reboot with a 7-32 non-league record to date. Keep an eye on Jon Plefka’s Post University program, it may catch you by surprise.

McCaffrey’s Meaningless Mega 15: (records as of 12-3-18)

Bentley 8-0
Jefferson 7-0
USciences 6-0
Stonehill 7-1
NYIT 7-1
St. Anselm 7-1
LIU-Post 6-1
Adelphi 5-3
St. Thomas Aquinas 6-1
Southern Connecticut 5-2
Molloy 5-1
Assumption 5-3
LeMoyne 5-2
Merrimack 4-4
SNHU 6-2

We’ll talk about scheduling a little later. Rankings are debatable for sure (though the musings did nearly nail both men’s and women’s final rankings last season). It’s time to gander at four pretty awesome games in our near future.

Games to watch:

Wed., Dec. 5: #11 Molloy @ #7 LIU-Post
Sat., Dec 8: #1 Bentley @ #6 St. Anselm
Mon., Dec. 10: #5 NYIT @ #10 Southern Connecticut
Wed., Dec. 19: #9 Saint Thomas Aquinas @ #14 Merrimack

The last two games are huge for the ECC. Prove you belong by beating two teams that as of now are lower than you in the rankings. Quality wins can be hard to come by. Road quality wins are even more difficult.

The men’s side is more jumbled than a college freshman’s laundry. After the clear top two (St. Anselm/Bentley), 3-15 is anyone’s guess. Frankly, it will take time to sort out. There are certain teams that have played killer non-league schedules and others that have beefed up on cupcake city. Here’s our top 15:

McCaffrey’s Meaningless Mega 15: (records as of 12-3-18)

St. Anselm 6-0
Bentley 7-0
St. Thomas Aquinas 6-1
New Haven 5-1
Daemen 4-1
Bridgeport 4-2
Merrimack 5-4
Stonehill 5-4
Dominican 3-2
Jefferson 4-3
LeMoyne 5-3
Pace 6-2
SNHU 5-3
Caldwell 4-2

I want to touch base for a moment on the LIU-Post men’s basketball team. The ladies have held it together but that isn’t the case for the men who only have one scholarship player on this year’s team. What the LIU-Post administration has done is a disgrace, but let us take a moment and recognize the coaches and players who are competing day in and day out. They were put in an untenable position and they should be applauded for fielding a team let alone being mildly competitive. For those who don’t know here is a link to a New York Daily News piece on the fiasco published this weekend: 

As for the rest of the top 14, it makes for fun debate and for some bulletin board material, but until we get a greater body of work, polls are essentially meaningless.

Now, I’d like to say a couple things about scheduling. Invariably, I’ll talk to a coach towards the end of the year and have this uncomfortable conversation:

Coach: Do you believe we’re not ranked? We’re better than _______ (insert three schools here)

Me: Well you really have to play up non-conference.

Coach: (various excuses) We have to play who’s on the schedule... or Schools won’t play us.... or We don’t like to travel that far... or They were good last year.

When building a program, trying to get wins is fine. But don’t expect to play teams that are routinely at the bottom 10 of the East Region RPI and expect to get rewarded by the NCAA Regional Committee. Take a cue from Mike Ruane at Bridgeport or Gerald Holmes at Bloomfield. They always find a way to play games against the region’s best. Scheduling is not an exact science, but programs should NOT be given much credit for playing teams they are 99% certain they will beat. Next, coaches who don’t return games. If you set up a home and home, return the game. It’s simple. This should NEVER be an issue.

There are three games from now until the holiday break that should be the cat’s meow:

Sat. Dec. 8: #2 Bentley @ #1 St. Anselm
Sat. Dec. 8: #6 Bridgeport @ #3 St. Thomas Aquinas
Wed. Dec. 19: #1 St. Anselm @ #6 Bridgeport

It’s remarkable what Keith Dickson has been able to do with the St. Anselm Hawks. Two years removed from the administration’s flirting with D3 membership, now he has built one of the nation’s premier teams. Kudos to him!

That wraps up the musings. We’ll be back right around Christmas! Until then have fun and Happy Hooping!!