| ||All-Conference team|
Gregory Harris, senior, guard, Mount St. Mary's
Gene Nabors, senior, guard, Robert Morris
Terence Ward, junior, guard, Maryland-Baltimore County
Nate Pondexter, senior, guard, Quinnipiac
Richie Parker, senior, forward, Long Island
Melvin Whitaker, sophomore, forward, Mount St. Mary's
Player of the year
Melvin Whitaker, sophomore, Mount St. Mary's
Newcomer of the year
John Tice, junior, Central Connecticut State
1. Maryland-Baltimore County
2. Mount St. Mary's
3. Central Connecticut State
1. Mount St. Mary's
2. Central Connecticut State
3. Maryland-Baltimore County
Team on the rise
Central Connecticut State
Team on the fall
Did you know?The Northeast Conference's expansion concludes with the addition of Sacred Heart, a former Division II school in Fairfield, Conn., for the 1999-2000 season. The NEC's membership is up to 12 schools thanks to the additions of Maryland-Baltimore County and Quinnipiac last season and Sacred Heart this season.
Mount St. Mary's coach Jim Phelan, 70, the dean of NCAA basketball coaches, enters his 46th season at Mount St. Mary's. With a career record of 800-443, Phelan trails only Dean Smith (879 victories), Adolph Rupp (876) and Clarence "Big House" Gaines (828) in all-time victories.
The level of play should be high in the NEC this season as seven different teams -- Central Connecticut State, UMBC, Mount St. Mary's, Quinnipiac, Robert Morris, St. Francis (N.Y.) and St Francis (Pa.) -- each return four starters from a year ago. It looks like it will be a guard-dominated league as four first-team All-NEC guards return -- Mount St. Mary's Gregory Harris, UMBC's Terence Ward, Robert Morris' Gene Nabors and Quinnipiac's Nate Pondexter.
Central Connecticut State improved its victory total by 15 (from four to 19) last season, the second-best turnaround in the nation (behind only 1999 Final Four team Ohio State).
Mount St. Mary's 6-10 pivot Melvin Whitaker could start drawing NBA scouts to his games this season, even though he is just a sophomore. Phelan says that Whitaker, a former high school All-American who spent two years in prison, could develop into the best player that the NEC has had. In its history, the NEC has developed only five NBA players: Charles Jones (Long Island), Rik Smits (Marist), Alex Blackwell (Monmouth), Mike Iuzzolino (St. Francis, Pa.) and Carey Scurry (Long Island).
Since hiring Rob Orellana, an international recruiting expert who helped turn around St. Francis (N.Y.)'s sagging fortunes earlier in the 1990s, Fairleigh Dickinson's roster has taken on a United Nation's feel with seven of the Knights' 11 players in 1999-2000 coming from outside the states.
Foreign importing was at an all-time in the NEC last season as 24 international players, representing 19 countries, played in the conference in 1998-99. Only the Atlantic 10, with 31 foreign-born players, had a greater international flavor than the NEC.
Two first-time head coaches join the NEC coaching fraternity this year in Bobby Jones (St. Francis, Pa.) and Wagner's Dereck Whittenberg. Jones, a standout player for Western Kentucky in the early 1980s, comes to the league after serving as an assistant under Clem Haskins at Minnesota the last couple of seasons. Whittenberg, a member of North Carolina State's 1983 NCAA chmapionship team, replaces Tim Capstraw at Wagner after a five-year stint as an assistant under Bobby Cremins at Georgia Tech.
With Mount St. Mary's 76-53 loss to Michigan State in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament, the NEC remains winless (0-18) in March Madness action.
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