In a conference like the Northeast mid-major through and through its probably pretty easy to become discouraged this early in the season. After all, when the defending conference championSaint Francis Ubegins the season in athree-game skidthanks to a three-game road trip thats all but meant for the home teams (including No. 4 Baylor) to feast on you, whos to say which team will emerge fromthoseashes and claim the top spot in the conference for as long as they can?
That team, for now, isSt. Francis Brooklyn, whose4-3 recordis one of just two in the conference above .500 after about a month of play. The Terriers played and won their first two games at home, then took two of three in the Vinewood Farm Classic the weekend before Thanksgiving. But, as it stands, even the top team in the NEC (for the moment) is having trouble against more established programs. Their losses so far are to the Missouri ValleysValparaiso, the Big EastsSeton Halland the Patriot LeaguesArmy. Their next game, athird away contest in a rowagainst Loyola Maryland, could see them go the way of theSaint Francis URed Flash.
Mount St. Marysis the NECs other 4-3 team, having followed up a three-game losing streak of its own (to the Big TensMichigan, the Atlantic 10sDuquesneand the MAACsRider) with a three-game winning streak againstTowson,Loyola MarylandandGardner-Webb. The Mountaineers have one more big test on the horizon before beginning NEC play another power conference matchup at Virginia Tech, in just under two weeks.
As for thepredictedconference champion,Robert Morrisis not at all where they were last season, with their 1-6 record having almost as many losses as their entire last season. The Colonials went25-8en route to a Womens National Invitation Tournament appearance after losing toSaint Francis Uin the NEC Tournament championship game. Theyll try to turn things around against Kent State, though they were held to just 31 points in a loss to the Golden Flasheslast seasonthat snapped a five-game winning streak.
But come conference season,Saint Francis Uhas a solid chance to repeat as champions, andJessica Kovatchis why. Thesecond-leading scorerin the country a season ago (24.4 points per game) and theNCAA record-holderin three-pointers in a season (141) is on two national preseason watch lists and starting to find her stride once again, with three consecutive 20-point games to her name.Coming up, the Red Flash will try to grab two key wins, one at home and one on the road, before heading to the Husky Classic next weekend.