Predicting local college hoops teams' award winners, storylines

Predicting local college hoops teams’ award winners, storylines

Previewing and predicting local college basketball teams’ award winners and biggest storylines:

Haggerty Award:

Jr. F Clifford Omoruyi, Rutgers (11.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG)

He took a step forward between his freshman and sophomore years and will make an even greater leap this season, developing into more than just a rim-running, shot-blocker. The 6-foot-11 Nigerian makes it two Rutgers All-Big Ten selections in as many years and averages a double-double this winter.

All Met First Team

Jr. G Posh Alexander, St. John’s (10.9 PPG, 4.3 APG)

Sr. G Aaron Estrada, Hofstra (18.5 PPG, 5.0 APG)

Sr. G Caleb McConnell, Rutgers (7.1 PPG, 5.3 RPG)

Sr. G Paul Mulcahy, Rutgers (9.0 PPG, 5.3 APG)

Sr. F KC Ndefo, Seton Hall (10.5 PPG, 2.8 BPG)

Clifford Omoruyi
Getty Images

All Met Second Team

Jr. G Andre Curbelo, St. John’s (7.5 PPG, 3.2 APG)

Sr. G Al-Amir Dawes, Seton Hall (11.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG)

Jr. F Nelly Junior Joseph, Iona (13.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG)

Sr. G Darius Quisenberry, Fordham (16.2 PPG, 3.8 RPG)

Sr. G Aaron Clarke, Stony Brook (16.0 PPG, 4.1 APG)

Five Predictions:

History in Piscataway

For the first time in program history, Rutgers will make three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. As a Big Ten coach told me recently, it’s hard to bet against coach Steve Pikiell after what he has done there. The Scarlet Knights will be the best team in the area, receive a nine-seed in the tournament and win a game for the second time in three years.

Manhattan plummets after coaching change

The decision to fire Steve Masiello two weeks before the season — and replace him on an interim basis with assistant RaShawn Stores — has already backfired. One of his assistants, Matt Grady, has resigned, MAAC Preseason Player of the Year Jose Perez transferred to West Virginia, and two others have already left the program. Manhattan won’t come close to winning double-digit games after being picked second in the league prior to the coaching change.

Andre Curbelo
Andre Curbelo
Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Growing pains for Holloway

The insanely high expectations at Seton Hall are unfair after Shaheen Holloway’s star turn as Saint Peter’s coach last March. It is going to take time for him in South Orange. Injuries hampered the Pirates throughout the offseason and they are short on offensive talent. Holloway’s team will begin to find itself in February and will make a late run at the tournament, but will finish just shy as one of the first four teams out.

Reality after the Madness

Saint Peter’s has a new coach and a mostly new roster after its stunning run to the Elite Eight last March. Former Wagner coach Bashir Mason takes over for Holloway and won’t have several of the players who keyed those three memorable victories. The Peacocks will finish in the bottom half of the MAAC as Mason rebuilds the program.

Shaheen Holloway
Shaheen Holloway
Getty Images

Dancing again in New Rochelle

Nelly Junior Joseph will have a big year after a somewhat underwhelming sophomore season and Iona will win the MAAC regular-season title by a comfortable margin. After going one-and-done in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 15 seed, Gaels coach Rick Pitino will flirt with a few high-major schools, even taking two interviews. Asked why he doesn’t leave, he’ll say: “My goal when I took this job was to make Iona into the Gonzaga of the East Coast. I meant that.”

The Post’s All-Area Team

First Team

Jr. G Posh Alexander (13.8 PPG, 5.5 APG), St. John’s, Brooklyn

St. John’s added two impact transfers in Andre Curbelo (Illinois) and David Jones (DePaul), but this is Alexander’s team. If he can improve his 3-point shot, and there is optimism around the program that will happen after a strong summer, the 6-foot junior has all the other tools to be one of the top guards in the country.

Jr. G. RJ Davis (13.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG), North Carolina, White Plains

He went from a minor contributor as a freshman to an essential piece on a Final Four team as a sophomore, improving across the board as a playmaker, defender and multi-level scorer. The knock on Davis coming out of Archbishop Stepinac was his size as a 6-foot combo guard, but North Carolina ignored the doubters, and Davis has made the Tar Heels look smart by believing in him.

Sr. G Jahvon Quinerly (13.8 PPG, 4.2 APG), Alabama, Hackensack, NJ

A strong season was cut short in agonizing fashion: Quinerly suffered a torn ACL in the first half of Alabama’s opening-round NCAA Tournament loss to Notre Dame. Quinerly, the Crimson Tide’s leading returning scorer and distributor, is practicing and could be back by early December.

Jr. F Adama Sanogo (14.8 PPG, 8.8 RPG), UConn, Elizabeth, NJ

The Big East Preseason Player of the Year is a force in the paint, a two-way dynamo whom Connecticut needs to take the leap from good to great player. Teams frequently double-team the 6-foot-9, 245-pounder in the post, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting up big numbers.

Sr. G Isaiah Wong (15.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG), Miami, Piscataway, NJ

One of the linchpins of Miami’s Elite Eight run, the well-rounded 6-foot-4 guard shot a career-best 45.2 percent last year and will be essential to the Hurricanes returning to the NCAA Tournament this year.

Second-Team

Sr. G Kyle Lofton (12.8 PPG, 5.9 APG), Florida, Hillside, NJ

Sr. F KC Ndefo (10.5 PPG, 2.8 BPG), Seton Hall, Elmont, NY

Jr. F Clifford Omoruyi (11.9 PPG, 7.8 RPG), Rutgers, Roselle, NJ

Sr. G Jordan Walker (20.3 PPG, 4.9 APG), UAB, Port Washington, NY

Fr. G Dariq Whitehead (Freshman), Duke, Newark, NJ

Third-Team

Sr. G Al-Amir Dawes (11.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG), Seton Hall, Newark, NJ

Sr. G Aaron Estrada (18.5 PPG, 5.0 APG), Hofstra, Woodbury, NJ

Jr. F Zed Key (7.8 PPG, 5.6 RPG), Ohio St., Bay Shore, NY

Sr. G Paul Mulcahy (9.0 PPG, 5.3 APG), Rutgers, Bayonne, NJ

So. G Zakai Zeigler (8.8 PPG, 2.7 APG), Tennessee, Bronx

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