By Sheldon Gomes
As NEC Men’s Basketball gets set to return for the 2021-22 season, a virtual media day was hosted by Dave Popkin and Joe DeSantis to allow players and coaches to preview the upcoming season.
Among the most discussed topics during the broadcast was the relief that this season will mark a return to normalcy, with fans making their way back to games after a hectic 2020-21 season that was complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. NEC commissioner Noreen Morris joined the broadcast and also voiced her excitement for the return to normalcy stating that she hopes to maintain the regular cadence of schedule as she returns for her 12th year on the job.
The NEC preseason poll voted on by coaches was also released on the broadcast and ranked the Knights projected to finish 9th in the conference.
The preseason poll had Wagner taking the conference with the rest of the NEC teams to follow.
The full preseason poll is ranked below:
3. Mount St. Mary’s
6. Sacred Heart
7. St. Francis Brooklyn
8. Saint Francis U
9. Fairleigh Dickinson
Knight’s head coach Greg Herenda didn’t seem too worried about the projection, however, recalling that in 2016 his team was also projected to be a low seed because of their inexperience and yet they ended up winning the conference. Herenda pointed out that he saw some similarities between the 2016 roster and the current roster, noting that although they lack the experience once again, every player on the roster is strong, athletic, hungry and eager to prove themselves.
Star guard Brandon Rush was able to join his head coach to represent the Knights on media day as well. When asked about what his mentality was heading into the new season, Rush, who averaged 14.3PPG for the Knights last year, said “My mentality coming into the season is focused on really trying to lead the team better, now that we have a lot of younger guys I have to step up as one of the older guys…”
Both Herenda and Rush shared excitement for the return of Devon Dunn. Herenda endorsed the great offensive potential for a Dunn and Rush backcourt while Rush praised the complementary fit between the two, saying that he knows Dunn’s return will add another dimension to the team’s offense.
Herenda reiterated the excitement he has for his Knights to close out FDU’s media day segment.
The Knights will have their work cut out for them this season with such a balanced conference. Some conference opposing players for the Knights to look out for this season include Ty Flowers of LIU, Elijah Dord of Wagner, Peter Kiss of Bryant, Alex Morales of Wagner, Eral Penn of LIU and Tyler Thomas of Sacred Heart, all of which are players that were highlighted as 2021-22 preseason All NEC team selections.
Next up for the Knights will be NEC Women’s Basketball Virtual Media Day which will take place tomorrow on Oct. 27 at 11 a.m.
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Art by Jen Malti