NCAA Basketball: New York City Teams Seeing Great Improvement to Start 2010
For years, New York City has been facing a dry spell of good college basketball.
With St. John's finding itself in the basement of the Big East, Fordham winning two games all season and Manhattan not living up to expectations, disappointment has been quite prominent in the Big Apple.
However, things are looking up this season.
Five of the seven New York City schools have changed head coaches, and it seems to be working.
St. John's has has a lot of hype surrounding their program this year, after hiring Steve Lavin and their 10 returning seniors. Long Island University of Brooklyn is 4-0 to start the season, and 13th in the NCAA in scoring. Columbia has been putting up huge numbers, and is led by Ivy superstar Noruwa Agho.
All in all, there is a reason to be excited, no matter who you are rooting for.
Ivy League: Columbia Lions (2-3)
Columbia is starting fresh with their new coach, Kyle Smith, who is replacing coach Joe Jones, who left for an assistant position at Boston College.
Smith has lit a spark, as the Lions have been showing signs of a good offense for the first time in years.
Although they are 2-3, they nearly beat both St. John's and La Salle on the road, both of whom are potential tournament teams. They put up 108 points against MD-Eastern Shore and also beat Colgate at home.
They have struggled a bit at putting teams away, but that should be worked on before the grueling Ivy League season.
Columbia could very well be competing for the Ivy title this season with the way that the rest of the league is struggling.
Columbia is lead by junior Noruwa Agho, who is averaging 21 ppg.
Atlantic-10: Fordham Rams (1-3)
Although the Fordham Rams are still not a tournament team quite yet, they are well on their way to rebuilding.
New head coach Tom Pecora is viewed as the saviour of this program and is a great recruiter. Fordham has a lot of talent in sophomore Chris Gaston, who was the rookie of the year in the A-10 last season.
Fordham had a big win over Sacred Heart and has kept it close against teams like LIU and Brown.
Fordham recently put aside a larger budget for the men's basketball team, which could also help in the rebuilding process. There is a reason for the Rose Hill fans to cheer.
Northeast Conference: Long Island Blackbirds (4-0)
Although that picture you see above is from 1997, it is almost fitting.
The Blackbirds really haven't been relevant lately. However, now the team is off to a red-hot start with four straight wins and are 13th in the NCAA in scoring.
They have been shooting lights out with stars Jamal Olasaware, Michael Culpo and David Hicks. All of their players are contributing, and you shouldn't be surprised if Long Island is the NEC representative in the Big Dance. Then maybe we'll be able to put a new photo of them.
Northeast Conference: St. Francis Terriers (1-3)
Again this photo may be a little irrelevant. See, St. Francis is one of just a small handful of NCAA Division I teams never to have gone dancing. How sad.
Well, this year they have the talent.
Led by senior Rickey Cadell and junior Akeem Bennett (preseason first-team all-NEC), the Terriers will make a push.
If things come together for this team and the younger players step up, St. Francis might be able to dust off the dancing shoes.
MAAC: Manhattan Jaspers (2-1)
Back in 2003-2004, the casual college basketball fans would be able to tell you something about the Manhattan College Jaspers.
Things have changed.
Recently, the Jaspers have fallen into a bottomless pit of mediocrity. However, the next three days could really make this team come back to the national scale.
They will be playing on one of college basketball's biggest preseason tournaments, the Old Spice Classic. If they can even put one win up on national TV, that would be huge. However, the Jaspers have a weak roster, and have mostly been led by a few freshmen.
Northeast Conference: Wagner Seahawks (2-1)
Led by Tyler Murray, the Wagner College Seahawks are proving they are not the doormat they were last year.
The Hurley brothers have taken over as coaches and have already posted two impressive wins against Lafayette and Stony Brook, both of whom will be competing for their own conference titles.
If the Seahawks keep up the impressive play, Staten Island fans will finally have something to cheer about.
Big East Conference: St. John's Red Storm (1-1)
Steve Lavin has really brought a whole new level of excitement to Queens and Madison Square Garden this season. The infectious smile, and the hard level of play really sum up what this new Red Storm team is all about.
Although, the Red Storm have only two games under their belt, it is clear that the team is still talented but has work to do.
With 10 seniors, they are experienced, but players like D.J. Kennedy and Justin Brownlee will need to find ways to work with the new coach. However, it looks like the Johnnies will be ready come Big East season.