Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
Division III Conference play is just entering full swing, as the 30-or-so area D-III programs and the rest around the country start focusing in on the meat of their respective schedules.
Here’s our current top 10, as well as the programs that are battling for a mention:
Others to Watch: Albright (7-7, 5-0 MAC Commonwealth), Bryn Athyn (4-6, 2-3 NEAC), Delaware Valley (6-7, 1-1 MAC Freedom), Dickinson (7-5, 4-1 Centennial), Eastern (6-7, 1-1 MAC Freedom), Franklin & Marshall (7-5, 1-4 Centennial), Immaculata (6-7, 4-2 CSAC), Muhlenberg (7-3, 3-2 Centennial), Penn State-Abington (4-5, 3-1 NEAC), Rosemont (6-7, 4-2 CSAC), Ursinus (6-6, 3-2 Centennial), York (8-5, 3-3 Capital)
10. Arcadia Knights (Last Week: OTW)
Record: 8-6 (3-2 MAC Commonwealth)
Last Two Weeks: @ Catholic (L, 85-77), vs. Dickinson (@ Catholic, W, 88-77), vs. Rutgers-Camden (W, 74-67), @ Alvernia (L, 80-72), vs. Hood (W, 82-79)
Star Watch: Ryan Kelley (Sr./G) -- 14.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg
After a month-plus out of the rankings, Arcadia is back, helped out by a victory over previously-ranked Dickinson in the consolation game at the Catholic U tournament just before the New Years. Overall, Justin Scott’s squad has won seven of its last nine games dating back to Dec. 7, and a still fairly young group of Knights are feeling pretty good about themselves heading into another difficult two weeks. Kelley, the only senior on the roster, dropped 21 against Catholic, 25 against Dickinson and 21 against Alvernia, though he’s getting plenty of help, especially from sophomore forward Evan Slone (13.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg) and sophomore guard Josh Scott (11.6 ppg, 4.8 rpg). Arcadia’s current fourth-place slot in the MAC Commonwealth could change drastically with games against fifth-place LVC (9-6, 3-3) and second-place Lycoming (13-2, 5-1) beginning the next two weeks.
Next Two Weeks: vs. Lebanon Valley (Jan. 11, 8 PM), @ Lycoming (Jan. 15, 3 PM), @ Widener (Jan. 18, 8 PM), vs. Stevenson (Jan. 21, 3 PM)
9. Moravian Greyhounds (5)
Record: 8-5 (1-1 Landmark)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Penn State-Lehigh Valley (W, 91-69), vs. Cabrini (L, 90-74), @ Susquehanna (L, 86-74)
Star Watch: Jimmy Murray (Soph./G) -- 11.2 ppg, .377 3PT%
The Greyhounds are clinging to the final spot in the rankings after losing four of their last five games, but it’s not as bad as it seems: the last two losses were to teams ranked above them, and the one before PSU-LV win was to D-I Lafayette. So it’s possible that Moravian gets right back into positive momentum these next two weeks, though there’s no pushovers coming up: their next four opponents are all above .500 on the season, including two of the league’s top three teams in Catholic (10-3, 2-0) and Scranton (10-3, 2-0). It’ll help having Murray back in the lineup after he missed three games before the break due to injury; he led the team with 17 in the win over PSU-LV and chipped in 14 against Susquehanna.
Next Two Weeks: vs. Drew (Jan. 11, 7 PM), @ Catholic (Jan. 14, 4 PM), @ Scranton (Jan. 18, 7 PM), vs. Juniata (Jan. 21, 4 PM)
8. Lebanon Valley Dutchmen (10)
Record: 9-6 (3-3 MAC Commonwealth)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Brooklyn College (@ Daytona Beach, W, 76-60), vs. Clark University (@ Daytona Beach, W, 72-62), @ Lycoming (W, 80-72), vs. Albright (L, 70-68)
Star Watch: Sam Light (Jr./G) -- 21.3 ppg, 3.8 rpg
The Dutchmen had a five-game winning streak snapped in their last game out against MAC Commonwealth leader Albright, but that’s still good enough to bring them up a pair of spots in the rankings. As usual, it’s been a two-star show with Light and fellow junior Andy Orr (19.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg) taking turns leading Lebanon Valley in scoring as they’ve done each of the last two seasons. Light had 22 against Brooklyn College, 24 against Clark and 21 against Albright; Orr put up 20 and 10 in the loss, had 16 and 10 rebounds against Clark and 21 points against Brooklyn. Senior guard Travis Conrad had a season-high 20 points against Lycoming, but followed that up with a scoreless effort against Albright. If LVC can find a consistent third scorer, they’ll be ready to challenge for the Commonwealth crown.
Next Two Weeks: @ Arcadia (Jan. 11, 8 PM), vs. Messiah (Jan. 18, 8 pM), vs. Alvernia (Jan. 21, 4 PM)
7. Alvernia Crusaders (9)
Record: 9-5 (3-2 MAC Commonwealth)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Juniata (@ DeSales, W, 66-57), @ DeSales (L, 80-72), @ Arcadia (W, 80-72), vs. Pa. College of Tech (W, 73-60)
Star Watch: Alex Shippen (Jr./G) -- 12.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg
Alvernia is literally only a few points here and there from being much higher up in this poll: the team’s five losses have come by a total of 24 points, with the eight-point defeat at the hands of DeSales their “worst” of the season thus far. So we’ll see if those lessons in close games pay off as MAC Commonwealth play hits in earnest after four late Nov./early Dec. contests that serve as more of a preview. Shippen, a junior point guard from Harriton (Pa.), is one of four players in double figures on a team led by senior forward Marquis Marshall (20.9 ppg 8.4 rpg. They’ll have to be true Crusaders for the foreseeable future, playing three of the next four in tough road environments before a four-game homestand between Jan. 25-Feb. 8.
Next Two Weeks: @ Widener (Jan. 11, 8 PM), vs. Stevenson (Jan. 14, 3 PM), @ Albright (Jan. 18, 8 PM), @ Lebanon Valley (Jan. 21, 4 PM)
6. Cabrini Cavaliers (7)
Record: 7-4 (3-1 CSAC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Montclair State (@ Moravian, W, 89-82), @ Moravian (W, 90-74), vs. Neumann (L, 84-76), vs. Centenary (Ppd.)
Star Watch: DeVahnte Mosley (Jr./SF) -- 11.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg
It’s too easy to put Tyheim Monroe as the star watch every two weeks, as the junior forward continues to put up monster numbers (21.6 ppg, 16.3 rpg), with three more double-doubles this time around. So this time we’ll give it to Mosley, a Bard transfer who put up 28 points in the win over Moravian, his fourth game of the season after missing the first six with an injury. Senior forward Deryl Bagwell also had a nice trio of games, with 17 each against Montclair State and Moravian followed by 23 against Neumann. Big-time CSAC clash tonight at Gwynedd-Mercy, the start of a busy two weeks that sees the Cavaliers playing five games in 12 days.
Next Two Weeks: @ Gwynedd-Mercy (Jan. 9, 8 PM), vs. Clarks Summit (Jan. 11, 7 PM), @ Keystone (Jan. 14, 3 PM), @ Cairn (Jan. 18, 8 PM), vs. Marywood (Jan. 21, 4 PM)
5. Gwynedd-Mercy Griffins (8)
Record: 10-2 (4-1 CSAC)
Last Two Weeks: @ Clarks Summit (W, 93-72), vs. Keystone (W, 88-74)
Star Watch: Arron Goodman (Sr./F) -- 16.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg
Gwynedd-Mercy head coach John Baron certainly spread his minutes around in the win over Clarks Summer, as 11 different Griffins played double-digit minutes, while three others got between five and eight. Still, Goodman and fellow senior Cedric Elleby both managed to go for 19 points and nine rebounds in that one, and each followed that up with good games against Keystone; Goodman scored 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting, and Elleby went for 23 and 14 rebounds. The matchup with No. 6 Cabrini and two games against a very strong Centenary (8-4, 4-1) squad highlight the next two weeks, but trips to Rosemont (6-7, 4-2) and Immaculata (6-7, 4-2) won’t be easy, either.
Next Two Weeks: vs. Cabrini (Jan. 9, 8 PM), @ Centenary (Jan. 11, 8 PM), @ Rosemont (Jan. 14, 3 PM), @ Immaculata (Jan. 18, 8 PM), vs. Centenary (Jan. 21, 1 PM)
4. DeSales Bulldogs (6)
Record: 10-3 (2-0 MAC Freedom)
Last Two Weeks: vs. St. Joe’s-Brooklyn (W, 83-48), vs. Alvernia (W, 80-72), vs. Eastern (W, 87-53), @ Delaware Valley (W, 84-72)
Star Watch: Brian Laird (Sr./G) -- 12.5 ppg, .440 3PT%
It’s tough to pick a standout star for the Bulldogs, but we’ll give it to Laird as he was the only player in double figures in all four wins. But this is a deep team, as evidenced in the win over St. Joe’s-Brooklyn, when 13 players scored, including eight with five-or-more. The win over Alvernia, which was much more closely-contested, saw four starters and one reserve in double figures, and a full six DeSales players had 10-or-more in the win over DeSales. Scott Coval has his group on a seven-game win streak heading into the remainder of conference play, a solid response from a troubling stretch early in December where the Bulldogs lost three of four.
Next Two Weeks: vs. Manhattanville (Jan. 11, 8 PM), @ FDU-Florham (Jan. 14, 3 PM), vs. Wilkes (Jan. 18, 8 PM), @ Misericordia (Jan. 21, 3 PM)
3. Swarthmore Garnet (2)
Record: 11-1 (5-0 Centennial)
Last Two Weeks: @ Hood (W, 72-63 OT), @ Catholic (W, 88-51), @ Gettysburg (W, 75-58)
Star Watch: Cam Wiley (Soph./G) -- 15.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.3 apg
The Garnet have responded nicely from their only setback of the year, a 92-84 loss to Rowan on Dec. 17, with four straight wins now heading into the stretch of Centennial Conference play. And what a stretch it begins with, as Swarthmore will have to play current No. 2 Dickinson and No. 3 Johns Hopkins, as well as an F&M squad that’s just 1-4 in league play but boasts one of the league’s top players in Brandon Federici. Wiley, a 6-0 sophomore, showed his versatility this week with a 17-point, seven-assist, five-rebound, zero-turnover effort against Catholic. Junior Zach Yonda had a similarly well-rounded few games, like 10-point, five-assist, five-rebound performance against Catholic.
Next Two Weeks: vs. McDaniel (Jan. 10, 8 PM), @ Johns Hopkins (Jan. 12, 8 PM), vs. Franklin & Marshall (Jan. 14, 3 PM), vs. Haverford (Jan. 18, 8 PM), @ Dickinson (Jan. 21, 4 PM)
2. Susquehanna River Hawks (3)
Record: 12-1 (2-0 Landmark)
Last Two Weeks: @ Dickinson (W, 76-66), vs. Lancaster Bible (W, 87-66), vs. Moravian (W, 86-74)
Star Watch: Steven Weidlich (Sr./G) -- 21.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg
The win streak reached a dozen straight since a season-opening loss to Misericordia, with three more wins to start 2017 off on the right foot. Freshman guard Seth Callahan had two great games off the bench against Dickinson (16 pts) and LBC (13 pts), but was out-shined by Weidlich, who had 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting against Lancaster Bible and followed that up with 22, eight rebounds and five assists against Moravian. Susquehanna gets two more games to finish off a four-game home stand before beginning four straight on the road with trips to Juniana and Drew; return games to Catholic (Jan. 25) and Moravian (Jan. 28) loom as well.
Next Two Weeks: vs. Scranton (Jan. 11, 7 PM), vs. Elizabethtown (Jan. 14, 4 PM), @ Juniata (Jan. 18, 7 PM), @ Drew (Jan. 21, 4 PM)
1. Neumann Knights (1)
Record: 12-0 (6-0 CSAC)
Last Two Weeks: vs. Scranton (W, 89-66), vs. Marywood (W, 91-70), @ Cabrini (W, 84-76), @ Cairn (W, 84-71)
Star Watch: Tyaire Hudson (Jr./G) -- 13.5 ppg, 3.4 apg
It’s now 12 consecutive victories to start the year for Neumann, which has the makings of a very special season going on under head coach Jim Rullo in his fourth season running the Knights. They’re just about halfway to a perfect regular season (25 games), and after one final non-league game against Rutgers-Camden, it’s all CSAC play from there on out. The schedule is kind, with five of the first seven league games to be played in Neumann’s own gym, with the two toughest road games (Gwynedd-Mercy and Cabrini) already marked down in the win column. Hudson had a consistently strong quartet of games, highlighted by a 21-point effort against Cabrini, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention senior forwrd Darian Barnes’ 32-point, 14-rebound effort against Marywood.
Next Two Weeks: @ Rutgers-Camden (Jan. 9, 7 PM), @ Immaculata (Jan. 11, 8 PM), vs. Centenary (Jan. 14, 3 PM), vs. Rosemont (Jan. 18, 8 PM), vs. Clarks Summit (Jan. 21, 3 PM)