Breaking down NYC-area landscape in 2019-20

Breaking down NYC-area landscape in 2019-20

Everyone dreams of March this time of year, of the possibilities and the potential. This season, several teams from the New York City area have good reason to imagine cutting down the nets.

Four teams — Seton Hall, Iona, LIU and Hofstra — were picked to win their respective leagues. Several others are contenders. It adds up to what could be a scintillating season, a much-needed respite from the professional futility in these parts.

Below, The Post takes a look at the local landscape — beyond Seton Hall and St. John’s of the Big East.

Iona Gaels

Last season: 17-16 (12-6 MAAC)
Coach: Tim Cluess (10th season, 199-108)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2019
Preseason poll: 1st out of 11 teams
Key returnees: G E.J. Crawford (17.7 points, 5.1 rebounds), F Tajuan Agee (13.2 points, 8.0 rebounds), G Asante Gist (12.5 points, 2.3 assists)
Key losses: G Rickey McGill, F Isaiah Still
Notable newcomers: G Isaiah Washington (transfer), F Mo Thiam (transfer)

Season outlook: Last season, Cluess failed to capture at least 20 wins for the first time, and still led the Gaels to their fourth straight conference championship. Iona has two players named to the MAAC preseason First Team (Crawford, Agee) plus another on the Second Team (Gist), and the arrivals of Washington and Thiam only increase the likelihood of the up-tempo team sprinting to another NCAA Tournament.

First game: Saturday (4 p.m.) at La Salle

Manhattan Jaspers

Last season: 11-21 (8-10 MAAC)
Coach: Steve Masiello (Ninth season, 127-131)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2015
Preseason poll: 5th out of 11 teams
Key returnees: F Pauly Paulicap (8.5 points, 1.1 blocks), F Warren Williams (9.2 points, 3.9 rebounds), G Samir Stewart (6.6 points, 2.0 assists)
Key losses: G Thomas Capuano, G Samson Usilo
Notable newcomers: C Adam Cisse (freshman), G Romar Reid (freshman), G Darryl Parsons Jr. (freshman)

Season outlook: Masiello has endured four straight losing seasons since reaching back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, but the returns of former MAAC Defensive Player of the Year Pauly Paulicap — who missed most of last season with a frac­tured foot — and Williams, who led the MAAC in field goal percentage (57.1), provide hope of a turnaround. The defense is always strong, but the offense must catch up. Last season, Manhattan had no players average double-digit points.

First game: Tuesday (7 p.m.) vs. Delaware State

Columbia Lions

Last season: 10-18 (5-9 Ivy)
Coach: Jim Engles (Fourth season, 29-53)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 1968
Preseason poll: 6th out of 8 teams
Key returnees: G Mike Smith (15.8 points, 5.0 assists), G Gabe Stefanini (13.8 points, 4.1 assists), F Randy Brumant (6.2 points, 4.8 rebounds)
Key losses: G Quinton Adlesh, F Patrick Tapé
Notable newcomers: F Emmanuel Onuama (freshman), G Jack Forrest (freshman), G Eddie Turner III (freshman)

Season outlook: After leading the Ivy League in assists and finishing second in scoring as a sophomore, Mike Smith was limited to eight games last season because of a torn meniscus. The Lions remain a long shot to end their lengthy NCAA drought, but Engles could work enough magic to sneak into the four-team Ivy League playoff. Then, anything is possible.

First game: Tuesday (8 p.m.) at Lafayette

Hofstra Pride

Last season: 27-8 (15-3 CAA)
Coach: Joe Mihalich (Seventh season, 115-84)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2001
Preseason poll: 1st out of 10 teams
Key returnees: G Eli Pemberton (15.0 points, 4.8 rebounds), G Desure Buie (10.7 points, 5.2 assists), G Tareq Coburn (8.4 points, 4.0 rebounds)
Key losses: G Justin Wright-Foreman, F Jacquil Taylor
Notable newcomers: F Isaac Kante (transfer), G Omar Silverio (transfer)

Season outlook: The Pride have come one win short of the NCAA Tournament in two of the past four years. Hofstra is coming off one of the best seasons in school history, but also lost one of the best players in program history (Wright-Foreman). The Pride still have the talent to compete for another league crown, but they will need to establish a new identity without their superstar scorer.

First game: Wednesday (7 p.m.) vs. San Jose State

Stony Brook Seawolves

Last season: 24-8 (12-4 America East)
Coach: Geno Ford (First season)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2016
Preseason poll: 3rd out of nine teams
Key returnees: G Elijah Olaniyi (12.3 points, 5.9 rebounds), G Miles Latimer (10.6 points, 3.6 rebounds), G Andrew Garcia (9.4 points, 5.1 rebounds)
Key losses: F Akwasi Yeboah, G Jaron Cornish
Notable newcomers: G Makale Foreman (transfer), G Tavin Pierre Philippe (freshman)

Season outlook: Steve Pikiell spent 11 years building Stony Brook into a mid-major force. Now, the Seawolves have their third coach in five years. Jeff Boals went 24-8 in his third season, then resigned to accept a job with his alma mater (Ohio), prompting Stony Brook to promote Ford, an assistant who previously coached at Kent State and Bradley.

First game: Tuesday (4 p.m.) vs. Yale

LIU Sharks

Last season: 16-16 (9-9 NEC)
Coach: Derek Kellogg (Third season, 34-33)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2018
Preseason Poll: 1st out of 11 teams
Key returnees: F Raiquan Clark (18.9 points, 6.8 rebounds), G Jashaun Agosto (10.7 points, 4.8 assists), F Ty Flowers (13.5 points, 6.6 rebounds)
Key losses: G Raul Frias, F Julius van Sauers
Notable newcomers: G Jermaine Jackson Jr. (transfer), G Virshon Cotton (transfer), G Alex Rivera (transfer)

Season outlook: The re-branded, Brooklyn-based Sharks — formerly known as the Blackbirds — are the favorite to represent the Northeast Conference in the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years. Kellogg brings back all five starters from last season, including Clark, the league’s leading scorer.

First game: Tuesday (7 p.m.) at Rhode Island

Fordham Rams

Last season: 12-20 (3-15 Atlantic 10)
Coach: Jeff Neubauer (Fifth season, 51-72)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 1992
Preseason poll: 14th out of 14 teams
Key returnees: G Antwon Portley (11.5 points, 3.5 rebounds), G Jalen Cobb (10.1 points, 2.2 assists), F Chuba Ohams (6.0 points, 6.5 rebounds)
Key losses: G Nick Honor, F Jesse Bunting
Notable newcomers: F Joel Soriano (freshman), G Josh Colon (junior college)

Season outlook: The good news is there’s nowhere to go but up after consecutive last-place finishes. The bad news is Fordham will have to do it without Nick Honor, its leading scorer and distributor last season, who transferred to Clemson. Portley, a senior, will have to carry the load for the Rams, who have high hopes for the 6-foot-11 Soriano, a quality recruit from Yonkers.

First game: Tuesday (9:30 p.m.) vs. St. Francis Brooklyn

Wagner Seahawks

Last season: 13-17 (8-10 NEC)
Coach: Bashir Mason (Eighth season, 123-96)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2003
Preseason poll: 9th out of 11 teams
Key returnees: F Nigel Jackson (6.8 points, 2.9 rebounds), G Chase Freeman (6.2 points, 3.0 assists), G Tyrone Nesby IV (3.3 points, 1.5 rebounds)
Key losses: G Romone Saunders, F AJ Sumbry, G Elijah Davis
Notable newcomers: G Curtis Cobb III (transfer), G Alex Morales (junior college), G Elijah Ford (junior college)

Season outlook: Just three scholarship players return from Wagner’s first losing season in four years, but that doesn’t mean the team will be young. The additions of Cobb, Morales and Ford bring plenty of experience, easing the load on returning veterans Freeman, Jackson and Nesby.

First game: Tuesday (6:30 p.m.) at Seton Hall

Fairleigh Dickinson Knights

Last season: 21-14 (12-6 NEC)
Coach: Greg Herenda (Seventh season, 81-108)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2019
Preseason poll: 4th out of 11 teams
Key returnees: G Jahlil Jenkins (13.6 points, 4.5 assists), G Xzavier Malone-Key (11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds), F Kaleb Bishop (10.0 points, 6.4 rebounds)
Key losses: F Mike Holloway Jr., G Darnell Edge
Notable newcomers: G Brandon Rush (freshman), G Callum Baker (freshman)

Season outlook: Forever memories were created last March. FDU reached the NCAA Tournament — and won its first-ever game there. The losses of Edge and Holloway are significant, but Herenda has plenty of talent returning. Jenkins, a junior playmaker and All-NEC First Team preseason selection, leads the way, and has frontcourt help in Bishop and high-flying forward Elyjah Williams.

First game: Tuesday (7 p.m.) vs. FDU-Florham

NJIT Highlanders

Last season: 22-13 (8-8 Atlantic Sun)
Coach: Brian Kennedy (Fourth season, 47-49)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: None
Preseason poll: 4th out of 9 teams
Key returnees: G Zach Cooks (17.6 points, 2.5 steals), G Shyquan Gibbs (8.6 points, 2.2 assists), F San Antonio Brinson (6.0 points, 4.1 rebounds)
Key losses: F Abdul Lewis, G Diandre Wilson
Notable newcomers: F Xavier Mayo (freshman), G Levar Williams (freshman)

Season outlook: Last season, the Highlanders opened a new arena, won a program-record 22 games and captured their first-ever conference tournament victory. But they haven’t earned the respect of a conference contender — yet. NJIT will be led by the dynamic 5-foot-9 Cooks, a unanimous preseason All-Atlantic Sun selection.

First game: Wednesday (7 p.m.) at Colgate

St. Francis Brooklyn Terriers

Last season: 17-16 (9-9 NEC)
Coach: Glenn Braica (10th season, 132-152)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: None
Preseason poll: 8th out of 11 teams
Key returnees: G Chauncey Hawkins (11.1 points, 2.2 rebounds), G Rosel Hurley (9.0 points, 4.1 rebounds), F Deniz Celen (7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds)
Key losses: G Jalen Jordan, G Glenn Sanabria
Notable newcomers: G Unique McLean (transfer), G Trey Quartlebaum (freshman)

Season outlook: The Terriers’ two leading scorers, Jordan and Sanabria, are gone, and the hope is Joshua Nurse and Larry Moreno can at least help fill the void after missing all of last season due to injury. Hawkins is the most proven commodity on this roster. Look for McLean, a Brooklyn native, to thrive back home.

First game: Tuesday (9:30 p.m.) at Fordham

St. Peter’s Peacocks

Last season: 10-22 (6-12 MAAC)
Coach: Shaheen Holloway (Second season, 10-22)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2011
Preseason poll: 9th out of 11 teams
Key returnees: G Cameron Jones (9.1 points, 4.0 rebounds), G Quinn Taylor (7.8 points, 5.6 rebounds), G Dallas Watson (7.1 points, 2.9 assists)
Key losses: G Davauhnte Turner, F Samuel Idowu, F KC Ndefo
Notable newcomers: G Nazeer Bostick (transfer), G Hassan Drame (freshman), F Fousseyni Drame (freshman)

Season outlook: The youth movement has arrived in Jersey City. Six freshmen and two sophomores dot the roster, and there are high hopes for many of them. Watson played well as a freshman and will have even more responsibility this season, joining guards Jones and Bostick, a Penn State transfer, in the backcourt.

First game: Wednesday, Nov. 13 (7 p.m.) vs. Bryant

Monmouth Hawks

Last season: 14-21 (10-8 MAAC)
Coach: King Rice (Ninth season, 131-133)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 2006
Preseason poll: 4th out of 11 teams
Key returnees: G Ray Salnave (11.9 points, 4.0 rebounds), G Deion Hammond (11.8 points, 2.1 rebounds), F Mustapha Traore (7.4 points, 5.3 rebounds)
Key losses: F Diago Quinn, G Nick Rutherford
Notable newcomers: F Jarvis Vaughan (freshman), G Gob Gabriel (freshman)

Season outlook: The junior backcourt of Salnave and Hammond — last season’s leading scorers — could be one of the MAAC’s premier duos. Of the 10 players who averaged double-digit minutes last season, eight are back for this experienced group that has taken its lumps the last two seasons, but may be ready to make a leap now.

First game: Tuesday (7 p.m.) at Lehigh

Fairfield Stags

Last season: 9-22 (6-12 MAAC)
Coach: Jay Young (First season)
Last NCAA Tournament appearance: 1997
Preseason poll: 11th out of 11 teams
Key returnees: G Landon Taliaferro (12.3 points, 2.0 rebounds), G Jesus Cruz (9.4 points, 4.2 rebounds), F Wassef Methnani (5.4 points, 2.8 rebounds)
Key losses: G Neftali Alvarez, F Jonathan Kasibabu
Notable newcomers: F Vincent Eze (transfer), F Chris Maidoh (freshman)

Season outlook: Fairfield has a new coach in Young, who is known for his defensive schemes and getting the most out of players. That will need to happen this season after the Stags lost two of their top three scorers from a team that finished in a three-way tie in the MAAC basement.

First game: Tuesday (7 p.m.) vs. Bucknell

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