Team preview: Central Conn. State

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(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)

Over the last five seasons, only two teams from the NEC have played in the league's postseason tournament each year.

One of those programs happens to be Central Connecticut State, which has the second best league record over that span at 61-31. Monmouth, the other five-year member, is first at 65-27.

No matter whether CCSU has a young team or a veteran one for coach Howie Dickenman to work with, the Blue Devils seem to only know one way to play, and that's to win.

"We've been very fortunate," said Dickenman, whose program is 86-59 overall the last five seasons, including a 27-win campaign in 2001-02 and league title.

Last season the Blue Devils came close to picking up a third title under Dickenman, who was the NEC's coach of the year for the third time, but fell to Monmouth in the semifinals.

This season, CCSU will look to get the job done with a "half and half" squad. Six members of the Blue Devils are returning players and the other six are newcomers, including two junior college transfers.

However, one key piece to last season's success is gone in 6-1 senior Justin Chiera (14.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg, league-high 97 three-pointers). The four-year player set a high standard before he departed, going from role player to star last winter while doubling his point production.

"We have a new saying 'Who is going to be the next Justin Chiera around here?'" said Dickenman, who also lost four-year contributor Lenny Jefferson (10.5 ppg).