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Carey, Wagner looking to avenge NEC championship loss

Conference play in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s basketball action begins this week, which means Michael Carey and his Wagner Seahawks can now officially put last year’s Northeastern Conference (NEC) Tournament championship game loss behind them, and shift their focus to this season’s tournament, and possibly an NCAA Tournament berth.

“This is the start of the real season,” said Carey of the upcoming games.

Carey emerged as one of Wagner’s leaders on and off the floor last season, when the Seahawks finished with a 23-11 win/loss record and won the NEC regular season title before falling to Farleigh Dickinson University, 87-79, in the conference championship game. Since the NEC only has one NCAA tournament bid, the loss ultimately dashed their hopes of a tournament appearance.

“It was disappointing,” said Carey, who averaged 12.6 points and 9.1 rebounds per game last season, the second highest rebounding total in the conference. “Our goal was to get to the tournament and we didn’t do it.”

Wagner College went on to lose to Creighton 87-54 in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT).

Now looking to make a tournament push once again this season, Wagner finds itself in a bit of a different position. The Seahawks have struggled to adapt to their new up-tempo style of play, opposed to their defensive approach last season.

Wagner has also struggled with its depth since losing starter Romone Saunders to a broken bone in his foot in their season opener. The Seahawks are currently 4-6 on the season and have had a different starting line-up almost every game since Saunders’ injury. Although it’s been going on all season, Carey said that the Seahawks are close to finding a permanent fix for their struggles.

“We’re coming together,” he said. “We’ve been playing Providence and UConn and UMass, and now it’s going to be different. Now we’ll be back out our level, and we’ll be the team that’s bigger and stronger and more athletic.”

Carey is currently averaging 10.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Seahawks this season.

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