Checking in on the… America EastPosted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008
Corey Johns is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.
If it was anything it was an average week for the America East. They did go a combined 24-20 and play close against some top teams, but they only beat the teams they were supposed to beat and didn’t have many really impressive wins. So far the conference is going as expected with just one surprise: Hartford is at the bottom. Last year the Hawks were in the conference finals and returned all but one key player but have been struggling inside the paint and coming up short in close games.
- Boston U (3-1)
- UMBC (3-2)
- Albany (3-2)
- Maine (3-2)
- Vermont (2-2)
- New Hampshire (1-2)
- Binghamton (1-2)
- Stony Brook (1-3)
- Hartford (1-4)
Boston U: As expected forward John Holland and guard Corey Lowe have been the catalyst for success this year. Last year Holland won the America East Rookie of the Year and now leads his team with 19.2 ppg with highs of 27 against St. Peter’s and 22 against George Washington. As for Lowe, he was second in the conference last year in points and is off to a great start with 17.5 ppg to go with his 4.2 apg. The big surprise for the Terriers is freshman forward Jake O’Brien who is averaging 13.0 points. Their lone loss was against George Washington in the season opener, but since then they’ve won three straight highlighted by an 83-75 win at Northeastern who is currently second in the CAA.
UMBC: All-conference point guard Jay Greene is showing he is more than just the game manager he was last year when he averaged 7.2 apg. This year he’s not only passing the ball (7.8apg), he is scoring (14.2 ppg). Helping Greene is Darryl Proctor, who was also a first team all-conference player last year. He has been, well, Darryl Proctor, leading the team with 19.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg, and 1.8 spg. Sophomore transfer from Fairfield Richard Flemming has burst onto the scene as a much needed big man on a team with just one big bench player who is just a freshman. Flemming has scored double figures each time he’s been on the floor and has been getting key rebounds, but the problem with him, as well as center Justin Fry, is that they are getting into foul trouble. On multiple occasions either one of both had three fouls or more on them early in the second half, which really takes away the depth, despite UMBC using a six man rotation for the most part.
Vermont: Two teams may be ahead of them in the standings but Vermont’s losses were a one point loss to George Mason and a 15 point loss in overtime against Maryland. Reigning player of the year and defensive player of the year Marquis Blakely is off to a very strong start averaging a team high 17.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.2 steals, and 3.0 blocks. Against Maryland he carried the team with 23 points and 11 rebounds and was the only reason the game went into overtime. As expected Mike Trimboli has been a solid offensive threat for the team getting 15.2 ppg with his 6.0 assists, but Colin McIntosh was a semi-question mark coming into the season even after starting last year. He’s been a delight for the Catamounts and has helped to make one of the best groups of forwards with Blakely. He’s improved his numbers from last year in just about every area. He’s shooting 13% better from the floor (63.6%), though that number will definitely fall, while averaging 16.8 points and 6 rebounds, both doubling last year’s averages. Vermont has a very good chance of winning the conference this year if he can stay at the level he is at and the highly touted Michigan State transfer, Maurice Joseph, can increase his offensive output. He’s averaging 9.5 ppg which isn’t bad but the rest of his numbers are average at best.
The Middle of the Pack:
Albany: Virginia Transfer Will Harris has been short of magnificent for the Great Danes and really has the team running smoothly. He may be averaging just 9.6 points to go with his 5.4 rebounds, but that number is skewed by a total of six points against Bryant and Columbia because Coach Brown did not play him much in those expected Ws. But one thing is for sure, sophomore guard Tim Ambrose has stepped his game up and had been a catalyst for the Danes. Averaging 13.8 points and 4.4 rebounds, Ambrose had clearly become the solid player that Albany fans hoped he could. Freshman Anthony Raffa has been the surprise on the team. He is very quick and athletic, helping him as a good scorer, but if he wants to be a successful point guard in the conference he has to move out of his scoring mentality and raise his assists total, currently just 1.2 per game.
Maine: the difference between a good team and an average team is that average teams beat all the teams they are supposed to beat, but good teams beat them and pull some upsets. Maine may not be a good team, but they are beating everybody they are supposed to, getting wins against Northern Illinois, Kennesaw State, and Princeton, all on the road. Mark Socoby (12.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.6 apg) has been the leader as expected and Junior Bernal (8.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.8 apg) has stepped his game up, but freshman Gerald McLemore has unexpectedly been a force, averaging 12.4 points highlighted by a 24 point performance in his first collegiate game. For a team that has been at the bottom for quite some time, they are coming together and if they keep it up they can easily finish in the middle of the pack with a decent group of players.
Binghamton: They have only played three games so far and the two losses were on the road in the hostile environments of George Washington and Central Connecticut State. They did not play great against either team but you have to remember that is it a group of primarily transfers meshing. After being granted a waiver and therefore able to skip his transfer year after leaving St. Joseph’s, D.J. Rivera has been spectacular with 20.3 ppg with a 28 point performance in the opener. Not to forget he is also the teams best rebounder, averaging 8.3 a game. The other key transfer playing in the backcourt with Rivera is Tiki Mayben. He’s averaging 11.0 points and 5.7 rebounds and has really taken control of the team. If those two keep it up for the rest of the year, once the very athletic center Theo Davis is eligible in the second semester they could finish much higher than expected in the beginning of the season.
The Bottom Feeders:
Hartford: Warren McLendon is proving to be a bigger loss than first thought. He was a big presence in the paint, literally, with a 6’6”, 250-lb frame. Without him the worst rebounding team from last year is even worse, being outrebounded 40-30 a game. What Hartford needed was for a forward not named Morgan Sabia to step up and replace him. They already knew what to expect from Sabia as he finished second in the rookie of the year polls and is currently averaging 10.4 points and 4.0 rebounds. But right now they are playing center by committee bouncing around sophomores Kevin Estes and Anthony Minor and freshman Genesis Maciel. They have plenty of firepower on the team with Joe Zeglinski (14.2 ppg) and Jaret Von Rosenberg (12.2 ppg) running the show in the backcourt, but until they find a presence inside they will continue to struggle.
New Hampshire: The advantage of running a four guard lineup: you have a lot of scoring threats. The disadvantage of running a four guard lineup: you lack an inside presence. The lone man who has proven anything is sophomore Dane Diliegro, he has the potential to be one of the top forwards in the conference when he leaves, but right now he’s it in the paint. New Hampshire is running a four guard set because that is who the five best players are: one forward and four guards. Tyrece Gibbs (14.7 ppg), Eric Gilchrese (13.7 ppg), and Tyrone Conley (13.0 ppg) are very good offensive threats with the help of sophomore Alvin Abreu doing well running the point, but the four of them combine for only 10.4 rebounds a game. If a team doesn’t rebound well they don’t get second chances, or steal second chances away from the opposing team. If another forward steps it up and can become a presence in the paint the Wildcats can move up, but until then they are still stuck at the bottom of the conference.
Stony Brook: The Seawolves are having all kinds of problems this year. It all started with the suspension of 6’9”, 298-lb transfer Desmond Adedeji being suspended for a DUI and continued with a lack of scoring (64.3 ppg, second worst in the conference). They do have three guys averaging 10 ppg: Dallis Joyner, Tommy Brenton and Muhammad El-Amin, but the team in general is rebuilding after losing their three best players from last year’s last place team. Overall, The Seawolves are not impressing at all so far.
Marquis Blakely - F - Vermont: Blakely leads his team in points, rebounds, steals, and blocks and has been dominant in all four games so far. His most impressive performance came in a loss to Maryland but Blakely scored 23 points with 11 rebounds, four steals, and four blocks and he was the reason the game went into overtime. Without him on the team, Vermont would be far worse.
Gerald McLemore – G - Maine: He burst onto the scene in his first collegiate game with a 28 point performance against Northern Illinois and kept it up. He is now averaging a team high 12.4 points.
Vermont: They may be 2-2 but they showed how good they are the past two weeks. They lost to Maryland in overtime and to George Mason by one point. With Colin McIntosh stepping up in a big way they could have a successful time in the next two weeks.
What’s Coming Up?- the top games of the next two weeks:
- Sat, Nov 29- 1:00pm- Vermont vs. Loyola (MD)
- Wed, Dec 3- 8:00pm- Boston U @ Harvard
- Sat, Dec 6- 7:00pm- Albany @ Siena
- Sat, Dec 6- 7:00pm- Vermont @ Pittsburgh
- Wed, Dec 10- 8:00pm- Maine @ Oklahoma
- Sat, Dec 13- 7:00pm- Boston U @ Notre Dame
- Sat, Dec 13- 7:00pm- UMBC @ Pittsburgh