Checking in on the… America EastPosted by rtmsf on January 25th, 2009
Corey Johns is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.
Everybody is beating everybody in the America East this year. It’s a good thing to show how deep the conference is but it’s a bad thing for the NCAA tournament. When everybody has multiple conference losses, that 14-15 seed teams in this conference hopes for can drop to a 16-play-in game. But what it does mean right now is nobody is safe, and everybody has a chance to win, shown by the bottom teams being just two conference wins away from the top at this point.
- Binghamton 12-7 (5-2)
- Vermont 13-6 (4-2)
- Boston U 9-9 (4-2)
- Albany 11-8 (3-3)
- Maine 8-11 (3-3)
- New Hampshire 10-9 (2-4)
- Stony Brook 10-9 (2-4)
- UMBC 8-10 (2-4)
- Hartford 6-14 (2-4)
Vermont- The Catamounts have hit their stride as of late and definitely look like they are the top team in the conference having now won four straight (three on the road). Mike Trimboli (15.8ppg, 4.7apg), Marqus Blakely (15.2ppg, 8.5rpg), and Colin McIntosh (13.2ppg, 5.6rpg) are a great trio of scorers that have been consistent all season. The reason Vermont is hot right now though is Michigan state transfer Maurice Joseph has finally become the scoring threat they expected in Vermont. In the past four games he’s averaged 10.8ppg. With four guys scoring in double figures on a team, it’s hard to beat them. But there biggest strength is their bench. Vermont has been running a six man bench for significant minutes lately, allowing them to play full court press more often and really shutting down teams offenses.
Binghamton- The team of transfers looked to be the real deal in the America East but now with three key guys suffering from an injury it can wear on them down the stretch. Forward Sean Watson only played two gamed for Binghamton early in the season before suffering a possible career ending back injury. When Gonzaga transfer Theo Davis was eligible after the first semester the Bearcats though their depth inside were fixed. That didn’t last too long as he suffered both an ankle and back injury after just four games, leaving just one quality big man on the team. Binghamton is definitely run by their guards, but their biggest loss came not that long ago when Dwayne Jackson (one of two starters who isn’t a transfer) was suspended indefinitely. He was seen as the glue guy for the Bearcats. Without those guys though, they have still managed to be a force in the conference. St. Joseph transfer D.J. Rivera is the conference’s leading scorer with 19.8ppg and he’s grabbing 6.1 rebounds to help out with the big man problem. Malik Alvin is another key transfer hitting shots, 12.7ppg. But again this team and no team in this conference is perfect. Nobody on the team is a legitimate three point shooter, and though they have been very successful in the conference, and will likely end as a top seed, they have a lot of things to watch.
Albany- Albany is another team that is playing well in large part of new guys. Virginia Tech transfer Will Harris and freshman Anthony Raffa are combining for 23.8ppg and 10.3rpg. With Tim Ambrose meeting his high expectations given to him in the beginning of the year with an average of 12.1ppg and 5.1rpg, they also have a solid trio of guys to turn to too win games. They are also taking advantage of the big man problems of most teams by starting three forwards and two guards and creating defensive mismatches based on size. But as no team in this conference is invulnerable, Albany has their share of problems too. First, they don’t have a true point guard. Raffa is a shooting guard playing the point and Ambrose leads the team with 2.7 assists. Also, they don’t have a great three point shooting team much like Binghamton. Only three guys average a team high 1.1 three’s per game.
The Middle of the Pack:
Boston U- this team is probably the best three point shooting team and overall scoring team, but they don’t seem to be able to close out games effectively right now. Their last two games (Stony Brook and UMBC) were both at home and both went into multiple overtimes. The Stony Brook game went into an astonishing quadruple overtime and the UMBC game went into double overtime, that’s six overtimes in two games. Now they go into the hard part of their season. Six of their next eight games are on the road. Boston U will likely finish up top in the conference but until they show they can close out games better, they can’t be seen as a contender. In their last game against UMBC they gave up a 17 point lead at half in a game that went to double overtime. Corey Lowe (18.4ppg, 3.4apg) and John Holland (17.5, 5.4rpg) are both likely first conference selections at this point but other guys have to step up for the injured Tyler Morris and Carlos Strong. Freshman forward Jake O’Brien (11.3ppg, 4.3rpg) has shined at time but is far to inconsistent to be a major factor right now. Scott Brittain and Matt Wolff are both solid role players but are more defensive and rebounding guys that scoring threats.
Maine- Maine does have an even record with some good wins but there top four teams are just too talented for them to jump up at this point. Junior Mark Socoby (12.8ppg) and freshman Gerald McLemore (11.9ppg) are both very consistent and can hurt a team from outside. Helping them out is a solid group of five guys averaging between 8.8-6.8ppg. Forwards Sean McNalley (8.8ppg, 7.3rpg) and Troy Barnies (6.8ppg, 5.2rpg) are getting it done inside are also solid defenders. Guard’s Junior Bernal (8.4ppg, 4.3rpg), Kaimondre Owes (7.4ppg), and Malachi Peay (6.8ppg, 4.7rpg) all help to make a solid and deep team. 6’9” 250lbs freshman from Bulgaria Svetoslav Chetinov is a big (literally) defensive mismatch for teams trying to play inside.
Stony Brook- Stony Brook has been inconsistent but did manage to pull of an upset of Albany, and sent the game against Boston U into quadruple overtime (both on the road), so they have shown they are a competitive bunch. Luckily it’s a competitive bunch of young guys. Bryan Dougher, Tommy Brenton and Dallis Joyner are all freshman making a significant impact right now. Combining for 26.8ppg the two will make the Seawolves competitive for a while. With Muhammad El-Amin (14.5ppg) and Marques Cox (the only senior starting on the team), The Seawolves can make teams worry. Their problem however is rebounding. Once they rebounding more they will soar up the standings.
The Bottom Feeders:
UMBC- They are closer to the bottom by record but right now they are decimated by injuries and still playing competitive. Their worst game all year was a 34 point loss to Vermont but arguable the best point guard in the conference Jay Greene (11.4ppg, 6.9apg) was out with a head injury, and sixth man Richard Flemming (7.3ppg, 4.7rpg) were both out leaving UMBC to run a seven man team against the very deep Catamounts. Flemming will be out for two-three more weeks. Once Greene came back they rallied from a 17 point deficit at the half to a double overtime loss against Boston U. Forward Darryl Proctor may just be the best player in the conference right now, averaging 19.6ppg and 8.9rpg. But they needed other guys to step it up scoring wise. Two guys have done that lately. Freshman Chauncey Gilliam has star in the making and future player of the year written all over him. Sometimes games have looked to be 3-5 with Gilliam averaging 13.0ppg in his last three. They biggest part is Matt Spadafora seems to be back in to form since he was elbowed in the eye against Toledo six games into the season, having to get stitches above and below it. Against Hartford and Boston U (leaving out Vermont because he played out of position at point guard) he’s averaged 14.5ppg, 6.5rpg, and 5.0spg. UMBC just has to come out strong and stop getting into double-digit deficits and then getting it close at the end. Also, they are also a team with three point issues. Greene averages 2.2 a game but the next bet guy is Spadafora with 0.7 a game.
New Hampshire- Their little miracle run at first place is over with far too many question marks to stay up top. They have plenty of offense but defense is a concern. Without Tyrece Gibbs this team very well might win three games, if that. He’s one of the best pure scorers in the conference but is just averaging 14.2 points. Sophomore Alvin Abreu will wind up being a force in this conference at guard, but like many others in this conference, he’s a shooting guard playing the point. Without a true point guard they look sloppy and confused on many plays, which is a big area of concern. Guard Tyrone Conley has stepped his game up since the injury to Eric Gilchrese but has been questionable at times. Dane Diliegro (5.4ppg, 7.5rpg) is a solid defensive forward but he’s pretty much it inside. Rony Tchatchoua has started since the loss of Ghilchrese but until the team rebounds more or has more talent inside, they will lose games.
Hartford- It’s sad to see Hartford go through what they are going through, as much like UMBC they are just decimated with injuries. Their best player guard Joe Zeglinski (15.3ppg, 5.5rpg) is done for the season with an ACL tear. They have decent offense with do-it-all man Jaret Von Rosenberg (13.4ppg, 4.4rpg, 4.0apg), sensational sophomore Morgan Sabia (11.2ppg, 4.6rpg) and swing-man Michael Turner (10.6ppg, 5.4rpg) but the teams defense isn’t very good and their inside game isn’t good either. They are last in the conference in rebounding.
Top Athlete (over the past two weeks):
Corey Lowe (Boston U)- Lowe’s stats had help with multiple overtime games, but it’s a part of the game and it can’t be taken away from him. He averaged 20.2 points, 5.2 assists, and 4.8 rebounds over a five game span highlighted by a 33 point, 8 rebound, seven assists effort against Stony Brook. In that span Lowe lead then to a 4-1 record.
Top Freshmen (over the past two weeks):
Anthony Raffa (Albany)- Raffa has been a big reason for Albany’s success this year. In the past four games he’s averaged a league high among freshman 14.8 points going along with 2.8 assists and 2.7 rebounds. In wins against Vermont and Binghamton Raffa stepped it up huge with 20+ point performances.
Top Team (over the past two weeks):
Vermont - After a loss to Albany they got on a hot streak winning four straight by an average margin of victory of 21.3 points. Meanwhile, three of those wins were on the road.
What’s Coming Up? - the top games of the next two weeks:
- January 25- Boston U @ Maine – 1:00pm
- January 25- UMBC @ Albany – 4:00pm
- January 28- Maine @ Vermont – 7:30pm
- January 31- Boston U @ Hartford – 2:00pm
- February 2- Boston U @ UMBC – 7:00pm
- February 4- Binghamton @ Vermont – 7:00pm
- February 5- Albany @ Boston U – 7:00pm