Checking in on the… America EastPosted by rtmsf on February 6th, 2009
Corey Johns is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.
Two weeks ago the America East Conference looked to be wide open. Everybody was beating everybody and the bottom team was just two games away from the top of the conference. But in the past two weeks the conference has started to even out. Boston U, Vermont and Binghamton have started to separate themselves from the rest of the pack and very surprisingly the two teams in the conference championship last season, UMBC and Hartford, look to be at the bottom for good along with Maine.
Team Overall Record Conference Record
- Boston U 13-9 8-2
- Vermont 16-7 7-3
- Binghamton 14-8 7-3
- Albany 13-9 5-4
- Stony Brook 13-10 5-5
- New Hampshire 9-12 4-5
- UMBC 9-13 3-7
- Maine 8-15 3-7
- Hartford 6-18 2-8
First Team All-Conference
- D.J. Rivera, G, Binghamton- (20.4ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.6spg, 49.1% FG)
- Darryl Proctor, F, UMBC- (19.6ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.3spg, 48.9% FG)
- John Holland, F, Boston U- (18.5ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.9spg, 47.3% FG)
- Corey Lowe, G, Boston U- (17.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 4.0apg, 44.3% FG))
- Marques Blakely, F, Vermont- (15.5ppg, 8.6rpg, 3.0bpg, 60.1% FG)
Player of the Year
- Darryl Proctor, F, UMBC- (19.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 22 games in double figures)
Defensive Player of the Year
- Marqus Blakely, F, Vermont- (8.6rpg, 3.0bpg, 2.1spg)
Freshman of the Year
- Bryan Dougher, G, Stony Brook- (11.7ppg, 1.8apg, 1.5rpg, 40.6% three pointers)
Coach of the Year
- Dennis Wolff, Boston U- (13-9, 8-3)
Boston University – The may not have the best overall record in the conference, but they have the best conference record for a reason. Boston U just may be the team to beat in the conference and are showing why they were the preseason favorite to win the conference. The Terriers have won seven straight with three of their last four being on the road. Corey Lowe (17.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.0 apg) and John Holland (18.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg) are definitely two of the best in the conference, but freshman Jake O’Brien has been phenomenal all season and has really helped Boston U up top over the past few weeks. He has averaged 18.7 ppg with four three pointers a game in that span. With a great supporting cast of Scott Brittain (6.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, and lock down defense) and Matt Wolff (5.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg) the Terriers only issue is depth. Tyler Morris (torn ACL) and Carlos Strong (torn meniscus) are not going to be back this season, and it has cut Boston U’s rotation to seven, occasionally eight. But the starting five have enough talent to make up for that.
Vermont – Vermont has just thrashed teams this year. Earlier in the season they have beaten seven teams (three conference) by 20 more points. That includes a 44 point victory at New Hampshire at the end of January. That win was the cap to a seven game winning streak including four road wins. Over the past four weeks Vermont has been a solid team. In three of their past four games four Catamounts scored in double figures, with three scoring in the others. Not to disappoint Marqus Blakely (17.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 3.0 bpg. 2.5 spg) has just been dominating, playing like a man among boys in his past four games. He has plenty of help though. Mike Trimboli (13.5 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.7 apg), Colin McIntosh (11.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg) have really helped Vermont stay at the top of the standings in the past four games with Maurice Joseph, Even Fjeld, Nick Vier, Garvey Young, Joseph Accaoui have really added quality of depth. Vermont is far and away the deepest team in the conference. On any given night Vermont game go as deep as 14, which really helps them use their full court press defense effectively.
Binghamton – You can’t forget about Binghamton when talking about the top teams in the conference as they have recently beaten Vermont. They did lose to UMBC but have rebounded with two wins. In those three games D.J. Rivera has really made a case for himself as the player of the year. He currently leads the conference with 20.4 ppg with 6.2 rpg to go with it. Not only that but he has shot an astounding 49.1% from the field. In his past three games Rivera had averaged 24.0 ppg and 6.6 rpg. Helping him out have been Tiki Mayben (18.6 ppg), Brandon Herbet (10.6 ppg) and Malik Malvin (12.5 ppg). Alvin missed the Vermont game with a sprained MCL, though he should be back right away. What has helped Binghamton stay at the top with the hot Terriers and Catamounts has been their newly found three point shot. All season they have been severely struggling from behind the line (7.3 threes a game this season) but have been hitting over ten an outing in their last three games.
The Middle of the Pack
Albany – The Great Danes have started to fizzle out as they haven’t beaten only beaten UMBC and Hartford since their three game winning streak against the top three teams early in January. Though those wins won’t be forgotten they have lost to Maine, Stony Brook, and Boston U got their revenge on them. Right now Albany is a three man team. Will Harris (20.2 ppg, 8.5 ppg), Tim Ambrose (12.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg), and Anthony Raffa (9.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg) have been carrying the team. They may not win this year, but they are proving to be a solid fourth team in the conference and will definitely be a force next year with those three being back.
Stony Brook – Stony Brook has surely gotten a good deal of work the past two weeks. They played five games but have been quite successful. Gone are the days of continually being a last place team, Stony Brook is in prime condition to be a contender for a while. Many expected a team with just three seniors to be very inconsistent and at the bottom of the standings at this point, but they have progressed at a rapid rate. Though there is one worry. As said young teams are inconsistent, and the only consistent scorer is junior Muhammad El-Amin. He really makes the team tick with and average of 18.2 points over the past five games (which they have gone 4-1 in). But their freshman Bryan Dougher (11.7ppg), Tommy Brenton (8.0ppg) and Dallis Joyner (6.5ppg) have been the difference for Stony Brook and if they keep progressing the way they have been they can make a surprise tournament run.
New Hampshire – Many thought New Hampshire would be this year’s Cinderella story in the America East. They haven’t been that story yet, but are another dangerous team that can make a splash in the conference tournament. Their problem now is inconsistency. Over the past four games the Wildcats have gone 2-2, losing to Vermont twice but handing losses to Stony Brook and Hartford. Over that span of time Alvin Abreu has been the most consistent player on the team averaging 14.7 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists. Tyrece Gibbs struggled during the past four games but he is too good of a scorer to be held down too long. With Eric Gilchrese back from an injury, they have four high scoring guards and a solid defensive forward in Dane Diliegro. Now being a fully healthy squad the Wildcats are much deeper (can go 10 deep) and have much more scoring potential. They may not win a regular season conference championship but they can be a dangerous team come tournament time.
The Bottom Feeders
UMBC – The injury to Richard Flemming has really taken a toll on UMBC. They are down to an eight man team with a seven man rotation. Without Flemming UMBC has gone 1-4, the win being a shocker against Binghamton, coming back from 17 down at one point with Binghamton knocking down threes left and right to win the game by six. The starting five is phenomenal for UMBC. Darryl Proctor is definitely a candidate for player of the year, averaging 19.6 ppg and 8.6 rpg. Jay Greene is showing why he’s the best point guard in the conference. He is currently ranked second in the nation with 6.9 apg with 12.0 ppg to go along with it. Chauncey Gilliam (9.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg), Matt Spadafora (8.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.5 apg), and Justin Fry (8.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg) have all been stepping it immensely as of late. Especially Fry. He’s scored in double figures in his last three games (16.0 ppg) with two double-doubles and tremendous interior defense that was probably the reason for the Binghamton win. But until they get a bench, UMBC will continue to struggle.
Maine – Maine has definitely continued their struggles this year, especially in their past four games they have yet to come together for a win. They lost to Boston U, Vermont, Binghamton, and Stony Brook. But to be a really good basketball team you have to beat the teams you’re not supposed to beat, and Maine has failed to do that so far. When looking at the stat sheets it is actually very surprising to see that Maine has had so much trouble winning. Sean McNally, Mark Socoby, Gerald McLemore, Kaimondre Owes, Junior Bernal and Troy Barnies all average over seven points a game. Maine is also very deep. Maine tends to go 10 players deep, but inconsistencies and and a severe lack of big men have lead to their downfall.
Hartford – Hartford is a sad story this year. They returned all but one player from the runner-up from last season but have had a lack of success because of a continued lack of rebounding that they had last year. This year they just don’t have the firepower to make up for it. Warren McLendon is no longer inside taking up the paint and Joe Zeglinski is no longer racking in points with an ACL injury that is keeping him out the rest of the season. Do-it-all man Jaret Von Rosenberg (13.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.4 spg) has done everything he can to get a win, and he has some help. Morgan Sabia (11.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and Michael Turner (11.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) are both impact players but without that inside presence and a lack of rebounding all the scoring from everybody else can’t make up for it.
Top Team (of the past two weeks)
Boston U: Boston U is hitting on all cylinders. While three of the wins have been against the bottom feeders but any time you go 4-0 in two weeks while carrying on your seven game winning streak, you’re a good team.
Top Player (of the past two weeks)
Will Harris (Albany): Though Albany went 2-2 this week, that can’t be held against Harris, he did everything he possibly could to get wins. He averaged 20.2 points in four games with 8.5 rebounds. More impressively Harris was hot from behind the arc averaging 3.6 three pointers a game.
Top Freshman (of the past two weeks)
Jake O’Brien (Boston U): O’Brien was a big reason for Boston’s success the past two weeks. He averaged 18.7 ppg, 4.0 apg, and lit it up from three point range. He hit four threes a game and set his career high of 26 points against UMBC.
Top Up-Coming Games (of the next two weeks)
- Vermont @ Albany- Saturday, February 7, 2009- 7:00pm
- Albany @ Binghamton- Monday, February 9, 2009- 7:00pm
- Boston U @ Vermont- Wednesday, February 11, 2009- 7:30pm
- Albany @ Stony Brook- Thursday, February 12, 2009- 7:00pm
- Binghamton @ Boston U- Saturday, February 14, 2009- 1:00pm
- UMBC @ Hartford- Saturday, February 14, 2009- 2:00pm
- Stony Brook @ Vermont- Sunday, February 15, 2009- 1:00pm
- Boston U @ Stony Brook- Wednesday, February 18, 2009- 7:00pm