Checking in on… the America East

Posted by rtmsf on December 5th, 2009

checkinginon

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

Standings

  1. Stony Brook    5-2
  2. Vermont     4-4
  3. Maine    3-3
  4. New Hampshire    2-3
  5. Albany     3-5
  6. Binghamton     3-5
  7. Hartford     2-6
  8. Boston University   2-6
  9. UMBC     0-6

Hottest Team. Stony Brook

We still have to see what the Seawolves do once they start playing better competition, but they have beaten the teams they should have and lost the games we expected. Regardless, they are the only team in the conference with a winning record, and what more can you ask from a team other than that.

Stud PlayerMaurice Joseph (G) Vermont – 14.8 ppg, 40% three-point.  Joseph has taken the step. Vermont needed a scorer this year that could take over if Marqus Blakely was taken out of the game by the opposing team. Joseph became that and more in the past couple games. It will be interesting to see if Joseph can continue this throughout the year.

Thoughts on the AE

Stony Brook continued its success with a 3-2 record over the last two weeks. That puts the Seawolves at 5-2, good for the best non-conference record in the league. If you take a closer look at this 5-2 record it looks less impressive. The best win they have is at Wagner. The other wins come against the likes of Maryland Eastern Shore, Mount Saint Mary’s, NJIT and Lehigh. These are all games Stony Brook should have won, and should have won handily, which they did. The two losses were road games at Rhode Island and St. John’s. If they had pulled one of those out it would have been a big win. Both URI and St. John’s are playing well. URI is 4-1 with wins over Holy Cross and at Davidson. Their sole loss is an 82-80 game at VCU.  St. John’s on the other hand is looking more solid than they have in past years with wins over Siena and Temple on neutral courts. Before league play starts, SB has three games they should win: Columbia, Fordham, Colgate. There is then a toss-up at Sacred Heart, followed by a tough Saint Peter’s team at home. The St. Peter’s game would be their best victory to date. If they head into conference play at 9-4 or 8-5 they should be pleased with themselves. Senior guard Muhammad El-Amin is leading the way with 13.5 points per game. When El-Amin is not on the Seawolves have a tough time. In victories this year he is shooting 46% from the field and in losses 30%. Sophomore guard Bryan Dougher has also been putting up 12.3 ppg, including 25 in the 60-46 victory over NJIT. His shot selection has improved over the last three games, even though his total shots taken per game has risen. Dougher’s classmate Tommy Brenton is hitting the boards hard so far averaging 10.3 rebounds per game including 12 in each of the last two contests. That is good  enough to currenlty lead the league. Brenton is also averaging 7 points per game on 61% shooting. Stony Brook’s defense has been great so far, as they are leading the league in field goal defense, three-point field goal defense, steals per game and in rebounding margin per game.

Just like Stony-Brook may not be as good as their record indicates, Vermont is much better than the 4-4 record indicates. They open up with their first ten on the road or a neutral court, including two against Big East foes. The Catamounts pulled out a victory at Rutgers, which is the America East’s best win so far. After eight of the ten games they sit at .500 and possess victories at Buffalo, Rutgers, Dartmouth, and a neutral court thrashing of Toledo. The Catamounts have won their last two and face NJIT and Yale on the road before finally going home to face Quinnipiac and Delaware. All four are winnable games, but Quinnipiac will be the toughest. Senior Marqus Blakely started off the first six games taking over ten shots a game from the field and averaging 10.6 free throw attempts a game. The last two games he has only taken 15 shots from the field and only attempted 10 free throws. The Toledo game was a 33-point win that Vermont did not need Blakely to score in as much as other games, but he disappeared at times in the five-point victory at Dartmouth. He is the best player in the league and needs to take over in games like that. He is also turning the ball over at a fairly alarming rate, 4.25 turnovers per game. As good as Blakely is, the biggest reason the Catamounts look like America East favorites through the first month is senior guard Maurice Joseph. Joseph may have finally taken the next step. He has scored in double digits every game, but one so far. Joseph is also the main reason Vermont won the last two games without needing to rely on Blakely. Joseph averaged 18 ppg. This year he is averaging 14.6 points per game on 40% shooting from three-point range. Joseph has hit one in every game so far. He is also shooting 96% from the charity stripe. If Joseph keeps playing at this rate come conference play, Vermont will have their best 1-2 punch since, dare we say, T.J Sorrentine and Taylor Coppenrath. And we all remember how that duo finished off their senior year.

Maine went 1-2 in the last two weeks, losing at Brown and at home against Quinnipiac before finally pulling a victory out at Colgate. Junior guard Terrance Mitchell had a huge game off the bench against Colgate, scoring 24 points in 20 minutes. A tough first half found Maine down one to winless Colgate. Over the last 15 minutes Maine outscored Colgate 43-24. Mitchell had 18 of his points in the second half. He shot 6-for-6 from downtown.

New Hampshire has not played in almost a week and sits at 2-3 currently. Earlier this week was a 72-58 win over Marist. Junior center Dane Diliegro scored a career-high 27 points in the victory. The Wildcats still have a lot to prove after losses at Maryland and Harvard. Their sole victory before the Marist game was against Division III Suffolk University. Diliegro is averaging 14 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Senior forward Radar Ongeutou is also in the top five in rebounding for the America East averaging 6.8 rpg, including a career-high 12 against Marist.

Albany had a 1-3 record over the last four games. A close victory over Robert Morris was their only win in the last two weeks. It seems that coach Will Brown is still feeling out a rotation. Brown has eight players averaging between eight minutes and twenty minutes per game. Senior Will Harris and junior Tim Ambrose are doing all they can, averaging 16 points and 15.8 points per game respectively. Harris is shooting over 46% from downtown. It seems like they may have found a solid third option in senior guard Mike Johnson. He scored 17 points in the loss to FAU and is averaging 9.2 per game so far this year. Now if they only could figure out to do with the other two spots on the court, especially with the Siena matchup coming up.

It seems that Binghamton is still working to clean up their program as they dismissed assistant coach Julius Allen. Athletic director Jim Norris announced he would be given a different assignment within the program. The Bearcats are now down to one assistant and the director of basketball operations.  Binghamton got their second win of the season against Division II Arkansas Monticello and another win tonight over Bucknell. Dylan Talley led the way with 21 points in the Monticello game and has averaged 11.8 per game over the last four games. He is one of the only bright spots in a program that got set back five to ten years in the most recent off-season.

Boston University has bounced back from their 0-3 start by following it up with a 2-3 record over the last two weeks. The preseason America East favorite still obviously has work to do. The win at Indiana is still a victory over one of the greatest programs in history, even if they are at a low point. The overtime win over city rival Northeastern was impressive, considering Northeastern will contend for the CAA conference championship this year. The Terriers finished regulation with an 8-2 run to tie the game. It was Corey Lowe’s jumper with 23 seconds left in regulation that sent the game into overtime. John Holland was the one at the end of overtime to clinch it though. Holland scored four points in the final six seconds to give BU the 69-64 victory. They followed up the victory with a loss at home to a surprisingly impressive Harvard team. The Crimson have started 6-1 with victories over Holy Cross, William & Mary, UNH, Rice and BU. The Terriers got routed by UConn 92-64 to conclude the week. Lowe could not play because of  an inflammation in his right foot, but Holland led the way with 23 points and Jake O’Brien posted his second straight 18 point game. The Terriers now sit at 2-6 and we are still waiting to see if they can put the talent together to challenge Vermont and Stony Brook for the conference.

After beating Fordham 70-62, Hartford lost four straight games. The Hawks played well at Lafayette in the loss, but then dropped games to Dartmouth and Yale. Hartford followed up the Ivy losses with an 89-56 drubbing at the hands of a undefeated Seton Hall team. After shooting great in the first three games, leading scorer junior guard Joe Zeglinski has tailed off. In the last five games, which included four losses, he has shot 30% from the field. After playing in only ten games last year because of an injury, Zeglinski has recorded 35 minutes or more in six of the eight contests this year.

UMBC is still searching for their first win as they lost four games in the past two weeks. The Retrievers now sit at 0-6 on the year. Their closest shot so far was a two-point loss at James Madison. In the JMU game they had two shots to tie the game, but came up short on both. Junior center Robbie Jackson posted 12 points and seven rebounds in the loss.

RPI Booster

  • 12.05 Maine at Syracuse.  The America East already has two victories against “Big Six” schools. Both are on the road, at Indiana and at Rutgers. They won’t get a third here, but it will boost the RPI from one of the best looking teams in the nation through the first month, Syracuse.
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