RTC Conference Primers: #25 – America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 10th, 2010

Matt McKillip is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

Stony Brook took the regular season crown in 2010, but Evan Fjeld’s Catamounts had the last laugh – they represented the America East in the Big Dance in 2010 by way of the conference tournament.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Maine (12-4)
  2. Boston University (11-5)
  3. Stony Brook (10-6)
  4. New Hampshire (8-8)
  5. Vermont (7-9)
  6. Binghamton (7-9)
  7. UMBC (6-10)
  8. Albany (6-10)
  9. Hartford (5-11)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Joe Zeglinski (G) – Hartford (16.5 PPG)
  • Gerald McLemore (G) – Maine (14.6 PPG, 102 3FG, 40% 3FG)
  • John Holland (F) – Boston University (19.2 PPG, 46% FG )
  • Greer Wright (F) – Binghamton (15 PPG, 6 RPG, 3.2 APG)
  • Evan Fjeld (F) – Vermont (10.7 PPG, 55% FG, 6.1 RPG)

6th Man

  • Chris Martin (G) – Stony Brook (10.8 PPG, 6.8 fouls drawn/40 minutes)

Impact Newcomer

  • Matt Glass (F) – Vermont – Patrick Hazel’s transfer to Boston University from Marquette is certain to grab the attention of the America East, but Glass (formerly of UMass) should have the bigger impact. The 6’8 forward has a reputation as a top-flight defender and his ability to stretch opposing defenses with his three-point shooting will be a huge boost for the Catamounts.

The image of Maine's Gerald McLemore lining up a three will be a common one in the America East this season. (goblackbears.cstv.com)

What You Need To Know

  • Worst Case Scenario: The biggest news of the off-season came last Tuesday (9/28) when it was reported that Stony Brook’s Tommy Brenton dislocated his knee while training; coach Steve Pikiell said there is no timetable for his return. The 6’5 power/point-forward with an otherworldly motor led the America East in rebounding during his first two seasons and was an integral piece of the offense. Coming off a 22-win season, Stony Brook was tabbed as the league favorite by multiple publications despite the graduation of 2010 POY Muhammad El-Amin and a big reason was the expected offensive boost from Brenton (7.6 PPG last season). That said, if there is one kid I wouldn’t bet against making a recovery, it’s Benton. If he does, he’ll be First Team All-Conference.

  • Improving By Degrees: After the loss of four starters, UMBC appeared destined for a hapless season.  But on September 14, two weeks after the first day of classes, UMBC announced that Laurence Jolicoeur had enrolled in the graduate program and would be eligible for the upcoming season. The athletic 6’9 forward who started 39 games for Manhattan joins defensive-minded guard Travis King (GWU Class of ’10) and redshirt big man Justin Fry in their pursuit of higher education. With these additions and the healthy return of Fry, UMBC is looking less like the basement-dwelling pushover it was expected to be.
  • Keeping Afloat: The America East habitually has a few teams at the bottom that are dominated by the rest of the league, but this year projects to be an exception to that rule. While the top three teams are clearly the upper echelon, there is healthy division of talent between these teams; don’t be surprised if  many teams gravitate towards the .500 mark.

Predicted Champion

  • Boston University (NCAA Seed #15). With the graduation of Vermont star Marqus Blakely, 2010 scoring champion John Holland is the the class of the America East. While BU returns only two other significant players from last year’s squad, the Terriers add a highly-touted recruiting class and, perhaps more importantly, transfers from the Big East, Atlantic-10, and MAAC, all of whom were able to practice with the team last season. This team will be challenged from the get-go and will likely take their lumps as they work through a tough but well-crafted schedule. Last season, Coach Patrick Chambers was able to rally a group written off as underachievers to the America East Championship game and I expect that he will forge a rotation from his talented squad that is capable of cutting down the nets.

Top Contenders

  • Maine: Rugged defense spurred the Black Bears to a surprising 11-5 record last season and they return four starters and high expectations. Led by sweet shooting guard Gerald McLemore and post threat Sean McNally, Maine should be one of the most consistent teams during the regular season. The doubts about this group come from its lack of postseason experience; last season, they were upset in the first round of the conference tournament by New Hampshire, so it remains to be seen if Ted Woodward‘s squad can manage their own success and overcome the lack of winning tradition.
  • Stony Brook: Even without Tommy Brenton, the Seawolves boast enough talent to be a contender. Bryan Dougher is one the league’s top perimeter threats and the 6’7, 270-lb. Dallis Joyner can bully opponents under the basket, but the player who needs to thrive this upcoming year is senior guard Chris Martin. Martin gets to the basket at a phenomenal rate and will be asked to shoulder more of the scoring load.

Top 5 RPI Boosters

  • Nov. 12 – Stony Brook at UConn, TBD
  • Nov. 16 – Boston University vs. George Washington, NIT Season Tip-Off, 8 PM
  • Nov. 14 – Maine @ Maryland, 2 PM
  • Nov. 18 – New Hampshire @ Rhode Island, TBD
  • Dec. 22 – Vermont @ Iona 7:30 PM

Key Conference Games

  • Feb. 10 – Albany at Boston University at Madison Square Garden, 9:35 PM
  • Feb. 12 – Maine at Stony Brook (ESPNU), 11 AM

Digging Deeper

  • Germain Mopa Njila (mo-pah-gee-la) (noun) – a role player who, against all reason, has an unbelievable performance on the biggest stage and carries an underdog to victory.Ali Farokhmanesh pulled a Germain Mopa Njila last season- who saw that one coming?!? Before there was Farokhmanesh, there was Germain Mopa Njila- a name CBS announcers were sure would live on in NCAA lore. Today, outside of the America East (and of course, Syracuse), Mopa Njila has been largely forgotten, despite leading UVM in points, rebounds, assists and steals. To be fair, it was T.J. Sorrentine who hit the dagger – a three “from the parking lot” which became the clip of the game. Moral of the story: tirelessly look for ways to reintroduce Germain Mopa Njila into your everyday sports conversation.
  • Don’t Count Out The Catamounts: Since 2001-02 season, the first year the America East had a composition similar to what it is today, Vermont has finished in the top two in the final league standing in seven of the last nine years and has made four trips to the NCAA Tournament. The Catamounts only placed lower than fourth once, a 7-9 showing in 2005-06, the year following the graduation of the great T.J. Sorrentine – Taylor Coppenrath duo that upset Syracuse in 2005. This season, coach Mike Lonergan‘s squad will have to face a similar scenario- he must replace four starters, an especially tall order due to the contributions of current Clipper Marqus Blakely - it’s near impossible to overstate what he meant to last year’s NCAA team.

NCAA Tournament History

The America East sits at 6-31 (.162) all-time in the Big Dance, with upsets scattered throughout the last 30 years, dating back to now-troubled Jim Calhoun‘s days patrolling the sidelines at Northeastern, a former member school. The conference sports just two victories since 1996.

Final Thoughts

There is no true juggernaut in the America East this year- when the ball hits the floor on Midnight Madness, every team can claim a legitimate hope to compete for the title. From Hartford, who stays in ballgames by the sheer willpower of Joe Zeglinski, to Albany and New Hampshire potentially sitting on breakout players in Logan Aronhalt and Ferg Myrick, respectively, the season should be full of close games and a handful of dramatic story-lines (and don’t count out an upset or two!).

Brian Goodman (751 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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One Response to “RTC Conference Primers: #25 – America East”

  1. Herb Korn says:

    Excellent analysis! You seem to be one of the few analysts who actually is knowledgeable
    about America East teams and personnel.

    BTW, I’ve been following Boston U hoops for years and I unequivocally pair Pat Chambers
    with Rick Pitino in terms of overall coaching ability at comparab;e stages of their careers.
    He’s building a powerhouse that will dominate the AE until he’s wooed away by a bigger
    basketball school.

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