Checking in on… the America EastPosted by Brian Goodman on December 18th, 2010
Matt McKillip is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.
A Look Back
- Player of the Year…Benched? The presumptive pre-season POY, John Holland of Boston University, has been sentenced to coming off the pine by coach Patrick Chambers until he shows better aggressiveness and leadership. The 6’5 Holland is still putting up 17.5 points a game, but he has seen his shooting percentage plummet from last season: 46% to 35%.
- Leader of the (straggling) Pack: Vermont has been the class of the league, but there hasn’t been much competition. They dropped a game to BYU in Glens Falls, New York, but there’s no shame in that, as they remain solidly in the mid-major polls at #16.
- King of the Town: Albany snapped a five-year losing streak to bitter cross town rival Siena in a thrilling 88-82 overtime victory.
- Maine over UMass: Quality wins have been few and far between for the America East; Maine’s upset of UMass is one of the AE highlights to date.
- Giant Killer Potential: Vermont’s Brian Voelkel and Albany’s Tim Ambrose. The freshman Voelkel has a nice resume so far as the league leader in rebounding and steals, and he has the second-most helpers in the conference. He decided the scoring column could use more ink last Sunday, when he dropped 23 points on Marist to go along with a typical 16 boards, three assists and five steals. Ambrose is on the other side of the spectrum, as the senior is going through a renaissance. He’s collected two straight POW awards while dropping 27 points on Siena and 21 in a victory over CCSU that he salvaged single-handedly. Down two with a minute left to play, Ambrose took a pick-six steal in for an easy layup, then with under ten seconds on the clock, he drained a rainbow floater for the victory.
- Vermont (7-2): There’s no competition for the top spot in the AE, but Vermont will test its mettle against MAAC favorites where we’ll find out just how good this team is when they pay visits to Fairfield and Iona. Forward Evan Fjeld continues to be excellent, but the Catamounts are relying heavily at the guard spot on 5’8 Joey Accaoui. He’s been scoring efficiently, but he’s a defensive liability, and it will be interesting to see if the top guards in the MAAC can take advantage.
- Maine (4-5): The Black Bears’ victory over UMass in a slugfest showed that they will again be a contender this year… but strangely, they’ve still done it without anyone playing particularly well. Gerald McLemore still is shooting poorly, and the ten-man rotation seems to score by committee. It’s too early to tell if the balanced attack is sustainable, but it feels like this is a team that needs to find offensive consistency if they are going to have success in conference.
- Albany (5-6): The upset of Siena was euphoric for a struggling program. The aforementioned Tim Ambrose has been a rock, and flanked by sophomores Mike Black and Logan Aronhalt, it is safe to say the Great Danes have the top backcourt in the league. The problem is a lack of depth at guard behind these three, and the balance of the season hangs on every injury scare.
- New Hampshire (4-3): Dane DiLiegro is one of the top post threats in the league and he’s clocking in at a solid 13.0/9.7, but he will need to assert himself more on a nightly basis. The Wildcats do not have an impressive win yet this season, but they haven’t had any horrible missteps and their losses to good teams have been close. Three straight road games ahead (Rhode Island, Central Conn. State and Cornell) will tell us a lot about this team.
- Boston University (4-7): No one expected to see the Terriers this low this season. A four game skid has included handing away a game at Bucknell, losing an early lead against LaSalle and then just quitting in the second half against Harvard. The pieces are there, but there is no mesh. The team has leaned heavily, very heavily on the three-point shot, which they haven’t made very often. A turnaround on this young team must start with John Holland.
- Stony Brook (4-5): A nine-point loss at home to lowly Sacred Heart dropped Stony Brook to a new low. Bryan Dougher is still shooting well, but there has been zero consistency behind him. Big-bodied Dallis Joyner has rebounded at a solid clip of 8.7 boards per game, but hasn’t been much help on offense, with just five points per contest
- Binghamton (2-8): Out of the coma! After a miserable stretch, Binghamton was a free throw in regulation away from upsetting Hofstra before losing in overtime at the hands of an monster night from the Pride’s Charles Jenkins and his 32 points. The Bearcats followed up the strong showing with a victory of Manhattan behind a 20-point outburst by Mahamoud Jabbi.
- Hartford (2-8): In one of the most cringe-worthy losses of the year, Hartford lost a twenty point lead deep in the second half to Sacred Heart. They followed it up with a double OT loss to Monmouth to keep the bad taste in their mouths. The Hawks’ current 17-day break just doesn’t seem good for team’s psyche.
- UMBC (0-10): Among a chosen few left in the race for longest winless stretch, punctuated by a 81-39, THIRTY NINE, drilling by Rider. It’s a two man team, Chris De La Rosa and Travis King, and it’s ugly.
A Look Ahead:
- Vermont faces a key road trip as they play Fairfield and Iona Monday and Wednesday, respectively.
- New Hampshire ups the ante in the coming weeks with a host of challenging games on the road, Rhode Island (12/18), Central Connecticut State (12/22) and Cornell (12/29).
- BU needs to right the ship at home with two tough matchups ahead versus St Joseph’s (12/21) and Quinnipiac (12/29).