Checking In On… the America East ConferencePosted by Brian Goodman on December 9th, 2011
The Week That Was:
- Nicks and Bruises: Every team has a few injuries at this time in the season and they’re impacting some rotations. Ben Crenca is out for a few weeks for Vermont and his backup Luke Apfeld also tweaked something. Apfeld, though, returned to play 23 minutes in Vermont’s last game against Saint Louis.
- Dropping the Albany Cup: Siena and Albany have a great rivalry. Unfortunately, this time the Saints took home the victory, 64-60. O.D. Anosike scored 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds for Siena in the victory. The Great Danes really struggled, shooting 24-64 (37.5%) from the field.
- Chris De La Rosa leaves UMBC: De La Rosa was an All-America East Second Team selection last season, but after playing in just one game this season, the Retrievers’ star point guard sent a release out through the school stating that he was leaving the program. The release said that he left for “personal and family-related matters.”
- Boston University (4-5) – From November 26 through December 3, the Terriers played the best stretch of basketball of any America East school. Wins over Rhode Island, Hofstra, Delaware and Boston College reasserted Joe Jones’ team as the one to beat in the conference this season. Darryl Partin is shouldering a huge amount of the offensive load and is averaging 23.9 points per game. His sidekick in the backcourt is D.J. Irving, who averages 13.8 points per game.
- Vermont (4-5) – The win over Old Dominion is the best by any America East this season. The Catamounts don’t play very pretty basketball, being one of the slowest teams in college basketball, but they’re just good enough at offense and defense to be a contender this season. Brian Voelkel continues to be a beast on the boards averaging 7.8 rebounds per game.
- Albany (5-4) – Gerardo Suero continues to be the story for the Great Danes. He is fifth in the entire nation in the percent of his team’s possessions that he uses while on the court at 35.0 percent. He also draws fouls like crazy. All of that has helped the junior college transfer average 20.9 points per game this season. Now Albany needs to prove it can beat some better competition, Cornell and St. Francis (NY) offer appropriate challenges.
- Stony Brook (3-4) – The Seawolves have forgotten what the free throw line even looks like. They’re averaging just 14.1 attempts per game. Bryan Dougher is the only player in double-figures thus far (11.2 PPG) in a balanced offense that’s got no real go-to guy. The return of Tommy Brenton has also made this one ridiculously good offensive rebounding team. Even against the Big Ten’s Northwestern, SBU managed to grab 17 offensive rebounds.
- Maine (3-3) – The Black Bears are the worst defensive rebounding team in the entire country, allowing their opponents to grab half of their misses. That didn’t stop them from pulling out an overtime victory over Rhode Island. There were just six total points scored in overtime. That effort was followed by an 87-78 loss to the Abromaitis-less Irish that was closer than the final score indicates. Freshman Justin Edwards continues to be impressive and is averaging over 20 points per game.
- New Hampshire (3-3) – Thanks to an impressive defense that’s great at crashing the defensive boards UNH has put together a great defense. It’s a group rebounding effort too. Brian Benson (9.7 RPG) and Patrick Konan (6.8 RPG) are the team’s two best rebounders. Close games could be a problem since the Wildcats are shooting 55.9% from the line as a team and not a single player with more than two attempts is shooting over 60%.
- Binghamton (0-7) – Having had 11 days between a game against Bucknell and next Saturday’s game against Hofstra, the Bearcats certainly got a chance to work some kinks out from their winless start. Maybe freshman Jabrille Williams will consider getting more involved in the offense after the break. The 6’5” forward is shooting 58.3 from the field and averaging 4.9 points in 19.0 minutes per game.
- UMBC (0-9) – At first, Chris De La Rosa was injured for just a few games, now he’s left the program and the Retrievers have a huge hole at point guard. But UMBC has a gift coming tomorrow against Towson. It’s probably the final chance for Randy Monroe’s club to get a win in non-conference play.
- Hartford (0-9) – The Hawks are forcing a bunch of turnovers, but aren’t do much else right on defense. Teams are getting especially good looks from three against Hartford, as opponents are shooting 43.8 percent. Still, it’s the offense that’s really the problem. Andres Torres leads the team with 9.4 points per game after returning from injury.
- 12/11 – Stony Brook vs. Boston College – Boston College is what Andy Glockner tweets is a HMINO (a high-major in name only). The Eagles present a golden opportunity for the Seawolves to get a win over a major conference foe.
- 12/17 – Stony Brook vs. Rutgers – The Scarlet Knights are struggling right now. This could be a chance for America East to steal a win against a major conference opponent, especially because this game won’t be played in New Brunswick, but Madison Square Garden.
- 12/17 – Albany vs. Cornell – It’s a battle of northern New York when the Great Danes take on the Big Red in Ithica. This will continue the north New York swing that Albany’s played in against Syracuse (win), Siena (loss) and Colgate (win).
- 12/17 – Vermont vs. Iona – The Catamounts are going to host one of the top mid-majors in college basketball when the Gaels come up to play. This should be an interesting contrast in styles as Iona likes to run and Vermont is one of the slowest paced teams in the country.
- 12/22 – Boston University vs. Bucknell - This is a good game between a top team from the Patriot League and a top one from America East.
Spotlight on: The Bottom Of The America East
Is the America East defining itself into three tiers and is that going to be a problem for the conference this season? It’s possible. The bottom third of the league - UMBC, Hartford and Binghamton – look like they’re going to struggle to even win a game this season. That’s going to pull down the quality of the league overall. It also means that any of the conference winners could come into Selection Sunday with a real bad loss. The relative strength of those teams has also created some interesting predictions from Ken Pomeroy for when conference play starts. Five of the nine teams in the league are currently projected to win double-digit games in conference, led by Stony Brook’s projected 12-4 record. Maine and Albany have surprised some people early in the season. Are they going to be the teams that climb out of the middle tier and make this a truly wide-open conference race? What I can guarantee is that the games in Hartford are going to be thrilling.