Checking In On… the America East ConferencePosted by Brian Goodman on February 7th, 2012
The Week That Was:
- Walk-on Sensation – With Chase Plummer sidelined due to a concussion against Albany, former walk-on Ryan Cook took over the scoring duties for UMBC and scored a career-high 28 points in an 11-point defeat on the road. In the Retrievers’ next game against Maine, he teamed up with Plummer to help them almost pull the upset, before falling 78-77 in overtime. Cook scored 21 points in that game. The junior guard has scored 20 or more points four times this season after not appearing in a collegiate game until recently.
- Vermont’s Near-Miss– The Catamounts had a 16-point lead with 3:28 remaining against Boston University, but they almost blew it. BU had two opportunities to hit a three in the final 11 seconds that would’ve sent the game to overtime, but both clanked off the rim. The win put Vermont in sole control of second place in the conference.
- Binghamton Falling Hard – The Bearcats are currently winless on the season. Even Towson has a victory, but the closest Binghamton has come was six points at Albany and eight points at Maine. I’ll bet Mark Macon wishes his team had gotten the monkey off their back in the opener against Colgate, which the Bearcats lost by four. This lede pretty much sums up where things stand right now.
- Stony Brook (16-7, 11-1) – The Seawolves haven’t gone to Vermont yet, but other than that SBU has passed every test an America East team must face. The defense is top-notch. The offense is unspectacular but Tommy Brenton and Bryan Dougher get the job done. Against New Hampshire, Brenton shot 12 free throws and finished with 14 points.
- Vermont (16-10, 10-2) – When the Catamounts lost to Stony Brook in the first game of the season, it looked like maybe John Becker’s crew wasn’t ready, but he’s slowly formed a disciplined offense on the backs of few turnovers and getting to the line often. The Catamounts have shot 78.2% from the line during conference play, best in America East.
- Boston University (13-13, 9-3) – This defense isn’t quite as good as Stony Brook’s, but it’s still good enough to keep the Terriers in every conference game. The loss to Vermont last Wednesday hurt BU in the conference title race. It was the Terriers’ second loss to the Catamounts and could lock Joe Jones’ team into the third seed in the conference tournament. This team also drew a tough BracketBusters game at Loyola (MD). D.J. Irving has struggled a bit since he returned from a concussion, scoring in single digits in three of his last five games.
- Albany (15-11, 7-5) – The Great Danes have the best offense in America East, but unfortunately, the defense just isn’t up to the challenge. Gerardo Suero seems to epitomize Albany. He has great offensive skills and an incredible knack for getting to the free throw line, but he still needs to work on the other end of the floor. Albany does have one really quotable coach in Will Brown.
- Maine (11-11, 5-6) – There’s a lot of talent here, but it just hasn’t come together this season. Many of the problems stem from the three-point arc. The Black Bears are the worst team in America East at guarding the three-point line and they’re the second-worst three-point shooting team. Gerald McLemore is the leading three-point shooter on the team at 40.6% from beyond the arc. Interestingly enough, Maine is still ranked second in effective field goal percentage defense in the conference thanks to excellent defense inside of the arc. That three-point defense though cost a lot in a 14-point loss at home to Hartford where the Hawks shot 8-20 from three.
- Hartford (4-19, 4-7) – The Hawks’ offense is sort of a train wreck and it’s getting worse. They shoot way too many threes and when they don’t fall, which is often, considering Hartford shoots 28.7% from three, blowouts occur. Four of their last five losses have been by double figures, including a 26-point loss to Vermont in the last game.
- New Hampshire (8-14, 3-8) – Too many empty trips are costing UNH. The Wildcats turn the ball over too much. The return of Alvin Abreu was supposed to make the offense more consistent, but he hasn’t provided enough of a boost to overcome a regressing defense. The Wildcats still have a couple tough games remaining on the schedule versus Albany, at Boston University and at Maine.
- UMBC (3-19, 2-8) – Two of the Retrievers’ three wins this season have come over teams with a combined one win (Towson and Binghamton). With another game against Binghamton on the schedule, there’s still a chance for UMBC to grab another victory before the conference tournament.
- Binghamton (0-23, 0-11) – See above for more notes on the Bearcats and their struggles this season. Binghamton doesn’t have the worst defense in conference play! Take that, UMBC! Little victories, I suppose. Freshman Ben Dickinson looks like he has a future in America East and this should be the bottom of a long rebuilding cycle.
- Sunday, Feb. 12 – Stony Brook vs. Vermont – This game at Vermont will be a battle for first place between the Seawolves and Catamounts. It should be a slow, defensive slugfest. SBU pulled out the first one on Long Island, 65-59, but Vermont has improved since then.
- Wednesday, Feb. 15 – Vermont vs. Albany – If the Catamounts can get past Stony Brook this will be their last real test in terms of taking home the regular season conference title. Albany poses a tough challenge thanks to its talented backcourt and Vermont won by just four points on its home floor earlier this season.
- Wednesday, Feb. 15 – UMBC vs. Binghamton – Why is this game so important? It’s the Bearcats’ last legitimate chance to get a victory and avoid a winless season. The Retrievers are the only game remaining on Binghamton’s schedule in which Ken Pomeroy gives BU a better than 15% chance of winning, so they have to take advantage.
- Saturday, Feb. 18 – Stony Brook vs. Northeastern – This is one of a few nice BracketBusters matchups for America East. The Seawolves have a chance to get a bit of revenge for America East in general, as Northeastern used to be a part of the conference. Bill Coen’s squad is sitting just over .500 in CAA play at the moment, but this should be a really tight game.
- Saturday, Feb. 18 – Rider vs. Albany – An interesting matchup between two teams that like to score a lot of points and have disappointed a bit in their respective conferences. Rider seems to be turning things on lately and the Great Danes will need to do the same for Will Brown if they’re going to take the AE tournament title. A win here over a decent MAAC team would give UA some confidence moving forward.
Player of the Year Race
- F Tommy Brenton (Stony Brook)
- G Bryan Dougher (Stony Brook)
- G Darryl Partin (Boston University)
- G Gerardo Suero (Albany)
- G Gerald McLemore (Maine)
Suero is currently the nation’s sixth leading scorer. The problem is that he doesn’t play much defense. Brenton is a do-everything forward, but it’s tough to see the conference’s player of the year award going to a player that doesn’t even score eight points per game. Partin is a high-usage player with only decent efficiency, but is currently averaging 19.6 points per game. If BU can stay in the conference race, he’ll probably end up taking home the conference POY honors.