Checking In On… The America East ConferencePosted by Brian Goodman on February 25th, 2012
The Week That Was
- Binghamton Breaks Through: The Bearcats sure picked a good time to win their first game of the season. After starting 0-26 they took down Vermont 57-53 and the students rushed the court. Robert Mansell scored 18 and Ben Dickson added 16 for Binghamton. The Bearcats led by as many as 12 points during the game, by far the most this season, and held on for the victory.
- Albany All Banged Up: Will Brown’s team is hurting. Just seven players got on the court during the Great Danes’ BracketBusters game against Rider, which Albany won. Guys sitting on the bench included Gerardo Suero and Logan Aronhalt – Albany’s top two scorers – and Luke Devlin. Devlin and Aronhalt are battling knee problems, while Suero missed the game against Rider because of a case of shingles. Suero and Aronhalt both returned in a 74-63 win over Binghamton. Suero played 25 minutes and Aronhalt nine. The plus side for Albany is that it will have had more than a week off before the conference quarterfinals for players to rest.
- Brackets Busted: The America East went a surprising 5-4 during BracketBusters. Stony Brook picked up a nice win over Northeastern, Vermont beat Niagara by 22 and Albany got a win over Rider. Overall, the conference did well and helped itself out by beating two teams from the CAA and three from the MAAC.
- Stony Brook (19-8, 13-2) – The Seawolves have done everything asked of them this season. Their two losses are on the road at the teams sitting in second and third in the power rankings. They’ll almost certainly have the #1 seed, a home championship game, if they make it through two rounds in Hartford, and a top seed in the NIT.
- Vermont (19-11, 12-3) – How about we all agree that the Binghamton game didn’t happen? If that’s the case, the Catamounts should certainly be in this spot. Vermont had won 10 games in a row at that point. Odd note about the Catamounts: they have got both the best free throw percentage and free throw percentage against during conference play.
- Boston University (15-15, 11-4) – There should still be serious concerns about BU’s frontcourt, even after an entire America East season. The Terriers lost to New Hampshire because they couldn’t contain Ferg Myrick. The Wildcats’ forward scored 15 points in the 56-54 win. BU finishes games strong, but the fact that Joe Jones’ team finds itself in situations where those heroics are necessary is disturbing.
- Albany (18-13, 9-7) – The Great Danes’ defense needs to improve a lot. In the past 12 games Albany has held an opponent under a point per possession on three occasions. They are 6-6 in those games. Maybe getting players back from injury will help, but a number of Great Danes players don’t seem committed to the defensive end. Also, Albany just doesn’t have an answer for strong interior players. Ben Dickinson scored 21 points in Binghamton’s loss.
- Maine (12-15, 6-9) – The good news is that Ken Pomeroy has said that teams can’t control an opposition’s three-point shooting percentage. The bad news is that Maine is still dealing with the effects of allowing opponents to shooting 39.1% from distance during conference play. What makes it even odder is that opponents are shooting just 42% on twos, that’s the best in the conference.
- New Hampshire (12-15, 6-9) – The Wildcats were one of the hottest teams in the conference until a loss to Maine on Wednesday night having won four games in a row. Besides a blowout over Towson in BracketBusters all of the wins have been close. UNH has beaten Vermont, Albany, and BU so it could be a contender to reach the semifinals of the America East Tournament.
- Hartford (8-20, 7-8) – Just two teams in the nation attempt more threes as a percentage of total shots than the Hawks. 46.4% of Hartford’s shots are threes. John Gallagher’s strategy might be daring, but it’s also been a disaster offensively. It did lately lead to a four-game winning streak over UMBC, Binghamton, Maine, and St. Peter’s.
- UMBC (4-24, 3-12) – A porous defense that is the worst in the America East is holding this team back. UMBC’s four wins are over teams with a combined 14 wins and 12 of those belong to New Hampshire. (The other wins are Binghamton twice and Towson.) Boy does this team miss Chris De La Rosa. The star guard isn’t playing this season and UMBC has recorded an assist on just 43.1% of its baskets in conference play, the worst mark in the America East.
- Binghamton (1-27, 1-14) – You have to watch out for Ben Dickinson and Robert Mansell now. It’s possible the Bearcats could win their 8-9 game in the first round of the conference tournament for the second season in a row (see below).
- Sunday, February 26 – Stony Brook vs. Maine – The Seawolves will attempt to clinch the top seed in America East and all the trappings that go with it on Senior Day for multiple key players including Bryan Dougher, Al Rapier, and Dallis Joyner. The Black Bears got a chance to play spoiler and warm up for a conference tournament to make up for a disappointing conference record.
- Thursday, March 1 – UMBC vs. Binghamton – At one time, people thought that this game, which is the first round game of the America East Tournament in West Hartford, Connecticut, would be Binghamton’s best shot at avoiding a winless season. Now that’s not necessary. The Bearcats won this game last season in impressive fashion, 91-65.
- Saturday, March 2 – America East Quarterfinals – Four games from West Hartford’s Chase Arena. You can watch these games on ESPN3.
- Sunday, March 3 – America East Semifinals – This should be the best basketball of the America East tournament, especially if all of the top seeds survive. A foursome of Stony Brook, Vermont, Boston University and Albany would make for an excellent showcase of the conference and great viewing on ESPN3.
Spotlight On … Court-Storming in Binghamton
This season’s court storm, for the first victory of the season, was very different from one just a few seasons ago when the Bearcats qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Give the fans in Binghamton credit. They still come out in droves.