League On The Rebound – After suffering though one of the worst collective seasons in conference history, several top teams of the America East saw much of their talent defect via graduation and/or transfer. With 60% of the all-conference players from last season now gone, can the top America East programs replenish their talent and improve the overall performance of the conference?
Can The Seawolves Break Through? Stony Brook, winners of two America East regular season championships in the past three seasons, has come up short in the postseason tournament, falling each time in the conference finals. Now in his eighth season, is this the year Steve Pikiell finally has his Seawolves dancing come March?
Is This The Year Stony Brook Breaks Through And Goes Dancing? (AP)
Movers and Shakers – The 2012-13 season marks the last one that BostonUniversity will call the America East home before heading off to the Patriot League. With an America East postseason ban in place, can Joe Jones keep his players motivated and overcome the transfer of big man JakeO’Brien to win the America East regular season championship?
UMBC In A Bind – Two days before Midnight Madness, eighth-year head coach RandyMonroe unexpectedly resigned at UMBC. Monroe led the Retrievers to their only NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007, yet only won 13 games in his final three seasons at the helm. Will interim coach Aki Thomas provide a much needed spark for the hapless Retrievers?
It’s that quiet time for the ACC, but a number of folks are making noise even in the dead of late spring.
IMG Academy: In an interview given last week, Kendall Marshall revealed that he had also fractured his elbow at the same time that he suffered his season-ending scaphoid injury. There was no way that Marshall was going to play any more games for North Carolina after the injury, but it makes the Marshall’s-injury-is-fake crowd seem even more insane and conspiratorial.
Sports Illustrated: Virginia Tech has landed an intriguing transfer in UNC Wilmington freshman Adam Smith. The rising sophomore will be forced to sit out a year, of course, but he could provide some real scoring punch for the Hokies. After all, despite being a 5’11” freshman, Smith wasn’t shy during his time in Wilmington, taking a team high 30.1% of the shots when he was on the floor. Smith is the first player that new coach James Johnson has landed, a solid get, if not an absolute blockbuster.
Washington Post: In slightly weirder transfer news, former starting Albany guard Logan Aronhalt will be joining the Maryland Terrapins, great news for a team whose backcourt seemed thin since the departure of Terrell Stoglin. The weird part about the news is that Aronhalt was part of an Albany team that actually played against Maryland last season at the Comcast Center. Aronhalt’s mention of appreciating the fine facilities there as a contributing factor in his decision to transfer will likely give some coaches pause come scheduling time. Still, the veteran guard looks to contribute immediately to the young team in College Park; already equipped with his undergraduate degree, he’ll be taking advantage of the graduate school exception for transfers to play this coming season.
Herald-Sun: Kentucky coach John Calipari recently made waves with his announcement about his vision for Kentucky’s non-conference schedule. Buried under a lot of overdone outrage about his insistence on playing mostly if not only neutral site non-conference games, ACC fans got the welcome news that Calipari remains committed to the renewal of the series with North Carolina and has been working to get a series going with Duke. Considering that Duke and Kentucky are two of the best non-conference rivals in all of college basketball, it’s hard not to applaud a regular squaring-off of blue bloods.
Fayetteville Observer: North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried caught a really big fish but ended up in the water. This is not a metaphor, but everyone keep this anecdote in mind in case it feels like one as next season progresses with some of the biggest recruits in the country all showing up on campus in Raleigh.
Yesterday, long-time Pacific coach Bob Thomason announced that he would retire following the upcoming season. Those on the East Coast may not be familiar with Thomason’s work, but he has compiled a remarkable record during his time at Pacific. During his quarter century at the school Thomason led the school to four NCAA Tournament appearances while picking up 414 wins, a record for the Big West Conference. His career probably peaked with opening round wins in the 2004 and 2005 NCAA Tournament against Providence and Pittsburgh, respectively. We doubt that this will get much coverage during the season outside of possibly a brief mention on SportsCenter after his last game, but if you are watching Big West basketball next season take a moment to check out Thomason and his Pacific team.
Those who are weary of the dominance of a certain Worldwide Leader in college basketball will be pleased to hear that some of the regular season games previously televised on ESPN’s family of networks will now be on CBS Sports starting this coming season. After reaching an agreement with ESPN, CBS Sports will have the right to broadcast games from the ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12 with a total of 20 games growing to 26 games during the following seasons as well as the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship and the Missouri Valley Championship Game for the duration of the agreement (the duration of the agreement was not disclosed). Although ESPN still is the leader in college basketball coverage with its near monopoly on regular season coverage, CBS Sports in conjunction with Turner Sports is making a strong push in adding to its exclusive coverage of the NCAA Tournament. With these moves it will be interesting to see if CBS Sports is able to poach some of ESPN’s top analysts with the promise of more high-profile games.
Georgetown picked up a big commitment yesterday when junior small forward Stephen Domingocommitted to play for the school in the 2013-14 season. Domingo, a top-30 recruit in the class of 2013 and an all-state player in California, chose Georgetown over a long list of schools that included offers from Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, Harvard, and Louisville. In the end, Domingo decided that the Hoya system provided him with the best opportunity to showcase his versatility and “develop into an outstanding basketball player and an outstanding young man”. Hoya fans are probably celebrating the addition now, but we should point out that there is a lot of time left before Domingo or any other player in his class can sign and a lot can change during that time so we wouldn’t go Sharpie on this one just yet.
The sudden departure of Terrell Stoglin left Maryland with a big hole in its backcourt heading into the upcoming season, but they may have found a reasonable replacement in the form of Albany tranfer Logan Aronhalt, who averaged 13.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season. Aronhalt, who will be able to play immediately for the Terrapins after graduating with a degree in December, will have to answer questions about his athleticism after multiple knee injuries and chronic pain caused him to see limited playing time at the end of Albany’s season (26 minutes in its final seven games). However, he can provide them with veteran leadership and savvy as they try to navigate a difficult stretch to begin the season on a roster laden with younger players and an injured starting point guard (Pe’Shon Howard). At the very least, he should be able to provide the younger players with a role model and ease their transition into the college game.
Syracuse fans waiting to get a look at their next coach (whenever Jim Boeheim decides to retire) will get a chance when Mike Hopkins acts as a co-coach of the USA Basketball Select Team that will play the US Olympic Team in its training camp. Hopkins along with former Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano will coach a team that includes Kyrie Irving, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and several other well-known younger players against whatever team the US assembles for its defense of the Olympic gold medal in London. While Hopkins will not get to coach any of the players he recruited or coached at Syracuse, he will have a very interested onlooker from the other sideline in Senior National Team assistant coach Jim Boeheim.
John Templon is the RTC correspondent for America East. You can also find his musings online at NYC Buckets or on Twitter @nybuckets.
Conference Tournament Preview
The top four seeds in the America East have been dominating conference play all season. That’s why they’re expected to meet up in the semifinals. The team that could potentially crash the party is six-seed Hartford, which is playing close to home. If the Hawks get hot from three, there’s always a chance to pull an upset, because they love to shoot the long ball. Also, seven-seed Maine has a ton of talent, but crashed at the end of America East play, losing six of its final seven games. The highest seeded team that survives Hartford is going to get the opportunity every team wants, to host 40 minutes of basketball that will ultimately lead to a berth into the NCAA Tournament. It should make for an exciting, gritty long weekend and championship game.
A Look Back
At the beginning of the season the expectations were that Boston University, StonyBrook, Vermont and Albany would be at the top of the standings. At the end of the season, that’s exactly what we’ve got, except they’re in a slightly different order. An injury to D.J. Irving seemed to throw BU off its rhythm a little bit, but the Terriers still finished 12-4 in conference, including a win over Stony Brook and a sweep of Albany.
Vermont benefited from the continuity of having John Becker take over for Mike Lonergan, but an upset loss to Binghamton, the biggest surprise of the conference season, leaves them slightly behind the eight-ball heading into the conference tournament. But it did save the Bearcats from the indignity of needing to win the play-in game on Thursday to avoid a winless season.
The rest of the bottom of the standings worked out pretty much as expected. None of the other teams has managed to crack the upper echelon of the conference. Hartford, after starting the season 0-13, rebounded to finish 7-9 in conference and qualifies as America East’s biggest surprise.
Gerardo Suero's Quickness And Scoring Ability Caused Headaches Across The Conference.
Player of the Year:Gerardo Suero, Albany – He burst onto the scene this season after a long, circuitous route to upstate New York. On the way, he learned a lot of tricks on offense and it showed, as he was incredibly efficient while using the third most possessions in the nation when he was on the court. Suero averaged 21.7 points per game and also contributed 5.7 boards and 3.0 assists.
Coach of the Year:Steve Pikiell, Stony Brook – Pikiell wins this award because his team finished in first place. It’s tough to deal with expectations and he’s formed a talented rotation into a team that can have a different person beat you on any given night. This is the second time in three seasons that the Seawolves have won the regular season title. This time, Stony Brook needs to finish the deal and qualify for its first ever NCAA Tournament.
G Gerardo Suero, Jr. Albany
G Darryl Partin, Sr., Boston University – This team was supposed to be Partin’s this season, and after a midseason injury to D.J. Irving, it truly was. He did a good job as the go-to guy, holding down the fort and scoring 19.7 points per game until his running mate was ready to go again.
G Bryan Dougher, Sr., Stony Brook – The designated gunner on the conference’s best team, Dougher shot 37.3% from three and scored 13.4 points per game, the highest of his career, in the fewest minutes per game in his career.
F Tommy Brenton, Jr., Stony Brook – Brenton isn’t your traditional First Team player, but his defense made him one of the key players in the Seawolves’ rotation. He averaged 7.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals in 29.4 minutes per game this season.
F Brian Voelkel, So., Vermont – Voelkel didn’t score much, averaging just 4.9 points per game, but he was amongst the America East leaders in rebounds at 8.3 per game, and assists at 5.0 per game.
Darryl Partin (far left), Bryan Dougher, Tommy Brenton and Brian Voelkel Rounded Out The America East First Team
Freshman of the Year:Four McGlynn, Vermont – McGlynn and his top competition for this award, Maine’s Justin Edwards, look like they’ll be great cornerstones for their respective teams for years to come. McGlynn, though, was more consistent overall this season. He scored 24 points in 27 minutes in a 68-49 win over Stony Brook that was the Catamounts best victory of the season.
Defensive Player of the Year:Tommy Brenton, Stony Brook – At 6’5,” Brenton has the ability to cover anyone in America East. He’s an excellent rebounder and his offense comes from his defense. Always taking on Stony Brook’s toughest assignment, he led a defense that finished first in conference play by allowing 0.91 points per possession.
Stony Brook(20-8, 14-2)– The Seawolves have good wins at home over Cornell, Rider and Columbia, but a victory at Northeastern during BracketBusters was the first road win for SBU outside of conference play. Considering how down America East is in general this season, Stony Brook might end up in the play-in game and they could definitely win it.
Steve Pikiell and Stony Brook Are The Favorites To Win The America East Tournament (AP)
Vermont (20-11, 12-3) – The Catamounts own the America East’s best win – over Old Dominion in overtime – and its worst loss – at Binghamton. This is a solid team, but it needs every player on its game in order to win the slowdown games Vermont likes to play.
Boston University(16-15, 12-4) – The record isn’t great, but most of it can be traced to losing D.J. Irving right before a key stretch in conference play and a lack of options in the frontcourt. Joe Jones did figure out a way to beat top seed Stony Brook once, at home, but they were swept by Vermont, their likely semifinal opponent. The second one was close, 68-67, and gives the Terriers hope they can repeat as champions.
Albany(18-13, 9-7) – Head coach Will Brown has a contract extension, but the length and terms won’t be announced until after the postseason. That makes it sound like he has a lot of incentive to get the Great Danes some wins. The potential is there with Gerardo Suero, Mike Black and LoganAronhalt. The problem is up front. UA suffered two losses to Stony Brook by a total of 20 points because there’s no one who can handle SBU’s size.
New Hampshire (13-15, 7-9) – The Wildcats are hot, having won five of their last six games, including the last one Albany and UNH played on February 9. They’ve been winning close games over the elite (Albany, Boston U.) and taking care of business against the bottom. It’s straight to the elite teams on Saturday with Albany.
Hartford(8-21, 7-9) – A number of talented freshmen, including Nate Sikma and Mark Nwakamma, give the Hawks something to build upon. There’s also some positive momentum considering the 8-8 finish to the regular season after the winless streak to start. John Gallagher had to spend a lot of time getting his team ready for this level, but it should pay big dividends in 2012-13.
Maine(12-16, 6-10) – So much talent, so little to show for it. Justin Edwards and Alasdair Fraser are great blocks to build around, but they’re going to need some more help. The departures of Gerald McLemore and RaheemSingleton is going to leave holes in the offense next season. What TedWoodward really needs is for his team to commit to play defense. Maine has allowed six of its last seven opponents to score at least a point per possession and lost each of those games.
UMBC(4-25, 3-13) – Losing Chris De La Rosa at the beginning of the season basically tanked the Retrievers’ season. Along the way, though, ChasePlummer picked up a lot of the slack and walk-on Ryan Cook became an integral part of the rotation. Both those players will be back next season as UMBC tries to find a new way to hold down opponents after surrendering a conference-worst 1.12 points per possession this season.
Binghamton(1-28, 1-15) – All those losses have exposed the fact that changes still need to be made in upstate New York. The Bearcats have left Mark Macon with an almost impossible situation and while there’s some talent on the roster, Robert Mansell’s knee injury and Ben Dickinson’s immature actions on the court leave questions that need to be answered before next season.
John Templon is the RTC correspondent for America East. You can also find his musings online at NYC Buckets or on Twitter @nybuckets.
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.
An RTC In Binghamton To Snap A 27-Game Losing Streak Proved Cathartic. (Daniel O'Connor/Binghamton Pipe Dream)
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. Read the rest of this entry »
John Templon is the RTC correspondent for America East. You can also find his musings online at NYC Buckets or on Twitter @nybuckets.
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.
The Seawolves Are Running Towards A Conference Title.
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. Read the rest of this entry »
Last night we got the first glance of how Maryland will play with a full complement of players, and frankly, it looks pretty good compared to the shaky team that started the season. Point guard Pe’Shon Howard managed 11 points on only three field goal attempts while contributing eight assists and six rebounds against overmatched Albany. Meanwhile, Alex Len scored 14 points on nine shots while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds and three blocks. Both players demonstrated a bit of rust, turning the ball over a combined 11 times, but it’s easy to predict that to improve as both players get more live-game experience with their teammates. If these two can mesh with the rest of the team, the Terrapins become a much more dangerous team.
A Surprisingly Competitive Game
Yale at Wake Forest at 7:00 PM
The days of the ACC running roughshod over the Ivy League seem to be coming to an end. With a ranked Harvard team taking on a pitiful Boston College team, the honor of the ACC largely rests in the hands of Wake Forest. If this game was in Connecticut, I’d pick Yale in an instant, but in Winston-Salem the game is more evenly matched. Yale is a legitimately talented team with the height and skills to match up against the Demon Deacons. Both teams rely heavily on getting to the free throw line and though this isn’t true 99% of the time people say it, this game may come down to who can make the most free throws.
For Fans Only
Harvard at Boston College at 7:00 PM on ESPN3.com
Elon at North Carolina at 7:00 PM on ESPNU
Campbell at North Carolina State at 7:00 PM
Georgia Tech at Fordham at 8:00 PM on CBS College Sports
All of these games look to be fairly lopsided affairs, though the one game where the ACC is an underdog (Boston College against Harvard) has the spice of regional rivalry and role-reversal power dynamics. The North Carolina State game will give Wolfpack undergraduates and Campbell Law students an excuse to yell at each other in their shared Hillsborough St. bars. Fordham is not a very good team, but they are playing at home against an inconsistent Georgia Tech team. The Jack Wooten Classic gives another former Tar Heel an excuse to return to the Smith Center, but beyond the appeal of watching a former walk-on serve as an assistant coach, this game should turn into a rout very quickly.
John Templon is the RTC correspondent for the America East. You can also find his musings online at NYC Buckets or on Twitter @nybuckets.
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.”
Maine's Justin Edwards May Exude A Quiet Demeanor, But He Lets His Game Do The Talking. (GoBlackBears.com)
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. Read the rest of this entry »
John Templon is the RTC correspondent for America East. You can also find his musings online at NYC Buckets (http://www.nycbuckets.com) or on Twitter @nybuckets.
The Week That Was
Close Calls: The teams of America East have found themselves on the wrong end of close scores early in the season. The nine teams are a combined 1-8 in games decided by five points or fewer or in overtime. That includes Vermont’s two-point loss against South Florida, which would’ve been a big scalp for the league. The Catamounts also got the league’s first close victory with an overtime defeat of Old Dominion, 77-75 in overtime, on Tuesday.
New High Scorers: Two of the leading scorers in America East this season weren’t here in 2010-11. Albany’s Gerardo Suero has given the Great Danes a go-to guy and freshman Justin Edwards is leading the way for Maine. See Albany’s section below for much more about Suero. What’s impressive about Edwards, a Canadian import, is that he’s also leading the conference in steals in the early going with 3.5 per game. Edwards was named the America East Rookie of the Week for his efforts last week.
Slow Starts at the Top: Vermont, Boston University and Stony Brook were supposed to be the class of America East coming into this season. The Catamounts won two games they should’ve but lost to Long Island in their final game of Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The Seawolves suffered a tough loss to Sacred Heart and the Terriers fell to Northeastern and Cornell. Those are the types of 50/50 games that the top third of the league needs to win in order for America East to get some more respect moving forward.
Albany's Gerardo Suero Diced Up Syracuse's Zone, But The Great Danes Came Up Short. (Kevin Rivoli/AP)
RTC Live is back with a few more games this evening. Syracuse romped all over Manhattan College last night in the first round of the Preseason NIT, so they’ll face another Empire State team in the Dome this evening against Albany — join the fun from the Dome, after the jump.
Pittsburgh comes into the season as a borderline top 10 team, but they may have some work to do in the early part of the season as senior Nasir Robinson will be out for 3-4 weeks after undergoing surgery on his right knee. Even though this is Robinson’s second surgery on that knee the team is not ruling out the possibility that he could return in time to play the season-opener against Albany on November 11. Even if Robinson returns at that time it is unlikely that he will be at 100%, which will mean more work for a front line that no longer has Gary McGhee anchoring it. Instead, freshman Khem Birch will probably be the one asked to step up and provide an interior presence for a team that has plenty of talent on the perimeter.
While expectations for this season aren’t quite as high in College Park as they are in Pittsburgh, Maryland may also be dealing with similar issue on the inside at the beginning of the season unless they get a favorable ruling from the NCAA regarding the eligibility of Alex Len. The Terrapins were hoping for a decision today, but it appears that the NCAA had made no such suggestion and is “not anywhere close” to making a decision on Len’s eligibility. If Len is out for a prolonged period of time, we could very easily see the four guard line-up that Mark Turgeon referred to this summer because the Terrapins were going to be thin up front even with Lin and his absence only exacerbates that problem.
It has been rumored for quite a while, but it was not official until yesterday–President Barack Obama will attend the North Carolina–Michigan State game on November 11 on the USS Carl Vinson. While this made a lot of news and has the potential to make the game even more special than it already was, it is worth pointing out that this will not be the first college game that Obama has attended while he has been President. One thing that the early announcement will do is increase the already ridiculous level of security that we expect for the event.
Chapel Hill certainly was a busy place yesterday as news leaked that North Carolina was going to name Bubba Cunningham, the Tulsa athletic director, as its new athletic director at 8 AM today. Before Cunningham takes over, outgoing athletic director Dick Baddour gave Roy Williams (and coaches in two other sports) an extension through the 2018 season. We are certain that Cunningham would not have an objection to giving Williams an extension, but it seems rather strange that the outgoing athletic director would do so just a day before the incoming athletic director was going to be named.
Everybody’s favorite malcontent Renardo Sidney appears to have turned over a new leaf (for now). According to reports out of Starkville, Sidney is in the best shape that he has been in since he arrived there and is actually able to complete the team’s conditioning drills (shades of Albert Haynesworth?). Perhaps more importantly Sidney has reportedly matured (probably very closely related to his weight loss and conditioning). If Sidney can stay in shape and keep his head on straight, Mississippi State could surprise some people. We aren’t saying they are going to knock off Kentucky, but a Sidney-Anthony Davis match-up could be very interesting.
Getting Healthy: A number of America East teams are counting on the healthy return of star players to help boost their fortunes this season. New Hampshire has two players returning from injuries that cost them time last season, Alvin Abreu and Ferg Myrick. Abreu was a second-team all-league choice in 2009-10 before missing all but two games of last season with a knee injury. Myrick averaged 12.1 PPG and 4.1 RPG last season, but missed 16 games due to his own knee injury. Another second-team player from 2009-10, Tommy Brenton, returns for Stony Brook as well. Even after missing last season, Brenton is the current conference leader in career rebounds. One player who missed most of last season, Boston University’s Jake O’Brien, unfortunately re-injured his ankle and will miss the entire 2011-12 campaign as well.
Departed Head Men: Two of the top teams in the America East lost their head coaches during the offseason carousel. Pat Chambers made the NCAA Tournament at Boston University and then left for Penn State and Mike Lonergan went from Vermont to the head job at George Washington. Former Columbia head coach JoeJones is replacing Chambers, while the Catamounts decided to promote John Becker. Becker was Lonergan’s assistant for the past five seasons.
Learning The Hard Way: Boston University is one of the league favorites and the Terriers will find out quickly if they’re for real. The non-conference schedule is a very difficult one that includes road games at Texas, Boston College and Villanova. Another way to learn about the conference early in the season is to watch Boston College. The Eagles also play against New Hampshire, a team which could surprise people, and Stony Brook during non-conference play.
The Great Race and Parity: This season’s conference race looks like it’s going to be a three-horse race with Boston University, Vermont and Stony Brook ahead of the pack. That might be good news for the Seawolves as five different teams have won the conference title in the past five seasons. Since the Catamounts won in 2010 and the Terriers in 2011, maybe 2011-12 is the season where Stony Brook breaks through for its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.
Terrier Fans Should Expect To See Plenty of Darryl Partin This Season. (AP Photo)