Matt McKillip is the RTC correspondent for the America East conference.
A Look Back
- Believe It or Not: Ripley’s should consider sponsoring the America East this season, because the standing are mind-boggling. Hartford (6th in the preseason coaches poll, 3-10 OOC) went into the week on top of the league, before being overtaken by the undefeated Binghamton Bears (who were tabbed 7th, and were also 3-10 outside the America East)
- Don’t Play for New Hampshire, Kids: After Alvin Abreu, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, from last year went down with a season ending injury, sophomore Ferg Myrick stepped into the lead scoring role and showed promise of being one of the better players in the league, that is until he ruptured a patella tendon. There’s been about five similar cases in the last half decade… are the Wildcats turning into the Clippers?
- Who’s On Top?: Vermont handled upstart Albany, while Boston University dropped a game to Maine on the road. Then Maine lost to Hartford at home. Then BU beat Vermont in Boston. Then Hartford lost on the road to a hobbled New Hampshire squad after blowing a huge early lead. If you figure out who is going to win the league, let me know.
1) Vermont (11-4, 2-1): Vermont stumbled away at Boston University and were actually down at halftime to Albany. The Catamounts are the still the most consistent team in the league because they play harder, make smart plays and control the boards. But leader Evan Fjeld has been slowed for a couple of games, and it will be interesting to see if he picks up his production during conference play.
2) Maine (9-7, 3-1): Maine dropped a two-point decision on their home floor to a then-streaking Hartford team. It was a tough loss after a banner victory over Boston University to open the season. Forward Troy Barnies has worked himself into an All-Conference player, out of nowhere. The senior big man leads the team in points (13.3 PPG) and rebounds (7.3 RPG).
3) Boston University (7-10, 2-1): Boston Univesity received forward Jeff Pelage back from injury and his return has been a boon to the team. He is still well off 100%, but coach Pat Chambers is clearly pleased to have his muscular rebounding specialist back- played him significant minutes. Keep an eye out for rookie point guard DJ Irving after he abused Vermont’s weak defense guard play for many open layups. The talent on the team is starting to come together- if it does, the rest of the America East could be in trouble
4) Hartford (5-11, 2-1): Hartford embarrassed Albany to take first place in the AE standings, but then blew an enormous lead to a weak New Hampshire team. Morgan Sabia has been putting up the numbers for this team, but Milton Burton has been exceptional in the middle of a 1-3-1 zone. The 6’5 senior has wrecked havoc for opposing teams and leads the league in steals (2.2 SPG).
5) Binghamton (6-10, 3-0): Kudos to the Bearcats for the hot start to the conference and especially for doing it without leading scorer Greer Wright, who has been sidelined with an injury, but we still have no proof this team will compete in the America East. Their wins are over the three worst teams in the league, but, if Mahamoud Jabbi keeps playing like a all-league player (17 points, 14 rebounds in a win over UMBC) who knows…
6) Albany (8-11, 1-3): Albany had a very tough opening schedule, but just hasn’t been able to spring the upsets. Against Maine at home, they had the ball in a tie game with 40 seconds left, and both a seven-foot floater and a mid-range jump shot didn’t fall. Tim Ambrose has been slipping, so Albany will need more aggression from point guard Mike Black and the oft-quiet bench and bigs.
7) Stony Brook (6-9, 1-2): Stony Brook sandwiched a loss to Cornell in between similar outcomes to Vermont and Binghamton. The talent on this team is young, but they do no look ready to compete. Marcus Rouse stepped up on offense, but there hasn’t been much else. A lot of youth and talent on this team that might have come together under the insane effort of Tommy Brenton, but for now, the season appears lost.
8) New Hampshire (7-9, 1-3): Yes, they beat Hartford and yes, they still have two of the more talented players in the league, Dane DiLiegro and Tyrone Conley. But even their comeback might have a drawback – Conley is well known for shunning his athleticism to pop from deep and a 6-10 game from three against Hartford will likely encourage him to keep chucking the ball.
9) UMBC (1-15, 0-3): Free hugs! If you’re team is on a skid, there might be a leftover Christmas surprise if UMBC is waiting on your schedule.
A Look Ahead
Are You For Real?
- Perhaps we’ll find out when Binghamton travels to Maine. If Binghamton holds onto the top spot in the league after that road trip, time to start giving credit to Bearcats. (January 15)
- Boston University at Albany: The Danes gave Maine fits in Albany but let the game slip through their fingers- will they have more luck against the Terriers? (January 15)
- Maine at Vermont: Two of the best teams in the league go head to head, don’t be shocked if this is an AE Championship preview. (January 18)