Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.
2009-10 America East (Conf/Overall)
- Vermont 1-0 10-5
- Stony Brook 1-0 9-5
- Maine 0-0 8-5
- New Hampshire 0-0 5-6
- Albany 0-0 5-10
- Binghamton 0-0 5-10
- Hartford 0-0 2-11
- Boston University 0-1 5-8
- UMBC 0-1 1-13
Hottest Team- Maine
Even with the roll Vermont is on, it is hard to ignore the three-game winning streak that Maine have put together. The win over Columbia in New York was expected, but no one could have predicted the win at BC, and the Black Bears finished it off by snapping Princeton’s six-game winning streak.
Stud Player– Marqus Blakely- Sr. F, Vermont, 22 PPG/12 RPG
It seems Blakely may have taken offense to the most recent nomination of classmate Maurice Joseph as Stud Player of the week. In the last three games Blakely has recorded a double-double in each, reminding us who makes Vermont go.
Thoughts on the AE
In the last two weeks we have seen two teams riding three-game winning streaks before facing off in their conference opener. One had beaten a team for the first time since 1924-25. It was the America East’s third victory against a BCS conference school this year. The other had been riding one of the greatest players this league has seen in winning eight out of their last nine. All the while the preseason favorite fell in their first game to the Seawolves who demonstrated their dominance over the state of Massachusetts.
Marqus Blakely has led the way for the Catamounts recently. Vermont has won three straight and eight of their last nine. The only loss in the streak was to Delaware, 56-50. The most recent victory was a 73-58 win over UMBC in Vermont’s first conference game. In the victory, Blakely registered 17 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists. It was his third straight double-double and eighth on the season (the school record is 17). In the previous two victories he recorded 26 points and 11 rebounds at St. Mary’s and 23 points and 11 rebounds at Marist. The victory over St. Mary’s was the Catamounts’ 14th straight over NEC teams. Senior guard Maurice Joseph added 15 points, including 12 from behind the arc.
Check out Blakely’s current stat line on the year: 18.6 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.9 APG, 3.0 SPG, and 2.3 BPG. He is first in the America East in points steals, blocks, second in rebounds, and fourth in assists per game. No player in the history of the America East has finished in the top ten for every category let alone the top five. It was known coming into the season that he is one of the most versatile players in history of the league and it looks like he is putting it all together to statistically put together the best all around season in the history of the America East. Blakely broke the 1500-point barrier last week and is currently 29th with 1,547 points. He also is 14th with 858 rebounds and is among the top ten with 222 blocks. There are only seven players in history of the league who’ve hit the same plateaus in points and rebounds that Blakely has. When he is done this season, he may be one of three with 1700 points and 1000 rebounds.
Maine managed to record three victories in a row including a huge victory at BC. The Black Bears rallied from eight down with six minutes left. Sean McNally made the deciding free throws with just over a minute left to give Maine a 52-51 advantage that secure the win. McNally played a great all-around game with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. Gerald McLemore chipped in with 14 points. Maine’s 52-51 victory over BC is the America East’s third victory this year over a BCS-conference school. Previously, BU beat Indiana and Vermont won at Rutgers. It was the first victory over an ACC school for an America East team since Vermont downed the Eagles 77-63, on November 14, 2006.
After losing back to back games against Sacred Heart and Saint Peter’s, Stony Brook won a couple of games to push their record to 9-5. There was a victory over Holy Cross on New Year’s Eve at home followed by a win in the conference opener against preseason favorite Boston University. Against BU sophomore Bryan Dougher shot 8-10 from three-point range. He was the first player to score 30+ points for Stony Brook in almost two full years and the eight treys tied the school record. Dougher is shooting 17-24 in the past three games. Tommy Brenton added 15 points and 11 rebounds against BU. It was his third double-double of the season.
New Hampshire beat Colgate, 63-55, before heading west and dropping the game against Santa Clara, 71-68. Tyrone Conley did all he could in California, scoring a career-high 28 points for UNH. The Wildcats took a 68-67 lead with 14 seconds left on a jumper from Chandler Rhoads, but Ray Cowels hit two free throws for Santa Clara to give them the lead back. Cowels followed it up with two more to finish off the game. To start off the conference slate they face Boston University at home where they have won eight straight dating back to last year.
Albany managed to snap a four-game losing streak with a 21-point victory over Yale. Albany turned a six-point lead at half into a blowout in the second period. Tim Ambrose led the way with 22 points and Billy Allen finished with 21 on 8-9 shooting including 5-6 from three-point range. The game against North Carolina was the second straight year they have faced the defending champions. Even in losing Albany can find bright spots though. The Great Danes were down by 38 with less than eight minutes to go and managed to cut it to a final deficit of 17. It was the fourth-highest ranked opponent Albany has faced. Billy Allen’s (at the time) career-high 16 points seemed to have set the stage for his big game against Yale.
Surprisingly enough, Binghamton has won two out of their last four after starting out 3-8, with only two wins against Division I opponents. In the Bearcats’ last game they took down A-10 foe LaSalle. The game included a big comeback by the Bearcats in the second half; they were down ten going into halftime. Greer Wright finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.
Hartford is currently in the midst of a nine-game losing streak. The last two losses were to undefeated #3 Kentucky and St. Francis of Pennsylvania. The Hawks were destroyed 104-61 at Kentucky. The biggest loss of the game though was point guard Andres Torres who tore the PCL in his right knee. Torres is not expected to return for 4 to 6 weeks. Against St. Francis, Joe Zeglinski’s 17 points were not enough for Hartford. The Hawks shot 6-26 from three-point range compared to the Red Flash, who shot 6-12.
After it seemed Boston University might be turning the corner before Christmas with three straight wins, they dropped their first two after Christmas. They lost by 14 to a good Dayton squad. The loss that hurt, though, was the league opener to Stony Brook. In the past 30 years the America East champion has only lost it’s opener twice, so BU is already starting from behind. The Terriers had no answer for Stony Brook’s deep range. They allowed the Seawolves to shoot 12-20 from three-point land. Sophomore Jake O’Brien led the way with a career-high 27 points in the losing effort.
UMBC finally did get their first victory before Christmas over American, but have since continued their losing ways with four straight losses. The closest they got to a victory since the holiday was against Central Connecticut State. UMBC took CCSU to double overtime before losing, 89-86. Chris De La Rosa had 25 points in the loss.