2012-13 RTC Conference Primers: Conference USA

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 5th, 2012

Ryan Peters is the RTC correspondent for Conference USA. You can find him on Twitter @pioneer_pride and read his musings online at Big Apple Buckets and Pioneer Pride.

Top Storylines

  • A Conference in Considerable Flux – Before MemphisHoustonUCF, and SMU defect to the Big East – which officially makes a geographic mockery of the Big East’s name – C-USA will have one final season together as a full-fledged “upper-level” Division I conference. With only six NCAA Tournament teams and zero NCAA tournament victories in the past three seasons, however, can C-USA muster together a respectable showing for the 2012-13 campaign that doesn’t rival most mid-major conferences? Memphis is the only virtual lock to go dancing, yet several other programs (see MarshallUTEP, and Tulane) are on the rise and could conceivably end up on the right side of the tournament bubble come March. Still, it may be overly optimistic to think C-USA will break the two-team NCAA bid barrier that has eluded the conference since 2005.
  • A Run Towards Perfection – In his fourth season as Memphis’ head coach, Josh Pastner has an opportunity to do something his predecessor, John Calipari, did with apparent ease for three straight seasons prior – have his Tigers run the table in C-USA. With the conference slightly weaker heading into this season (according to Ken Pomeroy), Memphis has a real opportunity to put up a perfect 16-0 regular season mark against their conference foes. It will still prove to be difficult, especially when facing UCF and Marshall twice as part of their unbalanced schedule, yet Memphis returns four starters and is sitting on a potential NBA lottery pick in Adonis Thomas if the 6’7” small forward can stay healthy for much of the season.

Josh Pastner leads a talented home-grown roster in Memphis’ final season in C-USA.

  • Welcoming Back a Legend – Anytime you can hire a head coach with a resume such as the 71-year old Larry Brown, I guess you have to do it, given SMU’s desperation to hire a big name. After all, you’re talking about a guy with an NCAA championship and an NBA championship on his resume. The problem is – aside from his age and inability to coach through the initial contract at his last three destinations – Brown has been away from the college game for nearly 25 years, when he won the 1988 NCAA championship coaching Danny Manning (who, interestingly, is a new C-USA coach himself) and the Kansas Jayhawks. How much can the Mustangs reasonably expect from Brown under these conditions? The cupboard is bare with the graduation of leading scorer and most efficient player, Robert Nyakundi, and the removal of four players including starting point guard Jeremiah Samarrippas, so you have to wonder if Brown will have the patience to stick around long enough to fully rebuild a SMU program that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1993. One benefit from Brown’s hiring is that he has assembled an impressive coaching staff, which includes the Mustangs possible head-coach-in-waiting in Tim Jankovich.
  • New Coaching Blood – Including Brown, there are four C-USA programs that hired new coaches this offseason, which makes up a whopping one third of the entire league. The most notable new hires are Brown and the aforementioned Danny Manning, who left his assistant post at Kansas in an attempt to push Tulsa out of complacency. Donnie Tyndall (Southern Miss) and Jerod Haase (UAB) complete the list of coaches. It will be an uphill battle in season one; research has shown head coaches typically struggle in their first season at their newest destination. Perhaps these men can buck the trend and adapt quickly, although the more likely scenario has some of the league taking advantage and pushing ahead of these rebuilding programs for the time being. Well, maybe except for Rice (more on that later)…

Reader’s Take I

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Memphis (14-2)
  2. Marshall (12-4)
  3. UTEP (11-5)
  4. UCF (10-6)
  5. UAB (9-7)
  6. Southern Mississippi (8-8)
  7. Tulane (7-9)
  8. East Carolina (7-9)
  9. Houston (6-10)
  10. Tulsa (5-11)
  11. SMU (5-11)
  12. Rice (2-14)
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Checking In On… the NEC

Posted by rtmsf on December 9th, 2011

Ray Floriani is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC conferences.


Looking Back

The pre-2012 portion of the Northeast Conference schedule didn’t give us a whole lot to discern, with a couple of exceptions. Defending conference champ Long Island will once again be a tough out for rival foes. Central Connecticut State appears to be a threat with more players stepping up to help standout guard Ken Horton. Robert Morris has its young talent playing well and Wagner, despite having the “luck” to open the conference season at LIU, gave the host Blackbirds all they could handle. At the start of the season, I labeled Wagner (7-2) as a dark horse for the NEC title. Now, they are getting referenced in the same sentence as “contender.”

Leading Off: On December 6, Wagner defeated a talented Hofstra squad (58-43) in Staten Island, signaling another solid non-conference win for Danny Hurley and company. Meanwhile, King Rice earned win number one on the season as Monmouth nipped Navy (69-67) in Annapolis on Tuesday.

Player of the Week:  Ken Horton, 6’8″ Sr. F, Central Connecticut State – Has averaged 31 points in the Blue Devils’ two NEC games so far, highlighted by an impressive 32-point outburst against Bryant. Horton was dangerously effective inside (nine rebounds) and out (6 of 10 from three).

Rookie of the Week: Lucky Jones, 6’5″ Fr.  G/F., Robert Morris – Jones averaged 12.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in the Colonials’ two wins. Ironically, a product of New Jersey and famed high school national power St. Anthony’s, Jones face off against the Garden State’s two NEC schools.

Central Connecticut State's Ken Horton is averaging a conference-best 22.5 points per game so far this season (ccsubluedevils.com)

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RTC Summer Updates: Northeast Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 19th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our latest and final update comes courtesy of our NEC correspondent, Ray Floriani.

Summer Storylines

  • Monmouth Makes Noise – First came the hiring of King Rice to take over for Dave Calloway. Rice promises a significant upgrade, change in culture and return to winning ways for the New Jersey Shore-based school. To beef up its revenue stream, the university recently announced a partnership with New Jersey’s Millennium Radio Group. As part of the deal, all Monmouth games will be aired on WOBM-AM for the next three seasons. Each Monday, the King Rice Show will also be broadcast on the station. Finally, Monmouth accepted a bid to play in the NIT Season Tip-Off. The Hawks will face Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in the East Regional. Other teams in that group are George Mason and Florida International.
  • Phenomenal Phelan: NEC Hall of Famer Jim Phelan will receive the Lapchick Character Award at Madison Square Garden. The former Mount St. Mary’s mentor joins Hall of Famer Pete Carril and Virginia women’s coach Debbie Ryan in receiving this year’s honor. The trio has enjoyed wonderful and winning careers punctuated with loyalty, longevity and success.
  • Red Flash Commemorates History: St. Francis (PA) looks to improve and be competitive in the NEC, but not without forgetting its past. St. Francis will honor the “Golden” basketball legacy between 1940 and 1970. Players from that area will be nominated and reviewed by a selection committee to be included in an extended wing of the St. Francis Hall of Fame. As 1970 alumnus Bob Moore said, “Small Catholic colleges, particularly in the East, ranked among the nation’s collegiate powers.  To pay tribute to those early players and the teams St. Francis produced is long overdue.”
  • Hurley Hunkers Down: Wagner head coach Danny Hurley is getting his teams exposed to the highest level and toughened up for league play. His Wagner club will visit 2011 NCAA Tournament representatives Princeton, UConn and Pittsburgh on the road.  The Seahawks will also travel to the Cable Car Classic out west in December. Wagner opens that tournament with Air Force before facing Santa Clara or Eastern Michigan in the next round.
  • More of Moore: Quinnipiac coach Tom Moore was awarded a well-deserved extension through the 2015-16 season. Terms of the pact were not disclosed. Moore led Quinnipiac to 23 victories and a NEC regular season title in 2010.

CCSU's Ken Horton Leads The Charge For The Blue Devils. (CCSUBlueDevils.com)

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RTC Summer Update: America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 13th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our newest update comes courtesy of our America East correspondent, John Templon. John also writes about New York City basketball at Big Apple Buckets.

Reader’s Take I

Summer Storylines

  • Coaches Moving On Up: Vermont and Boston University lost two very talented coaches this summer. The Catamounts’ Mike Lonergan went back to his Washington, D.C., roots and took the job at George Washington. Lonergan – who won a national title at Division III Catholic University in D.C. and also coached at Maryland – should fit in well at GW. Assistant John Becker replaced Lonergan, so there should be strong continuity. On the other hand, BU had to scramble after Pat Chambers was hired by Penn State to replace Ed DeChellis. The Terriers ended up with former Columbia head coach Joe Jones, who spent last season as an assistant at Boston College.
  • Playing With The (Future) Pros: The 2010-11 America East Player of the Year, Boston University’s John Holland, played in the Portsmouth Invitational. He finished tied for ninth in scoring at 15.0 points per game and 18th in rebounding with 6.3 boards per game. He played with former Florida forward Vernon Macklin and former Villanova guard Corey Fisher on the Portsmouth Sports Club team that finished in fourth place. Holland had workouts with a few NBA teams before signing with Chorale de Roanne of France’s Pro A Division.
  • A World of Experience: America East continues to pick up steam as a worldwide conference. Four players in Maine’s incoming recruiting class aren’t originally from the United States and Albany has two players coming in from Australia and another from the Dominican Republic in its 2011 class. Another Australian, Corban Wroe, will be playing for Hartford in the fall. Many of the incoming recruits have experience playing with their respective international squads and incoming Maine freshman Noam Laish was selected as the captain of Israel’s U-18 squad for the European Championships.

Patrick Chambers parlayed last season's tournament berth with BU into a payday at Penn State, sending BU scrambling (credit: Steve McLaughlin).

Power Rankings

  1. Boston University: After making the NCAA Tournament in 2011, the Terriers return all but one of their linchpins. Of course, that one guy is America East Player of the Year John Holland who averaged 19.2 PPG last season. BU will also be going without head coach Pat Chambers, but he certainly didn’t leave the cupboard bare for Joe Jones. Darryl Partin (14.3 PPG) and Jake O’Brien (10.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG) should provide scoring. Also watch out for sophomore guard D.J. Irving. He averaged 8.0 PPG as a freshman and his workload should only increase in 2011-12. The Terriers have won 21 games in each of the past two seasons and a postseason berth is definitely the expectation. Read the rest of this entry »
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America East Wrap & Tourney Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 3rd, 2011

Matt McKillip of Purple and Gold Nation is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

Postseason Preview

  • Injury Updates: Brenadan Bald and Evan Fjeld were held out of practice for Vermont- if they’re significantly hampered, the Catamounts will need heroic efforts from the rest of their cast. Their body of work has been garnering 14-seeds from bracketologists, but health will be the key factor to weather they will dance.
  • Hot Black: Albany’s Mike Black was the best player in the conference over the past week and if he can keep it up, the Danes will be a tough out.
  • Maine Who?: Maine has been the best in the league– and has also bottomed out with losses to basement dwellers. The talent is there, but can three point threat Gerald McLemore and crew rally to their former selves after losing seven of their last eight games?

Relive last season’s finale between Vermont and BU in the video below:

A Look Back

War of Attrition: Part 2, The Rolling of the Ankles: It has been a rough season for star players in the America East. Pre-season POY candidate Tommy Brenton went down for Stony Brook before the year started, and then New Hampshire lost two leading scorers during the non-conference (Alvin Abreu and Ferg Myrick). In the past week though, a series of sprains have created a lot of uncertainty for the playoff picture. John Holland of Boston University, the league leader in scoring, was kept out of the final regular season game with an ankle Injury, as was one of Vermont’s top scoring threats, Brendan Bald (11.5 PPG). And then in the final game of the year, another POY candidate, Evan Fjeld of Vermont, rolled his ankle and was kept out for the rest of the game. While all are likely to play the entire postseason, it marks a potential weakness for the two top teams in the league.

Conference Player of the Year: John Holland, Boston University. The senior Holland was the presumptive favorite after being showered with post-season recognition accolades during his first three seasons. Despite leading the league in scoring (19.9 PPG) essentially wire to wire, Holland’s year got off to a bumpy start. Holland struggled to assume a leadership role with a young and transfer laden cast- his shot selection especially struggled. But as conference play turned towards the home stretch, Holland led the Terriers to 8 straight victories entering the post-season.

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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 23rd, 2011


Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the Northeast Conference.

A Look Back

The top spot is decided, as Long Island clinched the regular season title on the road last week. In the NEC, the top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament. The individual games are at the home court of the higher seed, and this week’s action will have bearing on that all important seeding.  Heading into the final week, three teams are battling for the number four spot. Another three are in the hunt for the eighth and final seed. Wagner could finish anywhere from the second to seventh seed, depending on how the week plays out.  Two days of action are left, and scoreboard-watching will be very much in vogue in the NEC.

Power Rankings

1. LIU (22-5, 14-2) The Blackbirds won twice away from home to wrap up the conference, edging Wagner 83-79 before an ‘easier’ win at Mount St. Mary’s, 84-64. The Blackbirds are averaging 75 possessions per game and were over 70 in both games the past week. Efficiency margin was modest, +5 (109-104) at Wagner. The EM at the Mount was outstanding, +27 with a 115-88 difference. Despite the ‘NASCAR’ pace, the offensive TO rate is a vanilla 21% on the season.

Notable: Freshman point guard Jason Brickman was selected NEC Rookie of the Week. Brickman averaged 8.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2 steals and had only three turnovers in 63 minutes for the Blackbirds.

2. Quinnipiac (19-8, 11-5 overall) A clean sweep on the road. The Bobcats defeated Bryant 80-60 before getting a nailbiter, 68-67 , at CCSU. Efficiency margin was an outstanding +31 (125-94) in the win at Bryant. At Central Connecticut, the margin was more down to earth at +1 (106-105). The Bobcats had a 23% TO rate in the Bryant win, but that was offset by an outstanding 61% eFG percentage. The Offensive rebounding percentage in that game was 40-24% in Quinnipiac’s favor.

Notable: James Johnson averaged 17 points for the week. The senior guard scored 24 points against Bryant, going 7-11 from three point range. Johnson has the Quinnipiac Division-I record with 91 consecutive games started.

3. Central Connecticut (18-9, 11-5). If nail-biters are your specialty, Central was the team to watch. The Blue Devils split at home, edging  Sacred Heart 57-56 before falling 68-67 to Quinnipiac. The efficiencies mirrored the closeness of the scores. CCSU enjoyed an 86-85 advantage against Sacred Heart and was on the short end of a 106-105 offensive efficiency against Quinnipiac. The Blue Devils forced Sacred heart into a 32% TO rate.

Notable: Ken Horton, the NEC Co-Player of the Week, averaged 26.5 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. The junior forward scored a career high 35 points against Quinnipiac.

4. Robert Morris (14-13, 10-6). A good road weekend was had by RMU with victories at Fairleigh Dickinson (74-50) and Monmouth (62-60). The Colonials enjoyed a +38 (117-79) efficiency margin in the win at FDU. The TO rate in that game was an outstanding 6%. The Monmouth game was a tougher go as the Colonial TO rate increased to 26% and the host Hawks enjoyed a 56% eFG showing.

Notable: Russell Johnson, a redshirt sophomore, hit a jumper with 3.3 seconds left to defeat Monmouth. Johnson finished with 13 points, 9 rebounds and three assists. Sophomore forward Lijah Thompson averaged 13.5 points, 5 rebounds on the week.

5. Wagner (13-14, 9-7) The Seahawks lost two at the friendly confines of the Spiro Center. LIU defeated Wagner 83-79 before St. Francis (NY) emerged a 77-73 victor. Averaging 69 possessions per game, both outings were faster than the norm. The Pace was 76 and 71 possessions in the respective meetings. Wagner shot a gaudy 61% eFG mark against St. Francis but were guilty of a 28% TO rate, six percentage points above the season‘s average.

Notable: A three-pointer with three seconds remaining by Chris Martin forced overtime against LIU. Martin finished with 16 points, 14 after halftime. Latif Rivers, a freshman guard, enjoyed an 18 point, six-rebound, five-assist day against the Blackbirds.

6. St. Francis (NY) (13-14, 8-8). The flair for the dramatic. The Terriers captured road games over Mount St. Mary’s, 63-60 and Wagner 77-73. St. Francis averages 98 in offensive efficiency and was over 100, highlighted by the 108 at Wagner, both games. On the defensive end, they allowed a 99 efficiency. The TO rate was only 15% at the Mount. On defense, the Terriers force opponents into a 25% To rate. At Wagner that defensive number was  above average at 28%.

Notable: Senior guard Ricky Cadell earned NEC Co-Player of the Week accolades averaging 22 PPG for the two games. The Terriers clinched an NEC tournament berth and Cadell scored 13 points the final three minutes in the win at Wagner.

7. Mount St. Mary’s (10-19, 8-8) missed a chance to move up. The Mount suffered two home losses, to St. Francis (NY) 63-60 and LIU 84-64. The efficiency margin was a -5 against St. Francis but a whopping -27 (88-115) in the LIU meeting. The Mount had an impressive 57% eFG showing in the St. Francis game. Both contests, though, saw the Mount post a high 23% TO rate.

Notable: Senior forward Shawn Atupem scored 23 points against LIU on Senior Day. Atupem is coming on strong of late. Over the last five games he is averaging 15.2 points and shooting 73% from the floor.

8. Bryant (9-19, 7-9). Two games dropped at home. Quinnipiac defeated Bryant 80-60 before Sacred Heart squeaked by 83-77. Bryant averages 99 in offensive efficiency and exploded for a 126 against Sacred Heart. Bulldogs TO rate has been under 20% the last three games. Despite a one-sided loss to Quinnipiac, the Bulldogs did force a 23% defensive TO rate in that meeting. Both recent opponents also shot over 60% eFG percentage against Bryant.

Notable: Senior swingman Cecil Gresham averaged 20 points for the two games. Gresham scored a season-high 29 points against Sacred Heart on Bryant’s Senior Day.

9. St. Francis (PA) (8-19, 6-10) came up short, 57-51 at Monmouth but bounced back for a 77-65 victory at FDU. The EM (efficiency margin) was -11 at Monmouth, but a few days later, it improved dramatically to +19 (122-103) in the victory at FDU. The Red Flash were strapped with a 25% TO rate at Monmouth. Against FDU, the offense was in better synch. St. Francis To rate was only 19% and their eFG percentage, a sparking 67%.

Notable: A deadly three point shooter, sophomore guard Umar Shannon exploded for 25 points on 7-10 from beyond the arc. In the win at FDU. Shannon added 5 rebounds and two assists.

10. Sacred Heart (10-17, 5-11) – The Pioneers were one for two on the road. They dropped a close one, 57-56 at Central Connecticut. Sacred Heart rebounded to defeat Bryant 83-77. After posting an 85 offensive efficiency at CCSU, Sacred Heart had a season high 136 at Bryant. A 65% eFG percentage and a fine 18% TO rate helped the offensive cause. The defense was a season high in opposition efficiency as Bryant rang up a 126 in that contest.

Notable: Inserted as a starter four games ago, freshman forward Louis Montes has made an impact. Montes is averaging 12.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and shooting 62% from the field during that stretch.

11. Monmouth (9-19, 5-11) Took a home split. The Hawks downed St. Francis (PA) 57-51 and were nosed out by Robert Morris 62-60. Monmouth had an outstanding 86 defensive efficiency against St. Francis. That contest was a deliberate, even by Monmouth’s 65 average standard,   59 possession affair. Hawks’ defense gave up a 102 efficiency mark to Robert Morris, but hung close, as the Colonials were guilty of a 26% TO rate.

Notable: Jesse Steele came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points against St. Francis (PA). The sophomore guard averaged 16 points, 3.5 assists and had no turnovers in the two games.

12. FDU (2-14, 4-23) Two home losses, to Robert Morris 74-50 and St. Francis (PA) 77-65. The Knights have lost ten straight and 20 of 21. Defensive woes continued as the last two opponents were over 50% eFG and under 20% in TO rate. FDU had a -38 (79-117) efficiency margin against Robert Morris and -19 (103-122) in the St. Francis (PA) contest.

Notable: John Galvin scored his 600th point and Terence Grier his 800th in a senior day loss to St. Francis (PA). Galvin had his fourth double-double of the season in that game with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

A Look Ahead

February 24:

  • Mount St. Mary’s at Robert Morris
  • FDU at Sacred Heart
  • Bryant at LIU
  • Wagner at St. Francis (PA)
  • Central Connecticut at St. Francis (NY)
  • Monmouth at Quinnipiac

February 26:

  • Central Connecticut at LIU
  • FDU at Quinnipiac
  • Monmouth at Sacred Heart
  • Bryant at St. Francis (NY)
  • Monmouth at St. Francis (PA)
  • Wagner at Robert Morris
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Checking in on… the NEC

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 9th, 2011

Ray Floriani of College Chalk Talk is the RTC correspondent for the MAAC and NEC.

(ed. note – this week’s check-in was penned before Friday night’s action.)

A Look Back

The week brought on the resumption of Northeast Conference play. Thursday saw the membership battling in conference meetings, which continue until late season.

Besides NEC play heating up again, there was a milestone to remember. Dave Bike of Sacred Heart won his 500th game, as the Pioneers downed Holy Cross 77-75 on January 2. Bike has been on the Sacred Heart sideline for 33 years and had an overall record of 500-451. Make that 501 as the Pioneers defeated FDU on the road in their first NEC get-ogether of the new year.

Power Rankings

1. Wagner (3-0, 7-7 overall) is enjoying a two game winning streak with home wins over Quinnipiac and Robert Morris. Both victories came after the new year. Danny Hurley’s club averages an offensive efficiency of 97. Against Qunnipiac, they were 116 and followed that up with a 117 in the recent win over Robert Morris.

Notable: The backcourt starred in a loss to Texas A&M. Junior guard Chris Martin scored 17 points, hitting four of nine attempts from beyond the arc. Freshman guard Latif Rivers added 13 points.

2. Central Connecticut (1-1, 8-3 overall). Central ran away from, UMass 92-63 in their first contest of the new year. Offensive efficiency was an outstanding 130 while the Minutemen were held to 89. CCSU also forced a 24% TO rate in a 71 possession contest. Later on, they defeated St. Francis (NY) 61-43, for a fifth straight win. The Blue Devils sported a season best defensive performance, holding the Terriers to 66 OE.

Notable: Junior forward Ken Horton hit the 1,000 point milestone. He hit the select circle faster than any player in the Blue Devils’ 25-year history.

3. FDU (2-0, 3-8 overall) The Knights dropped a fifth straight game, losing 98-92 to Lafayette in two overtimes on Sunday. An 88-possession game saw FDU post a 104 OE only to give up 111 on the other end. The score at the half was 29-26 in FDU’s favor. In the two overtimes, Lafayette outscored the Knights 31-25 as the points came fast and furious. In NEC action, FDU tied a season low, 75 OE in a 67-50 loss to Sacred Heart.

Notable: Senior guard Mike Scott had a ‘stat stuffer’ game against Lafayette. Scott tied his career high with 23 points while adding seven rebounds and eight assists. Senior forward Kamil Svrdlik has four double-doubles on the season.

4. LIU (2-1, 10-4 overall) Resumed conference play with a 75-55 victory at Bryant. The Blackbirds have won fourth straight and been over 100 offensive efficiency in each game. For the season, the uptempo (76 possessions per) LIU club averages an OE of 107.

Notable: Freshman guard Shane Brickman captured Co-Rookie of   the Week accolades with 14 points and eight assists per game performance in two road wins. Brickman shot 57% from the floor over those two contests.

5. Quinnipiac (2-1, 10-3 overall) A 70-possession pace team, the Bobcats were slowed into a 65-possession affair in their 72-70 win at Monmouth. Keys in this contest were Quinnipiac’s outstanding 19% TO rate and a fine 1.28 assist to turnover ratio. A 99 defensive efficiency team, the Bobcats gave up an abnormally high 108 efficiency but still managed a tough road win.

Notable: Senior forward Justin Rutty scored 26 points while grabbing ten rebounds in a win over Boston University. It was the 36th double-double of Rutty’s career.

6. St. Francis (NY) (2-1, 7-7 overall) The Terriers were dealt their first conference loss of the season, a 61-43 beating at Central Connecticut. St. Francis averages a 96 offensive efficiency clip, but was held to a season-low 66 by the Blue Devils. In a strange sequence, St. Francis forced Central into a 31% TO rate and had an excellent 16% in the same category. A forgettable 25% eFG mark by the Terriers goes a long way in telling the story of the outcome.

Notable: Senior guards Ricky Cadell and Akeem Bennett came close to outscoring the opposition. The pair combined for 38 points in a 72-47 rout of NJIT.

7. Mount St. Mary’s (2-1, 4-12 overall) Ended an eight-game losing streak with a 63-56 win over St. Francis (PA) at the Knotts Center. Despite a tough non-conference start, the Mount is in the NEC picture with their only loss being a tough two-point setback to pre-season favorite Quinnipiac.

Notable: Junior guard Lamar Trice averaged 1.9 points per game last season. Currently, Trice leads the Mountaineers in scoring at a 12.8 points per game clip. Trice led the Mount with 15 points on five treys in a loss to Virginia Tech.

8. Monmouth (1-1, 5-7 overall). Defeated Bryant 66-57 in a home game just after new years. Defensive efficiency was an outstanding 85 in that meeting. For the season, Monmouth’s DE is a dead-on average 100. Offensive efficiency was 99 against the Bulldogs, nine higher than their season norm. The Hawks then dropped a 72-70 home decision to Quinnipiac. A 25% TO rate largely contributed to the Hawks undoing.

Notable: Will Campbell hit for 17 points in a narrow loss to Harvard. The junior guard logged 27 minutes and shot 3-6 from three point range. Campbell, unfortunately, was one of four players recently suspended indefinitely by coach Dave Calloway due to academic reasons.

9. Robert Morris (1-2, 5-9 overall) Dropped an 83-78 contest at Wagner. The Colonials give up a 99 defensive efficiency mark but allowed an extremely high 117 in the loss to the Seahawks. All three of Robert Morris’ NEC contests have been away from the Sewell Center’s friendly confines.

Notable: Sophomore guard Karon Abraham averaged 16.7 points per game over a three game stretch. Abraham hit a career high 28 points in an OT win over Ohio University.

10. Sacred Heart (1-2, 6-8 overall) Scored a nice 67-50 road win at FDU. Sacred Heart had been winless in NEC action and FDU had taken both conference meetings at home. In a 67 possession game, FDU was forced into a 24% TO rate and held to an offensive efficiency of 75.

Notable: Shane Gibson, a sophomore guard, earned NEC Player of the Week honors with 26 and 21 points in respective outings against Providence and Holy Cross.

11. Bryant (0-3, 2-13 overall) The efficiency margin (offense – defense) is better than last year but still a -17 in need of improvement. This was reflected in a 75-55 home loss to LIU, where the Bulldogs were 80 on the offensive end and 109 defensively. To rate was an impressive 16% against the Blackbirds.

Notable: Freshman forward Alex Bryant averaged 20.3 points, 9.7 rebounds for the Bulldogs. Bryant earned NEC Co-Rookie of the Week honors.

12. St. Francis (PA) (0-3, 2-12 overall) Not an easy road for the Red Flash. Following non-league road losses at powerful Cincinnati and North Carolina, they resumed NEC play at Mount St. Mary’s. The result was closer but similar as the Flash suffered a 63-56 setback.

Notable: Sophomore forward Will Felder paced St. Francis with a 15-point, eight-rebound average in two games just prior to the resumption of NEC action. Felder had 18 points and seven boards in the loss at North Carolina.

A Look Ahead

January 13:

  • Bryant at Quinnipiac
  • FDU at Robert Morris
  • Monmouth at St. Francis(PA)
  • Wagner at St. Francis(NY)
  • Central Connecticut at Sacred Heart
  • Mount St. Mary’s at LIU

January 15:

  • Bryant at Sacred Heart
  • FDU at St. Francis (PA)
  • Monmouth at Robert Morris
  • Wagner at LIU
  • Central Connecticut at Quinnipiac
  • Mount St. Mary’s at St. Francis (NY)
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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2010

Matt McKillip is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

A Look Back

  • Half Dose of Kryptonite: UConn has been the surprise team of the year, but they are no match for America East opponents… at least for one half. After being down three at half to Vermont earlier in the year, Kemba Walker and company had to stave off the New Hampshire Wildcats after trailing again at half, 24-23.
  • Vermont, Mid-Major Top 25: The Catamounts entered this week at #21 as they moved to 5-1, quite a feather in Coach Lonergan’s hat for being able to reload.
  • Finding their Grove in Motown: The Great Danes got back their point guard Mike Black from injury and he played 30 minutes in all three games. The Danes won two of three, but a double-overtime loss to a very good Detroit team that featured two Albany buzzer-beaters could be remembered as the turning point of the season.

Caught on Film

Albany hits two unbelievable buzzer beaters against Detroit but couldn’t get the game winning triple at the end of double OT to drop.

Darryl Partin explodes from anonymity with a 32-point game that leads BU over Cornell. Also, take note of scary quick freshman DJ Irving.

Power Rankings

  1. Vermont (5-1): Vermont continues to roll, getting quality wins at Quinnipiac and against Loyola-Maryland, and disposing of lesser opponents like Dartmouth with ease. Evan Fjeld leads all AE players with 21.3 points per game and has been the most consistent player in the league. Freshman Brian Voelkel continues to stuff the stat sheets: 5 PPG, 5 APG, 9.7 RPG and 1.5 SPG.
  2. Boston University (4-4): The Cornell Big Red found out that Terriers are not just the John Holland show; in a 66-61 victory, LaSalle transfer Darryl Partin led BU with 32 points. The Terriers also picked up a nice win against Nevada in an NIT consolation game. Freshman Dom Morris provides muscle inside, but pre-season coaches all-conference pick Jake O’Brien has yet to find his rhythm (11 points in the last two games).
  3. Maine (2-3): The Black Bears have yet to notch a notable victory, but I’m not ready to drop them just yet. Gerald McLemore missed the past game against Quinnipiac with an illness, but in his absence a promising core of players stepped up. Shooting guard Terrance Mitchell scored 16 in his first game of action, but the freshman Alasdair Fraser is the player that impressed most. The Scotsman bullied Quinnipiac’s hyped forward Justin Rutty while picking up four blocks and 12 points.
  4. New Hampshire (3-2): It’s official, Alvin Abreu is lost for the season, but the Wildcats are starting to show promise of a more balanced attack without him. UNH is looking inside more often to senior Dane DiLiegro while athletic sophomore wing Ferg Myrick is getting more shots as well, both good developments.
  5. Albany (3-5):  Sliding them up from the cellar to number five might be too much, too soon, but with the return of point guard Mike Black, this team is among the hottest in the league right now. Black has opened the offense, driven down the turnovers and led the team to victories over Niagara and Bowling Green. Grabbing the headlines, though, has been Logan Aronhalt. He was the America East player of the week as he averaged 22 points over the three games in three days, highlighted by a 30 point, 6-9 three-pointer outburst against Niagara. Freshman forward Luke Devlin garnered Rookie of the Week awards with strong rebound performances and an electric 12-point first half against Detroit.
  6. Stony Brook (3-3): Stony Brook has dropped two straight to underwhelming opponents, Lehigh and Wagner. Bryan Dougher has been carrying the offensive load for this team, but a second option hasn’t emerged. Central to their struggles has been the poor shooting of Chris Martin who was 1-11 and 1-9 in the two losses. Forward Al Rapier has continued to provide steady performances, while freshman guard Dave Coley has been seeing more action and shots.
  7. Hartford (1-5): After a fast start, Morgan Sabia has been drifting back towards his 11-point average of the past three seasons. The Hawks picked up their first victory of the year against Saint Francis (PA), but then blew a halftime lead in what would have been a quality win against Fordham on the road. Joe Zeglinski‘s has stepped back into the leading role, posting 21 points in two straight games before an off night against Brown. It would help for him to be more efficient (49 points on 44 shots in his last three games).
  8. UMBC (0-6): It’s just not coming together. Chris De La Rosa has been carrying this team with 14 PPG and 7.3 APG, and it’s a struggle to fathom how he is even getting that many assists. Travis King has scored well, 16 PPG, but overall, this team continues to put out disjointed performances. The upset potential is high in the team, but coach Randy Monroe has a big task in front of him if he hopes to get this team playing cohesively.
  9. Binghamton (1-5): Yes, the Bearcats do manage to check in below a winless team and it’s not even a question. In the past two games, they have scored 12 and 13 points in the opening half. Kyle Whelliston of The Mid-Majority was posting Twitter updates entitled “Binghamton Basket Alerts” because scores were so few and far between. This team has only seven scholarship players, but the problems are not due to talent — this team just has no leader and no will to win.

A Look Ahead

  • UAlbany hopes to reclaim the Albany Cup with a victory weakened cross-town rival Siena (12/4)
  • Stony Brook looks to rebound against a Columbia team that recently knocked off Patriot League favorite American University. (12/11)
  • Vermont has balanced match-up with Yale over the weekend (12/4) before they have a heat check against BYU in Glens Falls, New York, Jimmer Fredette’s old stomping grounds (12/4). This game is supposed to be a romp, but Vermont could keep it competitive.
  • Boston University continues with challenging games away from home at Bucknell (12/4) and Harvard (12/11).
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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2010

Matt McKillip is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

A Look Back

  • Stony Brook for Breakfast: Those not heroic enough to last the full 24 hours had a chance to wake up to Stony Brook’s 6 am game, or the last half for those who couldn’t quite get out of bed at six. The Seawolves won a sloppy but exciting game, 51-49, over Monmouth.
  • Road Warriors: Vermont notched the top win so far of the season when they snapped Siena’s 38-game home winning streak, and followed it up by scaring UConn, leading 36-33 at half in that one.
  • Down With The Generals: Boston University defeated George Washington to set up a match up with Villanova, where coach Patrick Chambers was formerly an assistant, but the Terriers could not hang with the #7 team in the country.

Power Rankings

  1. Vermont (1-1): The Catamounts defeated Siena behind senior Evan Fjeld, his incredible mustache and the astonishingly steady hand of freshman Brian Voelkel who nearly notched a triple-double in his first ever game with 9/10/9 assts. For an encore, they dominated Connecticut in the first half before a career night from Kemba Walker pushed the Huskies ahead. UVM’s point guard issues are not settled, but the freshman do not show their age and the team executes excellently in the half court offense. After returning only one starter, Coach Lonergan again has made Vermont the team to beat in the America East.
  2. Boston University (1-2): The Terriers lost a close decision to a crosstown rival Northeastern, followed it up with a nice win over George Washington, but then were no match for Villanova the following night. Freshman guard D.J. Irving has earned a starting spot and, boy, is he quick out there — and that means something when you’re watching him on the same floor as Villanova’s guards. He’ll need to improve his jump shot, though — opponents sag well off him around the perimeter. Dom Morris and Patrick Hazel have shown flashes inside but will have to grow into their roles. John Holland continues to pour in the points, but one warning sign could be how tight of a rotation coach Patrick Chambers is keeping, as he is only going seven deep.
  3. Maine (1-1): Maine has received an early boost from senior forward Troy Barnies while preseason all-conference pick Gerald McLemore has been ice cold (5-24 FG). Transfer Raheem Singleton is fitting in nicely at point guard, but it is hard to get a read on this team. The first four games alternate between easy opponents and unwinnable games: Utah Valley State, Maryland, Maine Machias (a D-II school) and Notre Dame.
  4. New Hampshire (1-0): UNH has been the least active team in the America East, only playing one game so far, and they had to overcome a sluggish start to clip Dartmouth in their first game. Tyrone Conley had 18 points and led a balanced attack that included a double-double from big man Dane Diliegro. The lead story, though is that last year’s leading scorer and second team all-conference player Alvin Abreu (14.4 PPG) was hurt in the team’s lone game and there are rumors that he is out for the season.
  5. Stony Brook (3-1): After getting drubbed by UConn, Stony Brook has cruised through a schedule of powder puff teams. This seemed foolish when the Seawolves were conference favorites, but now that Tommy Brenton is lost for the season, easing into the year is prudent.  Chris Martin has been a consistent player, but it appears this team will live and die by the three point shooting of Bryan Dougher. Forward Al Rapier received no attention coming into the season, but the 6’7 JuCo transfer has become the primary beneficiary of Brenton’s injury — he’s turned into a nice role player (8.5 PPG, 7 RPG).
  6. Hartford (0-2): Morgan Sabia has been the surprise of the season so far; he is thriving under first year coach John Gallagher. The 6’8 forward scored 23 points in each game (he averaged 11 last season) while shooting over 50% and grabbing 9.5 RPG. The Hawks are struggling to get over the hump though, losing each of their first two games by two points.
  7. Binghamton (1-1): Talk about a one man show. Greer Wright has scored 48% of the Bearcats’ points so far. He led them to a two point victory of Colgate in the opener, but on Wednesday night, Binghamton took an 18-15 lead over Bucknell with 8:50 left in the first on Wednesday night… and then didn’t score for the rest of the half. The final score was 66-38. Thirty eight! It looks like it’s going to be an up-and-down season for Binghamton until they need to find a reliable second scorer.
  8. UMBC (0-2): The pieces are starting to take shape, but the Retrievers have not put together a complete effort yet. Transfer Travis King is establishing himself as the teams deep threat, scoring 22 points in a loss to Loyola (MD). Freshman Chase Plummer is off to a fast start after scoring in double figures in the first two games. This team has been able to put up points and if they learn how to close out games, they will be a sleeper in the America East this year.
  9. Albany (0-3): After taking a nine point lead on Cornell early in the first half, starting point guard Mike Black went down with an ankle sprain and it’s been a downward spiral since then. Since he’s been off the court, no Great Dane can hang onto the ball or find anything but iron on jump shots. It has felt at times that senior Tim Ambrose is the only thing standing between the Danes and a shutout. Australian freshman Luke Devlin has been a bright spot, putting in a lot of minutes and posting 10 points and 9 rebounds in his first game. Logan Aronhalt has been in double figures for all three games, but he has been wildly inaccurate. Coach Will Brown hopes to build on a solid second half against Georgia Tech as the team looks forward to Black’s return.

A Look Ahead

  • Central Connecticut State already has an America East scalp with a two point win over Hartford, but a talented though still disjointed UMBC team will try to hand them their first loss of the season. (11/20)
  • New Hampshire plays! They play their second game Saturday while multiple teams in the league play their fourth. How will the Wildcats respond to losing Abreu? (11/20)
  • As a consolation from the good people of the NIT, Boston University plays back-to-back games in DC against Hampton and Nevada. (11/22 & 11/23)
  • Loyola (MD) beat UMBC at home, how will they fare when travel to Burlington to play a Vermont team that has leapt to #1 in the America East power rankings. (11/24)
  • Albany’s winnable games just got a lot tougher; Iona and Yale upset Richmond and Boston College, respectively, on Thursday night. (11/23 & 12/6)

Caught On Film

Vermont snaps Siena’s 38 game home winning streak.

The ESPN tagline for this game should have read “Kemba Walker needed to score 42 points for UConn to beat Vermont.”

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RTC Conference Primers: #25 – America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 10th, 2010

Matt McKillip is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

Stony Brook took the regular season crown in 2010, but Evan Fjeld’s Catamounts had the last laugh – they represented the America East in the Big Dance in 2010 by way of the conference tournament.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Maine (12-4)
  2. Boston University (11-5)
  3. Stony Brook (10-6)
  4. New Hampshire (8-8)
  5. Vermont (7-9)
  6. Binghamton (7-9)
  7. UMBC (6-10)
  8. Albany (6-10)
  9. Hartford (5-11)

All-Conference Team (key stats from last season in parentheses)

  • Joe Zeglinski (G) – Hartford (16.5 PPG)
  • Gerald McLemore (G) – Maine (14.6 PPG, 102 3FG, 40% 3FG)
  • John Holland (F) – Boston University (19.2 PPG, 46% FG )
  • Greer Wright (F) – Binghamton (15 PPG, 6 RPG, 3.2 APG)
  • Evan Fjeld (F) – Vermont (10.7 PPG, 55% FG, 6.1 RPG)

6th Man

  • Chris Martin (G) – Stony Brook (10.8 PPG, 6.8 fouls drawn/40 minutes)

Impact Newcomer

  • Matt Glass (F) – Vermont – Patrick Hazel’s transfer to Boston University from Marquette is certain to grab the attention of the America East, but Glass (formerly of UMass) should have the bigger impact. The 6’8 forward has a reputation as a top-flight defender and his ability to stretch opposing defenses with his three-point shooting will be a huge boost for the Catamounts.

The image of Maine's Gerald McLemore lining up a three will be a common one in the America East this season. (goblackbears.cstv.com)

What You Need To Know

  • Worst Case Scenario: The biggest news of the off-season came last Tuesday (9/28) when it was reported that Stony Brook’s Tommy Brenton dislocated his knee while training; coach Steve Pikiell said there is no timetable for his return. The 6’5 power/point-forward with an otherworldly motor led the America East in rebounding during his first two seasons and was an integral piece of the offense. Coming off a 22-win season, Stony Brook was tabbed as the league favorite by multiple publications despite the graduation of 2010 POY Muhammad El-Amin and a big reason was the expected offensive boost from Brenton (7.6 PPG last season). That said, if there is one kid I wouldn’t bet against making a recovery, it’s Benton. If he does, he’ll be First Team All-Conference.

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