Summer School in the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 26th, 2010

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

Around The America East:

  • A Carousel for Two: Hartford coach Dan Leibovitz jumped ship after his program took a sharp decline following a 2008 run to the AE title; he will join Penn as an assistant coach. Taking the reins is former Hartford assistant John Gallagher…who served last season as a Penn assistant.
  • Just a Fling: Binghamton‘s All-America East performer Greer Wright filed for a transfer waiver and flirted with the idea of attending Connecticut or Cincinnati before deciding to return to Binghamton for his senior season.
  • The Departed: Binghamton was less fortunate with last season’s AE Rookie of the Year, Dylan Talley, who decided to take his services elsewhere. Other notable transfers are Vermont’s All-Defensive team player Garvey Young and UMBC leading scorer Chauncey Gilliam, who packed his bags for Akron.
  • Big Haul: After having only three players left on Boston University‘s roster at the end of last season’s AE runner-up finish, second-year head coach Patrick Chambers hauled in a seven-man recruiting class to surround the league’s premier player, John Holland.
  • Break Out the Vegemite: Coach Will Brown and his Albany Great Danes have welcomed freshman Luke Devlin from Australia to campus. The 6’8 Aussie has three-point range and should quickly become a favorite among a fan base eager for something to cheer about.
  • Catching On With the Clippers: Vermont standout Marqus Blakely received a two-year, partially guaranteed contract with the LA Clippers and has angled himself towards a spot on the roster.

Star swingman John Holland is a powerful weapon for BU, but will he be able to power the Terriers into the Big Dance?

Power Rankings:

  1. Boston University: The Terriers’ hopes revolve around two-time all-conference star John Holland, the heir apparent to the AE POY title. An NCAA trip is hardly guaranteed – an exodus of senior guards leaves BU with only three returning players (none of whom are guards) and many question marks. The loss of Corey Lowe especially hurts; the four-year starter carried the Terriers to last year’s title game when teams cued in on Holland, the league leader in scoring. During the AE tournament, Holland was held to an eFG of 38% and 10.3 PPG, well below his season averages of 52% and 19.9, respectively. Alongside Holland, BU returns 2009 AE ROY Jake O’Brien, who can score in volume, and hard-nosed center Jeff Pelage, who is a banger inside. Former Marquette swingman Patrick Hazel should make his presence felt immediately, but the most pressing question is which of the four incoming freshman and two transfer guards will land the role of primary ball handler.
  2. Maine: Maine’s defense propelled them to a surprising 11-5 conference record last year, but the Black Bears were promptly upset by New Hampshire in the first round of the conference tournament. Despite the setback, they are well-positioned to build on last year’s success. They graduated Junior Bernal, an all-league defender, but the core of their lineup returns. Central to the offense is all-league guard Gerald McLemore, the league leader in three-point field goals. Last season, the offense exhibited a tendency to stall if opponents could take McLemore’s shot away (as UNH did in the tournament). Help could be on the way for the offense in the form of juco transfer Raheem Singleton, a point guard whose game and appearance is eerily reminiscent of former Pittsburgh floor general Levance Fields. Maine fans are also excited about incoming forward Alasdair Fraser, who has had a stellar summer playing for Scotland in the European under-18 championships, and could form a formidable frontcourt alongside Sean McNally.
  3. Stony Brook: Stony Brook won the conference regular season title, but will have to defend that title without conference POY Muhammed El-Amin, who graduated in the spring. What was a very effective supporting cast will be forced into a starring role. The identity of the team will likely flow from Tommy Brenton, the best defensive big man in the league at only 6’5.  Brenton personifies hustle and is a rebounding machine – he averaged nearly ten boards per game last season. The x-factor for the Seawolves is speedy guard Chris Martin. He was one of the best in the nation in drawing fouls and should continue to frustrate opposing guards, especially if he can improve his jump shot (44% from the floor last year). The emergence of Martin is essential to keeping the defense from focusing on marksman Bryan Dougher, who led the AE in three-point shooting percentage. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the America East

Posted by jstevrtc on November 24th, 2009

checkinginon

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference and Patriot League.

2009-10 America East Standings

  1. Stony Brook 2-0
  2. New Hampshire 1-0
  3. Maine 2-1
  4. Binghamton 1-1
  5. Vermont 1-1
  6. Albany 1-2
  7. Hartford 1-2
  8. Boston University 0-3
  9. UMBC 0-2

Team of the week: Stony Brook (2-0) (W 75-57 at UMES 11/13, W 87-53 vs. MSM 11/19)

Player of the week: Marqus Blakely, Sr., Vermont. (21.5 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 4.5 APG, 4 BPG, 3 SPG)

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Cooler Than You: Some Of The Best Of College Basketball

Posted by jstevrtc on November 6th, 2009

seasonpreviewJust about anyone can name the best teams in college basketball, and, as far as individual players, if you’re reading this site you can most likely reel off three or four of your own personal All-America teams.  But what about those individuals who specifically excel at a few of the more exciting aspects of the game?  There are certain plays that make everyone come out of their seats:  a massive and powerful dunk that liberates some poor defender of his pride;  a ridiculously long three-pointer, especially at crunch time; and a blocked shot where the ball goes into orbit.  And of course everyone loves basketball players with cool names.  So here they are:  RTC’s rankings of the best dunkers, best long-range bombers, best shot-blockers, and coolest names in the game today.

The Most Excellent Dunkers

Unlike the NBA All-Star Weekend, we’ll begin with the dunk artists.  Each player is listed with a link leading you to an example or two of his work.  Sorry, UConn fans.  We respect you and your team, but we had to put Summers over Robinson because…well, you know why.

  1. Paul George, Fresno State  (vs St. Mary’s 2008, practice video 2009, Open Gym 2009)
  2. Chris Wright, Dayton  (vs Ohio State 2008, vs Marquette 2008)
  3. Durrell Summers, Michigan State (vs UConn over S. Robinson 2009, vs Minnesota 2009)
  4. Stanley Robinson, Connecticut (vs Michigan State 2009, vs Villanova 2008)
  5. Isaiah Thomas, Washington  (Madness 09)
  6. Scotty Hopson, Tennessee (vs Arkansas 2009)
  7. Keion Bell, Pepperdine  (Madness 09, Madness 09 over 5 guys)

Honorable Mention (or, guys who will probably be on this list by year’s end): Will Coleman, Memphis; John Wall, Kentucky; Delvon Roe, Michigan State; Wes Johnson, Syracuse.

The All-Jeff Fryer Team

This list of the best long-range bombers is named after the legendary (in our minds) Loyola Marymount guard who still holds the record for most three-pointers made in an NCAA Tournament game, an incredible 11 against Michigan in 1990’s second round.  If you can catch that game on ESPN Classic, it is something to behold.  You have to be a little nuts to be a bomber; you have to forget your last miss like it never happened and be willing to keep firing even when they just won’t fall (our editors are familiar with this feeling).  Here’s our ranking of 25 of this season’s best:

  1. T.J. Campbell, Portland
  2. Rihards Kuksiks, Arizona State
  3. Jared Stohl, Portland
  4. Andrew Goudelock, College Of Charleston
  5. Mike Roll, UCLA
  6. Jerome Randle, California
  7. Brandon Hazzard, Troy
  8. Ryan Staudacher, Montana
  9. Corey Allmond, Sam Houston State
  10. Ryan Wittman, Cornell
  11. Josh Young, Drake
  12. Corey Stokes, Villanova
  13. Jonathan Tavernari, BYU
  14. Gordon Hayward, Butler
  15. Troy Cotton, Wisconsin-Green Bay
  16. Tweety Carter, Baylor
  17. Rotnei Clarke, Arkansas
  18. Corey Lowe, Boston University
  19. Ricky Harris, Massachusetts
  20. Mac Hopson, Idaho
  21. Andy Rautins, Syracuse
  22. Nic Wise, Arizona
  23. Willie Warren, Oklahoma
  24. Jimmy Langhurst, Robert Morris
  25. Kelvin Lewis, Houston

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #21 – America East

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2009

seasonpreview

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the Patriot League and America East Conference. Click here for all of our 2009-10 Season Preview materials.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Boston University  (13-3)
  2. Stony Brook  (11-5)
  3. Vermont  (10-6)
  4. Albany  (10-6)
  5. New Hampshire  (8-8)
  6. UMBC  (7-9)
  7. Hartford  (6-10)
  8. Maine  (5-11)
  9. Binghamton  (2-14)

All-Conference Team:

  • Corey Lowe (G), Sr., Boston U.
  • Joe Zeglinski (G), Jr., Hartford
  • Marqus Blakely (F), Sr., Vermont
  • John Holland (F), Jr., Boston U.
  • Will Harris (F), Sr., Albany

6th Man. Muhammad El-Amin (G), Sr., Stony Brook

Impact Newcomer. Luke Apfeld (F), Fr., Vermont

am east logo

What You Need to Know.  This offseason has been a rocky one for reigning America East champion Binghamton to say the least.  The Bearcats went through one of the biggest roster changeovers due to disciplinary reasons in history of NCAA basketball.  They are returning only four players as nine from last year are now gone. Out of those nine players, six were dismissed for disciplinary reasons including three starters and two all conference selections. Talk about a rough offseason for Binghamton fans. The latest blow (probably not a blow after how much trouble he got this program into) is that Coach Kevin Broadus has been placed on paid leave and assistant coach Mark Macon will take over in the interim. My humble opinion is that Coach Broadus will never be back.  The school will try to work out some type of settlement and they will ultimately part ways. It is crazy to think that Broadus could stay with the program after all the public relations damage already inflicted. Mark Macon is going to have a tough first season to say the least. This team should not be expected to win more than two or three conference games, which is even a stretch.  In other news, Boston University fired Coach Dennis Wolff, the all time leader in wins for the BU program, after 15 years. They hired Villanova assistant Patrick Chambers to lead the Terriers back to the top. With the roster he walked into, Chambers has it easier than most first time coaches. This season Vermont’s Marqus Blakely is going for his third consecutive America East Player of the Year award which would put him in the select company of only two others in history, Reggie Lewis of Northeastern and Taylor Coppenrath of Vermont. Blakely also has a shot at his third straight America East Defensive Player of the Year, which would be unprecedented.

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RTC’s 2009-10 Impact Players – Northeast Region

Posted by zhayes9 on September 2nd, 2009

impactplayersYesterday the calendar moved into September and we’re all foaming at the mouth around here to get started on the 2009-10 season preview materials, but we realize it doesn’t make much sense to start really gearing up on that until October.  Nevertheless, one feature we want to start that we’ll be publishing weekly all the way up to the start of the season is our RTC 2009-10 Impact Players series.   Each week we’re going to pick a geographic area of the country and break down the five players who we feel will have the most impact on their teams (and by the transitive property, college basketball) this season.  Our criteria is once again subjective – there are so many good players in every region of the country that it’s difficult to narrow them down to only five  in each – but we feel at the end of this exercise that we’ll have discussed nearly every player of major impact in the nation.  Just to be fair and to make this not too high-major-centric, we’re also going to pick a mid-major impact player in each region as our sixth man.  We welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments where we left players off.  The only request is that you provide an argument – why will your choice be more influential this season than those we chose?

Northeast Region (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, Upstate NY)

northeast

  • Joe Trapani – Jr, F – Boston College. Al Skinner hit the jackpot when Vermont transfer Joe Trapani elected to join the BC basketball program for the 2008-09 season after a successful debut campaign with the Catamounts, averaging 11.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game and earning America East all-rookie team honors. Trapani wanted to challenge himself at a higher level of competition, transferring to nearby Chestnut Hill where the 6’8 forward made quite an impression in his sophomore season, upping his scoring average to 13.4 ppg and rebounds to 6.6 per contest. Trapani earned a spot on this list mostly due to his all-around game; in fact, the skilled big man led the Eagles in assists in four games. His best performance may have come against Kyle Singler and Duke at home, an upset win for BC in which Trapani registered 20 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Not many 6’8 forwards can score, rebound, dish and shoot 36% from deep. His inside-outside game reminded many of the Eagle faithful of the recently departed Jared Dudley and will be even more vital to the Eagles success in 2009-10 without leading scorer Tyrese Rice. While the rest of the roster returns, it is Trapani who must lead the way if BC wants to make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji, Biko Paris and other Eagles will contribute, but Trapani’s model of consistency and constant leadership makes him indispensable to Skinner and the BC program.
  • Arinze Onuaku – Sr, F/C – Syracuse. The Syracuse behemoth is one of the most puzzling players in all of college basketball. There are two statistics that jump out at you when analyzing Onuaku’s 2008-09 junior season with the Orange: 67% and 30%. Incredibly, that was Onuaku’s field goal and free throw percentage last year… in order. That’s right, Onuaku was an insanely efficient 178-267 from the floor, higher than Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansbrough, Luke Nevill, Patrick Patterson, DeJuan Blair or anyone in college basketball. On the flip side, his free throw shooting (37-124) was abysmal and downright embarrassing, meaning if Onuaku doesn’t improve in this area mightily over the summer and into the upcoming season, Hack-A-Onuaku will be explored greatly by Big East coaches in 2009-10. The big man MUST improve to at least 50% if he doesn’t want to greatly cost the Orange. Onuaku’s impact to Syracuse is mostly positive, though. The field goal percentage speaks for itself, along with 10.3 PPG, 7.3 RPG and a 19/12 double-double against Cole Aldrich and Kansas last season. With Jonny Flynn, Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris gone to riches (just kidding for two of them), Onuaku will be relied on heavily by coach Jim Boeheim to be a reliable force in the paint by blocking shots, staying out of foul trouble, scoring with efficiency and scooping up rebound after rebound. With Blair and Thabeet departed, nobody can have as much of an impact down low at Onuaku both in the Big East conference and in the entire Northeast region.
  • Jerome Dyson – Sr, G – UConn. When Jerome Dyson knocked knees with an unidentified Syracuse player and crumpled to the floor during a routine win for the 23-1 Huskies on Feb. 11, you could almost hear the collective groan from the UConn faithful throughout the Northeast.  You see, the dirty little secret for UConn was that Dyson at 34.8% was one of the only two players on the roster (AJ Price at 40.2% was the other) who could reliably nail a three-pointer for the Huskies.  UConn was never going to be confused for a team of marksmen, but it’s no coincidence that a team who was shooting a robust 36.4% from deep on the season at the time of injury shot a horrid 29.8% from outside the rest of the way.  It was painfully obvious in the F4 loss to Michigan St. that once the Huskies got in the hole, the three-pointer – a useful offensive weapon in comeback attempts – simply wasn’t available to them (2-6 for the game).  Dyson should be back at 100% this season, as his meniscus injury is completely healed and he has a chip on his shoulder from seasons lost.  With four key contributors gone from last year’s team, Jim Calhoun will be looking at his senior guard to put the team on his back and take the lead in crunch time.   This shouldn’t be much of a problem considering Dyson’s scorer’s mentality and natural abilities.  If UConn is going to avoid a major letdown from its 31-win season, it’ll be largely due to the poise and play of the player who has always seemed just on the cusp of greatness, but due to some bad decisions mixed in with worse luck, has never quite made it there.
  • Kemba Walker – Soph, G – UConn. Kemba Walker is the latest in a long string of NYC-bred point guards who is set for stardom in the Big East.  As a freshman backing up AJ Price in 2008-09, it was easily apparent to anyone watching that Walker was the player with the quicker first step, better touch around the basket, and ultimately, brighter future.  As such, he’s a projected first rounder whenever he decides to come out for the NBA Draft.  However, perhaps typical of many Big Apple products, his outside jumper is still a work in progress (27.1% from deep last year), but he needn’t rely on 22-footers because he can get to the cup and finish with anybody of any size (52% on twos, which is phenomenal for a six-foot guard).  Walker had some ups and downs during his freshman year, but the reason he’s on our Northeast Region squad has a lot to do with his performance in the Elite Eight against Missouri where he sliced and diced the Tiger defense so effectively (23/5/5) that we should be forgiven for thinking he was the best player on the floor.  Several of our braintrust believe that he could double his offensive output this season en route to becoming an all-american playmaker for the Huskies in the mold of former point guards Chris Smith and Khalid El-Amin.  Regardless of postseason accolades, we should expect the UConn backcourt of Jerome Dyson and Kemba Walker to be one of the very best in the nation this year.
  • Ricky Harris – Sr, G – UMass. While the Minutemen may have underachieved in 2008-09, the scoring production provided by Ricky Harris on a game-by-game basis did not go unnoticed.  With point guard Chris Lowe and shot-blocking extraordinaire Tony Gaffney departed, Harris will be the centerpiece for Massachusetts in Chris Kellogg’s second year as the Minutemen head coach. Harris reached the top six in scoring in both his sophomore and junior campaigns at 18.2 ppg, so predicting a 20+ ppg senior season out of Harris is not outside the realm of possibility. He could very well challenge Dayton big man Chris Wright for A-10 POY this year and should be the #1 scoring force and premier outside shooter in the entire conference. Want more proof? This past season Harris became the 40th UMass player to accumulate 1,000 points in his college career and has scored in double-figures in 61 of his last 66 games along with 28 career contests with 20+ points. He lit up ACC foe Boston College for 35 points on 12-19 FG and 6-11 3PT in an overtime loss. While his rebounding and passing game leaves much to be desired, Harris will make or break whether the Minutemen surprise in a weaker Atlantic 10 and reach a postseason tournament this season. Now that Tyrese Rice and A.J. Price are no longer amateurs, nobody in the entire Northeast region can match his scoring potential on any given night. Harris’ ability to catch fire and will the Minutemen to victory earns him a spot on our all-Northeast squad.
  • DJ Rivera (MM) – Sr, G – Binghamton.  Our mid-major “sixth man” for this region shouldn’t be viewed as a slight of any kind.  We recognize that Rivera, the 6’4 do-anything guard from upstate New York can capably play with anyone in the Northeast region.  In fact, the player who was openly snubbed by America East coaches when it came to conference POY votes last season might just be the top mid-major player in the entire country in 2009-10.   You know the story: the nephew of Philly legend Hank Gathers, Rivera transferred from St. Joe’s after his sophomore year, received a hardship waiver from the NCAA, and proceeded to dominate the America East unlike anyone has, um, ever?  Rivera showed his clutch abilities by averaging 25/11 against league rival Vermont in two games last year, and even dropped 20/5 on 9-14 FGs against Duke in Binghamton’s first-round blowout loss to the Devils.  He’s an absolute stud, and we expect that after briefly flirting with the NBA Draft, he’ll be back with an enormous chip on his shoulder this season given the way the rest of his league treated him.  It’s our wager that  Rivera, with a substantial amount of his team returning, will make a run at a national scoring title (#5 returning scorer in the NCAA) and another trip to the NCAA Tournament to solidify his standing. 

Impact Players NE 2

Honorable MentionTim Ambrose, Albany.  Will Harris, Albany.  Rakim Sanders, BC.  John Holland, BU.  Corey Lowe, BU.  Ryan Wittman, Cornell.  Louis Dale, Cornell.  Jeremy Lin, Harvard.  Matt Janning, Northeastern.  Sharaud Curry, Providence.  Ryan Rossiter, Siena.  Alex Franklin, Siena.  Edwin Ubiles, Siena.  Andy Rautins, Syracuse.  Wesley Johnson, Syracuse.  Stanley Robinson, UConn.  Marqus Blakely, Vermont.

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Checking in on the… America East

Posted by rtmsf on February 23rd, 2009

Corey Johns is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

Over the past two weeks Boston U and Albany played their way out of contention for the regular season conference championship.  Albany just went in a free fall down the standings, losing five straight while Boston U needed to win out for hope but most recently lost to Stony Brook, taking them out.  It’s down to Vermont and Binghamton.  If Binghamton wins out they are the champion.  They beat Vermont twice this year and have the tie breaker.  But if they slip at all Vermont is in perfect position to take the title.

Team    Overall Record    Conference Record

  • Vermont    21-7    12-3
  • Binghamton    18-8    11-3
  • Boston U    14-12    9-5
  • Stony Brook    15-12    7-7
  • New Hampshire    11-14    6-7
  • UMBC    12-14    6-8
  • Albany    13-13    5-8
  • Maine    9-17    4-9
  • Hartford    6-22    2-12

Projected Awards

First Team All-Conference

  • D.J. Rivera, G, Binghamton- (20.4ppg, 6.5rpg, 1,7spg, .487 FG%)
  • Darryl Proctor, F, UMBC (20.2ppg, 8.4rpg, 1.3spg, .490 FG%)
  • John Holland, F, Boston U (17.9ppg, 5.5rpg, 1.9spg, .461 FG%)
  • Mike Trimboli, G, Vermont (16.0ppg, 4.8apg, 3.7rpg, .467 FG%)
  • Marqus Blakely, F, Vermont (15.6ppg, 8.9rpg, 2.7bpg, .598FG%)

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Checking in on the… America East

Posted by rtmsf on February 6th, 2009

Corey Johns is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

Two weeks ago the America East Conference looked to be wide open.  Everybody was beating everybody and the bottom team was just two games away from the top of the conference.  But in the past two weeks the conference has started to even out.  Boston U, Vermont and Binghamton have started to separate themselves from the rest of the pack and very surprisingly the two teams in the conference championship last season, UMBC and Hartford, look to be at the bottom for good along with Maine.

Team    Overall Record    Conference Record

  1. Boston U    13-9    8-2
  2. Vermont    16-7    7-3
  3. Binghamton    14-8    7-3
  4. Albany    13-9    5-4
  5. Stony Brook    13-10    5-5
  6. New Hampshire    9-12    4-5
  7. UMBC    9-13    3-7
  8. Maine    8-15    3-7
  9. Hartford    6-18    2-8

Projected Awards

First Team All-Conference

  • D.J. Rivera, G, Binghamton- (20.4ppg, 6.2rpg, 1.6spg, 49.1% FG)
  • Darryl Proctor, F, UMBC- (19.6ppg, 8.6rpg, 1.3spg, 48.9% FG)
  • John Holland, F, Boston U- (18.5ppg, 5.4rpg, 1.9spg, 47.3% FG)
  • Corey Lowe, G, Boston U- (17.9ppg, 4.0rpg, 4.0apg, 44.3% FG))
  • Marques Blakely, F, Vermont- (15.5ppg, 8.6rpg, 3.0bpg, 60.1% FG)

Player of the Year

  • Darryl Proctor, F, UMBC- (19.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 2.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 22 games in double figures)

Defensive Player of the Year

  • Marqus Blakely, F, Vermont- (8.6rpg, 3.0bpg, 2.1spg)

Freshman of the Year

  • Bryan Dougher, G, Stony Brook- (11.7ppg, 1.8apg, 1.5rpg, 40.6% three pointers)

Coach of the Year

  • Dennis Wolff, Boston U- (13-9, 8-3)

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Checking in on the… America East

Posted by rtmsf on January 25th, 2009

Corey Johns is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

Everybody is beating everybody in the America East this year.  It’s a good thing to show how deep the conference is but it’s a bad thing for the NCAA tournament.  When everybody has multiple conference losses, that 14-15 seed teams in this conference hopes for can drop to a 16-play-in game.  But what it does mean right now is nobody is safe, and everybody has a chance to win, shown by the bottom teams being just two conference wins away from the top at this point.

Standings

  1. Binghamton    12-7 (5-2)
  2. Vermont    13-6 (4-2)
  3. Boston U    9-9 (4-2)
  4. Albany    11-8 (3-3)
  5. Maine    8-11 (3-3)
  6. New Hampshire    10-9 (2-4)
  7. Stony Brook    10-9 (2-4)
  8. UMBC    8-10 (2-4)
  9. Hartford    6-14 (2-4)

The Contenders

Vermont- The Catamounts have hit their stride as of late and definitely look like they are the top team in the conference having now won four straight (three on the road).  Mike Trimboli (15.8ppg, 4.7apg), Marqus Blakely (15.2ppg, 8.5rpg), and Colin McIntosh (13.2ppg, 5.6rpg) are a great trio of scorers that have been consistent all season.  The reason Vermont is hot right now though is Michigan state transfer Maurice Joseph has finally become the scoring threat they expected in Vermont.  In the past four games he’s averaged 10.8ppg.  With four guys scoring in double figures on a team, it’s hard to beat them.  But there biggest strength is their bench.  Vermont has been running a six man bench for significant minutes lately, allowing them to play full court press more often and really shutting down teams offenses.

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Checking in on the… America East

Posted by rtmsf on December 14th, 2008

Corey Johns is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

Two weeks ago when I last posted, Marquis Blakely tore it up in the paint, Boston U had played great all around, and Hartford had been the disappointment.  Well not much has changed except although Boston U is still atop the conference, they had a down two weeks.

Standings

  1. Boston U    5-3
  2. UMBC    5-3
  3. Vermont    4-3
  4. Binghamton    4-3
  5. Albany    5-4
  6. Stony Brook    5-4
  7. Maine    5-5
  8. New Hampshire    3-4
  9. Hartford    3-7

The Contenders:

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Checking in on the… America East

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

Corey Johns is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

If it was anything it was an average week for the America East.  They did go a combined 24-20 and play close against some top teams, but they only beat the teams they were supposed to beat and didn’t have many really impressive wins.  So far the conference is going as expected with just one surprise: Hartford is at the bottom.  Last year the Hawks were in the conference finals and returned all but one key player but have been struggling inside the paint and coming up short in close games.

Standings:

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

The Contenders:

Boston U: As expected forward John Holland and guard Corey Lowe have been the catalyst for success this year.  Last year Holland won the America East Rookie of the Year and now leads his team with 19.2 ppg with highs of 27 against St. Peter’s and 22 against George Washington.  As for Lowe, he was second in the conference last year in points and is off to a great start with 17.5 ppg to go with his 4.2 apg.  The big surprise for the Terriers is freshman forward Jake O’Brien who is averaging 13.0 points.  Their lone loss was against George Washington in the season opener, but since then they’ve won three straight highlighted by an 83-75 win at Northeastern who is currently second in the CAA.

UMBC: All-conference point guard Jay Greene is showing he is more than just the game manager he was last year when he averaged 7.2 apg.  This year he’s not only passing the ball (7.8apg), he is scoring (14.2 ppg).  Helping Greene is Darryl Proctor, who was also a first team all-conference player last year.  He has been, well, Darryl Proctor, leading the team with 19.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg, and 1.8 spg.  Sophomore transfer from Fairfield Richard Flemming has burst onto the scene as a much needed big man on a team with just one big bench player who is just a freshman.  Flemming has scored double figures each time he’s been on the floor and has been getting key rebounds, but the problem with him, as well as center Justin Fry, is that they are getting into foul trouble.  On multiple occasions either one of both had three fouls or more on them early in the second half, which really takes away the depth, despite UMBC using a six man rotation for the most part.

Vermont: Two teams may be ahead of them in the standings but Vermont’s losses were a one point loss to George Mason and a 15 point loss in overtime against Maryland.  Reigning player of the year and defensive player of the year Marquis Blakely is off to a very strong start averaging a team high 17.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.2 steals, and 3.0 blocks.  Against Maryland he carried the team with 23 points and 11 rebounds and was the only reason the game went into overtime.  As expected Mike Trimboli has been a solid offensive threat for the team getting 15.2 ppg with his 6.0 assists, but Colin McIntosh was a semi-question mark coming into the season even after starting last year.  He’s been a delight for the Catamounts and has helped to make one of the best groups of forwards with Blakely.  He’s improved his numbers from last year in just about every area.  He’s shooting 13% better from the floor (63.6%), though that number will definitely fall, while averaging 16.8 points and 6 rebounds, both doubling last year’s averages.  Vermont has a very good chance of winning the conference this year if he can stay at the level he is at and the highly touted Michigan State transfer, Maurice Joseph, can increase his offensive output.  He’s averaging 9.5 ppg which isn’t bad but the rest of his numbers are average at best.

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2008-09 Season Primers: #27 – America East

Posted by rtmsf on October 14th, 2008

Corey Johns is the RTC correspondent for the America East conference.

Predicted Order of Finish:

  1. Boston U (13-3)
  2. Vermont (12-4)
  3. UMBC (12-4)
  4. Hartford (9-7)
  5. Binghamton (8-8)
  6. Albany (8-8)
  7. New Hampshire (5-11)
  8. Maine (2-14)
  9. Stony Brook (2-14)

What You Need to Know (WYN2K).  Last year nobody could predict what happened in this conference.  One of the pre-season favorites, Vermont, had a new star in Marquis Blakely but still couldn’t crack the top two in the league, while the other preseason favorite, Boston U., didn’t even finish in the top half of the league.  UMBC and Hartford shocked everybody by being the two top teams.  Both built their team in different ways: UMBC through transfers, Hartford through the tremendous improvement of returning players (along with a freshman and one transfer).  But this year don’t expect Vermont and Boston U. to disappoint – they should be ready to regain their spots on top of the conference.

Predicted Champion.  Boston U. (NCAA #15 Seed) This is truly a toss up between Boston U. and Vermont.  Both teams are similar – Vermont has one of the top forward/guard tandems in the conference in Marquis Blakely and Mike Trimboli, and BU has John Holland and Corey Lowe.  Last year BU’s Holland won the freshman of the year award and was a major reason for their turnaround at the end.  After a horrid 5-14 start to the season, the Terriers put it together and finished 9-3 to advance to the semifinals of the conference tournament.  BU returns every significant player from last year’s team, including second team all conference point guard Corey Lowe (Am East #2 scorer – 18.8 ppg).  But what truly sets Boston U. above Vermont is that head coach Dennis Wolff runs a very good defense on his team.  They gave up the least amount of points per game in the conference last year (64.8 ppg) and if the offense picks up they should win the title.

Others Considered.  Vermont has a lot of talent on their team and can certainly put together a run for another conference championship (three titles from 2003-05).  Marquis Blakely and Mike Trimboli are a great one-two punch but the Catamounts added another factor with Maurice Joseph, a transfer from Michigan State who averaged 6.2 ppg there as a freshman.  The only thing that might hurt them is they lose two starters including Kyle Cieplicki, the lone member on the team last year who was on the 2005 team that upset #4 seed Syracuse in the NCAA tournament.

The Rest of the Conference.  UMBC took major losses by graduating three all-conference players from last season, but they return and add plenty to remain competitive.  Jay Greene and Darryl Proctor were both first team all-conference players last year and possibly the best at their positions.  Greene was second in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio and was fourth in the nation with 7.2 assist per game.  One thing about Greene is he can be one of the best scorers in the conference if he chooses to shot the ball.  He only averaged 8.8 ppg but when he needed to score had games of 26, 21, and 17. Hartford is another team that still has enough to make an impact with four starters back, led by Joe Zeglinski and Jaret Von Rosenberg. The big issue that could keep the Hawks out of the conference championship game is their lack of rebounding.  Last season they were last in the conference in that category and lost their best rebounder and major inside presence.  If they can develop another big body to take control of the paint then they may still have hope.  Binghamton and Albany will be relying on the development of transfers, combining for eight between the two teams.  Transfers did wonders for UMBC last season but it is always a gamble in terms of team chemistry.  Both teams lost three of their top players but if the transfers can have an impact right away then both teams can be dangerous.  New Hampshire has been one of the bottom dwellers for a while but can move up if Dane DiLiegro steps up at center and inproves the team’s rebounding.  With a lack of quality big men they might end up starting four guards including Tyrece Gibbs, who is one of the premier scorers in the conference, and Alvin Abreu, who was the top freshman guard a year ago. As for Maine and Stony Brook they will likely finish in the bottom two spots again.

Games to Watch.  As a one-bid league, only one game will matter to most people.

  • America East Championship Game (03.14.09) ESPN2.

RPI Boosters.  The America East in one of the conferences where if you don’t win it, you don’t get in the NCAA Tournament.  Two years ago Vermont went 15-1 in conference play but lost in the conference finals and took a nice consolation trip to the NIT.  With the win-or-go-home aspect of the conference the teams also know they have to do everything they can in OOC games to get higher than a #15 or #16 seed, which is tough to do.  UMBC won 24 games last year, beating American and almost beating Ohio State but still ended up with a 15th seed.  This year four of the top Am East schools all scheduled games against big-time opponents where an upset wouldn’t be out of the question and they all could have a major bearing on where the winner of the conference is seeded.

  • Albany @ DePaul (11.17.08)
  • Hartford @ Penn State (11.20.08)
  • Vermont @ Maryland (11.21.08)
  • Boston U. @ Notre Dame (12.13.08)
  • UMBC @ Nebraska (12.13.08)
  • Hartford @ Baylor (12.22.08)
  • Boston U. @ Cornell (12.29.08)

Impact Transfers. The America East might soon get the nickname “The Conference of Transfers.”  Between the nine teams in the conference there are 17 eligible transfers either cleared from sitting their transfer year or coming from junior college.  Last year transfers did wonders for UMBC and other teams hope for the same this year.  This year the transfer list is headlined by Vermont’s Maurice Joseph, a transfer from Michigan State who averaged 5.9 ppg in 16.8 minutes per game as a sophomore (get a look at Joseph in HS below).  Other key guys include Binghamton’s quartet of transfers, Tiki Mayben, Malik Alvin, Sean Watson, and Theo Davis (eligible in the second semester), Albany’s Louis Barraza (20.1ppg at the JuCo level), and UMBC’s 6’7” Ricky Flemming, a transfer from Fairfield.

Neat-o-Stat.  Since 1980 when the conference started, the champion has repeated 44% of the time while the regular season champion has won the conference championship 75% of the time.  The lowest seed to ever win the conference tournament was a #3 seed which happened once in 1993 when Delaware beat the #1 seed Drexel (67-64).

65-Team Era. The America East is 3-23 (.115) since the field moved up to 65, with three first-round victories from 1989 (#14 Siena over #3 Stanford), 1996 (#12 Drexel over #5 Memphis), and 2005 (#13 Vermont over #4 Syracuse). But the America East is surprisingly the only mid-major conference in the northeast that has never been apart of the play-in game. 

Final Thought. Usually two or three teams have a chokehold on the top of the conference, but this year the conference remains top heavy but it is still anybody’s league.  Vermont and Boston U. are projected to be the top teams this year but Hartford, UMBC, Albany, and Binghamton all can make some noise and should make the year very interesting.

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