League On The Rebound – After suffering though one of the worst collective seasons in conference history, several top teams of the America East saw much of their talent defect via graduation and/or transfer. With 60% of the all-conference players from last season now gone, can the top America East programs replenish their talent and improve the overall performance of the conference?
Can The Seawolves Break Through? Stony Brook, winners of two America East regular season championships in the past three seasons, has come up short in the postseason tournament, falling each time in the conference finals. Now in his eighth season, is this the year Steve Pikiell finally has his Seawolves dancing come March?
Is This The Year Stony Brook Breaks Through And Goes Dancing? (AP)
Movers and Shakers – The 2012-13 season marks the last one that BostonUniversity will call the America East home before heading off to the Patriot League. With an America East postseason ban in place, can Joe Jones keep his players motivated and overcome the transfer of big man JakeO’Brien to win the America East regular season championship?
UMBC In A Bind – Two days before Midnight Madness, eighth-year head coach RandyMonroe unexpectedly resigned at UMBC. Monroe led the Retrievers to their only NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007, yet only won 13 games in his final three seasons at the helm. Will interim coach Aki Thomas provide a much needed spark for the hapless Retrievers?
John Templon is the RTC correspondent for America East. You can also find his musings online at NYC Buckets (http://www.nycbuckets.com) or on Twitter @nybuckets.
The Week That Was
Close Calls: The teams of America East have found themselves on the wrong end of close scores early in the season. The nine teams are a combined 1-8 in games decided by five points or fewer or in overtime. That includes Vermont’s two-point loss against South Florida, which would’ve been a big scalp for the league. The Catamounts also got the league’s first close victory with an overtime defeat of Old Dominion, 77-75 in overtime, on Tuesday.
New High Scorers: Two of the leading scorers in America East this season weren’t here in 2010-11. Albany’s Gerardo Suero has given the Great Danes a go-to guy and freshman Justin Edwards is leading the way for Maine. See Albany’s section below for much more about Suero. What’s impressive about Edwards, a Canadian import, is that he’s also leading the conference in steals in the early going with 3.5 per game. Edwards was named the America East Rookie of the Week for his efforts last week.
Slow Starts at the Top: Vermont, Boston University and Stony Brook were supposed to be the class of America East coming into this season. The Catamounts won two games they should’ve but lost to Long Island in their final game of Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. The Seawolves suffered a tough loss to Sacred Heart and the Terriers fell to Northeastern and Cornell. Those are the types of 50/50 games that the top third of the league needs to win in order for America East to get some more respect moving forward.
Albany's Gerardo Suero Diced Up Syracuse's Zone, But The Great Danes Came Up Short. (Kevin Rivoli/AP)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ofBrenton’s injury — he’s turned into a nice role player (8.5 PPG, 7 RPG).
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.
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.
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.
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.”