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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O26 Primers: America East, Missouri Valley, and Northeast Conference Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 3rd, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

Three more conferences get underway this evening with teams in the America East and NEC all gunning for the coveted automatic-bid to the Tournament, while the Missouri Valley is vying to send two teams to the Dance. Boston University is all of a sudden the favorite to win the America East with the uncertainty of Evan Fjeld‘s ankle, while Missouri State and Long Island are the favorites in their respective leagues. Something tells me though that the Wichita State Shockers will be looking for vengeance following their two losses to the Bears earlier this year.

America East

The Favorite: Vermont appears to be the favorite, but a lot depends on the status of Evan Fjeld’s ankle that he injured in UVM’s final regular season game against Boston University. In what very well could be the America East championship game, BU went on to defeat the Catamounts in overtime. Allison Shepherd told John Fantino of the Burlington Free Press Blog that: “[Fjeld] is receiving daily care and treatment for the injury. We will have a better idea regarding his playing status for the upcoming America East tournament as the weekend approaches.” Something tells me that even if Fjeld and his ‘Stache are able to go, he will not be at 100%. I like Boston University.

Dark Horse: Behind senior Tim Ambrose, Albany is a team that has come on strong as of late and is capable of making a run in the A-East tournament. The Great Danes have won four straight to end the regular season, but getting by Stony Brook will be no easy task in the first round.

Who’s Hot: Boston University has not lost in February and is 8-0 during the month. They defeated Vermont to conclude the regular season and are flying high with John Holland—arguably the league’s best player—leading the way.

Player to Watch: John Holland has been a staple in BU’s rotation since the day he stepped on campus. The senior has averaged double-figures in scoring for all four years, and his 19.2 points a game this year is tops in the league.

First-Round Upset: Hartford over Maine. The Black Bears were an intriguing team and story to follow early on in the season. They beat a solid Penn State team and began league play with an 8-1 record, but since then they have fallen flat on their faces. Although their date with Hartford is technically not in the first round—the America East essentially has a play-in game between the #8 and #9 seeds to begin the tournament—fourth seeded Maine will have their hands full with Hartford who has already beaten them twice.

How’d They Fare? As a 16 seed last year, Vermont could not handle the athleticism or shooting ability of Syracuse as they lost 79-56.

Interesting Fact: Not an interesting fact, but simply one of my favorite NCAA Tournament highlights of all-time:

Easily the best part of the clip is Tom Brennan’s reaction after T.J. Sorrentine swishes home the three from about 35 feet away, and if you look even further past Brennan the reaction of the guys sitting on press row are priceless too. This is what makes March so Mad!

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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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Set Your Tivo: 02.18-02.20

Posted by Brian Otskey on February 18th, 2011

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2013
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

Brian Otskey is an RTC contributor.

With only two weeks left in the regular season, it’s time for teams to make their moves. This weekend provides ample opportunities for some to do so. All rankings from RTC and all times Eastern.

VCU @ Wichita State – 7 pm Friday on ESPN2 (***)

Skeen Leads VCU In Scoring (14.6 PPG), But Is Also Top Ten In the CAA In Rebounding (7.7 RPG) And PP40 (19.0)

This could very well prove to be an elimination game. VCU has lost two straight games at home and now has to venture out of conference on the road. Wichita State has lost three games at home already this season, however, and probably has to win out and make a run in the MVC Tournament in order to have a chance at a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Shockers don’t have a win in the RPI top 50 and those three home losses are really holding them back. VCU was blasted on the boards by Old Dominion recently (40-21) and it’s going to be hard to avoid that again in this game. If the Rams can’t create extra possessions through turnovers, it’s going to be a very long night.

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Fear The ‘Stache!

Posted by jstevrtc on February 17th, 2011

Congratulations are in order for the University of Vermont, who wrapped up the America East regular season championship on Wednesday night with their 73-57 win over Maine. The Catamounts are the first team to clinch a conference championship this season. Evan Fjeld (file photo below) hit nine of 13 shots and finished with 19 points and seven rebounds in the victory.

Also clinching a conference title on Wednesday were the Fairfield Stags, sealing up the Metro Atlantic with a 61-54 win over Marist. They’re attempting to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 14 years, and have put themselves in the best possible shape to do it by becoming the top seed in the MAAC tournament. Incidentally, they beat Vermont, 67-59, back on December 20th.

Behold, and genuflect.

One of the reasons we were happy to inform our readers of these developments was the chance to put up a photo of Evan Fjeld and that glorious moustache of his. We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that Fjeld is an outstanding player (15.3 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.0 BPG) and the main weapon on a Vermont team that’s won ten straight and truly excels on defense – 7th nationally in FG% defense (38.7%) and 20th in defensive points per possession (0.898) — and you can check them out for yourself this Saturday. They’ll play at Charleston at 5 PM ET as part of ESPNU’s BracketBusters series.

But seriously, look at that thing. It’s fantastic. A full-on Prefontaine. It’s the Cadillac of college basketball facial hair in the modern era. We were huge Adam Morrison fans, but come on. If Fjeld’s is a Cadillac, Morrison’s was at best a Toyota Tercel in need of an oil change. As far as this match-up is concerned, Morrison will have to be content with his Player of the Year awards.

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The 10 BracketBuster Games You Don’t Want to Miss

Posted by KDoyle on February 1st, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC Contributor.  His weekly column, The Other 26, explores the minutiae of the twenty-six Division I conferences outside the BCS sextet. 

One of the best weekends of the year prior to Championship Week and, of course, the NCAA Tournament, is when the BracketBusters are played. It provides a nice break from conference play, and some of the top mid-major teams in the country have an opportunity to strut their stuff, build up that all-important resume, and have a last opportunity of picking up a quality non-conference victory. Because many of the top games are televised, it is also a great chance for all you guys out there that solely pay attention to the BCS teams around the country to gain some insight of who may have a shot at upsetting a higher seed and advancing a round or two when filling out your Tournament bracket next month. Here are my top 10 BracketBuster game, from tenth to first:

10.   Kent State at Drexel—February 18, 9PM (ESPNU)

Neither team is in the running for an at-large bid, but obtaining additional confidence heading into their respective conference tournaments is what both will play for. Drexel is just a step below the top teams in the CAA, while Kent State is right in the mix for the MAC crown as there has not been one team that has truly distinguished themselves. The Flashes, led by Justin Greene’s 16 points and 7.5 boards a night, are one of the more balanced teams in the MAC as five players average nine points or more. Chris Fouch, arguably Drexel’s top player, will really test Kent State’s backcourt.

9.   Austin Peay at Fairfield—February 19, 1PM (ESPNU)

Fairfield has been flying under the radar playing in the MAAC this year—not as much attention has been given to the league due to Siena’s return to mediocrity after a great run under Fran McCaffery—and they are one of the hottest teams in the nation. Aside from a tough one point loss at Loyola (MD) in mid-January, Fairfield has not lost since November 23 against St. Joseph’s. They are currently the favorite to win the MAAC, but there are a host of teams nipping at their heels. The Stags will take on an Austin Peay squad that sits atop their league—the Ohio Valley Conference—as well. The game will feature two of the better point guards in the land of mid-majors as Derek Needham for Fairfield averages 14 points and 5 assists, and Caleb Brown for Austin Peay is second in the OVC in assists.

8.   Hofstra at Wright State—February 19, 11AM (ESPNU)

Hofstra and Wright State are both teetering on the edge of becoming legitimate contenders in their respective leagues. The Pride got out to a quick 5-0 start in the CAA, but have gone 3-3 in their last six to fall behind Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason. In the crazy Horizon League this year, it is anyone’s best guess who will be the last one standing. Cleveland State with Norris Cole looks to be the current favorite, but Wright State is not far behind. The storyline for this game will undoubtedly revolve around Charles Jenkins who has a legitimate shot of hearing his name called by David Stern on NBA Draft night, but don’t be surprised if Vaughn Duggins for Wright State steals the show. The fifth-year senior has scored in double figures in every game save two, and is the fourth leading scorer in the Horizon League.

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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 14th, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • Believe It or Not: Ripley’s should consider sponsoring the America East this season, because the standing are mind-boggling. Hartford (6th in the preseason coaches poll, 3-10 OOC) went into the week on top of the league, before being overtaken by the undefeated Binghamton Bears (who were tabbed 7th, and were also 3-10 outside the America East)
  • Don’t Play for New Hampshire, Kids: After Alvin Abreu, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, from last year went down with a season ending injury, sophomore Ferg Myrick stepped into the lead scoring role and showed promise of being one of the better players in the league, that is until he ruptured a patella tendon. There’s been about five similar cases in the last half decade… are the Wildcats turning into the Clippers?
  • Who’s On Top?: Vermont handled upstart Albany, while Boston University dropped a game to Maine on the road. Then Maine lost to Hartford at home. Then BU beat Vermont in Boston. Then Hartford lost on the road to a hobbled New Hampshire squad after blowing a huge early lead. If you figure out who is going to win the league, let me know.

Power Rankings

1) Vermont (11-4, 2-1): Vermont stumbled away at Boston University and were actually down at halftime to Albany. The Catamounts are the still the most consistent team in the league because they play harder, make smart plays and control the boards. But leader Evan Fjeld has been slowed for a couple of games, and it will be interesting to see if he picks up his production during conference play.

2) Maine (9-7, 3-1): Maine dropped a two-point decision on their home floor to a then-streaking Hartford team. It was a tough loss after a banner victory over Boston University to open the season. Forward Troy Barnies has worked himself into an All-Conference player, out of nowhere. The senior big man leads the team in points (13.3 PPG) and rebounds (7.3 RPG).

3) Boston University (7-10, 2-1): Boston Univesity received forward Jeff Pelage back from injury and his return has been a boon to the team. He is still well off 100%, but coach Pat Chambers is clearly pleased to have his muscular rebounding specialist back- played him significant minutes. Keep an eye out for rookie point guard DJ Irving after he abused Vermont’s weak defense guard play for many open layups. The talent on the team is starting to come together- if it does, the rest of the America East could be in trouble

4) Hartford (5-11, 2-1): Hartford embarrassed Albany to take first place in the AE standings, but then blew an enormous lead to a weak New Hampshire team. Morgan Sabia has been putting up the numbers for this team, but Milton Burton has been exceptional in the middle of a 1-3-1 zone. The 6’5 senior has wrecked havoc for opposing teams and leads the league in steals (2.2 SPG).

5) Binghamton (6-10, 3-0): Kudos to the Bearcats for the hot start to the conference and especially for doing it without leading scorer Greer Wright, who has been sidelined with an injury, but we still have no proof this team will compete in the America East. Their wins are over the three worst teams in the league, but, if Mahamoud Jabbi keeps playing like a all-league player (17 points, 14 rebounds in a win over UMBC) who knows…

6) Albany (8-11, 1-3): Albany had a very tough opening schedule, but just hasn’t been able to spring the upsets. Against Maine at home, they had the ball in a tie game with 40 seconds left, and both a seven-foot floater and a mid-range jump shot didn’t fall. Tim Ambrose has been slipping, so Albany will need more aggression from point guard Mike Black and the oft-quiet bench and bigs.

7) Stony Brook (6-9, 1-2): Stony Brook sandwiched a loss to Cornell in between similar outcomes to Vermont and Binghamton. The talent on this team is young, but they do no look ready to compete. Marcus Rouse stepped up on offense, but there hasn’t been much else. A lot of youth and talent on this team that might have come together under the insane effort of Tommy Brenton, but for now, the season appears lost.

8) New Hampshire (7-9, 1-3): Yes, they beat Hartford and yes, they still have two of the more talented players in the league, Dane DiLiegro and Tyrone Conley. But even their comeback might have a drawback – Conley is well known for shunning his athleticism to pop from deep and a 6-10 game from three against Hartford will likely encourage him to keep chucking the ball.

9) UMBC (1-15, 0-3): Free hugs! If you’re team is on a skid, there might be a leftover Christmas surprise if UMBC is waiting on your schedule.

A Look Ahead

Are You For Real?

  • Perhaps we’ll find out when Binghamton travels to Maine. If Binghamton holds onto the top spot in the league after that road trip, time to start giving credit to Bearcats. (January 15)
  • Boston University at Albany: The Danes gave Maine fits in Albany but let the game slip through their fingers- will they have more luck against the Terriers? (January 15)
  • Maine at Vermont: Two of the best teams in the league go head to head, don’t be shocked if this is an AE Championship preview. (January 18)
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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 18th, 2010

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

A Look Back

  • Player of the Year…Benched? The presumptive pre-season POY, John Holland of Boston University, has been sentenced to coming off the pine by coach Patrick Chambers until he shows better aggressiveness and leadership. The 6’5 Holland is still putting up 17.5 points a game, but he has seen his shooting percentage plummet from last season: 46% to 35%.
  • Leader of the (straggling) Pack: Vermont has been the class of the league, but there hasn’t been much competition. They dropped a game to BYU in Glens Falls, New York, but there’s no shame in that, as they remain solidly in the mid-major polls at #16.
  • King of the Town: Albany snapped a five-year losing streak to bitter cross town rival Siena in a thrilling 88-82 overtime victory.

  • Maine over UMass: Quality wins have been few and far between for the America East; Maine’s upset of UMass is one of the AE highlights to date.

  • Giant Killer Potential: Vermont’s Brian Voelkel and Albany’s Tim Ambrose. The freshman Voelkel has a nice resume so far as the league leader in rebounding and steals, and he has the second-most helpers in the conference. He decided the scoring column could use more ink last Sunday, when he dropped 23 points on Marist to go along with a typical 16 boards, three assists and five steals.  Ambrose is on the other side of the spectrum, as the senior is going through a renaissance. He’s collected two straight POW awards while dropping 27 points on Siena and 21 in a victory over CCSU that he salvaged single-handedly. Down two with a minute left to play, Ambrose took a pick-six steal in for an easy layup, then with under ten seconds on the clock, he drained a rainbow floater for the victory.

Power Rankings

  1. Vermont (7-2): There’s no competition for the top spot in the AE, but Vermont will test its mettle against MAAC favorites where we’ll find out just how good this team is when they pay visits to Fairfield and Iona. Forward Evan Fjeld continues to be excellent, but the Catamounts are relying heavily at the guard spot on 5’8 Joey Accaoui. He’s been scoring efficiently, but he’s a defensive liability, and it will be interesting to see if the top guards in the MAAC can take advantage.
  2. Maine (4-5): The Black Bears’ victory over UMass in a slugfest showed that they will again be a contender this year… but strangely, they’ve still done it without anyone playing particularly well. Gerald McLemore still is shooting poorly, and the ten-man rotation seems to score by committee. It’s too early to tell if the balanced attack is sustainable, but it feels like this is a team that needs to find offensive consistency if they are going to have success in conference.
  3. Albany (5-6): The upset of Siena was euphoric for a struggling program. The aforementioned Tim Ambrose has been a rock, and flanked by sophomores Mike Black and Logan Aronhalt, it is safe to say the Great Danes have the top backcourt in the league. The problem is a lack of depth at guard behind these three, and the balance of the season hangs on every injury scare.
  4. New Hampshire (4-3): Dane DiLiegro is one of the top post threats in the league and he’s clocking in at a solid 13.0/9.7, but he will need to assert himself more on a nightly basis. The Wildcats do not have an impressive win yet this season, but they haven’t had any horrible missteps and their losses to good teams have been close. Three straight road games ahead (Rhode Island, Central Conn. State and Cornell) will tell us a lot about this team.
  5. Boston University (4-7): No one expected to see the Terriers this low this season. A four game skid has included handing away a game at Bucknell, losing an early lead against LaSalle and then just quitting in the second half against Harvard. The pieces are there, but there is no mesh. The team has leaned heavily, very heavily on the three-point shot, which they haven’t made very often. A turnaround on this young team must start with John Holland.
  6. Stony Brook (4-5): A nine-point loss at home to lowly Sacred Heart dropped Stony Brook to a new low.  Bryan Dougher is still shooting well, but there has been zero consistency behind him. Big-bodied Dallis Joyner has rebounded at a solid clip of 8.7 boards per game, but hasn’t been much help on offense, with just five points per contest
  7. Binghamton (2-8): Out of the coma! After a miserable stretch, Binghamton was a free throw in regulation away from upsetting Hofstra before losing in overtime at the hands of an monster night from the Pride’s Charles Jenkins and his 32 points. The Bearcats followed up the strong showing with a victory of Manhattan behind a 20-point outburst by Mahamoud Jabbi.
  8. Hartford (2-8): In one of the most cringe-worthy losses of the year, Hartford lost a twenty point lead deep in the second half to Sacred Heart. They followed it up with a double OT loss to Monmouth to keep the bad taste in their mouths. The Hawks’ current 17-day break just doesn’t seem good for team’s psyche.
  9. UMBC (0-10): Among a chosen few left in the race for longest winless stretch, punctuated by a 81-39, THIRTY NINE, drilling by Rider. It’s a two man team, Chris De La Rosa and Travis King, and it’s ugly.

A Look Ahead:

  • Vermont faces a key road trip as they play Fairfield and Iona Monday and Wednesday, respectively.
  • New Hampshire ups the ante in the coming weeks with a host of challenging games on the road, Rhode Island (12/18), Central Connecticut State (12/22) and Cornell (12/29).
  • BU needs to right the ship at home with two tough matchups ahead versus St Joseph’s (12/21) and Quinnipiac (12/29).
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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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Set Your Tivo: 03.13.10

Posted by THager on March 13th, 2010

***** – quit your job and divorce your wife if that’s what it takes to watch this game live
**** – best watched live, but if you must, tivo and watch it tonight as soon as you get home
*** – set your tivo but make sure you watch it later
** – set your tivo but we’ll forgive you if it stays in the queue until 2012
* – don’t waste bandwidth (yours or the tivo’s) of any kind on this game

CUSA Championship – UTEP vs. Houston – 11:30 am on CBS (***)

The Miners have been one of the most underrated teams in the country this season, but if they can finish their run through the Conference USA tournament, they could be looking at a #5 of #6 seed in the NCAA tournament.  They have now won 16 games in a row, and they will face a mediocre Houston team that is just 18-15 on the year.  UTEP is the more talented team, as they rank twelfth in defensive efficiency, but they have had some trouble against the Cougars this year.  The Miners won the most recent matchup, but finished the game just 2-18 from the three-point line.  In the first contest in January, Houston actually won 75-65 thanks to 11-20 shooting from beyond the arc.  UTEP’s Achilles heel has been their free throw shooting, and if Houston doesn’t beat up on themselves (they have a 1.4/1 assist to turnover ratio) the Cougars have a chance to steal a bid.

America East Championship – Boston University vs. Vermont – 12:00 pm on ESPN2 (***)

A few weeks ago, Boston University looked as if they had no business being in the NCAA tournament.  At the end of January, the Terriers stood at just 11-11, and were struggling in the America East conference.  However, BU won eight of their last nine games, and has earned a shot to dance with a 70-63 upset over top seeded Stony Brook in the semifinals.  There has been a few days rest from the semifinal game until today, so they will be more rested than most teams during championship week.  Vermont is an equally hot team, as they are 10-1 in their last 11 games, but they have had close calls against the Terriers this season.  In February, Vermont won in Boston 76-75, and it took Evan Fjeld’s layup with nine seconds left to seal the victory.  The largest lead for either team in the second half was just five points, and Vermont could not stop John Holland, who finished with 29 points.  Holland shoots 85% from the line this season, and if the Terriers can grab a lead heading into the closing minutes, free throw shooting could become a factor.  However, in their first matchup, BU got five points from their bench, while six Catamounts combined for 22 points, and Vermont ran away with a 20 point victory.  Vermont is 9-2 at home this year, and they look strong heading into this game.

MEAC Championship – South Carolina State vs. Morgan State – 2:00 pm on ESPN2 (***)

Morgan State is by far the best team in the MEAC, and the most likely candidate to pull off an upset in the tournament this season.  Nevertheless, they are going to have to get past a dangerous SC State team before they can secure their bid.  The Bulldogs were just 18-13 on the year, but they actually beat Morgan State on the road in their most recent matchup.  The Bears shot just 22% from the three point line, and SC State’s Jason Flagler had 24 points in the 71-68 victory.  The first game was a different matter, as Morgan State won by 15 points despite another poor shooting performance.  The Bulldogs do not rank among the top 250 teams in either offensive or defensive efficiency, while Morgan State ranks a relatively high #125 in offensive efficiency.  If South Carolina State continues to have more turnovers than assists, as they have this whole season, they have no chance of winning this game.

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