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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It’s a Love/Hate Relationship: Volume XVI

Posted by jbaumgartner on March 21st, 2011

Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC contributor. In this weekly piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball. This week, Jesse longs for a 16 to beat a 1, discusses how that Butler win can keep on winning, and says it’s time to holiday-ify the first two rounds.

Five Things I Loved This Week

I LOVED…..Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith in the studio analyzing collegiate games. And frankly, anyone who doesn’t has no sense of humor. These guys have little idea what they’re doing, and the result is an endless string of off-the-cuff observations that contrast with the measured responses from the normal college basketball analysts. My favorite moments were as follows: 1) Barkley ripping the Big East a new one right in front of guest panelist Rick Pitino. The Louisville coach was absolutely simmering as Barkley explained how the conference “has no talent,” and Pitino proceeded to guarantee that Notre Dame would knock off Florida State. That obviously didn’t work out so well. Barkley also said that his first-round picks don’t count and blamed the Cardinals for his red-heavy bracket right in front of Pitino.  2) Kenny and Chuck dissecting a zone defense. Barkley summed up his point by saying something to the extent of this: “The zone is EASIEST defense in the world to play against. You just dribble through it.” Comedy gold, people. Embrace it.

 

And You Doubted This Man?

I LOVED…..finding out the answer to this question: How long can you keep your job by selling the fact that you recruited Blake Griffin? Answer: an even two years, as we found out with Jeff Capel this week. Some (including Griffin) say he got a raw deal. I don’t know, though – Griffin is the type of recruit you should be able to use to draw other guys in. Frank Martin had a similar situation with Michael Beasley at Kansas State, and he’s still got his Wildcats in the national picture.

I LOVED…..Brad Stevens doing it again. After last year’s Cinderella run, it would have been so easy to see the Bulldogs backslide with the loss of Gordon Hayward. This run to the Sweet Sixteen cements his squad as a consistent contender, and in my mind it makes recruiting that much easier. Now you can tell prospects, “Hey, not only did we make the final against Duke, but we came back and knocked off another No. 1 seed the next year.” I still think it’s hard to see Stevens not leaving in the near future, but it’s good for the college game if he stays and keeps Butler at this level.

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The Other 26: Bracket Analysis Part II

Posted by KDoyle on March 17th, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC Contributor.

Call it what you want with this seemingly erroneous preamble of the NCAA Tournament known as the “First Four,” but the opening game of this year’s edition of the Dance could not have been much more entertaining. We have already had a clutch shot in the final seconds and an overtime game under our belts. Many people will not even remember that UNC-Asheville and Arkansas-Little Rock even partook in the Tournament, but for a few hours last evening the stage was all theirs. Even if it is merely a play-in game—errr, first round game—this is the NCAA Tournament and keen basketball observers were no doubt glued to their screens and smartphones last night tracking the game.

Just as a refresher in case you missed yesterday’s look into the Other 26 teams in the East and West Regions, I elected to break down the 16 teams by inserting each into one of the four categories: 1) Have a legitimate shot at actually advancing far into the Tournament; 2) Can win a game, but not much more; 3) If their shots are falling and their opponents are not, they have an outside shot; and, 4) We are just happy to be here.

Ability to advance to the second weekend

(8, Southwest) UNLV—After the conclusion of the 2010 Tournament, there is no doubt that a bitter taste was left in UNLV’s mouth. The Runnin’ Rebels lost to Northern Iowa in the final minute and then two nights later, in one of the gutsiest shots in Tournament history, Ali Farokhmanesh drilled a three from the wing to seal the victory over Kansas. UNLV had to painfully watch the remainder of the Tournament and endure the arduous offseason pondering the question: “Why couldn’t that have been us?” Now, UNLV is in a similar situation, as they are in the 8 vs. 9 game again. They are an experienced bunch with Tournament experience under their belts; if they are fortunate enough to get by Illinois, they will ironically play none other than Kansas.

(12, Southwest) Richmond—The Spiders were upset by St. Mary’s last year, and this year they are the ones who will have to be playing spoiler. Richmond has arguably the most dynamic player in the field with 6’10 senior forward Justin Harper. To make a comparison, Harper is the Atlantic 10’s version of Dirk Nowitzki. Although he spends most of his time inside the arc, his ability to step outside and hit a three poses endless match-up problems for opponents. Harper is complemented nicely by his running mate Kevin Anderson. Richmond matches up well against Vanderbilt, but containing John Jenkins—maybe the best shooter in the Tournament—will be a challenge. Expect a variety of match-up and 2-3 zones from Chris Mooney.

 

Harper is a Tough Matchup for Vandy

(3, Southeast) BYU—It is painfully obvious that the loss of Brandon Davies has detrimentally affected BYU’s play considerably; in the first game after his absence the Cougars were thrashed by New Mexico 82-64 on their home floor. While there is little doubt that Jimmer Fredette is the face of the program and their top player, the country is now officially seeing that there is much more going on in Provo, Utah, that can be attributed to BYU’s success  other than simply Fredette. While a deep run no doubt becomes more difficult without the services of Davies, the backcourt of Fredette and Jackson Emery has the ability to carry the Cougars to the second weekend.

(9, Southeast) Old Dominion—ODU presents all of the intangibles to be successful in the Tournament. They have an intelligent and proven coach in Blaine Taylor, a senior-laden team with NCAA experience, and the confidence that they belong here and can win—especially after knocking off Notre Dame as an 11 seed last year. It is more than merely intangibles for ODU though. The Monarchs are quite possibly the best rebounding team in the field, incredibly tough on the defensive end—according to Frank Hassell: “We go 50% man and 50% zone”—and run a deliberate offense that minimizes their opposition’s possessions. Blaine Taylor has created a formula for his team to have success in the NCAA Tournament.

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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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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 15th, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • I Want His Boss: Still in the midst of a now nine-game losing streak, Binghamton head coach Mark Macon received a two-year extension.
  • The World’s Most Famous Arena: In front of a decent fan base at MSG, the America East secured the 9:30 start after a St. John’s mauling of the “Kembas.” Boston University handled Albany, but the league won.
  • Check the Wheels: Maine sat alone in first place at 8-1… but they’ve started to tumble, losing to BU, then lowly UMBC, middling Hartford and, most recently, Stony Brook. This team doesn’t have much experience being a front-runner; can they get it together?
  • Pre-Season All-Conference Out: BU’s Jake O’Brien is out for the season after going under the knife for an ankle injury
  • Short, But Not So Sweet: All the buzz around the league was that Vermont landed Gonzaga transfer Keegan Hyland. Barely a week later, it was reported he was no longer at the school.

Power Rankings

1) Vermont (21-5, 12-2): They’ve hit the 20-win mark for the year, they have a great mix of seniors and a dearth of young talent. The Catamounts even kept plowing along when guard Joey Accaoui missed time with an injury.

2) Boston University (14-13, 9-4): The coaches (and my) preseason prediction isn’t looking so foolish. This team is turning the corner at the right time, despite the injury to O’Brien. John Holland (19 PPG) is starting to assert himself as the best player in the league- on an ESPN3 game, he carved up Albany for 25 points.

3) Maine (14-11, 8-5): Ted Woodward is running a long bench. When this team should be peaking, it’s only disjointed and sluggish. Four straight losses, two at home against bottom-dwellers; this team has to be hitting the panic button.

4) Hartford (8-17, 5-7): Joe Zeglinski keeps impressing, dropping 33 points over Maine and pushing the Hawks back into the top four after a slip-up at Albany. Leading scorer Morgan Sabia (14.4 PPG) missed a couple games with injury but bounced back nicely against the Black Bears.

5) Albany (12-15, 5-7): The Danes won their homecoming against Hartford and Aussie forward Luke Devlin continues to rack up boards and Rookie of the Weeks, but this team continues to stall when teams lock down the perimeter.

6) Stony Brook (11-14, 6-7) A great move by the Seawolves to pick Leonard Hayes up off waivers…oh, wait you mean he’s been there all along? After ten scoreless games and six DNP’s over the first 18 games, he’s posted 22, 15, 12 and 11 points in four of the last seven games, and the team has slowly clawed itself to the middle of the pack.

7) New Hampshire (12-14, 6-8): The Wildcats returned the favor to Albany by beating them on their own court and Tyrone Conley has been doing his best to carry the team, but there are still a lot of question marks for this short-handed team.

8) UMBC (5-21, 4-9): Welcome, UMBC! How does it feel to be out of the basement? UMBC, for the second time, when things looked the most bleak, ripped off a two-game winning streak, including punking Maine at home. Center Justin Fry woke up from a prolonged slumber and CDLR (Chris De La Rosa) keeps posting monstrous stats (16.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.5 APG).

9) Binghamton (6-19, 3-9): The Bearcats decided to top off their eight-game losing streak with an extension for their head coach, who celebrated it by losing once again. Between this decision and the well-chronicled off-court issues, this program is not renowned for its administrators and leadership.

A Look Ahead

  • Not Much Time To Right the Ship for Maine as welcome Vermont in Orono (2/16).
  • Bracket Busta’!: Maine tries to become the third America East team to knock off the Siena Saints (2/19).
  • For Fourth? Shockingly, a rematch between Stony Brook and UAlbany could end up determining who’s in fourth place come the end of the year.
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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 29th, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • Hope You Didn’t Believe It: At last check in, the Binghamton and Hartford were one-two in the America East standings. Now, they’re sixth and fourth, respectively, with Binghamton having dropped five straight games.
  • The Cellar Has Teeth: UMBC has 18 losses this year, but that did not stop them from taking down Boston University and Hartford in back-to-back games. But alas, they got blown out by fellow bottom-feeder New Hampshire and then couldn’t hold onto a 12-point halftime lead against Albany.
  • A Barnies Burner: Maine senior forward Troy Barnies has blossomed into one of the most consistent players in the league this year (14 PPG, 8 RPG) and has been crucial to steadying a deep, but sometimes inconsistent Black Bears team.

Power Rankings

1) Maine (13-7, 7-1): A convincing win at Vermont, 72-58, gave Maine the inside track for #1 seed (and home court advantage for the championship match). The two convincing wins against AE weaklings shows they can take care of teams they should be beating solidly. A six-game winning streak and a Gerald McLemore who is slowly coming back to form have things looking bright in Orono.

2) Vermont (15-5, 6-2): Loses against both Maine and Boston University throw into question whether this team has the ability to dance this season, especially with questionable guard play. Freshman Sandro Carissimo has seen some time at the guard position, but still hasn’t proven that he’s the answer.

3) Boston University (10-12, 5-3): “Most talented team in the America East, but…” It’s been a refrain this season, but never as much as the last two weeks. Horrible blown leads at Hartford and UMBC have left people questioning whether John Holland, the most skilled player in the league, has the make-up to be a crunch time performer.

4) Hartford (7-13, 4-3): Joe Zeglinski single-handedly ended Binghamton’s dream world with a 7-11 performance from three, but this team still relies very heavily on streaky shooters. Zeglinski and leading scorer Morgan Sabia both shoot under 35% from three and are prone to painful off nights.

5) Albany (11-12, 4-4): Down twelve to UMBC (literally the only AE team the Great Danes could beat least season), some fans were reaching for the panic button. Luckily, Logan Aronhalt snapped out of a prolonged slump and added to the week’s “thundersnow” outside with 20 second half points.

6) New Hampshire (8-12, 2-6) The floor drops out at the sixth spot. No one had really done much to earn it. New Hampshire gets the nod because despite the barrage of injuries and the recent temporary, but vague suspension of big man Dane DiLiegro, the Wildcats upset Hartford with a 33-point outburst from Tyrone Conley. Pogo stick forward Brian Benson has also chipped in a few nice performances on the glass.

7) Stony Brook (7-12, 2-5): The Seawolves simply cannot score. Brian Dougher is a second or third option player, and when teams can key on him, it’s just hard for him to find a rhythm. Albany scored one point in the final ten minutes against Stony Brook… and won.

8) Binghamton (6-15, 3-5): This team is in an embarrassing stretch, punctuated by 39-point beatdown at the hands of rival Albany, but their dominance over the bottom of the league keeps them from the cellar. This team still has some fight… but only about once every three or four games.

9) UMBC (3-18, 2-6): There was a brief moment of hope- two huge wins over BU and Hartford and two winnable games on the schedule. Dreams of .500! But then the rest of the team faded away behind stat-piling point guard Chris De La Rosa.

A Look Ahead

  • UVM visits Albany (who led the Catamounts at half earlier this season) in a game that could propel Albany into the league’s top four. (1/29)
  • For All The Marbles: Ok, this might be a bit premature, but if Maine goes to Boston University and knocks of the Terriers, that will be one pretty eight game winning streak.  (2/1)
  • Who thought of that one? In a strange scheduling choice, Hartford follows up it’s loss at Vermont with a game at Stony Brook then immediately welcomes Vermont at home. The rematch at Chase Arena will be a revenge game… and the wounds of the loss should be fresh in the Hawks’ mind.
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The Other 26: Week 10

Posted by KDoyle on January 21st, 2011

Kevin Doyle is an RTC contributor.

Introduction

The week is here, long at last. Going into the season, BYU and San Diego State were projected to be strong, but this strong? Just to give you an idea of where these two juggernauts stood before the season, the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll had San Diego State receiving 73 votes and BYU 55 votes in the top 25 poll. In Zach Hayes’ Bracketology—a bracket that, in my mind, is very accurate for his latest edition—he had SDSU as a six seed and BYU a seven. Clearly, each team has exceeded many of the critics and so called experts expectations. Who would have thought that the teams would combine to have a 38-1 record at this stage of the season? Not even Steve Fisher or Dave Rose would have thought that.

In the grand scheme of things, the tilt in Provo, Utah, next week will not have an impact on whether or not either team will make the NCAA Tournament—it is a foregone conclusion that both are in—but this may be San Diego State’s biggest roadblock between them having an undefeated regular season or not. Can the magic carpet ride that San Diego State has been flying on continue, or will Jimmer Fredette and Co. take the air right out from under them? It will all go down on Wednesday evening in Provo.

The Other 26 Rankings

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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 12th, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • Maine Smacks Penn St.: The Maine Black Bears have been heating up and Penn State figured out the hard way, losing by 10 points in their home arena.

  • Holiday Spirit: Will Brown and the Albany Great Danes made headlines throughout the basketball community when they lent a ride to one of their upcoming opponents, Xavier’s Mark Lyons, after the brutal northeastern weather left Lyons stranded in New York. The feel good story for the Danes ended there, as Lyons snapped out of a shooting slump and buried them with a barrage of early threes.
  • Split to be Proud of: Vermont finished an impressive, even shocking OOC schedule  with a road tumble with MAAC favorites Fairfield and Iona (the Catamounts beat Siena on the road earlier this season). UVM lost at Fairfield, but bounced back for a convincing victory over Mike Glover and the Gaels.
  • John Holland…back? At last update, POY favorite John Holland of Boston University was in the doghouse and coming off the bench. He is back in the starting lineup and his play has steadily improved but the Terriers still aren’t trustworthy with a lead late in the game: they have five losses of three points or less this season.
  • Thanks, Colgate: The 0-11 Raiders have dropped three straight games to the America East (Maine, Albany, Stonybrook) since the last check-in and five throughout the year.
  • Fan Shot: If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at the America East, fans, bloggers and writers from around the league chipped in for a conference roundtable.

Power Rankings

1) Vermont (9-3): Vermont nearly had a letdown at home against Mount St. Mary’s after the Iona victory, but they prevailed in overtime. Brian Voelkel cemented his value as point forward- when he had an off night against Fairfield (6 turnovers), the offense struggled mightily. A positive sign in recent weeks has been the improvement of guard Brendan Bald.

2) Maine (6-5): Maine is the hottest team in the league with four straight wins and they’ve had contributions from all over the map. It’s impossible to game plan against their leading scorer because I don’t think coach Ted Woodward has any idea who will come out hot for him tonight. They’re defined by their defense, led by the efforts of Murphy Burnatowski, but if the offense comes around, the Black Bears could be the top team in the America East.

3) Albany (7-7): Tim Ambrose, the compact and burly guard, can play with the best of them right now. The six-foot wrecking ball has upped his assist-turnover ratio to 1.2, averaging 18 points per game and shooting 53% from the field and almost 50% from three. He’s going to need continued improvement from his sophomore backcourt mate Mike Black if the Great Danes are truly going to challenge for an NCAA bid.

4) New Hampshire (6-5): The Wildcats had the most perplexing loss of the season when they got destroyed by CCSU… while the coach’s son, Ryan Herrion, played 22 minutes and leading scorers Dane Diliegro and Ferg Myrick played 14 and 10 respectively. UNH bounced back with a victory over Cornell on a neutral floor and has seen improvement from rookies Kazadi Nyanguila and DeAndray Buckley. The Wildcats remain puzzling team that searching for leadership.

5) Boston University (5-8): During this pre-season we’ve learned that Coach Chambers has as much talent as we thought, but also been forced to realize how young this team is. The Terriers’ have played the toughest schedule in the league and they’ve left a lot of close games on the table. This team could very well will the title, but they have no business heading into the regular season as favorite. Rebounding forward Jeff Pelage is back from an off-season injury, so his experience and muscle should help bolster a talented and deep front line.

6) Stony Brook (5-6): The Seahawks lost on national TV to a very good Notre Dame squad by a lot, but Stony Brook’s young and fearless backcourt showed it’s potential. Freshman Dave Coley plays aggressively with  a loose handle that belies his New York City background and he has some success getting to the basket. Fellow freshman Anthony Jackson and sophomore Marcus Rouse also took turns taking swings (figuratively) at the Big East power. They may not develop this season, but Coach Pikiell has a strong basing moving forward.

7) Binghamton (3-8): If only a game was two second halves, the Bearcats would be incredible. They erased a 13-point halftime lead to storm back and clip Cornell in the final minutes with heroics from Mahamoud Jabbi. This team is wildly unpredictably, but if they happen to be on and putting in the effort, Binghamton could beat any team in the league.

8)Hartford (2-9): Hartford took a long holiday break and their only action has been a drubbing at the hands of Cal. A game against St. Mary’s doesn’t figure improve the Hawks’ confidence moving into conference play.

9) UMBC (0-12): Recruit Jarrel Lane hit a game winner for St. Patrick (NJ). He has not yet decommitted. And that’s where positives end.

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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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