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 Live: Boston U. @ Northeastern

Posted by rtmsf on November 12th, 2010

Game #3.  RTC Live makes its first-ever visit to Matthews Arena at Northeastern for a battle of two local  rivals with something to prove this season.

Crosstown rivals Boston University and Northeastern open their seasons at Matthews Arena. The overall series favors the Terriers who lead 71-66 after winning the last two matchups, including last year’s epic overtime battle. This year the Terriers should be favored to win as predicted champions in the America East Conference. Boston is a very young, talented team lead by preseason all-Atlantic East players John Holland and Jake O’Brien–who iced last year’s game for the Terriers with a turnaround jumper in overtime.  But don’t count the Huskies out. Northeastern will have homecourt advantage (not to mention they want to avenge last year’s loss), and Chaisson Allen is a very good player (he averaged 13.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game last season). The Terriers might be more talented, but they’re also very young and on the road. This should be a great game.

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RTC Presents College Basketball’s Opening Weekend

Posted by nvr1983 on November 12th, 2010

After opening with four games apiece on Monday and Wednesday night, college basketball really starts to pick up this evening with 16 of the top 25 teams in action including Georgetown traveling to play a tough Old Dominion team. By Sunday night, 24 of the top 25 teams will have played with Missouri being the lone exception, as they do not play their first game until November 18th. Even though there are only a few games that I would deem particularly compelling in isolation it will be interesting to see how the new pieces on these teams work with the returning parts.

We will have more about each day’s game with our Set Your Tivo feature, but in addition to those games you can watch on TV, we will also be coming to you courtside from nine games on RTC Live this weekend. Check back throughout the weekend for more (somewhat) instant analysis and join us on RTC Live for action from across the nation.


  • Boston University at Northeastern, 7 PM – One of the early battles of Boston will occur in Matthews Arena as the Terriers come to play the Huskies, who will be significantly weaker this year after losing four of their top five scorers. Chaisson Allen and the Huskies will be tested against a promising Terrier team led by John Holland, the leading scorer in America East, who has support from a team that includes four transfers.
  • East Tennessee State at #10 Kentucky, 7 PM on Big Blue Sports and ESPN Full Court – This game will be interesting if only for the reaction of the Wildcats and their fans a day after learning that Enes Kanter, whom many said would be the key to their season, would never play in a Wildcat uniform. On the other sideline, the Buccaneers will be without Tommy Hubbard, their leading scorer and rebounder. Ok, technically Hubbard will be on the sideline, but you get my point…
  • Cornell at Albany, 7:30 PM – While the Great Danes should be improved with Tim Ambrose returning for his senior season, most of the college basketball world will be focused on the Big Red, who lost eight seniors, including Ryan Whitman, Louis Dale, and Jeff Foote along with their coach Steve Donahue, who headed to Boston College. New coach Bill Courtney will be relying on Chris Wroblewski as one of the few known elements of his team to help guide the Big Red in the early season while they try to establish a new identity.


  • North Florida at #5 Pittsburgh, 4 PM on The Big East Network and ESPN Full Court  We aren’t expecting this to be a particularly competitive game, but it will be worth following to see the co-favorites in the Big East (along with Villanova and Syracuse). The Panthers have one of the best backcourts in America with Ashton GibbsBrad Wanamaker, and Gilbert Brown, but the success of the team could well depend on the interior play of Gary McGhee, who has been quiet so far this season.
  • Harvard at George Mason, 4 PM – Jeremy Lin is gone, but Tommy Amaker returns with a solid squad–led by Kyle Casey and Keith Wright–that is good enough to win the school’s first Ivy League title. [Ed. Note: The Crimson are the only historic Division 1 program to have never won a league championship. And the answer is no, we do not count schools that joined recently in the discussion.] They will have their hands full, however, as they travel down to Fairfax, Virginia to take on Jim Larranaga‘s squad that is led by Cam Long and Ryan Pearson and could very easily end up winning the CAA.
  • #23 San Diego State at Long Beach State, 7 PM – This game should be all about the Aztecs who return all five starters from a team that challenged Tennessee in a close game in the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament last March. The Aztecs, who are led by sophomore sensation Kawhi Leonard, should challenge BYU for the Mountain West title this season, but Steve Fisher has higher aspirations for what’s certainly a Sweet 16-level team. Look for Casper White to make his mark for the 49ers, but the Aztecs should win this one fairly easily.
  • Weber State at Utah State, 9:05 PM – An early season Bracket Buster match-up that might be the most interesting game of the weekend. The Wildcats will have the best player on the court in Damian Lillard, projected as a potential first round pick in 2012, but they will have to travel to Logan to take on a Aggie team that returns four of five starters but will really miss Jared Quayle as they have to break in a new point guard against Lillard.


  • Cornell at Seton Hall, Noon on The Big East Network and ESPN Full Court – Their second game of the weekend should be significantly more challenging for the Big Red as they travel to play a Pirate team that has a new coach in Kevin Willard and returns two stars in Jeremy Hazell and Herb Pope. We know what to expect from Hazell (shooting, lots of shooting), but we aren’t sure what to expect from Pope who underwent cardiac surgery in the off-season to repair a congenital abnormality. Pope looked pretty good in some exhibition games, but we expect it will be a while before he gets back to the level where he was last year. A year ago, the Pirates won a tight game over the Big Red on the road. Don’t expect this year to be as close.
  • Princeton at #1 Duke, 5 PM on ESPNU – That’s right. We will be courtside for the opening game of Duke’s title defense. Nothing against the Tigers, but this should be one of those 40-50 point blowouts. Still, we will be interested to see how Kyrie Irving and Seth Curry fit into an already loaded perimeter attack for the Blue Devils that features Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler.
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RTC 2010-11 Impact Players: National Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on November 8th, 2010

Over the past month-plus, we’ve been presenting our RTC Impact Players for the 2010-11 season. From coast to coast and the Canadian border down to Mexico, we’ve selected the sixty players nationally who we believe will have the most impact on the game this year.  Each of the ten geographic regions was allotted five “starters” and a “sixth man,” an artificial construct that was easy to fill in some areas while much more difficult in some of the others.  In case you’ve missed the series along the way, this post will serve as your wrap-up.  We’re rank-ordering the ten “teams” by geographic region and list some of the near-miss players in each one.  Each regional post has a much more extensive writeup on each player chosen, so be sure to click on its respective link if you’re looking for additional information.  Here’s the view of the 2010-11 college basketball world from 500,000 feet.

The 2010-11 RTC Impact Players Map

The Ten Regions

(* denotes current injury, suspension or ineligibility)

1. Lower Midwest Region (OH, IN, IL). Wow, and imagine if Robbie Hummel hadn’t gotten hurt.  Another group of first-rounders has everything, but what really sets this team apart is the inside dominance that Sullinger and Johnson can impose.  There isn’t a region on our list this year that would be able to stay out of foul trouble against those two, especially with the heady play of Mack, McCamey and Moore finding the big men in the right spots time and time again.  It’s no coincidence that the nation’s best conference — the Big 10 — has its footprint located here.

  • Shelvin Mack, G, Butler
  • E’Twaun Moore, G, Purdue
  • Chris Wright, F, Dayton
  • Jared Sullinger, F, Ohio State
  • JaJuan Johnson, C, Purdue
  • Demetri McCamey, G, Illinois (6th)

Near Misses: William Buford, Ohio State; Maurice Creek, G, Indiana; John Shurna, Northwestern

2. South Atlantic Region (VA, NC, SC). Obviously, if you can’t find a space for a likely all-american like Nolan Smith, this is a sick team.  Its only weakness is that other than Tracy Smith, it is extremely perimeter-oriented.  Granted, nobody can put a more talented five on the floor, but if a team like the above can pound the ball inside on them, that could make the difference.

  • Kyrie Irving, G, Duke
  • Malcolm Delaney, G, Virginia Tech
  • Kevin Anderson, G, Richmond
  • Harrison Barnes, F, UNC
  • Kyle Singler, F, Duke
  • Tracy Smith, F, NC State (6th)

Near Misses: Nolan Smith, Duke; Andrew Goudelock, College of Charleston

3. Plains/Mountains Region (KS, CO, WY, OK, TX). This is a ridiculously talented region, with first-rounders everywhere on the floor.  The only possible issue would be who would be willing to sacrifice for the betterment of the team, but if Selby is eligible to run the show, we’re not sure there’s a much better group anywhere else in America.  This region is so strong we had to leave a high-major conference POY (Culpepper) off the team.  Wow.

  • LaceDarius Dunn*, G, Baylor
  • Jacob Pullen, G, Kansas State
  • Perry Jones, F, Baylor
  • Marcus Morris, F, Kansas
  • Cory Higgins, F, Colorado
  • Josh Selby*, Kansas (6th)

Near Misses: Alec Burks, Colorado; Gary Johnson, Texas; Randy Culpepper, UTEP

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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. (

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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RTC 2010-11 Impact Players – Northeast Region

Posted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2010

It’s October.  The leaves are starting to turn colors.  Halloween candy is already in the stores.  There have been a few nights where you may have even turned on the heat.  Midnight Madness is less than two weeks away and RTC is ready to jump into the 2010-11 Season Preview materials headfirst, like a ten-foot stack of those leaves that you just raked into a giant pile.  For the second October in a row, we’re going to bring you our RTC Impact Players series.  The braintrust has gone back and forth on this throughout September and we’ve finally settled on a group of sixty players throughout ten geographic regions of the country (five starters plus a sixth man) to represent the who and where of players you should be watching this season.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen every one of these players ball at least once by the end of February, then you need to figure out a way to get a better television package.  As always in a subjective analysis such as this, some of our decisions were difficult; many others were quite easy.  What we can say without reservation is that there is great talent in every corner of this nation of ours, and we’ll do our best to excavate it over the next five weeks in this series that will publish on Mondays and Thursdays.  Each time, we’ll also provide a list of some of the near-misses as well as the players we considered in each region, but as always, we welcome you guys, our faithful and very knowledgeable readers, to critique us in the comments.  We begin in the top right corner of the country also known as the Northeast.

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

  • Kemba Walker – Jr, G – Connecticut. Kemba Walker is a two-time RTC Impact Player, as he was slotted in this position prior to his sophomore campaign last season.  Many, ourselves included, expected the exceptionally quick point guard to have a breakout 2009-10 season that would result in the NBA Draft come June, but like the entire UConn program last season, things didn’t work out exactly as planned.    He’s your classic Boogie Down point guard in that he carries himself with a swagger borne on the playgrounds of New York City, he looks to attack the goal first and foremost off the bounce, and he often exhibits problems subjugating his own scoring in favor of keeping everyone else involved.  Still, there’s no denying the pure talent Walker possesses — he’s virtually unguardable in the open court with the ball in his hand, and his scoring (14.6 PPG), passing (4.9 APG), defense (2.1 SPG) and outside shooting (34% 3FG, up 7%) have all improved.  One problem area was that he was a turnover machine in the first half of last season (totaling 69 miscues through January 23), but after that the light appeared to click on and he cleaned up his handle the rest of the way with nine games of two TOs or fewer.  Even if he’s learned the value of possession, though, there are still areas of concern.  As the lead guard taking over for AJ Price last season, he presided over the tumultuous team chemistry of a proud program that suffered one of its worst seasons in Jim Calhoun’s tenure at UConn.  Also troubling was that his renowned ability to get to the rim and finish at a high rate fell off considerably (52% as a freshman; 43% last year), suggestive of  greater defensive focus placed on him and a tendency to over-penetrate.  NBA draftniks still like Walker as a late first-rounder when he decides to come out, so if he can finally make the expected leap from a very good collegiate point guard to a great one, expect to see him standing tall with David Stern on the stage at MSG next June (he is also on track to graduate in May 2011).

Walker Has a Heavy Load to Carry This Season

  • Charles Jenkins, Sr, G – Hofstra. For the Hofstra Pride, it begins and ends with Jenkins. After getting over some early season injuries last season, Jenkins took over and led his team in scoring in 16 of its last 18 games. He was the only player on the team to average double figures last season (20.6 PPG), and was clearly their go-to player in almost every situation. As a result, he’s earned plenty of accolades, bringing home last season’s CAA Player of the Year award as well as taking home his second straight Haggerty Award (presented to the best player in the New York Metropolitan area) and earning an Associated Press All-American honorable mention. He’s on track to wrap up his career on Long Island as the school’s all-time leading scorer, but he is also currently eighth on the school’s all-time assist list as well, a testament to just how much he does for this team. For a Pride squad that only returns three players that averaged more than two points per game last season (senior center Greg Washington and senior swing Nathaniel Lester are the other two), Jenkins will need to pick right back up where he left off last season when he scored 20 or more in the last nine games. Jenkins will play a ton of minutes (he played 39 or more minutes 18 times last season), take a bunch of shots (only once against a D1 opponent last season did he fail to take more than ten field goal attempts), and he’ll score plenty of points in a variety of ways. While he is an excellent three-point shooter (hitting 41% from deep last year – a nice improvement from his first two seasons), Jenkins is at his best when he puts the ball on the floor and gets into the lane, scoring with a variety of moves, creating easy looks for teammates or, ideally, drawing fouls and getting to the line where he excels as an 80-plus percent shooter. Jenkins has shown an ability over his career to play heavy minutes and carry the load of expectations without wearing down, and he’ll need to do it all one more time for the Pride to compete with teams like Old Dominion, Virginia Commonwealth and George Mason for a CAA title and Jenkins’ first NCAA Tournament bid in an otherwise outstanding college career.

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2010-11 RTC Class Schedule: Kentucky Wildcats

Posted by zhayes9 on August 27th, 2010

Zach Hayes is a editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.  To see the entire group of 2010-11 Class Schedules, click here.

After dissecting a trio of Big 12 teams in prior weeks, more and more elite programs are releasing their 2010-11 schedules to the masses. Let’s continue with Kentucky, a squad that reloaded following the departure of an astounding five first round draft picks.

With so much turnover, Calipari has another tough coaching job on his hands

Team Outlook: A fan base as rabid and fanatical as Kentucky’s surely awaited this week’s announcement with tremendous anticipation. Big Blue Nation has expectations for their Wildcats that perennially surpass any other program in the nation. Their point guard and this April’s #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, John Wall, will be replaced by Brandon Knight, whose high school accolades and ranking matches those of his predecessors under John Calipari. If deemed eligible by the NCAA, Enes Kanter will fill the post presence left by the ultra-productive DeMarcus Cousins. Similarly to Kanter, Terrence Jones spurned Washington and headed to Kentucky, a 6’9 wing very capable of matching the offensive production provided by Eric Bledsoe a season ago. The key word for Kentucky and Calipari since he took the helm: replenish. And if Knight, Kanter and Jones are history next April, three more top-ten recruits will fill the void. It’s a tall task for Knight and Kanter to match the contributions of Wall and Cousins, two of the top three players in the sport last season. Still, with such talent abounding, a wide open SEC, and the true dribble-drive offense back into high gear, to expect a giant step back from Big Blue and underestimating the coaching prowess of Calipari would be a grave mistake.

Non-Conference Schedule Rank (ranked 1 thru 10, 10 being the most difficult): 7.5. A program with the visibility and significance of Kentucky should challenge themselves at every chance. Forced out of necessity more than choice to load up in November and December at Memphis, Calipari has utilized that same strategy in Lexington. The potential is there to face fellow powerhouses at least in terms of college basketball history: North Carolina, Michigan State, Louisville, Indiana, Notre Dame, Washington and Oklahoma, although these teams remain at varying degrees of competitiveness. Kentucky will surely attract an enormous contingent to Maui where they could face a top-ten team in the semifinals in Washington and a top-two team in the finals, Michigan State. North Carolina is still working its way back up to elite status following last year’s NIT berth, but the young Wildcats’ trip to the Dean Dome won’t be any sort of cakewalk. The same theory applies to Louisville on New Year’s Eve, the next chapter of one of the fiercest rivalries the sport knows. A matchup with possible NCAA squad Notre Dame should also prove competitive. Kentucky gets everyone’s best shot, and it’s no relief for Calipari that up to seven non-conference contests will be either on true road or neutral floors.

Cupcake City: Two notable cupcakes travel to Lexington when Mississippi Valley State and Coppin State make the trip for what should be 40-point blowouts, but other than that Calipari did a solid job limiting the scrubs. East Tennessee State returns their top three scorers from an NCAA Tournament team that was blown out in the first round by, you guessed it, Kentucky. I’m not saying the Wildcats are vulnerable to lose to the Buccaneers, but they will not be a total walkover. Winthrop rode a Big South Cinderella run to an NCAA bid and is on the slate. Boston University with John Holland and Jake O’Brien is halfway decent, while a Maui tune-up in Portland against the rebuilding Pilots will provide a raucous atmosphere. Last season, Kentucky did struggle a bit early in the campaign against Miami (OH), Stanford and Sam Houston State while Calipari determined roles and rotations for a plethora of new players. If the same holds true a year later, Portland and BU could be pesky opponents.

Toughest Early Season Test: It’s far from a guarantee that Kentucky downs Washington in the Maui semifinals. After all, the Huskies return the majority of their backcourt led by Isaiah Thomas, Venoy Overton and Abdul Gaddy with a frontcourt anchored by Matthew Bryan-Amaning and a talented newcomer in Terrence Ross. Plus, they should have plenty of motivation to knock Kentucky down a few pegs following the Kanter and Jones situations that have been rehashed continuously. If the Wildcats can survive Washington, and I have a sneaking suspicion they will, Michigan State awaits in the final if the Spartans can knock off Connecticut or Wichita State (unless they pull a Virginia against Chaminade). The Spartans return their entire Final Four squad with the exception of Raymar Morgan and Chris Allen. Containing Kalin Lucas is baptism by fire for green Brandon Knight, while wing Darius Miller may have the unenviable task of chasing around three-point bomber Durrell Summers. The Spartans will likely be ranked number two in the nation behind Duke at this point. Win or lose, the learning experience will certainly be valuable for the young Wildcats.

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Summer School in the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on August 26th, 2010

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

Around The America East:

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

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

Power Rankings:

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