Checking in on… the America East

Posted by jstevrtc on January 8th, 2010

Michael Hurley is the RTC correspondent for the America East Conference.

2009-10 America East  (Conf/Overall)

  1. Vermont                                   1-0       10-5
  2. Stony Brook                             1-0       9-5
  3. Maine                                          0-0       8-5
  4. New Hampshire                    0-0       5-6
  5. Albany                                        0-0       5-10
  6. Binghamton                            0-0       5-10
  7. Hartford                                    0-0       2-11
  8. Boston University              0-1       5-8
  9. UMBC                                          0-1       1-13

Hottest Team- Maine

Even with the roll Vermont is on, it is hard to ignore the three-game winning streak that Maine have put together. The win over Columbia in New York was expected, but no one could have predicted the win at BC, and the Black Bears finished it off by snapping Princeton’s six-game winning streak.

Stud Player- Marqus Blakely- Sr. F, Vermont, 22 PPG/12 RPG

It seems Blakely may have taken offense to the most recent nomination of classmate Maurice Joseph as Stud Player of the week. In the last three games Blakely has recorded a double-double in each, reminding us who makes Vermont go.

Thoughts on the AE

In the last two weeks we have seen two teams riding three-game winning streaks before facing off in their conference opener. One had beaten a team for the first time since 1924-25. It was the America East’s third victory against a BCS conference school this year. The other had been riding one of the greatest players this league has seen in winning eight out of their last nine. All the while the preseason favorite fell in their first game to the Seawolves who demonstrated their dominance over the state of Massachusetts.

Team Notes

Marqus Blakely has led the way for the Catamounts recently. Vermont has won three straight and eight of their last nine. The only loss in the streak was to Delaware, 56-50. The most recent victory was a 73-58 win over UMBC in Vermont’s first conference game. In the victory, Blakely registered 17 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists. It was his third straight double-double and eighth on the season (the school record is 17). In the previous two victories he recorded 26 points and 11 rebounds at St. Mary’s and 23 points and 11 rebounds at Marist. The victory over St. Mary’s was the Catamounts’ 14th straight over NEC teams. Senior guard Maurice Joseph added 15 points, including 12 from behind the arc.

Check out Blakely’s current stat line on the year: 18.6 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.9 APG, 3.0 SPG, and 2.3 BPG. He is first in the America East in points steals, blocks, second in rebounds, and fourth in assists per game. No player in the history of the America East has finished in the top ten for every category let alone the top five. It was known coming into the season that he is one of the most versatile players in history of the league and it looks like he is putting it all together to statistically put together the best all around season in the history of the America East.  Blakely broke the 1500-point barrier last week and is currently 29th with 1,547 points. He also is 14th with 858 rebounds and is among the top ten with 222 blocks.  There are only seven players in history of the league who’ve hit the same plateaus in points and rebounds that Blakely has. When he is done this season, he may be one of three with 1700 points and 1000 rebounds.

Maine managed to record three victories in a row including a huge victory at BC. The Black Bears rallied from eight down with six minutes left. Sean McNally made the deciding free throws with just over a minute left to give Maine a 52-51 advantage that secure the win. McNally played a great all-around game with 15 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. Gerald McLemore chipped in with 14 points. Maine’s 52-51 victory over BC is the America East’s third victory this year over a BCS-conference school. Previously, BU beat Indiana and Vermont won at Rutgers. It was the first victory over an ACC school for an America East team since Vermont downed the Eagles 77-63, on November 14, 2006.

After losing back to back games against Sacred Heart and Saint Peter’s, Stony Brook won a couple of games to push their record to 9-5. There was a victory over Holy Cross on New Year’s Eve at home followed by a win in the conference opener against preseason favorite Boston University. Against BU sophomore Bryan Dougher shot 8-10 from three-point range. He was the first player to score 30+ points for Stony Brook in almost two full years and the eight treys tied the school record. Dougher is shooting 17-24 in the past three games. Tommy Brenton added 15 points and 11 rebounds against BU. It was his third double-double of the season.

New Hampshire beat Colgate, 63-55, before heading west and dropping the game against Santa Clara, 71-68. Tyrone Conley did all he could in California, scoring a career-high 28 points for UNH. The Wildcats took a 68-67 lead with 14 seconds left on a jumper from Chandler Rhoads, but Ray Cowels hit two free throws for Santa Clara to give them the lead back. Cowels followed it up with two more to finish off the game. To start off the conference slate they face Boston University at home where they have won eight straight dating back to last year.

Albany managed to snap a four-game losing streak with a 21-point victory over Yale. Albany turned a six-point lead at half into a blowout in the second period. Tim Ambrose led the way with 22 points and Billy Allen finished with 21 on 8-9 shooting including 5-6 from three-point range. The game against North Carolina was the second straight year they have faced the defending champions. Even in losing Albany can find bright spots though. The Great Danes were down by 38 with less than eight minutes to go and managed to cut it to a final deficit of 17. It was the fourth-highest ranked opponent Albany has faced. Billy Allen’s (at the time) career-high 16 points seemed to have set the stage for his big game against Yale.

Surprisingly enough, Binghamton has won two out of their last four after starting out 3-8, with only two wins against Division I opponents. In the Bearcats’ last game they took down A-10 foe LaSalle. The game included a big comeback by the Bearcats in the second half; they were down ten going into halftime. Greer Wright finished with 20 points and nine rebounds.

Hartford is currently in the midst of a nine-game losing streak. The last two losses were to undefeated #3 Kentucky and St. Francis of Pennsylvania. The Hawks were destroyed 104-61 at Kentucky. The biggest loss of the game though was point guard Andres Torres who tore the PCL in his right knee. Torres is not expected to return for 4 to 6 weeks. Against St. Francis, Joe Zeglinski’s 17 points were not enough for Hartford. The Hawks shot 6-26 from three-point range compared to the Red Flash, who shot 6-12.

After it seemed Boston University might be turning the corner before Christmas with three straight wins, they dropped their first two after Christmas. They lost by 14 to a good Dayton squad. The loss that hurt, though, was the league opener to Stony Brook. In the past 30 years the America East champion has only lost it’s opener twice, so BU is already starting from behind. The Terriers had no answer for Stony Brook’s deep range. They allowed the Seawolves to shoot 12-20 from three-point land. Sophomore Jake O’Brien led the way with a career-high 27 points in the losing effort.

UMBC finally did get their first victory before Christmas over American, but have since continued their losing ways with four straight losses. The closest they got to a victory since the holiday was against Central Connecticut State. UMBC took CCSU to double overtime before losing, 89-86. Chris De La Rosa had 25 points in the loss.

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Checking in on the… America East

Posted by rtmsf on January 11th, 2009

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

Standings

  1. Binghamton    10-4 (3-0)
  2. New Hampshire    5-7 (1-0)
  3. Albany    9-6 (1-1)
  4. UMBC    7-7 (1-1)
  5. Hartford    5-11 (1-1)
  6. Stony Brook    8-7 (1-2)
  7. Maine    6-10 (1-2)
  8. Vermont    9-5 (0-1)
  9. Boston U    5-8 (0-1)

The Contenders

Binghamton- At the beginning of the season nobody knew what Binghamton was going to do.  They are loaded with talent but they were mostly transfers coming together for the first year.  They are definitely answering any questions people had about them as they are 6-1 in their last seven games with three conference wins.  D.J. Rivera (21.6ppg, 7.0rpg) and Malik Alvin (12.2ppg, 4.3apg) were a questionable backcourt coming into the season as Rivera is a transfer from St. Joseph’s who did not have to sit out a transfer year and Alvin is a junior college transfer.  Nobody knew how well they would play together but they complement each other greatly and are the reason Binghamton is top the conference right now.

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Checking in on the… America East

Posted by rtmsf on December 14th, 2008

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

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

Standings

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

The Contenders:

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Checking in on the… America East

Posted by rtmsf on December 1st, 2008

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

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

Standings:

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

The Contenders:

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

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

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

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2008-09 Season Primers: #27 – America East

Posted by rtmsf on October 14th, 2008

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

Predicted Order of Finish:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • America East Championship Game (03.14.09) ESPN2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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