Season In Review: Penn State Nittany Lions

Posted by jnowak on April 18th, 2013

Penn State may be the most interesting case study of all teams in the Big Ten this year. Just based purely on numbers and record, they were by and large the worst team in the conference. They nearly went winless in conference play, and after Tim Frazier went down with a season-ending injury early in the year, it was unclear how this team would function at all. While it was indeed a really steep and slow learning curve, a couple really talented players emerged and kept the Nittany Lions’ season interesting. For that reason, there are few teams in the conference with as much intrigue surrounding them heading into next year. Let’s take a look back at Penn State’s season:

What happens to Penn State when Tim Frazier returns next season? (Photo credit: theschoolphilly.com)

What happens to Penn State when Tim Frazier returns next season? (Photo credit: theschoolphilly.com)

  • The good: In some ways, we’re really grasping at straws here. We’re talking about what looked like it would be the first team to go 0-18 in the Big Ten before it pulled off an incredible upset against Michigan on February 27, and then put away Northwestern on March 7 to finish with two wins in their last five games. That Michigan win, all things considered, could have been the biggest upset of the college basketball season (apologies to TCU). But on a larger scale, the emergence of Jermaine Marshall and D.J. Newbill gave fans a great deal to be excited about next year. Believe it or not, they will represent the conference’s top two returning scorers after the departures of the likes of Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Trey Burke and Deshaun Thomas. Granted, their production came largely because there was little to no supporting cast around them, but scorers are scorers and Penn State will have a few of them next year. It also bears mentioning that the Nittany Lions put together a nice four-game winning streak through much of December. It was against some pretty bad teams, sure, but it’s still something.
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Big Ten M5: 12.05.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on December 5th, 2012

  1. Entering this season, there hardly seemed a more unlikely candidate to be a Michigan State captain than Derrick Nix, who had a somewhat eventful offseason. The senior center, who had gradually slimmed down since he arrived on campus, was arrested on drug charges in early April and was suspended indefinitely. But the past is behind him and now he’s focusing on leading his team, something he admits has been harder than he anticipated while balancing it with his own personal performance. “It is hard,” Nix told Joe Rexrode of the Detroit Free Press. “I’m just trying to stay level-headed and stay positive.”
  2. Patrick Chambers has changed the relationship between Penn State basketball and in-state recruits for the better, StateCollege.com‘s Ben Jones writes. For years, Philadelphia products were assumed to be heading to either Villanova or Temple, but Chambers — who played at Philadelphia University and was later an associate head coach under VU’s Jay Wright — has the right ties to the area to potentially bring some of those top players to State College. It’s no easy task but with the Big Ten’s further expansion east into the big Atlantic seaboard markets, Philadelphia recruits in particular may not be as hesitant to consider the league’s schools as another viable destination.
  3. Nebraska coach Tim Miles secured a commitment this week from an international player who may be able to soon help the Cornhuskers on the local front. Miles shored up his fall recruiting class with New Zealand native Tai Webster — a four-star recruit, according to ESPN — who averaged 13.5 PPG in the 2012 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament while playing for his country’s national team. He will join Nick Fuller and Nathan Hawkins in the class. “I’m excited to have Tai join us,” Miles said, according to the Omaha World Herald. “He is an excellent player who will thrive in our style of play and has high-level international playing experience which will help him acclimate to basketball in the U.S.”
  4. Sharing is caring for Minnesota, which has burst onto the national scene this fall with an impressive start to a season filled with promise. The Gophers have had a variety of leading scorers over their first 10 games of the year, a balance that could provide Minnesota with its first starting five to average in double figures since way back in the 1965-66 season. “This is definitely the most balanced team that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” senior Rodney Williams said. “You never know who it’s going to be on any given night.” It is that balance that could allow the Gophers to aspire to greater things even if forward Trevor Mbakwe never quite recaptures his dominance from before his injury.
  5. There is something that’s worked at home for Iowa this season that has resulted in some dominating performances at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. But if coach Fran McCaffery has figured out that magic formula, he’s not quite ready to share it. McCaffery continues to keep his lineup under lock and key in the early going, tinkering with things in advance of the Big Ten season. It’s a good problem for a coach to have — to be able to mix and match to create match-up problems or to better fit your opponents — and the Hawkeyes have been able to utilize experience, youth, size and speed at different points this season.
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Big Ten Weekly Five: 09.06.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on September 6th, 2012

  1. Coming into this summer, it was widely known that there was going to be some decisions to be made in terms of Indiana’s roster and the number of scholarship spots that would be allotted. It was also pretty widely known that Matt Roth was a likely candidate to be the odd man out. That came to fruition this week when it was learned that Roth’s time with the Hoosiers is over. The writing had been on the wall, though, with Roth already completing his undergraduate work and participating in the Senior Night festivities last season at Assembly Hall. But, as ESPN.com‘s Eamonn Brennan points out, it’s a shame to see a player who started his career at IU when the Hoosiers really needed him have it end when the rebuilding process has finally been completed.
  2. If Nebraska wants to establish its authority in the Big Ten — and in its own state — it will have plenty of opportunities in its sophomore Big Ten season. The Cornhuskers’ schedule poses plenty of challenges this year, including the first five conference games in January — at Ohio State, against Wisconsin, at Michigan, at Michigan State and against Purdue. Not the easiest way to break into Big Ten play. This also comes weeks after the Huskers will host Creighton (and Nebraska-Omaha), in a fight for in-state bragging rights. Creighton has been the superior Nebraska program for years. Will the tide turn under new Huskers coach Tim Miles?
  3. CBSSports.com‘s Jeff Goodman reports that Purdue is alive and well after the departure of poster child Robbie Hummel, thanks in part to a trip overseas for an exhibition set in Italy. Head coach Matt Painter recognizes that nothing is going to come easy for this group — which is suddenly without Hummel, Lewis Jackson, E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, who carried the program back to relevance in recent years — that is certain to have growing pains in the rough-and-tumble Big Ten. “Inexperience and our ability to be good defensively,” Painter said were his biggest concerns after the trip. “We’ve got a long way to go. We’re going to have to be good together.” Purdue lost three of its top four scorers from last season, and lone senior D.J. Byrd is going to have to shoulder a heavy load to keep the Boilermakers near the top of the conference.
  4. Entering his senior season, it was expected that Ohio State’s William Buford would be competing for a spot on the All-Big Ten First Team and perhaps some good standing in the 2012 NBA Draft. Instead, he was inconsistent for the Buckeyes and went undrafted. He will get a chance to play professional ball, though — alongside former Purdue standout Robbie Hummel — in Santiago, Spain. “I thought trying to make it to the NBA this year was kind of a risk,” Buford said during his introductory news conference, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “So I figured why not come to the best league besides the NBA.” It’s probably not the plan Buford envisioned a year or two ago, but with his tools, he can spend a couple years overseas and have a great shot at cracking an NBA roster.
  5. In any successful athletic program, the basketball and football programs have to be able to feed off each other while both maintaining a certain level of consistent excellence. That’s what they’re shooting for at Penn State, where both teams — albeit for different reasons — are undergoing some serious rebuilding. While that’s been going on, basketball coach Patrick Chambers and football coach Bill O’Brien have forged a friendship. Together, as they told David Jones of the Patriot-News, they hope to restore Penn State athletics to a place of high standing. “We’ve become fast friends,” Chambers said. “We’ve got a good relationship and a very trusting relationship.”
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Big Ten Summer Check In: Penn State Nittany Lions

Posted by jnowak on July 24th, 2012

It certainly hasn’t been easy, but amid the messy scandal going on with the football program at Penn State, Patrick Chambers‘ team is moving forward on the hardwood this summer. After a disappointing Big Ten season — matched in unfulfillment only by newcomer Nebraska — Chambers is looking forward to the opportunity for the basketball program to carry the athletic department … “for once.” With the young roster Chambers is trying to mold this summer, he’s certainly got plenty to work with.

Tim Frazier, a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate? (CDC Photos/Christopher Weddle)

  • Evaluating Last Year: It would only be fair to grade last season on a curve, given what Chambers inherited in both personnel and prestige at Penn State. Under Ed DeChellis, the Nittany Lions were perennial bottom-feeders in a top-tier conference, and it was hard to imagine that Chambers would be able to work any miracles in his first year. He had no veteran leadership and it wasn’t until Tim Frazier broke out as one of the conference’s most surprising and productive players did Penn State even have a go-to scorer. They had just four Big Ten wins — against Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois and Purdue — to finish dead-last along with the newcomer Cornhuskers. Without much to choose from, it’s no question that Frazier’s emergence was the top storyline to draw from this club last year. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big Ten Morning Five: 04.02.12 Edition

Posted by jnowak on April 2nd, 2012

  1. It came down to the wire for Ohio State in its national semifinal loss to Kansas on Saturday, and it did not end well. The Buckeyes let a game that they were seemingly in control of nearly throughout slip away as the Jayhawks climbed back from a 13-point margin. Thad Matta saw his team playing some of its best basketball at the end of the year, but did not see it execute well at the end of the game that mattered most.
  2. And with that, we likely bid farewell to Jared Sullinger, possibly Deshaun Thomas and definitely William Buford as the last Big Ten team puts the finishing touches on its season. Sullinger surprised a few by coming back for his sophomore season and Thomas has emerged as possibly the team’s best talent. So how much will be left in the cupboard next year? Possibly more than you think, says Bob Hunter of The Columbus Dispatch.
  3. The clock ran out on Michigan State‘s exceptional season, but the accolades continue to pile up for star senior Draymond Green and coach Tom Izzo. Green was named the National Player of the Year by the NABC on Sunday, the first Spartan to receive such an honor since Shawn Respert in 1995. In turn, Izzo was named Coach of the Year for the second time of his career. “For me to win an award of such great magnitude means a lot for me to be able to contribute to making this an even better program,” Green said.
  4. Michigan coach John Beilein had a few things to say on Yahoo! Sports Radio this weekend, but did not get into the situation regarding his star point guard’s possible return to Ann Arbor. Beilein reflected on the season, refusing to call it a disappointment. “We had a great group of young guys that played their tails off, we won a Big Ten championship, which has only happened 13 times in Michigan history,” Beilein said. “(It) hasn’t happened in (26 years). We feel good.” The topic of Trey Burke, who is expected to make a decision about the NBA Draft early this week, did not come up.
  5. For Patrick Chambers, his first year at Penn State was all about attitude. He saw enough, and he’s looking for more. Chambers looked back on this past season, said he liked what he saw, but is hopeful for a brighter future for the Nittany Lions.
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Big Ten Tournament Preview & Season Wrap-Up

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 8th, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference.

Conference Tournament Preview

After a thrilling regular season, it’s on to Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Despite being a three-seed, Ohio State has to be considered the favorite given how well they ended the regular season. If either Michigan State or OSU wins the Big Ten Tournament, they will get strong consideration for a one-seed. Teams like Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue can all improve their NCAA Tournament seeds with strong showings this weekend.

Northwestern is the only clear bubble team in the conference, and as such is under the most pressure to string some wins together. If the Wilcats can beat Minnesota in the first round, they’ll face a Michigan team that they only lost to twice this season, though both losses came in overtime. Two wins in the Big Ten tournament should make them a virtual lock for their first-ever tournament birth, but it’s much easier said than done with this level of competition.

A Look Back

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Checking In On… The Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 31st, 2012

Bill Hupp is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten Conference. Follow him on Twitter (@Bill_Hupp) for his thoughts on hoops, food, PR, various city river walks, and life.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Tom Izzo is a Big Ten Legend: The emotional Michigan native won his 400th career game this week when Tom Izzo guided the Spartans to a comfortable 68-52 home win over Minnesota. No matter who leaves, the guy simply gets the most out of his teams year in and year out by emphasizing selflessness, defense, rebounding and toughness. There’s a reason that Michigan State always seems to be playing its best ball by the time March rolls around.
  • Up Comes Frazier!: Raise your hand at home if you had Penn State’s Tim Frazier as a likely first-team All-Big Ten candidate in February. If you did, you are a basketball savant and should be writing this column [Ed. Note: Or you are a Penn State homer.]. The 6’2” junior dominated against Penn State’s soft non-conference schedule, but hasn’t slowed down in Big Ten play. In league games, he is leading the conference in scoring (18.7 PPG), assists (5.3 APG), and steals (2.5. SPG). Admittedly, wins have been hard to come by for the Nittany Lions this season, but Frazier has been a bright spot in Happy Valley.
  • Welcome Back, Wisco: With Bo Ryan still at the helm, nobody thought Wisconsin would be down for long, and while it hasn’t always been pretty, the Badgers ran their current winning streak to five games after they downed Indiana at the Kohl Center this week. During this streak, they ground out tough road wins over Purdue and Illinois and claimed home victories over Nebraska, Northwestern and Indiana.

After a 3-2 start to conference play, Ohio State Has Won Its Last Four Games By A Combined 90 Points. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty)

Power Rankings

  1. Ohio State (19-3, 7-2) – Value City Arena isn’t the first Big Ten gym to come to mind when you think of fearsome places to play in the conference, but teams that have entered “The Grey” recently haven’t had much success. The students are passionate and the place is big and cavernous, more of a professional arena than a cozy college gymnasium. There’s a reason why the Buckeyes have won 38 straight at VCA and are winning their home Big Ten games in the nation’s best conference (according to the RPI) by an average of 24 points.
  2. Michigan State (17-4, 6-2) – Perhaps the most encouraging thing about Michigan State’s win over Minnesota was that it proved that point guard Keith Appling can go 1-8 from the field and score seven points … and the Spartans can still win by double digits. Freshman Branden Dawson continues to show flashes of brilliance, as he stepped up to score 16 points in Appling’s stead. Someone needs to provide a second scoring option to Draymond Green and if it can’t be Appling that day, it falls to Dawson or Valpo transfer Brandon Wood. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Big Ten

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 21st, 2011

Jack Campbell is the RTC correspondent for the Big Ten  You can also find his musings online at CBBJack or on Twitter @CBBJack.

Reader’s TakeHow Many Big Ten teams will make the NCAA tournament?

 

The Week That Was

This is the first Conference Check-In for the 2011-2012 season, so this is less a review of the past week than it is a review of the season to date.  It is far too early to be passing judgment on surprise teams but there are three Big Ten teams who have impressed us enough in the first couple of weeks to warrant mention right away.

Indiana, Northwestern, and Nebraska were each picked by most to finish in the lower half of the Big Ten, but they produced some of the Big Ten’s most impressive wins this week. Indiana won a true road game at Evansville, a good MVC program, in dominant fashion. Nebraska, went on the road and beat USC in overtime before coming home and dominating a pretty good A-10 foe in Rhode Island.  Finally, Northwestern took out an SEC team in LSU and a Big East team in Seton Hall, along with one of the better C-USA programs in Tulsa on the way to winning the Charleston Classic.

These three teams have started the season in fine fashion and they are worthy of our attention.

Michigan State's Loss To The Tar Heels Is Unforgettable For Its Setting, But Tom Izzo Hopes The Schedule Strength Will Pay Dividends Down The Road.

Power Rankings

  1. Ohio State (3-0) Thad Matta’s Buckeyes looked good against a Florida Gators team that some believe is a contender for the national title.  One of the interesting things to watch in Columbus is to see if Matta will look to play a big lineup using either Amir Williams or Evan Ravenal along with Jared Sullinger or if Matta will be content to surround the big man with wings and a PG again.
  2. Wisconsin (3-0) Wisconsin is thoroughly dominating overmatched competition from an efficiency standpoint.  It is early, but this Wisconsin team looks poised to live up to its preseason ranking and more. Read the rest of this entry »
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Morning Five: 06.10.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 10th, 2011

  1. When Bryce Drew was chosen to succeed his father Homer at Valparaiso a little less than a month ago, he became the fifth head coach in the Horizon League currently in his 30s. We’re always intrigued to hear how coaches who are barely ten years older than many of their players are able to come across more as authority figures and less as contemporaries, and it brings up another question: with the current generation of players, is it better to be an old seasoned coach chock-full of wisdom that comes from time and experience who’s better at recruiting the parents as well as the players, or is it more advantageous to be perceived as a young “up-and-comer” who knows how to use Twitter, Facebook, and get up for a chest-bump? The two things aren’t mutually exclusive, and it will be interesting to see if the most successful coaches over the next 5-10 years are guys who are hybrids of those two options.
  2. With two teams leaving and four new coaches arriving, you might think the non-conference schedules of Big 12 teams might suffer a little next season. Um, think again. Texas goes to UCLA in early December. Kansas has games against no less than Kentucky and Ohio State, and will play in a Maui Invitational that’s more stacked than Sofia Vergara. Oklahoma State’s taking to the road to play an improved Alabama side as well as scheduling a prickly one at Missouri State. The list goes on. In short, the overall strength-of-schedule numbers (for what they’re worth) for the conference may elevate to Big East levels next season.
  3. Now that Patrick Chambers has gotten the shards of glass out of his neck (we’re still in disbelief) and finds himself as the honcho at Penn State, we’re betting he’s spent about 99% of his time performing the single most important task that will help him bring some pride back to the Nittany Lions — recruiting. But in addition to getting prospects to care enough about the place to attend it, until the wins start rolling in he’s also got to get fans to care enough about the program to get behind it. Chambers was a marketing major, and it’s time to put that training to good use.
  4. When we were younger and our copies of Sports Illustrated would arrive in the mail, it was always a highlight of the week. One of the first things we (and most college basketball fans) would do is flip straight to any stories on college basketball, of course. If there was one in there written by Alexander Wolff, it always meant that much more. We grew up reading his stuff, and his skill as a chronicler and storyteller of college basketball contributed massively to what we know about the game today and how much we still love it. It was announced on Thursday that the Basketball Hall of Fame has awarded Mr. Wolff (as well as Jim Durham, former voice of the Dallas Mavericks and Chicago Bulls, and current NBA broadcaster for ESPN radio) its top media honor, the Curt Gowdy Media Award. It doesn’t even seem like our place to say it, but we will anyway: congratulations, sir. And thank you.
  5. In early 2010, right after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Kentucky’s John Calipari and a group of eleven other people created a telethon called Hoops for Haiti that was broadcast on local television in Lexington. Calipari helped host the event, Wildcat players answered phones, and viewers called in to donate money or bid on auctioned items. Donations came in not just from within the borders of Kentucky (though the majority did), but indeed, from all across the nation. In a deep economic recession, the efforts of Calipari and his crew raised an incredible amount in excess of $1.3 million in aid to Haiti. Mind you, that’s more than the entire nations of Sweden ($850,000), India ($1 million), or China ($1 million) are each reported to have given. The folks who came up with this — including the Kentucky head coach — have been nominated for a regional Emmy award. A basketball coach has never been nominated for an Emmy, let alone won one — until now.
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Morning Five: 06.07.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 7th, 2011

  1. Amir Garrett has a wonderful decision to make. What would you do if you possessed the sort of basketball skills that allowed you to make recruiters’ top 100 lists and eventually play for a school like St. John’s…but basketball wasn’t even your best sport? Garrett also has a fastball that registers in the mid-to-high 90 MPH range despite playing at a prep school that doesn’t have a baseball team. And he’s a lefty. Which way’s he leaning? SI.com’s venerable (even though he’s young) Luke Winn has all the info you need.
  2. Speaking of tough decisions…Cole Finnegan is a 16-year old Golden, Colorado youngster who plays on his high school’s golf and basketball teams. On Friday he was playing in a tournament at a local course and hit a hole-in-one, which won him a new Subaru Legend, a car that carries a $23,000 price tag. Sounds like a dream for any American kid of driving age, eh? So why is the car still at the dealership? It seems Cole has dreams of a basketball scholarship, and if he takes the car, he might give up his amateur standing and be ruled ineligible by the NCAA. The Colorado High School Activities Association (analagous to the NCAA, as you likely surmised) says he can play high school sports because it considers his ace an act more representative of luck rather than skill. The Finnegans now await word from the NCAA.
  3. The World University Games will be held in Shenzhen, China in late August and Pittsburgh’s Ashton Gibbs has been invited to try out for the USA squad. This is not just notable because any team would do well to equip itself thusly, but it means Gibbs could find a mate for his first gold medal. He won that one two years ago on the USA U19 team that went 9-0 at the FIBA World Championships in New Zealand. Supposed to be a fun town, Shenzhen…right by Hong Kong…wonder who we have to call for credentials?
  4. Before we read Mike DeCourcy’s article about new Penn State head coach Patrick Chambers, we had no idea about what made the former Boston U. man decide to get into coaching full-time. Seriously? Someone ramming shards of glass into his neck? That would certainly make us take stock of our lives. Remember, Chambers took BU to a CBI and an NCAA appearance in his only two seasons there, so who knows? If he wins sooner than expected, he’ll put himself on the list of “next big thing” candidates which has maybe two members right now, and he’ll make AD Tim Curley look like a freakin’ genius.
  5. We’re certain Purdue fans everywhere saw this on Monday, but we’re going to post a copy of it here anyway. We are always glad to hear anything positive that happens in Robbie Hummel’s world. To the superstitious out there: if something bad happens — it just can’t, right? — we’re taking no calls…

 

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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.14.11

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 14th, 2011

Throughout the NCAA Tournament, we’ll be providing you with all the chatter from around the webosphere relating to what’s going on with the teams still playing.  We hope to have these up each morning starting Tuesday, March 15, but don’t kill us if it sometimes slips to the early afternoon.

East

Southeast

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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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