League On The Rebound – After suffering though one of the worst collective seasons in conference history, several top teams of the America East saw much of their talent defect via graduation and/or transfer. With 60% of the all-conference players from last season now gone, can the top America East programs replenish their talent and improve the overall performance of the conference?
Can The Seawolves Break Through? Stony Brook, winners of two America East regular season championships in the past three seasons, has come up short in the postseason tournament, falling each time in the conference finals. Now in his eighth season, is this the year Steve Pikiell finally has his Seawolves dancing come March?
Is This The Year Stony Brook Breaks Through And Goes Dancing? (AP)
Movers and Shakers – The 2012-13 season marks the last one that BostonUniversity will call the America East home before heading off to the Patriot League. With an America East postseason ban in place, can Joe Jones keep his players motivated and overcome the transfer of big man JakeO’Brien to win the America East regular season championship?
UMBC In A Bind – Two days before Midnight Madness, eighth-year head coach RandyMonroe unexpectedly resigned at UMBC. Monroe led the Retrievers to their only NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007, yet only won 13 games in his final three seasons at the helm. Will interim coach Aki Thomas provide a much needed spark for the hapless Retrievers?
The NCAA this week released its annual financial report on on the spending patterns of its member institutions’ athletic departments, and the results, while not groundbreaking, are certainly interesting. The report (found in its entirety here) deals in aggregate numbers — meaning individual schools are not named — but the data from 2011 is still valuable. For example, among FBS (I-A) schools, the median revenue for a basketball program approached $5 million with profits of $812,000. By comparison, football programs created over $15 million of revenue with profits of around $3.5 million each. Because every other collegiate program from rifle (-$26,000) to women’s basketball (-$1.26 million) operates at a significant loss, only 23 of 120 FBS schools had a net positive revenue stream in 2011 (one more than 2010, but nine more than 2009). You don’t have to see their names on a report to more or less guess who the lucky ones are.
ESPNU’s Recruiting Nation may end up with its highest rated October ever if it keeps this up. According to the Detroit News, elite Class of 2013 wing James Young will announce his college decision on the 5 PM episode this evening, and his choice will once again make for a very happy weekend in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Young has been considered a UK lock for some time, especially after his home state Michigan State program discontinued his recruitment when a trip to East Lansing never materialized. Young is in everybody’s top 10 and is rated as the overall #7 player in his class, according to RSCIHoops. Along with the top five Harrison twins, John Calipari is well on his way to grabbing an entirely new starting five quite possibly filled with only top 10 prospects (Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, and Andrew Wiggins if he reclassifies are still possibilities). Like him or not, the man has quite simply redefined college basketball recruiting.
Down the road an hour in Louisville, the Cardinals’ head coach Rick Pitino would be wise to push his loaded squad to the Final Four in Atlanta and cut the nets down this year. But even if Louisville falters along the way, it appears that the 60-year old Pitino will have several more opportunities as he is now backing off his previous statements that he expects to retire in 2017. On a SiriusXM radio show with Jeff Goodman on Wednesday night, Pitino said that he expects to sign a contract extension and plans on staying on board as a head coach “for as long as [he’s] healthy.” We’ll say this, from personal experience — the Pitino we saw during last year’s Final Four run was as light-hearted and as happy as we’ve ever seen from the guy. He seemed to actually enjoy what he was doing again.
From the top of the heap to the bottom… only two days before the start of practice, UMBC head coach Randy Monroe resigned his position, effective immediately. It was no secret that Monroe had struggled there in recent years — going a disastrous 13-77 in his last three seasons — but the timing of his resignation is incredibly odd. Monroe was the head coach at UMBC for eight seasons, taking the Retrievers to the NCAA Tournament in the 2007-08 season. His top assistant coach, 33-year old Aki Thomas, will take over this season on an interim basis. We’ll not speculate further as to the precipitating cause for such a weirdly-timed resignation, but we figure that if there’s a story here it’ll come out eventually.
Finally, we have fresh news of an NCAA investigation of a player and it doesn’t involve an incoming recruit! CBSSports.com reported on Wednesday night that Texas point guard Myck Kabongo may have accepted impermissible benefits while working out in Ohio over the summer. You may be wondering what Kabongo, a Canadian who goes to school in Austin, Texas, was doing in the Buckeye State, but the answer relates to his former teammate (and countryman) Tristan Thompson, a current employee of the Cleveland Cavaliers. The question is whether Kabongo paid his own way for his travel and stay there, or if Thompson’s agent, someone by the name of Rich Paul (also LeBron’s agent) may have chipped in on his expenses. It’s probably not a huge problem even if Kabongo dipped into the pool a bit, as the preseason all-Big 12 selection likely would have to pay the money back and miss a handful of games as a result. But we’ll have to wait to see where this goes.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).