RTC Conference Primers: #29 – America East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 5th, 2011

John Templon of Big Apple Buckets is the RTC correspondent for America East. You can find him on Twitter at @nybuckets.

Reader’s Take I


Top Storylines

  • Getting Healthy: A number of America East teams are counting on the healthy return of star players to help boost their fortunes this season. New Hampshire has two players returning from injuries that cost them time last season, Alvin Abreu and Ferg Myrick. Abreu was a second-team all-league choice in 2009-10 before missing all but two games of last season with a knee injury. Myrick averaged 12.1 PPG and 4.1 RPG last season, but missed 16 games due to his own knee injury. Another second-team player from 2009-10, Tommy Brenton, returns for Stony Brook as well. Even after missing last season, Brenton is the current conference leader in career rebounds. One player who missed most of last season, Boston University’s Jake O’Brien, unfortunately re-injured his ankle and will miss the entire 2011-12 campaign as well.
  • Departed Head Men: Two of the top teams in the America East lost their head coaches during the offseason carousel. Pat Chambers made the NCAA Tournament at Boston University and then left for Penn State and Mike Lonergan went from Vermont to the head job at George Washington. Former Columbia head coach Joe Jones is replacing Chambers, while the Catamounts decided to promote John Becker. Becker was Lonergan’s assistant for the past five seasons.
  • Learning The Hard Way: Boston University is one of the league favorites and the Terriers will find out quickly if they’re for real. The non-conference schedule is a very difficult one that includes road games at Texas, Boston College and Villanova. Another way to learn about the conference early in the season is to watch Boston College. The Eagles also play against New Hampshire, a team which could surprise people, and Stony Brook during non-conference play.
  • The Great Race and Parity: This season’s conference race looks like it’s going to be a three-horse race with Boston University, Vermont and Stony Brook ahead of the pack. That might be good news for the Seawolves as five different teams have won the conference title in the past five seasons. Since the Catamounts won in 2010 and the Terriers in 2011, maybe 2011-12 is the season where Stony Brook breaks through for its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

Terrier Fans Should Expect To See Plenty of Darryl Partin This Season. (AP Photo)

Predicted Order of Finish
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RTC Summer Update: America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on July 13th, 2011

With the completion of the NBA Draft and the annual coaching and transfer carousels nearing their ends, RTC is rolling out a new series, RTC Summer Updates, to give you a crash course on each Division I conference during the summer months. Our newest update comes courtesy of our America East correspondent, John Templon. John also writes about New York City basketball at Big Apple Buckets.

Reader’s Take I

Summer Storylines

  • Coaches Moving On Up: Vermont and Boston University lost two very talented coaches this summer. The Catamounts’ Mike Lonergan went back to his Washington, D.C., roots and took the job at George Washington. Lonergan – who won a national title at Division III Catholic University in D.C. and also coached at Maryland – should fit in well at GW. Assistant John Becker replaced Lonergan, so there should be strong continuity. On the other hand, BU had to scramble after Pat Chambers was hired by Penn State to replace Ed DeChellis. The Terriers ended up with former Columbia head coach Joe Jones, who spent last season as an assistant at Boston College.
  • Playing With The (Future) Pros: The 2010-11 America East Player of the Year, Boston University’s John Holland, played in the Portsmouth Invitational. He finished tied for ninth in scoring at 15.0 points per game and 18th in rebounding with 6.3 boards per game. He played with former Florida forward Vernon Macklin and former Villanova guard Corey Fisher on the Portsmouth Sports Club team that finished in fourth place. Holland had workouts with a few NBA teams before signing with Chorale de Roanne of France’s Pro A Division.
  • A World of Experience: America East continues to pick up steam as a worldwide conference. Four players in Maine’s incoming recruiting class aren’t originally from the United States and Albany has two players coming in from Australia and another from the Dominican Republic in its 2011 class. Another Australian, Corban Wroe, will be playing for Hartford in the fall. Many of the incoming recruits have experience playing with their respective international squads and incoming Maine freshman Noam Laish was selected as the captain of Israel’s U-18 squad for the European Championships.

Patrick Chambers parlayed last season's tournament berth with BU into a payday at Penn State, sending BU scrambling (credit: Steve McLaughlin).

Power Rankings

  1. Boston University: After making the NCAA Tournament in 2011, the Terriers return all but one of their linchpins. Of course, that one guy is America East Player of the Year John Holland who averaged 19.2 PPG last season. BU will also be going without head coach Pat Chambers, but he certainly didn’t leave the cupboard bare for Joe Jones. Darryl Partin (14.3 PPG) and Jake O’Brien (10.9 PPG, 5.5 RPG) should provide scoring. Also watch out for sophomore guard D.J. Irving. He averaged 8.0 PPG as a freshman and his workload should only increase in 2011-12. The Terriers have won 21 games in each of the past two seasons and a postseason berth is definitely the expectation. Read the rest of this entry »
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O26 Primers: America East, Missouri Valley, and Northeast Conference Tourneys

Posted by KDoyle on March 3rd, 2011

RTC’s Kevin Doyle, author of the weekly column, The Other 26, and the Patriot League Correspondent, will be providing conference tournament previews for all non-BCS conferences.

Three more conferences get underway this evening with teams in the America East and NEC all gunning for the coveted automatic-bid to the Tournament, while the Missouri Valley is vying to send two teams to the Dance. Boston University is all of a sudden the favorite to win the America East with the uncertainty of Evan Fjeld‘s ankle, while Missouri State and Long Island are the favorites in their respective leagues. Something tells me though that the Wichita State Shockers will be looking for vengeance following their two losses to the Bears earlier this year.

America East

The Favorite: Vermont appears to be the favorite, but a lot depends on the status of Evan Fjeld’s ankle that he injured in UVM’s final regular season game against Boston University. In what very well could be the America East championship game, BU went on to defeat the Catamounts in overtime. Allison Shepherd told John Fantino of the Burlington Free Press Blog that: “[Fjeld] is receiving daily care and treatment for the injury. We will have a better idea regarding his playing status for the upcoming America East tournament as the weekend approaches.” Something tells me that even if Fjeld and his ‘Stache are able to go, he will not be at 100%. I like Boston University.

Dark Horse: Behind senior Tim Ambrose, Albany is a team that has come on strong as of late and is capable of making a run in the A-East tournament. The Great Danes have won four straight to end the regular season, but getting by Stony Brook will be no easy task in the first round.

Who’s Hot: Boston University has not lost in February and is 8-0 during the month. They defeated Vermont to conclude the regular season and are flying high with John Holland—arguably the league’s best player—leading the way.

Player to Watch: John Holland has been a staple in BU’s rotation since the day he stepped on campus. The senior has averaged double-figures in scoring for all four years, and his 19.2 points a game this year is tops in the league.

First-Round Upset: Hartford over Maine. The Black Bears were an intriguing team and story to follow early on in the season. They beat a solid Penn State team and began league play with an 8-1 record, but since then they have fallen flat on their faces. Although their date with Hartford is technically not in the first round—the America East essentially has a play-in game between the #8 and #9 seeds to begin the tournament—fourth seeded Maine will have their hands full with Hartford who has already beaten them twice.

How’d They Fare? As a 16 seed last year, Vermont could not handle the athleticism or shooting ability of Syracuse as they lost 79-56.

Interesting Fact: Not an interesting fact, but simply one of my favorite NCAA Tournament highlights of all-time:

Easily the best part of the clip is Tom Brennan’s reaction after T.J. Sorrentine swishes home the three from about 35 feet away, and if you look even further past Brennan the reaction of the guys sitting on press row are priceless too. This is what makes March so Mad!

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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 15th, 2011

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

A Look Back

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

Power Rankings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Look Ahead

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

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 29th, 2011

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

A Look Back

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

Power Rankings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Look Ahead

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

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 14th, 2011

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

A Look Back

  • Believe It or Not: Ripley’s should consider sponsoring the America East this season, because the standing are mind-boggling. Hartford (6th in the preseason coaches poll, 3-10 OOC) went into the week on top of the league, before being overtaken by the undefeated Binghamton Bears (who were tabbed 7th, and were also 3-10 outside the America East)
  • Don’t Play for New Hampshire, Kids: After Alvin Abreu, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, from last year went down with a season ending injury, sophomore Ferg Myrick stepped into the lead scoring role and showed promise of being one of the better players in the league, that is until he ruptured a patella tendon. There’s been about five similar cases in the last half decade… are the Wildcats turning into the Clippers?
  • Who’s On Top?: Vermont handled upstart Albany, while Boston University dropped a game to Maine on the road. Then Maine lost to Hartford at home. Then BU beat Vermont in Boston. Then Hartford lost on the road to a hobbled New Hampshire squad after blowing a huge early lead. If you figure out who is going to win the league, let me know.

Power Rankings

1) Vermont (11-4, 2-1): Vermont stumbled away at Boston University and were actually down at halftime to Albany. The Catamounts are the still the most consistent team in the league because they play harder, make smart plays and control the boards. But leader Evan Fjeld has been slowed for a couple of games, and it will be interesting to see if he picks up his production during conference play.

2) Maine (9-7, 3-1): Maine dropped a two-point decision on their home floor to a then-streaking Hartford team. It was a tough loss after a banner victory over Boston University to open the season. Forward Troy Barnies has worked himself into an All-Conference player, out of nowhere. The senior big man leads the team in points (13.3 PPG) and rebounds (7.3 RPG).

3) Boston University (7-10, 2-1): Boston Univesity received forward Jeff Pelage back from injury and his return has been a boon to the team. He is still well off 100%, but coach Pat Chambers is clearly pleased to have his muscular rebounding specialist back- played him significant minutes. Keep an eye out for rookie point guard DJ Irving after he abused Vermont’s weak defense guard play for many open layups. The talent on the team is starting to come together- if it does, the rest of the America East could be in trouble

4) Hartford (5-11, 2-1): Hartford embarrassed Albany to take first place in the AE standings, but then blew an enormous lead to a weak New Hampshire team. Morgan Sabia has been putting up the numbers for this team, but Milton Burton has been exceptional in the middle of a 1-3-1 zone. The 6’5 senior has wrecked havoc for opposing teams and leads the league in steals (2.2 SPG).

5) Binghamton (6-10, 3-0): Kudos to the Bearcats for the hot start to the conference and especially for doing it without leading scorer Greer Wright, who has been sidelined with an injury, but we still have no proof this team will compete in the America East. Their wins are over the three worst teams in the league, but, if Mahamoud Jabbi keeps playing like a all-league player (17 points, 14 rebounds in a win over UMBC) who knows…

6) Albany (8-11, 1-3): Albany had a very tough opening schedule, but just hasn’t been able to spring the upsets. Against Maine at home, they had the ball in a tie game with 40 seconds left, and both a seven-foot floater and a mid-range jump shot didn’t fall. Tim Ambrose has been slipping, so Albany will need more aggression from point guard Mike Black and the oft-quiet bench and bigs.

7) Stony Brook (6-9, 1-2): Stony Brook sandwiched a loss to Cornell in between similar outcomes to Vermont and Binghamton. The talent on this team is young, but they do no look ready to compete. Marcus Rouse stepped up on offense, but there hasn’t been much else. A lot of youth and talent on this team that might have come together under the insane effort of Tommy Brenton, but for now, the season appears lost.

8) New Hampshire (7-9, 1-3): Yes, they beat Hartford and yes, they still have two of the more talented players in the league, Dane DiLiegro and Tyrone Conley. But even their comeback might have a drawback – Conley is well known for shunning his athleticism to pop from deep and a 6-10 game from three against Hartford will likely encourage him to keep chucking the ball.

9) UMBC (1-15, 0-3): Free hugs! If you’re team is on a skid, there might be a leftover Christmas surprise if UMBC is waiting on your schedule.

A Look Ahead

Are You For Real?

  • Perhaps we’ll find out when Binghamton travels to Maine. If Binghamton holds onto the top spot in the league after that road trip, time to start giving credit to Bearcats. (January 15)
  • Boston University at Albany: The Danes gave Maine fits in Albany but let the game slip through their fingers- will they have more luck against the Terriers? (January 15)
  • Maine at Vermont: Two of the best teams in the league go head to head, don’t be shocked if this is an AE Championship preview. (January 18)
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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 12th, 2011

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

A Look Back

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

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

Power Rankings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 18th, 2010

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

A Look Back

  • Player of the Year…Benched? The presumptive pre-season POY, John Holland of Boston University, has been sentenced to coming off the pine by coach Patrick Chambers until he shows better aggressiveness and leadership. The 6’5 Holland is still putting up 17.5 points a game, but he has seen his shooting percentage plummet from last season: 46% to 35%.
  • Leader of the (straggling) Pack: Vermont has been the class of the league, but there hasn’t been much competition. They dropped a game to BYU in Glens Falls, New York, but there’s no shame in that, as they remain solidly in the mid-major polls at #16.
  • King of the Town: Albany snapped a five-year losing streak to bitter cross town rival Siena in a thrilling 88-82 overtime victory.

  • Maine over UMass: Quality wins have been few and far between for the America East; Maine’s upset of UMass is one of the AE highlights to date.

  • Giant Killer Potential: Vermont’s Brian Voelkel and Albany’s Tim Ambrose. The freshman Voelkel has a nice resume so far as the league leader in rebounding and steals, and he has the second-most helpers in the conference. He decided the scoring column could use more ink last Sunday, when he dropped 23 points on Marist to go along with a typical 16 boards, three assists and five steals.  Ambrose is on the other side of the spectrum, as the senior is going through a renaissance. He’s collected two straight POW awards while dropping 27 points on Siena and 21 in a victory over CCSU that he salvaged single-handedly. Down two with a minute left to play, Ambrose took a pick-six steal in for an easy layup, then with under ten seconds on the clock, he drained a rainbow floater for the victory.

Power Rankings

  1. Vermont (7-2): There’s no competition for the top spot in the AE, but Vermont will test its mettle against MAAC favorites where we’ll find out just how good this team is when they pay visits to Fairfield and Iona. Forward Evan Fjeld continues to be excellent, but the Catamounts are relying heavily at the guard spot on 5’8 Joey Accaoui. He’s been scoring efficiently, but he’s a defensive liability, and it will be interesting to see if the top guards in the MAAC can take advantage.
  2. Maine (4-5): The Black Bears’ victory over UMass in a slugfest showed that they will again be a contender this year… but strangely, they’ve still done it without anyone playing particularly well. Gerald McLemore still is shooting poorly, and the ten-man rotation seems to score by committee. It’s too early to tell if the balanced attack is sustainable, but it feels like this is a team that needs to find offensive consistency if they are going to have success in conference.
  3. Albany (5-6): The upset of Siena was euphoric for a struggling program. The aforementioned Tim Ambrose has been a rock, and flanked by sophomores Mike Black and Logan Aronhalt, it is safe to say the Great Danes have the top backcourt in the league. The problem is a lack of depth at guard behind these three, and the balance of the season hangs on every injury scare.
  4. New Hampshire (4-3): Dane DiLiegro is one of the top post threats in the league and he’s clocking in at a solid 13.0/9.7, but he will need to assert himself more on a nightly basis. The Wildcats do not have an impressive win yet this season, but they haven’t had any horrible missteps and their losses to good teams have been close. Three straight road games ahead (Rhode Island, Central Conn. State and Cornell) will tell us a lot about this team.
  5. Boston University (4-7): No one expected to see the Terriers this low this season. A four game skid has included handing away a game at Bucknell, losing an early lead against LaSalle and then just quitting in the second half against Harvard. The pieces are there, but there is no mesh. The team has leaned heavily, very heavily on the three-point shot, which they haven’t made very often. A turnaround on this young team must start with John Holland.
  6. Stony Brook (4-5): A nine-point loss at home to lowly Sacred Heart dropped Stony Brook to a new low.  Bryan Dougher is still shooting well, but there has been zero consistency behind him. Big-bodied Dallis Joyner has rebounded at a solid clip of 8.7 boards per game, but hasn’t been much help on offense, with just five points per contest
  7. Binghamton (2-8): Out of the coma! After a miserable stretch, Binghamton was a free throw in regulation away from upsetting Hofstra before losing in overtime at the hands of an monster night from the Pride’s Charles Jenkins and his 32 points. The Bearcats followed up the strong showing with a victory of Manhattan behind a 20-point outburst by Mahamoud Jabbi.
  8. Hartford (2-8): In one of the most cringe-worthy losses of the year, Hartford lost a twenty point lead deep in the second half to Sacred Heart. They followed it up with a double OT loss to Monmouth to keep the bad taste in their mouths. The Hawks’ current 17-day break just doesn’t seem good for team’s psyche.
  9. UMBC (0-10): Among a chosen few left in the race for longest winless stretch, punctuated by a 81-39, THIRTY NINE, drilling by Rider. It’s a two man team, Chris De La Rosa and Travis King, and it’s ugly.

A Look Ahead:

  • Vermont faces a key road trip as they play Fairfield and Iona Monday and Wednesday, respectively.
  • New Hampshire ups the ante in the coming weeks with a host of challenging games on the road, Rhode Island (12/18), Central Connecticut State (12/22) and Cornell (12/29).
  • BU needs to right the ship at home with two tough matchups ahead versus St Joseph’s (12/21) and Quinnipiac (12/29).
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Morning Five: 12.10.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 10th, 2010

  1. The talk of Thursday was all Kyrie Irving, all the time.  The superstar freshman’s toe situation has the college basketball world buzzing about whether he’ll play again this season.  Even Irving himself fueled the fire with this tweet on Thursday morning suggesting bad (or at least, not good) news.  Jeff Goodman writes that Duke is still a national title contender, with or without the talented rookie, but obviously the Devils’ margin for error would now drop precipitously.  As Duke and Irving mull over the medical options available to him, our crack team of contributors at RTC debated the impact of Irving’s loss on the national landscape.
  2. There was an amazing comeback on Wednesday night and almost nobody outside of 432 lonely souls on a cold night in Fairfield, Connecticut, knew about it.  In a classic intersectional battle between 2-6 Hartford and 1-7 Sacred Heart, the SH Pioneers found themselves down 51-31 and their prospects looking rather bleak for a second win with eight minutes to go.  An 8-1 run followed by a march to the free throw line — remember kids, scoring with the clock stopped is the best way to score! — where Sacred Heart hit 11 of 12 foul shots brought them back into the game.  A late steal, foul and subsequent free throw with 0.2 seconds remaining by Stan Dulaire sealed the unlikely victory for the Pioneers.  We hope that none of the few in attendance decided to beat the traffic early!
  3. The SI boys’ columns came out on Thursday, and if you’re reading this, you know that Seth Davis and Luke Winn are always worth a look for some insights nobody else will have thought of yet.  Davis gives the Pitt Panthers some overdue dap (the quietest #3-ranked team in modern hoops history?) while correctly calling out NC State fans for their intellectual dishonesty, and Winn continues to make better use of interesting graphics and clip-art in his Power Rankings than any college basketball scribe has ever dared to attempt.
  4. Have you ever seen an 11-year old dunk in a game?  No, we hadn’t either.  But we’d never seen a 6’2 pre-teen named Adrian Moore, and get this, according to a profile from BIAH, Baylor is already recruiting the young lad who can sky from the Class of 2016.  Michael Avery, anyone?  We don’t think Michael Avery was doing this kind of stuff in middle school, though…  and whatever happened to that Kentucky coach who was recruiting him?

5.  Oregon unveiled a new throwback jersey yesterday that the Ducks will wear in their upcoming Saturday game against local rival (and current D-III school) Willamette University.  The unis refer back to the first game ever played at venerable old Mac Court, a 38-10 victory for the Ducks over WU in 1927.  We’re pretty sure that Phil Knight wasn’t selling shoes from the back of a truck outside the Oval in the 20s, but he’s certainly found a way to make these throwback jerseys look pretty cool (with a conspicuous swoosh on the right shoulder, of course).  (ed. note: pay no attention to the eye hovering behind the jersey)

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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 4th, 2010

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

A Look Back

  • Half Dose of Kryptonite: UConn has been the surprise team of the year, but they are no match for America East opponents… at least for one half. After being down three at half to Vermont earlier in the year, Kemba Walker and company had to stave off the New Hampshire Wildcats after trailing again at half, 24-23.
  • Vermont, Mid-Major Top 25: The Catamounts entered this week at #21 as they moved to 5-1, quite a feather in Coach Lonergan’s hat for being able to reload.
  • Finding their Grove in Motown: The Great Danes got back their point guard Mike Black from injury and he played 30 minutes in all three games. The Danes won two of three, but a double-overtime loss to a very good Detroit team that featured two Albany buzzer-beaters could be remembered as the turning point of the season.

Caught on Film

Albany hits two unbelievable buzzer beaters against Detroit but couldn’t get the game winning triple at the end of double OT to drop.

Darryl Partin explodes from anonymity with a 32-point game that leads BU over Cornell. Also, take note of scary quick freshman DJ Irving.

Power Rankings

  1. Vermont (5-1): Vermont continues to roll, getting quality wins at Quinnipiac and against Loyola-Maryland, and disposing of lesser opponents like Dartmouth with ease. Evan Fjeld leads all AE players with 21.3 points per game and has been the most consistent player in the league. Freshman Brian Voelkel continues to stuff the stat sheets: 5 PPG, 5 APG, 9.7 RPG and 1.5 SPG.
  2. Boston University (4-4): The Cornell Big Red found out that Terriers are not just the John Holland show; in a 66-61 victory, LaSalle transfer Darryl Partin led BU with 32 points. The Terriers also picked up a nice win against Nevada in an NIT consolation game. Freshman Dom Morris provides muscle inside, but pre-season coaches all-conference pick Jake O’Brien has yet to find his rhythm (11 points in the last two games).
  3. Maine (2-3): The Black Bears have yet to notch a notable victory, but I’m not ready to drop them just yet. Gerald McLemore missed the past game against Quinnipiac with an illness, but in his absence a promising core of players stepped up. Shooting guard Terrance Mitchell scored 16 in his first game of action, but the freshman Alasdair Fraser is the player that impressed most. The Scotsman bullied Quinnipiac’s hyped forward Justin Rutty while picking up four blocks and 12 points.
  4. New Hampshire (3-2): It’s official, Alvin Abreu is lost for the season, but the Wildcats are starting to show promise of a more balanced attack without him. UNH is looking inside more often to senior Dane DiLiegro while athletic sophomore wing Ferg Myrick is getting more shots as well, both good developments.
  5. Albany (3-5):  Sliding them up from the cellar to number five might be too much, too soon, but with the return of point guard Mike Black, this team is among the hottest in the league right now. Black has opened the offense, driven down the turnovers and led the team to victories over Niagara and Bowling Green. Grabbing the headlines, though, has been Logan Aronhalt. He was the America East player of the week as he averaged 22 points over the three games in three days, highlighted by a 30 point, 6-9 three-pointer outburst against Niagara. Freshman forward Luke Devlin garnered Rookie of the Week awards with strong rebound performances and an electric 12-point first half against Detroit.
  6. Stony Brook (3-3): Stony Brook has dropped two straight to underwhelming opponents, Lehigh and Wagner. Bryan Dougher has been carrying the offensive load for this team, but a second option hasn’t emerged. Central to their struggles has been the poor shooting of Chris Martin who was 1-11 and 1-9 in the two losses. Forward Al Rapier has continued to provide steady performances, while freshman guard Dave Coley has been seeing more action and shots.
  7. Hartford (1-5): After a fast start, Morgan Sabia has been drifting back towards his 11-point average of the past three seasons. The Hawks picked up their first victory of the year against Saint Francis (PA), but then blew a halftime lead in what would have been a quality win against Fordham on the road. Joe Zeglinski‘s has stepped back into the leading role, posting 21 points in two straight games before an off night against Brown. It would help for him to be more efficient (49 points on 44 shots in his last three games).
  8. UMBC (0-6): It’s just not coming together. Chris De La Rosa has been carrying this team with 14 PPG and 7.3 APG, and it’s a struggle to fathom how he is even getting that many assists. Travis King has scored well, 16 PPG, but overall, this team continues to put out disjointed performances. The upset potential is high in the team, but coach Randy Monroe has a big task in front of him if he hopes to get this team playing cohesively.
  9. Binghamton (1-5): Yes, the Bearcats do manage to check in below a winless team and it’s not even a question. In the past two games, they have scored 12 and 13 points in the opening half. Kyle Whelliston of The Mid-Majority was posting Twitter updates entitled “Binghamton Basket Alerts” because scores were so few and far between. This team has only seven scholarship players, but the problems are not due to talent — this team just has no leader and no will to win.

A Look Ahead

  • UAlbany hopes to reclaim the Albany Cup with a victory weakened cross-town rival Siena (12/4)
  • Stony Brook looks to rebound against a Columbia team that recently knocked off Patriot League favorite American University. (12/11)
  • Vermont has balanced match-up with Yale over the weekend (12/4) before they have a heat check against BYU in Glens Falls, New York, Jimmer Fredette’s old stomping grounds (12/4). This game is supposed to be a romp, but Vermont could keep it competitive.
  • Boston University continues with challenging games away from home at Bucknell (12/4) and Harvard (12/11).
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Checking in on… the America East

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 20th, 2010

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

A Look Back

  • Stony Brook for Breakfast: Those not heroic enough to last the full 24 hours had a chance to wake up to Stony Brook’s 6 am game, or the last half for those who couldn’t quite get out of bed at six. The Seawolves won a sloppy but exciting game, 51-49, over Monmouth.
  • Road Warriors: Vermont notched the top win so far of the season when they snapped Siena’s 38-game home winning streak, and followed it up by scaring UConn, leading 36-33 at half in that one.
  • Down With The Generals: Boston University defeated George Washington to set up a match up with Villanova, where coach Patrick Chambers was formerly an assistant, but the Terriers could not hang with the #7 team in the country.

Power Rankings

  1. Vermont (1-1): The Catamounts defeated Siena behind senior Evan Fjeld, his incredible mustache and the astonishingly steady hand of freshman Brian Voelkel who nearly notched a triple-double in his first ever game with 9/10/9 assts. For an encore, they dominated Connecticut in the first half before a career night from Kemba Walker pushed the Huskies ahead. UVM’s point guard issues are not settled, but the freshman do not show their age and the team executes excellently in the half court offense. After returning only one starter, Coach Lonergan again has made Vermont the team to beat in the America East.
  2. Boston University (1-2): The Terriers lost a close decision to a crosstown rival Northeastern, followed it up with a nice win over George Washington, but then were no match for Villanova the following night. Freshman guard D.J. Irving has earned a starting spot and, boy, is he quick out there — and that means something when you’re watching him on the same floor as Villanova’s guards. He’ll need to improve his jump shot, though — opponents sag well off him around the perimeter. Dom Morris and Patrick Hazel have shown flashes inside but will have to grow into their roles. John Holland continues to pour in the points, but one warning sign could be how tight of a rotation coach Patrick Chambers is keeping, as he is only going seven deep.
  3. Maine (1-1): Maine has received an early boost from senior forward Troy Barnies while preseason all-conference pick Gerald McLemore has been ice cold (5-24 FG). Transfer Raheem Singleton is fitting in nicely at point guard, but it is hard to get a read on this team. The first four games alternate between easy opponents and unwinnable games: Utah Valley State, Maryland, Maine Machias (a D-II school) and Notre Dame.
  4. New Hampshire (1-0): UNH has been the least active team in the America East, only playing one game so far, and they had to overcome a sluggish start to clip Dartmouth in their first game. Tyrone Conley had 18 points and led a balanced attack that included a double-double from big man Dane Diliegro. The lead story, though is that last year’s leading scorer and second team all-conference player Alvin Abreu (14.4 PPG) was hurt in the team’s lone game and there are rumors that he is out for the season.
  5. Stony Brook (3-1): After getting drubbed by UConn, Stony Brook has cruised through a schedule of powder puff teams. This seemed foolish when the Seawolves were conference favorites, but now that Tommy Brenton is lost for the season, easing into the year is prudent.  Chris Martin has been a consistent player, but it appears this team will live and die by the three point shooting of Bryan Dougher. Forward Al Rapier received no attention coming into the season, but the 6’7 JuCo transfer has become the primary beneficiary of Brenton’s injury — he’s turned into a nice role player (8.5 PPG, 7 RPG).
  6. Hartford (0-2): Morgan Sabia has been the surprise of the season so far; he is thriving under first year coach John Gallagher. The 6’8 forward scored 23 points in each game (he averaged 11 last season) while shooting over 50% and grabbing 9.5 RPG. The Hawks are struggling to get over the hump though, losing each of their first two games by two points.
  7. Binghamton (1-1): Talk about a one man show. Greer Wright has scored 48% of the Bearcats’ points so far. He led them to a two point victory of Colgate in the opener, but on Wednesday night, Binghamton took an 18-15 lead over Bucknell with 8:50 left in the first on Wednesday night… and then didn’t score for the rest of the half. The final score was 66-38. Thirty eight! It looks like it’s going to be an up-and-down season for Binghamton until they need to find a reliable second scorer.
  8. UMBC (0-2): The pieces are starting to take shape, but the Retrievers have not put together a complete effort yet. Transfer Travis King is establishing himself as the teams deep threat, scoring 22 points in a loss to Loyola (MD). Freshman Chase Plummer is off to a fast start after scoring in double figures in the first two games. This team has been able to put up points and if they learn how to close out games, they will be a sleeper in the America East this year.
  9. Albany (0-3): After taking a nine point lead on Cornell early in the first half, starting point guard Mike Black went down with an ankle sprain and it’s been a downward spiral since then. Since he’s been off the court, no Great Dane can hang onto the ball or find anything but iron on jump shots. It has felt at times that senior Tim Ambrose is the only thing standing between the Danes and a shutout. Australian freshman Luke Devlin has been a bright spot, putting in a lot of minutes and posting 10 points and 9 rebounds in his first game. Logan Aronhalt has been in double figures for all three games, but he has been wildly inaccurate. Coach Will Brown hopes to build on a solid second half against Georgia Tech as the team looks forward to Black’s return.

A Look Ahead

  • Central Connecticut State already has an America East scalp with a two point win over Hartford, but a talented though still disjointed UMBC team will try to hand them their first loss of the season. (11/20)
  • New Hampshire plays! They play their second game Saturday while multiple teams in the league play their fourth. How will the Wildcats respond to losing Abreu? (11/20)
  • As a consolation from the good people of the NIT, Boston University plays back-to-back games in DC against Hampton and Nevada. (11/22 & 11/23)
  • Loyola (MD) beat UMBC at home, how will they fare when travel to Burlington to play a Vermont team that has leapt to #1 in the America East power rankings. (11/24)
  • Albany’s winnable games just got a lot tougher; Iona and Yale upset Richmond and Boston College, respectively, on Thursday night. (11/23 & 12/6)

Caught On Film

Vermont snaps Siena’s 38 game home winning streak.

The ESPN tagline for this game should have read “Kemba Walker needed to score 42 points for UConn to beat Vermont.”

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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. (goblackbears.cstv.com)

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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