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How I voted for the 2014 USBWA awards

by - Published March 26, 2014 in Columns

Before Championship Week began in earnest, ballots were due for USBWA postseason honors. We vote for ten All-Americans, ten All-District players in our district, a National Freshman of the Year (Wayman Tisdale Award), Player of the Year (Oscar Robertson Trophy) and Coach of the Year (Henry Iba Award).

Since I am based near Boston, my district is District 1, which covers the six New England states. As was the case last year, they did not have us vote for a district Player of the Year or Coach of the Year; if I had a vote for each, I would give Shabazz Napier of Connecticut the former (barely over Bryce Cotton of Providence) and Derek Kellogg of UMass the nod for the latter.

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America East Post Season Awards

by - Published March 3, 2010 in Conference Notes

The America East regular season wrapped up on Sunday; the seedings are set, the teams are ready, and Binghamton managed to once again cause another “international incident” (the Bearcats withdrew from the America East tournament). Certain circumstances have kept me from contributing as regularly as I had desired this season, but make no mistake; I’m still as involved in ever – still have my finger on the America East pulse so to speak – and the upcoming America East tournament will once again bring me past the 80-games-attended mark for the season.

Without further ado, here are my America East Awards; they are based on who I feel merits each award, and not predictions of how the coaches will actually vote.

Coach of the Year:
·    Candidates: Steve Pikiell, Stony Brook; Ted Woodward, Maine.

There was much talk earlier this year about Binghamton interim coach Mark Macon for COY – absolutely not! Once the going got tough for Binghamton, Macon sat on the bench like a statue, and appeared as if he could have cared less about coaching – and leading – a team. Woodward deserves considerable consideration (did I just type that as a sentence?). Woodward has made Maine – a school that has been a perennial play-in game team, and never once seriously competed for a conference title – a contender. Woodward has gotten the Black Bears to win on the defensive end – something they haven’t done before – and perhaps even more impressive has gotten the Black Bears to the top of the conference with only one “All-Conference” player. Pikiell was shafted out of the COY award last year, and has continued to shine on Long Island: Pikiell completed the Seawolves transformation from worst to first, and has the Seawolves playing as a team, hard, for 40 minutes. He has fielded and coached the closest thing the league has to a complete team, and has gotten the job done recruiting, game-planning, and in the community.

·    Winner: Steve Pikiell, Stony Brook.

In a very close call, Pikiell should get the nod – no slight or disrespect to Woodward, but the job that Pikiell has done at Stony Brook is second to none; down the stretch the Seawolves never buckled, and showed up every time their backs were against the wall.

Player of the Year:
·   Candidates: Marqus Blakely, Forward, Vermont; John Holland, Guard/Forward, Boston Univeristy.

There are only two possible candidates in Blakely and Holland. Binghamton’s Greer Wright looked at one point like he might deserve some consideration, but he floundered down the stretch, and quite simply looked like he didn’t give a… when the going got tough – which removed him from any consideration. Muhammad El-Amin for Stony Brook put points up in bunches for the Seawolves; helping to propel Stony Brook to a regular season title – including a game winning shot against Albany. But El-Amin simply does not get the job done on the defensive end, does not play with the basketball IQ or the sense of urgency needed from a POY, and is surrounded by more overall talent that anyone else in the league. And it’s hard to make a case for El-Amin when many people on the Stony Brook’s staff don’t view him as the team’s best player. Holland was the league’s best offensive player – there is simply no argument. In years past, Holland has struggled mightily with consistency – and often disappeared when the Terriers needed him most – but this season he was a monster, leading the league in scoring (19.9 ppg overall, 19.5 ppg in conference games) while pouring it on down the stretch (including 43 points in the Terriers “Bracket Buster” game). Holland even made am impact on the defensive end – he still makes mistakes, but he gambled much less down the stretch and has become a solid defender. Blakely is simply the league’s best all-around player: he makes an impact every single night in one way or another – offense, defense, rebounding: He not only led the Catamounts in scoring, rebounding, blocked shots, steals, and assists; he ranked among the America East leaders in those categories as well.

·    Winner: Marqus Blakely, Vermont.

It’s really not close – and that isn’t in any way disrespectful to Holland, who will most likely win a POY before graduating. Blakely simply impacts the game more than any other player in the league. Some fans still don’t give Blakely the respect he deserves – he’s never turned into the Taylor Coppenrath/Kenny Adeleke/T.J. Sorrentine/JJ Barea offensive juggernaut – and he can be stopped (or at least greatly slowed down) on the offensive end because, frankly, he can’t score from more than 4-feet away from the hoop. But he is a monster on the defensive end – he led the conference in steals and blocks (2.6 spg, 1.9 bpg) and disrupts the game both at the top of the 1-3-1 zone or defending in the paint. And on offense, Blakely is the catalyst for the league’s highest scoring team: far beyond his 17.4 points per game (16.5 ppg in conference games – good for 4th), Blakely draws constant double and triple-teams leaving his teammates WIDE OPEN. No one in the league gets to the line more, draws more fouls from opponents, or is more of a focus of opponent’s game-plans. Blakely will never be Coppenrath – but neither will anyone else in the league. Blakely is, quite simply, the best – overall, all-around – player in the league.

Defensive Player of the Year:
·   Candidates: Marqus Blakely, Forward, Vermont; Tommy Brenton, Forward, Stony Brook; Russell Graham, Guard, New Hampshire.

The two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Blakely is a one-man tornado: He disrupts the game at both the top and the bottom of the 1-3-1 zone. He can take over a game defensively on the perimeter, or on the low-post. He was the overall leader in both steals and blocks. There isn’t much more that needs to be said – perhaps the only knock on Blakely is that he gambles a lot, and occasionally hurts his team because of it, and isn’t the best man-to-man defender in the league. The fact that Brenton and Graham even merit consideration speaks volumes about their quality as defenders: Brenton is almost a lesser version of Blakely – he blocks shots, picks pockets, and defends both in the post and on the perimeter – and is actually a better man-to-man defender. He murdered the defensive glass (leading the league in defensive rebounding both overall and in conference games). Graham, a fire-hydrant bull-dog guard, is the best man-to-man perimeter defender in the league.

·    Winner: Marqus Blakely, Forward, Vermont.

Blakely is the league’s best overall defender; not much argument necessary.

Rookie of the Year:
·    Candidates: Dylan Talley, Guard, Binghamton; Mike Black, Guard, Albany; Ferg Myrick, Forward, New Hampshire.
* This was by far the weakest overall freshman class that I have seen in the 9 years I have followed the America East.

Talley, a 6’5” strong-guard type, lead all league rookies in scoring, both in conference games and overall (13.5 ppg in AE games, 11.8 overall), despite playing out of position at the point guard spot.  Talley also did a decent job on the glass. The knock on Talley is that he wasn’t much of a defender, and was not a team player (his offensive strategy at the point guard position was to put his head down and basically try to go 1 on 5 every time down the court). Black looks like Albany’s point guard of the future (although, we’ve said that about two different freshmen during the previous 2 years). After a slow start to the season, he blossomed; playing the most demanding position on the floor, averaging 10.4 points per game and 3.4 assists (7th in the league in conference games), while shooting .467 from behind the arc in league games (third best in the league). Myrick is, hands down, the league’s most talented rookie – as far as physical gifts it’s not even close – he averaged 10 points per game in conference game despite playing limited minutes.

·    Winner: Mike Black, Guard, Albany.

Talley’s numbers are certainly impressive – but it’s not that hard to put up numbers if you have some talent and are simply “trying to get yours” every night. Myrick’s talent trumps anyone’s, but he didn’t get the consistent playing time needed to put up numbers equivalent of his talent. Black had a very nice season, and did it all; ran a team, scored, shot from behind the arc, and even defended well on the ball.

1st Team All-Conference:
·    Candidates: Marqus Blakely, Forward, Vermont; John Holland, Guard/Forward, Boston University; Greer Wright, Forward, Binghamton; Muhammad El-Amin, Guard, Stony Brook; Joe Zeglinski, Guard, Hartford; Gerald McLemore, Guard, Maine; Tommy Brenton, Forward, Stony Brook.

Blakely and Holland need no explanation: Best player in the league, and best offensive player in the league, respectively. A 6’7” wing who can put the ball on the floor and take opponents of the dribble, Wright sputtered a bit down the stretch, but he finished the season fifth in overall scoring (15 ppg) and fourth in scoring in conference games (16.8ppg)., In conference games, Wright also finished fourth in assists (3.9 apg), fifth in assist-to-turnover ratio, and tenth in steals. El-Amin, McLemore, and Zeglinski are all pure-scorers. El-Amin – a 6’5” guard who is perhaps more adept at taking opponents off of the dribble than any other AE wing in recent history –  hit big shot after big shot for the 1st place Seawolves down the stretch, and was second in scoring in conference games (19.1 ppg), and third in overall scoring (16.8 ppg). McLemore ranked sixth in overall scoring, eight in conference scoring – and was the Black Bears offense. McLemore was a monster shooter from behind the three-point line, finished out the season on an unbelievable shooting streak from behind the arc, and his numbers become more impressive when considering that he was the focus of every opponent’s defensive scheme. Zeglinski bounced back from an ankle injury that derailed his previous season to rank fourth in overall scoring (16.7 ppg), and third in scoring in conference games (17.3). Zeglinski hit several big shots this season – including a buzzer beating game-winner at UNH – and made an impact on the glass as well. Brenton has been completely overlooked by most fans, because he has not become a scorer – yet. Brenton only averaged 7.7 points per game (7.9 in conference games), but he was the most important player for the Seawolves, and according to coach Pikiell, was the Seawolves best overall player. Brenton led the league in rebounding (both overall at 9.6 rpg, and in AE games at 9.8 rpg), and led Stony Brook in steals, assists, and field goal percentage. A 6’5” ball of super-athletic energy, Brenton was the heart and soul of Stony Brook, and the league’s toughest player. It was no coincidence that the Seawolves took off and ran the AE gauntlet precicesly when Pikiell turned Brenton into a “point-forward” and had him run the Seawolves offense as soon as Stony Brook crossed half court. Brenton is arguably the best defender in the league not named “Marqus Blakely” and was often put in man-to-man coverage with the opponent’s best offensive player – regardless of whether they were on the perimeter or in the paint.

·    Winners:
§    Marqus Blakely, Senior, Forward, Vermont: 17.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.6 spg, 1.9 bpg.

§    John Holland, Junior, Guard/Forward, Boston University: 19.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.6 spg.

§    Greer Wright, Junior, Forward, Binghamton: 15.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.2 spg.

§    Muhammad El-Amin, Senior, Guard, Stony Brook: 16.8 ppg, 19.1 ppg in conference games.

§    Tommy Brenton, Sophomore, Forward, Stony Brook: 7.7 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.8 spg.

Blakely and Holland need no explanation – they were the two best players in the league. Despite sputtering down the stretch, Wright was phenomenal in his first season. El-Amin, McLemore, and Zeglinski were all scorers who really didn’t defend at all, and El-Amin gets the edge in the “pure scoring department” as he averaged more points, hit more big shots, and played for the best team. Brenton is probably a shock and head scratcher to most fans, but he was a better overall player than any of the trio of scorers up for consideration – by the Marqus Blakely and Jay Greene factor of overall impact, Brenton made a bigger difference on the floor when considering the impact he had defending, rebounding, and distributing the ball.

2nd Team All-Conference:
§    Joe Zeglinski, R-Junior, Guard, Hartford: 16.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg.

§    Gerald McLemore, Sophomore, Guard, Maine: 14.9 ppg, .402 3pt-fg

§    Alvin Abreu, Junior, Guard, New Hampshire: 14.6 ppg.

§    Jake O’Brien, Sophomore, Forward, Boston University: 13.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg.

§    Maurice Joseph, Senior, Forward, Vermont: 14.3 ppg.

Zeglinski and McLemore were the last two kept off of the first team; both were big-time scorers and carried their respective clubs on offense. Zeglinski, a pint-sized fire-hydrant of a guard managed to dominate some games on the offensive glass, and was the heart and soul of the Hawks. McLemore still isn’t a “stopper,” but he made huge strides on the defensive end and was the Black Bears offense. Abreu was streaky, but was instrumental in the Wildcats 20 point win over 2nd place Vermont and 22 point win over 1st place Stony Brook. When on, Abreu is as good a scoring guard as there is, and also made a big impact on the defensive end. O’Brien was the 2nd best player on the Terriers, and took an absolute beating during the season as the Terriers only option in the low-post. He stretched the floor from behind the arc, gave the Terriers a scorer near the hoop, defended, and blocked some shots. Joseph is a one-dimensional player, but good-god can he shoot it when he gets into a groove, and down the stretch he was huge for the Catamounts.

3rd Team All-Conference:
§    Evan Fjeld, Sophomore, Forward, Vermont: 10.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg.

§    Corey Lowe, Senior, Guard, Boston University: 14.1 ppg, 4.3apg.

§    Carlos Strong, Senior, Guard, Boston University: 10.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.6 spg.

§    Chris De La Rosa, R-Sophomore, Guard, UMBC: 11.8 ppg, 5.1 apg, 1.1 spg.

§    Brian Dougher, Sophomore, Guard, Stony Brook: 13.6 ppg, .423 3pt-fg.

Fjeld’s conference numbers were far greater than his overall numbers, as he became a real weapon during the conference slate. He also developed as a rebounder, and even shot blocker. What keeps Fjeld from the second team is that a great many of his buckets were completely uncontested, as he certainly benefitted from the double and triple-teams opponents employed on Blakely. Lowe’s numbers are considered a disappointment by many fans, but it wasn’t for lack of effort: Lowe completely bought into first-year head coach Pat Chambers’ scheme, and wore his heart on his sleeve during the season. For perhaps the first time in his career, Lowe truly sacrificed himself on both ends of the floor, played every game like it was his last, and put his team far above himself. Unfortunately, injuries took a heavy toll on Lowe down the stretch and prevented him from a 1st or 2nd team selection. Strong played the best basketball of his career down the stretch, and was instrumental in the Terriers late season surge. It is truly remarkable that De La Rosa lead the league in assists and assist to turnover ratio considering the team he was surrounded by. With any kind of supporting cast he might have been a 1st-teamer. Dougher was the best scorer and shooter on the league’s best team for a stretch, but cooled down the stretch. He was, however, still a terrific scorer.

All-Rookie Team:
·    Candidates: Dylan Talley, Guard, Binghamton; Mike Black, Guard, Albany, Ferg Myrick, Forward, New Hampshire; Murphy Burnatowski, Forward, Maine; Marcus Rouse, Guard, Stony Brook; Charles White, Guard, Hartford; Shawn Grant, Forward, UMBC; Adrian Satchell, Forward, UMBC; Logan Aronhalt, Guard, Albany.

·    Winners:
§   Dylan Talley, Guard, Binghamton
§    Mike Black, Guard, Albany
§   Ferg Myrick, Forward, New Hampshire
§    Murphy Burnatowski, Forward, Maine
§    Charles White, Guard, Hartford

Talley, Black, and Myrick are no-brainers. The other two spots were very much up in the air, but I give the edge to Burnatowski and White. Burnatowski was the best defender on a Black Bears squad that relied on defense. An incredibly tough, physical forward with athleticism and a mean-streak – the kind of good, Jason Grochowalski-Tommy Brenton mean-streak – Burnatowski made a huge impact on the defensive end, and showed some offensive flashes down the stretch while playing a crucial role in the Black Bears third-place finish. Charles White is a phenomenal perimeter defender – the best rookie defender in the league – and has done a remarkable job on some of the league’s best scorers (the job he did at home on Muhammad El-Amin was one of the more impressive performances by a freshman this season).

All-Defensive Team:
·    Candidates: Marqus Blakely, Forward, Vermont; Tommy Brenton, Forward, Stony Brook; Russell Graham, Guard, New Hampshire; Chretien Lukusa, Guard, Binghamton; Mahamoud Jabbi, Forward, Binghamton; Dane DiLiegro, Center, New Hampshire; Murphy Burnatowski, Forward, Maine; Garvey Young, Guard, Vermont; Dallis Joyner, Center, Stony Brook. Charles White, Guard, Hartford.

Blakely – who will, and should, win his third straight defensive player of the year – is a no brainer. Brenton is a defensive tornado who can lock down on both low-post and perimeter players and shut them down, and controls the defensive glass (he led the league in defensive rebounding – overall, and in conference games – by a considerable margin). Graham is the best perimeter defender in the league, with Lukusa and White battling for second. Jabbi – an incredibly bouncy forward – led the league in blocked shots in conference games. DiLiegro draws more charges than anyone in the conference, gets phenomenal low-post positioning, and is a monster on the defensive glass. Burnatowski is a physical forward who defends both the low-post and the perimeter, and was the best defender on a Black Bears squad that won games on the defensive end. Young is another very strong and physical perimeter defender.  Joyner came on late as a terrific low-post defender (the job he did on Blakely in the Seawolves regular-season championship clinching win over Vermont may well have been the best single defensive performance the league has seen this year).

·    Winners:
§    Marqus Blakely, Senior, Forward, Vermont
§    Tommy Brenton, Sophomore, Forward, Stony Brook
§    Russell Graham, Sophomore, Guard, New Hampshire
§    Mahamoud Jabbi, R-Junior, Forward, Binghamton
§    Charles White, Freshman, Guard, Hartford.

Blakely, Brenton, and Graham were locks. Jabbi’s shot blocking coupled with his rebounding, and White’s perimeter defense give them the slight edge over the rest of the competition.

All-Floor Burn/Blue Collar (The League’s five toughest guys):
§    Tommy Brenton, Sophomore, Forward, Stony Brook
§    Dane DiLiegro, Junior, Center, New Hampshire
§    Radar Ongeutou, Senior, Forward, New Hampshire
§    Joe Zeglinski, R-Junior, Guard, Hartford
§    Tyrone Conley, Junior, Guard, New Hampshire

All-Rim-Wreckers and Backboard-Shakers (Top in-game dunkers)
§    Marqus Blakely, Senior, Forward, Vermont
§    Tyrone Conley, Junior, Guard, New Hampshire
§    Tommy Brenton, Sophomore, Forward, Stony Brook
§    Dane DiLiegro, Junior, Center, New Hampshire
§    Dallis Joyner, Sophomore, Center, Stony Brook

Blakely may be the best all-around in-game dunker the conference has seen. Conley has the highest vertical leap in the conference and is an insane high-flying acrobat – much closer to 6’1” than his listed 6’3” – he has been finishing off alley-oops and dunking on people in a way the conference hasn’t seen (from a small-guard) since Matt Turner. Brenton is another top-end athlete, but unlike Blakely and Conley, his dunks aren’t about acrobatics: he just tries to dunk on people as hard as he physically can. Brenton has become the America East’s version of Charles Barkley when it comes to finishing off fast breaks like a runaway freight train. DiLiegro and Joyner are all about raw-power: they both try to rip the rim off every time.  Notables not making the list: John Holland, Chauncey Gilliam, and Carlos Strong – who are all terrific dunkers but just didn’t quite bring it enough this year.

All-Bust (The Biggest Disappointments)
§    Will Harris, Forward, Albany: Harris’s entire career as a Great Dane can be summed up in a line from Jay-Z: “You know the type, loud as a motorbike, but wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight.” No one in the league talks more trash, makes more noise, or pounds their chest more prior to tip-off than Harris. And no one is quieter in big-game situations and big moments in their career. Harris is easily one of the three most physically talented players in the league, yet he couldn’t even rank in the top 20 in either scoring or rebounding during the conference slate. Harris simply doesn’t care, or doesn’t get it, or both. At the end of the day, he will have began his career starting at Virginia, and finished it sitting on the bench at Albany.

§   Tim Ambrose, Guard, Albany: Like Harris, Ambrose has incredible physical gifts, but has never come close to getting much out of the gifts he was blessed with on the court. He still doesn’t defend ANYONE, and doesn’t seem to have much energy or passion for the game.

§    Joel Barkers, Forward, Hartford: Barkers came out of the gate on fire in his first season at Hartford, and looked like the physical presence they desperately needed on the low-blocks. Alas, it wouldn’t last, as Barkers has looked uninspired and disinterested during most of the season.

§    Robbie Jackson, Center, UMBC: A transfer from Marshall, Jackson was billed as a 7-footer who would change the game in the America East. Jackson took the floor out of shape, overweight, and without much passion or fire. At 7 feet (more like 6’10”) he plays the game like he’s 6’1”.

§    Athletic Director Joel Thirer/Head Coach Kevin Broadus/Tiki Mayben/D.J. Rivera/Malik Alvin et all: What more needs to be said about this collective group of clowns that has imploded the Binghamton basketball program? They single handedly turned Vestal, NY, into the setting of a Road Warrior movie. Cocaine and Marijuana Dealing, condom stealing, credit card fraud, paying players, pressuring admissions to let in unqualified students, pressuring teachers to change grades, and in general allowing student athletes at a low-major school to live completely above the law; that sort of thing isn’t acceptable at UConn, let alone Binghamton. To quote Adam Sandler’s Billy Madison, “I award them no points, and may god have mercy on their souls.”

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College Basketball Tonight

We hope you enjoyed COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT during the 2016 NCAA Tournament. COLLEGE BASKETBALL TONIGHT is a comprehensive look at the NCAA Tournament hosted by veteran college basketball broadcaster Ted Sarandis, along with co-hosts Mike Jarvis and Terry O'Connor, both former Division I coaches. It also included many great guests, including Hoopville's own Phil Kasiecki.

The show aired on AM 710 WOR in New York City on Sunday evenings starting with Selection Sunday and running through the NCAA Tournament.

Here are links to the shows:

March 13, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 20, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

March 27, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

April 3, 2016 - First hour | Second hour

Everybody Needs a Head Coach

Former college basketball coach Mike Jarvis has a new book out, Everybody Needs a Head Coach.

"As you read this book, I hope that Coach Jarvis' experiences inspire you to find your purpose in life."
-Patrick Ewing, NBA Hall of Fame center

"Mike Jarvis' is one of my special friends. I am so pleased that he has taken the time to write this fabulous book."
-Mike Krzyzewski, Five-time NCAA championship head coach, Duke Blue Devils

"In reading this book, I can see that Mike hasn't lost his edge or his purpose. Readers should take a look at what he has to say."
-Jim Calhoun, Three-time NCAA champion, UConn Men's basketball

Review on Hoopville coming soon!

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

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