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2016-17 America East Post-Mortem

by - Published June 27, 2017 in Columns, Conference Notes

In 2016-17, not much changed in America East at the top. The same three programs that have dominated the conference in recent years were right there once again, even though one looked especially vulnerable this year. The fourth-place team was the same as the past two seasons as well. Meanwhile, the bottom teams haven’t really moved, and there was a big gap between fifth and sixth place.

However, there was one thing that was very different about this year: the degree to which the champion, Vermont, dominated the conference.

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The Morning Dish – Thursday, March 30, 2017

by - Published March 30, 2017 in The Morning Dish

The break in the NCAA Tournament from the regionals to the Final Four allows plenty of room for other NCAA Division I college basketball tournaments to get some time in the sun this week. Thankfully.

While the relevance of events like the College Basketball Invitational and CollegeInsider.com Tournament can be debated, this much cannot: the tourneys are a welcome respite from the sport’s increasingly ridiculous offseason, what with its seemingly constant news of coach firings, coaches looking for their next payday before they get fired, and an endless list of transfers, most sorely mistaken in thinking an NBA career is just a transfer (or two, or three) away.

The CBI and CIT both have one final game left after last night, the former after Wyoming pushed the CBI’s unique best-of-three championship series to a third game Friday. The Cowboys ran away from Coastal Carolina in the second half to win 81-57 at home, and now they’ll have the privilege of trying to win the title at home with the deciding game also being played in Laramie. … Continue Reading

2015-16 America East Post-Mortem

by - Published May 13, 2016 in Columns, Conference Notes

If you looked at how the America East standings have been the past few years, then looked at the final standings this time around, there was a familiar look. Consistency can be a good thing in many contexts, but as it applies to America East, it is not in one respect: right now, the conference appears to be stuck in neutral from a competitive standpoint.

Over the past six seasons, the conference has been dominated by Stony Brook, Albany and Vermont. Boston University was annually a contender, too, before departing for the Patriot League, but the overall pattern doesn’t change. In particular, the past two seasons have seen the same four teams finish in the top four, and then a big drop-off as four games separated fourth from fifth place each season. The bottom of the conference is having a tough time moving up, with most of the programs in some form of transition.

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2014-15 America East Post-Mortem

by - Published June 19, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes

The America East had a very familiar look at the top this season, in more ways than one. The conference championship game was a rematch, with a similar result in more ways than one, while the top three teams in the standings all looked very familiar.

After that, it gets interesting. It is perhaps where we can look for some change in the times to come.

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2013-14 America East Post-Mortem

by - Published May 23, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes

The America East Conference had a different look and a very familiar look in 2013-14. It started with one and ended with the other.

The season started without one of the signature programs in the conference, as Boston University was off to the Patriot League. While other programs have emerged, the Terriers had a long run of success and were consistent contenders and winners. Their departure hurts the conference, make no mistake about it.

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UMBC is simply not in a good place right now

by - Published January 25, 2012 in Columns

BOSTON – Just after the calendar turned over to 2012, UMBC seemed to have a new beginning of sorts. Their non-conference struggles meant nothing after a trip to New Hampshire led to a conference-opening win and an early lead in America East. It didn’t matter that they weren’t close in many games; for the moment, they were tied atop their conference and that was all that mattered. It was only one game, but perhaps that would help their confidence and ultimately their fortunes.

Three weeks later, the Retrievers are nowhere near the top of the conference, and look like a team that is going nowhere fast. Tuesday night’s 83-48 thrashing at Boston University might be as illustrative as anything of where this team is and how far they have fallen from their conference championship days of a few years earlier.

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UMBC’s non-conference struggles don’t matter with conference-opening road win

by - Published January 3, 2012 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

DURHAM, N.H. – Part of the beauty of conference play in college basketball is that teams get a fresh start. A bad non-conference run with one loss after another doesn’t matter on the bottom line, although that can weigh on a team’s psyche and affect their play in conference games. One example of that is UMBC, a team that won one game in non-conference play but is tied atop America East after an 82-76 win at New Hampshire on Monday night.

 

The young Retrievers haven’t exactly had a memorable season thus far. They entered Monday night’s game with just one win on the season, back in December against winless Towson. Only three of their 11 losses had come by single digits. Their best holdover, Chris De La Rosa, left the team in late November. They came in surrendering almost 77 points per game and turning the ball over nearly 17 times per game. And the shooting numbers on offense were nothing to brag about, either.

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UMBC’s Struggles a Reminder That Winning Isn’t Easy

by - Published January 27, 2011 in Columns, Your Phil of Hoops

Winning is very hard in sports. That might seem obvious, but there are times when a reminder of that is needed. There are some places in the sports world where one can look and come away with the idea that it’s easy to do. In college basketball, we could look at the Arizona’s recent string of 25 consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament that was snapped last season. It wasn’t long ago that Duke had a run of nine straight seasons reaching the Sweet 16 and five straight ACC titles. We could also look at the run Gonzaga has been on for the last decade and a half. … Continue Reading

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.”

Catching Up on America East – January 26, 2010

by - Published January 26, 2010 in Conference Notes

(Author’s note: I would like to take a second to apologize to my readers, as well as the loyal fans of the America East conference, for my prolonged absence. I had several things that I was juggling on my plate that prevented me from writing more during the past few months, however I have still been able to keep my finger on the pulse of the America East conference – by my current count I have still managed to attend far too many America East games thus far. I hope that my readership will return to Hoopville, as I dive back into the action of covering the America East for the stretch run).

There’s no way to sugar coat it: The America East just isn’t good this year. After spending last season ranked in the mid-teens, the America East looks destined to end the season ranked in the mid-twenties. And to be blunt, in the nine years that I have followed the conference, this is the weakest it has ever been.

The silver lining, however, is that the “down year” could produce a tremendous conference tournament. Last season parity reigned supreme in the America East, and while there was no real “power” like Vermont and Boston University during the first part of the decade, Albany of a few years ago, or even UMBC from two years ago, what resulted was the most competitive conference tournament in recent memory, as every single game seemed to go down to the buzzer. With even more parity this season, the 2010 “AE” Tournament could prove to the most hard-fought, dramatic, and compelling in conference history. The common phrase thrown around every season is “on any night, any team can beat any other,” but nowhere has this phrase ever been more true than the upcoming tournament, as on a neutral court in Hartford, literally any of the nine America East squads has a real chance of beating any of the other eight.

For the conference as a whole, there is light at the end of the tunnel, as the league will be better next season (it couldn’t get any worse, right?)  The vast majority of the America East’s talent lies within it’s junior (John Holland, Joe Zeglinski, Dane DiLiegro, Greer Wright, Sean McNally, Tyrone Conley, Alvin Abreu, Tim Ambrose), and sophomore (Tommy Brenton, Gerald McLemore, Jake O’Brien, Brian Dougher, Dallis Joyner) classes.

Having seen all nine teams play live at least three times, here are some quick thoughts on the year:

  • While parity reigns supreme, the foursome of Stony Brook, Vermont, Boston University, and Maine have separated themselves from the rest of the league (yes, that’s right, Maine!)  Amazingly, Binghamton (yes, the same Binghamton that lost its top 3 talents, head coach, Athletic Director and 3 other players, and struggled against division II schools early on) has already knocked off two of the top four teams in the standings, and looks to be straddling the middle ground between the top-four and bottom-four in the league.
  • As always, winning on the road is going to play a large roll in determining the final standings, which is why I like Stony Brook as my top-team right now. Granted the Seawolves have had close calls at home against lesser conference foes (six-point wins over New Hampshire and Albany), and have lost to both Binghamton and Maine (perhaps the least “talented” of the top 5 teams in the conference). But Stony Brook has played the toughest conference schedule to start the league slate, playing all of the top teams in the league (Vermont, BU, Maine, Binghamton) on the road. The Seawolves went into Boston and punched BU in the mouth, thoroughly beating the Terriers in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score (84-75), and trekked up to Vermont and out-toughed the Catamounts for a five-point win in a gritty, physical game. The Seawolves have depth (they use a ten-man rotation), play super-physical (toughest team in the league), and crash the boards and defend the heck out of the ball as a team, no matter who is on the floor. They also have the league’s most diverse offense, with Brian Dougher (and to a lesser degree Marcus Rouse) providing big-time shooting from downtown, Muhammad El-Amin, Chris Martin, and Tommy Brenton attacking the basket on drives, and Brenton and Dallis Joyner giving the Seawolves a threat in the low post. With that said, Stony Brook is still very short on experience, and has a tendency to rely on three-point shooting too much while ignoring their low-post scorers, and while I see the Seawolves as the favorites as of now, it is by the slimmest of margins.
  • The two surprises of the conference have been Maine and Binghamton, and both deserve a tremendous amount of credit.
  • Coming off of a season in which they won eight games, played completely uninspired ball, and “phoned it in” during their play-in game loss in the conference tournament, no one (myself included) expected much out of Maine, a team that seemingly hasn’t found a way to string two wins together since head coach Ted Woodward took over five years ago. The Black Bears shocked Boston College on the road for the America East’s “biggest” non-conference win (the Black Bears should expect that BC head coach Al Skinner will be removing them from his schedule from here on out), and currently sit atop the league standings at 5-1.  That includes a home win over Stony Brook and a win on the road at Binghamton.  Sophomore Gerald McLemore continues to impress, ranking 7th in the conference in scoring (14.8 ppg), and junior center Sean McNally continues to play the role of school yard bully in the paint (11 ppg, 7.6 rpg). But the difference for the Black Bears has been their play on the defensive end, and the emergence of several very solid role players. Maine has controlled the tempo of the game – playing physical, clogging passing lanes, contesting shots, and generally slowing it down to a snail’s pace – and is holding America East opponents to a league-best 58.5 points per game.  For all his scoring, McLemore, who is a prolific three-point shooter who also gets tough buckets on drives to the basket, has made an equally big impact on the defensive end.Newcomers Murphy Burnatowski and Mike Allison, as well as the return of junior Malachi Peay and emergence of Troy Barnies, has given Maine a legitimate cast of complementary players to McNally and McLemore. Burnatowski, a freshman from Canada, is the Black Bears’ best athlete, and while still rough and without a position offensively, the 6’7″, 230-pound (more like 6’5″, 245) has a mean streak and toughness on the court that Maine has been missing for years, and makes things tough on the defensive end. Fellow Canadian Allison has given the Black Bears a nice touch and an offensive boost off of the bench, and at 6’9″ he should only get better when he puts some weight on his skinny frame. Peay returned after missing the first half to concentrate on academics, and is a defensive tornado who seems to always have his hands in the passing lane, and also gives the Black Bears a new dimension on the offensive end as he has a knack for getting to the hoop. Barnies may never develop into the player that Black Bears fans had hoped, but since being moved to the bench halfway through the non-conference season, he seems to finally be understanding that he’s 6’7″ and a decent athlete playing in a conference of 6’5″ post players, and is finally beginning to defend and rebound.
  • As surprising as Maine has been, the biggest jaw-dropper of the season has been the play of the Binghamton Bearcats, who witnessed the implosion of last season’s conference championship squad, yet have found a way to not only be competitive, but frankly, be a very solid team. To be fair, the Bearcats do benefit from playing in front of the conference’s largest fan base, and the Events Center in Binghamton is the one true home court advantage in the America East.  The Bearcats are also a much more pedestrian team on the road than they are at home. But still, this is a team suiting up seven scholarship players.  This is a team which didn’t return one of its top four scorers from last season, and one which has ridden through more controversy and bad press than any team in the history of the America East. What is going on at Binghamton is a credit to the collective hearts of their remaining players. Binghamton has also benefitted greatly from the play of Greer Wright, a JuCo transfer who has played himself onto the 1st team All-Conference. A springly 6’7″, Wright can score from all over and is proving to be a huge match-up problem in the America East. In Binghamton’s home victory over Vermont, Wright outplayed two-time Player of the Year Marcus Blakely, and poured in 30 points on 10-15 shooting. The Bearcats have also benefitted from the play of freshman Dylan Talley, who looks like the conference Rookie of the Year, and is also a tough match-up as a very strong 6’5″ guard. Binghamton doesn’t have enough bullets to win any shoot-outs, but they defend the hell out of the ball, play with tremendous heart for 40 minutes, and at home in front of their vocal fan base are going to be a very tough out for anyone.
  • For all the talk of parity, the America East champion is going to be one of three teams: Boston University, Vermont, or Stony Brook. Binghamton just doesn’t have it to win on the road, and as excited as I am to see Maine competing, I still don’t have a ton of faith in Woodward, and they just don’t have the athletes or experience. Vermont is a “one trick pony” with Marqus Blakely carrying their team on both ends, but the America East might just be bad enough for that one trick to win. Boston University has absolutely no depth, but when John Holland, Corey Lowe, and Jake O’Brien are all playing to their potential  and they finally have been clicking at the same time as of late – they are going to be very tough to beat. Stony Brook is the most balanced team, as they are tough and athletic, they defend, and have a mean streak.

But what do I know? After all, here’s how I ranked the team in the pre-season:

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

And with half of the season in the books, here’s how the league standings look as of now:

  1. Maine 5-1: (13-6 overall)
  2. Stony Brook 6-2: (14-7)
  3. Boston University: 6-2 (11-9)
  4. Vermont: 5-2 (14-7)
  5. Binghamton: 3-3 (8-13)
  6. Hartford: 3-4 (5-15)
  7. New Hampshire: 2-4 (7-10)
  8. Albany: 1-6 (6-16)
  9. UMBC: 0-7 (1-19)

I’ve got two right, that’s gotta’ count for something… right?

Make sure to check back in to Hoopville for upcoming bi-weekly conference notebooks, game stories, and player features, as well as a multi-part trip down memory lane.

It’s good to be back.

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Hoopville Archives

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.

Hoopville Podcasts

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – June 21, 2017

June 21, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we talk about the NBA Draft, of course, but spend much more time on the happenings at Ohio State and Louisville and the implications starting next season.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – May 17, 2017

May 18, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, we start with the NBA Draft Lottery, then talk about a big pickup for Duke, important transfers, the coaching carousel winding down and much more.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 27, 2017

April 27, 2017 by

In our latest podcast, the business of college sports, as well as that of sports media, takes center stage. We talk about the layoffs at ESPN, college basketball’s opening night, and Wichita State’s departure from the Missouri Valley Conference. We close with thoughts on a departed friend of the media business as well.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 11, 2017

April 11, 2017 by

In our first off-season edition, we look back on the season that just ended, including redemption for one team and a big development for a conference that has had more questions than success on the hardwood. We also look at players coming and going, as well as big coaching news on a day where there was a lot of it.

Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – April 3, 2017

April 4, 2017 by

We look back at Monday’s national championship game, which was not a thing of beauty but had plenty of drama. Along the way we share some post-game quotes from both coaches.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale preview

June 24, 2016 by

We look ahead to the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, held at a familiar location in Boston.