(photo courtesy: Steph Crandall)

America East Weekly Recap: Into December

Welcome to the first America East weekly recap. The title may be a slight misnomer, but I hope to provide routine coverage of the league (mostly from my online viewing) on a weekly basis.

While I would love to see more of these games in person, it’s a little tricky given my Manhattan base. (But Ray Curren has still been attending a number of conference games.) If you’re a fan/student in/around the conference and would like to help out with these recaps and/or other coverage give us a shout on our contact page or leave a comment.

Power Rankings:

  1. Vermont (5-1): The Catamounts won at Ivy League contender Yale on Saturday, handing the Bulldogs their first non-conference home loss since Dec. 20, 2015 against Albany. Vermont has now rattled off five straight victories after losing its season-opener to Kentucky and is ranked 68th in KenPom.
  2. Albany (6-0): As Alabama went down to three players at the Barclays Center on Saturday, Mark Singelais relayed a story about Albany once having to finish a game with four players back in 2004 at Hartford. The Great Danes lost that game 57-48 and finished 5-23 (3-15) that season. My how things have changed. Albany is undefeated this late in the season for the first time during its Division I tenure.
  3. Stony Brook (1-5): The Seawolves’ record is deceptive due to the fact that they’ve played Maryland, UConn, Michigan St. and Bucknell in the first three weeks of the season. SBU’s front court looks ready for America East play, but there are still big questions about the back court moving forward.
  4. UMass-Lowell (5-1): The Riverhawks are postseason eligible for the first time and look quite dangerous. They were down double-digits early to Loyola (MD) on Sunday, but came back for a comfortable victory. Jahad Thomas has been a man on fire since returning from his two-game suspension to start the season. He had 17 points and 14 rebounds against the Greyhounds.
  5. UMBC (3-3): The offense is fun to watch. The defense is concerning. Teams won’t shoot 46 percent from three all season, but the interior defense is an issue. In UMBC’s last three games—against Colgate, Chicago St. and Nicholls St.—opponents have shot 58 percent (64 of 111) inside the arc.
  6. New Hampshire (1-5): Opponents are taking (but not making) a lot of three-point shots against Bill Herrion’s squad early in the season. Teams have attempted nearly 42 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, making 31 percent. It’s not uncommon for UNH to have strong defensive numbers against the three, but that usually discourages opponents from taking them. Not so for American and Furman, they both beat the Wildcats while taking at least 46 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.
  7. Binghamton (3-4): The Bearcats are a just an awful free-throw shooting team. JC Show is shooting 84 percent (16-19) from the line, but everyone else is a combined 48-93, or 52 percent. It’s odd because Binghamton has shot pretty well from the field early in the season.
  8. Hartford (3-4): Hartford has played one of the easiest schedules in the country to start the season, so the record is a bit deceiving. One of the big beneficiaries is John Carroll. The 6-foot-8 junior is avoiding foul trouble and has vastly improved his offensive efficiency over last season.
  9. Maine (1-5): Maine earned its first victory of the season at Quinnipiac on Sunday thanks to hitting 10 threes in the first half. Before then Maine’s had been unable to find its offense against a mediocre set of opponents. Vernon Lowndes, Jr. led the way against the Bobcats with 20 points on 7-7 shooting from the field, including 5-5 from beyond the arc.

Player of the Week: Joe Cremo, Albany — The senior became just the 10th player in Albany’s Division I history to surpass 1,000 points for his career on Saturday. He scored 30 points in the Great Danes’ 16-point win at Holy Cross. This week Cremo scored 61 points while registering an offensive rating above 145 in every game. He made seven three-pointers in the game against Holy Cross, third most all-time in a single game in Albany history, and is shooting 57 percent (13-23) from beyond the arc on the young season.

It’s a pity Albany couldn’t find a few more high-major opponents to play this season. Being a traditionally strong program can limit a mid-major coach’s ability to schedule and that appears to certainly have been the case for Albany. The Great Danes have one of the most experienced teams in the country and Will Brown could only nab games at Louisville and Memphis. Why? Because Albany has the potential to win games like that. Instead there are a number of traditional mid-major powers on Albany’s schedule (Iona, Yale, Monmouth). The Great Danes already took down two of those teams (they play at Monmouth tonight). BartTorvik’s site has Albany at 0.6 wins above bubble at the moment, which ranks around 30th in the country, but—even if they were to keep pace with Vermont in the America East standings—it’s nearly impossible to foresee the Great Danes being given an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Maybe Hartford should take the ball inside the arc. Hartford has ranked within the top 40 nationally (and in the top 10 six times) in three-point attempt percentage in each of John Gallagher’s seven season at the helm. The Hawks have attempted 48 percent of their field goals from beyond the arc this season. Yes, it’s hip to shoot from deep and Gallagher has lived and died by it during his coaching career, but maybe the Hawks should reign it in a bit this season. Hartford is averaging 1.03 points per shot on twos and 0.89 points per shot on threes. Considering their experienced and relatively tall lineup, it would be nice to see the Hawks try and go into the paint more often this season. For instance, getting Hassan Attia more involved could help the offense. He showed flashes against Wagner, but finished just 3-4 from the field for 9 points in 22 minutes as the team shot just 3-20 (15 percent) from deep around him.

Looking Ahead: Binghamton has a big week with a winnable game at Delaware State plus a toss-up at home against Colgate. … Albany has a three-game week, including at Monmouth and then home for Colgate and Columbia. … Can Vermont win at either Richmond or Bucknell? … UMBC is spending its weekend in Charleston and will play Army and then either The Citadel or Marist. … Stony Brook plays two very different home games (versus Shawnee State and NEC favorite Saint Francis U.) … Hartford is at LIU Brooklyn and then hosting Boston College (who they beat a year ago on the road). … UNH has a chance to get things right while hosting Boston U. and Bryant. … Maine is still on the road at Georgetown and Fordham.