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. Continue reading
Vermont and Yale have had the same problem the last couple of seasons. They have become too successful to fill a non-conference schedule without a whole lot of work.
So on Saturday afternoon, they were happy to see each other, even if for Yale, it meant a first home non-conference loss in nearly three years (Dec. 20, 2014 to Albany) as the experienced Catamounts continued to add to their resume with a 79-73 victory at Lee Amphitheater.
Yale freshman Paul Atkinson picked up his second foul five minutes into Friday night’s game in Albany, and as per James Jones’ custom, Atkinson was immediately banished to the bench for the rest of the half.
Except who to replace him with? What would have been the starting center – sophomore Jordan Bruner – is out for the year with a knee injury. Fellow sophomore Austin Williams, who played sparingly last season but is it at least 6-foot-8, 235 pounds, is out as well. Replacing the likes of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod is obviously darn near impossible, but recent history has shown that last year’s No. 5 Sam Downey was also extremely underappreciated.
Outlook: Stony Brook was a surprise contender in America East in Jeff Boals’ first season at the helm, but will the Seawolves have enough offense to compete in his second time around? Continue reading
Behind the scenes of the NCAA Tournament there was some CIT and NIT action yesterday as well, including a matchup of two programs that like to run and play offense (and haven’t known this type of winning for awhile).
Mount St. Mary’s played an incredible half against Villanova and there was lots of other action around the country on a big day for the college basketball postseason. Continue reading
It was a light night for the conferences we cover, but that all changes tomorrow! A quick look at some excellent CollegeInsider.com Tournament action. Continue reading
The America East has a reputation for being soft at the bottom, and those are not alternative facts or fake news, the bottom three teams that will compete in next week’s conference tournament are 331, 313, and 334 in KenPom, respectively.
The facts also say, however, it was worse last season when the final four seeds in the America East Tournament were 325, 323, 336, and 334. No. 334 and dead last at 3-13 was UMBC, which wasn’t a shock to anyone following the league, the last time they had been above 310 was 2007-08 (a glorious season which saw them 13-3 and in the NCAA Tournament).
This year didn’t portend to be a whole lot better under first-year coach Ryan Odom (who came from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne), but here we were on Saturday afternoon with the Retrievers playing in an actual big game, at 9-6 in America East (and 18-10 overall), proving – at least temporarily – that it was possible to climb out of the depths of the league and make things much more interesting at the top.
After a home loss to NJIT (currently 9-18) on Dec. 28, Stony Brook stood 4-8 and apparently needing at least a season of transition after last year’s run to the America East title, graduating a strong senior class including all-time great Jameel Warney, and seeing the coach the built them basically from scratch (Steve Pikiell) leave to go to Rutgers with his top assistants.
On top of everything else, two of its top returning players – Ahmad Walker and Deshaun Thrower – were arrested in separate incidents and no longer on the team by the time the season started.
But the dreaded “rebuilding” didn’t take as long as most thought. While Stony Brook was surely not as loaded as the last couple of years, it still had plenty of good America East talent, and the result has been winning 12 of 14 since that NJIT defeat, and being 11-2 in conference play with three games remaining (and clinching at least a No. 2 seed) after finally putting away a stubborn Hartford team 66-54 at Chase Family Arena Wednesday night.