Monday, November 30, 2009

The Day After: Harvard University 78, Boston University 70

A game like yesterday's leaves plenty of room for excuses. The bench was thin, thinner than ever before. Harvard is significantly improved from last season. Shots stopped falling at a critical point.

The Terriers aren't making excuses, though -- and they shouldn't. This game was theirs for the taking, and it was given away, piece by piece. When BU was up nine and had a chance to put Harvard away, the Terriers let Harvard creep closer. When BU had three offensive rebounds on one critical possession and Jeff Pelage was sent to the free throw line, the 6-foot-9 center missed both free throws. When BU was down three points late in the game and called a timeout, the next two Terrier offensive possessions resulted in turnovers leading to Harvard fast breaks.

The Crimson seized control of the game when control was offered -- but control was offered by the Terriers. There's no excuse for that.

Around the League: November 30, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Vermont 82, Toledo 49
The Catamounts (3-4) snapped a three-game losing streak with a dominant performance against the Rockets (0-6). Maurice Joseph was the primary scorer, tallying 21 points for Vermont. Garrett Kissel stepped up and provided 10 rebounds for the Catamounts. Toledo never found its range, making just 2-of-15 on its 3-point attempts.

Today's games:
Albany at Florida Atlantic, 7:00 PM
Stony Brook at Lehigh, 7:00 PM

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Live Blog: Harvard University at Boston University

Expected starting lineups:
Boston University
G Tyler Morris
G Corey Lowe
G Carlos Strong
F Valdas Sirutis
F Jake O'Brien

Harvard University
G Jeremy Lin
G Oliver McNally
G Max Kenyi
F Doug Miller
F Keith Wright

Final score: Harvard University 78, Boston University 70

Team leaders:
BU: John Holland, 18
Harvard: Jeremy Lin, 19

BU: John Holland, 9
Harvard: Pat Magnarelli, 6

BU: Corey Lowe, 4
Harvard: Jeremy Lin, 4

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Around the League: November 28, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Drexel 74, Vermont 61
The Dragons rode a career-high 28 points from Jamie Harris to victory in the Legends Classic. Drexel (2-3) played evenly with Vermont (2-3) on the glass and in turnovers, but found efficient and prolific scoring from its backcourt, something the Catamounts could not match. Marqus Blakely had a double-double for the Catamounts, but his seven missed field goal attempts and six missed free throw attempts were symbolic of the overall trouble Vermont had putting points on the board.

Today's games:
Marist at New Hampshire, 1:00 pm
NJIT at Stony Brook, 2:00 pm
Vermont vs. Cornell, 2:00 pm
Albany at UCF, 5:00 pm
Binghamton at Rider, 7:00 pm
Hartford at Dartmouth, 7:00 pm
UMBC at James Madison, 7:00 pm

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Day After: Boston University 69, Northeastern University 64 (OT)

Entering yesterday afternoon's game against the Huskies of Northeastern University, BU had played in five games. Each lasted 40 minutes, and each featured at least 70 possessions per team, with some of those games featuring several additional possessions. While BU's preferred tempo is not defined as a specific number, it's safe to say the Terriers want to play fast.

When yesterday's game concluded, BU had eclipsed the 70-possession mark, but it took 45 minutes to do so. At the end of regulation, the Terriers had only just passed 60 possessions, playing at a pace well within their opponent's preferred range but somewhat outside its own. To a certain degree, BU had been playing Northeastern's game.

But a funny thing happened when the Terriers arrived at Case Gym yesterday. Someone had taken the lids off the rims.

Around the League: November 26, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Binghamton 66, Arkansas-Monticello 56
Consider this the high point of the Bearcats' season so far. While Binghamton (2-4) was facing a Division-II team, Arkansas-Monticello lost to Atlantic 10 contender Duquesne by just three points. Given that knowledge, a ten-point win constitutes legitimate progress for the Bearcats, whose other win to date came at home against Division-II doormat Bloomsburg after much difficulty. Greer Wright scored 18 points for Binghamton, securing a spot on the O'Reilly Auto Parts College Basketball Experience Classic All-Tournament team. The Bearcats return to action Saturday against Rider.

Harvard 78, New Hampshire 60
After dropping a close game to Army, Harvard (4-1) recovered by putting the hurt on New Hampshire (1-2) from the get-go. The Crimson built a 20-point halftime lead with an enormous shooting advantage. Through 20 minutes, Harvard sank more than 60 percent of its shots, more than half of its threes and 13-of-14 free throws. The Wildcats, by comparison, made 19 percent of their shots before the break. UNH is still searching for its first win against a Division-I opponent this season; Metro Atlantic bottom-feeder; Marist, still reeling from its demolition at the hands of Hartford, should provide a good opportunity.

There are no games scheduled for Thanksgiving Day.

Friday's games:
Vermont at Drexel, 1:00 PM

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Live Blog: Northeastern University Huskies vs. Boston University Terriers

Starting lineups:
Northeastern University Huskies
F Alwayne Bigby
F Manny Adako
C Nkem Ojougboh
G Chaisson Allen
G Matt Janning

Boston University Terriers
F Valdas Sirutis
F Jake O'Brien
G Corey Lowe
G Carlos Strong
G Tyler Morris

Final score: BU 69, NU 64 (OT)

Team leaders:
NU: Matt Janning, 18
BU: Corey Lowe and Jake O'Brien, 18

NU: Nkem Ojougboh, 8
BU: John Holland, 7

NU: Matt Janning, 5
BU: Corey Lowe, 7

GAMEDAY: Northeastern University vs. Boston University

Four-year program versus five-year program. Current America East member versus former America East member. A school that dropped football against, well, Northeastern fans don't want to talk about it.

Don't let oblate spheroids -- or rubber cylinders, for that matter -- distract from that matter. With the gridiron a mere memory for both schools and both hockey teams cooling off after last season's successes, roundball is where it's at for Boston University and Northeastern University. At stake is more than just bragging rights among rivals. The two best mid-major programs in Boston are set to hit the court, and their respective styles could not be more different.

Around the League: November 25, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Quinnipiac 59, Maine 46
The Black Bears never got their offense going, allowing Quinnipiac (3-1) to coast to victory despite 17 Bobcat turnovers and fairly equal rebounding. Maine (2-3) was led by Troy Barnies' 11 points, while Gerald McLemore and Sean McNally were a combined 6-for-25 from the field. In contrast, the Bobcats had three players score in double figures, with each converting at least half of his field goal attempts. The Black Bears are idle until December 3rd, with winless Colgate next on the schedule.

Coppin State 77, UMBC 66
Robbie Jackson had the best game of his career, amassing 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting to go with 11 rebounds. But while Jackson was complemented by 20 points from Chauncey Gilliam and a double-double from Chris De La Rosa, UMBC (0-4) could not stop the Eagle offense. Coppin State (4-1) picked up its first win against a Division-I opponent this season due to a balanced and efficient attack. Five Eagles scored in double figures, and Coppin State was 21-of-24 at the free throw line. With four road games awaiting the Retrievers, a win may not arrive for some time.

Providence 106, Vermont 64
This one was over at halftime. The Catamounts ran into a buzzsaw; Vermont (2-2) was helpless against a Friars team that dominated the glass and made 15 of its 27 3-point attempts. Providence (4-1) also forced 23 turnovers, including 19 steals, and generally dominated the game from the opening tip-off. Between yesterday's shell-shock and this Thursday's tryptophan-induced comas, the Catamounts will be hard-pressed to come to their senses in time for Friday's trip to Drexel.

Western Carolina 73, Binghamton 44
Binghamton played a Division-I team. Nobody should be surprised by the result. While Greer Wright had 21 points for Binghamton (1-4), Western Carolina (3-1) easily disposed of the depleted Bearcats. Arkansas-Monticello, a Division-II team, is next on the Bearcats' schedule, and while Binghamton should be able to win that game, the team's trouble with Bloomsburg earlier this season fails to inspire much confidence.

Rhode Island 75, Stony Brook 58
The usually-careful Seawolves played fast and loose with the basketball, committing 21 turnovers en route to their first loss this season. Stony Brook (3-1) has no specific individual to blame -- eight players surrendered the ball at least twice, none more than four times. Rhode Island (3-0) put its extra opportunities to good use, securing a free throw advantage and making almost 80 percent of its freebies. Four players scored in double figures for the Rams. The Seawolves' next opponent should provide an easier task: NJIT, at home, this Saturday.

Lafayette 86, Hartford 82
The Hawks made a valiant attempt to come back from a significant deficit in the second half, but ball control can only do so much against an opponent shooting better than 60 percent from the field. Hartford (2-3) suffered a partial relapse against Lafayette (4-1), reverting to nearly non-existent defense. Still, the Hawks could have won this game had abysmal free throw shooting not done them in: Hartford missed 11 of its 17 attempts from the charity stripe. Winless Dartmouth awaits, but the Hawks are probably wishing they had another shot at this one.

Today's games:
Binghamton vs. Arkansas-Monticello, 5:00 PM
New Hampshire at Harvard, 7:00 PM

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Around the League: November 24, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Duquesne 70, Binghamton 52
The Bearcats (1-3) suffered their third consecutive defeat, plagued by defensive lapses and an inability to securely handle the basketball. Damian Saunders had his way with Binghamton offensively, going off for 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting while adding 11 rebounds and three steals for Duquesne (3-0). Binghamton was led by Moussa Camara's 16 points; Greer Wright added 12 points but also committed six of the Bearcats' 19 turnovers.

Today's games:
Quinnipiac at Maine, 7:00 PM
Coppin State at UMBC, 7:00 PM
Vermont at Providence, 7:00 PM
Binghamton at Western Carolina, 7:30 PM
Stony Brook at Rhode Island, 7:30 PM
Hartford at Lafayette, 8:30 PM

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Day After: Georgia Tech 85, Boston University 67

During the Terriers' first four games of the 2009-2010 season, each contest's constituent events -- the made shots, the missed shots, the hustle plays and the turnovers -- came together to tell their own story. The games were compelling enough in isolation. As poor as the BU offense has looked at times, up-and-down play makes for an exciting brand of basketball. But in context, an underlying question enhanced drama and fueled the tension felt by engaged observers. When would head coach Patrick Chambers secure his first win? When would the Terriers finally get over the hump?

By the time the Terriers stepped on the court to face Georgia Tech, those lingering questions had at last been answered, and in satisfying fashion. BU had its first win, one earned due to a praiseworthy effort against one of the biggest names in college basketball. Sunday offered a stiffer test, one posed by a team tailor-made to give the Terriers fits -- outstanding, physically imposing forwards with enough skill in the backcourt to keep BU honest at the defensive end.

And for 25 minutes, BU was up to the challenge.

Around the League: November 23, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Brown 75, Maine 62
In a battle of Bears, Brown (2-3) asserted itself midway through the second half and snapped a three-game losing streak. Peter Sullivan and James Mullery combined for 44 points on 16-of-25 shooting. Maine's big guns in the backcourt, Gerald McLemore and Terrance Mitchell, never found their range, managing just 5-for-21 from the field. The Black Bears, now 2-2 on the season, return to the Alfond and host Quinnipiac on Tuesday.

Vermont 77, Rutgers 71
Marqus Blakely's homecoming was a success. The Metuchen, NJ native played just 24 minutes but filled up the stat sheet, posting 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go with nine rebounds, five blocks and four steals. Evan Fjeld led Vermont (2-1) with 19 points and Maurice Joseph added 17 for the Catamounts. Vermont now prepares for another Big East opponent, Providence. Rutgers' Mike Rosario led all scorers with 22 points; the Scarlet Knights fall to 2-1.

Albany 71, Robert Morris 66
The Danes' busy schedule continued yesterday, as a five-point win improved their record to 3-3. Albany committed seven more turnovers than Robert Morris (1-4) and was outperformed on the boards despite the plus-6 rebounding margin -- the Colonials recovered 32.6 percent of its own misses compared to 29.2 for the Danes. The difference, though, was shooting: Albany attempted only 44 field goals but equaled the Colonials' mark of 23 made, and the Danes made 22 of their 28 free throw attempts. And at last, a break in the schedule: Albany is idle until Saturday's trip to Central Florida.

Today's games:
Binghamton at Duquesne, 5:00 PM

Sunday, November 22, 2009

GAMEDAY: Boston University vs. Georgia Tech

The goals for the Boston University Terriers upon arriving in Puerto Rico were clear. Put in three solid performances against excellent competition and improve as a team. Winning would be a bonus. Three days after their first game, BU is set to compete in its third and final scheduled contest. Once again, the opponent is superior on paper, but with this trip already deemed a success, the Terriers have everything to gain and very little to lose.

The Terriers secured their first win on Friday due to superb rebounding on both ends of the floor. Jake O'Brien turned in one of the best performances of his career, totaling 14 points and 13 rebounds. Today's competition is a step up. Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, put together, are quite possibly the best frontcourt duo BU will see this season.

Around the League: November 22, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Hartford 70, Fordham 62
Joe Zeglinski had a double-double and Morgan Sabia added 20 points as the Hawks improved to 2-2. The visiting Rams (1-3) won the turnover battle and outshot Hartford but couldn't keep the Hawks off the boards (39-30 Hartford) or the free throw line. Andres Torres attempted 15 free throws for Hartford; Fordham managed just 16 attempts as a team.

George Washington 94, UMBC 51
The Retrievers were dominated in every respect, falling to 0-3 on the season. George Washington (3-0) pulled away immediately after tipoff, more than doubling UMBC in rebounds and winning every significant category. Lasan Kromah had his second consecutive good game, scoring 21 points on 7-of-10 shooting.

Detroit-Mercy 66, Albany 54
Albany hung with the Titans in the shooting department but couldn't hold on to the ball as the Danes (2-3) lost on their home floor. Detroit was led by Xavier Keeling and Eli Holman, who combined for 41 points. Holman added 14 rebounds for a double-double. Albany's starting backcourt of Mike Johnson and Tim Ambrose committed 10 turnovers, half of the Danes' 20.

Stony Brook 72, Wagner 48
Excellent defense from the Seawolves was more than enough to move Stony Brook to 3-0. Five Seawolves scored in double-figures; more importantly, Wagner was held to 29.8 percent shooting, allowing Stony Brook to build a 22-point halftime lead. Tyler Murray led all scorers with 13 points, but no other Seahawk contributed more than seven points. The Seawolves' next game is their toughest yet, with a trip to the University of Rhode Island on Tuesday.

Today's games:
Maine at Brown, 1:00 PM
Vermont at Rutgers, 4:00 PM
Robert Morris at Albany, 5:00 PM

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Day After: Boston University 71, Indiana University 67

After the Terriers' early losses, head coach Patrick Chambers repeatedly emphasized his focus on the process of day-to-day improvement as opposed to immediate results. Without discounting the importance of winning games, Chambers' message was clear: given sufficient time and effort, results would follow.

Throughout yesterday evening's 40 minutes of basketball, the Terriers never found their shooting touch. Indiana would not be defeated by raining 3-balls from outside or any other aesthetically pleasing option. BU was presented with two options: fight from tipoff to the final buzzer, or leave empty-handed. And BU chose the former.

Around the League: November 21, 2009

Yesterday's games:
St. Bonaventure 66, Binghamton 40
The Bearcats had a decent shooting performance. In every other respect, Binghamton (1-2) was thoroughly outclassed. St. Bonaventure (2-1) forced turnovers on more than 30 percent of its defensive possessions, pulled down 16 offensive rebounds to the Bearcats' four, and made eight more free throws. For most teams, allowing 66 points in a 63-possession game would be enough to keep a game reasonably close, if not win outright; given Binghamton's anemic offense, allowing points at even an average rate produces a blowout.

Albany 71, Alcorn State 55
Neither team did a particularly good job holding onto the ball in this one, but Albany (2-2) found ways to create offense en route to a 16-point victory. The Danes had 21 assists to Alcorn State's seven. More importantly, the Danes benefited from excellent team rebounding -- although no player grabbed more than seven boards, Albany corralled 45 missed shots compared to just 30 for the Braves (0-4). Albany could have done better on offense, as Alcorn State allowed opponents to score 130, 100, and 82 points in its first three games, but a win is a win.

Maryland 82, New Hampshire 55
The No. 25 Terrapins improved to 3-0 on the season, as the first three minutes and change gave a preview of what was to come: the Wildcats committed three fouls and five turnovers before calling timeout down 9-0 with 16:39 on the clock. UNH (1-1) did well on the boards, grabbing eight offensive rebounds to Maryland's four. Elsewhere, though, the Terrapins held the edge, shooting more than 20 percentage points better than the Wildcats and securing an 11-turnover advantage. Sean Mosley was magnificent for Maryland, scoring 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting with 10 assists and no turnovers. Colbey Santos led New Hampshire with 14 points.

Today's games:
Fordham at Hartford, 2:00 PM
UMBC at George Washington, 2:00 PM
Detroit-Mercy at Albany, 7:00 PM
Stony Brook at Wagner, 7:00 PM

Friday, November 20, 2009

GAMEDAY: Boston University vs. Indiana University

One down, and two to go. BU put in a solid performance against Kansas State University last night. Tonight's opponent represents a step up in name recognition, but the Terriers' slow start pales in comparison to what Indiana University dealt with last season.

Kelvin Sampson arrived in Bloomington as a big-name head coach ready to restore the Hoosiers to glory. Less than two years later, Sampson was fired; soon afterward, the NCAA imposed three years of probation on IU and a five-year show-cause order on Sampson, effectively barring Sampson from coaching at the Division-I level. The Hoosiers struggled to a 6-25 record in 2008-09, winning just one game in Big Ten play.

For an America East Conference team, Indiana is a marquee opponent, ranking alongside UConn as the biggest "name" opponent BU will face this season. Get past the potential for awe, however, and tonight's game ranks as decidedly winnable.

The Day After: Kansas State University 80, Boston University 70

Another day, another loss. BU's margin of defeat in last night's game suggests a lack of improvement -- not backsliding, to be sure, but inching no closer to victory. Given context, specifically by the Terriers' opponent and the venue, and a 10-point defeat suggests something different altogether.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

GAMEDAY: Boston University vs. Kansas State University

On the Terriers' schedule, Puerto Rico sticks out like a sore thumb, even when compared to BU's several other challenging non-conference opportunities. There are highly-anticipated contests, and then there are these three games. Between the guarantee of national television exposure and the chance to play power-conference competition at a theoretically neutral site, regular-season games don't get much bigger than these for a small-conference program.

Relatively little has gone BU's way in recent weeks. Concussions have thinned the Terrier bench and turnovers have plagued those players healthy enough to see the court. Open shots have been missed. Fouls at critical times during the game have forced key contributors to sit. While the defense has started to round into form, head coach Patrick Chambers' offense is clearly a work in progress, providing production in fits and starts. Bench scoring has been nonexistent.

And so, with a myriad of issues to rectify, the Terriers arrive at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot in search of their first win.

Around the League: November 19, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Hartford 75, Marist 38
The Hawks' closely contested loss against Baylor suggested improvement from last season, but few expected such an explosive performance from Hartford (1-2) against any opponent. Joe Zeglinski had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting and Joel Barkers added 15 points in just 15 minutes as the Hawks ran away with this one. Marist (0-2) held its own on the boards but shot below 25 percent from the field and never got anything going on offense.

Loyola(MD) 69, UMBC 66
The Retrievers outshot their opponent, but a four-turnover differential and significant rebounding advantage ultimately proved enough to give the Greyhounds the win. Loyola (2-1) got 21 points off the bench from Jamal Barney. UMBC (0-2) rode Chauncey Gilliam's 22 points as the sophomore helped the Retrievers come back from 11 down to take the lead late in the second half, but Barney's layup with 11 seconds left put Loyola on 67 points, a figure the Retrievers could not match.

Maine 59, Delaware State 56
The Black Bears were down by as many as 12 points early in the second half but recovered in time to secure a lead and survive multiple attempts to draw level by Delaware State (2-1). In a game played at an extremely slow 53-possession pace, Maine (2-1) got 27 points and 20 rebounds from its frontcourt of Sean McNally and Troy Barnies; Barnies' layup with 4:44 on the clock gave Maine a lead it would hold for the remainder of the contest.

Boston University is the only America East team in action today.

Tomorrow's games:
Binghamton at St. Bonaventure, 7:00 PM
Alcorn State at Albany, 7:30 PM
New Hampshire at Maryland, 8:00 PM

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Day After: George Washington University 69, Boston University 59

Yesterday's game, technically speaking, was not the beginning of the Terriers' season. That came on Friday against Iona, and it was an up-and-down, back-and-forth street fight of a contest, one where Iona's pressure proved too much for a depleted team and its new head coach to overcome. It was sloppy at times, it was marred by poor shooting and widespread foul trouble, but it was also fast-paced and exciting. The performances of Tyler Morris and Carlos Strong, when juxtaposed with the surprisingly inefficient play of John Holland and Corey Lowe, fueled hope the team's fortunes would improve quickly once Holland and Lowe regained their usual form.

The stage was set for yesterday evening: a home opener at Agganis Arena complete with fan giveaways, a familiar opponent, and four days to make adjustments fixing the problems caused by aggressive defenses and capable athletes. Better yet, Lowe and Holland woke up on the right side of the bed, recapturing their offensive prowess. The Terriers' dynamic duo combined for 45 points. A third offensive presence would certainly be enough to push BU over the hump and give head coach Patrick Chambers his first career win.

Around the League: November 18, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Pittsburgh 71, Binghamton 46
The Bearcats (1-1) were clearly overmatched on national television against a superior Pittsburgh (2-0) team, but managed to avoid embarrassment with a solid second-half performance. After the Panthers secured a comfortable 37-17 halftime lead, the remaining 20 minutes produced a 34-29 margin as Pittsburgh eased up on the gas. Ashton Gibbs led all scorers with 22 points for the host Panthers; Kyrie Sutton led Binghamton with 12 points. The Bearcats return to action on Friday against St. Bonaventure.

Today's games:
Marist at Hartford, 7:00 PM
Loyola(MD) at UMBC, 7:00 PM
Maine at Delaware State, 7:30 PM

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Live Blog: George Washington University vs. Boston University

Starting lineups:

Boston University
G Tyler Morris
G Corey Lowe
G Carlos Strong
F Valdas Sirutis
F Scott Brittain

George Washington University
G Tim Johnson
G Tony Taylor
G Lasan Kromah
F Damian Hollis
C Joseph Katuka

Final score: George Washington University 69, Boston University 59

Team leaders:
BU: John Holland, 24
GW: Lasan Kromah, 17

BU: John Holland, 11
GW: Tony Taylor, 8

BU: Carlos Strong / Tyler Morris, 3
GW: Damian Hollis, 3

GAMEDAY: George Washington University vs. Boston University

After months of preparation, head coach Patrick Chambers unveiled a new brand of Terrier basketball on Friday: high-octane, pedal-to-the-metal, and willing to risk making mistakes in order to make plays. With Scott Brittain and B.J. Bailey unavailable due to concussions, the V-8 engine under the Terriers' hood was suddenly short a couple of cylinders. BU displayed intent, but the horsepower and intelligent decision-making necessary for translating intent into results was noticeably absent. 22 turnovers gets a team nowhere.

Tonight, the Terriers return to a more favorable setting, a familiar second home, albeit one with some less than pleasant memories. BU has enjoyed very limited success at Agganis Arena, partially due to the generally high quality of the opponents scheduled to play there, but also due to some uncharacteristically poor performances at The Greek. Tonight's game, Chambers' first at the more palatial of BU's two venues, constitutes an opportunity for the Terriers to establish an increased comfort level at Agganis, not to mention level their season record.

Around the League: November 17, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Norfolk State 72, Maine 71
For the second consecutive game, the Black Bears (1-1) tried to survive a frantic comeback after holding a significant lead well into the second half. This time, the opponent made Maine pay. Kyle O'Quinn's final two points came on a layup with five seconds left, giving the host Spartans their first win of the season in dramatic fashion. O'Quinn had 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and 12 rebounds; his teammate Rob Hampton had 17. Gerald McLemore led all scorers with 24 points for the Black Bears, but his missed free throw with 27 seconds remaining set up Norfolk State's final possession.

Stony Brook 87, Mount St. Mary's College 53
As expected, the Seawolves made short work of their Division-III opponent. Tommy Brenton had 11 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists in 24 minutes; Desmond Adedeji added 16 points, and eleven different Stony Brook players showed up in the scoring column. Stony Brook returns to Division-I action on Saturday when the Seawolves travel to Staten Island for a meeting with Wagner.

Albany 51, American 50
Former Terrier recruit Daniel Muñoz, who decommitted after former Boston University head coach Dennis Wolff was fired, missed a jumper as time expired, allowing Albany (1-1) to secure a win in Washington, D.C. Muñoz converted a three-point play to give the host Eagles (0-2) a 50-49 lead with 2:25 remaining, but Albany's Tim Ambrose made a layup on the next possession, giving the Great Danes the lead and providing the final margin of victory. Ambrose finished with 14 points, as did fellow Dane Scotty McRae; Stephen Lumpkins led American with 12 points.

Today's games:
Binghamton at Pittsburgh, 5:30 PM

Monday, November 16, 2009

Around the League: November 16, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Baylor 71, Hartford 69
The Hawks fought hard for 40 minutes but eventually saw a sizeable lead slip away. Ekpe Udoh scored the Bears' last six points on two-point jumpers: a game-tying bucket with 2:08 remaining, a go-ahead basket with 1:04 on the clock, and the game-winner with one second to go. On Hartford's end, Andres Torres' only points from the field tied the game at 69 with 33 seconds left, but that basket capped a superlative effort from the junior point guard: 12 assists with just one turnover and seven rebounds. Udoh had 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, seven rebounds, and five blocks; he combined with LaceDarius Dunn for 50 of Baylor's 71 points.

Morgan State 72, UMBC 57
The surprise announcement of Chauncey Gilliam's eligibility may have fueled the Retrievers' early success against their local rival, but a double-digit UMBC lead quickly evaporated in the second half. Foul trouble proved to be the Retrievers' undoing. Shawn Grant and Jake Wasco both fouled out -- Wasco did so in just eight minutes -- and four other UMBC players had four fouls. Reggie Holmes had 23 points for the host Bears. Morgan State improves to 2-0; UMBC is 0-1.

Vermont 58, Buffalo 57
The Catamounts (1-1) led by 10 points midway through the second half, but after a Calvin Betts layup with 41 seconds remaining, Vermont's lead had disappeared. Marqus Blakely hit the second of two free throws and Nick Vier stole the inbounds pass to secure the win. Blakely had a monster game, contributing 17 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks and three steals; Vier had no turnovers in 33 minutes at the point. Buffalo's defense was effective, but a combined 3-of-24 performance from the Bulls' Rodney Pierce and Zach Filzen was too much to overcome as Vermont spoiled its opponent's season opener.

Today's games:
Maine at Norfolk State, 7:00 PM
Mount St. Mary's College at Stony Brook, 7:00 PM
Albany at American, 7:30 PM

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Around the League: November 15, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Binghamton 54, Bloomsburg 49
The Bearcats' difficulties were apparent early on, as Division-II Bloomsburg managed to build a seven-point lead midway through the first half, but Binghamton managed to regain the lead before halftime and maintain it throughout the second half. While this will undoubtedly be a long season in Vestal, the Bearcats managed to avoid the embarrassment of losing their home opener to a team from a lower division, and a poor Division-II team at that -- Bloomsburg finished 4-24 last season. Greer Wright had a double-double for Binghamton.

New Hampshire 91, Suffolk 45
New Hampshire opened the season with its annual domination of Division-III Suffolk in a game that was statistically over at the 11:43 point of the second half. Dane DiLiegro had 14 points and 15 boards and four other Wildcats scored in double figures as UNH pulled away early. Now a tougher test awaits New Hampshire -- the Wildcats travel to College Park, MD for a meeting with the Terrapins this Friday.

Today's games:
Hartford at Baylor, 2:30 PM
Morgan State at UMBC, 3:30 PM
Vermont at Buffalo, 5:30 PM

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Day After: Iona College 82, Boston University 73

Whether attending last night's season opener in New Rochelle, NY, or watching or listening to the game from afar, the excitement associated with the start of the Patrick Chambers Era was palpable. And in some respects, the Terriers' first game under their new head coach lived up to the hype. If nothing else, the game was fast -- 76 possessions per team, easily outstripping the pace set by last year's team.

But fast, it seems, applies to more than just the pace of the game. After months of preparation, it appears the final weeks leading up to last night's events may have gone by too quickly, for while the Terriers showed some positive signs, the results on the court were those of a team not quite ready for prime time. For every possession ending with an open shot, another ended with a turnover; every heady defensive play was counterbalanced by an unnecessary foul.

Around the League: November 14, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Morgan State 69, Albany 65
For the second consecutive game, Albany suffered from a case of turnovers, posting a minus-nine turnover differential as the Danes dropped their home opener. Morgan State, the defending MEAC champions, produced 11 steals and was led by Reggie Holmes' 23 points. Kevin Thompson added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Bears. Albany's Tim Ambrose had 21 points; Will Harris had 18.

Stony Brook 75, Maryland-Eastern Shore 57
A 21-4 run over the final 9:49 of the first half gave Stony Brook the lead, then broke the game open as the Seawolves cruised to a comfortable victory against the Hawks of Maryland-Eastern Shore. Muhammad El-Amin led all scorers with 25 points, while Tommy Brenton was his usual self in contributing nine rebounds for Stony Brook. The Hawks' 34 free throw attempts provided an opportunity for the home team to keep the game close, but UMES converted just 16 of those 34, with the 18 missed opportunities matching the margin of victory.

Loyola 79, Vermont 66
Marqus Blakely's 26 points included an uncharacteristically solid 11-of-13 performance at the free throw line, but the rest of the Catamounts couldn't buy a bucket in Baltimore last night. Collectively, Vermont shot just 33.9 percent from the field. An horrific effort on the defensive boards -- Loyola grabbed more than half of its missed shot attempts -- only served to complicate things further for the Catamounts. Blakely truly was the one bright spot for the visiting team, blocking five shots and even draining a 3, reaching his quota for the year.

Maine 76, Fordham 73
The Black Bears did their best to give this game away, watching an 11-point lead with less than three minutes remaining rapidly disappear, but a missed 3 by the Rams' Jio Fontan found the hands of Maine's Gerald McLemore and time expired. McLemore had 26 points to lead all scorers, and Terrance Mitchell chipped in with 21 for the Black Bears. Fontan led Fordham with 25 points. Maine won despite a poor perfomance at the point from Junior Bernal, who scored in double figures but committed eight turnovers and made several costly mistakes down the stretch, possibly a sign of trouble to come.

Quinnipiac 85, Hartford 74
After a back-and-forth first half, Hartford's offense ran out of gas midway through the second frame as the Bobcats pulled away. James Feldeine had 23 for Quinnipiac but was matched by Hartford's Joel Barkers, who may be the interior scorer the Hawks need. Still, Hartford's defense wasn't able to hold up when its offense slowed down, as four Bobcats reached double figures and Quinnipiac picked up a win in the first year of the Connecticut 6 Classic.

Tonight's games:
Bloomsburg at Binghamton, 2:00 PM
Suffolk at New Hampshire, 7:00 PM

Friday, November 13, 2009

Live Blog: Boston University at Iona College

Starting lineups:

Boston University
G Corey Lowe
G Tyler Morris
G Carlos Strong
F/G John Holland
F Jake O'Brien

Iona College
G Scott Machado
G Jermel Jenkins
G Kyle Smyth
F Mike McFadden
F Jonathan Huffman

Final Score: Iona College 82, Boston University 73.

Team leaders:
BU: Tyler Morris, 21
Iona: Scott Machado, 16

BU: Carlos Strong, 11
Iona: Alejo Rodriguez, 10

BU: Corey Lowe, 7
Iona: Scott Machado, 6

GAMEDAY: Boston University vs. Iona College

[iona.jpeg]After 26 consecutive seasons without a meeting, the Boston University Terriers will square off against the Gaels of Iona College for the second time in less than nine months. You can thank ESPN BracketBusters for that. The Terriers drew Iona as their opponent for the Feb. 21 mid-major extravaganza, earning a 63-57 result at The Roof with the help of freshman forward Jake O'Brien, who blocked shots to end each of the Gaels' final two possessions.

Although each team has competed just three times since last winter's BracketBuster showdown, both teams present significantly different looks. Most notable, of course, is the changing of the guard in Boston, as Patrick Chambers has spent the past several months preparing for his first game as a Division-I head coach, but there are several reasons why this game should be more than merely a repeat of last year's tightly contested matchup.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nine Teams, Nine Days: Boston University

Last season: 17-13 (11-5 America East), lost in America East quarterfinals to UMBC.

Head coach: Pat Chambers, first season.

Departing players: Marques Johnson, Brendan Sullivan, Sam Tully, Matt Wolff.

Incoming players: B.J. Bailey

Expected starting lineup (position, name, year, 2008-09 stats):
G Corey Lowe, senior, 17.2 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.1 APG
G Carlos Strong, senior, 6.4 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 0.8 APG
F/G John Holland, junior, 18.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.8 SPG
F Jake O'Brien, sophomore, 12.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.0 BPG
C Jeff Pelage, sophomore, 3.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 0.5 BPG

Player to watch: John Holland. If Marqus Blakely has a rival for the title of "Best Player in America East", it's Holland. That fits, considering both players are the same height and wear the same number. BU's junior swingman doesn't have Blakely's defensive reputation -- while Holland's length can wreak havoc at the top of a 1-3-1 zone, he isn't considered a lockdown man defender. What Holland brings to the table is the most complete offensive game in America East. The Terriers' number 23 is a feared perimeter shooter with plenty of range and enough height and athleticism to get his shot off against anyone. That shot pairs nicely with his ability to get in the lane, where he has been known to throw down more than his fair share of SportsCenter-quality dunks. Holland also rebounds well, shoots free throws well -- basically anything a wing player is supposed to do, Holland does at a high level. BU's status as the favorite in America East is contingent upon Holland's performance.

Biggest strength: Perimeter shooting. It's not hard to hit threes when a team's long-range attempts are limited to wide-open looks. The Terriers, on the other hand, take lots of threes -- nearly 45 percent of their field goal attempts -- and still manage to make them at an excellent rate. BU's success from longer distances is a product of having several excellent perimeter shooters. Holland and Corey Lowe are the obvious ones, but Carlos Strong is accurate from range as well. So is a healthy Tyler Morris, a career 39.1 percent 3-point shooter. B.J. Bailey has yet to establish himself as an offensive threat at the Division-I level, but his advance billing is that of a capable shooter. Whenever Jake O'Brien, last year's Rookie of the Year, is on the court, BU will have four players capable of shooting the 3-ball; when O'Brien is playing center, that number may increase to five. The Terriers are more than capable of shooting their opponents out of the gym.

Biggest weakness: Depth. Preseason prognostication projected the Terriers' primary rotation as consisting of eight players, four in the backcourt (Lowe, Strong, Morris and Bailey) and four in the frontcourt (Holland, O'Brien, Scott Brittain and Jeff Pelage), with occassional minutes for Valdas Sirutis and Sherrod Smith. Already, Brittain and Bailey have been sidelined by concussions, forcing Sirutis and Smith into the main rotation and thinning the Terrier reserves. Teams have won with shallow rotations before -- UMBC did it just two years prior -- but BU has multiple difficult stretches on its schedule, including seven of its first nine conference games coming on the road. If the Terriers are forced to play critical games with less than its full complement of players, their margin for error will be a lot smaller than it would be otherwise.

Guards: Corey Lowe is a 3-point shooter, first and foremost, but his game continues to evolve. Lowe's percentage of threes attempted (that is, 3PA/FGA) has fallen every season, as the senior guard now regularly looks to get to the rim with the game on the line. Lowe's real evolution, though, is as a distributor. Lowe's 4.1 APG last year makes him the only returning America East player to average more than four assists per game in the previous season; of returning players, only Junior Bernal also averaged more than three per game. For a player whose skillset is more off-guard than lead guard, Lowe's ability to keep his teammates involved while taking so many shots is remarkable. While Lowe isn't a defensive stopper, he's more than competent on that front, only adding to his value and cementing his status as one of this conference's great players.

Carlos Strong was the sixth man last year before a torn meniscus cut his season short, but the Portland native started in 18 games his sophomore year, when he averaged over 11 points per contest. Strong's game combines an excellent jumper with the ability to create his own shot opportunities and good perimeter defense. In keeping with his last name, Strong is also a powerful athlete with enough bulk to body up larger players and fight for rebounds.

Tyler Morris burst on to the scene as a freshman three years ago, scoring more than 13 points per game and winning America East Rookie of the Year honors. The two seasons that followed were marred by injuries, and the player whose quick release and pinpoint accuracy were a dangerous weapon has been visible only for brief moments. At his best, Morris is a dead-eye shooter, able distributor, tenacious defender and vocal leader; while his defense and on-court leadership are rarely questioned, his worst performances have been marred by frequent turnovers and inaccurate shooting. The senior guard has dropped some weight this year, perhaps aiming to regain some quickness and recapture his form from 2006-07, which would elevate the Terrier backcourt to a level rarely seen in America East.

B.J. Bailey arrives at BU in a curious position, as the only freshman on a team led by a coach different from the one who recruited him. While his concussion delays whatever impact he might have, Bailey's combination of shooting skills, strength, and athleticism should serve him well at the shooting guard position. Bailey is also a good enough ball-handler and passer to fill in at point guard if needed, although with both Lowe and Morris capable of running the point, extended time at lead guard seems unlikely.

Sherrod Smith began his collegiate career getting significant minutes as part of BU's guard rotation, but subpar performance eventually relegated the then-freshman swingman to garbage-time minutes. While Smith is unlikely to regularly see extended playing time after Brittain and Bailey are healthy, as a fill-in he is capable of getting the job done. The senior wing player has enough length to guard taller guards and small forwards and enough quickness to get past slower defenders. Exceptional results on either end of the floor should not be expected, but in a reserve role Smith isn't a major liability.

Tunde Agboola and Michael Schulze are BU's two senior walkons. Agboola has been with the team since his freshman year, while Schulze joined as a junior. Barring multiple additional injuries, neither is expected to play any significant minutes.

Forwards: John Holland's significant improvement as a 3-point shooter last season was widely noticed last season, but the 6-foot-5 junior swingman displayed improved free-throw shooting as well. Holland shot slightly under 65 percent from the charity stripe as a freshman; as a sophomore, that figure improved by 12 full percentage points. Holland can score from any position on the floor, and he can do so in ways that render his defender largely irrelevant. Paired with Lowe, Holland gives BU two of the most explosive offensive players in America East.

Jake O'Brien is the rare sort of forward who attempts more threes than twos. To his credit, O'Brien is also the rare sort of forward with a good enough jumper to make such a strategy work. As a freshman, O'Brien connected on more than 36 percent of his 3-point shots; that, paired with his blocked shots, proved to be enough for Rookie of the Year honors. O'Brien's biggest weakness is his rebounding. While his low offensive rebound totals are partially a product of spending so much time on the perimeter, O'Brien guards the usual spectrum of frontcourt players while on defense, yet does not corral an appropriate share of defensive rebounds. Now a sophomore, look for the BC High graduate to maintain his shooting performance while focusing somewhat more on more traditional forward responsibilities.

Scott Brittain suffered his third concussion prior to last season, and although the then-junior forward was back on the court for November 22's game against Saint Peter's, his play did not return to its usual level until conference play. Brittain's statistical decline last season was entirely a product of his injury -- during the America East season, he averaged more than 11 points and six rebounds a game, to go with 23 total blocks -- but another concussion prior to this season brings his long-term health into question. Even at his best, Brittain's considerable skills on both ends of the floor are limited by persistent foul trouble, but when healthy and focused he can have a major impact on a game. In Brittain's absence, a reasonably strong frontcourt becomes much more of a question mark.

Valdas Sirutis is almost a lot of things. Sirutis has almost enough range to justify operating from the perimeter, but his 8-of-37 career performance from beyond the arc suggests those shots aren't a good idea. Sirutis, at 6-foot-7, has almost enough size to become a physical presence down low, but 79 inches isn't enough to compensate for occasionally lackluster defense. Sirutis will see substantial minutes for some time due to Brittain's injury, and will at times put together a reasonably strong performance, reminding some of his 11 point, 5-of-5 shooting display against Binghamton in the 2007 America East quarterfinals. Overall, however, the qualities that would make Sirutis a reliable, even valuable reserve forward, rebounding and defense, aren't present in sufficient enough quantities.

Center: Jeff Pelage saw his playing time fluctuate over the course of the 2008-09 season, but as the campaign neared its conclusion the 6-foot-9 center showed signs of the player he may become, producing nine points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes against Iona before adding 10 and 12 with three blocks versus Maine. Pelage is the Terriers' best rebounder, a good shot-blocker and defender, and is reasonably efficient from the field. The biggest red flag is free-throw shooting: Pelage converted only 50 percent of free throws as a freshman, limiting the benefits granted by his ability to get to the line.

Outlook: Injuries threaten to derail the Terriers' season before it even begins. Then again, every team is to a greater or lesser degree susceptible to injuries. When healthy, the Terriers have the best collection of talent in the conference. As long as the Terriers have their full roster of players available for conference play -- something that's neither guaranteed nor particularly unlikely -- BU will be in the best position to win an America East title. For that reason, they sit atop these power rankings.

Link: Men's basketball season preview

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Brittain, Bailey to miss season opener

Bad news for the Terriers, as injuries will keep two BU players off the court for Friday's game, and possibly longer.

Senior forward Scott Brittain has been dealing with the effects of his most recent concussion for some time, and this morning head coach Pat Chambers confirmed that Brittain will not play when the Terriers travel to New Rochelle, NY, for their season opener at Iona College. More unexpected was news of a concussion suffered by freshman guard B.J. Bailey, who will also not see the floor on Friday while he recovers. Given the nature of concussions and the necessary caution in allowing a concussed player to return to action, Chambers did not offer a specific timetable for either player's return.

Per Chambers, the minutes Bailey was expected to see will most likely go to senior swingman Sherrod Smith. Smith appeared in nine games for the Terriers last season, including extended playing time against the University of Hartford on March 1, when he produced five points and two steals in 16 minutes. Brittain's absence opens up increased minutes for sophomore center Jeff Pelage, and senior forward Valdas Sirutis may also figure into the mix.

Nine Teams, Nine Days: Vermont

Last year: 24-9 (13-3 America East), lost in America East quarterfinals to Albany, lost in CBI quarterfinals to Oregon State.

Head coach: Mike Lonergan, fifth season, 78-49 record (44-20 AE).

Departing players: Jordan Clarke, Jordan Dean, Greg Hughes, Colin McIntosh, Ryan Shields, Mike Trimboli.

Arriving players: Luke Apfeld, Brendan Bald, Ben Crenca, Simeon Marsalis.

Expected starting lineup (position, name, year, 2008-09 stats):
G Nick Vier, senior, 6.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 2.9 APG
G Maurice Joseph, senior, 8.1 RPG, 2.4 RPG, 0.8 APG
G Garvey Young, sophomore, 6.0 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.2 APG
F Evan Fjeld, junior, 4.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.6 BPG
F Marqus Blakely, senior, 16.1 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 2.7 BPG

Player to watch: Marqus Blakely. The two-time America East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year has spent past seasons sharing the spotlight with teammates, most notably departed sidekick Mike Trimboli. This year, the show is his alone. There are other players in Burlington capable of making an impact on games -- Maurice Joseph is a multifaceted scorer, and Garvey Young's shutdown defense can take away an opponent's biggest strength -- but only Blakely can bring the Catamounts to the promised land. To be fair, no one could expect Blakely to do everything by himself -- when teams double and triple-team the 6-foot-5 forward, his supporting cast must make defenses pay -- but if this year's team succeeds where previous versions failed, it will be because of the man in the middle.

Biggest strength: Efficient scoring. Vermont had several strengths last year, but this one was both the most significant and one of the more likely ones to remain intact. Vermont ranked in the top 50 nationally in both effective field goal percentage (36th, at 53.2) and FTA/FGA (13th, at 45.3). Trimboli, in particular, had a lot to do with both of these figures, but there are several reasons why both figures should remain strong in 2009-10. Each of the projected Vermont starters is at least an average offensive player. With the exception of Vier, each of those players is used to taking at least a reasonable percentage of the team's shots. On the free throw front, several Vermont starters draw more than their fair share of free throws, and other than Blakely, Vermont is in fact a very good free throw shooting team -- if that sounds strange, check the numbers. Expect the Catamounts to score plenty of points.

Biggest weakness: Defensive rebounding. How does a team with Blakely have defensive rebounding as its biggest weakness? Keep in mind that Vermont, as one of the best teams in the conference, has relatively few weaknesses. In this case the answer is relatively simple. Other than Blakely, the Catamounts have no proven above-average defensive rebounders. Colin McIntosh was a quality glass-cleaner, but he's gone. While Ben Crenca may get the job done on the boards, he's a freshman and therefore an unknown; Vermont's best known rebounder not wearing number 23 is Evan Fjeld, whose performance on the defensive glass was average at best last year. No America East team with Blakely as its centerpiece will ever be a particularly poor rebounding team at either end, but the Catamounts were surprisingly subpar at recovering opponents' missed shots in 2008-09, and another year of unimpressive performance in that category is likely.

Guards: Maurice Joseph spent a a year off per NCAA regulations after transferring to Vermont from Michigan State and began the 2008-09 season in the Catamounts' starting lineup. As it turned out, while some parts of Joseph's game were as advertised -- the 6-foot-4 off-guard has a smooth stroke from 3 and is an outstanding free throw shooter -- he left head coach Mike Lonergan wanting more. With Vermont's offensive firepower, the focus was understandably on the defensive end, and Joseph's sometimes lackadaisical defense resulted in the then-junior coming off the bench for all but two games after New Years' Day. With Trimboli gone, Joseph has become the starter by default. Nobody questions whether Joseph will wind up scoring in double figures this season -- only whether he'll give all those points back at the other end.

Garvey Young's raw offensive numbers might not resemble those of a budding star, but the 6-foot-4 wing's game is more than the sum of its parts. Young was reasonably efficient as a freshman due to his ability to get to the free throw line, where he converted nearly 80 percent of his attempts, and has enough of a jumpshot to make sure teams guard him. Throw in excellent defense, and it's easy to see why Young made the All-Rookie team despite scoring just six points per game. If Young can find even a bit more range on his jump shot, small but noticeable bumps in playing time and usage rate will expose the sophomore to the rest of the conference as one of Vermont's next impact players.

Nick Vier's offensive game has continuously evolved over his three years at Vermont. An inefficient turnover machine as a freshman, Vier's ball-handling and decision-making have improved to adequate, albeit not extraordinary, levels. His perimeter shooting, once subpar, is now a strength, as Vier hit more than 41 percent of his threes last year. The senior point guard will be asked to provide more offense this year, potentially lowering his efficiency somewhat as a result of taking more shots, but the 6-foot-1 guard should be still be a reasonably proficient offensive player. Defensively, Vier holds an edge over his competition for the starting point guard job, due in large part to his experience and height.

Height, in this case, refers to Joey Accaoui, whose 5-foot-10 entry in Vermont's roster most likely exaggerates his true height. Accaoui's 40 percent figure from long range in 2008-09 wasn't his greatest asset; his primary value came from an A/TO ratio of 2.12, fueling the high-octane Catamount offense for 15 minutes a game. Accaoui's offensive skills, while substantial, fail to negate his defensive limitations. Of Vermont's options at the guard positions, all pose more problems for opposing shooters and ball-handlers than Accaoui, preventing him from assuming a greater role on the team.

Simeon Marsalis is the Kevin Bacon of America East rookies. Marsalis' Vermont teammate, Luke Apfeld, played on Marsalis' Brewster Academy team before arriving in Burlington, as did Albany freshman Derrek Tartt. Oh, and his father is none other than Wynton Marsalis, the world-famous trumpeter. Marsalis the Younger is a natural lead guard and brings all the tools expected of that position: playmaking ability, an effective jump shot, and assertive, intelligent decision-making. Vier should survive Accaoui's bid for the starting job at point guard, but Marsalis comes with plenty of hype; if the hype is deserved, the 6-foot-1 freshman's minutes should steadily increase.

Brendan Bald slots in behind Garvey Young as another skilled, athletic wing player. Of Vermont's reserves, Bald is the only natural fit at the wing when Young sits down -- Blakely can move to the wing but is better suited to stay in and around the paint at both ends of the floor -- so the 6-foot-4 freshman should see occasional minutes. With several shotmakers on the roster at the other backcourt positions, Bald's primary role will be to make hustle plays and play solid defense as a reserve. As long as he can those two things, Bald will see playing time.

Forwards: What can't Marqus Blakely do? Shoot from farther away than 12 feet. In three years, traces of Blakely's midrange and perimeter game have been virtually non-existent, and the free throw line's 15-foot distance from the hoop has regularly given Blakely trouble. In all other respects, the man is a terror on the basketball court. Ignore him for a second and he'll establish position, receive the ball and throw down a ferocious dunk. Double-team Blakely, even triple-team him, and the ball magically finds its way to the open man. Dare to venture near the hoop with the ball in tow, and Blakely will get his hands on it for either a steal or a block, creating transition opportunities frequently finished off at the other end by none other than himself. To adapt Dan Patrick's oft-referenced SportsCenter remarks, you can't stop Marqus Blakely. You can only hope to contain him.

Evan Fjeld spelled both Blakely and McIntosh off the bench last season. While Fjeld's defensive rebounding isn't exactly praiseworthy, his work on the offensive boards has been fairly impressive. Fjeld also provides extremely efficient scoring, albeit at a fairly low usage rate, and enough shotblocking to match what McIntosh offered last season. The junior forward's biggest issue is one he wasn't confronted with often as a reserve: foul trouble. Fjeld committed more than six fouls per 40 minutes last year, which isn't a major problem when playing only 15 minutes per game but becomes a much greater issue when playing time is doubled. The magnitude of Fjeld's improvement as a junior will be heavily dependent on whether he can stay on the court long enough to log starters' minutes.

Garrett Kissel played just 103 minutes last season, yet found a way to spread those minutes across 27 total games. It's tough to judge Kissel based on such a limited sample, especially when his minutes were largely confined to garbage time, but Lonergan's reluctance to grant Kissel more extended opportunities hints at what would have likely been ineffective play. Technically speaking, Kissel is the first forward off the bench, but most of the frontcourt minutes not eaten up by Blakely and Fjeld will evade Kissel, instead finding the Catamounts' freshman center.

Luke Apfeld tore his right ACL in June of 2008, prior to his senior year. After signing with Vermont, Apfeld tried to get back to the court quickly, perhaps too quickly. Three days after his return in January, Apfeld tore his left ACL. Ten months later, Apfeld was preparing for his freshman season as a Catamount when -- guess what -- he tore his right ACL. At one point Apfeld was expected to make an immediate and significant impact as a freshman. Now, while his season is finished before it began, the bigger question is when, or even if, Apfeld will be able to play again.

Centers: Ben Crenca, at 6-foot-10 and 260 pounds, is the largest player seen on Vermont's roster since the days of Chris Holm. Like the former Rhode Island transfer, Crenca fits the mold of a traditional center, combining defense, rebounding, and the ability to score with his back to the basket. Even if the offense doesn't arrive this season, as is typically the case for America East freshmen of Crenca's size, there are teams in America East whose starting big men don't provide the necessary rebounding and defense. In that context, Crenca's value is more apparent.

Pat Bergmann saw the least playing time of any Vermont scholarship player last year. The Catamounts split their frontcourt minutes almost entirely among just three players last year, so it shouldn't surprise anyone if Bergmann is left out of the loop once again. For what it's worth, Kissel was much more active than Bergmann in Vermont's exhibition win against Saint Michael's. Bergmann may well be the last player off the bench.

Outlook: The Catamounts have the best player in the league, and that counts for a lot. There will be several games in conference play where lesser opponents are rendered helpless by Blakely, as well as others in which a team's collective effort to stop Blakely allows his teammates to take advantage. As has been seen repeatedly in this league, however, one big gun isn't enough to win it all. The Catamounts' Number 23 is an outstanding player, but he is not Superman, and while he may be the biggest star in the America East galaxy, the last team remaining in this countdown has an array of talents whose collective brightness is greater than what Vermont can offer.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Around the League: November 10, 2009

Yesterday's games:
Syracuse 75, Albany 43
The Orange rolled to victory, giving Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim his 800th career win in a game that was never particularly close. Five Syracuse players scored in double figures, but Albany's real struggles came on the offensive end, where the Danes committed a staggering 32 turnovers. Compounding Albany's woes was a familiar issue, poor perimeter shooting. Albany attempted 28 threes but made only five. Tim Ambrose was a rebound shy of a double-double, but even his performance was marred by seven turnovers.

There are no games scheduled today, tomorrow, or Thursday.

Friday's games:
Morgan State at Albany, 7:00 PM
Stony Brook at Maryland-Eastern Shore, 7:00 PM
Vermont at Loyola, 7:00 PM
Maine at Fordham, 8:00 PM
Hartford vs. Quinnipiac, 9:30 PM*

* Connecticut 6 Classic, Bridgeport, CT

Nine Teams, Nine Days: Albany

Last year: 15-16 (6-10 America East), lost in America East semifinals to UMBC.

Head coach: Will Brown, 9th season, 106-124 record (62-68 AE).

Departing players: Brian Connelly, Jimmie Covington, Jerel Hastings, Anthony Raffa.

Arriving players: Mike Black, Gavin Glanton, Jake Lindfors, Blake Metcalf, John Puk, Derrek Tartt, Fran Urli, Ralph Watts.

Expected starting lineup (position, name, year, 2008-09 stats):
G Mike Johnson, senior, 3.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.8 APG
G Tim Ambrose, junior, 14.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 2.6 APG
F Will Harris, senior, 12.9 PPG, 6.5 PPG, 1.3 APG
F Fran Urli, junior, 10.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.3 APG (Panola College)
C Brent Gifford, senior, 2.5 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 0.8 BPG

Player to watch: Tim Ambrose. Ambrose's 14.3 points per game last season were impressive enough, but consider this: Ambrose played less than 25 minutes per game in 2008-09. Among America East players, only Muhammad El-Amin scored more points per 40 minutes. That scoring rate is, of course, supported by an almost impossibly high usage rate -- Ambrose took more than 35 percent of his team's shots while on-court -- but the muscular 6-foot guard was one of the Danes' more efficient players, so in this case increased usage was warranted. The sophomore's frequent trips to the rim also enabled him to grab plenty of rebounds. On his best days, Ambrose ranks among the conference's elite offensive threats; on his worst days, he wastes possessions or, perhaps worse yet, gets in foul trouble and has to sit for long stretches. Ambrose committed almost five fouls per 40 minutes last year, fouling out five times. As one of this conference's most talented players, Albany needs Ambrose to stay on the floor.

Biggest strength: Rebounding. Some teams are excellent at defensive rebounding. Other teams crash the boards on offense. Few teams excel at both. Albany is one of those teams. The Great Danes ranked 20th nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (39.0) and fifth in defensive rebounding percentage (73.7), leading America East in each. None of Albany's 343 Division-I counterparts managed to top the Danes in both categories. Those extra boards extend Great Dane possessions and cut opponent's possessions short, giving Albany some much-needed extra chances in close games. It's tough to imagine the Great Danes showing significant improvement in rebounding categories, if only because it's hard to do much better than last year, but because rebounding is a huge part of this team's identity, Albany cannot afford to be merely an average rebounding team. Expect more of the same in 2009-10.

Biggest weakness: Perimeter shooting. This is pretty straightforward. Albany is a big team, and its starting guards' offensive games revolve around getting to the rim. Is it any surprise the Great Danes' weakness resides outside 20 feet, 9 inches? Ambrose shot 33.8 percent from 3-point range last year, which is neither particularly bad nor particularly good. That's perfectly fine if Ambrose was the Danes' third or fourth best perimeter shooter, and it might even be okay if he was the team's second best shooter -- but Ambrose's 33.8 figure led the team. Albany likes to force the ball inside, and sometimes that strategy works no matter how hard the defense tries to stop it, but better defensive teams can take away the paint and force the Danes to make some longer shots. If Albany doesn't improve significantly from the perimeter, those teams are going to find success.

Guards: For a guard, Tim Ambrose's rebounding abilities are extraordinary. The list of players Ambrose's height who grab more than 17 percent of opponent's missed shots is low. But Ambrose isn't just a scorer or a rebounder, either: his drives create assist opportunities (counteracted somewhat by a high turnover rate), and he averages over one steal per game due to aggressive (sometimes overly aggressive) defense. None of these items can happen with Ambrose sidelined by foul trouble; remedying that issue will immediately place the junior among America East's elite players, if he isn't there already.

Mike Johnson saw his playing time dry up around midseason before emerging as Albany's starting point guard down the stretch, a phenomenon coinciding with Anthony Raffa's injury troubles. While Johnson is serving a two-game suspension for a fireworks-related incident, he should be in the starting lineup as of next week. Johnson is a prototypical lead guard, combining excellent defense with the ability to create opportunities for others. The senior guard isn't much of a scorer -- while he gets to the line with regularity, he doesn't shoot free throws well, and isn't overly efficient either outside or inside the arc -- but his other skills make him a valuable contributor and a worthy starter.

Head coach Will Brown announced freshman Mike Black as the starter for the opener against Syracuse. Black had originally committed to North Florida but was released due to a coaching change and assumed the scholarship made available by Raffa's departure. Black is a good fit to backup Johnson due to their similar games -- both are natural point guards and committed defenders. Black brings some added offensive potential, but because so much of Albany's offense flows from Ambrose, it's doubtful we see it with any regularity while Black is a freshman.

Louis Barraza is Albany's designated 3-point specialist -- he took 27.5 percent of the Danes' shots while on the floor, with nearly 80 percent of those being from long range. There's a problem with that: Barraza shot just 22-of-69 from 3. Quite frankly, that's poor, and Barraza is invisible in all other aspects of the game: he doesn't rebound, he doesn't defend (but he does foul), and he doesn't create opportunities for others. Barraza was bothered by Achilles tendinitis last season and was frequently unable to practice, so improved health may cause his shooting to improve, but anything less than a major improvement in that department shouldn't be enough to warrant major playing time, as none of Barraza's other dimensions are particularly good.

Technically speaking, redshirt freshman Logan Aronhalt isn't a new face. He played two minutes last year against Columbia, and the rest of the season was lost due to a foot injury. Some reports indicate that Aronhalt might not yet be up to speed -- he had trouble guarding Ambrose in an intrasquad scrimmage -- but if healthy, Aronhalt fits Albany's preferred mold as an off-guard who isn't afraid to do some work in the paint. Aronhalt, however, arrived in the state capital as a heralded shooter, something the Danes could use some more of. If his shooting fits the bill, Barraza's minutes may be at risk.

There are two other freshman guards who figure to see some time in Albany's deep rotation. Derrek Tartt will push Black, his former high school teammate for minutes as Johnson's backup. Tartt, at 6-foot-3, can also play off-guard or even small forward. He spent a post-graduate year at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire developing a wide skill set, including the ability to create his own shot and good court vision. On a roster with pure point guards and score-first shooting guards, Tartt stands out as a combo guard and stands to find his way on the floor one way or another.

Ralph Watts, the remaining freshman guard, took the direct route to Albany, signing before his senior season. Watts is long and athletic, allowing him to penetrate, where he can get to the rim or stop and pop from short to medium range. Watts doesn't arrive with the shooting credentials of a player like Aronhalt, which may limit his minutes on a roster crowded with dribble-drive players and short on shooters, but he has the offensive talent to be productive at some point.

Forwards: Will Harris didn't dominate the conference after arriving in Albany by way of Virginia, but his 12.9 points per game and excellent defensive rebounding established his presence as one of the best forwards in America East. A large 6-foot-6 and 240 pounds, Harris can operate out of the post but has range extending to the 3-point line. Harris doesn't excel from any particular range, but he's solid from a variety of distances and is a decent free throw shooter. The ability to sustain a moderate level of efficiency at a high usage rate (but not as high as Ambrose's) cements Harris' value.

Fran Urli, like newly arrived Hartford wing Milton Burton, is a junior college transfer from Panola College, where he was an effective inside presence. Urli can score from the post as well as face up and shoot, and seven rebounds per game at the junior college level suggests he should be at least adequate as a rebounder.

Scotty McRae appeared in 21 games off the bench for the Danes last year before missing the end of last season on suspension. McRae is an athletic 6-foot-8, and he puts that athleticism to good use off the ball -- he pulls down rebounds on both ends of the floor and blocks his fair share of shots. McRae isn't much of a scorer or passer, but with two starters who are capable of dominating the ball, his swats and boards are a good fit.

Billy Allen played rotation minutes for the Danes last year, but there isn't much positive to say about those minutes. Allen, like Barraza, attempted mostly threes, but he barely managed to make 20 percent of them. While more of a factor on the boards than Barraza, Allen is still a subpar rebounder for a forward. The 6-foot-6 sophomore had a good assist-to-turnover ratio, but that alone isn't enough to warrant playing time. If the freshman wings and forwards play well, Allen may find himself squeezed out.

Jake Lindfors redshirted last year; unlike Aronhalt, he did not appear in any games. Lindfors, at 6-foot-10, has a center's height, but his game includes range extending out to the 3-point line. Big men with legitimate range have been seen in Albany before -- Brent Wilson scored in double figures and shot better than 43 percent from 3 for the 2006-07 championship team -- but in Lindfors' case he needed an extra year to pack on some added muscle. We'll see whether the additional 20 pounds helps him bang with some of America East's bigger post players.

Gavin Glanton, a true freshman, adds another athlete to the purple and gold fold. While McRae's skills are more visible without the ball, Glanton operates well with the ball in his hands, either in the post or in open space. Glanton is reputed to be a good passer for an interior player and has the touch necessary to produce near the basket. While that scoring ability rarely translates to early success for America East forwards, Glanton should still have a short-term role as another high-energy athlete the Danes can rotate in.

Centers: Brett Gifford started in most of Albany's games last year, and he returns for his junior season as a typical solid starting center, albeit with a couple extra inches. Gifford's most notable characteristic isn't the mohawk he's been known to sport. It's his shot-blocking ability. The 6-foot-11 big man played fewer minutes than the typical starter but still logged nearly one block per game, ranking as the Danes' best ball-swatter. Gifford isn't going to score a lot of points and commits too many fouls, but he's efficient when he does shoot, and he's a very good rebounder as well, which helps to negate those negative traits. In sum, while the senior center might not win Albany many games, he's not going to lose them many games either.

With Gifford set to graduate after this season, Blake Metcalf stands as the heir to the center position. Metcalf arrives in Albany after a successful high school career, including being ranked the No. 1 center in the state of Indiana by Indiana Basketball Digest. Like Gifford, Metcalf is a true center who operates with his back to the basket. Some parts of Metcalf's game should be ready to go from the start, such as his rebounding, but it's difficult to expect scoring right away.

John Puk is expected to redshirt this year. Since the Great Danes are at their scholarship limit, Puk is a non-scholarship player for this season. Expect him to resurface next season after Gifford's departure.

Outlook: Every team has its strengths and weaknesses. Few teams, however, have strengths and weakness with magnitudes equal to those of Albany. The Great Danes expect to own the glass night in and night out, and smaller, less aggressive teams will be hard-pressed to prevent Albany from imposing its will. When teams manage to hold their own on the boards, however, Albany's glaring lack of perimeter shooting becomes more obvious. At some point, playing volleyball with the backboard is an unproductive exercise -- the ball needs to go in the net, and sometimes the Danes can't make that happen. Poor shooting causes players to press, leading to bad decisions, leading to roller-coaster games. On nights where the shooters are up to par, Albany is a very dangerous team capable of giving anyone trouble, but those frequent shooting struggles prevent the Danes from climbing any higher than 3rd on this list.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Nine Teams, Nine Days: Stony Brook

Last season: 16-14 (8-8 America East), lost in America East quarterfinals to New Hampshire.

Head coach:
Steve Pikiell, 5th season, 36-81 record (17-47 AE).

Departing players:
Marques Cox, Jonathan Moore, Jermol Paul, Michael Tyree, Demetrius Young, Michal Zylinski.

Incoming players:
Patrick Dame, Leonard Hayes, Eric McAllister, Preye Preboye, Marcus Rouse.

Expected starting lineup
(position, name, year, 2008-09 stats):
G Bryan Dougher, sophomore, 11.2 PPG, 1.9 APG, 1.6 RPG
G Muhammad El-Amin, senior, 15.7 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.2 APG
F Tommy Brenton, sophomore, 6.6 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG
F Preye Preboye, freshman, no previous college experience
F Dallis Joyner, sophomore, 6.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 0.6 BPG

Player to watch: Tommy Brenton. Brenton wasted no time establishing himself as a force on the interior last year, grabbing 16 rebounds in his first collegiate game against Maryland-Eastern Shore. While his six offensive rebounds against the Hawks is still a career best, Brenton continued to work the glass over the next four months, emerging as one of the best defensive rebounders in the entire country -- on a per-possession basis, he grabbed more defensive boards than Cole Aldrich or DeJuan Blair. Brenton's scoring contributions, however, aren't quite where they need to be. With Mr. Efficiency, Demetrius Young, gone to graduation, Stony Brook needs Brenton to up his production and become a complete player instead of just a rebounding savant.

Biggest strength:
Forcing turnovers. Brenton is an outstanding defensive rebounder, but Stony Brook was only third in defensive rebounding percentage among AE teams. More impressive is the Seawolves' ability to force turnovers. Stony Brook forced turnovers on 23.4 percent of opponents' possessions last year, ranking just outside the nation's top 25 teams. No other AE team ranked among the top 50. Marques Cox was the team's best thief, but while Cox was lost to graduation, there are several other players on the roster with active hands. The Seawolves' success last year was overwhelmingly due to their defense; if that strength remains intact, Stony Brook should be competitive in even its toughest games.

Biggest weakness:
Interior scoring. Demetrius Young was far and away the Seawolves' most efficient offensive player last year. Young scored 9.2 points per game, many on easy layups and uncontested dunks, while converting almost 65 percent of his shot attempts. Despite having an incredibly efficient interior scorer, Stony Brook still made just 43.7 percent of its two-point attempts, ranking 306th out of 344 Division-I teams -- and now Young is gone. The Stony Brook frontcourt has its strengths, rebounding chief among them, but an inability to get points from shots near the rim threatens to render the Seawolves' offense one-dimensional. Unless incoming freshmen, Preye Preboye chief among them, can make an immediate impact at the offensive end, it's hard to see how this weakness will be remedied.

Muhammad El-Amin took a month to assert himself as the Seawolves' go-to player on offense, and consistent starts didn't arrive until after Christmas. As time progressed, however, it became increasingly clear that El-Amin was Stony Brook's best perimeter option. The senior guard has excellent accuracy from beyond the arc, hitting more than 38 percent of his shots from there, but takes the majority of his attempts from closer. El-Amin also gets to the free throw line regularly, where he connects more than 80 percent of the time. The junior college transfer ended every conference game with double figures in scoring, and a repeat performance wouldn't surprise anyone.

Bryan Dougher received much praise as a freshman, starting every game for the Seawolves, running the point, and eventually winding up on the America East All-Rookie team. One has to wonder how much of that praise is deserved. Dougher scored a lot of points, to be sure -- he finished second on the team in scoring with 11.2 points per game -- but doing so required a lot of shots. Dougher actually shot less than 30 percent from the field during conference play, a rate dragged down by his inability to score from inside the arc. Players rarely qualify for any all-conference team while shooting so poorly, except perhaps the All-Defense team. Dougher displayed shooting ability while in high school, but if his rates don't improve as a sophomore he needs to concentrate more on creating more for others (less than two assists per game last year as the starting point guard) instead of taking -- and missing -- so many shots.

Chris Martin appeared in 27 games for the Seawolves, coming off the bench to provide instant offense. Like Dougher, Martin was plagued by relatively poor shooting. However, Martin's shooting performance was at least passable, and the then-sophomore guard possesses the ability to get to the free throw line with regularity (where he shot just under 74 percent), increasing his effectiveness. Martin was forced to deal with family issues throughout last season, which may have impacted his performance. The value of a high-volume, inefficient scorer is debatable, but no one questions Martin's ability to change a game when his shots find the twine.

Marcus Rouse is one of three new guards on this year's Seawolves squad. He profiles as a combo guard at this level -- while he is neither a natural point guard nor a natural off-guard, he is capable of logging minutes at either position. Head coach Steve Pikiell cited Rouse's defense when he committed to Stony Brook in the early period. As a combo guard, Rouse was noted for his shooting -- he was the top scorer for a DeMatha High School team that was ranked among the top 25 high school teams in the nation. Rouse should see immediate minutes.

Leonard Hayes arrives on Long Island as a 6-foot-4 wing capable of playing the two or three. Hayes reportedly brings a well-developed offensive game with him to Stony Brook. The Seawolves lack a second scorer capable of playing the wing, so Hayes' ability to create his own shot should benefit Stony Brook.

Patrick Dame is a junior college transfer from the Community College of Rhode Island. Dame played very well in community college, scoring more than 17 points per game in 2007-08 while adding more than seven assists per game. The Seawolves have enjoyed recent success identifying junior college players -- El-Amin wound up in Stony Brook by way of Lansing Community College -- but it's difficult to say how well Dame will make the transition.

Two years ago, Eddie Castellanos was averaging nearly 20 minutes per game, and while the results weren't eye-popping, he was at least earning some playing time. Last year, with several new arrivals in the backcourt, Castellanos' playing time significantly decreased. This year shouldn't be any different.

In case you missed it, Tommy Brenton is a rebounding machine. Although he isn't a prolific scorer, Brenton does a pretty good job of making the shots he takes -- his eFG% was 52.3 -- and he does virtually everything else at least reasonably well with the exception of shooting free throws. As previously mentioned, Stony Brook needs Brenton to score more. That most likely involves Brenton shooting more, which is probably a good thing, as every additional shot Brenton takes is one less shot taken by one of the Seawolves' several inefficient backcourt scorers.

Dallis Joyner, at 6-foot-7 and 250 pounds, has the physical gifts to be an excellent power forward in America East. His best skill is probably his shot-blocking -- he's probably the second-best shot-blocker on the team after Desmond Adedeji, and with a year of experience should only get better. The offensive game, however, isn't quite there yet for Joyner. As a freshman, the forward shot just 41 percent from the field while attempting exclusively twos. That, combined with mediocre rebounding for a player of Joyner's height and build, does not amount to an outstanding player. Still, Joyner's had a pretty good season for his first year, one that would have warranted more attention on teams without two more high-profile freshmen. Improvement on the offensive end should be the goal.

Brenton's rebounding successes are a combination of positioning and relentless effort. In Preye Preboye, Stony Brook may have another player in the same mold. At Winchendon, a prep school in Massachusetts, Preboye regularly went up against taller players and owned the boards. Unlike Brenton, however, Preboye comes with a scorer's reputation, and while he does most of his damage near the rim, he has enough range to take longer jumpers and even 3-point shots. Interior scoring is what Stony Brook needs, so Preboye stands a good chance of starting from day one.

If Preboye doesn't start, the most likely player to find a spot in the starting lineup is Danny Carter. Carter is tall and lean, standing 6-foot-9 but weighing just 210 pounds. Carter shot well from closer range, hitting more than 50 percent of his twos, but was largely ineffective when he attempted shots from farther out. As a freshman Carter showed the ability to score in bunches when given the opportunity -- he dropped 20 in the Seawolves' blowout loss at UConn -- and was also an effective shotblocker in limited minutes. Carter needs to improve his play somewhat in order to deserve a starting role, but he should be at worst the first forward off the bench for Stony Brook.

Eric McAlister took a year at prep school to improve his game, and he did so, emerging as a shot-blocker and rebounder who earned third-team All-State prep honors in New Jersey. Listed at 6-foot-8 and only 200 pounds, McAlister may need to add some muscle in order to reliably man an frontcourt position at this level, but his athleticism should help him make the occasional play while his body fills out.

Andrew Goba is a fifth-year senior. In four years of play he has averaged less than a point per game. Improvement at this stage seems unlikely.

Desmond Adedeji had a rough transition to Stony Brook, in large part due to his DUI arrest. However, when on the court -- which wasn't often -- Adedeji's contributions were hard to ignore. In 125 minutes, Adedeji had 13 blocks. That's more than four per 40 minutes. Adedeji also grabbed 37 rebounds in that timeframe, which is about 12 per 40 minutes. While the 6-foot-10, 305-pound center isn't the poster child for conditioning and may never be capable of giving the Seawolves major minutes, in short spurts he can be very effective.

It's difficult to say whether the Seawolves will make a serious run at the conference title this year, but they will most assuredly play very defense. That alone should be enough to separate the Seawolves from teams six through nine in this countdown. Defense was never Stony Brook's problem last year -- offense was the issue. The Seawolves rely on their perimeter players to create offense, and apart from El-Amin, those perimeter players miss too many shots. To be blunt, that's not the basis of any successful offensive strategy. Stony Brook's defense should keep it in virtually any game it plays this season, and defense alone may very well be enough to win several of them no matter how poorly the offense performs, but at some point other players have to start scoring. It's not particularly clear where the additional offense is going to come from, and it's that lack of scoring potential that separates the Seawolves from the remaining three teams.