Week in review: Jan. 9 – Jan. 15January 16th, 2012 by Matt Whitrock
In this episode of our America East Power Rankings, the top half of the league decides to make separating the wheat from the chaff as difficult as possible. But we’ll try, because these are power rankings, and a five-way tie would be a cop-out.
1. Stony Brook Seawolves (8-7, 4-1 AE)
Previous ranking: 2nd
Last week: W 89-49 at UMBC, L 61-55 at BU
Next week: 1/16 vs. New Hampshire, 1/21 at Maine
A tale of two defenses: Stony Brook went down to Catonsville on Wednesday and was welcomed by a defense that I will charitably describe as “not very good.” The results for the Seawolves were 89 points – the most Stony Brook has ever scored against a Division-I opponent in regulation – and a 40-point victory, the school’s largest-ever margin of victory over a D-I opponent. BU’s defense, while not Ohio State-caliber, is a fair bit stiffer than the Retrievers’ offering, and the Seawolves came down to earth. Still, though, the six-point loss is the only blemish on Stony Brook’s conference resume, which makes them first amongst near-equals for the moment.
2. Boston University Terriers (7-11, 3-1 AE)
Previous ranking: 5th
Last week: W 77-68 at Maine, W 61-55 vs. Stony Brook
Next week: 1/16 vs. Albany, 1/19 at New Hampshire, 1/21 at Hartford
The Seawolves might be atop our power rankings, but BU unquestionably had the best week of any AE team – building off the momentum generated from the previous weekend’s Binghamton victory by heading to Orono and taking down the Black Bears, then taking out the Seawolves in a more defensive-oriented contest. DJ Irving is back and doing his thing, and even when he isn’t scoring 20 points or threatening for a double-double, the impact he has on the game is significant. BU’s ball movement is immeasurably better with Irving on the floor to provide a creative spark.
3. Albany Great Danes (12-7, 4-1 AE)
Previous ranking: 3rd
Last week: W 86-63 vs. New Hampshire, W 76-75 vs. Maine
Next week: 1/16 at BU, 1/19 at Vermont
You think the Danes might have had some extra motivation after a double-digit loss at Stony Brook? New Hampshire’s calling card is its defense, but the Wildcats had their doors blown off by Albany, and I mean doors blown off – Gerardo Suero & Friends had UNH doubled up in the points category after 25 minutes of play. Preventing the opponent from scoring, though, remains a problem. New Hampshire’s 63 points, even in a blowout loss, was an above-average showing for the Wildcats, and against a competent offense, Albany’s 76 points were just barely enough.
4. Maine Black Bears (7-7, 2-2 AE)
Previous ranking: 1st
Last week: L 77-68 vs. BU, L 76-75 at Albany
Next week: 1/16 at Vermont, 1/19 vs. Hartford, 1/21 vs. Stony Brook
The first three teams in our power rankings have two things in common: Only one conference loss, and no home conference losses. The Black Bears fit neither of these criteria. In Maine’s defense, though, the losses were to BU and Albany. Still, beneath the thin veneer of Maine’s talented starting five lie multiple major concerns. The Black Bears’ defensive rebounding is the worst in the league by a wide margin. The bench is painfully short. Maine consistently operates at a free throw deficit. Forget talk of mental makeup – these are real, tangible problems. If they’re not solved, or if their impacts can’t be minimized, the Black Bears’ collective psyche won’t matter one bit.
5. Vermont Catamounts (9-10, 3-2 AE)
Previous ranking: 2nd
Last week: W 73-53 vs. Binghamton, L 72-64 at New Hampshire
Next week: 1/16 vs. Maine, 1/19 vs. Albany, 1/21 at UMBC
Like the Black Bears, Vermont has two conference losses. While the Catamounts have held serve at home, they also have a loss at UNH, which (in our eyes) is somewhat worse than dropping a home game to a contender. At the same time, we readily acknowledge that Vermont’s win over BU was demonstrably better than anything we’ve seen Maine do in conference play. So we’re torn. Thankfully, tonight’s action should clarify things somewhat. Despite Maine being No. 4 and Vermont No. 5, we’d favor Vermont tonight – if this is close to a coin flip, home-court advantage makes for a biased coin.
6. New Hampshire Wildcats (5-9, 1-3 AE)
Previous ranking: 6th
Last week: L 88-63 at Albany, W 72-64 vs. Vermont
Next week: 1/16 at Stony Brook, 1/19 vs. BU, 1/21 at Binghamton
UNH desperately needed a win just to get its head above water for a breath of air, and a win is exactly what the Wildcats got. Yes, shooting 10-of-22 from 3-point land certainly helps, but the Wildcats’ victory wasn’t solely fueled by 3-point baskets. The Wildcats’ defense, fresh off getting torched by Albany, was its usual stingy self, holding Vermont to 40 percent shooting on twos and “forcing” 15 first-half turnovers (I’m not sure how much credit UNH really deserves for most of those turnovers, though). And Alvin Abreu had 12 free throw attempts to three 3-point attempts, which is unambiguously a good thing for New Hampshire.
7. Hartford Hawks (2-14, 2-2 AE)
Previous ranking: 8th
Last week: W 69-57 at Binghamton
Next week: 1/17 vs. UMBC, 1/19 at Maine, 1/22 vs. BU
A road victory! A real chance for a winning streak! A .500 record in conference play after more than two games! Also, Andres Torres should take a moment to make sure none of his teeth are loose after taking a forearm to the face (more on that later).
8. UMBC Retrievers (2-14, 1-3 AE)
Previous ranking: 7th
Last week: L 89-49 vs. Stony Brook
Next week: 1/17 at Hartford, 1/19 vs. Binghamton, 1/22 vs. Vermont
There’s nothing nice to say about a 40-point loss at home, so we’re not going to say anything at all about it in this space. Thankfully for the Retrievers, neither of the next two teams on the schedule are named Stony Brook.
9. Binghamton Bearcats (0-17, 0-5 AE)
Previous ranking: 9th
Last week: L 73-53 at Vermont, L 69-57 vs. Hartford
Next week: 1/19 at UMBC, 1/22 vs. New Hampshire
Okay, we get it. Losing sucks. Losing for the 17th time in a row, with the 17th loss being handed down in your own gym by a team with one win to its name, must feel even worse. But losing your cool and deliberately inflicting physical harm on another player is unacceptable and has no place in this game. This is Ben Dickinson’s second ejection in less than a month. If a public suspension isn’t in order, a box score entry of “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” certainly is.
Game of the Week: Boston University 61, Stony Brook 55
We’re not blind worshipers at the altar of defense – offense is fun, too, and the Maine-Albany tilt had plenty of it. But there’s something to be said for balance. With BU’s win over Maine and Stony Brook’s win over Albany immediately preceding this Saturday contest – and with ESPN3 in the house to broadcast the rematch of last March’s championship game – this meeting felt a bit more important. BU liked the result; Stony Brook will get at least one more chance return the favor.
Player of the Week: D.J. Irving, So. G, BU
This has only a little bit to do with the Stony Brook game, where Irving wasn’t special but managed to hold Dougher to 5-of-17 shooting and had a reasonably efficient offensive game. No, this was about the Maine game, where the story of Partin going absolutely bonkers from 3-point land in the second half shouldn’t obscure the best game Irving’s ever played: 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting and 11/2 A/TO. Irving’s a half-court shot to cut the BU deficit to six at the break was the start of a run in which BU scored 18 points in less than five minutes, and save for two made free throws by Pat Hazel, every one of those points was either an Irving basket or came off an Irving assist. Impressive – but impressive is what happens when you have 23 points and 11 assists.
Rookie of the Week: Justin Edwards, G, Maine
Do you even have to ask?
OBW Fab Five
Tommy Brenton, Jr., F, Stony Brook
Justin Edwards, Fr., G, Maine
Alasdair Fraser, So., F, Maine
D.J. Irving, So. G, BU
Gerardo Suero, Sr., G, Albany
Gerald McLemore is an truly outstanding shooter and scorer. Unfortunately for Maine, he doesn’t really do anything else besides shoot. Sorry, Gerald, you’ve been bumped.
OBW Frosh Five
Wes Cole, G, Hartford
Justin Edwards, G, Maine
Four McGlynn, G, Vermont
Mark Nwakamma, F, Hartford
Nate Sikma, F, Hartford
Dickinson would normally be here, but after this most recent ejection we’re giving him a one-week timeout.