March Madness: The 2014-2015 America East basketball season in dunks

With a the NCAA Tournament dreams dashed for seven of the America East’s nine teams, and a day remaining before the March Madness showdown between bitter rivals Albany and Stony Brook for all the marbles, One-Bid Wonders decided to take a look back at the America East basketball season that was in dunks. Take a look and enjoy — all nine America East teams and quite a few players are represented.

Who was the conference’s best dunker? What was the best dunk of the season? Leave us a comment below.

America East men’s basketball Dunks of 2014-2015 from Samuel Perkins on Vimeo.

UMass Lowell basketball continued growth spurt in year two

matt harris
UMass Lowell’s Matt Harris gets to the hoop plus the harm against Vermont. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

The final seven games on UMass Lowell’s season may have been the most important in their young Division I history.

On Jan. 31, in the final seconds of a 76-69 road loss at Binghamton, Jahad Thomas, the River Hawks leading scorer, rebounder, and team epicenter, crumpled to the ground, suffering a season-ending torn ACL.

At the time, UMass Lowell sat at 3-6 in league play and 9-13 on the season. Without their do-everything power forward, without the chance of a post season berth due to NCAA restrictions on schools transitioning to Division I, and with an roster that included eight freshmen, the River Hawks season seemed to be effectively over.

“It was a long bus ride home from Binghamton,” said River Hawks head coach Pat Duquette, who described the moment when the team received Thomas’ diagnosis as a “moment of prolonged silence.”

But Lowell responded by winning 3 of their final six, to finish 6-10 in the league (sixth place) and 12-17 overall, surpassing last seasons Division I record, with several previously unproven freshmen stepping up the share the burden of shouldering the load Thomas had been carrying all season..

“Jahad’s a guy that you can’t just replace with one guy,” said Brad Shaub, a freshman forward who averaged 4.7 points per game on the year, but 6.4 points over the seven games after Thomas’ injury. “He rebounds, he sets other guys up, he scores. He’s such a great player that one guy just can’t replace him.”

“Everybody knew how important Jahad was to us,” said Duquette. “Everybody also knew that we weren’t going to give up. So, we needed some time just to think it through, and then what our identity was going to be without him, and we all came to the same conclusion that nobody was going to replace him; that we were just going to have to all give a little bit more.”

With Thomas out, the River Hawks spent the final stretch of the season without a star or go-to scorer, but the loss may have forced them to become a more deep and diverse team, with freshman Schaub, point guard Lance Crawford and sharp shooter Matt Harris each elevating their games.

“Brad Shaub has not scored as much, but plays a ton of minutes in the front court for us and has a super basketball I.Q., and I feel that he’s made a ton of progress as well,” said Duquette.”

Crawford moved into a more prominent role at the point down the final stretch, and finished the year second on the team in scoring and assists at 9.7 points and 2.3 assists per game, while also shooting over 34 percent from behind the arc. Crawford exploded for a career-high 35 points against Maine on Feb. 28, setting a school Division I record.

“Lance Crawford is still learning how to play point guard at the college level,” said Duquette, “but it’s clear that he’s talented and is starting to get a better understanding for that position.”

While losing Thomas forced the River Hawks to adjust greatly on offense, it also forced them to adjust on defense, especially in the paint where, despite his pint-sized 6’2” stature as a power forward, Thomas strength gave him a large presence in the post.

“I think that’s a good thing that we haven’t relied on our size,” said Duquette. “We’re quick, we’re tough, we’re strong, we’re quick to the ball. We have to be that way to survive defensively, and I like the attitude that that’s helped create amongst our team.”

While the big guys on the River Hawks aren’t quite “big,” – at 6’5” Schaub was the tallest player in uniform to see meaningful minutes — they made up for their size in versatility.

“One of our biggest things that our forwards can do is coach gives us the freedom to pop and shoot three’s which, I mean, there’s not a lot of teams that do that,” said Shaub. “You only have maybe one or two guys, but coach gave a lot of us that freedom, and most of the time it’s just because he had the confidence in us and a lot of us are shooters. I mean, a lot of us have played the wing before. I felt comfortable out there, so I felt comfortable catching and shooting all season long.”

And while Thomas injury – his second torn ACL in as many years – is heartbreaking and the soon-to-be red-shirt sophomore remains the most important player for the River Hawks, playing without the young star may have led to a big growth spurt for the young team.

“I think it’s just going to open up possibilities for us,” said Shaub, “that we have guys that can play the wing and the forward. We’ll become more versatile. I think you’ll be able to run a lot of different sets, because we have three guys that all play the same position on the floor together.”

March Madness: Sam Perkins and Ryan Restivo break down America East basketball

In anticipation of the America East championship and the start of March Madness, which tips off with top-seed Albany facing three-seed Stony Brook at 11 a.m. Saturday, OBW’s Sam Perkins linked up with Big Apple Buckets’ Ryan Restivo and the America East’s Jared Hager to take a look back a the season that was, before looking ahead to the championship game that will be.

The trio shared a great deal of laughs, as well as insider insight over the course of the night, with topics ranging from their overall impressions and biggest surprises during the regular season; thoughts on the change in the conference’s post season format, from a single-site tournament to a high-seed host playoff; the best game of the post season; and of course, detailed breakdowns and predictions of the big game itself.

Give it a watch and then flame away at Restivo.

Awards — OBW America East men’s basketball Rookie of the Year

Jahad Thomas. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Jahad Thomas. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

OBW America East men’s basketball Rookie of the Year
Jahad Thomas, F, UMass Lowell

This, along with the fifth spot on the OBW First Team All-Conference, were easily our closest and toughest decisions, and both came down to the same two players: New Hampshire freshman forward Tanner Leissner, and UMass Lowell red-shirt freshman forward Jahad Thomas.

Both Leissner and Thomas had brilliant seasons, and both – at least provided Thomas can return to health from a second torn ACL in as many years (albeit the opposite knee of the one he tore last year – appear to be sure-fire America East stars in the making.

Leissner, a 6’6” forward, finished sixth in the league in overall scoring (12.8 ppg) and fourth in rebounding (7.4 rpg), and in conference play boosted his numbers to 13.1 ppg (sixth) and 8.5 rpg (third). He was the best player on the best New Hampshire squad in two decades, and showed the ability to score in a variety of unorthodox ways from anywhere on the floor.

Thomas played six fewer games than Leissner after tearing his ACL, but during his time on the floor, was even more dominant, tying for second in the league in scoring (14.3 ppg), and fifth in rebounds (6.5 rpg), while carrying an even bigger portion of the River Hawks offensive and defensive load, drawing nightly double and triple teams (largely a result of being surrounded by much less of a supporting cast), and still finding ways to help Lowell win when, by every measure, they had no business winning. Despite standing just 6’2” on a very good day, Thomas towered over opponents in the post.

Awards — OBW America East men’s basketball First Team All-Conference

Sam Rowley. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Sam Rowley. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

The creme of the crop, the best of the best, the Fab Five. Without further ado, here’s our America East men’s basketball All-Conference First Team. Flame away.

OBW America East First Team All-Conference
Sam Rowley, Sr., F, Albany

After showing flashes of being a completely and utterly dominant player, Rowley has finally embraced his role as the Great Danes’ go-to scorer, team leader, and the best player on the league’s best team. With the best low-post moves in the league (“crocodile rolls” as head coach Will Brown calls them), and the ability to finish with either hand, the 6’5” Aussie was an absolute matchup night mare this year, ranking second in the league in scoring (14.3 ppg), fourth in scoring in conference games (15.1 ppg), third in overall rebounding (7.7 rpg) and fourth in rebounding in AE play (7.5 rpg) while ranking fifth in overall field goal percentage (53 percent) and second in field goal percentage in AE play (56.3 percent).

Evan Singletary, Jr., G, Albany
No one in the league hit more big shots than Evan Singletary, who drilled game winning daggers throughout conference play, while also stepping in to Peter Hooley’s role as the team’s go-to perimeter scorer while also flawlessly running the Great Danes offense. Singletary ranked seventh in the league in scoring and scoring in conference play (12.7 and 12.9 ppg), and also made a huge impact on the defensive end.

Jahad Thomas, R-Fr., F, UMass Lowell
Definitely our most controversial pick, we already know we’re going to catch a ton of flack for this. Yes, Thomas is a freshman. Yes UMass Lowell finished sixth in the standings, and yes Thomas missed the final seven games of the season due to a torn ACL. But in 22 games the 6’2” battering ram was absolutely dominant – more dominant than any America East player not named Jameel Warney or Sam Rowley, and the AE’s version of Charles Barkley. Thomas also faced more defensive pressure – constant double and triple teams and even Box-1 defenses on multiple occasions – than any other America East player other than Warney and all he did was deliver, bulling his way to the hoop and earning every single one of his buckets and rebounds. Thomas tied for second in the America East in overall scoring (14.3 ppg) fifth in rebounding (6.5 rpg), and shot 52.3 percent from the floor (sixth overall). He also always seemed to be making the big play in the games biggest moment and was also the River Hawks best defender.

Jameel Warney, Jr., C, Stony Brook
What do you really need to say about Warney? He led the America East in overall scoring and scoring in league play (16.3 and 17 ppg, respectively) as well as overall rebounding and rebounding in AE games (10.4 and 11.4 rpg, respectively), and in blocked shots both on the season and in conference play (2.4 bpg, 2.3 bpg), and led the entire nation in double-doubles, all while facing double, triple and quadruple teams every night. Dude was a beast.

Dre Wills, Soph., G, Vermont
Dre Wills did absolutely everything for Vermont. He was the Catamounts best defender, best rebounder, best intimidator, spark plug, enforcer, and most efficient scorer. Wills led the league in field goal percentage both overall and in league play as a 6’1” guard (58.6 and 60.9 percent, respectively), while completely taking out opponents’ best scorers, and also made a big impact blocking shots and distributing the ball. The kid did everything.

Awards — OBW America East men’s basketball All-Rookie Team

New Hampshire freshman Tanner Leissner. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
New Hampshire freshman Tanner Leissner. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

It was a banner year for America East men’s basketball rookies. In previous years, we had a hard time finding five truly worthy players to fill out an All-Rookie squad. This season, there were another half dozen or so worthy candidates who didn’t make the cut. We admit, we copped out by selecting six frosh for our squad, but every one of them was damn good.

OBW America East men’s basketball All-Rookie Team
Jourdan Grant, G, UMBC
Grant shouldered a huge load all season long for the Retrievers as the teams only ball handler and flourished, leading the league in assists both in conference play (4.2 apg) and overall (4.0 apg) while ranking 19th in scoring in America East games (10.8 ppg).

Trae-Bell Haynes, G, Vermont
Bell-Haynes hit a bit of a wall down the stretch for the Catamounts, but over the course of the season he was completely dynamic as a one-man fast break, ranking second in assists in conference games (4.0 apg) and third overall (3.4 apg), while also shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor.

Tanner Leissner, F, New Hampshire
As a true freshman Leissner established himself as the best and most important player for the best New Hampshire squad to set foot in Ludholm Gymnasium since the mid 90s. Capable of scoring from everywhere on the floor, the 6’7” power forward completely changes the Wildcats offense, ranking sixth in scoring both overall (12.8 ppg) and in league play (13.1 ppg), fourth in overall rebounding (7.4 rpg) and third in rebounding in conference games (8.5 rpg).

Kevin Little, G, Maine
Little missed nine games due to injury, and was gimpy for most of the year, but when he was on the floor, despite often times standing out as the only capable scorer on a depleted Black Bears roster, the dude straight lit it up, ranking third in America East play in scoring at 15.2 points per game (12.5 ppg overall).

Willie Rodriguez, F, Binghamton
Rodriguez is a true America East forward – 6’6”, not particularly athletic, but tough as nails — who finds ways to just get the job done. Rodriguez ranked 11th overall in scoring (11.6 ppg) and eighth overall in rebounding (5.5 rpg), and elevated his game in conference play, ranking eighth in scoring (12.7 ppg) and seventh in rebounding (5.7 rpg).

Jahad Thomas, F, UMass Lowell
Thomas missed the final seven games of the season with a torn ACL, but before he went down he wasn’t simply THE best rookie in the league, he was one of the best players regardless of class. A 6’2” power forward, Thomas bullied players a half a foot or more taller than him while facing double and triple teams (and even the box-1 on more than one occasion) that only Stony Brook star Jameel Warney saw more of, and still finished the year third in overall scoring (14.3 ppg), fifth in rebounds (6.5 rpg), and sixth in field goal percentage (52.3 percent), while also anchoring the River Hawks defense.

Awards — OBW America East men’s basketball All-Dunkers team

Romello Walker. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
Romello Walker. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

The regular season has wrapped up, the seedings are set, and the America East Playoffs start in just three days. That mean’s its time for the annual OBW America East men’s basketball awards, starting off with our All-Rim Wreckers Team honoring the top five in-game dunkers in the league. Sure, dunks only count for two points on the score board, but they can change the emotion and momentum in a game.

Plus, they’re damn fun to watch. So, without further ado:

OBW America East All-Rim Wreckers (Dunkers) Team
Devarick Houston, Sr., F, UMBC

The 6’7” human-pogo stick was dropping out of the rafters all season long for rim-rocking alley-oops.

Romello Walker, Fr., G/F, Binghamton
Walker might be the highest flier in the league, and was a terror when he got out on the fast break.

Jameel Warney, Jr., C, Stony Brook
At 6’8” 260, Warney simply tried to rip the rim off every time he touched the ball with an array of power slams.

Kerry Weldon, F, UMass Lowell
Weldon was the middle ground between the likes of Warney and Houston/Walker, a big time high-flier capable of acrobatics, but also capable of rattling the backboard.

Dre Wills, Soph., G, Vermont
Generously listed at 6’1”, Wills was easily the most fearless dunker in the league, routinely driving the lane to throw down two-handed slams over far larger foes.

Chad Holley, UMass Lowell men’s basketball seniors, go out with a bang

UMass Lowell senior Chad Holley. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins
UMass Lowell senior Chad Holley. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

Perhaps it was fitting: UMass Lowell men’s basketball seniors Chad Holley, Kerry Weldon and Marco Banegas-Flores played their final home game not in the dingy, drab Costello Gymnasium that they have called home for their respective River Hawks careers, but the spacious, state of the art Tsongas Arena that will be UMass Lowell’s home of the future.

A future that Holley, Weldon and Banegas-Flores have all helped build, but a future that none of them will be around to enjoy.

“During the game it was kind of emotional,” said Holley, who scored a team high 15 points in a 76-60 loss to UNH.

Even though they tried to make the Wildcats their focus, none of them could ignore what last Saturday’s Senior Day game meant: one step closer – and only one game away from – the end of their careers.

“We were down a lot; definitely don’t want to go out like that. Emotions definitely beginning to come into effect sometimes with certain plays and stuff like that, but overall, I think it’s [been] a good night,” said Holley.

Weldon, an all-guts-no-glory guard-turned-center was the first two arrive on campus, five seasons ago. Holley came next, as a transfer in 2012 during the River Hawks final season of Division II basketball, and Banegas-Flores, a graduate transfer from Northeastern, each played a big role in Lowell’s transition to Division I hoops.

And after Wednesday’s game at Stony Brook, all three will be hanging up their college jerseys for good.

Unfortunately for the River Hawk seniors, a red-hot Wildcats squad put a damper on their final home game. New Hampshire held the River Hawks to only 25-percent from the field in the first half, enjoying a 10 point lead heading into the break.

Holley couldn’t quite carry his team back from the double-digit deficit, but left everyting he had on the floor in the second half, scoring 14 of his 15 points in the last 20 minutes of the game. He also hit three 3-pointers, including back-to-back long bombs.

“I wish the results for Senior Day could have been better. This guy to my left, Chad, deserves better,” said UMass Lowell Head Coach Pat Duquette. “He had a great night, he deserved to be player of the game. He’s been a rock for us all year and this loss certainly doesn’t diminish anything that he’s meant to the program the last two years. I’m proud of the way he’s played, I’m proud of the way he played tonight, and the way he’s represented our program.”

Despite the results, there was a bright spot in Saturday’s game: Despite the swirling snowstorm outside, 1,447 fans flocked to the Tsongas, giving the trio of seniors a rousing sendoff from their fellow classmates.

“I think most seasons do go by real fast; they go by too fast,” said Duquette. “Especially when you ask a senior who’s in his last week, and I think that’s a credit to our guys and the success we’ve had. It’s been enjoyable, and a little different than maybe I had expected and most people expected the first couple years. This is a huge transition, it’s an unbelievable challenge, and we’ve had a ton of success in the first two years, and when you’re having success and when you’re winning some games, it tends to go by a little faster.”

America East men’s basketball roundup 2/17/15

The America East men’s basketball Tuesday night lineup saw a pair of preseason America East favorites who had been floundering, badly, heading into the home stretch grab a pair of much needed wins. Here’s a look at the action:

Stony Brook 59 Albany 56
The Seawolves needed this game. Badly. Really, really badly. Star center Jameel Warney scored 20 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and sent five shots packing, junior point guard Carson Puriefoy added 14 – albeit not particularly efficiently – and junior forward Rayshaun McGrew ripped down 14 rebounds for Stony Brook. But the difference maker for the Seawolves was seldom used red-shirt junior Scott King, who tied his season high by scoring 12 points – more points than he had scored in Stony Brook’s last eight games, combined – on 5-of-6 shooting.

“When coach [Pikiell] puts me into the game, he expects me to shoot the ball. When I made the first one, I got into a decent rhythm. I just tried to get some rebounds and bring energy off the bench,” said King of the performance.

Albany saw off shooting nights across the board, hitting just 20-of-58 shots (34.5 percent) from the floor. Sam Rowley and Ray Saunders scored 12 points a piece, Dallas Ennema added 11, and Evan Singletary added eight, but the quartet shot just 15 for 46 from the floor.

The loss snapped Albany’s 13 game winning streak and gave the Great Danes their first conference loss on the year to 12 wins, but it wasn’t particularly unexpected, as the team had won several close games as of late. That, coupled with the emotional homecoming of Peter Hooley after spending nearly a month back home in Australia, to be by his mother’s side before she passed away from colon cancer, perhaps made the Great Danes due for an off night.

On the other side, the Seawolves needed a win badly against a top-four team in the America East, and they needed to win a game exactly like this: By getting contributions from players not named “Jameel Warney.”

With three games left to play and a one-game lead over second place Vermont, the Great Danes remain in the driver’s seat for the regular season title and home court advantage in the conference playoffs, but the Catamounts have been playing arguably the best basketball in the league over the past two weeks and another slip up could see Albany take a drop in the standings.

Hartford 55 UMBC 52
This wasn’t so much a must-win as it was an absolutely, positively, no-bleeping-way can you lose game for the host Hawks, who nearly managed to find a way to fall on their home court to a crippled Retrievers squad.

Sophomore point guard Justin Graham scored 10 points, his fifth straight game in double figures and eighth in his last 11, after going the first 15 games of the season without reaching double-digits, and seniors Wes Cole and Corban Wroe came off the bench to combine for 24 points.

Hartford wasn’t particularly sharp from the floor, hitting 37.5 and 22.7 percent of their shots, but the Retrievers were even worse, hitting just 30.4 and 21.4 percent, respectively.

On another night against another team, you might be able to chalk the Hawks win up to gritty defense, but against a UMBC squad that is suiting up just eight serviceable bodies, only seven of them scholarship players and only a handful legit Division I talents, it’s hard to put much stock in the win from any angle – especially from a senior-laden Hartford squad that was supposed to be competing for an America East title but now sits in fifth place at 6-7 in league play.

For UMBC, this was yet another herculean effort for a team showing more grit, guts and heart than any other in the league. Power forward Cody Joyce scored 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds, senior forward Devarick Houston added 10 points, 10 boards, three steals and two blocks and freshman Malcolm Brent added 13 points.

OBW America East Player of the Night
Jameel Warney, Jr., C, Stony Brook

20 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks, 9-of-18 shooting.

OBW America East Rookie of the Night:
Malcolm Brent, G, UMBC

13 points, 4-of-8 shooting, 2-of-5 three-point shooting, five rebounds

America East Standings
Team conference record (overall record)
1. Albany 12-1 (18-8)
2. Vermont 11-2 (16-10)
3. Stony Brook 9-4 (18-10)
4. New Hampshire 9-4 (16-10)
5. Hartford 6-7 (13-13)
6. UMass Lowell 5-8 (11-15)
7. Binghamton 3-10 (4-24)
8. Maine 2-10 (3-22)
9. UMBC 1-12 (3-23)

OBW America East Power Rankings v12

hooley2

With just two weeks remaining in the regular season, the water is rising – or falling – to its own level in the America East and the conference’s playoff standings are beginning to take shape.

With just four regular season games remaining and a two game lead over Vermont, Albany remains firmly in the drivers seat to secure home court throughout the playoffs, with the Catamounts as the only team with a true chance of overtaking the Danes. New Hampshire has also insured itself of no worse than a fourth place finish, while Stony Brook has all but locked up another spot in the top for. And while the final order in the top four remains up for grabs, it’s a safe bet that the winner of the conference playoffs is going to come from that quartet of teams.

So without further ado, here’s a look around the league with our latest America East Power Rankings

1. Albany (18-7, 12-0 in AE)
Results: W 62-46 at Binghamton; W 65-59 at NJIT
This week: Tuesday vs Stony Brook, Friday vs Hartford
Albany’s winning streak is now at 13 games – the program’s Division I era record – 12 of them coming in America East play. But it was the non-conference win, Friday night at NJIT, that was perhaps the biggest – and certainly most emotional – of the team’s season, as star Peter Hooley made his return after an eight game absence, during which time he returned home to be by his mother’s side as she battled colon cancer, before laying her to rest after her passing. In Hooley’s absence, senior forward Sam Rowley established himself as the team’s go to scorer, and junior point guard Evan Singletary shouldered Hooley’s normal load as the team’s big shot extraordinaire. Hooley played limited minutes coming off the bench, but cracked double-figures while surpassing the 1,000 career point plateau. If Albany can get Hooley back to form, the Danes are easily the odds-on favorites to win the league playoffs and punch their ticket to the NCAAs.

2. Vermont (16-10, 11-2 in AE)
Results: W 96-53 vs UMass Lowell; W 74-51 vs UMBC
This week: Wednesday at Binghamton
Don’t look now, but in the Great Danes’ shadows there is another America East team riding emotional to an inspiring winning steak. The Catamounts have now won five straight games, four of them since top-ranked recruit Josh Speidel suffered a traumatic head injury in a car accident. And while the Great Danes have been finding ways to win in the closing minutes and seconds, the Catamounts have been straight smacking people. Freshman point guard Trae Bell-Haynes has hit a bit of a wall down the stretch, but fellow frosh Cam Ward and Brandon Hatton have picked up the baton and carried on, while junior center Ethan O’Day is playing the best basketball of his career, scoring at will around the post. The Catamounts have officially joined the Great Danes in distancing themselves from the rest of the America East pack.

3. New Hampshire (16-10, 9-4 in AE)
Results: W 76-70 (OT) at Hartford; W 66-48 vs Binghamton
This week: Saturday at UMass Lowell
This is officially the best season the Wildcats have experienced in two decades. With a win over Binghamton Saturday, UNH assured itself winning seasons both in league play and overall for the first time since the 1994-1995 season. Three more wins and the Wildcats will surpass the 94-95 team’s win total in conference play and tie it’s overall number of wins (19). The secret sauce behind New Hampshire’s success: Toughness, energy and selfless play according to head coach Bill Herrion. Sophomore forward Jacoby Armstrong’s return to form, paired with freshman stud Tanner Leissner, gives the Wildcats one of the best front courts in the league, senior gunner Matt Miller remains the best shooter in the America East, and Herrion has revived his trademark defense – arguably the best in the league. The Wildcats remain unproven, and no one of the roster has experienced post season success, but make no mistake, this is a team no one wants to play in the post season.

4. Stony Brook (17-10, 8-4 in AE)
Results: W 73-61 at UMBC; W 80-52 vs Maine
This week: Tuesday at Albany; Saturday vs Binghamton
The Seawolves got two huge shots in the arm on Saturday in the form of a career-high 24 points from raw but talented red-shirt freshman wing Roland Nyama and 15 rebounds from junior forward Rayshaun McGrew. Whether those performances can translate against the top of the conference – as opposed to the dregs of the league – remains to be seen, but if Stony Brook is going to make a run at the first NCAA Tournament appearances in league history, they are going to need to get consistent play from their supporting cast. Junior center Jameel Warney is a horse, but against the crème of the America East crop, it has been proven that Warney can’t do it alone.

5. Hartford (12-13, 5-7 in AE)
Results L 76-70 (OT) vs New Hampshire; L 69-63 at UMass Lowell
This week: Tuesday vs UMBC; Friday at Albany
Hartford got a huge boost over the weekend with the return of star senior forward Mark Nwakamma, who went down two weeks ago against Vermont for what was originally feared would be a season-ending knee injury. Hartford needs Nwakamma on the court, demanding double teams and spacing the floor to open up the perimeter to their shooters. Unfortunately, even with Nwakamma on the court, the Hawks haven’t proven they can consistently knock down enough shots to be a real threat, as evidenced by Saturday’s loss against a UMass Lowell team playing without its top talent.

6. UMass Lowell (11-15, 5-8 in AE play)
Results: W 67-51 vs UMBC; L 69-59 at Albany
This week: Wednesday vs Maine; Saturday vs New Hampshire
The River Hawks continue to inspire as one of the league’s best stories (they would be the best if not for the inspiring seasons of Albany and Vermont). When do everything freshman star Jahad Thomas (who was running away with the Rookie of the Year award) went down with a torn ACL two weeks ago, the River Hawks season was supposed to be over. Instead, they’ve kept fighting, with freshmen Matt Harris and Brad Schaub stepping up their games, while seniors Kerry Weldon, Marco Banegas-Flores and Chad Holley are going out the way all seniors should: leaving everything on the floor. Lowell has now surpassed last season’s win total despite playing with far less overall talent and experience – a testament to head coach Pat Duquette’s abilities.

7. Binghamton (4-24, 3-10 in AE)
Results: L 62-46 vs Albany; L 66-48 at New Hampshire
This week: Wednesday vs Vermont; Saturday at Stony Brook
The tough season continues for the banged up Bearcats, who are back on the snide having lost four straight. Binghamton’s freshman class has shown ability across the board – from Romello Walker’s athleticism and energy, to Justin McFadden’s defensive ability, Willie Rodriguez’ toughness, Dusan Perovic’s scoring and Bobby Ahearn’s toughness – but they can’t avoid the injury and illness bug, and haven’t been able to field enough healthy – let alone experienced – bodies to compete day in and day out.

8. Maine (3-22, 2-10 in AE)
Results: L 80-52 at Stony Brook
This week: Wednesday at UMass Lowell; Saturday at UMBC
There’s a common trend among the bottom three in the league, and that is rebuilding programs who are lacking enough healthy bodies to compete for 40 minutes. Maine continues to fight the good fight under first year head coach Bob Walsh, but the team is battling against a culture of apathy engrained over the past decade, and injuries to key players. Freshman scoring guard Kevin Little has been electric for stretches, and freshman point guard Aaron Calixte is cool under pressure. That duo, combined with next year’s incoming class, should give Black Bear fans hope of a brighter tomorrow.

9. UMBC (3-22, 1-11 in AE)
Results: L 3-61 vs Stony Brook; L 74-51 at Vermont
This week: Tuesday at Hartford; Saturday vs Maine
You have to be impressed by the job head coach Aki Thomas, his staff, and his players have done when staring down the most daunting and insurmountable odds in the league. No team has shown more heart over the season than UMBC, which has somehow found the resolve to show up and fight with everything they have every day despite suiting up just eight bodies – only four or five of whom are really Division I quality players.

OBW America East Player of the Week
Sam Rowley, Sr., F, Albany

Rowley scored 36 points, ripped down 23 rebounds and dished out five assists in a pair of Great Danes wins, including a 20-point 15-rebound effort against Binghamton, to help Albany push its winning streak to 13 straight.

America East Rookie of the Week
Tanner Leissner, F, New Hampshire

Stony Brook’s Roland Nyama had the best game of the week, going off for a career-high 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting in a route of Maine, but Leissner had the best week, scoring 30 points and pulling down 21 rebounds while playing a whopping 81 minutes in a pair of Wildcats wins, including a 14-point 15-rebound effort against Binghamton.

OBW America East Fab Five
Ethan O’Day, Jr., F, Vermont
Sam Rowley, Sr., F, Albany
Evan Singletary, Jr., G, Albany
Jameel Warney, Jr., C, Stony Brook
Dre Wills, Soph., G, Vermont

OBW America East Frosh Five
Jourdan Grant, G, UMBC
Trae Bell-Haynes, G, Vermont
Tanner Leissner, F, New Hampshire
Kevin Little, G, Maine
Jahad Thomas, F, UMass Lowell