Nero leaves position as America East Commissioner, is named Athletic Director at George Washington University

Patrick Nero, who has served as America East Commissioner for the past six seasons, has been hired as the Athletic Director at George Washington University. Prior to his time at the head of the America East, Nero served as the Athletic Director at the University of Maine for three seasons.

Nero played a role in the America East’s widely lauded and highly successful decision to begin hosting a joint men’s and women’s basketball tournament, but his tenure at the helm of the “AE” has otherwise been defined more by what didn’t materialize than by what did. Under Nero, the America East failed to find a tenth member, failed to become an all-sports conference, failed to increase the America East’s “brand appeal” or ensure any sort of conference stability. It is difficult to characterize the America East’s overall athletic profile as being any stronger now than when Nero assumed his leadership position.

Specifically, basketball been on a steady downward trajectory since Nero took over the reins in August of 2005. Under Nero, America East men’s hoops has nosedived in both talent and on-the-court product. No men’s basketball team has won an NCAA Tournament game since Nero became commissioner – only two of the six NCAA Tournament games during Nero’s tenure even saw the AE representative keep the outcome in doubt for a majority of the contest – and the overall strength of the conference from 2005-2011 never managed to match that of the teams from the first half of the decade, let alone exceed that benchmark. Continue reading “Nero leaves position as America East Commissioner, is named Athletic Director at George Washington University”

Coppenrath wins championship: Helps carry Spanish Club C.B. Murcia to LEB Gold championship and trip back to first division.

While Marqus Blakely made headlines recently by signing with the Houston Rockets and becoming the first Vermont Catamount to make the NBA, the player who was supposed to have claimed that title, Taylor Coppenrath, continues to quietly carve out one of the most successful careers of any recent America East alumni in professional basketball. The success continued last week, as Coppenrath helped to lead his club, C.B. Murcia, to a championship.

On April 15, Coppenrath scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds in Murcia’s 112-111 overtime victory. The win clinched the regular season Spanish LEB Gold (also known as the “second division”) title. As is the case throughout Europe, the Spanish divisions are cyclical. The regular-season champion and playoff champion from the second division move up to the first division the following season and, conversely, the bottom two teams from the first division drop down. With the win, Murcia, which finished with a 30-4 record, clinched a spot in the Spanish ACB (first division), widely considered to be the best domestic league in the world outside of the NBA, next season. Continue reading “Coppenrath wins championship: Helps carry Spanish Club C.B. Murcia to LEB Gold championship and trip back to first division.”

Blakely gets called up to “The Show”

Former Vermont Catamount Marqus Blakely signed a three-year non-guaranteed contract with the Rockets on Tuesday, becoming the first Catamount to make it to the NBA.

Blakely, a two-time America East Player of the Year and three-time America East Defensive Player of the Year, was a 6’5” power forward in college who was deemed a “tweener” leading up to the 2010 NBA draft – too small to play power forward in the NBA and without the skills (ballhanding, outside shot and perimeter defense) to play the small forward position at a high level. After going undrafted, he played in the Summer League for the Clippers before being invited to NBA training camp.

Blakely’s energy and enthusiasm made him a fan favorite and made many believers around the Clippers organization and NBA as a whole; however, he was released on the final day before the NBA tip-off as the last man cut by the Clippers. Continue reading “Blakely gets called up to “The Show””

John Holland invited to Portsmouth Invitational Tournament

John Holland is officially wading into the waters of professional basketball, as he has been invited to (and will participate in) the 2011 Portsmouth Invitational Tournament, which starts today and runs through April 9th at Churchland H.S., in Portsmouth, Va.

The “PIT,” which enters its 59th year, is the oldest amateur tournament, having been run continuously since 1953, and is a by-invitation-only showcase for some of the best college seniors in the nation. The tournament itself consists of eight teams and 12 games, and serves as the first of two NBA pre-draft camps, the second being in Orlando (previously Chicago). 200 NBA scouts, officials and front office personnel are expected to watch the PIT, as well as numerous European scouts and owners.

While the Portsmouth Invitational likes to bill itself as a big-time NBA camp, citing such former participants as Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, John Stockton, Tim Hardaway, Ben Wallace, Avery Johnson and Rick Barry, to name a few, it is in reality a showcase for marginal NBA prospects. Of the 64 participants in 2009, only six were drafted, none in the first round. Continue reading “John Holland invited to Portsmouth Invitational Tournament”

News and notes: AE offseason kicks into high gear

It seems like just yesterday that the leaves were changing, the breeze getting colder and the air filled with excitement of the America East season which lay just around the corner. With the season now in the rear-view mirror, the inevitable off-season reports of players departing America East schools are beginning to flood in. The big blow so far has come from the conference’s northern most institution, as Maine talent Murphy Burnatowski has left the school. America East has been decimated during previous off-seasons by outbound transfers; while losing Burnatowski hurts, the AE should consider itself lucky if he is the biggest loss for the conference this offseason. Here’s a look at some moves (and potential moves) so far around the conference: Continue reading “News and notes: AE offseason kicks into high gear”

Murphy Burnatowski leaves Maine as the Black Bear talent drain increases

The hits keep coming for the University of Maine men’s basketball program, as talented sophomore forward Murphy Burnatowski has been granted his release and left the Black Bears program.

After a season which began with tremendous promise, including wins

Talented sophomore Murphy Burnatowski has left the Black Bears
on the road against Penn State and Umass and an 8-1 start to the America East slate, the Black Bears fell into a tailspin of epic proportions, losing eight out of their final nine games while being racked with rumors of internal conflicts.

Even on a roster that included 2011 First-Team All-Conference selection Troy Barnies and 2010 First-Team All-Conference Gerald McLemore, the 6’7, 230-pound Burnatowski was viewed by many as the team’s most talented player, or at least the Black Bear with the most potential for growth. Strong and agile, the Canadian swingman combined tenacious on-ball defense with a soft jump shot, and already possessed many of the elements required of any star in the making (Strength and athleticism key among them).

An All-Rookie selection during the 2009-2010 season, Burnatowski averaged 6.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.1 steals in just over 21 minutes per game as a freshman while distinguishing himself as one of the league’s premier defenders. During his second campaign in Orono, Burnatowski showed flashes of brilliance, including 17 points on the road at ACC power Maryland and 20 in the Black Bears’ upset of Penn State. However, his season was marred by inconsistency and an apparent lack of effort. As the season wore on, his minutes became increasingly sporadic.

In slightly fewer minutes per game, Burnatowski did nearly duplicate the offensive figures from his freshman season, and actually improved upon his scoring numbers (6.9 points per game up from 6.4) despite decreased minutes. However, for a player who made a name for himself as a defensive stalwart, his performance and effort on the defensive end became increasingly shaky. Continue reading “Murphy Burnatowski leaves Maine as the Black Bear talent drain increases”

Breaking News: Dennis Wolff reportedly hired as new head coach of Virginia Tech Women’s team

Hot of the rumor mill: Several sources close to the situation spoken to One-Bid Wonders on the condition of anonymity and indicated that former Boston University Terrier head coach Dennis Wolff has a new head coaching gig, as he has reportedly been hired as the head coach of the Virginia Tech Women’s basketball team. This has not been confirmed from official channels (and there would not be an official press release until after the end of the women’s season), however, it has been reported to OBW by several VERY credible sources.

Wolff was fired from his head coaching position at Boston University on March 11, 2009. In fifteen seasons at BU, he became the program’s all-time leader in wins, compiling a 247 and 197 record while leading the Terriers to 2 NCAA appearances and 3 NIT’s. Wolff was succeeded by current Terriers head coach Pat Chambers. After spending the 2009-2010 season out of basketball, he spent the past season as the Director of Basketball Ops for the men’s team at Virginia Tech.

The women’s head coaching position at Virginia Tech became available after former head coach Beth Dunkenberger resigned on March 14, following seven seasons as the Hokies head coach.

Report: Dave Coley suffers season-ending knee injury

As if there weren’t already enough injured Seawolves. Word out of Long Island is that freshman guard Dave Coley has sustained a knee injury and will be out for the remainder of the season.

Coley’s last game action came during the Seawolves’ 71-69 overtime win vs. Maine last Saturday; it is believed that the injury occurred then. The freshman guard joins star forward Tommy Brenton and senior guard Chris Martin on the shelf.

In 25 games (including nine starts), Coley was averaging 7.2 points on 31.6% shooting and 3.7 rebounds in 21.5 minutes. His 24 steals are tied for the team lead.

Did the Hawks just get themselves a game-changer?

While the Hawks were flying high Thursday night in their win over Maine, flying under the radar was a potential game-changing recruit in attendance for the Hawks. Explosive Aussie playmaking guard Corban Wroe was spotted in the seats behind the Hartford bench.

Wroe was instrumental in helping Australia capture the U19 championship in the 2010 Albert Schweitzer Tournament, and was particularly impressive in Australia’s upset victory over Team USA. The AE hasn’t seen a freshman with Wroe’s international experience and resume since Jose Juan Barea.

A 6’1” point guard in the 2011 class, Wroe currently competes for the Australia Institute of Sport, Australia’s premier Institute for high school athletes (current NBA players Andrew Bogut and Patty Mills are also graduates of the AIS). Wroe already sports an impressive physique, and is a terrific penetrator and finisher, an aggressive and physical defender, and a very good athlete with a developing outside game.

There have been no official announcements on Wroe, and with the official signing period a long ways away there won’t be anytime soon. But if Wroe does wind up in the America East, according to more than one international scout, he “is a game changer from day one.”