Albany, whose 9-0 start in conference is no fluke, has won 12 of their last 13 games, their only loss being a game at Niagara where head coach Will Brown said his team’s flu symptoms helped create the Great Danes’ worst performance to date.
They have an 18.5% chance of finishing undefeated in the America East, according to KenPom.com, which is mostly thanks to a favorable home stretch. The Great Danes have five of their final eight games at home and their only remaining conference road games will be at Binghamton and UMBC. If they hold serve at home, there is a great chance Albany could host more than one game come America East Playoff time.
Albany’s stock is obviously way up, but now more about whose stock is down.
Stock Down: Hartford – The Hawks are no longer, and currently wouldn’t be, a lock for one of the league’s top four seeds. Pending forward Mark Nwakamma’s injury diagnosis, the senior exited the game in the first half with a knee injury, those prospects could get even worse. They have lost four straight in conference, something they last did in head coach John Gallagher’s first season. Hartford seemingly has not been able to get anything going offensively, scoring fewer than a point per possession in five of its nine conference games. For a team that relies on using the three-point line, taking just under half their shots from deep, the Hawks rank second to last in conference play in three-point field goal percentage (31.2%).
Stock Down: Stony Brook – Entering the season it appeared that the Seawolves would host at least one game in the America East Playoffs, but even that is looking tenuous after Saturday’s loss at New Hampshire. “Our effort just wasn’t there today,” head coach Steve Pikiell said after the 63-48 road loss. That succinct statement couldn’t be more right. The Seawolves managed just eight points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, as the Wildcats coasted ahead of them. Opponents have found the best way to beat the Seawolves is to hold juniors Carson Puriefoy and Rayshaun McGrew in check, even if it means letting Jameel Warney score at will. Until Stony Brook develops a consistent perimeter threat, they will have to patch one together between freshmen. The Seawolves get the week off until Saturday, when they get to try and avenge a game where Vermont exposed and attacked Stony Brook relentlessly in transition and prevented players like Puriefoy from attacking the lane.
Quick Lead Changes: How quickly could a game change? How about fewer than 15 seconds in this highlight from the Great Danes’ win at Vermont.
Playoff Picture – If the season ended today we would have the following potential America East Playoff match ups: #1 Albany vs. #8 Maine, #2 Vermont vs. #7 UMBC, #3 New Hampshire vs. #6 Binghamton, #4 Stony Brook vs. #5 Hartford. *(Wildcats over Seawolves for 3rd seed by virtue of 1-1 series split and UNH win over Vermont)
Quote of the Week – “She was such a strong woman who endured a 4.5 year battle against cancer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Peter, his father Jeff, and his sister Emma. Peter was able to spend some quality and memorable time with Sue the past two weeks” – Albany head coach Will Brown on the passing of Peter Hooley’s mother, Sue, to colon cancer.
Quote of the Week – “We have heavy hearts out here but we are praying. We are keeping him in our thoughts and prayers” – Vermont head coach John Becker on commit Josh Speidel, who has been hospitalized following a car accident on Sunday night. He was upgraded to “critical but stable” condition on Monday night, according to the Indianapolis Star.
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.