Albany continues to lead the America East and Vermont appears to have made a strong push to lock up the second seed thanks to its comeback win at Stony Brook. We will start by breaking down a few numbers and then take stock of the awards races.
Numbers to Know: 24.7% that is the percentage chance that the Great Danes go 16-0 in conference play. 2% Vermont’s win probability while trailing 38-21 in the second half, the Catamounts outscored Stony Brook 36-10 over the rest of the game. 21% The percentage of points scored by Wayne Sparrow, who is no longer eligible for UMBC after he failed to matriculate. The Richmond transfer also took 38% of his team’s shots, by far the most of any individual player in the conference. 87.7% The percentage of minutes junior Evan Singletary has been on the floor for Albany. He ranks third on the team with 13.2 ppg and leads the team with 2.8 apg. 27.1% The percentage of games that have been decided by four points or fewer or have been decided in overtime. So far 13 of 48 conference games have been decided by that margin.
Coach of the Year Race: Will Brown vs. John Becker – So far it seems that the Albany head coach is a lock for the award, an accomplishment he has yet to win, but that doesn’t mean he won’t have competition for the prize. Even though Becker won the conference coach of the year award last season, he has turned the roster over quickly and has a contender with the 20th youngest team in the country. This race though may decide itself when Brown’s team claims the regular season title and clinches home court advantage in the America East playoffs.
Player of the Year Race: Jameel Warney vs. field – The sophomore, who won the award last season, appears to be the favorite based on his improvement from last season’s numbers. He now leads the conference with 15.6 ppg and 11.4 rpg, but he is not a shoe in either. Albany senior Sam Rowley ranks third in the conference with 13.9 ppg and his team has a large lead in the league standings, so he might have a chance to upend the 6’8″ junior or perhaps Evan Singletary, who has taken a huge step forward in the absence of Peter Hooley to lead Albany at the guard spot.
Rookie of the Year: Jahad Thomas vs. Tanner Leissner – Even though redshirt freshman Thomas will be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a second ACL tear, he still compiled outstanding numbers that should leave him the favorite. He ranks second in the conference in scoring (14.3 ppg), fifth in rebounding (6.5 rpg) and sixth in field goal percentage (52.3%). His competition for the remainder of the season is most likely New Hampshire’s Tanner Leissner, who ranks eighth in the conference in scoring (13.0 ppg) and could help lead the Wildcats to a top four seed for the first time since the 2008-09 season. Others considered: Willie Rodriguez, Binghamton (10.6 ppg) and Trae Bell-Haynes, Vermont (3.1 apg).
If the Playoffs Started Today: #1 Albany vs #8 UMBC, #2 Vermont vs #7 Maine, #3 New Hampshire vs #6 Binghamton, #4 Stony Brook vs #5 Hartford.
Quote of the Week: “When Ethan O’Day stays on the floor, he’s the best big in the league” – Vermont head coach John Becker on Ethan O’Day, who delivered 12 of his 17 points in the second half to complete the comeback at Stony Brook.
Also, What Was This?!: At the end of the ESPN3 broadcast, what is Vermont head coach John Becker saying here. He was pumped up after the Catamounts win, to say the least. What do we think he is saying here?! “Hey mom” is my guess, but we went to the source to find out.
— John Becker (@coachbeckeruvm) February 10, 2015
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.