Albany dominated the America East standings, so it was fitting that the Great Danes receive some of the league’s top regular season accolades for the first time since 2007.
It is hard to believe that even through four America East NCAA tournament bids that Will Brown has not claimed a Coach of the Year award, but he would not be denied this season.
After losing Peter Hooley in the middle of January as he went to see his late mother in Australia, the hopes that the Great Danes would go undefeated looked bleak without last season’s most outstanding tournament player. However, Albany posted a 15-1 record, their most wins in conference history and their first regular season championship since the 2005-06 season.
“I think it’s a tremendous credit to my staff and also to the players in my program,” Brown said. “I think too often head coaches just get too much credit.”
“It’s not possible without a tremendous coaching staff, some really good players and a really good team.”
This season Brown will be positioned to be in unique company throughout these playoffs, should Albany win the championship he will tie Jim Calhoun for the most tournament championships as head coach in league history.
Jameel Warney becomes the first to repeat to win the league’s top award since Vermont’s Marqus Blakely. Leading the conference in scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (11.4 rpg) helped the 6’8″ junior win his second straight Kevin Roberson Player of the Year award. In his final game of the regular season at Hartford, the junior tied his career-high with 32 points and matched his season-high 18 rebounds.
“He’s been, down the stretch here, ready to go,” Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell said after Warney’s performance Saturday night. “He’s so unselfish at times, he’s by far our best passer and a lot of times he passes up shots.”
The 6’8″ junior won the Lou Henson national player of the week honors for his work over the last seven days, an award presented to the top mid-major player of the week. Warney won the league’s player of the week honors a season-high seven times on his way to his second straight Player of the Year award.
“It’s a great feeling,” Warney said. “Last year I won and I felt that was a turning point for me, but this year I felt like I improved more and I really deserved this Player of the Year award because I felt like I had a great season.”
The Plainfield, New Jersey native also picked up the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year award, becoming the first player since Tommy Brenton in 2013 to win the Player and Defensive Player of the Year awards. He joins a group of just six players in conference history to win the league’s top award in back-to-back seasons.
Warney is supported by his teammate and classmate, junior Carson Puriefoy, on the First Team All-America East. Sam Rowley and Evan Singletary represent first place Albany who have won 16 of their last 17 games, their only loss a 59-56 setback less than two weeks ago against Stony Brook. Vermont, who has been represented on the America East first team in each of the last eight seasons, had junior Ethan O’Day (11.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg) earn the final spot.
Tanner Leissner claims the conference’s Rookie of the Year award for New Hampshire, who posted their highest win total since the 1994-95 season. The 6’5″ freshman claiming the league’s award for top rookie is their first major award win since Pat Manor won Rookie of the Year in 1990. Leissner led the team in scoring (12.9 ppg), ranking sixth in the conference in that category and ranked fourth in the conference in rebounding (7.4 rpg) to help lift the Wildcats to their best finish in the conference standings since the 2008-09 season.
UMass Lowell’s Jahad Thomas, Binghamton’s Wilfredo Rodriguez, Maine’s Kevin Little and Vermont’s Trae Bell-Haynes filled out the rest of the All-Rookie team.
Hartford senior Mark Nwakamma (11.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg), who was selected on the America East first team in his sophomore and junior seasons and in the preseason this year, made second team in his senior year. He and Albany junior Peter Hooley headlined the second team All-America East, joining UMBC’s Cody Joyce, Tanner Leissner and Vermont’s Dre Wills.
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.