The America East has seen a transformation in plenty of ways this season.
So in reaching out to the coaches in the league over the past few weeks, we grabbed some observations about the style of play through two-thirds of the season.
“I think this league has changed dramatically, really within a year,” one coach said. “I mean you look at some of the scores in our league. Our league used to be, two years ago, that if you got into the 60’s against anybody that was high scoring.”
For one thing the league has increased in tempo, now averaging 70.4 possessions per game, sixth highest amongst the 32 conferences in the country.
“I know they’re better and they’re winning more games, but this high scoring, no defense is just appalling to me,” another coach said of league play. Four teams in the conference have averaged over 70 possessions per game (UMass Lowell, Maine, UMBC and Hartford), but they are a combined 15-35 in league play.
“I think the league is more talented and deeper than it’s been in a while,” another coach said dissenting. “Everyone’s playing a different style thinking that that gives them an advantage.”
So far, home teams have won just 27 of the 56 conference games, which ranks 31st out of the 32 conferences, but Stony Brook and Albany are each undefeated at home. The league’s effective field goal percentage (51.8%) is the highest since 2003 (49.6%) and the offensive efficiency (1.04 points per possession) is the highest since 2oo8 (103.0).
“If you look at history, the teams that have success in league play in a conference tournament format have some consistency,” another coach said on if the new style of play will change who can win.
The new rules have changed the shot clock, which most coaches hardly complain about, but they have had some gripes with the new rules that have allowed for quicker games and more freedom of movement.
“I think that the timeout situation is bad,” one coach said. “I don’t think it’s had any positive results in two ways the timeouts around the media timeout, where I don’t think anybody knows so everybody’s looking at each other; the refs, the coaches, we dont’ know if it’s a full or a 30 [second timeout]… I don’t see any positives coming out of it, not allowing the coach to call a live timeout.”
“I know they were trying to take the physicality out of it, at our level it’s become way more physical,” one coach said is what he’s observed this season. “I think what it has done, it actually has confused the referees even more.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.