America East Preseason Poll: BU #1

October 28th, 2009
HARTFORD, Conn.-- In search of its first league title since 2002, Boston University is the unanimous preseason choice of the coaches to win its sixth America East Men’s Basketball title in 2009-10. The selections were announced today as part of the America East Basketball Tip-Off Luncheon held at the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, host city for the 2010 America East Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championship Presented by Newman’s Own on March 4-7.

The Terriers received all eight possible first-place votes (coaches were not allowed to vote for their team) and 64 points, followed by University of Vermont, which received the remaining first-place vote and 56 points.  University at Albany barely edged Stony Brook University for third place with 43 points, while the Seawolves came in one point behind with 42, just ahead of University of New Hampshire’s 39. University of Hartford and UMBC tied for sixth with 28 points apiece, while University of Maine (14 points) and Binghamton University (12) rounded out the poll.

The 2010 America East Championship first, quarter and semifinal rounds will take place March 4-7 at Hartford’s Chase Arena in the Reich Family Pavilion. The title game will be hosted a week later by the highest remaining seed with the winner earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.

Boston University (17-11 overall, 11-5 America East in 2008-09) begins its first season under head coach Patrick Chambers, who helped lead Villanova to the Final Four last season as Jay Wright’s associate head coach. Chambers will inherit a wealth of talent as the Terriers return their top six scorers and 91.5 percent of their scoring from a year ago. Leading the charge will be first-team All-America East performers John Holland (18.1 ppg) and Corey Lowe (17.2 ppg), who ranked third and fourth, respectively, among league leaders in scoring. Reigning Rookie of the Year Jake O’Brien also returns for his sophomore season after averaging 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest as a freshman.

Vermont (24-9, 13-3) captured a share of the America East regular-season crown and earned a postseason bid for the fifth time in seven years last season, reaching the second round of the College Basketball Invitational. The Catamounts lost four-time all-conference selection Mike Trimboli, who finished his career 12th on the conference’s all-time scoring list, but welcome back the premier player in the league in senior forward Marqus Blakely. The two-time America East Player and Defensive Player of the Year, Blakely ranked among league leaders in nearly every category, leading in rebounding (9.0 rpg), blocked shots (2.7 bpg) and steals (2.0 spg) and finishing fifth in scoring (16.1 ppg).   

Albany (15-16, 6-10) reached the semifinals of the America East tournament for the third time in four years last March despite suffering its first sub-.500 conference mark since the 2003-04 season. The Great Danes are one of two teams (Boston U.) to welcome back multiple all-conference players in junior guard Tim Ambrose and junior forward Will Harris, both third-team honorees a year ago. Ambrose ranked ninth among league leaders in scoring (14.3 ppg) and 13th in rebounding (5.1 rpg), while Harris was 10th in scoring (12.9 ppg) and seventh in rebounding (6.5 rpg).

Stony Brook (16-14, 8-8) is coming off one of its best season as Division I program, winning its most games since 2000-01 and setting a program record for America East victories. The Seawolves return four starters, including second-team all-league choice Muhammad El-Amin, a preseason all-conference pick this year. El-Amin, who finished seventh with 15.7 points per game last year, is joined by a pair of All-Rookie selections in sophomores Tommy Brenton and Bryan Dougher. Brenton was the second-best rebounder in the league as a freshman with 8.9 rebounds per game, while Dougher was Seawolves’ second-leading scorer and among the league’s best in free throw (.772) and 3-point percentage (.363).

New Hampshire (14-16, 8-8) reached the semifinals of the America East Championship for the second time in four seasons under head coach Bill Herrion after not reaching the league’s Final Four since 1995. Junior guard Alvin Abreu will shoulder the load on the offensive end with the graduation of All-America East performer Tyrece Gibbs. Abreu, an all-rookie choice two years ago, ranked second on UNH with 12.8 points and 2.2 assists per game. Fellow juniors Tyrone Conley (8.9 ppg, 3.4 rpg) and Dane DiLiegro (5.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg) will be important if the Wildcats are to capture their first conference title.

Hartford (7-26, 2-14) took a step back from its record-setting season of 2007-08 but was without leading scorer Joe Zeglinski, a first-team all-conference choice two years ago and a preseason selection each of the past two years, who missed all but 10 games with an ankle injury. Zeglinski, who has averaged 16.0 points per game over the last two seasons and is one of three players that have eclipsed the 1,000-point mark (1,099), should drastically help Hartford improve on its league-worst 60.5 points per game output.

UMBC (15-17, 7-9) reached the title game of the America East Championship for the second straight year in 2009, becoming just the second No. 6 seed to reach the league final. Gone are all-conference performers Jay Greene, who finished his career third on America East’s all-time assist list, and Darryl Proctor, who racked up 1,138 points and 558 rebounds in just two seasons at UMBC, but back is senior forward Matt Spadafora, who has started 44 straight games for the Retrievers and averaged 8.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per contest last year.

Maine (9-21, 4-12) returns four starters from a year ago, including All-Rookie honoree Gerald McLemore, who ranked second among first-year players with 12.1 points per game. Junior forwards Troy Barnies (7.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Sean McNally (9.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg) ranked fourth and 15th, respectively, in rebounding last year. Junior college transfers Jerrell Boswell and Terrance Mitchell, who combined to average 39 points per game last season, should make the Black Bear offense, which was fourth in the league (66.0 ppg) last year get ever better.

Binghamton (23-9, 13-3) return three players from a squad that set a school record with 23 wins, won its first-ever America East title and made its first NCAA appearance. Junior guard Chretian Lukusa started 11 games for the Bearcats down the stretch last season in which they went 9-2. Sophomore center Kyrie Sutton started 15 games and ranked fifth among league leaders in blocked shots (1.2 bpg).