This is the time of year where the Non-Power five conferences really have to do their fair share of winning to give themselves a chance to get noticed when March rolls around. In the America East Conference, that is exactly what teams are doing. With those wins comes attention when that special time of year shows up. The league can take advantage of it. This is how it works for leagues trying to give multiple teams in their conferences a shot at postseason hoops. Right now in America East, six teams have records that are .500 or better, five of those programs have a NET ranking that is in the top 200. For the conference, this is important because it will help with playing basketball well into March. It is also the first time the league has had this many teams with a NET ranking in the 200. With Conference play right around the corner, America East has done a good job of getting some quality wins. Here is what else is going on.
Before the season got underway, the Stony Brook Seawolves were picked as the preseason favorite to win the league. They got off to a slow start, but lately have turned things around. The Seawolves (6-4) won both games they played last week and have won four of their last five games to get above the .500 mark. Last week, they took advantage of some home cooking to get wins over Hofstra and Bryant. In the win over Hofstra, a 27-6 run played a major role in that win. Not to mention the hot shooting of Jahlil Jenkins who went for 24 points in the game. Jenkins was one of three Seawolves in double figures, with fellow starter Tyler Moore-Stephenson recording a double-double of 14 points and 12 boards. Stony Brook will look to keep things going by hosting Central Connecticut State on Tuesday night.
Another team playing good ball is the Vermont Catamounts (7-4) who split a pair of games in Providence, R.I. last week. After losing to the Friars earlier in the week, the Catamounts stayed in Providence to get ready for Friday night’s game with Brown. The move paid off as Vermont was led by four of their five starters who scored in double-figures held off a late rally from Brown to pick up a solid road win, 70-65. Ben Shungu had 18 points to lead his team to victory. The Catamounts will return to action on Sunday on the road at Northeastern after first taking care of final exams.
The UMass Lowell River Hawks (6-4) have had an interesting non-conference schedule so far. On Saturday, they were forced to play their third Division III game of the year. The reason for the third game vs D-III school is because of Covid issues at L.I.U. forced the River Hawks to give up that game. Still, despite playing that many games vs division three schools, the River Hawks find themselves with a NET ranking of 175, which is their best ranking since becoming a division one program. UMass Lowell is getting a breakout year from sophomore forward Max Brooks who leads the league in field goal percentage at .648% (46-71) and also leads in blocked shots with 18 in 10 games for an average of 1.8 a contest. He is tenth in rebounding at 5.5 a game, 1.7 on the offensive glass.
Jayden Martinez of UNH is having a good start to his season as well. He is second in scoring at 17.8 a game. He leads in Rebounding at eight a game, three on the offensive side. He is also tops in 3-point field goal percentage at .474 (18-38), and is third in 3-point makes with 2.3 a game (18 made three’s in eight games). Martinez’s 34 minutes a night ranks him second in the league in minutes played.
The America East Player of the Week is Jahlil Jenkins of Stony Brook. Jenkins, who was big for the Seawolves in their win over Hofstra, averaged 18.5 points, 3.5 assists, and two steals in the team’s 2-0 week. This is his first player of the week honor.
The Rookie of the Week is Justin Neely for the third time already this season. In a 1-1 week for the Great Danes, Neely averaged seven points and six rebounds off the bench for UAlbany. In their win on Saturday, Neely had five points and five boards in 12 minutes of action. Earlier in the week vs Yale, Neely had nine points and seven rebounds. I don’t know about you, but it seems like Mr. Neely is earning more playing time for the Great Danes.
Next week we will be back with more from the America East Conference.
- America East ConferenceNovember 28, 2023America East Basketball News & Notes: Good Times Keep Rolling
- America East ConferenceNovember 26, 2023UMass Lowell Loses to Army 4-2 in Turkey Leg Classic
- America East ConferenceNovember 25, 2023Bentley Wins Game 1 of the Turkey Leg Classic 4-1
- ACCNovember 23, 2023BC Looks to End Two-Game Skid on Senior Night vs Miami