Metro Ranking and Report: Update #6

    
January 6th, 2009

Conference Honors

America East: Despite their loss at Binghamton on Monday night it was a good week for Stony Brook, who won games at Air Force and defending America East champ UMBC. Junior Muhammad El-Amin shared the conference Player of the Week award with New Hampshire's Alvin Abreu, and freshman Bryan Dougher was named America East Rookie of the Week. While El-Amin accounted for 19.5 points and 4.0 rebounds in the two wins, Dougher averaged 20.5 points per game. 

Big East: St. John's guard Paris Horne was named to the league's honor roll for his play in a 1-1 week for the Red Storm. In their upset of #10 Notre Dame on Saturday Horne scored fourteen points, and he averaged fifteen per game along with three steals for the two games. 

Ivy League: Columbia freshman Norwua Agho was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for his play in two tough losses for the Lions. In games against Sacred Heart and Lehigh Agho averaged 14.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals. Area players named to the conference's Honor Roll include Columbia guard Kevin Bulger, Princeton guard Dan Mavraides and Yale forward Ross Morin

MAAC: Marist guard R.J. Hall was named the league's Rookie of the Week for his play in games against Binghamton and Rider. Hall averaged 15.5 points per game and shot 55.6% from behind the arc. 

NEC: Area players snagged both honors in the NEC this week, with FDU guard Sean Baptiste taking Choice Hotels NEC Player of the Week and Long Island's Julian Boyd being named Choice Hotels NEC Rookie of the Week. Baptiste averaged 25.3 points per game last week, while Boyd posted averages of eight points and six rebounds per game.  

Weekly Honors 

Team of the Week: Stony Brook

What they did: Road wins at Air Force (67-64) and UMBC (69-61)

Head coach Steve Pikiell has this team headed in the right direction, even with a loss on Monday night to a hot Binghamton team on the road. But for the Seawolves to get out of this three-game stretch on the road with a record of 2-1 is something that needs to be acknowledged. Winning in Clune Arena is tough for Mountain West teams, so for Stony Brook to go out west and pull out a close win is pretty impressive. Combine this with their win in Baltimore over the defending conference champions on Saturday and you've got two pieces of evidence that this program is moving up in the America East pecking order.

Newcomers Muhammad El-Amin and Bryan Dougher were both honored by the conference for their play, but the two wins were also results of solid defense (holding UMBC to 35.9% from the field) and rebounding (33-23 edge on the boards at Air Force helped counteract the Falcons shooting 52.8%; Stony Brook attempted nineteen more shots as a result). If the Seawolves can keep this effort up they'll have a serious shot at moving into the middle of the pack in America East. 

Also deserving praise for their play last week are Long Island (home wins over Central Connecticut State and Sacred Heart moved the Blackbirds to 3-1 in the NEC), Rider (wins over Iona and Marist have the Broncs at 3-0 in the MAAC) and St. John's (recovering from a serious beating at Providence to knock off then-#10 Notre Dame at MSG).

Player of the Week: Sean Baptiste (Fairleigh Dickinson)

While he didn't start off the week in the best form, scoring just eight points in a loss to Rhode Island, Baptiste more than made up for that in the Knights' win over Quinnipiac on Saturday. 37 points and eight rebounds on 12-18 shooting from the field; simply put the junior guard was in a zone that some would have a hard time believing to be true. FDU may be 2-11 overall, with the newcomers still struggling to mesh in head coach Tom Green's system, but Baptiste has had a major role in both wins that also have the Knights right in the middle of the NEC standings at 2-2. One of the better guards in the metropolitan area, don't let his efforts get lost in the shuffle like the exploits of Manny Ubilla did last year.

Other players who should be mentioned (besides those honored by their conferences) include Rutgers' Mike Rosario (19.3 ppg in losses to North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Connecticut), Seton Hall's Jeremy Hazell (26 ppg in losses to Syracuse and West Virginia) and St. John's D.J. Kennedy (20 points, 10 rebounds in the Red Storm's 71-65 win over Notre Dame).

Schedule (January 6th-12th)

Tuesday January 6th 

7 PM: Fairfield @ Army
8 PM: #17 Villanova @ Seton Hall The Pirates weren't done any favors in regards to their conference schedule, and they could be in serious jeopardy of starting Big East play 0-4. Visit a ranked Syracuse, host a West Virginia team that should have been ranked a few weeks ago...and follow those two blowout losses with Villanova. The backcourt matchups should be entertaining, but that's not the area of concern for the Pirates. John Garcia will have to work himself back into shape due to the time he missed with a knee injury, and neither Mike Davis or Brandon Walters have stepped up to fill that void. 6-6, 180-pound Robert Mitchell is playing the four, and while some may cite the fact that Brian Laing played that role at times last season you have to keep in mind that the now-departed Laing was much stronger than Mitchell is. Bobby Gonzalez needs this win in the worst way if the Pirates are to keep alive fleeting hopes of a postseason bid.

Wednesday January 7th

7 PM: St. Bonaventure @ Fordham
Delaware @ Hofstra This sets up to be a key game in the CAA with both teams sporting 1-2 league records. Hofstra was ice-cold from the field in their loss to Drexel on Saturday, but they take on a Delaware team that has allowed 72.6 points per game on the year. That could be enough to snap Tom Pecora's team out of their current slump, but the Blue Hens have a trio of outstanding guards in Jawan Carter, Alphonso Dawson and Marc Egerson, all of whom average at least fifteen points per game. Even with George Mason and Northeastern leading the CAA with 3-0 records, this conference is shaping up to be an absolute dogfight, especially in the middle of the standings.
Bryant @ LIU
Yale @ NJIT
7:30: #15 Marquette @ Rutgers

Thursday January 8th

7 PM: FDU @ Mount St. Mary's
Wagner @ Central Connecticut State
St. Francis (PA) @ Sacred Heart
Maine @ Stony Brook This one sets up to be a test for how much the Seawolves have improved given the fact that on paper they should beat the Black Bears at home. Winning games you're expected to win is another step in going from also-ran to a player in your conference race. If Muhammad El-Amin and Bryan Dougher can continue their solid play of late, look for Stony Brook to pick up another conference win in their first America East home game of the year.

Friday January 9th

7 PM: NJIT @ Columbia
Fairfield @ Loyola (MD)
Marist @ Manhattan
Rider @ Siena Rider is just a half-game behind overwhelming favorite Siena in the MAAC standings, but a look at their three league wins (Manhattan, Iona and Marist) may have some wondering of the Broncs are once again a contender. Ryan Thompson is up to his usual tricks, filling just about every column imaginable on a stat sheet and he's been helped by senior guard Harris Mansell and sophomore forward Mike Ringgold. The individual matchup between Thompson and Siena's Edwin Ubiles should be worth the price of admission itself, and the Broncs may still be smarting over the blowout they suffered in last year's MAAC Tournament final. Rest assured we'll know a lot more about Tommy Dempsey's team after this game.
Niagara @ St. Peter's
Canisius @ Iona

Saturday January 10th

Noon: Hofstra @ VCU
2 PM: Seton Hall @ #13 Notre Dame
Hartford @ Yale
4 PM: Colgate @ Army
Robert Morris @ Sacred Heart While neither team was picked to win the NEC, both are expected to be in the race throughout the season. And with preseason pick (and defending tournament champ) Mount St. Mary's sitting at 0-3 right now the winner stands to pick up some important separation in what should be a hotly-contested race. The Pioneers will have to account for Colonials' guard Jeremy Chappell, who's currently averaging just over seventeen points per game and also leads the team in rebounding. With four players averaging double digits Dave Bike's team is more balanced that Robert Morris, and they'll have to use that to their advantage in this one.
4:30: Mount St. Mary's @ St. Francis (NY)
7 PM: FDU @ Central Connecticut State
LIU @ Wagner
7:30: #9 Syracuse @ Rutgers

Sunday January 11th

Noon: St. John's @ #1 Pittsburgh
1 PM: #18 Xavier @ Fordham
2 PM: Loyola (MD) @ St. Peter's
Iona @ Rider
3 PM: Canisius @ Fairfield
4 PM: Siena @ Manhattan the Jaspers, my pick to be a sleeper in the MAAC this season, get a shot at the defending champs in Draddy Gymnasium. Both Chris Smith and Darryl Crawford have stepped up on the scoreboard this season, but this is a game in which head coach Barry Rohrssen will need outstanding performances from his two established stars (Antoine Pearson and Devon Austin) in order to pull off the upset. The frontcourt will also have to play to its full capability, with Siena having one of the league's best power forwards in Alex Franklin.
Niagara @ Marist

Updated Ranking (previous week in parentheses)

1. St. John's (10-4; 2)
2. Seton Hall (9-5; 1)
3. Rider (8-5; 8)
4. Fairfield (8-6; 3)
5. Rutgers (9-6; 5)
6. Hofstra (9-5; 4)
7. Wagner (9-4; 7)
8. Stony Brook (8-6; 9)
9. Manhattan (8-6; 6)
10. Marist (6-10; 10)
11. Iona (6-9; 11)
12. LIU (6-7; 14)
13. Sacred Heart (4-9; 12)
14. Columbia (4-9; 13)
15. Princeton (3-8; 16)
16. Yale (3-9; 15)
17. Army (4-9; 18)
18. Monmouth (4-12; 20)
19. St. Francis (NY) (3-10; 17)
20. St. Peter's (4-10; 21)
21. FDU (2-12; 19)
22. Fordham (2-10; 22)
23. NJIT (0-14; 23)