CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-- After a week in which Binghamton went 2-0, defeated the conference opponent one game ahead of it in the standings, and picked up its first road conference game, two Bearcats earned weekly recognition from the conference office for the period ending February 1. Senior center Laura Franceski (Moscow, Pa./North Pocono) won the player of the week and freshman guard Andrea Holmes (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell) received the rookie of the week to sweep the awards.
Franceski averaged 16.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.0 blocks per game in two contests last week. Against Maine on Saturday, she just missed a triple-double, finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 8 blocks. Her blocks against the Black Bears tied both a school and an America East record for single-game rejections. Earlier in the week against New Hampshire, the senior posted 11 points, 4 blocks, 1 steal and 2 assists. She went 14-for-21 (.667) from the field in both games and hit 5-of-6 free-throw attempts. Franceski has now blocked 28 shots in the past five games and has reached double figures in scoring three consecutive games. This is her second career player of the week honor. The first one came on January 21, 2008.
Holmes finished the week averaging 9.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 1.0 steal per game. She had 11 points, a career-high 8 rebounds as well as a game-high and career-high 8 assists against New Hampshire on Wednesday. On Saturday against Maine, she turned in an 8-point, 4-rebound, 5-assist, 2-steal effort. Holmes continues to rank second on the team in scoring, but against America East opponents, she is averaging a team-best 12.7 points per game.
Stony Brook sophomore forward Kirsten Jeter (Elmont, N.Y./Elmont) helped her team secure its first two wins in conference play last week, first defeating Albany, and then UMBC. Jeter averaged 17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists per game, including a career-high 24 point effort against the Retrievers... UMBC junior guard Carlee Cassidy (Syracuse, N.Y./Westhill) continues to lead the league in scoring, averaging 26.5 points per game last week, despite two losses. She hit 10 three-pointers, including 6 against first-place Boston University... Hartford junior forward Erica Beverly (Bridgeport, Conn./Kolbe Cathedral) notched her sixth double-double of the season in the Hawks' win over Vermont Tuesday night. She averaged 12 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in 2 conference tilts... In the Terriers' lone game of the week, senior forward Jesyka Burks-Wiley (Kansas City, Mo./Lincoln College Prep) scored 21 points and pulled down 6 rebounds. She also added a block and an assist... New Hampshire's Candace Williams (Norfolk, N.H./St. Raphaels) led the Wildcats in scoring in both games, posting a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds at Binghamton... On Sunday against Vermont, Maine junior Katia Bratishko (Annandale, Va./Flint Hill) posted a career-high 10 points and added 7 rebounds.
The Report Is In
Collegiate Basketball News put out its weekly Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) report this morning, an unofficial look at what the NCAA Selection Committee looks at throughout the season and at the end of the regular season to pick out tournament participants. America East is ranked 21 out of 32 conferences midway through the conference season, which is down one spot from last week, but consistent with last year's ranking. Boston University, in the midst of its 8-game win streak, finally cracked the top-100. The Terriers moved up 10 spots to occupy the 98th slot this week, however, Hartford still remains the top-rated team in the conference at 63. Binghamton and Stony Brook, who both went 2-0 last week, moved up 5 and 18 spots, respectively, to round out the positive-movers in the most recent report.
The conference's midway point will come this week as teams begin playing the second half of the home-and-home series on Saturday. Up until this point, first-place Boston University has had the most home games, five, out of the nine teams in the conference. For the Terriers to continue their success into the second half of the conference slate, they must have success on the road where they will play 6 of their final 9 games. Of the five teams who have had the fewest home games thus far, four of them sit in the bottom half of the standings. Home teams have typically done very well in America East conference play, winning nearly 72% of the time (23-9) through Sunday's action.
And Then There Was One
Boston University became the last undefeated squad in America East this season when it knocked off Hartford at Case Gym on January 21. The Terriers' 7-0 start in conference play is the program's best start in 21 seasons, and their current 8-game winning streak is tied for the longest in Boston U. program history.
Lights, Camera, Action!
Two regionally-televised games are set for the small screen this week. Metrocast will broadcast Hartford's trip up to meet New Hampshire on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. On Saturday at the Big Purple Growl, Albany will televise its match-up with SUNY rival Binghamton on TW3 as part of a double-header with the men's team. Women's action will get underway at 4:30 p.m. at SEFCU Arena.
Mourning a Coach
Sadly, inspirational N.C. State women's basketball coach Kay Yow lost her fight against breast cancer early on Saturday, January 24. The Women's Basketball Coaches' Association (WBCA) asked all women's basketball coaches to wear an upside down pink ribbon during games last week to remember Yow. Also, a moment of silence in her honor will take place at all Pink Zone games during the week of February 13-22. Stay tuned to www.AmericaEast.com for more information on Pink Zone week, the WBCA's campaign to fight breast cancer.
The WBCA's breast-cancer awareness program, Pink Zone, is back for a second year and America East is proud to be a participant in this year's event. Pink Zone, which will take place at games between Febuary 13-22, 2009, will raise awareness and funds for the cause across the country. All nine America East schools will select a home game to participate and will plan various promotions and events around the Pink Zone theme. The highlight will be February 15 when Hartford hosts the MAAC's Marist at Chase Arena for a Pink Zone game televised at 1 p.m. on ESPN2. It will be the only non-BCS match-up televised during the network's "February Frenzy." Below is a list of Pink Zone dates for each America East school.
Albany: Saturday, Feb. 21, vs. Hartford
Binghamton: Saturday, Feb. 21 vs. Maine
Boston U.: Sunday, March 1 vs. Maine
Hartford: Sunday, Feb. 15 vs. Marist (ESPN2)
Maine: Sunday, Feb. 15 vs. UMBC (WABI)
UMBC: Saturday, Feb. 21 vs. Stony Brook
New Hampshire: Sunday, Feb. 15 vs. Boston U.
Stony Brook: Tuesday, Feb. 17 vs. Vermont
Vermont: Saturday, Feb. 14 vs. Albany
Binghamton's Franceski has had her own personal block party this season, rejecting 66 shots (3.3 blocks per game) to lead the conference. Franceski has 206 for her career, which is third in America East all-time. Her eight-block performance against Maine helped the cause, tying a school and America East mark for blocked shots in a single game. She became the fifth player in America East to reject an opponent 8 times in one game and it is only the second time it has happened in a conference game. Franceski is 14 swats away from matching Northeastern's Katasha Artis' career mark of 220 for second-place all-time.
Hitting the Mark
In an 11-day span, three America East players became 1,000-point scorers last month. Boston University's Burks-Wiley became the second to do so this season against New Hampshire on Saturday, January 17. On Wednesday, January 21, UMBC's Cassidy joined Vermont's Courtnay Pilypaitis (Ottawa, Ontario/St. Peter) as the second junior to eclipse the mark this season. Cassidy knocked down a three late in the second half at home against Albany to reach the plateau. With a NESN television audience on hand, another Catamount, junior guard May Kotsopoulos (Waterloo, Ontario/Waterloo Collegiate) hit the mark against Hartford on January 27. Kotsopoulos became the 98th player in America East history to become a 1,000-point scorer.
Boston University senior guard Christine Kinneary (Plainedge, N.Y./Holy Trinity) registered the second-most assists in a season last year with 214, and is getting closer to another America East record. Kinneary is currently second all-time in career assists at Boston University (472 assists) and is 3 assists shy of breaking into sole possession of fifth in America East history. Former Terrier Andrea Higgins tallied 475 assists between 1989-93 for fifth all-time in the league annals currently.
Burks-Wiley hit yet another milestone one week after her 1,000th point by collecting her 500th rebound Saturday night, January 24 at Maine. The milestone rebound came as part of a 13-board effort against the Black Bears. Burks-Wiley joins Pilypaitis as America East's only two active members of the 1,000-point/500-rebound club. Vermont senior Amy Rosenkrantz is just one rebound shy of 500, and 39 points shy of 1,000, and is the most likely candidate for the next member of the 1,000/500 club.
While four players have already reached the mark, several other America East players are eyeing the 1,000 point mark. Below is a list of players who may reach that mark by the end of this season, their total points and their 2008-09 points per game average as of today.
Player, School Points PPG
Amy Rosenkrantz, Sr., UVM 961 8.7
Erica Beverly, Jr., UH 865 10.4
Marylynne Schaefer, Sr., UH 806 6.6
Midday Madness Sets Record
UMBC held its annual midday madness when it hosted Albany Wednesday, February 21 and set an attendance record of 1,517 to watch a women's basketball game at RAC Arena. Over 900 of those fans were local elementary and middle school students who came out for the event.
The top three three-point shooters in America East -- Boston U.'s Kristi Dini, UMBC's Cassidy, and Albany's Britney McGee-- are all averaging over 2.4 three's per game. They're all also moving up their schools' respective career three-pointers rankings. Cassidy moved into second at UMBC with 164 career triples, McGee is currently third all-time at Albany with 136, and Dini moved into third-place at Boston U., currently at 157, with two last week. Dini, Cassidy and McGee rank 3rd, 5th and 44th, respectively, in all of Division I.
Going on 30
Cassidy's 33-point performance against the Terriers became the ninth 30-point performance in the league this year. Never have so many 30-point individual efforts come in a single season since the 2004-05 season when there were also nine such outbursts. That year, eight of the nine came against an America East opponent, while this season, four have come during league play so far.
Join the Club
Vermont's Pilypaitis joined two more elite clubs after the game against North Dakota on Sunday, January 4. With five assists, she moved into Vermont's top-five career assists list, handing out 369 in her 2+ seasons. She is now one away from 400 helpers for her career. The junior guard also grabbed eight rebounds and became the 12th member of Vermont's 1,000-point/500-rebound club.
America East teams went a combined 16-40 (.286) in the month of December with five of those games coming against ranked opponents. UMBC (4-3) picked up a quarter of those victories as part of its five-game winning streak.
Fifteen regular-season tournaments highlighted the 2008-09 non-conference season, including two hosted by America East institutions, Vermont and Maine. UMBC took home the only tournament title this season with a 2-0 mark at the Iona Thanksgiving Classic.
UMBC has controlled the rookie of the week award during the 2008-09 season, earning 7 of 12 honors. Going back to last year, the Retrievers have actually won 9 of the past 14 rookie awards. Katie Brooks won weeks two and three, Michelle Kurowski earned recognition three weeks in a row, and Erin Brown took home the honor in weeks 7 and 11. Meghan Colabella won the America East Rookie of the Week the final two weeks of the 2007-08 season. The last time one team has dominated the rookie category was Vermont in 2006-07. Catamounts Courtnay Pilypaitis, May Kotsopoulos and Sofia Iwobi took home nine of 10 rookie awards spanning November 19, 2006-January 22, 2007.
Rookie Ramblings 2
Rookies around the league have made their way into their teams' respective starting lineups going into the conference season. Seven of the nine teams have started a rookie multiple times, and in most instances, consistently. Four freshmen have started every game this season-- Binghamton's Viive Rebane and Holmes, and UMBC's Michelle Kurowski and Erin Brown. Boston U. and Vermont have not started a rookie this season, and they are also two of the most experienced squads this season.
Home Court Advantage
Hartford has been exceptional on its home court, winning 33 straight contests at Chase Arena, the second-longest streak in Division I. The last time the Hawks lost at Chase Arena was November 29, 2006 to Seton Hall, 53-59. Hartford will play at Chase next on Saturday, February 7, against conference foe Maine.
Boston University reeled off 13 straight home wins and ranked as high as eighth in Division I, but snapped that streak earlier this season. St. John's defeated the Terriers Tuesday, December 30 to give Boston U. its first loss at Case Gymnasium in nearly two years. The Terriers have won all five home games since that loss.
On The Glass
Earlier this season, it looked like New Hampshire junior forward Candace Williams and UMBC sophomore forward Meghan Colabella were trying to one-up each other on the glass. Williams set a new career high on December 14 with 15 rebounds in a win against Northeastern. Colabella took it one step further exactly a week later posting up for 16 rebounds. While Williams matched that with 16 rebounds December 29 against Morehead State, Colabella went to another level with a career-high 20 rebounds, a new conference season-high, against Rider on the same day. All four performances were part of double-doubles. The previous 20-rebound performance in America East was by Boston University's Jesyka Burks-Wiley against Stony Brook at the America East Championship on March 11, 2006.
Five America East teams reached the 80-point water line the week of December 1 led by New Hampshire's 89 points on Friday night against Colgate. UMBC put up 85 points against Navy on Wednesday for their fifth such performance this season, Binghamton poured in 83 points against Niagara on Monday, Boston University took advantage of Brown for 81 points, and Hartford netted 80 on Saturday against St. Joseph's. All five of those performances resulted in wins for the America East squad.
Doubling Up The Triple Double
Vermont junior guard Courtnay Pilypaitis completed a feat twice that most players can't accomplish ever in their careers. Pilypaitis recorded her second career triple-double on Saturday, December 6 against Holy Cross with 18 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds. The junior earned her first triple-double, and the first in Vermont's women's basketball history, last winter against conference-foe Hartford. There have only been three triple-doubles in America East over the past five seasons and Pilypaitis is the owner of two of them. Before the Catamount, the previous one belonged to Boston University's Adrienne Norris in February 2004 against New Hampshire.
Retriever Double Threat
In UMBC's game against Towson on Wednesday, December 3, two Retrievers hit the 30-point mark for what is believed to be only the fifth time ever in Division I history. Junior Carlee Cassidy poured in a career-high 32 points, while her backcourt teammate, freshman Michelle Kurowski posted 30 points. The last time two teammates each scored 30 points in the same game was Purdue's Shereka Wright (34) and Katie Geralds (32) at Iowa on February 10, 2004.
Now that the first month of the season is complete, it's time to see where the league is in non-conference play to date. America East teams are 18-34 in out-of-conference contests, and have a .500 or above record against six different conferences (ACC, Big South, Colonial, MAAC, MAC, MEAC, and Patriot). Last season through three weeks of play, America East had a 22-27 non-conference record and had an even record or better versus 10 leagues.
Pair of Nines
A pair of guards dished out a then-conference-high nine helpers during the week of November 24. Albany guard Britney McGee handed out nine assists in the Great Danes' loss to VCU on Saturday, November 29, and finished just one assist shy of her first career double-double. Twenty-four hours later, freshman Katie Brooks also recorded nine assists in a 92-70 victory over UMES. Brooks finished one assist and three boards shy of a triple-double.