Wilson, Trifunovic Earn Final Men's Basketball Weekly Awards of 2006-07

Release: 02/26/2007

Albany's Jamar Wilson (Bronx, N.Y./Our Savior New American School) closes out the final regular-season of his career by taking home his fourth America East Player of the Week accolade of the season and the eighth of his career. Binghamton freshman Lazar Trifunovic (Belgrade, Serbia/Secondary Railway) earns his second America East Rookie of the Week award of the season after guiding the Bearcats to two victories, securing the No. 6 seed for the upcoming America East Men's Basketball Championship. The awards were announced Monday (February 26).

Wilson averaged 24.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 4.5 apg, while shooting 50.0 percent from the field (15-for-30) and 70.0 percent from three-point territory (7-for-10). The reigning America East Player of the Year scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half in a 73-63 victory over Boston University on Feb. 25. Wilson keyed a run of nine unanswered that brought his team back from a 52-48 deficit with 10:15 remaining. The 6-1 guard drained one of his four three-pointers (tied career-high) to ignite that stretch. His steal and assist led to Jon Iati’s go-ahead three-pointer. The fifth-year senior added six rebounds, three assists and two steals. He also tallied 19 points, six assists and four rebounds on his 23rd birthday in a 66-46 win at Stony Brook on Feb. 22.

The 6-8 forward averaged 12.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg and 3.0 apg. Trifunovic recorded his third-consecutive double-double in the Bearcats' win over New Hampshire  and followed that up with a 10-point and five-assist performance in Binghamton's victory over Hartford.

Championship Field Set
The nine-team field for the 2007 America East Men’s Basketball Championship is set. The conference’s premier event takes place at Boston University’s Agganis Arena on March 2-4, with the title game to be played on March 10 at the higher remaining seed. The league tournament gets underway on Friday, March 2 as No. 9 Stony Brook and No. 8 Hartford square off at 7 p.m. Below is the complete championship bracket, which can be downloaded in PDF format at www.AmericaEast.com.
Men's Basketball Championship Bracket
at Agganis Arena (Boston, Mass.)
Friday, March 2: First Round
#8 Hartford vs. #9 Stony Brook, 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 3: Quarterfinals
#8/9 vs. #1 Vermont, 12 noon
#5 UMBC vs. #4 Maine, 2:30 p.m.
#7 New Hampshire vs. #2 Albany, 6 p.m.
#6 Binghamton vs. #3 Boston U., 8:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 4: Semifinals
12 noon/2:30 p.m. (AETV: TW3)
Saturday, March 10: Title Game
at higher remaining seed, 12 noon (ESPN2)

Single-Session Tickets On Sale
With the field now set, single-session tickets for the 2007 America East Men's Basketball Championship are now on sale. Adult first-round tickets are $20/each with youth/student prices set at $10. Adult quarter- and semifinal tickets are $25/each with youth/student prices set at $15. Tournament ticket packages are $30 for youth/students and $60 for adults. Tickets can be purchased online through www.AmericaEast.com, by calling TicketMaster at 617-931-2000 or in-person at the Agganis Arena Ticket Office.

No. 1 Vermont Catamounts
For the third time in program history, the Catamounts are the No. 1 seed for the America East Championship. UVM is 4-1 all-time when slotted into the tournament’s top slot, including taking home the title in 2004-05. The No. 1 seed boasts a 56-7 (.889) all-time record in the conference tournament, winning 17 of the previous 24 championships since seedings began in 1983.

No. 2 Albany Great Danes
The defending America East Champion Great Danes are the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament for the first time. Throughout tourney history, No. 2 seeds have combined to go 46-18 (.719), collecting six league crowns and advancing to the title game 17 times.

No. 3 Boston University Terriers
For the third-straight year the host Terriers are the No. 3 seed for the nine-team league tournament. Boston U. has lost back-to-back quarterfinal contests as the No. 3 seed, but is 6-6 all-time as that seed, advancing to the title game twice (1986, 1987). With a 25-23 (.521) all-time record in tournament play, the No. 3 seed is the lowest seed to ever win a league title.

No. 4 Maine Black Bears
The Black Bears are the No. 4 seed for the seventh time in tournament history. Maine is 4-6 in games as the fourth-seed with its best result from that position coming in 2004 when the Black Bears lost in the title game to Vermont. The No. 4 seed is 10-24 (.294) lifetime in tournament play, moving on to the title game twice.

No. 5 UMBC Retrievers
With the No. 5 seeding the Retrievers boast their best seeding since joining the conference for the 2003-04 season. The fifth seed has advanced to the title game three times and boasts a solid 19-24 (.442) in conference tournament play with much of its success coming versus the No. 4 seed. Having won four of the last quarterfinal match-ups versus the No. 4 seed, including two straight, the team slotted in the fifth seed is 16-8 (.667) all-time against the fourth seed.

No. 6 Binghamton Bearcats
The Bearcats won two games to close out the regular season and secure the sixth seed for the first time since becoming eligible for the 2004 tournament. With a 7-24 (.225) all-time tournament record, the sixth seed has been the biggest spoiler of the past two America East Championships. Last season, the Catamounts became the first sixth seed to advance to the title game.

No. 7 New Hampshire Wildcats
For the second time in four years and the fourth time in league history, the Wildcats are the No. 7 seed for the America East Championship. UNH is 1-3 in tourney play as the seventh seed, with its lone win coming in the 2004 first round when the Wildcats toppled No. 10 Albany, 43-38, in the lowest scoring game in tournament history. The No. 7 seed is 6-23 (.207) in tournament play and has never advanced past the quarterfinal round. All six wins by the seventh seed have come in the first round versus the No. 10 seed.

No. 8 Hartford Hawks
Hartford is the eighth seed for the conference championship for just the second time in tournament history. In 1992, the Hawks were No. 8 and fell to eventual champion and top-ranked Delaware, 92-56, in quarterfinal action. The eighth seed is 9-22 (.290) lifetime in championship contests, with eight of those nine victories coming in the first round. In 2004, Stony Brook became the first No. 8 to upset the No. 1 seed as the Seawolves downed host Boston University to advance to the league semifinals.

No. 9 Stony Brook Seawolves
For the second-consecutive season the Seawolves are seeded ninth for the conference tournament. Last season, Stony Brook lost to No. 8 UMBC, 88-70, in first round play. The No. 9 seed is 5-12 (.294) all-time in tournament action with all five victories coming in the first round.

Home cooking
Clinching the top seed for the America East Championship has been a critical marker for success in the league's tournament. The conference's top seed boasts a 56-7 (.888) record in tournament play, winning 17 of 24 crowns and making it to the title game 20 times. Furthermore, the title game has been played on the home court of one of the participating teams 22 times with the home squad winning 20 of those contests. The last team to go on the road and win the league title game was Vermont in 2003. The Catamounts' David Hehn netted a buzzer beater to give UVM a 56-55 win over Boston University at Case Gymnasium, starting a run to three-straight league titles for Vermont.

Championship Brunch at Fenway
The 2007 America East Men's Basketball Championship Brunch will be held at Fenway Park's State Street Pavilion on March 2 at 10 a.m. The league will hand out its annual awards just hours before the start of the conference's nine-team tournament.

Close Competition
With the 2006-07 regular-season conference slate complete, the competition around America East has been very close. Of the 72 league games played, 40 were decided by 10 points or less and 31 by five points or less. On the season, America East teams have combined to play a total of 258 games with 50.8 percent (131) decided by 10 points or less and 31.4 percent (81) decided by five points or less.

AE Moves up to 20th In RPI Report
The Collegiate Basketball News RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) Report was released on Monday (Feb. 26) and America East rose one spot to the 20th-ranked league in the nation. Vermont moved up 10 spots to 78 and remains the league's top squad. Albany jumped five spots to crack the top 100 at 99.
• As a conference, the league ranks 20th in the country, which is seven spots higher than last season's final RPI of 27, and 10th among other mid-major leagues. Most notably, America East ranks ahead of the MAAC (24th overall/14th among mid-majors) and the Ohio Valley (27th/17th).
• Six of the nine America East members boast higher RPIs than they finished with a season ago. See the list below that compares last year's final RPI with this year's current RPI and the number of spots each school has moved up.

School 2005-06 2006-07 Increase
Vermont 212 78 +114
UMBC 297 221 +76
Maine 281 238 +43
Stony Brook 310 272 +38
Hartford 268 233 +35
Albany 116 99 +17

Conference Climb
With the non-conference regular-season complete, America East squads sailed past last year's non-conference win total. America East teams are 49-64 (.434) in 2006-07, compared to just 33-69 (.324) a season ago. Forty-nine wins is the most since the league recorded 52 in 1994-95 when there were also nine teams in America East.

Above .500
Three league teams are .500 or better in non-conference play on the 2006-07 season. Last season, only Albany (8-8) posted a non-conference mark of .500 or better.

Non-Conference Slate Complete
All of the league's nine teams have completed the regular-season non-conference portion of their 2006-07 schedules. Vermont (8-5) boasts the best non-conference followed by Binghamton (7-5), Albany (7-6), Hartford (6-7), Stony Brook (5-7), Maine (5-8) UMBC (4-9), New Hampshire (4-9) and Boston University (3-9).

Road Warriors
The biggest component to America East's non-conference success this season has been the ability of league teams to win on the road. Conference teams have combined to win 29 non-conference road games in 2006-07, compared to just nine a season ago. The most notable road victory to date was Vermont's victory at #14 Boston College, but the overall road successes of the league could loom large when the league's automatic qualifier is seeded for the NCAA Tournament and for other postseason candidates as well.

Lights, Camera, Action
America East announced its most comprehensive television schedule in history with more than 50 men’s and women’s basketball games slated for broadcast in 2006-07 (see following page for complete schedule). Included in the package is the America East Men’s Basketball Championship, which will air live on ESPN2 on March 10 at 12 noon. It marks the 19th-consecutive year that the championship game will appear on ESPN/ESPN2. America East and ESPN Regional Television will team up to produce and distribute games throughout the America East geographic footprint, which includes several of the nation’s top 25 media markets including New York (No. 1), Boston (No. 5), Washington, D.C. (No. 8), Baltimore and Hartford. In addition, no fewer than 12 games will be included in the ESPN Full Court package, the subscription service provided by ESPN. The games will also be available on-line via video streaming at AmericaEast.com.

Albany Great Danes
Albany (20-9, 13-3 America East) reached the 20-win mark during the regular season for the first time as a Division I program in a 73-63 triumph against Boston University on Feb. 25... The Great Danes, who won 21 games last year, recorded back-to-back 20-win campaigns for the first time in 17 years... UAlbany went 20-8 in 1988-89 and 20-9 in 1989-90 as a NCAA Division III program... The Great Danes set the program’s Division I standard with their 11th home victory of the season and tied their best mark in league play with 13 conference wins... Jamar Wilson (Bronx, N.Y./Our Savior New American School) scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half as UAlbany rallied in the final period for the 10th time this year... Wilson, who has 2,082 points to rank seventh on America East’s career scoring chart, tallied 20 or more points for the 46th time as a collegian... The 6-1 senior became the first player in school history to score 500-plus points in three different seasons in a 66-46 win at Stony Brook on Feb. 22... Wilson had 19 points on his 23rd birthday as his team posted its ninth road victory, the highest total for the program at the Division I level... Jason Siggers (Dallas, Texas/Skyline) has reached double figures in 15 of his last 17 starts... Siggers, one of three seniors making his final home regular-season appearance on Feb. 25, had 13 points against Boston U... Jon Iati (York, Pa./York Catholic) netted 12 points off the bench and made 4-of-6 from three-point range in that same contest... Iati scored in twin figures for the first time since Feb. 3... Brian Lillis (Urbandale, Iowa/West Des Moines Dowling) had 11 points at Stony Brook, his 13th time in double digits at the collegiate level... Lillis is tied for 13th on UAlbany’s career steals list with 116... Brian Connelly (Audubon, N.J./Camden Catholic) is averaging 8.4 ppg over his last five outings... The Great Danes held an opponent under 40-percent shooting for the seventh time this season when Stony Brook was limited to 36.2 percent... UAlbany converted 10-of-20 from the three-point arc against the Seawolves, and has made 10-plus on 34 occasions at the Division I level.

Binghamton Bearcats
Binghamton (13-15, 6-10 America East) won its final two regular-season games to grab the No. 6 seed for the upcoming America East Championship... Having been picked sixth in the preseason poll, it marks the sixth-consecutive season that the Bearcats have met or exceeded preseason expectations... With a crowd of 3,855 for the Hartford game, Binghamton wrapped up its fourth-consecutive America East attendance title with a home average of 3,206... The 29-point rout of New Hampshire on the road was the second-largest margin of victory in the program's Division I tenure, surpassed only by the 30-point win over the Wildcats in 2003... Junior point guard Mike Gordon (Plainfield, N.J./Plainfield) won the Hartford game by hitting a three-pointer with 22 seconds left... It was Gordon's third game-winning shot this season and the third time in two years he has beaten the Hawks in the closing seconds... Gordon averaged 14.5 ppg for the week and extended his conference lead in steals with six in the two games... Freshman forward Lazar Trifunovic (Belgrade, Serbia/Secondary Railway) produced his third consecutive double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds at New Hampshire.

Boston University Terriers
Boston University (11-17, 8-8 America East) lost both games this past week to Vermont (57-55) and Albany (73-63)... The game against the Catamounts featured 11 ties and 12 lead changes, and Vermont’s five-point lead at the 16:21 mark in the first half was the largest held by either team for the game... Boston U. recorded seven blocks, one shy of its season-high eight established against UMBC on Jan. 21... Freshman Corey Lowe (Newton, Mass./Newton North) led all players with 22 points... He went to the line six times in the final 42 seconds, each time cutting the UVM lead to one, but the Terriers couldn’t make that final push... Boston U. out-rebounded Vermont 36-30, including 14 offensive rebounds... The Catamounts came into the game ranked first in the nation in rebounding margin (+9.9)... Albany opened the second half on a 10-4 run to take a 46-36 advantage at 16:49... Boston U. responded with a 16-2 rally and held a 52-48 edge with 10:28 left, but Wilson and Jon Iati combined to hit four three-pointers to swing the lead back to Albany for good... The Terriers shot 52.4 percent from the floor as a team in the second half and shot 47.7 percent for the game... Albany shot 52.9 percent from three-point range as a team, the highest three-point percentage by a Boston U. opponent this season... The No. 3-seeded Terriers face No. 6 Binghamton in the first round of the America East Tournament on Saturday, March 3 at 8:30 p.m. in Boston University’s Agganis Arena.

Hartford Hawks
Hartford (12-17, 6-10 America East) finished up the regular season with a pair of road losses at Binghamton and Vermont... The Hawks dropped a 55-53 decision to the Bearcats as Mike Gordon once again hit the game-winning shot... Hartford then fell 90-73 at Vermont after leading at the half... Freshman Joe Zeglinski (Philadelphia, Pa./Archbishop Ryan) led the Hawks in scoring for the week at 16.0 ppg... He finished with a career-high 24 points at Vermont and also added five rebounds and five steals... He also became only the sixth player in school's Division I history to log more than 1,000 minutes in a season... Senior Bo Taylor (Reston, Va./Paul VI Catholic/Bishop O'Connell/South Lakes) leads the team in scoring at 14.9 ppg... He also averaged 15.3 ppg in conference play... Junior Rich Baker (Frederick, Md./Montrose Christian) dished out a career-high eight assists at Vermont, the best game he's played since returning from a foot injury... He also made his return to the starting lineup and played 34 minutes... The Hawks finished the regular season tied for sixth place but will be the eighth seed at the 2007 America East Men's Basketball Championship... Hartford will face ninth-seeded Stony Brook on Friday night at 7 p.m. for the right to play top-seeded Vermont on Saturday at noon. The Hawks swept the season series against the Seawolves.

Maine Black Bears
Maine (12-17, 7-9 America East) ended the season with a victory over Stony Brook to finish fourth in the America East standings... Maine was led by Kevin Reed (Yarmouth, Mass./Dennis-Yarmouth/St. Thomas More) who averaged 18.0 ppg on the week... Reed set a Maine record for career games played on Sunday when he played in his 118th career game... The previous mark for career games played with 117 held by Deonte Hursey... Jon Sheets (Grass Valley, Calif./Nevada Union/Yuba City CC) dished out 6.5 apg on the week, including a career-high seven on Thursday at UMBC... Sheets moved into a tie for sixth place on Maine's career three-point field goal list with 141... Rookie Junior Bernal (Manhattan, N.Y./Hyde School/MCI) recorded a career-high six steals in Maine's game at UMBC on Thursday... Senior Chris Bruff (Bloomfield, Conn./Northwest Catholic) ignited a run for Maine on Sunday as the Black Bears overcame a nine-point second half deficit... Bruff scored 19 points in the game, including 14 in the second half alone.. Sheets and Reed have combined to hit 149 three-point field goals this season... Sheets has 75 while Reed has drained 74... Before the game on Sunday, Maine honored seniors Olli Ahvenniemi (Vaasa, Finland/Vaasan Lyseon Lukio), Sheets, Bruff and Reed.

UMBC Retrievers
UMBC (11-18, 7-9 America East) junior guard Brian Hodges (Upper Marlboro, Md./Bishop McNamara) finished the season very strongly, averaging 19.7 ppg in his last three games and hitting 23 of his last 39 shots (59.0 percent) from the floor... He scored 19 points versus Maine, including 12 in the first half to help UMBC recover from a 10-point deficit and grab a three-point halftime lead... Hodges added 20 points versus UNH, his 21st game in double figures this season and seventh in a row... His 1,064 points is now 13th in school history and his 54 three-point goals in 06-07 is a new single season high for Hodges... Senior Chris Pugh (Clinton, Md./Oxon Hill) keyed the win over Maine in his final home game with 20 points, including four of six from behind the arc... Pugh has 97 career three-point goals, ninth on the team’s all-time list... classmate Mike Housman (Great Falls, Va./Langley) did not hit a three-point field goal in his first 109 career games, but was 2/2 from behind the arc in his final home appearance... The Retrievers were a sizzling 28 of 53 from the floor, hitting over 50 percent for the second straight game... In its 11 wins, UMBC hit 50.3 percent from the floor, while the Retreivers were at 39.3 percent in its 18 setbacks... UMBC finished 6-6 at home and drew a record 1,920 fans per game, an increase of 11 percent from a year ago... Of course, UMBC will face Maine for the second time in 10 days when the Retrievers and Black Bears meet in the America East quarter-finals... It will be the first meeting between those two teams in tournament play... UMBC’s seven America East wins is its best in four conference seasons.

New Hampshire Wildcats
New Hampshire (10-19, 6-10 America East) split a pair of games this week... In UNH’s most recent win last Sunday, the senior duo of Jermaine Anderson (Beverly, Mass./Phillips Exeter) and Blagoj Janev (Sydney, Australia/Australia Institute of Sport) carried the Wildcats to a 64-51 win over UMBC as the co-captains combined for 47 of the 61 points... Freshman forward Radar Onguetou (Yaoundé, Cameroon/New Hampton School) posted a game-high nine rebounds along with eight points, while sophomore guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass./Thayer Academy) notched seven points and rebounds... The Wildcats fell to Binghamton University Feb. 20, 66-37, as Anderson posted a team-high 18 points in the loss... The win over the UMBC Retrievers paired with a Vermont victory over Hartford secured the seventh seed in the America East Championships at Agganis Arena in Boston for the Wildcats as they face defending conference champion and the second-seeded University at Albany... The Great Danes swept the season series this season against the Wildcats with a win on America East opening night (69-52) and a win on the road at UNH (71-64)... The contest is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start on Saturday with the winner facing either Boston University of Binghamton University.

Stony Brook Seawolves
Stony Brook (9-19, 4-12) fell in both of its contests this week and wrapped up the regular season... On Thursday Mitchell Beauford (Queens, N.Y./Christ the King) scored a game-high 20 points but it was not enough as Albany topped the Seawolves, 66-46... Ricky Lucas (Herndon, Va./Herndon/George Washington) added seven points as did Rio Pitt (Amityville, N.Y./Our Savior New American)... In the Seawolves regular-season finale, Ricky Lucas' half-court shot rimmed out as time expired as SBU was edged by Maine, 63-61.. The Seawolves, who shot 48 percent and went 5-of-7 from downtown in the first half, headed into the locker room with a 35-28 advantage, thanks much in part to Lucas' 16 points... Stony Brook rallied from eight points down to cut the lead to just two, but Lucas half-court shot was off... Lucas finished with a game-high 21 points and seven rebounds... Beauford added 16 points and seven assists and Mike Popoko (Baltimore, Md./The McDonogh School) recorded 10 points and seven rebounds.

Vermont Catamounts
Vermont (23-6, 15-1 America East) wrapped up the regular season last week with a pair of victories... UVM has won 11 straight and 18 of its last 19 heading into the America East Championship... The 11-game winning streak is tied for fifth in the nation... The 23 wins are the most in the regular season in school history and second most overall all-time... On Thursday the Catamounts clinched the America East regular-season championship outright with a 57-55 win on the road over Boston University... The victory was Vermont’s 11th straight on the road, which is the longest current streak in the nation... Sophomore Mike Trimboli (Norwalk, Conn./St. Luke’s) led the Catamounts with 15, while senior Chris Holm (Henderson, Nev./Green Valley) added 10 points and 11 rebounds... Vermont went 8-0 on the road in league play this season... The Catamounts defeated Hartford 90-73 on Senior Day in front of UVM’s third sellout crowd of the season... Junior Kyle Cieplicki (Shelburne, Vt./Rice) recorded a career-high 26 points and matched a career-high with seven assists... Holm added 17 points and 15 rebounds for his league-high 14th double-double of the season... Holm has 353 for the year which breaks the school single-season record of 350 that was set by Benny Becton in 1960-61... With the win, Vermont posted the best America East conference winning percentage in school history (.938)... The Catamounts will next play on Saturday in the America East Championship Quarterfinals at Agganis Arena in Boston, Mass. against the winner of the #8 Hartford/#9 Stony Brook game, as they will play on Friday night.