Updated: November 15, 2011 8:11 pm (ET)
by America East Communications
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Big performances have earned a pair of big men the first America East men's basketball weekly awards of the 2011-12 season. University of New Hampshire's Brian Benson set career-highs for points and rebounds in his lone game last week to earn Player of the Week honors while Binghamton University's Ben Dickinson set a program for points by a freshman in his debut to earn Rookie of the Week accolades. The award winners were announced Monday afternoon.
Benson (Rocherst, N.Y.) picked up where he left off last season, racking up a double-double in a win over Suffolk Friday and earned his first career America East Player of the Week honor. The senior center, who ranked second among league leaders in rebounding last year with 8.3 per game, recorded his third career double-double totaling a career-best 17 points and tying a career mark with 16 boards Friday. Named the America East Player of the Game for his efforts, Benson shot 7-of-13 from the floor and added a blocked shot.
Dickinson (Alexandria, Va.) had the best offensive performance by a Binghamton freshman in his debut Saturday, scoring a game-high 27 points in a 78-74 loss to Colgate in the season opener for both teams. The freshman forward, who shot 7-of-13 from the floor, got to the free throw line 14 times and coverted 11 of the tries. He also contributed seven rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists in 38 minutes of action. He is the first Bearcat to earn Rookie of the Week honors since Dylan Talley on Feb. 22, 2010.
The Honor Roll
Several other America East players had top performances last week:
• Albany's Gerardo Suero (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) tallied 17 points and six rebounds in his debut as a Great Dane in a loss at #10/11 Pittsburgh Friday.
• Boston University's Darryl Partin (Seattle, Wash.) scored a game-high 25 points against Northeastern Friday.
• Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass.) scored 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting in his return from a knee injury that kept him out of the better part of last year.
• UMBC's Chase Plummer (Plainfield, N.J.) nearly averaged a double-double over the two games (13.5 points, 9.5 rebounds) scoring 15 points and adding nine rebounds against Penn and racking up 12 points and 10 rebounds against the Red Storm. • Tommy Brenton (Columbia, Md.) came close to a triple-double, tallying 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists in Sunday's win over Mount Ida.
• Four McGlynn (York, Pa.) scored 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting off the bench in his collegiate debut on Saturday.
Another Season Tips Off
The 2011-12 basketball season, America East's 33rd, got underway on Friday. Eight of the league's nine teams tipped off with New Hampshire and Stony Brook earning wins. The Wildcats, who have won four straight season openers, and the Seawolves were joined by Binghamton, Boston U. and UMBC as teams with home openers last week.UMaine, the lone team that did not begin play over the weekend, starts its season tonight against Maine-Machias.
Boston U. Raises Banner
Before kicking off its 2011-12 season, Boston University raised its 2010-11 banner to the rafters of Case Gym prior to its opener on Friday against Northeastern. The Terriers won their sixth America East Championship, the second-most in league history, and first since 2002 last season.
Impressive Debuts All Around
A trio of new players had impressive debuts for their teams, none more than Binghamton's Ben Dickinson. Tabbed the America East Rookie of the Week, Dickinson set a program record for points in a debut by a freshman, scoring 27 to with seven rebounds in the Bearcats' opener Saturday. Another freshman, Vermont's Four McGlynn, nearly led the Catamounts to a win at South Florida Saturday. He contributed 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting off the bench in the 61-59 defeat. Albany's Gerardo Suero, a junior transfer, picked up where he left off on the team's summer Canadian trip on which he averaged 18.5 points over five games. He had 17 points and six rebounds in the Great Danes' opener at #10/11 Pittsburgh on Friday.
Fans Come Out for Openers
Five America East teams had their home openers over the weekend, which drew an average of 2,238. Two schools, Binghamton and Boston U., set attendance records. The 4,780 fans to enter the Events Center set a new standard for a season opener while the 1,875 fans at Case Gym set a new facility record.
Streaking to Start Season
A pair of teams have made a habit of winning on opening day. New Hampshire extended its streak to four years with a win over Suffolk on Friday. The Wildcats also grew its streak of winning its home opener to six. Maine is going for its fourth straight win to start a season when Maine Presque Isle visits Orono on Monday.
Back and Better Than Ever
Two former America East all-conference players returned to the court after missing significant time last season. New Hampshire's Alvin Abreu, a second-team all-league choice in 2009-10, played in just four games last year before tearing his ACL. He returned to the lineup on Friday and didn't miss a beat, scoring 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting. Abreu, a senior guard, also contributed four steals, three rebounds and two assists. Also back in action was Stony Brook's Tommy Brenton, also a second-team all-leaguer in 2009-10, who missed all of last season with an injury. The league's leading rebounder as a sophomore, the junior forward nearly had a triple double in the Seawolves' win over Mount Ida Sunday as he contributed 11 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Alphabet Soup: AE and the BCS
America East has had eight wins over a Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conference school since 2008. Maine beat Penn State last season, which was the league's second against a Big Ten program in as many seasons. Boston U. downed Indiana in 2009 and also knocked off Oregon St. of the Pac 10 in the College Basketball Invitational that season.
It's Tourney Time
Three America East teams, Albany, Boston U. and Vermont, are participating in early season tournaments. The Great Danes are playing four games as part of the Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off and open with Brown in the Syracuse Regional on Monday. The winner of that game will play either Syracuse or Manhattan on Tuesday on ESPN3. Albany will play two more games as part of the tournament next week. Boston U. is playing the Legends Classic and opened with a loss at Texas Sunday. The Terriers play three more games as part of the Classic Nov. 25-27 and will face Cleveland State, Hofstra and Rhode Island in Kingston, R.I. Vermont is playing two games as part of the Hall of Fame Tip-Off at Mohegan Sun and will face Marist in their opener Saturday.
New Faces on the Bench
America East welcomes two new head coaches to the fold in 2011-12. Former Columbia head coach Joe Jones was named Pat Chambers' successor after he went to Penn State and John Becker was promoted at Vermont after Mike Lonergan took the George Washington position. Jones, who got his coaching start in America East as an assistant at Hofstra was most recently Associate head coach at Boston College, while Becker has spent the last five years as an assistant for the Catamounts.
Seven of the 15 players who earned all-conference recognition last season return for 2011-12, including four of the league's top 10 scorers. Additionally, two others who earned second-team recognition in 2009-10, New Hampshire's Alvin Abreu and Stony Brook's Tommy Brenton return after missing last season with injuries. Senior Darryl Partin, who helped Boston U. win its first conference title since 2002 last year, is the lone first-team all-league returnee. He ranked seventh among league leaders averaging 14.6 points per game last season. UMBC's Chris De La Rosa is the conference's top returning scorer. He averaged 15.5 points per game last season and also handed out a league-best 6.0 assists per game.
Terriers Again the Top Choice
For the fifth straight year, Boston University, the reigning America East champion, is the coaches’ preseason choice to repeat as champion in 2011-12. The Terriers, who return four starters from last season, including first-team All-America East guard Darryl Partin, garnered six of eight possible first-place votes (coaches were not allowed to vote for their team) and 62 points, followed by last year’s runner-up Stony Brook University, which received three first-place votes and 56 points. University of Vermont, the reigning America East regular-season champion, was picked third, tallying 46 points, and was followed closely in fourth by University at Albany, which recieved 42 points. University of New Hampshire was next in fifth place with 39 points while University of Maine followed in sixth with 32 points. University of Hartford and UMBC were tied for seventh place with 18 points and Binghamton University rounded out the nine-team poll with 11 points.
Four All-Leaguers on Preseason Team
Four returning All-America East selections from last season and the league’s reigning Rookie of the Year highlight the 2011-12 America East Preseason All-Conference Team. Boston University’s Darryl Partin (Seattle, Wash.), a first-team all-conference selection last year, headlines the group. He is joined by a trio of 2010-11 second-team all-league honorees in University of Maine’s Gerald McLemore (San Diego, Calif.), UMBC’s Chris De La Rosa (Washington Heights, N.Y.) and Stony Brook University’s Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.). University of Vermont’s Brian Voelkel (Pleasantville, N.Y.), last year’s America East Rookie of the Year, rounds out the five-man squad.
America East will look to keep up its recent track record of sending multiple teams to the postseason in 2011-12. Last year, the conference had multiple teams playing into the middle of March (Boston U. - NCAA, Vermont - NIT) for the third straight year and seventh in the last nine. In total, 17 teams have reached the postseason since 2003, including three in both 2005 (Boston U., Northeastern, Vermont) and 2010 (Boston U., Stony Brook, Vermont).
Five of a Kind
Dynasties have been an important part of the history of America East basketball. Eight teams, including six different schools, have won consecutive league titles and of those, three (Drexel, Northeastern and Vermont) have won three in a row. However, parity has hit the league of late as five different teams have won the last five America East titles, the only such stretch in the league's 32 year history. Boston U. (2011), Vermont (2010), Binghamton (2009), UMBC (2008) and Albany (2007) are the last five champions.
Making a Mark on Defense
Several America East teams hope to pick up where they left off last year on the defensive end of the court. Six teams held opponents under 65 points per game last season and ranked in the top-70 nationally in scoring defense. Stony Brook led the charge, ranking 15th by holding foes to just 60.4 points per game, while New Hampshire followed closely behind in 18th (60.9 papg). The Seawolves were even better in field goal percentage defense, holding opponents to 39 percent shooting, which ranked ninth nationally. Four other schools ranked in the top-65, including Vermont (10th - 39.2 percent) and Boston U. (23rd 0 39.9 percent), which both held foes under 40 percent.
Mark Your Calendars
The season officially gets underway November 11 with eight of the nine teams opening their seasons this weekend, including Boston University which will raise its 2010-11 America East championship banner prior to its game against Northeastern. Conference play will begin just after the new year on January 2 and the conference tournament will return to the University of Hartford on March 1-4 with the league title game taking place on March 10 at 11 a.m. on ESPN 2.
Back from Injury
A trio of players who played important roles on their teams in 2009-10 return this season after missing all or most of last season. Stony Brook's Tommy Brenton, a second-team all-conference performer and all-defensive choice two years ago, is back after missing all of last year with a knee injury. Brenton, the league's active leading rebounder (577) despite having played just two seasons, led America East with 9.7 boards per game to go with 7.6 points, 2.7 assists and 1.8 steals two years ago. New Hampshire's Alvin Abreu is back for a fifth season. The former second-team all-league choice (2009-10) played in just four games last season before going down with a knee injury. He ranked eighth among scoring leaders as junior, averaging 14.4 points per game. Abreu's teammate Ferg Myrick averaged 12.1 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, before missing the last 16 games of the year with a knee injury. Hartford will get senior point guard Andres Torres back. Torres, who redshirted last season with an injury, averaged 6.7 points and 4.4 assists in 2009-10.
All Nine in Bracketbusters
For the first time in league history, all nine teams will participate in Sears BracketBusters, ESPN’s three-day men’s college basketball event pitting potential NCAA Championship hopefuls against each other. The event, which will feature 13 televised contests on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ESPN3, will take place Feb. 17-19 with the matchups being announced Jan. 30. Albany, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont will serve as home teams for the event, while Binghamton, Boston University, Hartford, UMBC and Stony Brook will be on the road. America East teams have appeared on national television as part of the event in five of the last seven years, including Vermont last year.
Back to Hartford
For the third straight season, University of Hartford will be the host of the America East Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships. The tournament, which will be combined for the third straight season, will be held on March 1-4, 2012 at Chase Arena at the Reich Family Pavilion on University of Hartford’s campus. The first, quarterfinal and semifinal rounds for both the men and women will be held at the combined tournament, while the title games will again both be held the following weekend at the site of the highest seeds remaining.
New Commissioner on Board
Amy Huchthausen was named the conference's fourth commissioner on September 29. A former assistant commissioner at America East, Huchthausen returns after spending four years as Director of Academic and Membership Services at the NCAA working primarily with Division III’s strategic branding team. She's also worked in three other Division I conference offices, including the Big East, Ivy League and Missouri Valley Conference.
Albany Great Danes (0-1)
Albany began its 98th season of competition and 13th as a NCAA Division I program on Friday, Nov. 11 … the Great Danes dropped an 89-56 decision to Pittsburgh, No. 10 in the Associated Press poll and No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today rankings … the Panthers, who won last year’s Big East Conference regular-season crown, shot 54 percent from the field, including 13-of-22 from three-point range … Pittsburgh was the fifth-highest ranked opponent in UAlbany’s history … the Great Danes opened with a Big East Conference program for the third time in the last four years … Gerardo Suero (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic/Our Savior New American) had 12 of his 17 points in the first half … Logan Aronhalt (Zanesville, Ohio/Zanesville) and Mike Black (Chicago, Ill./Oak Park Fenwick) added 13 and 11 points, respectively … Aronhalt and Black each earned third-team All-America East recognition last year … Albany is participating in tournament play during the season for the third year in a row … the Great Danes meet Brown in first round of the Dick’s Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off on Nov. 14 and then face No. 5 Syracuse or Manhattan the following day … UAlbany previously played in the 2009 2K Sports Classic and 2010 Legends Classic … the Great Danes were picked fourth in the conference preseason poll … UAlbany (16-16) recorded a nine-win improvement from the previous season … the Great Danes reached the 15-win plateau for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
Binghamton Bearcats (0-1)
Binghamton dropped its season opener, 78-74 to Colgate despite a combined 51 points from freshman forward Ben Dickinson (Alexandria, Va./Gonzaga) and sophomore guard Robert Mansell (Philadelphia, Pa./Cheltenham) ... The opener in head coach Mark Macon's third season drew 4,760 fans to the Events Center - the largest home-opening crowd in Binghamton's 11-year Division I tenure ... Dickinson made a sparkling collegiate debut, netting a game-high 27 points with seven rebounds and three steals in 38 minutes. He hit 7-of-13 from the field and 11-of-14 from the line ... Unfortunately, the rest of the team managed just 28% accuracy in a game slowed by 50 fouls, including two technicals against Colgate ... The Bearcats hit 26-of-37 free throws but dug themselves an 18-point second-half deficit and couldn't rally ... Freshman forward Jabrille Williams (Stamford, Conn.South Kent) added seven points and five rebounds in 17 minutes of work ... In the game's final five minutes when Binghamton was closing the gap, the team had three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior on the floor ... More than half the team's total minutes (102) were logged by freshmen and 73% (143) were played by underclassmen.
Boston University Terriers (0-2)
Boston University dropped its first two games of the season under new head coach Joe Jones, who joined the Terriers this past summer after serving a season as the associate head coach at Boston College ... Boston U. dropped a hard-fought 82-74 overtime decision at Case Gym against Northeastern and then opened the TicketCity Legends Classic with an 82-46 loss at the University of Texas ... Terriers trailed by 11 to the Huskies with four minutes remaining and managed to go to an extra session before losing to the crosstown rival ... Senior Darryl Partin (Seattle, Wash./La Salle) led all players with 25 points, while sophomore D.J. Irving (Chester, Pa./Archbishop Carroll) added 17 points ... They were the team's two leading scorers with 14 and 10, respectively, against the Longhorns ... Texas led by one (19-18) with six minutes left in the first half before pulling away for the win ... The Terriers will continue the Legends Classic at Rhode Island on Nov. 25-27, but first will visit Cornell on Sunday, Nov. 20, for a 2 p.m. tip-off.
Hartford Hawks (0-2)
For the first time in program history, Hartford (0-2) opened its 2011-12 campaign with a pair of games on back-to-back dates ... The Hawks tipped off the season on Friday with the third annual Connecticut 6 Classic held at Mohegan Sun Arena and dropped a 70-50 decision to Sacred Heart before falling at Penn State, 70-55, in State College, Pa. ... The Hawks trailed the Pioneers 9-6 mid-way through the first half but could not recover from a 20-6 deficit following Sacred Heart's 11-0 run ... Hartford managed to cut Sacred Heart's lead to just seven but could not close in on the gap anymore ... Yolonzo Moore II (Austin, Texas/Akins) and Jamie Schneck (Whitefish Bay, Wisc./Whitefish Bay), a pair of freshmen, led the Hawks in the season opener, finishing with 12 and 11 points, respectively ... Schneck added seven boards, a team-best ... Wes Cole (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) 12 points led Hartford on Saturday against the Nittany Lions while Clayton Brothers' (Philadelphia, Pa./Roxborough) seven rebounds and four assists were team best numbers ... Hartford shot a season-best 43.2-percent from the floor ... 73 of Hartford's 105 points this year (70-percent) have been credited to the team's freshman class ... The Hawks will play two games this week beginning with their home debut on Wednesday against Mount St. Mary's, its second of four match-ups with NEC opponents on the schedule this year (7 p.m.) ... Hartford wraps up its week at Brown on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Maine Black Bears (0-0)
Maine men's basketball team opens up play on Monday against Maine-Machias followed by a game on Thursday against defending National Champion and fourth-ranked UConn...Maine is playing a top-10 ranked team for the third time in the last four seasons, joining Oklahoma in 2008-09 and Syracuse in 2009-10...Maine won both of its exhibition games, beating Fisher 91-45 and the University of Ottawa 79-56...Senior Gerald McLemore (San Diego, Calif./Worcester Academy) averaged 16.5 points in the two games...Junior Mike Allison (Lynden, Ontario) scored 15 points and 16 rebounds against Fisher while Alasdair Fraser (Falkirk, Scotland/Falkirk Clark Eriksson Fury) scored 21 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and swatted five shots against Ottawa...Maine will be playing six games this season in the Memorial Gym...The Black Bears added a new assistant coach this season, Nate Philippe, who previously coached at North Dakota and helped lead them to a Great West Tournament championship.
UMBC Retrievers (0-2)
UMBC dropped its third consecutive season opener in the 59-45 loss to Penn on Nov. 11, 2011... Sophomore forward Chase Plummer (Elizabeth, N.J./St. Patrick) scored a career high 15 points in the game and added nine rebounds... Six of the 11 UMBC players who competed vs. the Quakers were making their collegiate debuts... The 59 points allowed by UMBC to the Quakers was the fewest permitted in over a season... The Retrievers defeated UNH, 79-50, on Feb. 24, 2010... UMBC did not hit a 3-point field goal vs. Penn, going without a trey for the ninth time in school history... The last time UMBC did not convert from behind the arc was Dec. 30, 2008 at Saint Louis... The Retrievers fell, 82-59, at St. John's on Nov. 13 and have dropped eight consecutive games dating back to the 2010-11 campaign... UMBC led, 10-3, early and trailed by only five points (39-34) at halftime... Senior guard Chris De La Rosa (Washington Heights, N.Y./All Hallows/Siena) has not dressed for any contest to date, still recovering from off-season foot surgery... Jay Greene (UMBC, '09), one of the most successful and popular players in UMBC basketball history, has returned to his alma mater as an assistant men’s basketball coach... The two-time team captain dished out 683 assists, the most in school history, the third-most ever in America East Conference history and the third-most of any NCAA Division I player in the state of Maryland... He scored 1,186 career points and was the Reggie Lewis Most Outstanding Player in the 2008 America East Tournament, leading the Retrievers to their first NCAA bid... The UMBC-Loyola game will be televised by the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network on Thursday from the RAC Arena.
New Hampshire Wildcats (1-0)
New Hampshire opened the season with a 85-64 victory over Suffolk University (Nov.11) at Lundholm Gymnasium ... Seniors Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass./Boys to Men Academy) and Brian Benson (Rochester, N.Y./Greece-Athena) notched 19 and 17 points, respectively, propelling the Wildcats to victory ... The 'Cats have now opened the season with a victory in each of the last six years ... New Hampshire is now 5-0 all-time against Suffolk, with all five decisions coming at Lundholm Gymnasium ... Benson was named the America East Player of the Game, pulling down 16 boards, as he earned his third career double-double ... He finished the evening shooting an impressive 7-for-13 from the floor, reaching a career high in points in the contest ... Chandler Rhoads (Berryville, Va./Air Force Prep) and Jordon Bronner (Sleepy Hollow, N.Y./Iona Prep) also notched double-digits for the ‘Cats, tallying 18 and 15 points, respectively ... Bronner reached a career high with his point total and also matched career bests in field goals made (5), free throws made (4), and three-point field goals made (1) in the contest ... Patrick Konan (Gainesville, Fla./The Rock School) chipped in with seven points, eight boards and four assists ... The Wildcats outshot Suffolk 53.2 percent (33-62) to 46.3 percent (25-54) from the field and 50.0 percent (9-18) to 46.2 percent (6-13) from beyond the arc ... New Hampshire also held the edge on the glass, outrebounding the Rams by a margin of 39-31 in the contest ... New Hampshire returns to action on Monday, Nov. 14 (7 p.m.) when it takes on Boston College at Conte Forum ... UNH's next home game is against Loyola on Sunday, Nov. 20 (1 p.m.) at Lundholm Gymnasium.
Stony Brook Seawolves (1-1)
Stony Brook opened the 2011-12 season splitting a pair of games, losing at Indiana and coming back home to beat Mount Ida...the Seawolves beat the Mustangs by 54 points, their largest margin of victory since December 2009 when they also beat Mount Ida by over 50 (95-40)...the Seawolves also had 57 rebounds and 24 assists in the game...the 24 assists were the most by an SBU team since December 2004...junior Tommy Brenton (Columbia, Md.) came back from a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2010-11 season...he nearly posted a triple-double vs. Mount Ida with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists...it was his 13th career double-double and the 30th time he's grabbed 10+ rebounds...Brenton was one of four Seawolves in double figure scoring vs. Mount Ida...junior Ron Bracey (Cincinnati, Ohio) led the team with 16 points...senior Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.) added 15 points and connected on four three-pointers to push him over the 250 mark for his career (253)...the Seawolves will play at Sacred Heart Tuesday, ending a stretch of three games in five days to start the season.
Vermont Catamounts (0-1)
Vermont dropped its season opener on the road at Big East member South Florida on Saturday, 61-59 … Catamount senior Matt Glass (Underhill Center, Vt./UMass) looked to convert a tip-in just before the buzzer sounded that would have sent the game into overtime, but the hoop was waived off and ruled after the horn … Freshman Four McGlynn (York, Pa./Dallastown) paced Vermont in his debut with 17 points off the bench … McGlynn had a great debut for the Catamounts as he finished 6-for-9 from the floor overall and 5-for-7 from 3-point range … Glass added 13 points and six rebounds, while sophomore Luke Apfeld (Wolfeboro, N.H./Brewster Academy) just missed a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds … Classmate Brian Voelkel (Pleasantville, N.Y./Iona Prep) posted game-highs for both rebounds (11) and assists (8) … The Catamounts outrebounded the taller Big East team 34-32 and used a 31-3 bench scoring edge, while shooting 46.9 percent from the floor … Saturday was the first meeting between the two teams in men's hoops … The game was the first as Vermont head coach for John Becker … The Catamounts, who play their first five games on the road, return to action on Wednesday when they travel to face Dartmouth starting at 7 p.m. … Vermont will also take part in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off over the weekend, facing Marist on Saturday at 6 p.m. and then either Long Island or Radford on Sunday.