CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Vermont’s Marqus Blakely (Metchuen, N.J./Metchuen) has been named America East Men’s Basketball Player of the Year and is just the fifth sophomore to ever take home the award. Blakely headlined the annual award winners, which were announced at the league’s yearly awards brunch at Binghamton Unversity Events Center, site of the 2008 Men’s Basketball Championship. Click here for the complete release in PDF format.
Blakely also garnered Defensive Player of the Year honors, while Boston University’s John Holland (Bronx, N.Y./St. Benedict’s Prep) earned Rookie of the Year accolades and UMBC’s Randy Monroe was heralded as the 2007-08 Coach of the Year.
Blakely did it all for the Catamounts this season, leading America East in scoring (19.4 ppg), rebounding (11.0 rpg) and blocked shots (2.6 bpg). He also ranked second in field goal percentage, hitting 55.1 percent of his shots and was fourth in steals with 2.04. Blakely, the fifth Catamount in the past eight years to take home the league’s top award, is just the fourth player in league history to lead the conference in both scoring and rebounding, joining an elite class of Northeastern’s Reggie Lewis (1985-86), Vermont’s Taylor Coppenrath (2004-05) and Hartford’s Kenny Adeleke (2005-06). He is also the first player to receive both the Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year award in the same season in the six years the top defensive player has been honored.
Monroe, who is in his fourth season as head coach of UMBC, led his squad to its first-ever regular-season title and 21 victories this season, the most in the program’s 22 years in Division I. Picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll, Monroe’s Retrievers have had success by scoring more points than any other team in America East (74.9) and not giving their opponents extra possessions. UMBC is second in the nation in fewest turnovers per game, giving the ball the way just 9.6 times on average.
Holland came on late in the season to earn Rookie of the Year honors. He has averaged 19.4 points per game over an eight-game stretch, in which the Terriers won seven of those games. That included a 38-point performance against Hartford on February 28, the best output in America East this season. Holland ranks eighth among league leaders averaging 15.5 points and sixth pulling down 6.8 rebounds per contest and league foes. The 6-foot-5 guard/forward is the second straight Boston University freshman to receive Rookie of the Year honors, as teammate Tyler Morris brought home the award a year ago.
Joining Blakely on the all-conference first team is Albany’s Brian Lillis (Urbandale, Iowa/West Des Moines Dowling), Hartford’s Joe Zeglinski (Philadelphia, and Pa./Archbishop Ryan), and UMBC’s Jay Greene (Whitehall, Pa./Whitehall) and Darryl Proctor (District Heights, Md./Paul IV/Coppin State). Lillis ranks among the Top 10 conference leaders in scoring (15.8 ppg), rebounding (6.1 rpg), assists (3.5 apg), steals (1.7 spg) and blocks (0.7 bpg). He is one of only 10 players in the nation to lead his team in points, rebounds and assists per game. Zeglinksi is the first Hawk to earn all-league honors as a sophomore since Vin Baker during the 1990-91 campaign. He ranked fifth in America East with 16.0 points per game. Greene is the catalyst for the top-seeded Retrievers. He dished out a school-record 209 assists and ranks third in the country with 7.2 assists per game. Greene is also listed among national leaders with a 3.37 assist-to-turnover ratio. Proctor, a transfer from Coppin State, rounds out the first-team squad. He ranked eighth in scoring (14.7 ppg) and second in rebounding (8.6 rpg) during the regular season.
Binghamton’s Mike Gordon (Plainfield, N.J./Plainfield) and UMBC’s Brian Hodges (Upper Marlboro, Md./Bishop McNamara) are repeat selections on the all-conference second team. They are joined by Boston University’s Corey Lowe (Newton, Mass./Newton North), the Retrievers’ Ray Barbosa (Allentown, Pa./William Allen/James Madison) and Vermont’s Mike Trimboli (Norwalk, Conn./St. Luke’s)
The third team consists of Holland, Binghamton’s Lazar Trifunovic (Belgrade, Serbia/Secondary Railway Tech), Maine’s Mark Socoby (Houlton, Maine/Bangor), UMBC’s Cavell Johnson (Fort Washington, Md./Notre Dame Acad./James Madison) and New Hampshire’s Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass./Thayer Academy).
Holland is joined on the all-rookie squad by Albany’s Tim Ambrose (Bronx, N.Y./Our Savior New American School), Hartford’s Morgan Sabia (San Anselmo, Calif./Sir Francis Drake) and New Hampshire’s Alvin Abreu (Lynn, Mass./Boys to Men) and Tyrone Conley (Burlington, Vt./Burlington).
Gordon was named to the All-Defensive squad for the third straight season, while Lillis receives the honor for the second consecutive year. Blakely also earned all-defensive honors, along with Holland and Hartford’s Michael Turner (Novato, Calif./West Valley/Marin Catholic).
All of the annual award winners will be in action at the 2008 America East Men’s Basketball Championship at Binghamton University’s Events Center, beginning tonight with first-round action at 7 p.m.