To kick off our coverage of conference play in America East basketball, the Sixth Man series will be running over the next few weeks. We reached out to the student media at each of our nine institutions for guest posts on men's and women's basketball. Today, we have Ari Kramer from Binghamton talking about the men's team. Ari is the man behind the Bearcats Basketball Blog and you can also follow him on Twitter (@BinghamtonBBall). A big thanks to Ari for participating!
There’s no way around the truth: 2012-13 has been, and will continue to be, a rebuilding year for Binghamton, which went 2-29 a season ago.
The Bearcats have had their share of struggles under new head coach Tommy Dempsey, winning just two games — one of which was against Division III Marywood — and entering Wednesday night’s matchup with Stony Brook on a nine-game skid.
But even though the 2-13 record indicates that not much has changed since last year, Binghamton has made some solid progress since the preseason.
“I think when we started we were just throwing so much at them that it was hard,” Dempsey said. “I’ve said before that although the results haven’t been there, I think the quality of basketball both defensively and offensively has improved.”
The emergence of freshman Jordan Reed has been critical for the Bearcats on both ends of the floor. With explosive leaping ability and a relentless motor, the 6-foot-3 guard leads the team with 16.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. He has not been the most efficient scorer, but he has reached double-figures in each of the 13 games he has played — something the offensively-challenged Bearcats certainly have not taken for granted.
Senior Jimmy Gray is the only other Bearcat averaging double-digits in scoring, posting 11.3 points per game as the team’s point guard. Dempsey initially wanted Gray to alternate with junior transfer Rayner Moquete at the one and two, but plans have changed.
“As I’ve gotten to know my team better, I think it’s very important that we have the ball in Jimmy’s hands,” Dempsey said.
Gray has been the team’s best distributor, averaging 3.8 assists per game and frequently connecting with Reed for alley-oops. But in general, Dempsey said his team’s distributing has been “brutal.” The Bearcats rank No. 329 nationally with just 43.8 percent of their made field goals coming off assists. That’s partially due to Reed, who primarily scores by taking his man off the dribble, but Dempsey said his players don’t always see and execute the proper passes.
“I would really like to see our assist numbers grow because I think your assist numbers are a direct reflection of the quality of shots that you’re getting,” he said.
The Bearcats have garnered the reputation of a relentless team that refuses to quit — they play with energy even in the face of a blowout. Against Cornell, Binghamton trailed by 22 points in the second half. Last year’s Bearcats probably would have dazed through the final 14 minutes of such a game, but this year’s team did not surrender, fighting all the way back before losing by two. Though they don't always stage a comeback, the Bearcats almost always play hard until the final buzzer.
Knowing they have improved and played hard does not necessarily remedy the lack of wins, according to Dempsey. Wins boost morale — coming close doesn’t after a few times.
“Being experienced as a head coach, this team is getting better,” Dempsey said. “But I think, as players, sometimes you need to see some wins to believe that.”
Box Scores, Recaps and Highlights
- Top Performer
- Dom Morris (BU): 17 points (7-11 FG; 3-5 FT), 10 rebounds, 1 assist
- Big Stat
- Vermont fell to just 2-6 when it allows more than 60 points. It didn't look like it would be that way after the first half, when Vermont led 24-22, but Boston U. caught fire in the second half. The Terriers shot 54.5 percent from the field and racked up 41 points in the final 20 minutes.
- Sandro Carissimo hit a bit of a dry spell towards the end of the non-conference slate, going five straight games without reaching double figures in scoring. He had 17 points in the loss last night and has now scored 10 or more points in three of his last four games (12 ppg). The Catamounts are counting on that kind of production from their veteran.
- Local Media
Two former New Hampshire men's basketball players are making a difference in the Boston community.
In case you want some more Binghamton analysis, the Binghamton Basketball Blog has a preview of tonight's game versus Stony Brook.
Hartford is hosting a pair of Educational Game Days, bringing in over 1,500 elementary school children to the game today versus Maine.
The Stony Brook women's lacrosse team is Lacrosse Magazine's No. 18 team coming into the season.
Albany has signed a world-ranked tennis player from Spain.
The men from Hartford and Maine got an early start in Hartford today, with the Hawks coming away victorious 68-61.
New Hampshire at UMBC, 7 p.m.
Stony Brook at Binghamton, 7 p.m.
Vermont at Boston U., 5 p.m.
UMBC at New Hampshire, 7 p.m.
Binghamton at Stony Brook, 7 p.m.
Hartford at Maine, 7:30 p.m.