@Binghamton 64, St. Bonaventure 59

Real good win today at the Events Center as the Bearcats showed that they know how to hold on after a solid first half.

Staked to a well-deserved double-digit lead at halftime, the Bearcats kept the pressure on in the second half and won a game that they deserved to win.

Lazar Trifunovic was the obvious star of today's game, scoring 23 points, most of which came off his short one-handed jumpers from the baseline, but I don't think the Bearcats could've pulled this one out without another great performance from Reggie Fuller.

Much like the pre-injury Sebastian Hermenier, Fuller is becoming the glue that holds this team together, reeling in the loose balls and making the hustle plays that made Seabass one of the best Bearcats of all time. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time, and it paid off today with five blocks.

But this game was not a perfect showing by any means. The most troubling aspect of BU's game today was its inability to inbound the ball under its own basket. America East teams will surely take note of the problems BU's guards had late in the second half as they tried to get the ball in after a bucket. Mike Gordon and Richie Forbes combined for eight turnovers, several of them ugly - including Trifunovic's trying to start a break by dishing the ball to Gordon, who didn't appear to be paying attention.

The Bonnies did a great job battling back in this game, but the ball just didn't bounce their way on several occasions, including a late foul on a three-pointer by Zerreti that could've led to a huge four-point play.

Chretien Lukusa also deserves a bunch of credit for knocking down four big free throws at the end of the game to ice the victory.

So what happens from here? The Bearcats will kick off the America East portion of their schedule on Thursday at Patrick Gymnasium in Vermont, a game that will likely give the Bearcats trouble. Mike Gordon was again gun-shy today, at least in my eyes, and I don't see him getting the best of Mike Tromboli - at least this time. (Keep in mind the Bearcats will have at least one more shot at UVM this year, the second showing at the Events Center.) And despite the stellar play of Trifunovic to this point, if he gets himself in foul trouble at all, (or God forbid gets hurt), it's tough to see who can step into his role in his absence.

The Bearcats learning curve, however shallow, is on the upswing - but I foresee a similar curve coming with the onset of AE play. KB is not as familiar with the rest of the conference as they are to us, and so it might take at least a handful of games for him to get used to the grit of in-conference play. But, I think the team will step it up, especially as they begin to realize that the conference tournament is on the horizon at the EC, and going in as a bottom-half team would be a disappointment and potential embarrassment.

My early gut feeling for Thursday says UVM by 11. I'll post again before the game.


St. Bonaventure @ Binghamton, tomorrow, 4 p.m.

A conversation with an old friend of mine who recently graduated from St. Bonaventure has allowed me a few bits of inside information about the Bonnies - specifically about Tyler Relph and Zarryon (Zee) Fereti, who lit us up for 32 points in the teams' first meeting this year.

Thus, I think I'll take my spot in the Zoo tomorrow afternoon, rather than trying to sit at the table with Brian Moritz (a St. Bonaventure alum) ...

With this new information I've learned, this should be a grand old time tomorrow. I'll take Binghamton by 6 points ...

Notes on the Fordham loss

Chretien Lukusa started the game but played just 11 minutes, while Dwayne Jackson came off the bench with 34 minutes to score 13 points, including 6-of-6 from the FT line. When will DJ get the starting nod? One has to assume tomorrow, against St. Bonaventure.

At halftime, down 39-22, the Bearcats appeared to be done, but a big second-half surge that gained them the lead made this game more promising than the final score sounds. The one thing you could really take from this game is something everyone already knew: the Bearcats have no answer for a dominating big man inside.

Mike Gordon finished this game with 11 FG attempts -- one more than Richie Forbes. Despite Gordon's role at the 1, I think seeing him take 11 shots is promising -- he should continue to try and make himself a big part of the offense. For the Bearcats to succeed, Mike will have to be a scoring threat himself, keeping other AE teams honest and potentially opening up the other shooters that Mike's trying to set up.

Despite their poor record to this point, I think BU has at least started to turn things around heading into conference play - but I'll be able to tell you much more definitively tomorrow, after I see the St. Bonaventure game live.

@Fordham 72, Binghamton 60

... about the best you could've expected from Binghamton at this point.

Recap coming tomorrow afternoon.


@Binghamton 75, Chicago St. 55

The Bearcats avenged an early-season loss to Chicago St. with a 20-point victory this afternoon at the Events Center.

BU opened with a 20-2 run and never looked back.

I don't have much to say about this one, because Chicago St. is terrible. Truth be told, we should have trounced them the first time we played them, too. I watched a good portion of this game on the live feed and from the Chicago St. perspective, it was ugly - real ugly.

It was good to see Mike get back on an offensive roll, with 15 points. They will certainly need that kind of contribution to see any sort of success in conference play.

Friday will be a good test, at Fordham, and I'll have a live report from the St. Bonaventure game one week from tomorrow.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

10:00 Remaining ...

... the Bearcats are up 57-36, but perhaps more notably:

What the heck was that Pac-Man thing that just ran across the court and ate somebody? Can we get a permanent mascot like that?

Even I don't think we can blow a 21-point lead at this point.

More thoughts on this game later tonight.

BU women lose again ...

... 68-67, home to Lehigh, in double overtime. The Bearcats blew what felt like an insurmountable eight-point lead in the second extra period. A moderate press led to a pivotal back-court violation late in the period, when BU needed to at least milk 25 seconds from the clock, if not put points on the board.

It's still relatively early in the season, as AE play has not begun yet, but with a talented squad that features two top-tier players -- Laine Kurpniece and Laura Sario, who both received tons of pre-season hype ... when will pundits start to question Rich Conover?

Bearcat men home to Chicago St. tomorrow afternoon, live video starts at 2 p.m. Early prediction - Bearcats by 4.


A Brief Hiatus

In related news, the BU women's team massacred Colgate today by 46 points, by far their biggest margin of victory ever. I'd say Colgate's 16-minute scoreless run to finish off the first half probably didn't help their cause this afternoon.

On the men's side, the Bearcats are off until next Saturday, when they'll take on Chicago State on the back end of this year's home-and-home. I was planning to stay in Binghamton this week until right after that game but due to unforeseen circumstances, I will be driving home tomorrow and staying on Long Island until the 26th.

I'll have a live report on the St. Bonaventure game, perhaps with some exclusive quotes (I might get to use the Pipe Dream courtside seat for that game, but we'll see), and as the conference schedule starts up shortly after New Year's, I will ramp up my coverage in anticipation of the conference tournament in March.

In the meantime, have a happy holiday season. I will post on Saturday afternoon after the Chicago St. game, which I'll probably watch on the live feed, but until then, sayonara.


@Binghamton 71, George Washington 59

@Bing 71, GW 59 - and just a little bit of dap is all I ask:

"This one's been penciled in as a loss, at least in my book, since the schedule was released, and my sensible side is telling me GW by 12 or so, but I just can't shake that feeling that this one could go Binghamton's way. (And that's not to say they will turn around all the problems they have.) Maybe it's just my instinct telling me that we cannot possibly be this bad, but I'm sensing an upset tomorrow night."

And all the elements for the upset came together tonight: Binghamton was desperate for a win, George Washington appeared to overlook the Bearcats, the guys were extra charged up to get coach Kevin Broadus a win against his old mentor -- and the Colonials shot 3-for-24 from downtown.

Standing in the Zoo tonight, we couldn't help but feel a bit of pride when GW's Rob Diggs missed a *second* dunk with about 2 1/2 minutes left. We ragged Diggs to no end when he missed the first dunk, and I can't help but think that, even if just a tiny bit, we got into his head. (Full disclosure: Diggs still led GW with 20 points and 16 rebounds.)

(And a quick note: If a guy's going 20-16-2 blocks-3 steals --- what the heck is he doing coming off the bench?)

But enough about the crowd - the Bearcats absolutely deserved to win the game tonight, out-hustling GW on rebound after rebound (despite being out-rebounded 38-36, it certainly didn't feel that way). Reggie Fuller's rebounding was stellar tonight, and it appeared that Laz could not be stopped in the first half.

Binghamton did a great job shutting down GW's transition game, with a number of interceptions on fast-break attempts. Richie Forbes, Mike Gordon and Fuller all did a terrific job quickly getting back into defensive position.

The Bearcats shot just 4-for-14 from downtown, but that was one more make than the Colonials had in 24 attempts. The difference tonight was pressure on most of the opponents' deep attempts -- their poor shooting performance was no fluke, no mistake, despite what coach Karl Hobbs might be saying right now in the postgame. The Bearcats' consistent pressure -- with the exception of a few missed assignments by Milos in the first half that ended up not costing us -- really killed GW tonight.

I was a bit surprised to see Chretien Lukusa, the true freshman, pick up a start tonight. Maybe I'm missing something but I feel like Dwayne Jackson, who played 24 minutes to Lukusa's 23, would be a better fit.

Bing also did a real good job getting to the line tonight -- 40 times. According to Randy Benjenk, who had a better vantage point than I did in the Zoo, coach Hobbs was not pleased with many of the calls in the first half, but I'll put it this way: sometimes, on a special night, everything seems to go your way, and with a win over the defending A-10 champions, that's what happened tonight.

I can't overstate how well Fuller played tonight. I can't honestly tell you I expect the whole season to turn around from this point forward, but I think Fuller could begin to really establish himself as a force on the defensive end if he continues that type of play.

Bleak Forecast for Thursday

Forecasters are calling for 10 inches of snow in the Binghamton area tomorrow. I'll be at the Events Center tomorrow night for the Bearcats' long-awaited showdown with George Washington, even if I have to walk Riverside Drive to get there. It's been a while since the Bearcats have been in action, and I'm anxious to see how they respond to this lengthy layoff.

I know this might sound out of character, but there's a tiny part of me that wants to pick the Bearcats tomorrow night, if only because of the memories I have of old Al Walker teams playing miserably on the road, then coming back and picking up a surprising win at home -- the type of 'wow' win that often shifted the home crowd's opinion of the coaching staff, and probably earned him an extra season at the helm. (Edit: I think the best example I could come up with would be Feb. 27, 2005, when the Bearcats, coming off two consecutive terrible losses at Stony Brook and at Hartford, stunned Boston U. by 17 [the famous Nick Billings three-pointer game] to roll into the postseason at the Events Center with surprising momentum.)

This one's been penciled in as a loss, at least in my book, since the schedule was released, and my sensible side is telling me GW by 12 or so, but I just can't shake that feeling that this one could go Binghamton's way. (And that's not to say they will turn around all the problems they have.) Maybe it's just my instinct telling me that we cannot possibly be this bad, but I'm sensing an upset tomorrow night. Guess we'll see.

- - - - -

Thanks to Brian Moritz for today's blog shout-out. On that note, if you host an America East-themed blog, or you know of a good source for AE coverage, let me know and I'll link to it here.


RPI notes

The first official RPI rankings were released today. Here's how the America East shakes out:

UMBC (58)
UNH (201)
Hartford (212)
UVM (230)
Albany (236)
Maine (270)
Boston U. (290)
Stony Brook (319)
Binghamton (326)

The Bearcats are tied for the worst record in the league with the Seawolves. Binghamton also has the second-weakest strength of schedule in the conference, ahead of only Albany (4-4).

Maryland-Eastern Shore, at 1-9 --- with its lone win of the season coming against SBU --- currently sits at no. 312.

Presbyterian, an independent with a 1-10 mark, currently sits ahead of the Bearcats at no. 325. And Chicago State, another independent, improved to 2-8 yesterday with an 83-69 win over Jackson State.

Eastern Illinois (0-8) currently sits last at no. 341, but squeaking in just ahead of them is North Florida (0-6) at no. 340 --- the same North Florida team that led the Bearcats for 38 minutes at the Events Center on Dec. 17, 2005 --- the day that Jaan Montgomery debuted for Binghamton.

If the America East ever hopes to improve as a league, they cannot sustain three teams with RPIs of 290 or higher. It's early-season performances like Bing, SBU and surprisingly Boston that continue to drag the America East through the mud year after year.


Examining the 1-7 Bearcats

With their ugliest loss yet, a 73-55 disaster at the Events Center against Colgate, still fresh in their memory, the 1-7 Bearcats have a lot of work to do as finals week leads into Thursday night's showdown with George Washington.

A look back on Brian Moritz's preseason preview gives us this telling quote about coach Kevin Broadus' outlook on his first season:

"Our motto this year is we're just going to try to outwork guys," Broadus said. "We may not be the fastest or the biggest team. But we're going to put our best effort forward."

No matter how optimistic your outlook, Wednesday's whooping at the hands of the Red Raiders was proof that there has been minimal improvement since the season-opening whooping at St. Bonaventure. And at 1-7, including a phone-it-in 21-point loss at Chicago State, it's obvious that the Bearcats are not outworking anybody.

The absence of Jaan Montgomery and Minja Kovacevic doesn't help, but I think people overestimate their value to this team. These Al Walker-molded Bearcats are still very much a guard-oriented squad, and there has not been any sort of interior game at the Events Center since Nick Billings' knees went.

So what's going wrong?

I think that Broadus is giving too much freedom to Richie Forbes, a lesson that even Walker learned during conference play last season. Richie can shoot, and will shoot, as much you let him. But I still think Forbes would flourish more as "instant offense" coming off the bench than as your starting two-guard. Dwayne Jackson's defensive prowess is superior to Forbes, and I think players would react to seeing the junior unseat a senior "leader" in the starting lineup by his solid play to this point so far.

If you asked him, Mike Gordon would probably say he enjoys playing alongside his classmate and good friend Forbes, but I think the entire trio -- Gordon, Forbes and DJ -- would benefit from inserting Jackson into the starting lineup -- and boosting his minutes.

Lazar Trifunovic's poor game against Colgate is relatively unavoidable -- he's still only a sophomore and he's prone to, and allowed to, have a subpar performance once in a while. I think he'll be fine against GW.

Some are calling for Broadus to press more, after seeing the success the team had in the last few minutes against Colgate. I think it's pretty obvious that that's not the solution. Pressing is exhausting -- especially for "Magic Mike," who I still believe is not 100%, but we obviously can't afford to rest him -- and if the press gets broken by any competent team (read: not Stony Brook), it's an easy two points. The press is for desperation, and so I think it's a pretty ominous sign if we start seeing more of it.


Colgate 73, @Binghamton 55

Boy, was that ugly.

I'm almost speechless, but that's more a product of this stupid Brit Lit paper I spent all night writing than the miserable performance we put on tonight.

My apologies, right off the bat, to anyone who sat down and watched this game because of my suggestion earlier. Sorry, I'll know better next time.

Basically, we got outplayed, outhustled, outrebounded and simply dominated tonight by a team that's not all that good. This was certainly a game we could've won, as were CCSU, Chicago State and St. Bonaventure. Instead, we've lost them all.

And contrary to what we've seen in the last few games, there was absolutely no improvement tonight at all. Richie Forbes continues to give a good effort when his shots drop, and a half-hearted effort after his misses. And in both instances, he's often caught out of position. There was one three-pointer Colgate had tonight where the shooter could've stood there and counted the dimples on the ball before knocking it down.

Colgate's three-point shooting certainly seemed worse than 6-for-11. They shot lights out, and it was not luck-based -- the Bearcats were often found out of position, and the Red Raiders could simply step up and drill threes at will. At will!

Alex Woodhouse's monstrous block on Reggie Fuller with about 7 minutes left was, perhaps, the best block I've ever seen live -- and I saw Nick Billings in his prime. Fuller was up with two hands on the ball, moving forward, when Woodhouse got his arm up and cleanly just threw Fuller, via the ball, to the ground. I'd love to see a replay of it if at all possible -- it was just a straight up embarrassment, of a guy going up for the most energizing play possible.

(Well, scratch that -- Gordon's alley-oop to Fuller in the first few minutes of that first half was pretty sweet and very energizing ...)

If you're just looking at a box score, don't read into the 16 offensive rebounds the Bearcats had. Many of those were third- or fourth-chance tallies after the Bearcats hit, say, the bottom of the rim on a lay-up.

Jaan got into the game tonight and threw a pretty sweet forearm shiver at a guy. He also had a nice block, but showed a lot of the same rust on the offensive end that we've come to know from Jaan. (And if you think Mountie Monty's offense is awkward, just wait until you get Minja back on the hardwood.)

Fuller's defense in the full-court press was encouraging, and it shows in the box via his 5 steals.

Milos is a bust. I'm done with him. He doesn't do anything or move at all. He's like a svelte Schafer Jackson. Stick him on the bench between Lawrence Brennaman and manager Jake Altman.

Laz has to situate himself within 12 feet of the bucket to produce. When you give him the ball outside the arc, that's just too far for your big man to go, no matter how quick you think he is. That was really exposed tonight as Laz spent much of the end of the game on the bench after tallying 5 ugly turnovers.

I'm ready to see Richie Forbes coming off the bench again. The guy just costs you too much on the defensive end.

No matter what anyone says, the refs did not cost us this game, at all. The officiating wasn't great, but it wasn't awful, and it's not like we didn't get our share of calls, too -- most memorably, a CU player was called for traveling after being bearhugged by Milos.

Again, the important thing to take from this game is that Binghamton just came in and completely laid an egg in the second half. No matter what the newspapers tell you, there was no improvement at all tonight, on any front -- save for, possibly, Reggie Fuller's full-court press.


Colgate @ Binghamton, 7 p.m.

Binghamton will take on Colgate (5-3) of the Patriot league, with tipoff coming about one hour from right now. I'm in the PODS on campus right now and will have a full report on this game tonight, after I finish my Brit Lit II final paper, which is due at 11:40 tomorrow morning.

Colgate is coming off a win over Cornell, who beat us last week. On paper, this looks to be a pretty even matchup, but I've got to give the edge to the Bearcats on their home court tonight. The team isn't great, but they're not 1-7 bad, and it's obvious that BU is due for a win. With GW up next, I don't expect the Bearcats to stumble tonight -- although who knows.

This game should be worth watching, if you've got a couple free hours and a high-speed connection at home. I'll do my best to get the Zoo fired up ...

The Bearcats have played pretty well at home this year, and much like was the case with the men's soccer team, they can turn that into all that really matters, with the AE Tournament coming back to the Events Center in March. If this team can continue to win at home, the fan base will give the team a pass on road games -- much like was the case in 2004-05, when the Bearcats' stellar home play overshadowed their generally weaker road showings (save for Troy Hailey, who was always traditionally a stronger performer on the road).

If you're still following at home, let's cross our fingers for the big career milestone tonight -- senior Giovanni Olomo needs just FOUR points to reach the big 1-0-0. Party like a rockstar!

(And for the record -- I really don't want to do this Brit Lit paper.)

More coming later on.


RIP Andy Uwadinobi

A quick brief non-basketball-related note.

Rest in Peace Andy Uwadinobi, an 18-year-old BU student who died in Mohawk Hall last night.

Every year, it seems one or two students pass away, and it never gets any easier to think about. It's so scary to think about life ending so soon. To all who knew and loved Andy, my deepest condolences.



@Rider 81, Binghamton 73

Binghamton fell to 1-6 yesterday afternoon with an eight-point loss at Rider, 81-73.

Richie Forbes had 23 points and six steals, and the Bearcats staged a gutsy comeback, but it wasn't enough to erase a 16-point deficit with 5:48 to play.

Still no Jaan Montgomery, but I anticipate him returning this week -- the Bearcats were once again out-rebounded, this time by a 43-29 margin.

I've got to wonder if Mike Gordon is more injured than he's letting on. He played a team-high 34 minutes but took only four shots, and I know he's a pass-first PG, but four attempts is uncharacteristically low for the team's best player.

The Bearcats now return home for three straight at the Events Center, starting Wednesday night against Colgate. They'll play four of their final five OOC games on campus before kicking off conference play with a stiff challenge at UVM on January 3.

I'll post a much more extensive analysis on Wednesday night.


Bearcats sign Mayben and Alvin

No game today, but the Bearcats officially announced that they have signed Tiki Mayben and Malik Alvin to LOIs for 2007-08.

I've never seen either young man play, but I am not a fan of either of these signings for several reasons.

First off, I'm not big on bringing in JuCos. Every once in a while, you hit the jackpot, as we did with Andre Heard a couple years ago, but no matter what, the kids only have two years of eligibility remaining. I'm much more in favor of bringing in four-year kids who will develop and learn your system -- especially if you're new to the program and plan to stick around for a while.

And no matter what he says, that's still an 'if' with KB. Some have questioned his dedication to Binghamton, and a small percentage of me agrees -- why go after these quick-strike, high-risk JuCos if you're here for the long haul? (I'm talking maybe eight years? Ten years?)

Sure, these kids have been touted as very talented. Great. It seems that every Al Walker team was considered "talented," and they never went anywhere. This year, many of the same descriptors are stuck on to the individuals on our roster, and we've gotten rocked by St. Bonaventure and Chicago State.

So if you want talent, terrific. Signing these JuCos will add to our talent level, but even if it does translate to wins, in two years -- or less -- they will be gone. Imagine replacing a Mike Gordon, home-grown type point guard that keeps this team together, with a Richie Forbes type. It's a disaster waiting to happen.

And I haven't even mentioned the past problems with both of these players. Long story short, Mayben and Alvin have bounced from school to school. Mayben's troubles have been especially well-documented:

"The perception of him is so much different than what the truth is," Hart said. "Some people hear his name and they've heard some problems and they might think he's actually done something. But if someone said, `What is it exactly that Tiki did,' you couldn't even explain it because there is no one incident he did. He's never gotten into trouble with the law."

Mayben says his high school days followed the same pattern: He'd get expelled from school after the season and finish the year at a center for students with behavioral issues. Then he'd get reinstated the next year and then get expelled again after the season.

"I never really finished any years of high school," he said. "I always finished at that same building or at the public library with a tutor. It was to the point where they'd let me back in school to play basketball, and then they'd kick me out (after the season)."

He gave it his best shot at UMass -- and after seeing his playing time dwindle, he left the school after just one year, heading to Hudson Valley CC. Remember, this is the same kid that was supposed to be big at Syracuse -- coach Jim Boeheim spent plenty of time with him and had lots of high praise.

Just to clarify, I have never met Tiki Mayben or Malik Alvin. I do not know these guys personally and I do not want to make any character judgments on anyone I've never met. That said, I say, where there's smoke, there's fire.

With the Mark Egerson debacle still in the rearview mirror, Broadus is taking a huge risk by bringing in a pair of guys with questionable histories.

But if he's only gunna be here through Tiki's senior year, then I don't think KB is all too worried about it.


@Cornell 73, Binghamton 68

... but despite what the BUbearcats.com press release tells you, I don't think the game really felt that close.

Sure, Binghamton kept it close in the first half, jumping out to a huge lead -- that quickly disappeared. Did anyone following along really think they could hold onto an early lead for any significant amount of time?

And, lo and behold, that's what happened. The problem was, because Binghamton (1-5) didn't hold onto said lead for very long, it didn't feel like a Walker-like loss. Walker would've kept the team ahead, or close, into halftime, before blowing the lead, whereas KB and crew let it slip away in the waning moments of the first half.

So here's the bottom line: Broadus can point to all the positive signs he wants -- of which Lazar Trifunovic's continued outstanding play is clearly paramount -- but sooner or later, the team has to come up with a victory, because ultimately wins and losses are how a team is judged. As the great Herm Edwards famously said, "You play to win the game!" And right now, Binghamton is not playing to win the game.

I didn't see the game or even listen on the radio (I was at work, forgive me), but seeing that Richie Forbes hit a lay-up with 1 second left just stinks of selfishness that really feels like a theme of this year's squad. You're down seven points with 4 seconds remaining. The game is over. Take it like a man, right, senior leader?

Wrong. Forbes obviously knew he was 1-for-8 at the time, and 2-for-9 looks that much cooler in the boxscore the next day.

- - - - -

I'm nervous to start making judgments in November, but I'm genuinely starting to believe that all this "talent" that everyone always talks about with all our players is merely hype. The team is 1-5, and it's not like we've played North Carolina and Duke; we picked up a much-hyped coach and installed a new system that, sure, will take some time to gel, but should at least show a bit of promise in these early-season contests.

From what I've seen in person, the Bearcats seem so excited to run on offense, and so intent on focusing on the new schemes on defense, that they are forgetting the fundamentals that made them Division-I basketball players. Failing to box out and getting beat inside on an inbounds pass are mistakes that I make playing intramural basketball -- not mistakes that a Division-I team should be making.

We're not playing as bad as 1-5 indicates, and I still wouldn't rank BU in the bottom two of the America East conference. But it's those little things that are continuing to cost us games, and as long as our starting senior two-guard is pushing for a last-second stat-boosting layup, Binghamton will continue to flounder as hopeless underdogs that are playing not for wins, but for "positives" to be found in game film.

(Anyone else miss Andre Heard?)


BUBearcats.com | Nice piece on Joel Thirer

Just saw the brand new layout of bubearcats.com, the official Web site of the Binghamton Bearcats. It looks great; I'm especially excited to see what their guy will do, splash-wise, when we win a conference championship sooner or later (women's tennis, anyone?).

Give that a look, and while you're at it, check out this nice Q&A with AD Joel Thirer.

Binghamton @ Cornell, 7 p.m. | PD's Power Poll

Being the genius that I am, I didn't take a look at the actual games when changing my winter work schedule -- I was able to take off from work for every home game, but this was one I probably should have thought a little bit more about.

The Bearcats (1-4) head to Cornell tonight for a 7 p.m. tip with the Ivy League's preseason favorite in what is again expected to be another difficult contest -- one that I wish I could go watch.

Instead, because I'm an idiot, I'll be following along live online from the Press & Sun office tonight, and I'll put up some thoughts, probably when I get home late.

Here's hoping for the year's first Jaan sighting tonight, as 'Mountie Monty' was suited up against the Zips but didn't get in.

And in case you're wondering, here's today's Power Poll, courtesy of Pipe Dream:

Team record points last week comments

1. UMBC (4-1) 36 (4) 1: The Retrievers have replaced Boston University as the AE’s representative in ESPN’s Bracketologoy, and when ESPN notices that someone in the AE is making noise this early in the season, it probably means something.
2. Albany (4-1) 30 4: The Great Danes are making believers out of teams who thought they wouldn’t succeed without Jamar Wilson. Their only loss is to Bucknell, a team currently residing in the country’s top 40 RPI rankings.
3. Vermont (2-3) 28 3: After defeating NJIT and Loyola for their first two wins of the season, the Catamounts hold strong in the third spot and receive the same number of votes as they did in last week’s poll.
4. Boston (1-4) 25 2: The preseason favorite has been hit by some injuries and some inexplicable did-not-plays. The losses are to good teams, but until they get some wins, the Terriers will be tough to judge.
5. New Hampshire (3-1) 21 6: The Wildcats, predicted in our preseason poll to finish last, have an RPI ranking of 89, tops in the AE. And they beat Central Connecticut State.
6. Hartford (3-4) 16 8: The Hawks got a pair of nice wins over Jackson State and South Carolina State to finish in fifth place at the Las Vegas Invitational this weekend.
7. Maine (3-4) 12 7: The Black Bears hung around before losing to Northeastern this weekend. This could be their highest ranking of the season.
8. Binghamton 9 (1-4) 5: Only one voter failed to put the Bearcats in the bottom two. BU’s 331st RPI ranking is the worst in the AE, worse even than Maryland-Eastern Shores.
9. Stony Brook (0-5) 4 9: The Seawolves were demolished by Columbia, meanwhile their arch nemesis, Maryland-Eastern Shores, is now 1-6 after losing to Florida-Gulf Coast by 13 points. Yeesh.

Compiled by the Pipe Dream Sports staff. First place votes in parentheses.

- - - - -

For the record, I was the lone voter who did not put Binghamton in the bottom two -- I had the Bearcats seventh, followed by Maine and, of course, the powerhouse that is Stony Brook University. As I wrote, I was still encouraged by our play last Tuesday, despite the outcome.


@Akron 71, Binghamton 51

Binghamton lost its third straight game tonight, a 71-51 decision in Akron, Ohio, the home of junior guard Dwayne Jackson.

Right off the bat, I must give credit where credit is due: BU Zoo guru Bradley Small called a 20-point Akron win right before tip, and fellow Pipe Dream writer Randy Benjenk gave me a 19-point spread.

Turns out I was wrong with my 34-point prediction, thanks in large part to an ice-cold first half by both teams. Listening in to Roger Neel on WNBF, it sounded a lot like Binghamton played a good first half and a bad first half.

That first half finished with BU down eight points, but it felt closer than that. Akron hit a three-pointer in the final seconds to stretch the lead from five to eight, which is a big difference at the half. Instead of being right on the brink of closing the gap coming out of the break, Binghamton never really seemed to be in the game again, as the lead kept growing and growing. BU committed five turnovers in the first four minutes of the second half. Ouch.

Lazar Trifunovic again played well, working particularly well on the glass, but when the Bearcats miss put-backs and lay-ups, even great rebounding won't help.

"Maybe they're just not used to being that open," Broadus said on WNBF after the game. That sounded a bit like a pot shot at the previous coaching administration, but I'd try and look through that quote: the guys are missing wide-open shots. As the coach added, of their 1-for-13 streak mid-first half, seven of those misses were lay-ups. That's nothing to be proud of, no matter how open you are.

In other conference news, I was pretty surprised to see Northeastern 70, @Maine 57 -- I also would've anticipated a bigger spread in that contest.

Binghamton at Akron, tonight, 7 p.m.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.

The Bearcats return to action tonight with a 7 p.m. tipoff at Akron. This is expected to be the biggest challenge of the season for Binghamton (1-3), who lost by 35 to the Zips at the Events Center last season. The Zips, a power in the MAC, are 40-2 at home over the last three seasons.

They'll obviously make it 41-2 tonight -- the question tonight is more about damage control. I'll give my thoughts later on tonight.


CCSU 68, @Binghamton 65 - OT

I thought the Bearcats definitely played well enough to win this one, an important home game that precluded a three-game road trip that they very well might finish 0-3.

Instead, BU seized defeat from the jaws of victory -- a stark reminder that this team, even with its heralded new head coach, has a long way to go.

The Bearcats made a bunch of hustle plays. They didn't lose the game because of a lack of effort, which seemed to be the case on Saturday @ Chicago St. They lost tonight because of poor fundamentals and, dare I say ... questionable coaching.

We finally won a rebounding battle, but realize that CCSU is a tiny team. While I'm tempted to blame our interior problems on the absences of Jaan and Minja, it's grim when you think of how raw both of those talents still are. It's not like we've got Chris Holm recouperating on the bench -- both of these injured big men, Minja especially, have a physical presence but no real established interior skill sets.

Giovanni Olomo, I thought, did a great job tonight. A senior approaching the grand milestone of 100 career points (I believe he reached 94 tonight) obviously can't be leaned upon as an offensive threat, or even a decoy (despite his size), but his hustle tonight on the glass (4 rebounds, but 3 were offensive, and they were impressive) made up for it.

But back to my point. The rebounding effort was there, and the hustle was there, but the Bearcats made too many fundamental mistakes to win this game. The guards, especially Richie Forbes, especially early on, lost track of shooters around the arc, namely Tristan Blackwood, and they/he made the Bearcats pay. Blackwood's sixth and final three-pointer was the nail in the coffin, and although it was a good shot with a hand in his face, several of the first five that he hit were uncontested.

And as for the coaching - obviously Broadus is still getting acclamated to his guys, and I'm sure he knows them better than I do. But I wouldn't have taken Mike Gordon out with a seven-point lead with about 12 minutes left. And I certainly wouldn't have kept freshman Chretien Lukusa in the game in the final seconds.

Lukusa played seven minutes, but they were important minutes. And he very nearly cost us the game with a turnover on the game's final possession. I understand Gordon needs his rest -- despite my objections, he still did play 44 minutes tonight -- but 'Magic' Mike proved last year he can handle a little extra burn, and this one was important to get back to winning ways before this very tough road stretch, including the impending walloping that's coming on Saturday.

I wouldn't have a problem with KB playing Mike for 28-32 minutes at Akron. Let the young guys get some PT against the Zips. The team fell apart tonight when Gordon came off the court, and that substitution might just be the difference between a win tonight and a devastating five-game (or more; home to Colgate on Dec. 5 is no gimme) losing streak.

A few other thoughts: looking at the box score, Lazar's charged with six turnovers, but it didn't feel that way. Laz's 17 points felt bigger than Richie's 25, despite Richie's big three at the end.

Perhaps that's because this game is likely to continue the "Is it worth having Richie on the court?" discussion -- even with a 25-point performance tonight, did he give up more than he tallied? Even on a big night like tonight, when Forbes seemed to be putting in more effort than usual on defense, it's a valid question.

I'm liking what I see from Dwayne Jackson. He's being much more aggressive this year, and I suspect he will play himself into the starting lineup sooner than later.

Gordon had 10 FG attempts, but I would be okay with him shooting a bit more, even from the outside. He's got a good touch, and green-lighting Gordon would keep opposing 1's honest on the perimeter -- freeing up those trademarked back-door passes that Bearcat fans are already coming to love.

What was up with the half-dozen mascots tonight? The B-Mets Bee, a mysterious tiger (turned out it was from U-E high school, I guess) ... even the Hamburglar was in attendance. I guess the more mascots the better, but it was weird to see.

Finally, it was disappointing to see BU hit just 6 of 15 from the charity stripe tonight. A couple more of the freebies, and we wouldn't have even seen overtime.

Pipe Dream's Weekly Power Poll

Here's the latest Pipe Dream power poll:

Team Record Points Last Week Comments

1. UMBC (3-0) 36 (4) 3: The Retrievers’ transfer trio of Cavell Johnson, Darryl Proctor and Ray Barbosa looks unstoppable. An overtime victory over Atlantic 10 team Richmond is huge for the team and the conference.

2. Boston (1-2) 30 1 (T): The two losses have come at George Washington and at home against a St. Joseph’s squad that almost beat Syracuse. And the Terriers are doing this all without Tyler Morris.

3. Vermont (0-3) 28 1 (T): Vermont’s winless start is not the same as Stony Brook’s or even Binghamton’s 1-2 record. The Catamounts have lost to George Mason, Virginia and Loyola (Md.), a team expected to win the MAAC.

4. Albany (2-1) 25 4: The Danes barely squeaked by Central Connecticut State but redeemed themselves with a 70-38 thrashing of Columbia.

5. Binghamton (1-2) 19 5: Maybe some homerism here. If Binghamton hadn’t destroyed Quinnipiac, they’d likely be last right now. Losing 81-60 at Chicago State is unacceptable.

6. New Hampshire (2-1) 17 9: The Wildcats are technically only 1-1 against Division I teams, but they handled Central Connecticut on the road and played hard in a loss to Boston College.

7. Maine (2-2) 10 8: The Black Bears played hard in the first two games of the season, almost defeating Richmond. Their victory over St. Francis moves them ahead of Hartford.

8. Hartford 9 (1-3) 6: Losing to St. Francis and Quinnipiac is not how the Hawks wanted to start the season. Kudos to landing a showdown with No. 6 Louisville, even if the result was a 104-69 loss.

9. Stony Brook (0-4) 5 7: One voter asked if he could vote Stony Brook 10th or maybe 22nd. After losing to UMES, the Seawolves might be the worst team in Division I basketball.

Compiled by the Pipe Dream Sports staff. First place votes in parentheses.

- - -

If you were wondering, I voted Stony Brook 10th. There's no way I could justify them keeping steady at no. 9 after this week's performance.

Having just watched Press & Sun reporter Brian Moritz's briefing live on WBNG, I'm off to the Events Center for tonight's Bing/CCSU matchup. I'll check back later on tonight with a full report.


An early peek at RPI

An early look at this year's RPI rankings shows UMBC checking in at no. 26 --- and Stony Brook checking in at no. 330.

UMBC, with its impressive trio of transfers that includes Darryl Proctor, brother of Steve Proctor, is 3-0, while Stony Brook - a team whose woes I have written about before - dropped a heartbreaker at Maryland-Eastern Shore.

From the press release: "We certainly battled," Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell said. "We just didn't make the plays we needed to make down the stretch."

Maryland-Eastern Shore finished last season with an RPI of 332 and a 3-27 record, including a 1-17 record in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.


Chicago State 81, Binghamton 60

@Chicago State 81, Binghamton 60.

That's not a misprint.

Only my beloved Bearcats could make 2007 Chicago State look like the 1997 Chicago Bulls, getting out-rebounded 53-31. (!) Bigtime prospect, er, well, junior guard John Cantrell, who averaged a monstrous 3.5 rpg last season, picked up 13 boards, and 16 points, to go along with his five assists.

Starting small forward Reggie Fuller picked up the Bearcats' first bucket of the game --- to pull us to within 7 (9-2). He wouldn't have another shot for the rest of the afternoon, probably earning him a spot on the bench for Tuesday night's home game against CCSU.

Chicago State --- a team with a new coach and only two returning starters and four total returners from last year's 9-20 squad --- shot 53% in the second half to bury the Bearcats. They even put in their scrubs --- one of whom had a steal from our offensive guru Richie Forbes --- for the last minute of play.

Chicago State had 15 second-chance points. Binghamton - 0. This is a team whose 2007-08 schedule highlight is a contest with ... Northwestern.

The Bearcats now have given up 178 points in their two losses this season. Although it's obviously way too early to make any judgments, that's a lot.

A fast-breaking, full-court-pressing squad is obviously more likely to give up plenty of points, but 178 to the Bonnies and the Cougars (did you know they were called the Cougars?) is, well ... troubling.

We will thankfully finish this home-and-home with Chicago State on Dec. 22 at the Events Center --- a game that frighteningly reminds me of our Dec. 17, 2005 matchup with North Florida, a team that, on that date, was three spots from the cellar of the national RPI --- and managed to hold onto a lead against us until the 2:00 mark. (Notably, that was the game where Al Walker decided to rip up Jaan Montgomery's redshirt, to the delight of the Binghamton crowd.)

(The other fun stat about that Dec. 17 game, which was after most students had gone home for winter break: Schafer Jackson hit three three-pointers; his first three-point makes of the season.)

It's obviously very early in the Kevin Broadus era, but someone please, please tell me how I can interpret a 21-point loss at Chicago State, a game where we mailed it in from the very first possession, as a positive.

The Bearcats return home for a 7 p.m. Tuesday night OOC match-up with Central Connecticut State at the Events Center. Anticipate Milos Klimovic to make his first start of the season.


Pipe Dream, November 13

Just wanted to quickly comment on the profile of Richie Forbes, by Mark Macyk, that was printed in Tuesday’s Pipe Dream:

“No one doubts that Richie Forbes is the most talented offensive player at Binghamton, if not the entire America East.”

Forbes had a nice 11.3 ppg average – it dropped to 10.3 in-conference -- last season, on a team that didn’t exactly feature any offensive juggernauts. At times, Walker was reluctant to go to Forbes over Troy Hailey, even though it was obvious T-Roy was phoning it in the majority of the time, simply because 50% of Troy’s defense beat 100% of whatever Forbes considered defense last season.

As for the most talented debate, I’ll take Brian Hodges or Mike Trimboli over Forbes in a heartbeat. Heck, if Laz keeps up his interior domination, I’d even take him one-on-one against Forbes. Not to mention the superior performance I saw from Boston University’s young kids down the stretch of last year’s semifinal – where Forbes went scoreless in 19 minutes.

The kid is a hell of a talker, though --- you’ve got to give him that. Best interviews I’ve ever had.

Credit: Pipe Dream, http://www.bupipedream.com/pipeline_web/display_article.php?id=6396


Binghamton 88, Quinnipiac 75

In tonight's home opener, the Bearcats put up a relatively impressive performance, giving head coach Kevin Broadus his first win: Binghamton 88, Quinnipiac 75.

Standing in the Zoo, it sure was weird to not hear PA Announcer Dave Simek not announce "Mr. Allllll Walker" at the conclusion of the introductions. But Broadus quickly made an impression on the Bearcat crowd, as his squad jumped out to an early lead they would never relinquish.

Despite his slow start, Lazar Trifunovic continued to impress me. He had quite a few shots rim out early, but once he gets going, those five-foot jumpers will start dropping, and I anticipate that he will become a dominant force in the conference.

Somewhat surprisingly, BU's team defense was remarkably good in the first half, shutting down a Quinnipiac squad that admittedly, I don't know much about. They jumped out to an insurmountable 19-point halftime lead on a pretty steal from Mike Gordon, who made completely sure to finish the dunk after embarrassingly missing an easy one earlier in the half.

When QU started out hot in the second half, the thoughts of deja vu quickly returned to all of us in the Zoo --- remembering all the double-digit leads that the Bearcats of the last few years had choked away under the direction of coach Walker.

But this time, the Bearcats played to win, instead of trying not to lose --- capitalizing on several fast-break opportunities, even when one might expect them to milk the clock, and finishing on several lengthy possessions, including a big three with almost nothing left on the shot clock by Dwayne Jackson with just a few minutes left that put BU up 12. I thought that was the nail in the coffin tonight.

Jackson was quietly the star of tonight's game, going 4-of-4 from downtown, although I didn't realize that was the case until I just peeked at the box score. Laz's 10 rebounds were hard-earned, and although BU was out-rebounded by 7 tonight, it did not feel that way.

Richie Forbes played 38 minutes, and although he shot 7-for-10 from the field, it sure didn't feel like he was a star of tonight's contest. QU point guard Casey Cosgrove repeatedly smoked our gregarious 2-guard, who gave up on a number of plays, only to be saved by his teammates. Like I said after Monday night's game, Forbes better start dedicating himself to his defense, or the team will suffer the subsequent consequences.

As for the 88-75 score, here's my take: I don't think it really matters how much BU gives up, as long as they continue to outscore their opponents. If they're okay with giving up this many points per game, so be it --- but when the offense predictably falls off, don't be disappointed when the results aren't there.

It was obvious that the defensive efforts weren't as high in the second half, with a 19-point lead, but a few key buckets ensured the Bearcats' first victory of the year. Whether or not that will allow Binghamton to succeed throughout the season remains to be seen --- (but I doubt it).

Broadus himself tried to be animated for the crowd, making a couple of half-assed motions toward the BU Zoo with a couple of minutes left on the clock --- which led to scattered "Kevin Broadus" chants. Back when Walker used to motion to the crowd, he'd make sure to get their attention first; somehow, I think Broadus will get the hang of it, or at least I hope he will.

I was very glad to hear that, despite what Mo told me at the KB introductory press conference in the spring, our Pep Band has not given up on 'The Horse.' Thank god.

Finally, I was quite impressed with the interior defense of the Bearcats tonight. Mike Gordon's block early on was particularly memorable, but BU --- with the exception of Richard Forbes --- was certainly not willing to give up easy buckets inside, to the extent of Dwayne Jackson getting a (justified) intentional foul call in the paint. With Jaan and Minja expected to return eventually, expect that interior defense to intensify even further.

Next game: @Chicago State, Saturday, 3 p.m.

(For the record, it should not go without mention that BU will face UVM for the Men's Soccer championship Saturday night at 7 p.m., after a dominating performance [save for the final 30 seconds] against No. 5 UMBC this afternoon.)


Pipe Dream's first America East Power Poll

Pipe Dream printed its first "America East Power Poll" today. It's a clever concept that Sports Editor Mark Macyk came up with for casual fans to keep track of the league's out-of-conference performance, through the beginning of AE conference play. It's set to be printed every Tuesday.

If you were wondering, the voting panel consists of Macyk, Assistant Sports Editor Ben Masur, Randy Benjenk and myself. Mark's in his first year covering the team; Ben, his third; Randy, his second; and me, my fourth.

Here's the poll:

Team (First Place Votes)
Boston: 33 (2)
Vermont: 33 (2)
UMBC: 26
Albany: 25
Binghamton: 24
Hartford: 15
Stony Brook: 11
Maine: 8
New Hampshire: 6

Credit: Pipe Dream

Welcome | St. Bonaventure 97, Binghamton 80

Welcome to Bearcat Country.

My name is Chris Strub. I'm a 22-year-old college kid, on the verge of graduating from Binghamton University, home of my beloved Binghamton Bearcats.

I write for my school's student newspaper, Pipe Dream, having covered our men's basketball team since the fall of 2004. I'm also a columnist for the Press & Sun-Bulletin, the local newspaper of choice for hundreds of thousands of readers around the Southern Tier of New York. I've been at the Press for just over a year now.

As I find myself on the verge of graduation and the inevitable entry into the so-called "real world," I realized that my passion for writing about my school's sports isn't fading. I'm an avid Bearcats fan, a close follower of many of the university's Division-I athletics --- but with graduation just around the corner, I've just about exceeded my eligibility at the school paper. The weekly column I write allows me lots of freedom to speak my mind --- but just once a week, and certainly not about sports.

So, after years of resistance, I'm finally leaping into the world of blogs, giving anyone interested a chance to follow the Bearcats - and their brand new coach, Kevin Broadus - through my eyes.

But be forewarned: this blog will also serve as my way to vent, my primary means to voice my opinions about our squad. I'll let you know right off the bat: I've been classified as cynical, sometimes overbearingly so, since my very first commentary about the 'Cats.

But I try my best to tell it like it is, and now with several years of covering the team under my belt, I hope that you find my thoughts insightful and interesting. If you don't like my style, well, sorry.

So how will this work? At this point, nothing is set in stone, but I plan to post at the very least after each game, through the end of the collegiate season in March. I'll be able to provide more insight to the home games, as I will see them live, but I'll do my best to analyze live video/audio of each away contest as well. That process will begin tonight with some commentary on our season opener --- @ St. Bonaventure 97, Binghamton 80.

... Without the luxury of seeing the action tonight, I've got to say I'm extremely disappointed in our team's defensive effort. Sure, it's just the season opener, and a team should not be judged by just its first game --- or even the first handful of games --- but to give up 97 points to a mediocre-at-best Bonnies squad must be a huge embarrassment.

If KB hopes to out-gun other teams Phoenix Suns-style this season, we're in trouble. Without a doubt, Richie Forbes would love to get out and play that street-ball style that emphasizes fast breaks and Swiss cheese defense. It's a style that, despite his obvious talent, kept him benched by Al Walker last season --- and for good reason.

Even at his best, Forbes is a subpar defender. By the time he realized he had to improve his defense to make a positive net contribution to the Bearcats last season, it was much too late. Now in his final year of eligibility, Forbes had better learn --- now --- that there is no Nick Billings inside to help when people blow by him --- Giovanni Olomo led Binghamton last season with just 15 blocks on the year.

Don't put all the blame on Richie though --- giving up 97 points, to anyone, is an obvious failure on all defensive fronts. Binghamton gave up 101 points at Syracuse in its first year of D-I play in 2001; I believe this was the most points scored by an opponent since then.

And this was St. Bonaventure.

Next game: Wednesday night, 11/14, home opener vs. Quinnipiac.
ping Bearcat Country www.bearcatcountry.blogger.com