Hartford 71, @Binghamton 62; Binghamton will head to Manhattan for Bracketbusters; Vermont @ Binghamton, tomorrow, 7 p.m.

People have to get off of the Bearcats' back about Saturday's loss against the Hawks. It's not as big a deal as everyone says.

Take a step back and look at the big picture. The Bearcats are still beating everyone's expectations and still sit near the top of the league. The goal this year was never to go undefeated (sound familiar?); it was to be playing the best basketball of the season near the end of the season. That's a familiar mantra around here, except that Al Walker always interpreted that saying as, we can suck most of the season, as long as we play alright the last few games.

Broadus has raised the expectations in Bearcat Country with his overachievements against Albany and UMBC early on. For Binghamton to lose to Hartford the way they did on Saturday -- I'm not declaring this a lost season like many people are. Here's why:

I really thought that the Bearcats, for much of Saturday's game, outplayed Hartford. Despite Kevin Broadus' awkward postgame comments about Forbes: (Courtesy the one and only Brian Moritz)

"Richie has got to trust in his teammates, Richie has got to trust in me, because I trust in him," Broadus said. "It's his last go-around, and he's got to approach every day like it's his last day. You can print this however you want - We've had our ups and downs all year, but it's come time for Richie to step up and be a man and say 'Hey, this program has got to be about the program and not about Richie Forbes.'
"Richie is a good player in our program, and he's going to be a good player in our program, but he's going to do it our way ... Richie's got to understand that guys are looking at him every day. Whether he believes it or not, they're looking at him every day. They want to see his actions every day. He's got to understand that.
"Richie's going to be fine. But this program is not solely about Richie."

... I actually thought Richie played one of the best games I've seen him play lately. He continued to do the little things that he often overlooked in the past. Yes, he missed a couple of big shots, but I thought he was well within his means to take those opportunities, because he is a senior leader and heck, he was open! Let's not forget that Forbes is naturally a scorer, and just because he's been blending into the mix lately does not mean he should not take an open shot in a big spot, as he did on Saturday.

I know this sounds sacreligious, but can we place even a little bit of blame on Mike Gordon and/or Lazar Trifunovic? Laz played, at times, like he had cement in his shoes, while Mikey couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. But the pair has become so beloved with this great start we had that everything automatically falls back on Richie Forbes. That's not fair.

Honestly, if that same exact game were played over again 100 times, Binghamton would win, I'd say, 80 of them. Hartford hit some tough, contested, step-back threes that just buried us, and I legitimately think that if we do end up facing the Hawks again come playoff time, we are still the better team.

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Anyone complaining about Binghamton getting a sour draw at Manhattan is out of place. If you don't want to land a crummy OOC game, don't lose at Chicago State and give up 97 points to St. Bonaventure. That's all I've really got to say about that, other than I almost wish we didn't have a late OOC game to take the team's focus off of America East play. For the time being, the program's only goal should be to win an America East title. Period.

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Tomorrow night's going to be a heck of a lot of fun, if the students come out to play. Kyle Cieplicki and Mike Trimboli are not going to have an easy night, if we have anything to say about it. As for the game itself, I'll post more later/tomorrow, but for now, I anticipate our "slide" to continue -- Vermont 78, Binghamton 66.

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