Now that the confetti has been swept up, the cameras are put away ,and jerseys are hung up one last time, it's time to reflect on what's happened the last few months in the America East. It was a great season and here are some of the biggest takeaways from last season.
1. Stony Brook Makes History
It was four years in the making and with one last win under the guidance of Head Coach Steve Pikell, the Stony Brook Seawolves made their way to the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Seniors Jameel Warney and Carson Puriefoy teamed up to be quite possibly the best duo the school will see for a long time. Warney picked up a variety of awards including the America East Player of the Year for the third time in a row, and our very own Player of the Year title.
Warney's 43 record-breaking points in their nail-biting 80-74 win over Vermont in the Championship game is what brought them to their first ever NCAA appearance. While these two players have left their mark on the school, they've left some big shoes to fill. With Steve Pikell leaving his Seawolves and trading them in for a similar color across the river at Rutgers. Their 26-7 record is something the team can boast about for this season, but it's up to newly hired Jeff Boals and his staff to get the rest of the team ready for November without the reliance of Warney.
2. Vermont Has Promise
Losing their last game of the season, and their chances at the Big Dance, the Vermont Catamounts took what they were dealt and once again made their way to the semifinals of the CBI. With only Ethan O'Day as the lone senior on the roster for the season, there is a lot of promise for the Catamounts in the season to come.
Trey Bell Haynes and Cam Ward have the perimeter covered, Drew Urquhart and Darren Payen able to go inside and Kurt Steidl able to help on both ends, they have a top-notch team, if anything for next season. Despite their short bench, they were able to play intelligently to keep their starters on the floor and out of foul trouble. Under the guidance of Head Coach John Becker, and the talent these guys have, they're going to be pretty hard to beat.
3. Final Thoughts
The 2016-17 season of America East basketball is going to be different. With a new top dog (or should I say cat...amount?) in the picture, new coaches in and old coaches out, and hopefully a healthy roster for everyone, the top teams might not be comprised of the same teams we've come to know and love. With more teams stepping up and grabbing winning records, there's going to be a smaller gap between teams at the end of the season.
No longer will the 4 and 5 seed be mediocre teams, and no longer with the 1 and 2 seeds have the guaranteed wins they used to. The America East is growing and getting better with each year that passes. Changes are happening.