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Pre-season coaches poll

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I was kind of surprised Hartford was picked fourth.


Vermont Selected in Men's Basketball Coaches' Poll

University of Vermont, which won its first Choice Hotels America East Championship last season, has been chosen by the conferences coaches to repeat. The poll was announced at America East Men's Basketball Media Day at Eilberg Lounge on the Boston University campus.


The Catamounts, 21-12 overall last season (11-5 America East), received four first-place votes and 74 points to edge defending regular-season champion Boston University and Northeastern University. Both the Terriers, who received two first-place votes, and the Huskies, who received four, finished with 72 points. Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams in the preseason voting.


A total of five votes separated University of Hartford (50), Stony Brook University (46) and Binghamton University (45) in fourth, fifth and sixth place. University of Maine, which saw its streak of four-straight trips to the semifinals end last season when Northeastern’s Jose Juan Barea nailed a three-pointer with 0.8 seconds left for a 71-68 win, was chosen seventh. America East newcomer University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), University at Albany and University of New Hampshire rounded out the poll.


Vermont, a charter member of America East in 1979, finds itself atop the preseason coaches poll for the first time in conference history. The Catamounts return 2003 America East Player of the Year Taylor Coppenrath, who led America East in scoring last season with 20.1 ppg, and 2002 America East Player of the Year T.J. Sorrentine, who led the conference in scoring with 18.8 ppg two years ago.


Boston University has appeared in each of the last two Choice Hotels America East Championship games. The Terriers, who had eight players average at least 19.5 minutes a game last season, will again be among the deepest teams in the conference with 10 letter winners returning. First-team all-conference choice Rashad Bell (12.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and third-team all-conference selection Ryan Butt (8.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg) are two of five returning players who averaged at least 7.2 ppg last season. Seniors Kevin Fitzgerald, Jason Grochowalski, Matt Turner and Butt have led the Terriers to a 35-15 mark in conference games over the last three seasons, the top winning percentage over America East in that span.


Northeastern has won a conference-best seven America East Championships. But the Huskies have not appeared in the title game since 1995 and last won the championship in 1991. In fact, prior to last year, Northeastern had not enjoyed a winning season since 1994-95. Ron Everhart, now in his third year along Huntington Avenue, has rebuilt Northeastern behind third-team all-conference choices Jose Juan Barea (17.0 ppg, 3.9 apg), Javorie Wilson (14.6 ppg) and Sylbrin Robinson (11.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg).


After posting just one conference win in his rookie season as head coach, Larry Harrison has guided Hartford to the No. 3 seed in the Choice Hotels America East Championship each of the past two seasons. First-team all-conference choice Jerell Parker (13.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg), senior Ryan Stys (8.7 ppg) and all-rookie selection Aaron Cook (9.9 ppg, 48 three-pointers) lead the Hawks in 2003-04.


Two-time all-conference choice D.J. Munir (17.4 ppg) is one of five returning starters for Stony Brook head coach Nick Macarchuk, now in his fifth year with the Seawolves and 27th year as a collegiate head coach. Touted recruit Mitchell Beauford of Christ the King High School, also joins the Seawolves.


Al Walker will look to the tallest player in America East to lead Binghamton to new heights in 2003-04. Junior Nick Billings, a 7-0 center, was a second-team all-conference choice after averaging 9.0 ppg and 6.7 rpg last year. Billings was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year after finishing second in the nation with 4.3 blocks per game. He already owns the Binghamton career blocks record with 197 in 48 games.


Maine saw its streak of four-straight trips to the America East semifinals end last season when Northeastern’s Barea drilled a three-pointer with 0.8 seconds left for a 71-68 win. The Black Bears’ ability to return to the semifinals this season revolves around all-rookie choice Kevin Reed, who averaged 12.4 ppg last year and established a school rookie record for three-pointers with 81, and the additions of transfers Jermaine Jackson (Indian River JC) and Chris Markwood (Notre Dame), who becomes eligible after the first semester.


UMBC joins America East this season and head coach Tom Sullivan, now in his ninth year with the Retrievers, welcomes the return of all five starters. Sullivan’s teams have been no strangers to success, earning the Northeast Conference regular season title in 1998-99 and posting a 20-9 campaign two seasons ago.


Head coach Will Brown begins his second full season at Albany (he was interim head coach for 20 games in 2001-02) building around all-rookie choices Jamar Wilson (18.9 ppg) and Levi Levine (13.2 ppg).


Fifth-year head coach Phil Rowe welcomed the Wildcats’ first international player (Ioannis Karalis of Greece) and first junior college player (Griffin Walker) last season. This year, Blagoj Janev, a native of Macedonia who calls Sydney, Australia home, and two junior college transfers (Damione Liddell, Craig Walls) join the Wildcats, who also boast senior Marcus Bullock, who has 183 career three-pointers, 14 shy of the Wildcat record.

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Being ranked by the coaches 9th leaves me to beleive the only way is up. If Jamar gets healthy and Iati is fully recovered from surgery with levi at the 3 and upfront by committee we could surprise some people.


With many looking to next year as our year to rise now would be a great time to show the program is on its way.


The big question is what will we get from Martin, Q, Knotts, Wyatt and Pipikis. If we don't get much we are picked right where we belong. If we get some consistent play from them the 7 or 6 spot are reachable.

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