Hype for America East basketball got a big boost on Thursday, as the conference’s biggest names gathered at the Connecticut state capital for their annual media day.
The event, hosted by the University of Hartford, included appearances by head coaches of each men’s and women’s team, as well as athletic directors from all nine conference schools. Those in attendance included America East Commissioner Patrick Nero, as well as President and CEO of Newman’s Own Foundation, Robert Forrester.
Following a tip-off luncheon, media representatives gathered in the Old Judiciary Room for a presentation that included the unveiling of the conference’s preseason rankings, as well as all-conference teams.
Boston University, predicted to finish first for both men and women, dominated early media attention. Of 12 selections, five Terriers were chosen first-team all conference.
Led by Jake O’Brien and John Holland, Boston is looking to improve upon its final-four appearance in last year’s College Basketball Invitational, a run which included wins over Oregon State and Morehead State.
Both Boston coaches delivered speeches concerning their No. 1 preseason rankings. Women’s coach Kelly Greenberg spoke first, followed by men’s head coach Pat Chambers. Each stressed the importance of conference unity, encouraging fellow coaches to support each other.
‘Let’s get out there and support one another in non-conference,’ Chambers said. ‘When we get big wins, let’s reach out to each other. This is what it’s about, forming that bond, especially in non-conference games. We can elevate this league to a whole new level. I wish all a lot of health, a lot of success, and let’s beat some of these Goliaths.’
As quickly as America East members have elevated their level of play, coaches and directors have elevated the quality of their opponents. Chambers and the Terriers will travel to Lexington this season, slated to face basketball powerhouse Kentucky on Nov. 30.
But Chambers also credited teams within the conference, discussing how America East competition will be as competitive and cutthroat as any major conference.
‘We’ve got one of the best conferences in the country; the competition is going to be brutal,’ he said. ‘I think coaches are going to find out how tough and how hard this league is.’
Following the coaches, Forrester took the podium to promote his continued support for the Campus Community Service Challenge. Newman’s Own, based in Westport, Conn., granted America East schools over $100,000 for charitable foundations initiated on campus. The company will again sponsor the America East Championship tournament for both men and women, set to take place in Hartford on March 3-6.
Binghamton, set to move on from previous scandals, received great support at the event. The Bearcat women, coached by Nicole Scholl, were ranked third in the preseason poll. Led by All-Conference selection Andrea Holmes, the Bearcats look to compete for a title this season.
For the men, head coach Mark Macon looks to lead his team to success after taking over the program last season. All-Conference forward Greer Wright, a unanimous selection, received praise not only from Binghamton officials, but from conference foes, as well. The men’s squad was chosen to finish seventh.
‘When you have a guy like Greer Wright on your team, anything’s possible,’ said Boston head coach Pat Chambers. ‘He is one of the best, if not the best player in the league, and he can score in bunches.’
The event served as an excellent opportunity for students to get a firm grasp on professional sports media. Students from all nine conference schools attended the event, representing on-campus publications and radio programs.