On to the Finals

Honestly I feel like I’m standing in the middle of the 14th fairway at Ekwanok Country Club. No, I’m not trying to figure the yardage, wind and how to break it to my golfer that they don’t need an 8-iron, but that a 9 iron will suffice.

Instead, sitting in the middle of the mid-term squall, I am reflecting on the past week in America East basketball.

For starters, the outcome of the conference tournament came as no surprise.

In a top heavy league, the two best teams prevailed, surviving the weekend and earning a shot at an NCAA tournament berth.

The prospect of UVM Albany, Part II was not a foregone conclusion when the playoffs began Friday night, but the odds were certainly in its favor.

The Great Danes and the Catamounts weren’t just the only 20-plus win teams in the conference they were the only teams in America East with overall winning records.

A rematch of last year’s conference championship game, this year’s edition should be a much better game. This year Albany isn’t playing the youngest team in the country, but they are playing possibly the hottest team in the country, as the Cats collected their 13th straight win on Sunday against UMBC.

Saturday’s game at Patrick Gym will also feature the three best players in the league this season in Albany’s Jamar Wilson, and Vermont’s duo of Chris Holm and Mike Trimboli.

Last Friday, Wilson was named conference Player of the Year for the second year in a row, edging out Trimboli who had a phenomenal closing stretch to the year, guiding his team to wins in 18 of their last 19 regular season games.

After watching Trimboli play all season and then watching him take his game to another level in Boston this past weekend, I’m left thinking (knowing, really) he was in fact the best player this season.

And I have yet to get to Holm, Mr. Double Double, who is second in the nation in rebounding and a big reason why Vermont led the nation in rebounding margin.

Just how good has Holm been to close the season? In his last three games he is averaging 15.6 points and 15 rebounds per game.

Anyone who wants to chime in with the standard Wayne’s World “We’re not worthy!” kowtowing, please feel free to do so.

If it’s any consolation, both Catamounts were named to the America East All-Conference First Team and, as a corollary of sorts, had freshman sensation Joe Trapani not missed most of the second half of the season with a broken foot, he would’ve in all likelihood been named rookie of the year.

Ultimately, what UVM Albany Part II may come down to is the bench – coaches and players.

If this is the case, the Cats are sitting pretty with a roster that can go 11 deep and a certain head coach who was recently named, and he earned it, America East Coach of the Year.

Regardless, it should certainly be fun to watch. It usually is when ESPN rolls into town.