America East content with nine teams in its league

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When the dust settled, for the time being, with teams jumping around from one conference to another during conference realignment, the America East lost Boston University to the Patriot League, but picked up Massachusetts Lowell, formerly a Division II school from the Northeast 10. One would think that the America East would have sought to add an additional team to have an even ten teams in the league, but that did not come to fruition. And, according to commissioner Amy Huchthausen, that’s okay.

Huchthausen told Ryan Restivo of Big Apple Buckets:

I feel like we’re in a good spot right now with our presidents, this branding campaign was their initiative and I’m really proud to see where it’s ended up as a result of that as we look ahead to the future, would it be better just from scheduling purposes to have an even number? of course it would, but the America East has been at nine for several years now and we’ve managed to make it pretty well with an odd number. You don’t want to add someone just to add someone.

The America East has been locked at nine teams since the 2005-06 season, and have been able to make it work. Prior to that year, Northeastern was in the league before heading off to the Colonial Athletic Association.

What is dangerous is if other schools from the America East begin to look for greener pastures. Earlier in August, Shades of 48, a blog about William & Mary athletics, released an investigative article with email dialogues from Tom Yeager, the commissioner of the CAA, to people associated with the other schools in the conference. The topic? Among several things, poaching Albany and Stony Brook from the America East.

Both of these schools became associate members of the CAA over the summer as they are set to embark on their first year in the league for football. Stony Brook, in particular, is a school that has made a serious commitment to athletics and is on the rise. One would think that the CAA presents them more opportunities to elevate their program than the America East, but they maintain they are content in the nine team league.

“There’s always concern that someone will leave, in this fluid environment that we’ve had for the last few years, there’s very few commissioners in the country who aren’t thinking about that, but at the same time that’s where you really have to focus on the relationships that you have with existing schools,” Huchthausen said. “Make sure that they’re open and transparent, you’re working with them so they are being honest and upfront with you, but at the end of the day a school’s going to decide what they want to decide so no commissioner can control that.”

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)