ALBANY, N.Y. — Alasdair Fraser of the University of Maine was among six men’s players selected for the preseason All-America East basketball team.
The conference announced its preseason polls and all-conference squads during Tuesday’s media day held at the University at Albany’s SEFCU Arena, the site of the 2013 basketball championship tournaments.
The 6-foot-8 junior from Falkirk, Scotland, is coming off a season during which he ranked 12th in scoring (12.9 points per game), fourth in rebounding (7.8 rpg) and third in both blocked shots (1.4 bpg) and field-goal percentage (.543). Fraser was an All-AE third-team pick last season.
“In our league, he’s a tremendous low-post presence and has been able to add parts to the game where he’s able to get out on the perimeter some as well,” said UMaine coach Ted Woodward. “He’s worked really hard at it, so he deserves everything he gets.”
The Black Bears, who had a 12-17 record and lost in the quarterfinals last season, were picked to finish fifth among the league’s eight eligible teams in the preseason coaches poll. UMaine received 35 points in the voting of the head coaches.
Vermont was the choice to successfully defend its conference title, earning five first-place votes and 60 points. The Catamounts won a first-round game in the NCAA tournament last season.
Defending regular-season champion Stony Brook was picked to finish second with four first-place votes and 58 points, followed by Boston University (49 points), Albany (38) and Maine. New Hampshire (34), Hartford (26), Maryland Baltimore County (15) and Binghamton (9) round out the field.
Boston University, which has announced it is moving to the Patriot League for most sports beginning in 2013, is not eligible for the America East championship and will not compete in postseason play.
In the women’s ranks, a revamped UMaine ballclub was picked to finish seventh in the nine-team field.
Coach Richard Barron’s Black Bears, who went 8-23 last winter, received 17 points in the voting.
“I think even for us as a staff, we’re still learning what we have,” Barron said of his team. “I wouldn’t expect anybody to have a real sense of where we’re going to be this year based on the previous year, because it is such a different team.”
Defending champion Albany got the nod as the preseason favorite with five first-place votes and 61 points. Boston University was second with 56 points and Hartford third with 54 as each had two first-place votes.
New Hampshire and Vermont tied for fourth at 37 points, followed by UMBC (34), Maine (17), Binghamton (16) and Stony Brook (15).
The America East preseason women’s team includes Waterville’s Morgan Frame, who had a breakout season at New Hampshire last winter. She is joined by unanimous picks Chantel Alford of Boston University and Ebone Henry of Albany, along with Ruthanne Doherty of Hartford, BU’s Mo Moran and Julie Forster of Albany.
“I think there’s going to be more parity this year, closer games,” Barron said.
The Black Bear women have only four healthy returning players in senior Corinne Wellington, junior Ashleigh Roberts and sophomores Danielle Walczak and Courtney Anderson of Greene.
The Preseason All-America East men’s contingent features unanimous choices Tommy Brenton of Stony Brook and Mike Black of Albany, BU’s D.J. Irving, Chase Plummer of UMBC and Brian Voelkel of Vermont.
“There’s a lot of losses from graduation throughout the league and there’s a lot of teams that have three starters back,” Woodward said, “and a lot will depend on some of the recruiting classes that came in and some transfers who joined the league as well.
“I do think it’s a very wide-open America East this year,” he added.
The UMaine men return three starters and seven letterwinners from last season’s squad, including Justin Edwards (Whitby, Ontario), the 2012 CollegeHoops.net America East Rookie of the Year and College Sports Madness All-America East Preseason First-Team selection, and Mike Allison (Lynden, Ontario), a 2012 America East All-Defensive honoree and second-team CSM Preseason honoree.
The men play Laval on Saturday at noon in an exhibition game at Alfond Arena, while the women have their Blue-White Scrimmage slated for 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Memorial Gym.