Danes can't slack off
When University at Albany hosts South Carolina State Wednesday night at SEFCU Arena, it will be a rematch of last month's thumping of the Bulldogs by nearly 30 points.
That means the Great Danes must be careful not to take 4-5 South Carolina State lightly.
Rarely do rematches end up with the same type of score, and the Great Danes could be in a for a rude awakening if they think the Bulldogs are going to roll over for them in their second meeting.
UAlbany is 8-2 overall and 3-0 at home. Head coach Will Brown said one of the Great Danes' goals this year is to defend their home turf. Although UAlbany is unbeaten at home so far, they haven't exactly blown out their opposition. All three games at SEFCU Arena have been extremely close affairs, all three have included huge UAlbany leads at one point in the game.
The Great Danes' last home win included an 18-0 run to start the game against the St. Francis Terriers, but UAlbany had to scrap and claw to win at the end. The same was true for games with Duquesne and Wagner.
Senior guard Mike Black said the Danes are confident that they can come back and win close games, and that UAlbany is a mature group which understands how to win. That may be true, but if the Great Danes are that mature, they should understand that close games can swing in either direction with a few breaks here and there. It's much better to put your opponent away as soon as possible.
Black leads UAlbany in scoring at 17.4 points per game. Fifth-year senior guard Jacob Iati is next at 15.8 ppg. Australians Peter Hooley and Sam Rowley are each producing better than six points a game, and they are each excellent passers. Senior Blake Metcalf has been a force on the boards, and 6-10 junior center John Puk adds some inside punch when he's able to stay out of foul trouble.
By the way, the Great Danes are winning without much help from junior forward Luke Devlin, who was one of the top freshmen in the America East Conference two years ago. Last year was injury-plagued, and he has yet to return to form this year, although Brown says that Devlin has been helpful defensively on the back line. The 6-foot-8 Australian has yet to recover his shooting touch, however. If he does, the Danes will be even stronger than they are right now.
Another player to watch out for is sophomore Tanner Gibson, who hasn't played yet this season because of an injury. He is the Great Danes' top defensive player on the perimeter and will take the pressure off of Black and Iati when he returns.