Great Danes put focus on defense

University at Albany might not have enough energy left to execute head coach Will Brown’s game plan,
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University at Albany might not have enough energy left to execute head coach Will Brown’s game plan, but the Great Danes certainly know that their focus will be on defense when they travel to University of Maryland Baltimore County for tonight’s America East Conference game.

After watching his team allow Maine to shoot 64.7 percent from the floor in an 81-70 victory over the Danes last Wednesday night, Brown vowed to change his team’s priorities with a rough week of practice.

“It’s been a grind all week,” said Brown. “I gave them Thurday off, but Friday, I had them run suicides [full-court sprints from end line to end line]. For every percentage point that Maine shot, I had them run the suicides in a certain amount of time. If they didn’t make the time, I made them run the suicides again. One player ended up running 80 suicides, but most ran between 50 and 60,” Brown said.

“Then, I left Friday for a recruiting trip down in Florida. I gave them Saturday off, but we started up Sunday with a three-hour practice that included no shooting, only defense. It was definitely another grind. On Monday, we had two different practices, with one session concentrating on defense again and the other including running our

offense. Then, we had another practice Tuesday morning. I don’t know how much energy they have left, but they definitely will be thinking about defense from now on.

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Brown said. “We need to play better defense to be successful the rest of the way.”

Against UMBC, the Great Danes will see just how much they’ve learned about defending. The

Retrievers are off to a great start at 5-2 in the league and 13-7 overall.

“They are the best offensive team in the league They’ve got three one-year transfers who are all 1,000-point scorers at their prev­ious school,” said Brown. “They almost dare you to try to outscore them. You have to make them work for their shots, or it will be a long night.”

UMBC tops the America East Conference in scoring (76.0 ppg) and three-point shooting (.394). The Retrievers are second nationally in fewest turnovers (9.9 pg).

Brian Hodges, a 6-foot-3 senior guard, ranks fourth in the league in scoring at 16.9 ppg and is the school’s sixth all-time leading scorer with 1,417 points.

Ray Barbosa, a 6-2 senior who scored 32 points against Ohio State earlier this season, is a transfer from James Madison. He averages 15.2 ppg.

Darryl Proctor, a 6-4, 230-pounder who transferred from Coppin State, is ninth in scoring (14.9 ppg) and first in rebounding (8.9 rpg) in the league. Cavell Johnson, another James Madison transfer, adds 12.8 points and 7.4 rebounds per contest.

Albany (4-3, 9-10) is paced by senior swingman Brian Lillis (16.2 ppg), junior forward Brian Connelly (10.4 ppg ) and senior forward Brent Wilson (9.7 ppg).

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