Energy and intensity: These are familiar themes for University at Albany head coach Will Brown.
The Great Danes try to work hard every time they step on the court, but Brown believes they don’t elevate their game often enough to win consistently.
Brown will ask his Danes to push the accelerator more often when they host the New Hampshire Wildcats in an America East Conference basketball game tonight at 7 at
Albany, which snapped a two-game losing streak with a 64-46 home victory over Stony Brook Saturday night, is tied for fourth in the league at 5-4 (10-11 overall). New Hampshire, which rallied for a 75-66 victory at Lundholm Gymnasium to open the league schedule on Jan. 3, is 4-5 and 7-14.
“Every team in the country works hard every game, and we’re no different,” said Brown. “It’s not that we’re not trying, but it’s a question of whether we’re outworking our opponents.
“Our team tends to ease off at certain times during the game. Then, when we need it, we’re not raising our level. We need a championship effort every time out. That’s what separates the champions from the rest of the teams. This team works hard, but it has too many lulls.”
Albany got off to a great start against the Wildcats in their first meeting, but then the Danes suffered one of their famous lulls, and UNH gradually rallied to steal a win.
“We had a 10-point lead for most of the first half, but then we missed a couple of shots in a row, and they went into the second half with a little momentum,” Brown said.
Albany still held a 53-47 lead with less than seven minutes left, but Tyrece Gibbs scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half to help the Wildcats surge past the Danes.
“It’s that same old problem we have when we start missing some shots,” Brown said. “We get into a shooting slump, and then we also stop playing defense When that happens, any team can beat us.”
UNH presents matchup problems for the Danes.
“They play four perimeter players, and they spread the floor out. They also like to shoot a lot of threes,” the Albany coach said. “They like to penetrate, and then kick out the ball for open threes. We’ve got to try to defend the three-pointers, but if we’re not in good position, we can’t be running out late to try to stop them, because that opens up other shots. New Hampshire is a rhythm team, and we’ve got to destroy that rhythm.”
Gibbs, a 6-2 junior, is one of four double-figure scorers for the Wildcats and leads the team at 14.4 points per game to go along with 4.6 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Mike Christensen contributes 12.7 points and 6.2 rebounds, while Eric Gilchrese averages 11.1 points and 3.2 assists. Freshman guard Alvin Abreu rounds out the top scorers at 12.2 ppg.
Albany counters with a likely starting lineup of 6-5 senior guard Brian Lillis (16.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg), 6-5 junior guard Jerel Hastings (5.4 ppg), 6-8 junior forward Brian Connelly (10.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg), 6-7 center Al Turley (1.7 ppg) and 6-0 freshman guard Tim Ambrose (7.3 ppg).
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