Danes heading to hostile arena

This might not be the best time for the University at Albany to be playing Vermont at Patrick Gymnas
PHOTOGRAPHER:

This might not be the best time for the University at Albany to be playing Vermont at Patrick Gymnasium.

But then again, is any time a good time to play the Catamounts on their home court?

The Great Danes are coming off a lackluster 68-63 loss to Hartford Saturday afternoon at SEFCU Arena. Albany took an 11-point advantage in the first half, but lost the lead for good with 5:07 left in the game.

Albany was sloppy against the smaller and quicker Hawks. Now, the Great Danes must elevate their game against the Catamounts, who will be seeking revenge for Alb­any’s 80-79 overtime victory Jan. 6 at

SEFCU Arena. Vermont has won 16 of the 21 previous matchups with the Great Danes, although Albany has won four of the last six meetings, including the last two America East Conference tournament championship games.

“Vermont has had several days to prepare for us,” said Albany head coach Will Brown, pointing to the fact that the Catamounts didn’t play a conference game on Saturday. “Patrick Gym is a tough place to play. It will be a tough game. We’ve had some guys who have played too many minutes lately, and that includes Brian Lillis and Brian Connelly. We’ve got to do a better job of getting them some rest.

“But Vermont is playing well, right now. They have two of the three best players in the league in Mike Trimboli and Marqus Blakley. I believe Lillis is the other one. We all know that Patrick Gym is a tough environment to play in, and I’m sure they will want some revenge against us for what we did to them at our place.”

“We’ll do our best to get ready for Vermont, but they’ll be tough,” said fifth-year senior guard Jon Iati.

The Catamounts are in second place in the league standings at

7-3. They are 12-10 overall. The defending regular-season conference champions are led by Trimboli, a first-team all-conference guard last year and the 2006 Rookie of the Year. Trimboli, a 6-foot-1 junior, is both second in the league in scoring at 18.7 points per game and second in assists at 4.8 per game. A third-team preseason All-American who scored 32 points against Yale earlier this season, Trimboli is ninth on UVM’s all-time scoring list with 1,352 points.

Blakely, a 6-5 sophomore forward who is extremely athletic around the basket, leads the conference in scoring at 19 ppg, rebounding (9.6 pg) and blocked shots (2.7 pg). He also shoots 55.1 percent from the floor, and has nine double-doubles this year.

Keith Cieplicki, the first three-time captain in team history, is the third UVM player in double digits, at 10 ppg. Other key players are

6-6 Tim McCrory (6.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg) and 6-8 Colin McIntosh (7.3 pg, 3.9 rpg).

Lillis, a 6-5 senior guard, scored 17 points against Hartford on

8-for-9 shooting from the floor. He paces the Great Danes in both scoring (16.3 ppg) and rebounding (6.3 rpg). Other starters are Connelly, a 6-8 junior who produces 10.4 points and 5.6 rebounds a game; 6-5 junior guard Jerel Hastings (5.5 ppg);

6-7 freshman center Al Turley (2.0 ppg); and 6-0 freshman guard Tim Ambrose (7.4 ppg).

Senior forward Brent Wilson (9.5 ppg, 5. rpg), Iati (7.8 ppg) and freshman guard Josh Martin (6.1 ppg) are the primary players off the bench for the Great Danes, who are 6-5 in the league and 11-12 overall.

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