UAlbany basketball: Danes stress defense

Even when there is a lid on the basket, University at Albany finds a way to win with lock-down defen

Even when there is a lid on the basket, University at Albany finds a way to win with lock-down defense.

In the Great Danes’ last game, they held Canisius scoreless for nearly seven minutes and used 19 unanswered points to pull away for a 74-46 non-conference win.

Despite the lopsided win, the Great Danes failed to shoot at least 40 percent from the floor for the fifth time in their last six games.

UAlbany head coach Will Brown would love more help from his offense, but he’d settle for another strong defensive effort when his

6-4 Great Danes travel to Fairfield, Conn., to take on Sacred Heart

tonight in the William H. Pitt Center.

“We’ve been preaching right along that we’ve got to defend and rebound at a high level,” said Brown. “Hopefully, our shooting will come around, but if we continue to struggle in our shooting, we can still win if we have an honest and consistent effort on defense and on the glass.”

UAlbany is shooting only 41 percent from the floor this season, but the Danes have been solid on defense.

Sophomore guard Tim Ambrose leads three double-digit scorers for the Great Danes with an average of 11.4 points per game. Freshman point guard Anthony Raffa is next at 11.4 ppg, followed by junior forward Will Harris (10.9 ppg). Harris and Ambrose are also the team leaders in rebounding at 5.3 and 5.1 rebounds per game.

The balanced Great Danes also get 7.8 ppg from 6-8 senior forward Brian Connelly. Brett Gifford, a 6-11 junior center, provides 1.9 ppg and 4.8 rpg. He snared a career-best 11 rebounds in his last game.

“For a kid Brett’s size, he’s got to realize that he’s not the quickest kid or the most athletic kid,” said Brown. “He needs to play with great intensity and with great energy. He’s not a great athlete, but if he stays focused at all times and doesn’t take any possessions off, he can help us. His biggest strength is he take sup space and knows how to defend.”

UAlbany’s bench is deep and includes junior forward Scotty McRae (5.1 ppg.), junior guard

Michael Johnson (3.7 ppg) and sen­ior swingman Jerel Hastings (3.7 ppg). Junior swingman Louis Barraza (4.1 ppg) is ill and didn’t make the trip because the trainers felt he was contagious.

Albany is outrebounding its opponents by nearly 10 caroms a game.

Sacred Heart’s Pioneers are 3-4. They had their three-game winning streak snapped in a 59-55 loss to Hartford on Sunday.

Three-sport star Joe Henley, a

6-5 senior, produces 13.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game. He is also shooting 53.6 percent from the floor.

Joining the powerful Henley up front is Ryan Howard, a 6-6,

230-pounder who can play both forward positions. Howard averages 14.1 points and 6.4 rebounds a game and scored a career-high 25 points in a 96-86 win over Fairleigh Dickinson.

Other key players for the Pion­eers are freshman Shane Gibson (10.7 ppg), point guard Chauncey Hardy (10.5 ppg, 3.7 assists) and Boston University transfer Corey Hassan, a deadly outside shooter who is averaging 8.1 ppg.

Sacred Heart has won eight of the last 13 meetings with Albany.

The UAlbany women’s team

(1-8) begins a five-game road trip at 0-8 St. Francis (N.Y.). Janea Aiken is the Great Danes’ leading scorer at 11.8 ppg.

Categories: College Sports


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