Great Danes launch league season

Relieved not to be in Kansas anymore, the University at Albany opens its America East Conference sch
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The University at Albany will use selective memory when it opens its America East Conference schedule this afternoon at 2 p.m. at Hartford’s Chase Arena at Reich Family Pavilion.

Although the Great Danes were hammered by defending national champion Kansas, 79-43, Tuesday night in Lawrence, Kan., they can forget about that rout and concentrate on the only meaningful games for mid-major programs like Albany.

“It’s kind of a relief that we’re playing only America East Conference games the rest of the season,” said senior forward Brian Connelly. “Now, we can focus on the really important games of the season.

Everybody is 0-0.”

Connelly admitted that losing by 36 points to the Jayhawks is not something to be proud of, but he says the Danes will use that defeat as motivation for the conference schedule.

“At first, our confidence took a hit, but now, we’re using it as a pos­itive. We don’t want to let a game like that happen again.”

“Kansas didn’t turn out too well,” said sophomore guard Tim Ambrose. “But now, we can start all over again.”

Hartford, which tied for second place with Albany in the conference standings last season, was picked to finish third this season. The Danes were chosen sixth in the annual preseason poll. So far, the Hawks are 4-9, while the Great Danes have matched their best Division I start at 8-5.

Albany is concerned about the Hawks’ penchant for shooting three-pointers.

“They make a lot of threes, and they are tough to defend. We’ve got to guard the three-point line,” said Ambrose.

“Their offense is a lot like an Ivy League team.They have lots of shooters, and they might go smaller in some parts of the game to match up with us better,” said Connelly. “We can take what we learned in the Penn game [a 73-63 Albany win] and use it to our advantage. From this point out, a loss will hurt us more.”

The Hawks have faced a brutal schedule, and lost to Baylor (75-59) and Stanford (69-55) on the road.

Joe Zeglinski, the Hawks’ leading scorer (15.5 points per game) and rebounder (5.5 pg), has missed the last three games with an ankle injury, but Albany head coach Will Brown expects Zeglinski to play against the Danes.

“We prepared 100 percent as if Zeglinski would be in the lineup,” said Brown. “We know he practiced out west, even though he didn’t play against Stanford. I’m sure they were saving him for the conference season against us. We fully expect him to play 35 to 40 minutes.”

Other key players for the Hawks are senior guard Jaret Rosenberg (11.9 ppg, 4.4 assists), 6-foot-6 forward Morgan Sabia (11.7 ppg) and 6-5 Michael Turner (9.8 ppg), who led the conference in steals (72) a year ago.

Albany leads the all-time series with Hartford, 13-6, but the Hawks snapped an eight-game Albany winning streak with a 68-63 win at SEFCU Arena last February.

Albany has struggled with its perimeter shooting, especially from beyond the arc. The Great Danes were 0-15 from three-point ter­ritory against Kansas. That being said, Brown expects a lot of zone defense from the Hawks.

“Based on statistics, we’ll see a lot of zone the rest of the season,” he said. “[Hartford] will probably play 80 percent to 100 percent matchup zone. They are always a tough matchup for us. If I were coaching against us, I’d play 40 minutes of zone.”

The Great Danes’ strength this season has been rebounding, where they are ranked 17th nationally in rebounding margin (plus 7.8), but they might be without two of their big men. Connelly has a bruised heel, and 6-7 backup center Jimmie Covington, a senior co-captain, has a sore shoulder. Both players are waiting for MRI results to determine if they will play against the Hawks.

Ambrose continues to be Albany’s leading scorer, but he has struggled recently, and his average has dipped to 12 ppg. Freshman point guard Anthony Raffa is next at 11.8 ppg, followed by 6-6 junior forward Will Harris (10.0 ppg). Brett Gifford, a 6-11 junior center, and Connelly round out the usual starting lineup, with 6-5 swingman Jerel Hastings, 6-8 junior forward Scotty McRae, 6-1 junior guard Michael Johnson, 6-6 redshirt freshman Billy Allen and 6-5 soph­omore swingman Louis Barraza in reserve.

If the Great Danes win, it will be Brown’s 100th career victory.

Categories: College Sports

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