Cold-shooting Danes face a foe that’s on target

In order for University at Albany head coach Will Brown to notch his 100th career win tonight, his G
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In order for University at Albany head coach Will Brown to notch his 100th career win tonight, his Great Danes must find their shooting rhythm and disrupt Boston Un­iversity’s perimeter game.

Neither task will be easy.

The Great Danes (0-1, 8-6) will try to snap a two-game losing streak when they host the Terriers (0-0, 5-7) at SEFCU Arena. The game will be televised on TW3 at 7:07 p.m.

Albany has failed to shoot at least 40 percent from the field in seven of its last eight games, and the Terriers, picked to finish first in the annual America East Conference preseason poll, are known for their rugged defense.

“They are well coached, and they take on the personality of their coach, Dennis Wolff, who is a hard-nosed, defensive-minded coach,” said Brown. “Not only are they an excellent defensive team, but they also put four guys on the floor who started for them last year and can all shoot. They can stretch out any defense.

“Plus, they’ve got Carlos Strong coming off the bench. He could start for any team in the league, but he comes off the bench, and opens up the game with his three-point shooting skills. He killed us in last year’s conference tournament game. He’s one of the best sixth men in the league.

“BU has virtually the same team they had last year, and we’ve got a completely different team than we had last year,” said Brown.

Albany stretched its winning streak over BU to six games with a two-game regular-season sweep last year, but the Terriers came back and defeated the Great Danes in overtime, 68-64, in the America East Conference tournament quarterfinals.

Key players for the Terriers include 6-foot-2 junior guard Corey Lowe, who paces the team in scoring at 17.6 points per game; soph­omore John Holland (14.3 ppg); Tyler Morris (7.0 ppg); 6-8 freshman forward Jake O’Brien (12.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg); and the 6-3 Strong (6.4 ppg, 120 career three-pointers).

“They hit 10 threes a game and average 27 attempts a game from long range,” said Brown. “I think the one thing they haven’t done is establish a low-post presence, offensively. We can’t allow them to spread us out. We’ve got to do a good job of staying down and not allow their shooters to get into a good rhythm.”

Meanwhile, the short-handed Danes are not only having trouble scoring the basketball, but they are also lacking in the leadership department.

“Brian Connelly and Jimmie Covington haven’t practiced since the Kansas game. We need those two guys on the floor for their leadership. They know what it’s al about and where everyone is supposed to be,” said Brown.

Connelly is nursing a bruised heel, while Covington has a sore shoulder.

With Connelly and Covington observing practice rather than participating, assistant coaches Jeremy Friel and Pat Filien have been filling in.

“Having only nine guys in practice is tough,” said Brown.

The Danes also need more offense. Sophomore Tim Ambrose is mired in a shooting slump, and he has seen his scoring average dip dramatically to 11.1 ppg.

“Tim is not playing with that fire. He’s got to get that back. He’s lost confidence in his shooting,” said Brown.

“Right now, the only guys who will be allowed to shoot three-pointers with a green light will be Billy Allen and Louis Barraza. Outside of those two, we’re looking to only shoot threes late in the clock or off a ball reversal. We can’t settle for jump shots, unless we’re in great rhythm. But we haven’t been in a good shooting rhythm for a long time. We’ve got to get Tim Ambrose back on track.”

Rounding out Albany’s probable starting lineup are 6-6 junior forward Will Harris (10.5 ppg), who is suffering from plantar fasciitis, 6-11 junior center Brett Gifford (2-1 ppg), Connelly (8.8 ppg) and freshman point guard Anthony Raffa (11.1 ppg).

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