Medical issues, concerning both one of the team’s top players and its coach, have made a tough season for the University at Albany men’s basketball team even tougher.
When the Great Danes resume their rivalry with Vermont today at 2 p.m. at Patrick Gym, senior forward Will Harris (14.1 points per game, 4.9 rpg) could finally see some playing time after missing the last four games with a contusion on his left knee.
“He practiced [Thursday], and we’ll have to see how he practices [Friday],” said head coach Will Brown. “If he ends up getting through the second practice, maybe he could see some playing time. If not, I imagine he’ll be ready for our next game at Binghamton.”
Meanwhile, Brown continues to suffer the effects of Lyme Disease, and he was out of town Friday to visit a specialist and to take exhaustive tests on his condition.
“I’m going to have a full body scan and a joint scan,” said Brown. “Depending on what they find, we’ll move on from there. I haven’t gotten any better all this time, and I’m not going to waste any more time on the treatment I’m getting right now. This guy is supposed to be a Lyme Disease specialist, so we’ll see what he has to say.”
Brown said he is tired all the time and experiences joint pain. It’s difficult for him to get much sleep, and the condition is worse on the road.
Albany (1-7 America East Conference, 6-17 overall) continues to struggle and lost its fourth straight game, 64-62, Wednesday night against visiting Hartford.
“The big difference is that we’re not going to beat anyone when we shoot 31 percent from the floor and 15 percent from three-point range,” Brown said. “Any time we made shots, so did they. Any time we got stops, we couldn’t score.”
Albany did have a chance to tie or win the game in the final 35 seconds, but Jake Lindfors missed a driving shot in the lane, and Mike Black’s desperation three-pointer misfired at the buzzer.
Vermont (5-3, 14-8) is one of the most talented teams in the league, despite losing its last three games. Two-time conference player of the year Marqus Blakely, who is among the school’s all-time scorers with 1,638 points, is second in the league in scoring (17.6 per game), rebounding (9.4), blocked shots (2.3) and steals (2.3). Maurice Joseph, a 6-4 senior who transferred from Michigan State, is ninth in the league in scoring (14.3 per game), third in free-throw shooting (.824) and sixth in three-pointers made (2.4).
“We can’t allow Blakely and Joseph to play well on the same night,” said Brown. “Hopefully, we can take at least one of their guys away. We were able to switch a lot and beat Blakely to the spot the last time we played them, and I remember Fran Urli did a good job defensively. We can’t allow Blakely to get comfortable, and we can’t allow him to get that deep post position. We need to force him off the block. If we can do that and keep him off the glass, it will help.”
Albany, which has won five of the previous seven meetings with Vermont, was blitzed by the Catamounts, 71-54, Jan. 10 at SEFCU Arena.
The Danes have been going with a youth movement lately and should start junior guard Tim Ambrose (14.1 ppg), redshirt freshman Logan Aronhalt (5.5 ppg), who scored 14 points against Hartford), Urli (5.0 ppg), freshman Blake Metcalf (2.0, 3.9 rpg) and Black (5.1 ppg), who is a freshman point guard. Lindfors and Derrek Tartt, both freshmen, senior point guard Michael Johnson, senior forward Scotty McRae, sophomore Billy Allen and senior center Brett Gifford all get playing time off the bench.
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