Youthful growing pains have dropped University at Albany to the bottom of the America East Conference standings, but head coach Will Brown insists his team is making progress, both in the present and for the future.
The Great Danes, who have been starting three freshmen and a sophomore for the last several weeks, will attempt to snap a seven-game losing streak tonight when they host the University of New Hampshire Wildcats at 7 at SEFCU Arena.
Albany (1-10, 6-20) is coming off a 68-53 loss to Boston University in the 13th annual Big Purple Growl game Saturday night. UNH is 3-7 and 8-13.
Brown said his youngsters are learning by playing rather than watching, and that experience should pay dividends later on.
“We know that this is a what-have-you-done- for-me-lately kind of world,” said Brown. “We lose track that we have seven freshmen on the roster, five of which are playing a lot, plus two redshirt freshmen and a couple of sophomores. We have to keep their spirits high, and keep them upbeat. We’ve got to sell them on the fact that they are learning from experience, which is better than learning by sitting on the bench. Your freshman year is all about learning the ins and outs of college basketball, but right now, we’re relying on our freshmen to play and produce. Sometimes, you make young mistakes.”
Brown said the good thing about playing so many younger players is that they still have plenty of enthusiasm.
“When we watched film [Monday morning], I told our guys to remember this [losing] feeling. You never want to experience this again, and I told them they never will experience this again as long as they keep this season in the back of their minds as motivation.
“The other thing I told them is that your true character is exposed by how you handle adversity. We’ve got to stare that adversity in the face, and keep throwing punches. It would be very easy, right now, for our young guys not to practice and not to prepare, but I don’t have to motivate them in practice to work hard every day, and I don’t have to tell the guys to come up and watch extra film.”
Brown said that despite his team’s record, he still likes what he sees from his younger players, like freshman point guard Mike Black, who scored 18 points against BU, freshman center Blake Metcalf, redshirt freshmen Logan Aronhalt and Jake Lindfors and freshman guard Derrek Tartt.
“We saw some good flashes from Lindfors, and Michael Black continues to play well for us,” said Brown. “The three young guys who have started for us have been playing well. Tartt needs to be more aggressive, because he can make plays for us.”
Brown said Aronhalt, who has started for the last couple of weeks, hurt his hand and had it wrapped for the BU game.
“If it doesn’t get better, we’ll have it X-rayed,” the coach said. “I think the wrapping he had on his hand affected him against BU, and that’s why we didn’t play him as much as usual.”
Junior guard Tim Ambrose and senior forward Will Harris, the team’s leading scorers, will continue to come off the bench.
“This team is unique in one regard, because they don’t think they are a 6-20 team. They are not looking forward to the end of the season,” Brown said. “They want to keep working, and they think they can win the rest of their games, which is still not out of the question. But when you are shooting 38 percent in conference games, and you turn the ball over 21 times against BU, you are not going to win. Those are growing pains.”
UNH, which has lost three straight, is led by junior guard Alvin Abreu (13.9 ppg), Tyrone Conley (12.1 ppg, 45 three-pointers) and 6-9, 240-pound forward Dane DiLiegro who produces 9.7 ppg and 8.4 rebounds.
This will be the Danes’ second-to-last home game of the season. Their home finale will be Feb 19 against Stony Brook.
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Categories: College Sports