Danes host Wildcats in conference opener

The University at Albany received a passing grade in its non-conference schedule, but the games beco
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The University at Albany received a passing grade in its non-conference schedule, but the games become more meaningful when the America East Conference slate begins this afternoon at SEFCU Arena at 4 p.m. against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats.

“When it comes to your non-conference schedule, you’ve got to look at it and break it down so you can learn from it,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown, whose Great Danes won seven of their first 15 games to match last season’s win total during a frustrating 7-25 campaign. “You look at what you do well and what you struggled with. You decide what rotation you’re going to have, and you try to put together what you feel is the best lineup and your strategy for conference play.

“I don’t care what your non-conference record is. You can be 15-0, 0-15 or you can have a .500 record. Everybody is 0-0 when you start conference play. We’re in a league where only one team goes to the NCAA tournament. It’s a brand-new season. You can’t get com­placent if you are doing well, and you can’t get down if you’re not. What we need right now is consistency. The teams in this conference will slowly separate themselves as the league season goes on.”

So far, the Great Danes have established a perimeter-oriented offense anchored by senior guard Tim Ambrose, sophomore guard Logan Aronhalt and sophomore point guard Mike Black, who have combined for roughly 47 points per game. But if the Danes are going to be successful in league comp­etition, they will need at least one more competent scorer, and Brown thinks they have found him in freshman forward Luke Devlin, a Sydney, Australia, native who scored 14 of his career-high 16 points in the first half of Albany’s 80-65 loss at Wagner Thursday night.

“Luke Devlin was terrific in the first half,” said Brown. “You get an honest day’s effort from him. That’s the one thing I know we’re getting from him, right now. He’s coming to us from another country, and the biggest thing he’s finding is that the game is a lot quicker and more physical than he’s accustomed to. Besides the cultural differences and the academics and him being away from home, he’s finding that basketball is a different game here.

“My concern with him is that I’ve got to do a better job of resting him. I played him 39 minutes the other night. It’s a long season, and it’s a grind, but the one thing he helps us do is to stretch the defense with his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He knows how to play, and he gives great effort. I’m pleased with what he’s brought with him. He’s made some huge adjustments. He just needs to be more selfish, and he will. We need him on the floor.”

UNH has given the Danes a lot of trouble in recent years. Although Albany has won 11 of the previous 21 games in the series, the Wildcats have won the last four.

Ferg Myrick, a 6-foot-6 soph­omore, tops the 6-6 Wildcats in scoring at 12.5 points per game. Tyrone Conley, a 6-2 senior, adds 12.3 points, while 6-9, 250-pound senior center Dane DiLiegr contributes 9.7 points and 7.9 rebounds, second-best in the league. UNH is without the services of Alvin Abreu, a 1,000-point career scorer who is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

“We are fortunate that we open up at home in the league schedule,” Brown said. “You have to win at home in conference play and steal games on the road. If you are 8-0 at home and 4-4 on the road, you have a chance to win. The key with this group is to try to get better

every day. We’re facing a good UNH team to start things off.”

NOTEBOOK

UAlbany is 3-6 in America East Conference openers. . . .

The UAlbany women will host Fordham at 1 p.m. in the first game of today’s double-header. . . .

Albany’s next game is at perennial league power Vermont Thursday night at Patrick Gym in Burlington, Vt.

Categories: College Sports

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