Basketball: Danes’ starting five gets a makeover

Although the Great Danes promise they will play to win, the University at Albany men’s basketball te

Although the Great Danes promise they will play to win, the University at Albany men’s basketball team will again be extremely short-handed when they take on Rider in tonight’s Sears ESPN Bracketbusters game at SEFCU Arena at 7.

Two starters — second-leading scorer Logan Aronhalt and sophomore forward Luke Devlin — definitely won’t play against the Broncs, and Gerardo Suero, the nation’s fifth-best scorer, also will most likely miss tonight’s game as he battles the shingles.

Aronhalt has been hindered by a sore knee all year, and he will have surgery on it as soon as the year is over. He only played nine minutes in Wednesday’s 50-47 loss to Vermont, and it was decided he wouldn’t help the team, or himself, by playing tonight.

Devlin, who hurt his back last week, added to his injury problems with a bruised knee cap against the Catamounts, and he will also miss tonight’s game.

Suero is no longer contagious with his case of the shingles, but he is in pain, and UAlbany head coach Will Brown said his star player wouldn’t take the court unless he could practice without discomfort.

That leaves junior point guard Mike Black to handle most of the scoring duties for the Great Danes.

“There is pressure trying to score more and still dish the ball out,” said Black, who scored 16 points against the Catamounts. “But I did a pretty good job against Vermont of taking good shots and distributing the ball. It will be tough, because my legs are wearing out on me, but I’m hoping some of our other guys will step up. Hopefully, some of the guys who don’t get that much of a chance to play will get some minutes and some confidence for when the America East Conference tournament begins next month.”

Brown refused to call tonight’s game meaningless, but he admitted that the Danes won’t have their best lineup on the court.

“We’re banged up. We have assistant coaches Brent Wilson and Jeremy Friel in practice gear, so that lets you know what kind of shape we’re in,” Brown said.

“Aronhalt and Devlin are def­initely out. We’ll have to wait and see with Suero. If this game was for the America East championship, I think he’d crawl on the court, but I want to see our other guys take advantage of this opportunity. Some guys will get extended minutes. Whoever plays has to step up and be productive, and put us in position to win.”

Tonight is the final home game for the Great Danes, who don’t have a true senior on the team. Junior Jacob Iati, however, is a senior academically, and won’t be back as a player next year. Instead, he will take a position as a graduate assistant on Brown’s staff. Iati, who played 37 minutes against Vermont, and the Danes’ two managers will be honored tonight.

“He had to give up his final year of playing, but he’s looking at the bigger picture for his career. He eventually wants to become a coach, and this will work out for him and for us,” said Brown of Iati, whose older brother, Jon, was one of UAlbany’s all-time best three-point shooters.

Like UAlbany, Rider (11-17) has also had some roster problems lately with assorted illnesses, but the Broncs are apparently healthy for tonight’s game. They feature a balanced scoring lineup that includes Jeff Jones (12.9 ppg), Brandan Penn (12.5 ppg), Daniel Stewart (11.7 ppg), Anthony Myles (10.2 ppg) and Johnathon Thompson (10.2 ppg).

The 16-13 Danes close out the regular season at Binghamton Thursday.

Categories: College Sports

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