Expect a shoving match down low when the University at Albany hosts New Hampshire in today’s America East Conference tournament semifinal at 2 p.m. at SEFCU Arena.
Although the top-seeded, regular-season champion Great Danes (22-8) swept the season series from the Wildcats, it was by only a combined three points.
UAlbany head coach Will Brown explained why he believes UNH is so tough on the Great Danes.
“We’re always bad up there. We struggle up there annually, for some reason,” he said. “But the game here, we were up 14 ponts with five minutes left. We took the foot off the gas pedal. Then UNH did something they normally don’t do. They went zone, and we went eight possessions without scoring. The well went dry.”
Brown also pointed out that senior forward Sam Rowley will have his hands full.
“They will beat Sam Rowley up for 40 minutes,” Brown said. “They’ve got a 6-foot-9 kid and a 6-10 kid who can combine for 10 fouls. They will be overly physical with Sam. Their clear and No. 1 goal is to beat up Sam Rowley. Sam is an undersized power forward. He has to work for his baskets. He needs to be creative and smart to score. Sam needs to keep his composure.”
Brown reminded everyone that Peter Hooley didn’t play in the last UNH game at SEFCU Arena, because of his mother’s death. Brown said he expects another close game, but added the Danes know what they need to do in order to win.
“The big key is not allowing them easy baskets,” he said. “Our guys understand how to win, but if you stub your toe, you are done.”
Brown also noted that if the Great Danes stay energized and focused throughout the game, it will be a much easier task.
“We’ve struggled with having a consistent sense of urgency. We need more of a killer instinct when we’re ahead,” he said.
As for Rowley, the team’s leading scorer (14.0 ppg) and rebounder (7.7 rpg) is ready.
“Obviously, we won both games against them, but they were both close,” he said. “New Hampshire is good and very talented. I think the problem the second time we played them was that we let up. We did that a couple of games in a row.
“UNH is extremely physical,” he added. “They are not the biggest team or the most talented, but they are very physical. If we rebound, make our free throws and attack the rim, we should be OK.”
Junior Evan Singletary said he doesn’t even think about whether the Great Danes are favorites or underdogs.
“It’s a big game, but it’s really just another game,” he said. “I definitely make it a point not to think about the next game. That’s for you [the media] to talk about. We don’t talk about stuff like what happens if we lose or whether we still have the NIT [to fall back on].”
Hooley (13 ppg) and Singletary (13 ppg) also average twin figures, and Ray Sanders (9.4 ppg) is close, so the Great Danes have plenty of offensive firepower, along with three-point specialist Dallas Ennema and freshman Wheeler Baker.
Fourth-seeded UNH (11-5, 19-11) will play without its leading scorer, Tanner Leissner, but the Wildcats still have plenty of three-point shooters like Daniel Dion and Jaleen Smith.
Categories: College Sports