Cremo content to come off UAlbany bench, for now

Smart, talented and versatile, freshman Joe Cremo is simply too good to waste valuable time on the U
UAlbany freshman Joe Cremo, left, a graduate of Scotia-Glenville High School, will start the season on the Great Danes' bench, but has a bright future, according to coach Will Brown.
UAlbany freshman Joe Cremo, left, a graduate of Scotia-Glenville High School, will start the season on the Great Danes' bench, but has a bright future, according to coach Will Brown.

Smart, talented and versatile, freshman Joe Cremo is simply too good to waste valuable time on the University at Albany basketball team’s crowded bench.

But it’s pretty crowded on the court, too.

That’s creating a big problem for UAlbany head coach Will Brown, who already has three all-conference perimeter players in Peter Hooley, Ray Sanders and Evan Singletary returning to his three-time America East Conference champion team.

“If I didn’t already have those three guys coming back, he’d definitely be playing a lot of minutes for me,” Brown said at Monday’s open practice session at SEFCU Arena. “He’s going to play. There’s no doubt about that. He just has to remain patient. It’s just a matter of how many minutes I can find for him.”

Cremo has no concerns about fitting in with the Great Danes.

“I already knew they had three great perimeter guys coming back. They are all very talented, but I knew that coming in here,” he said. “My goal is to push those guys and to make them as good as they can be. In turn, I want them to push me, so that I’m as good as I can be. I don’t know how many minutes I will get, but that’s not my concern. That’s for Coach Brown to decide. I’m just going to work as hard as I can and to do everything I can to help this team win.”

Cremo, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound swingman from Scotia-Glenville, completed one of the most decorated careers in Section II history last spring when he led the Tartans to their second consecutive Class A New York State Public High School Athletic Association and Federation championship. The two-time New York State Class A Player of the Year was the Foothills Council and Section II MVP for three straight seasons. The three-year captain led the Tartans to a overall record of 92-7 over four years, averaging 22 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals per game.

“We knew Joe was an outstanding player when we first recruited him,” Brown said. “My only concern was that he always played zone defense at Scotia, and we’re predominately a man-to-man team. I was wondering if he could guard man-to-man at this level. But he’s already shown me in practice that he can play man-to-man.”

Brown was tossing around the idea of perhaps redshirting one of his younger perimeter players this year to make room in an extremely competitive backcourt.

“I wasn’t necessarily thinking about redshirting Joe, but he’s played so well that I can’t even think about doing that now,” Brown said.

“The other thing I was a little worried about with Joe was whether he could rebound, but he’s a fantastic rebounder. If I decide to go with a smaller lineup from time to time, I know Joe can rebound the heck out of the ball.”

Cremo said that Brown’s concerns about his ability to play man-to-man defense or his rebounding ability were unfounded.

“First of all, our zone defense at Scotia always had man-to-man principles in it,” he said. “And as far as rebounding is concerned, I always had to rebound against taller players. We were always taught that rebounding is mostly about effort. You can outrebound a lot bigger and stronger players if you have great fundamentals and effort.”

Canadian product Richard Peters, a 6-11, 280-pound junior from Pickering, Ontario, said he’s been impressed with Cremo.

“Joe knows that there are a lot of veterans on the perimeter on this team, but backing down doesn’t seem to be his mindset,” Peters said. “He plays with a lot of confidence, and he really fits in. He will definitely play for us. Whether he plays five minutes or 20 minutes, he plays with maximum effort. I like what I see from Joe.”

Brown said Cremo doesn’t play like a typical freshman.

“Usually, when you’re a first-year player, you play a little tentative in the beginning, but Joe hasn’t backed down at all. He gives maximum effort every day,” Brown said. “When he makes mistakes, he just gets back up and tries it again.

“He’s just so smart with a tremendous basketball IQ. He may even play a little point guard for us.”

Brown appreciates players with a winning pedigree.

“Joe will be a future leader on this team. That’s why his team won so much at Scotia, along with the fact that they had great coaching” the coach said. “Joe Cremo is a winner and a leader.”

Brown said one of the problems both he and Cremo will face this year is expectation levels.

“I know the expectations for Joe from around the area are for him to play a lot. We’ve got to downplay those expectations. I’m not worried about how many points or rebounds Joe Cremo gets this year. He’s a very good player, and he will find his way here.”

Cremo understands his situation, and he doesn’t plan to back down for anyone.

“I’m a very confident player,” he said. “But that being said, I know there are a lot of great players on this team already. My mindset is to always play as hard as I can and to do the little things to help this team win.”

Brown departs

Brown announced Monday that 6-8 junior college transfer Chas Brown, from Baltimore City Community College, has left the team for personal reasons.

“He had some family situation that he had to take care of,” the UAlbany coach said. “It’s too bad, because he was an excellent athlete who was just starting to understand our system. We wish him the best.”

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