ALBANY — In the last week, University at Albany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown twice rewatched the Great Danes’ first game this season with Vermont to get ready for Saturday’s 2 p.m. rematch in Burlington.
And, also, to see if his memory was right that “we were as bad as I thought we were.”
Brown’s verdict: “Yeah. Yup. It was.”
Vermont dominated UAlbany 80-51 back in the Great Danes’ America East opener in early January. A 20-2 run for Vermont started that game, in which the win probability tool on kenpom.com showed Vermont as holding better than a 90.0 percent chance of winning for a little more than the final 33 minutes.
“Our guys were probably too excited to play,” Brown said after Thursday’s practice, “and I think [when] we got down 20-2, I think our guys were looking for the nearest exit. I think they were in shock.”
Vermont finished the first half of the conference season in first place at 7-1, while UAlbany is at 3-5 in America East play after dropping its first five games against conference foes.
While the Great Danes are heading into Saturday’s game as a highly confident team because of their recent success, Brown said the memory of how their first game went against Vermont should be fresh.
“Hopefully,” Brown said, “that’s in the back of their minds”
TAKING ON A NEW ROLE
So what’s next for Greig Stire?
“I’m thinking about going out for the lacrosse team,” Stire said with a laugh.
To be clear, Stire was joking — and, at this point, that needed to be made clear since Stire continues to rotate through roles at UAlbany.
After wrapping up his basketball career with the Great Danes last March, Stire played for the school’s football team last fall. Once football season was complete, Stire began the process of joining Brown’s coaching staff as the men’s basketball program’s video coordinator.
“I took him up on the offer to do it and I’ve been enjoying it so far,” Stire said.
Stire’s job revolves around completing a “lot of computer work” to make sure the team’s video footage is properly accessible and readily available for the rest of the UAlbany coaching staff.
“I always thought coaching was something I wanted to do,” Stire said. “I’ve enjoyed it so far. It’s more hours than I thought it would have been, but it’s good because I enjoy doing it, so it doesn’t feel like work ever.”
Brown confirmed sophomore Philip Flory (foot) had surgery Monday.
“As far as a timeframe, as to when he can start rehab and all that, we haven’t discussed that at this point,” Brown said.
Flory only played in six games this season after missing the start of the season because of preseason surgery on his, now, re-injured left foot.
ALL THOSE DUNCANS
John Becker has gotten the question before: What’s up with all those Duncans on his roster?
“People ask me that all the time,” Becker, Vermont’s head coach, said earlier this week during a phone interview.
On Vermont this season are redshirt senior Ernie Duncan, redshirt junior Everett Duncan and freshman Robin Duncan, a trio of brothers from Evansville, Indiana. Ernie Duncan averages 15.0 points per game and is one of the Catamounts’ top players, while the younger Duncans each play significant roles for Vermont.
“It’s worked out well for them,” Becker said, “and better for us.”
BETTER THAN EXPECTED
In preparing for Vermont and the challenges the Catamounts present, Brown echoed his thoughts from earlier this year.
“The bottom line is it starts with Lamb and ends with Lamb,” Brown said.
That’s junior Anthony Lamb, Vermont’s star forward who is averaging 21.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game.
When Becker recruited Lamb, the coach thought the Rochester product had the potential to become an all-conference caliber player.
“But I think he’s been even better than I thought he would be,” Becker said of the America East’s best player.
Besides his gaudy per-game averages, the 6-foot-6 Lamb is shooting 52.1 percent from the field.
“His work ethic is second to none. He wants to be great and he’s really driven,” Becker said. “He’s been as good a player as any player I’ve been around.”
Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.
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