ALBANY — As the UAlbany men’s basketball team’s season-opening game unfolded, head coach Dwayne Killings knew his club had taken some ill-advised shots that contributed to their 21-point loss against Towson.
There’s only so much value, though, in Killings simply telling his club that the quick, off-the-dribble jumpers it took weren’t the shots the Great Danes needed as their debut game got away from them during a rough second half.
“Sometimes, in coaching, you say things — but [it means less] if you’re saying it without film or some type of analytics,” Killings said Thursday. “You’ve got to give the guys something to stand on so that way they can process what they’re experiencing on the court.”
Ahead of Saturday’s 4 p.m. game at La Salle in Philadelphia, UAlbany’s coaching staff provided that for its players. Director of basketball operations Dan Madhavapallil broke down the game’s footage, and tracked when the team’s perimeter-oriented attack was successful — and when it wasn’t.
“When the ball touched the paint off the drive or off the post-up, we were scoring almost 1.4 points per possession — and when the ball was not hitting the paint, we were scoring at 0.4 points per possession for the game,” Killings said.
That’s a huge difference, and detailed what anyone watching Tuesday’s game could sense, but not necessarily quantify.
Quick shots? They failed.
Making the opposing defense shift and guard more of the court? That worked.
UAlbany guard Matt Cerruti said the team’s coaching staff shared that data with the players during a team meeting.
“It kind of reiterated what our coaching staff has been preaching,” Cerruti said. “When we get into the paint, good things happen.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean the Great Danes need to get the ball every play to a player posting up. But possessions with multiple drive-and-kick actions tend to lead to better shots, and Cerruti said the team understands the math on that.
“On the floor, we just need to be better and more cognizant of when we do touch the paint, good things happen,” Cerruti said.
“We’ve got to drive it. We’ve got to move it. We’ve got to share it,” Killings said.
SCOUTING LA SALLE
Like UAlbany, La Salle is coming off an opening-game loss.
La Salle fell 86-81 at home against Sacred Heart, a game played at La Salle’s home Tom Gola Arena that went into overtime. In that game, La Salle took more than half of its field-goal attempts from 3-point territory, and made 15 of 40 from downtown.
Four La Salle players recorded double-digit scoring, with Josh Nickelberry scoring a team-high 22 points, and Jack Clark collecting a double-double with a dozen points and 11 rebounds.
After a 9-16 campaign last season, La Salle added eight new players to its roster. Head coach Ashley Howard’s team was picked to finish 12th in the 14-team Atlantic 10 Conference.
In their season debuts, UAlbany and La Salle each struggled to rebound.
Towson out-rebounded UAlbany 45-28, while Sacred Heart outdid La Salle 50-41.
“Rebounding is a big part of the game,” UAlbany center Paul Newman said. “If you can’t do that, you’re going to lose — and it showed.”
Cerruti said the Great Danes focused a lot on rebounding after Tuesday’s game, and UAlbany’s perimeter players know they need to play a major role in securing the team’s defensive glass.
“Especially when teams are shooting long shots, there’s a lot of long rebounds,” Cerruti said. “So we’re emphasizing boxing out the guards and the person who is shooting the ball a lot more, because Towson had a couple opportunities where the person who shot the ball ended up getting the rebound or getting their hand on the ball to put it back in play.”