University at Albany’s extra-long trip will result in trying to avoid some long-armed defenders when the Great Danes visit Alaska Airlines Arena to face the tall and talented Washington Huskies tonight at 9:30.
Fresh off an 82-60 loss to fourth-ranked Ohio State Sunday afternoon, the Great Danes went directly to the airport after the game in Columbus and headed to Seattle, arriving just before midnight.
“We went to the airport directly from Columbus, and we had an hour layover in Chicago,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “Then we flew from Chicago to Seattle in about four hours. We got there about 11:45 p.m., and the kids went right to sleep. But the coaches broke down the Ohio State film and then watched the Washington vs. Loyola game until about 4 a.m. We’re all on West Coast time now.”
Brown was more than satisfied with his team’s performance against the Buckeyes in the first half, but the Danes’ momentum didn’t carry over in the second half.
“I thought our guys really competed against Ohio State. The first 151⁄2 minutes, they did a good job, but when Ohio State called a timeout, they came out and went on a 17-3 run to end the half, and that included a fade-away three at the buzzer. We got jump-shot happy in the last four minutes, and we couldn’t make any. I think our guys were deflated at halftime,” he said. “Our guys felt they were right there and let a good opportunity slip away.”
Brown said his starters did well, for the most part, but there was a big difference in the talent level between the two respective benches.
“When you go to your bench against a team like Ohio State, they only play seven or eight guys, and two of their bench guys are McDonald’s All-Americans,” said Brown. “There’s not much drop-off with their bench, but at our level, there is a little drop-off when we go to the bench. Our bench will be fine the majority of the year, but it’s difficult when you are playing a BCS-level team like Ohio State.”
Things don’t get any easier for the Great Danes tonight against the Huskies, who start 7-foot Aziz N’Diaye at center. N’Diaye scored 10 points to go along with a career-high 16 rebounds and three blocked shots in Washington’s 85-63 victory over Loyola, which won last year’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament.
Junior C.J. Wilcox added 22 points, and senior point guard Abdul Gaddy scored 17 points for the Huskies.
“Washington is a very big team,” Brown said. “Their point guard is a former McDonald’s All-American in 6-3 Abdul Gaddy, and [Scott] Suggs is 6-6. Wilcox is a pro. He can really shoot it and score it. In their first game, they started a 7-footer and a 6-10 kid. Their seven-footer does a great job clogging the lane. Loyola couldn’t get anything at the rim in the second half.”
Brown said that despite the Huskies’ size advantage, UAlbany must establish an inside presence.
“We should have thrown the ball inside more against Ohio State. We have to throw it in to soften up the defense a little bit and take the pressure off our perimeter guys,” Brown said. “Maybe we can pick up some fouls.”
Senior point guard Mike Black leads the Danes in scoring at 17.5 ppg, while graduate student Jacob Iati is next at 11 ppg. John Puk, a 6-10 junior center, is averaging nine points and 7.5 rebounds per game.