UAlbany senior point guard Mike Black, the team’s leading scorer and playmaker, is questionable for tonight’s game between the Great Danes and South Carolina State at Smith-Hammond-Middleton Center in Orangeburg, S.C.
Black, who averages 16 points per game, didn’t play the final 111⁄2 minutes of Sunday’s game with Loyola at Mohegan Sun Arena, and the Great Danes nearly pulled out the victory anyway before losing, 67-64, on a last-second three-point play.
“He got hurt late in the game against the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and he came out in the Loyola game midway through the second half,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “He was wincing in pain. It’s something to do with his hip. We’re trying to figure out exactly what’s wrong with him, and we’ll probably know by game time. We want Mike to play, and Mike wants to play, but this is a marathon and not a sprint. We want to make sure he’s healthy.”
If Black can’t play, the 3-2 Great Danes will use both redshirt freshman Peter Hooley, from Australia, and junior college transfer D.J. Evans at the point. They scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench against Loyola.
“We did pretty well without Mike in there against Loyola, and we may have to do it again,” said Brown. “D.J. played well against Loyola, and so did Peter Hooley. In the first 10 minutes against Loyola, we played terribly. We were a step or two slow for the whole half. But in the last 30 minutes, we were a better team. It was just that we dug ourselves a 20-point hole that we couldn’t quite get out of. We still almost won, though, and I thought they won the game on a freak play at the end.”
Even if Black does suit up tonight, he won’t be at 100 percent, and the Great Danes will need to rely even more on fifth-year senior guard Jacob Iati, who was named the America East Conference player of the week after scoring 20 points against Washington, 24 against UMKC and 11 against Loyola. He is averaging 15.4 points a game, and has connected on 16 of 31 shots from beyond the arc.
UAlbany’s likely starting lineup will also include 6-9 senior forward/center Blake Metcalf, who scored 12 points and added eight rebounds against Loyola, 6-10 junior center John Puk and 6-4 senior swingman Jayson Guerrier.
South Carolina State (3-1) is paced by guards Adama Adams (18.3 ppg) and Khalif Toombs (18.0 ppg). Toombs has made 11 of 18 shots from three-point range, while Adams is 6-for-11. Post player Matthew Hezeiah adds 14.8 points and 10.3 rebounds per game to go along with eight blocked shots.
“They are quick and athletic. They want to get up and down the court,” said Brown. “They don’t run a lot of sets. They have several players who are creative and make individual plays. Both Adams and Toombs are good players. They can create a lot of offense for themselves. Our defensive success will depend on how we defend them.”