When good shooters are in rhythm, it’s hard to slow them down, regardless of what type of defense is employed.
That was the situation for the University at Albany men’s basketball team in its last game at Navy, and that’s the scenario head coach Will Brown is hoping for this afternoon when the Great Danes host Brown at 4 at SEFCU Arena
UAlbany sank 10 three-pointers en route to a 71-61 victory over the Midshipmen Friday night. Leading the way was fifth-year senior Jacob Iati, who poured in a career-high 26 points. Even sweeter for the Danes was the effort of junior forward Luke Devlin, who broke out of a season-long shooting slump with 14 points.
“Luke has been working so hard, but he didn’t have any confidence because he wasn’t making any shots,” said Brown. “Hopefully, the last game got his confidence back. He’s our best passing big man, and he was making some excellent passes against their zone defense. He was also able to make some shots against the zone. If we get that kind of performance from him in the second half, it will make us a better team.”
The Great Danes have already posted their best non-conference start in program history at 10-3. With only today’s game remaining before the conference season begins Wednesday, Brown likes where his team is at.
“We’re in pretty good shape, but the conference is very balanced this year. I like the fact that we’re starting to get into a better flow as a team with games scheduled just about every other day for the next
couple of weeks,” he said. “We had two long breaks before the holidays of nine days and seven days. Now it will be easier to keep our edge.”
Senior guard Mike Black continues to pace the team in scoring at 17 points per game, followed by Iati at better than 15 ppg. Rounding out the starting five are small forward Jayson Guerrier and post players Blake Metcalf and John Puk. Sam Rowley, Peter Hooley and Devlin are the key players off the bench, although Brown has also received spot duty from guards D.J. Evans and swingman Chris Page, who scored five points and added a couple of steals against Navy.
“Chris has been working hard in practice, and we wanted to give him some playing time. The best opportunity was going to be in a non-conference game, and especially against Navy, because they were playing so much zone defense,” Brown said. “Although Chris is basically known as a shooter, he played some excellent defense for us.”
The Brown Bears are 4-6, but they are coming off a big win against Providence over the weekend.
“Brown is a lot like Colgate, or maybe Hartford, in that they spread the floor, use a lot of dribble-handoffs and shoot the three,” said Brown.
“Their two bigs are very good on the glass. They played without [Tucker] Halpern early in the season, and they just got him back a few games ago. He scored 28 against Providence. The thing about Brown is that they have three guys who can shoot the three. We need to make sure we contest their three-pointers. If they make a couple early on, the basket starts to look a lot bigger to them. And we have to be careful about all the long rebounds they get because of all the perimeter shots they take. If they get the ball back and pass it back out for another three-point shot, it can be very frustrating for the defense,” said Brown.
Sean McGonagill, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, paces the Bears in scoring at 15.2 ppg. Matt Sullivan, a 6-5 senior, is next at 14.2 ppg, followed by 6-9 sophomore Rafael Maia (11.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg), Halpern (10.8 ppg) and 6-8 freshman Cedric Kuakumensah (6.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg).