A pair of Australians have moved into the starting lineup for the University at Albany men’s basketball team, and they are making an immediate impact.
One game after suffering their worst loss of the season at Vermont, the Great Danes inserted sophomore forward Sam Rowley and redshirt freshman guard Peter Hooley as starters, replacing senior swingman Jayson Guerrier and senior center Blake Metcalf, at Binghamton.
Rowley recorded the team’s first double-double of the season with 21 points and 13 rebounds, while Hooley contributed 10 points, five rebounds and four assists as the Danes rebounded from a 25-point loss against the Catamounts with a 71-59 win against the Bearcats.
UAlbany head coach Will Brown said the Aussies will remain in the starting lineup tonight when the Great Danes host the Maine Black Bears at 7:30 p.m. at SEFCU Arena.
“It was something I was thinking about doing even before the Vermont game,” said Brown, whose Great Danes are 2-1 in the America East Conference and 13-4 overall. “We were getting off to very slow starts, and the group that we were using relied too much on having Mike [Black] and Jacob [Iati] making their shots. That change in the lineup makes us a better offensive team. It takes the pressure off Mike and Jacob, as well.”
The UAlbany coach said that making the switch in the starting lineup was not a punishment to the previous starters.
“Blake wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Brown said. “The move to bring Blake off the bench was because I needed to make sure we had some energy coming off the bench. He’s a senior captain, and he will bring that energy off the bench. As far as Jay [Guerrier] is concerned, he was pressing and not making any shots. He needs to take a deep breath. We need some more consistency from that spot in the lineup.”
The change won’t be experimental, according to Brown.
“If I didn’t think it would benefit us in both the short and the long term, I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “If I wasn’t going to stick to it, there was no sense in doing it. You have to be careful with making changes. We were 12-4 at the time, and I didn’t want to make the kids think that we were panicking. We tried to make changes that will help us get better. We don’t change just to make changes. I thought we had a good reason to change. We are trying to win games, and even though we are 13-4 right now, this change allows us to get even better.”
Brown believes the addition of Rowley and Hooley into the starting lineup will bolster the team’s interior offense.
“One of the things we tried to emphasize after the Vermont game was that we weren’t patient enough, offensively. We never threw the ball inside,” said Brown. “Guys have to make one-on-one plays in the low post. On the perimeter, the officials usually let the kids play, but when the ball gets thrown inside, it’s a disadvantage to the defensive player, because it’s difficult to defend the low post without fouling. There are two ways of scoring inside. Getting post touches inside is one way, and attacking the rim is the other.”
Maine (2-1, 7-9) is led by 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Justin Edwards (17.8 ppg), 6-7 junior forward Alasdair Fraser (13.7 ppg, 8.8 rpg) and 6-3 senior guard Xavier Pollard (10.0 ppg).
“Maine is the biggest team in our league,” said Brown. “They are unique because their perimeter players are big, and they post up. You usually only see guards post up like that in the NBA. That puts pressure on our perimeter players, especially our smaller guards.”