His role has changed several times in his short career, but University at Albany senior Jayson Guerrier understands that his time on the basketball court is dwindling down to a few precious minutes.
The 6-foot-4 swingman from Winter Springs, Fla., began the season as a starter, and was moved to the bench early in the conference season. His playing time has dipped ever since.
But with starting guard Peter Hooley out for several games because of a concussion, Guerrier knows he should see a few more minutes, beginning with tonight’s game at Boston University.
This will be the last time the Great Danes (8-5, 19-8) play the Terriers as members of the America East Conference. BU is moving to the Patriot League next season, and won’t be eligible to compete in this year’s conference tournment.
“I’m feeling good about my game, right now,” said Guerrier, who was 3-for-3 from three-point range and scored eight points in Saturday’s 75-49 victory over Hartford.
“I was struggling shooting the ball at the beginning of the season, but we all go through that at one time or another. The key for me was to keep playing hard and doing what I could to help this team.”
Guerrier said that, despite the fact that he was the top three-point shooter percentage-wise (.461) in the conference a year ago, he knows his shooting alone won’t keep him in the lineup.
“Defense is the key. The offense will come,” he said. “Coach Brown will take you out if you don’t play defense, and we all know that.”
Guerrier averaged 6.6 points a game and sank 77 treys a year ago, when he was primarily the first perimeter player off the bench. With injuries to Gerardo Suero and Logan Aronhalt, he moved into the starting lineup six times at the end of the year.
This season, Guerrier, a transfer from Alabama Southern Community College, where he was an honorable mention All-American, started the first 16 games, but lost his spot when Australians Sam Rowley and Hooley moved into the lineup to provide more scoring punch.
“I hadn’t really thought much about it, but there are only a few games left,” he said. “I’m just going to try to do everything I can to help us make our goal. Both my personal goal and our team goal is to win the America East Conference title, and I’ll do what I can to make that happen. Whether I start or come off the bench, it doesn’t matter.”
Guerrier is averaging only 4.3 ppg, but he has made 34 three-pointers and his shooting stroke has returned. A streaky scorer, he scored 18 points against both South Carolina State and Binghamton. His only other double-figure output was 11 points the first time the Danes played Boston University.
UAlbany head coach Will Brown wouldn’t commit to who will replace Hooley in the starting lineup. The redshirt freshman suffered a concussion in the second half of Saturday’s game with Hartford and could miss several games.
“I don’t know who will play. I’ve been tinkering with several different combinations in practice,” Brown said. “It’s not a matter of who starts, but rather who plays a lot of minutes. We will probably play some different guys. BU uses four perimeter players, and they usually play a smaller lineup.”
Brown said the Danes will miss Hooley.
“Hooley takes the pressure off Mike Black and Jacob Iati, because he can handle the ball, and he’s a good free-throw shooter,” Brown said. “We are a better team with Peter in the lineup. But that being said, somebody usually steps up when somebody is injured. I want to focus on the America East Conference tournament, so I don’t want to take any chances.
“We want to be healthy, rested and feeling good about ourselves going into the tournament. We want to maximize each day,” said Brown.
BU (9-4, 15-11) pulled out an 85-80 overtime victory at SEFCU Arena the first time the teams met on Jan. 23. The Great Danes were leading by six points with 15 seconds remaining in regulation play, but D.J. Irving hit two late three-pointers to send the game into overtime, where the Terriers took full control.
Irving tops the Terriers in scoring at 14.2 ppg. He is one of three Terriers with at least 42 three-pointers on the season.