University at Albany head coach Will Brown doesn’t want his team to fall in love with the three-point basket.
After all, through the first 13 games of the season, the 7-7 Great Danes were mediocre, at best, from beyond the arc. They won their first six games by pounding the ball inside and dominating at the free-throw line.
But after the Danes poured in a program-best 16 treys in just 23 attempts to beat Hartford in their America East Conference opener Saturday night, Brown is just a bit concerned that his Danes might go to the well too often when they host the University of Maryland Baltimore County tonight at 7 at SEFCU Arena.
“That performance the other night absolutely surprised me,” said Brown. “The way this team was built, and the way we’ve played for the first part of the season, it would be foolish of me to say I thought that shooting effort was coming,” he said. “That being said, I do think we are a little better shooting team than what we had shown before the Hartford game.
“I knew we would see a lot of zone against Hartford, and Hartford’s game plan was to stop Sam Rowley. As much as Peter Hooley is our leading scorer, we go to Sam early and often. We play through Sam, and the other teams understand that. They [the Hawks] did a good job of crowding Sam in that game, and because of it, we got some open perimeter shots. Our guys knocked down some early, and it was just one of those nights. We were in the zone, and shooting is very contagious. Our guys just kept on stepping up and knocking down threes. I’m not sure we will ever do something like that.”
Brown said the Danes’ accuracy from beyond the arc was unbelievable.
“I’m not sure you will see another game like that in our league, or around the country. We made 16 out of 23. But we won’t rely on that. We’ll be an opportunistic three-point shooting team in the future,” he said.
Brown said the only other game that the Great Danes relied on the three-point shot was against Pittsburgh.
“In the Pitt game, we took more threes than we would like, but the three-point shot is the great equalizer against a BCS team like Pitt. We took 15 three-pointers in that game, and it was probably five too many.”
Brown believes the Great Danes’ inside game and foul shooting are still their strengths.
“I’m more concerned about taking too many threes in this upcoming game than in any other game this year only because of what we did in our last game,” he said. “I don’t want to fall in love with the three-pointer. We’re No. 2 in the country in free-throw shooting [.781] right now, so we want to get to the line as much as possible. We want to attack the rim. But as long as we take good jump shots in rhythm, I don’t have a problem with us taking some threes. I’m sure there are some coaches who are scratching their heads now, because maybe they won’t be able to play as much zone against us as they have in the past. They might have to pick and choose what defense to play against us.
“But I’m a realist. I don’t think you’ll see another game like that from us. Just look how we shot in our other 13 games.”
Hooley, a 6-foot-4 sophomore guard who drained six three-pointers and finished with 25 points against Hartford, tops the Danes in scoring at 14.9 ppg, while Rowley (12.6 ppg) and DJ Evans (12.4 ppg) are also averaging in twin figures. Evans scored 20 points against Hartford and also nailed six trifectas.
Senior center John Puk and sen-ior swingman Gary Johnson round out the starting lineup.
UMBC (0-1, 4-10) leads the conference in offensive rebounding (13.1 per game). Point guard Rodney Elliott (14.3 ppg, 52 assists) and forward Chase Plummer (11.2 ppg) are the Retrievers’ top weapons.
“UMBC is a talented team, but they haven’t put it all together yet,” said Brown. “They play 13 guys more than 10 minutes per game. They are still trying to figure everything out for themselves and find their right combinations. When they do put it together, they will beat some people, and I don’t want it to be against us.”