Peter Hooley doesn’t lack confidence, whether it’s with his gaudy wardrobe or his explosive scoring ability.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore guard from Australia has been on quite a hot streak lately, and he would like nothing better than to carry the Great Danes on his shoulders when defending champion University at Albany travels to Stony Brook in the America East Conference tournament championship game.
Game time Saturday is 11:30 a.m. in tiny Pritchard Gym (about 1,650 seats) on the Stony Brook campus.
Known for his wild taste in clothing, including multi-colored slacks and shoes, as well as fake glasses, a la Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook, Hooley leads the Great Danes in scoring at better than 15 points per game.
But he pushed his game to another level during the AE tournament last weekend at SEFCU Arena, pouring in career-high 30 points against UMBC and then following it up with 26 points in the Great Danes’ upset of top-seeded Vermont in the semifinals.
“I’m just feeling good and playing with confidence,” said Hooley. “I’m supposed to make shots when I’m open, and I will go out there to Stony Brook with every intention of keeping it going.”
Hooley is definitely more of a scorer than a pure shooter. His versatile arsenal includes slashing drives to the rim, as well as mid-range perimeter shots and three-point shots that are almost like set shots. He’s also an excellent free-throw shooter.
“It’s always good to keep them guessing,” said Hooley about opposing defenses. “Sometimes, I’ve fallen in love with the three-point shot, but I’m better when I keep aggressive and attack the rim.”
Hooley’s teammates don’t mind deferring to the outgoing Aussie.
“Hooley is playing out of control right now,” said senior swingman Gary Johnson with a laugh. “He’s definitely our guy, and we’ll keep giving him the ball as long as he keeps on scoring. Peter is a crafty player. I’ve never seen a player that plays the way he does. He’s very unorthodox. It seems like he’s always open, and he knows how to read defenses.”
Johnson said that Hooley’s attire is quite striking, although not up to his own taste.
“He dresses a little like Russell Westbrook. He’s got his own personal swag,” said Johnson.
UAlbany head coach Will Brown enjoys Hooley’s production, but he doesn’t want his ace scorer to feel added pressure heading into the championship game.
“Peter was in a zone vs. UMBC, and he played only 20 minutes,” said Brown. “Against Vermont, he had an unbelievable first half, and the rest of the team picked it up for him in the second half. Peter is playing at a high level right now, but I’m sure Stony Brook will make him work for his points.”
Hooley said he doesn’t mind being the Great Danes’ go-to player. He has plenty of motivation for Saturday’s championship game, because he feels like he’s playing for his family, friends and teammates. His mother has been battling colon cancer for the last four years, and his father, a carpenter, recently injured his hand with a saw in a freak accident that nearly killed him.
“My whole extended family, and friends, will be up at 2 a.m. watching the game from Australia,” said Hooley. “There will probably be about 20 of them.
“We are all very confident on our team right now, and I’ve been playing for my mother all season. She’s my biggest fan. I also don’t want our seniors to go out the wrong way. I want to send Luke [fellow Aussie Luke Devlin] and my good friend John Puk out the right way.”