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Cremo celebrates big win with a little more practice

Cremo celebrates big win with a little more practice

When University at Albany guard Joe Cremo uncharacteristically missed a pair of free throws late ...
Cremo celebrates big win with a little more practice
University at Albany guard Joe Cremo shoots free throws at SEFCU Arena late Sunday night after the Great Danes defeated Siena in the Albany Cup game.
Photographer: Mark McGuire

When University at Albany guard Joe Cremo uncharacteristically missed a pair of free throws late in Sunday’s Albany Cup win against Siena, the joke on press row was the noted gym rat would be back on the SEFCU Arena floor after the game to shoot.

It was no joke.

After 11 p.m., as reporters on press row were finishing up their stories and columns, there was Cremo, raising a lowered basket to shoot following UAlbany’s 81-72 win.

“Coach told me to shoot free throws,” Cremo said.

Yeah, but he probably didn’t mean right after the game, kid. Marqueese Grayson, who went 0-for-2 from the line, was out on the court earlier for a few minutes.

So did coach Will Brown really mean for Cremo to shoot right after the game?

“I did not,” Brown tweeted in reply. “Need an arena curfew!”

Here are some other notes from a compelling Albany Cup afternoon/evening sweep by UAlbany (the women won an 88-86 overtime thriller):

— Win, lose, or draw, Brown said, he was not getting off his stance that the Siena-UAlbany game should be held on a rotating basis between Times Union Center and SEFCU Arena. Last year’s game was at Times Union Center, as is next year’s game, which is part of the tournament and concludes a three-year deal.

Brown made it clear to his boss, a beaming athletic director Mark Benson, as he left the court minutes after the win.

“This game has to come back here every other year,” Brown told him.

Benson shook his head and smiled confirming what Brown told him. He knows the pressure is on him and his Siena counterpart, John D’Argenio, to get a deal done after next year.

“I didn’t even get my one shining moment,” Benson said.

And this game must continue, in both arenas, in some computation. It’s a pain for the coaches — at least for the men’s teams — and there may be even better non-conference games to schedule. But this game is for the Capital Region and its fans. Both Siena and UAlbany owe the area a solution.

Speaking of fans.

— UAlbany. you can argue the game was a sellout, that supply met demand. But if charging up to $60 for tickets to non-season ticket holders and $10 for parking is not gouging, it’s right at the precipice.

It’s a bad look. It looked like you were treating this game as a one-shot pay day.

- As for Siena coach Jimmy Patsos, the question of returning to SEFCU Arena prompted him to end the press conference — more in a playful than angry way. But he did throw a bone.

“I thought it was a fun place to play,” he said.

— As good as Siena’s comeback was in the second half — the Saints trailed by 18 at halftime — the UAlbany women fighting to tie the game at the end of regulation and winning in OT was even better. UAlb­any coach Joanna Bern­abei-McNamee showed she is smarter than press row (not that hard an accomplishment) by keeping star Imani Tate and her four fouls on the bench even as Siena’s lead ballooned. The Saints led by 10 with 5:47 to play when Tate returned and led the comeback, capped by three free throws with 8.4 seconds left. Tate would go on to score 24 points.

Not to be lost in this game — won for the seventh straight time by UA — is that Siena went toe-to-toe with the Great Danes on their home court.

Siena coach Ali Jaques is making the Saints relevant again behind terrific talents such as Jackie Benitez (23 points).

— The hype of the Albany Cup games gets wearying — on the coaches, on the players, even on the media. But not the women’s teams. A separate ticket Sunday, the two teams played before 2,000-plus. Coaches and players alike will take that attention every game of the year.

— Oh, and let’s dispense with this-is-just-another game talk from players. It’s not. When you see Nico Clareth risking life and limb crashing into a stanchion to block a shot, and bodies crashing on the floor like linebackers sniffing out a fumble, you can’t say the intensity level is the same as any other non-conference game. It’s just not.

— Three things that should not be lost in Siena’s loss:

— Marquis Wright (18 points) single-handedly kept Siena in the game in the first half, scoring 13 of his 18 points.

— Brett Bisping (8 points, 4 rebounds), who has been fighting ailing knees this season, showed flashes of his old self in his 21 minutes. Why 21 minutes? He was one of seven players in this game — five on Siena — with at least four fouls. Lavon Long fouled out.

— Clareth is going to drive Patsos nuts. One minute he is making a brilliant play, the next he is hoisting a 30-footer for no apparent reason. But he is the Must-Watch player on the local scene, if only because he can produce the spectacular on any given play.

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