ALBANY — There’s been 10 wins in a dozen games so far for the University at Albany men’s basketball team.
Pretty good — but each loss has hurt, and the Great Danes’ latest still has them smarting as they ready to play Canisius 7 p.m. Saturday at SEFCU Arena.
“We beat ourselves. That was disappointing,” UAlbany head coach Will Brown said of his team’s 67-58 loss Tuesday at Memphis. “It was a missed opportunity. Unfortunate. We thought going into that game that they were the bigger team, more athletic and had more length — but we thought we were the better team.”
Tuesday’s game was the rare one this season in which the Great Danes weren’t the team making winning plays down the stretch. After forcing a tie at 45 late in the second half, uncharacteristic turnovers and defensive breakdowns plagued the Great Danes.
“Offensively, we didn’t share it like we have been sharing it. Their length and athleticism altered a lot, but we needed to be more unselfish,” UAlbany junior Joe Cremo said. “Down the stretch, we didn’t come up with any toughness plays.”
Fifth-year senior Travis Charles said the lack of “toughness plays” Cremo mentioned was what bothered him the most from his team’s loss. After a resounding finish to the team’s game last Saturday against Siena, Charles said the Great Danes were slow to loose balls in the final minutes against Memphis.
“Plays like that really define who you are as a player and who we are as a team,” Charles said.
Thought this quote from UAlbany fifth-year senior Travis Charles said a lot about the confidence the Great Danes have in their coaching staff: “They’re going to do their job. It’s on us as players to do go out there and get the job done.”— Michael Kelly (@ByMichaelKelly) December 15, 2017
As a team, though, UAlbany is 10-2 and hasn’t done anything to make anyone reconsider projecting the Great Danes as a squad likely to challenge Vermont in the America East championship game. The day-to-day focus, though, remains on the next game for the Great Danes, who have three non-conference games to go before league play starts.
“So,” Cremo said, “now we’re looking to bounce back.”
Motivation for Saturday’s game is easy to find, anyway. Canisius beat UAlbany 77-64 last season, a loss that still sticks with the Great Danes.
“We were terrible out there,” Brown said.
“They beat us pretty good,” Cremo said, “so we have to try and get one back.”
Canisius (4-6) will be the fourth MAAC team UAlbany has played this season. UAlbany previously beat Siena and Iona, but fell to Monmouth.
“They run their stuff and they’re good at what they do,” Cremo said of Canisius.
UAlbany’s focal point this week, though, has been on getting itself right after its tough end at Memphis.
“We need to focus on us,” Charles said. “If we focus on us, we don’t need to care about anyone else.”
The Great Danes’ loss snapped a four-game winning streak for UAlbany, and came during a week in which the team was juggling its practice schedule because of final exams.
Come Saturday night, though, the Great Danes expect to stay away from losing back-to-back games.
“It’s been a tough week for us,” Brown said, “but Canisius doesn’t care about that.”