ALBANY — Before the University at Albany men’s basketball team lost Wednesday at Vermont, Great Danes head coach Will Brown viewed it as an extreme longshot for his club to catch the Catamounts for the America East regular season title.
His team went into that game with three league losses, Vermont entered — and left — it with zero.
And Brown doesn’t see how anyone outside of his Great Danes drops Vermont within the America East.
“No disrespect to my team or any other team in the league, but Vermont’s not going to lose more than one game, and their toughest remaining game is here at SEFCU Arena,” Brown said of the Catamounts’ Feb. 8 visit to his program’s home floor. “That’s just my mindset. They’re going to be the No. 1, for sure.”
If that prediction holds true — and it should — Vermont’s Patrick Gymnasium is where the America East championship will go through in 2018.
That makes the goal for UAlbany in the second half of its league season a simple one: The Great Danes, Brown said, need to find a way to avoid becoming the conference’s Nos. 4 or 5 seed, so that a potential postseason game with Vermont takes place in a championship rematch.
“You want that game to be in a championship game, because there will be more pressure on them in that situation,” Brown said.
UAlbany (4-4, 16-7) starts the second half of its league season Saturday at Stony Brook (3-4, 8-13) after a disappointing first trip through the conference for the Great Danes. UAlbany’s in fifth place, two games back of second-place UMBC in the loss column.
UAlbany beat Stony Brook 78-65 earlier this month, and a win this weekend is a crucial get for the Great Danes as they start trying to climb in the standings. Repeating a .500 winning mark, Brown said, won’t land the Great Danes into a Nos. 2 or 3 spot.
“That’s not going to be good enough for us,” Brown said.
Brown said after Wednesday’s loss at Vermont that junior Joe Cremo (ankle) was more limited than expected.
The guard did not practice Thursday, but took part in some team activities Friday. Brown said returning to practice was important for Cremo, who didn’t practice in the days leading up to the team’s game at Vermont.
This is the state of things, health-wise, for Joe Cremo, per UAlbany head coach Will Brown.— Michael Kelly (@ByMichaelKelly) January 26, 2018
“His bad ankle feels OK. His good ankle is sore.”
He's expected to play Saturday at Stony Brook.#AEHoops
“As much as we rested him heading into Vermont — which he needed and his ankle needed — he was disappointed in his body because he felt real sluggish from not practicing,” Brown said. “We need to find a happy medium.”
Cremo’s left ankle was hurt going into the team’s game at Vermont, and he rolled his right ankle during the game. But the junior, Brown said, should be ready to go against Stony Brook.
“He’s got both ankles in ice,” Brown said.