ALBANY — Will Brown won’t be sure until this weekend if his young University at Albany men’s basketball team has learned the lessons, and moved on, from its blowout loss last Saturday against Vermont.
“The only way you truly find out is the next time you step on the floor to play against another opponent,” Brown said after Thursday’s practice.
The Great Danes do that 3 p.m. Saturday when they play Maine at SEFCU Arena in their first game since a 29-point loss against Vermont in their America East Conference opener. In that contest, UAlbany missed 11 of its first 12 shots and trailed 20-2 midway through the first half.
Brown said the team’s start “demoralized” it for the game’s remainder.
Redshirt freshman Adam Lulka called UAlbany’s effort “embarrassing.”
And, looking back, freshman Antonio Rizzuto’s vivid memory from the game was the stunned nature of the Great Danes during Vermont’s early blitzing of them.
“Man,” Rizzuto thought, “what’s going on here?”
What happened was a dominant effort from Vermont.
How good were the Catamounts?
Well, according to kenpom.com’s win probability projection tool, Vermont maintained at least a 75.5 percent chance of winning the game for the final 37 minutes of action. After halftime, the likelihood of a Vermont victory never dipped below 96.7 percent.
The positive for UAlbany from the lopsided loss?
“It’s one game,” Brown said.
OK, well, there was at least one more positive, too.
“We don’t play [Vermont again] for another month,” Brown said.
Before UAlbany turned its attention, though, to getting ready for Maine, the Great Danes spent the early part of this week focusing on the weaknesses Vermont had exposed in them.
“We watched film. We tried to learn from our mistakes,” Rizzuto said. “The first few days of practice after that game were rough. We ran a lot.”
What most concerned Brown was the way UAlbany’s early offensive struggles seemed to affect its effort level on the defensive end of the court. Rizzuto said that type of letdown cannot happen again.
“Our offense is OK,” Rizzuto said. “It can get better, but our defense needs to improve. There should be no way we’re getting beat by 30 points in our conference.”
Vermont shot 54.4 percent from the field against UAlbany. The poor defensive effort for UAlbany, Brown said, represented a regression he wasn’t expecting to see after the way the Great Danes finished the non-conference season.
“It’s about growth and development with this group right now,” Brown said. “We’re going to be good. I think we’re pretty good. You couldn’t tell by the Vermont game, but the young kids are getting better and we just got to get more consistent.”
Now 0-1 in league play and 5-11 overall, UAlbany plays host to a 2-15 Maine program coming off a 24-point loss to Vermont. In that matchup, Brown said the goal for the Great Danes is simple.
“Find a way to beat Maine and get yourself to 1-1 in league play,” Brown said.
If UAlbany does?
“You feel a whole lot better about where you’re at,” Brown said.