ALBANY — In Wednesday’s America East Conference win against UMass Lowell, the UAlbany men’s basketball team played at the preferred tempo of its opponent, and did so in better fashion in scoring a season-high 101 points.
In what’s next for the Great Danes, though, they cannot let their opponent dictate how they attack on offense.
“They play a distorted 1-3-1 zone and they’ve baited some teams into just chucking,” UAlbany head coach Will Brown said Friday of Hartford, which visits SEFCU Arena for a 3 p.m. game Saturday.
In its league wins this season, Hartford’s opponents have taken an average of 31.7 shots from 3-point territory, while that number drops to 23 in its losses. With its zone, Hartford has defended the 3-point line with great success; opponents are shooting 28.8% from downtown against the Hawks, a figure that ranks Hartford tied for No. 22 in the country in 3-point field-goal defense.
“You have to be patient enough to get the ball behind the zone, in the paint, and I think you’ll get high-percentage shots,” Brown said. “If you get stagnant, and you swing the ball around the perimeter against the zone and you launch 3s, I think you’re playing right into their hands.”
Of course, UAlbany has a player capable of a big night from 3-point territory in redshirt sophomore Cameron Healy, who made 8 of 14 3s in scoring a program single-game record of 41 points against UMass Lowell. That game saw the Great Danes move the ball well, and senior Ahmad Clark said that’s something they can duplicate.
“Just by trying not to do too much. Play it simple,” Clark said. “Make plays for each other. Try to get into the lane and play off two feet.”
“We’ve been practicing well lately, and that transfers over,” UAlbany sophomore Antonio Rizzuto said.
While UAlbany (4-1, 11-9) doesn’t often look to push the tempo, the Great Danes will likely try to push Hartford (3-2, 10-10) outside its comfort zone. At different times this season, UAlbany has been able to use full-court pressure — both with zone and man-to-man looks — and its own 1-3-1 half-court zone to try to speed up opponents.
“They’re playing at a slow, methodical pace,” Brown said of the Hawks. “The point guard will walk the ball up the floor every possession and have a conversation with the head coach.”
DE SOUSA HURTING
Brown didn’t offer up much detail regarding the status of sophomore Malachi de Sousa, who hurt his left ankle during Wednesday’s win and sat out Friday’s practice while wearing a walking boot.
But the coach did have some fun issuing mostly terse responses to questions about de Sousa.
Will de Sousa miss the game vs. Hartford?
“We’ll see,” Brown said.
What will de Sousa need to show he can do to be able to play?
“Run,” said Brown, smiling.
Can the sophomore starter do that?
“It’s a good question,” Brown said.
So . . . will de Sousa play?
“You’ll find out soon enough if he can play or he can’t,” Brown said. “He’s definitely not 100%.”
And, if de Sousa doesn’t play, who replaces him in the starting lineup?
“Either Rizzuto, or [Romani] Hansen or [Adam] Lulka,” said Brown, listing off each of UAlbany’s three top players off the bench.