Friday, November 13, 2009

Brown: "Johnson most improved in my nine years"

ALBANY - The high praise continues for one of the UAlbany players who hasn't even hit the floor yet.

Senior point guard Mike Johnson made a poor choice during the offseason and has had to pay for it, sitting out the Great Danes' two scrimmages and the first two games of the 2009-10 season.

Still, that hasn't stopped coach Will Brown from singing the highest of praise for the Brooklyn native.

"We'll be a different team, just by having Mike Johnson," said Brown, who handed down the two-game suspension back in August. "I've been impressed with him, what he did on the sidelines at Syracuse, the sidelines tonight, how he's practiced, how he's led the team. He takes pressure of (Tim Ambrose) and Will (Harris). He's the most improved player I've had in my nine years here, especially shooting the basketball. He's our best perimeter defender."

Johnson has stepped up as a leader.

Brown pointed to one situation during the Syracuse game when Scotty McRae should have taken the ball to the basket strong and after he came out of the game, Johnson got on him, telling him just that.

"He appreciates the opportunity that he has right now and he appreciates the opportunity that I've given him to continue to be a part of this and I think he's embraced it," said Brown.

Both Harris and Ambrose agreed when asked if Johnson's insertion back into the lineup for Monday's game at American will make that big of a difference.

"It'll be a different team," said Ambrose.

Brown has been preaching about this improvement since media day and we're just days away from seeing it.

"He's not the same player as last year," Brown said. "It's not even close."

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