Friday, December 17, 2010

Danes eager for shot at the Mount

ALBANYBlake Metcalf and the rest of the University at Albany men’s basketball team is anxious to get on the floor tonight.

That’s partly because the Great Danes have won four of their last five games and partly because the team has had a week off to finish their final exams.

“You just want to get out on the court and play against somebody else,” Metcalf said. “With all the hours we put in the library, studying and the hours against each other this week, because it’s been a long five days of practice against each other, so we’re ready to go out and play against somebody else.”

UAlbany’s sophomore captain and the rest of his teammates trade in the books for the basketball tonight, when they take on Mount St. Mary’s at 7 p.m., at SEFCU Arena.

The Great Danes (5-6) take on the Mountaineers (3-7), after one of their longest stretches of the season without a game.

“It’s a tough week,” said UAlbany coach Will Brown, referring to finals week.

The Great Danes took Sunday and Monday off, after their one-point victory over Central Connecticut last Saturday, but practiced hard the rest of the week.

“We’ve had some tough practices,” said sophomore guard Logan Aronhalt. “But guys are confident and we’re playing well.”

With a win this evening, UAlbany could come within one victory of last year’s entire season total.

The Great Danes would also reach the .500 mark for the first time since they were 3-3, after six games last season.

“We were never really at that point last season, maybe after six games,” Aronhalt said. “Now, we’re almost halfway through (the season). I think if we could get to .500, it would be a huge confidence boost for us.”

Despite Coach Brown’s feelings against playing zone defense, UAlbany will continue to play that style of basketball.

“It’s what we need to do to be successful,” he said. “I don’t like it, but it’s not going to do me any good to be stubborn. I’ve got to put us in the best position to possibly win.”

The Great Danes have been playing much better defensively, thanks to the zone.

“We put a lot of time into it,” Aronhalt said. “We watch a lot of film on it. We just keep getting better every day.”

The team struggled against Iona because of their transition defense, but they have been in every game since the Nov. 23 game against the Gaels.

“We’re committed to it,” Brown said. “We’re going to stick with it as long as it allows to be successful. We have to look at our personnel and be true about out strengths and weaknesses. We have to play this way defensively for this team to be successful consistently.”

Mount St. Mary’s is a strong defensive team.

“They’re good defensively,” Brown said. “That keeps them in a lot of games.”

The Mountaineers are coached by former Siena assistant Robert Burke (1997-2000), who is in his first season in Emmitsburg, Md.

Burke coached under current Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt, with the Saints.

Junior guard Lamar Trice (12.3 ppg) and senior forward Shawn Atupem (11.7 ppg) are the Mountaineers’ leading scorers.

Last season, Atupem scored nine points as the Mount almost knocked off Siena on the Saints’ home floor, before falling 79-76 in overtime.

The Mountaineers lost their three highest scorers from that game to graduation and have struggled with a difficult schedule.

“We have to work on our defense and really make sure to keep them in front of us because they have struggled at times shooting,” Metcalf said.

Brown thinks his team has started to turn the corner and they are a “solid” bunch.

“We’re a good team, but we still have a long ways to go,” Metcalf said. “We don’t want to be a team that peaks in December. We want to be a team that peaks in early March, at tournament time.”

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home