Tuesday, November 30, 2010

UAlbany/Siena a no-win for Saints

LOUDONVILLE - It's UAlbany/Siena week.

Naturally, we asked Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro about the rivalry meeting today at his weekly meeting with the media.

"Clearly the pressure's on Siena in this game," Buonaguro said emphatically. "We've only lost once (since the series was renewed). We've won five straight."

Buonaguro said he watched the tape from last year's game, which the Saints won 83-54, last night.

"First off, you have to throw out last year's game," he said. "I watched the tape last night. That was unbelievable. We just played phenomenal.

Siena has won eight of the nine games since the series was revived in 2001.

Siena fans expect to win and Buonaguro knows that.

"It is a no-win situation," he said. "If you ask people in the basketball community, anyone, we're expected to win."

It wasn't always like that.

When Buonaguro and Fran McCaffery got to town, Siena was the severe underdog, but they didn't lose to the Great Danes.

Buonaguro already knows this season's game will be close.

"Last year we were a Top 20 team, preseason, we were picked 20th," he said. "We're not that this year. We lost three geat players. Albany has improved. They're better than they were last year, so just on that alone, it's a much more competitive game."

Just seeing UAlbany play well against Detroit, a team thought highly of in the Horizon League, which has Butler, a team Siena played, is enough for Buonaguro.

"Just because they're rebulding, they still have (Tim) Ambrose, they still have (Logan) Aronhalt and they still have (Mike) Black," Buonaguro said. "Those are three really good players, so on any given night they're dangerous."

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Siena's Downey injury update

LOUDONVILLE - It's been three weeks since Siena junior Kyle Downey injured his MCL.

Downey's presence would certainly help the Saints late in the game.

"I think it's been a problem for us, not having him late game," said Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro. "He certainly adds an experienced player who's been through the wars. He'd be on the floor late and certainly I like him late."

Downey hasn't played this season, but could make his debut Saturday against the University at Albany.

"He's really made great progress," Buonaguro said.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Danes post wins, earn awards

University at Albany basketball players Logan Aronhalt and Luke Devlin earned America East Conference honors on Monday.

Aronhalt, who has been on a absolute tear, earned America East Player of the Week, while Devlin was named the league's rookie of the week.

Aronhalt averaged 22.8 points in four games last week for the Great Danes and posted a career-high 30 points against Niagara.

Aronhalt has now scored double figures in 11 straight games, dating back to last season.

Devlin averaged 6.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game over the four contests, while also recording his first career double-double against Detroit.

UAlbany (3-5) has now won back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 16 & 20, 2009.

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Siena's Rossiter earns MAAC honor

Ryan Rossiter earned Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference co-Player of the Week honors for last week's play.

Rossiter shared the award with Iona's Kyle Smyth.

Rossiter becomes the second Siena player to earn the honor, after Clarence Jackson did so the first week.

It is the fifth time Rossiter has won or shared the award.

Rossiter, who is averaging 19.3 points and 17.7 rebouds per game, is just three points shy of 1,000 for his career.

Rossiter also became the program's all-time leader in double-doubles, raising his career total to 37.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Aronhalt stars in UAlbany victory

DETROITLogan Aronhalt continues to show why the University at Albany coaching staff was so high on him.

The Great Danes sophomore guard scored 23 of his career-high 30 points in the second half on Saturday evening as his team posted a 75-65 victory over Niagara in the Legends Classic at the University of Detroit Mercy’s Calihan Hall.

“We’re getting a lot of guys to contribute right now,” said UAlbany coach Will Brown. “We’re getting into a groove right now.”

Even after struggling to a 6-for-24 mark from the field on Friday night, Aronhalt didn’t hesitate to fire away.

“When I saw the 2-3 zone, my eyes lit up,” said Aronhalt, who is now averaging 19.7 points per game. “Everyone did a good job of looking for me. That’s the best that I’ve shot the ball since I’ve been in college.”

Aronhalt has now scored 25 or more points in three of UAlbany’s last four games.

UAlbany also got a career effort from sophomore Mike Black, who scored 19 points and redshirt freshman John Puk, who grabbed 10 rebounds.

“We had a lot of people step up,” said Brown, who saw freshman Luke Devlin go down after getting hit in both eyes with the elbows from Niagara’s Kashief Edwards.

In Devlin’s absence, both Puk and Blake Metcalf stepped up and played almost 30 minutes.

Aronhalt played more than anyone though, as he only came out for one minute of action.

Aronhalt became the program’s most recent player to score 30 or more points in a game. The last Great Danes player to do so was Jason Siggers, who scored 34 points against Vermont on Jan. 13, 2007.

The Great Danes (2-5) were still trailing 29-25 in the first half, before ripping off eight straight points.

Senior guard Tim Ambrose knocked down a 3-pointer from very deep and Aronhalt followed with a long-range jumper.

Black completed the run when he connected on a bucket through traffic as UAlbany took a 36-33 halftime lead.

The Great Danes broke opened a 63-49 lead with eight minutes to play.

“We had better communication (on defense) and recognized their sets better in the second half,” Aronhalt said.

The Purple Eagles (2-3) did cut the lead to seven as they went on a 13-6 run late in the game.

“We got a little rattled down the stretch, but we rebounded and responded,” Brown said.

Anthony Nelson finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals. Lemmons chipped in 15 for the Purple Eagles.

Ambrose finished with 14 points and now is 17th in program history with 1,163 career points. Ambrose passed Antione Johnson (1999-03) and now sits just 15 points behind current assistant coach Brent Wilson (2004-08).

The Great Danes played very well, considering they played a double overtime game, losing to Detroit 84-82 on Friday night.

“I’m happy,” Brown said. “We played such a tough game last night and you never know how the kids are going to respond.”

UAlbany has won two of their last four games and the Great Danes are seemingly getting better every day.

“I’m learning about this team every day,” Brown said. “I can’t wait to wake them up and play (today).”

UAlbany takes on Bowling Green and former Siena coach Louis Orr, today at 3 p.m., in the final game of the Legends Classic.

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VIDEO: Coach B after Siena's first MAAC win

Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro talking about the Saints' 73-60 victory over Rider in the first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game.

Thanks to colleague Ben Doody for shooting this video and covering the game for us last night.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Danes come up just short in 2OT

UAlbany did a lot of good things on Friday night.

Like coach Will Brown, I'll be interested to see how they bounce back Saturday, after falling 84-82 in double overtime to Detroit in the Legends Classic subregional at Calihan Hall.

"We did some good things," Brown told the WOFX radio crew following the game. "Now, I'm concerned with how do we regroup."

The Great Danes (1-4) got huge 3-pointers at the buzzer from Mike Black, who returned from injury, and Billy Allen to send the game into overtime and then double overtime.

Black returned from an ankle sprain and scored 11, while Allen chipped in 12 in just 15 minutes.

Brown said he thought Black might not be able to turnaround and play against on Saturday and he wasn't sure about Puk.

If I had to be, I'd say Puk played and Black didn't (that's just a guess).

Brown said he was also happy with just 15 turnover.

"We've done a real good job taking care of the ball, besides the Georgia Tech game," he said.

It's hard to feel good about a loss, but remember the Titans were picked second in the very good Horizon League, behind national runner-up Butler.

"We played as talented a team as there is on our schedule and we showed a lot of character," Brown said. "We got better today. We got a lot of contributions."

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Siena/Rider reaction

While I'm not in Lawrenceville, I did listen to the whole game and this was a huge victory for Siena. The Saints (1-0, 2-3) posted a 73-60 victory over the Broncs (0-1, 4-2).

Rider played well, I thought in the first half.

Combine that with Clarence Jackson starting slowly, and O.D. Anosike getting in foul trouble, the Saints pulled away in the second half.

Ryan Rossiter was a beast again and Davis Martens really continues to impress me.

The Saints have won their Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener for the sixth straight year.

Siena has won 40 of its last 43 MAAC games, including postseason play. The only losses were at Niagara twice and home against Rider.

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LIVE BLOG: Siena vs. Rider

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Back from Thanksgiving....

Technically I never left the area or the office (that's one of the joys of this business around the holidays), but I haven't done anything college basketball related since noon on Wednesday.

That means for 52 hours this blog has been silent, which is far too long, especially with both Siena and UAlbany playing tonight.

The Saints play in the first Division I conference game in the country, as they take on Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference foe Rider, down in Lawrenceville.

UAlbany is out in the Motor City, scheduled to take on host Detroit today in the subregional of the Legends Classic. The Great Danes will play three games in three days, like they did last year at SEFCU Arena.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

MAAC Chat - Nov. 24

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Siena/Butler reaction

ALBANY - Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro was actually pretty optimistic after the Saints fell 70-57 to No. 23 Butler on Tuesday night.

The Saints played against a strong team, but seemingly should have fared a little better.

“We have to continue the positives and be able to look ourselves in the mirror and correct those negatives,” said senior forward Ryan Rossiter.

Siena needs to find another scoring threat, in addition to Rossiter and Clarence Jackson.

"I'm a little concerned about that," Buonaguro said.

Butler coach Brad Stevens was very high on Rossiter. He said he told Rossiter after the game how much he's improved.

"They’re aren’t very many guys in college basketball, and two of them were in this game (Butler's Matt Howard and Rossiter), that can score with their back to the basket through people,” he said.

Following this loss, the Saints have now lost back-to-back home games for the first time since Jan. 2007. They were 52-4 since those conference losses to Fairfield and Marist.

Siena finds themselves in a tough spot as they head off to Rider for a post-Thanksgiving day Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opener.

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Butler 70, Siena 57 FINAL

ALBANY - Ryan Rossiter did his best, but it wasn't enough on this night

Butler came in to Albany and posted the win, minus starter Ronald Nored, who was out after the first minute.

Rossiter finished with 26 points and 15 rebounds and got a big round of applause from the fans when he departed with 45 seconds to go (the Butler play-by-play guy even said he would have applauded if he could have). Rossiter was 12-for-20 from the field.

Clarence Jackson finished with eight points.

Matt Howard finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Butler outscored Siena 38-5 off the bench.

It's the first time since Jan. 2007 that Siena has lost back-to-back home games.

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Butler 37, Siena 29 (Half)

ALBANY - This is shaping up to be a good finish.

It has the feel of a postseason game, despite being played two days shy of Thanksgiving.

Ryan Rossiter is dominating the game, so much so that the Siena stats people gave him an extra basket. When everything was straightened out, Rossiter finished the first 20 minutes with 14 points and nine rebounds to lead the Saints.

O.D. Anosike added six for Siena, which led 13-5 at one point.

Butler's Matt Howard had a tough time getting on track, missing his first six shots, before he hit a 3-pointer. He did draw four charges and leads his team with seven points.

The Bulldogs are playing without Ronald Nored, who injured his head/eye in the game's second minute.

Garrett Butcher, Chase Stigall
and Andrew Smith each have six points for the Bulldogs, while the team's leading scorer Shelvin Mack has just four.

Butler is outscoring Siena 22-0 in bench points. Siena is also 0-for-3 from the free throw line.

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Rhode Island will join UAlbany in NEC

Not quite sure how this slipped by (well, I am actually - it's just one of those weeks), but Rhode Island will join the Northeast Conference for football in 2013. That's the conference that the University at Albany plays in.

"We are thrilled to welcome the University of Rhode Island to the Northeast Conference football family," NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris said in a statement. "The Conference is united in its commitment to the long term growth of NEC football.

The Rams will remain an associate football member of the Colonial Athletic Association in 2011 and 2012.

With the addition of Rhode Island, the NEC will up to 10 in 2013. The schools are Bryant, Central Connecticut, Monmouth, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, Saint Francis (Pa.), Wagner, UAlbany and Duquesne.

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UAlbany, Siena gameday

Monday, November 22, 2010

VIDEO: Siena/Butler preview

Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro and senior Clarence Jackson talk about Tuesday's non-conference matchup with Butler.

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VIDEO: UAlbany/Iona preview

University at Albany senior guard Tim Ambrose talks about Tuesday's non-conference game against Iona.

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Great Danes sign three recruits

University at Albany men's basketball coach Will Brown talks about signing Chris Page (who played with Blake Metcalf at Plainfield High), Sam Rowley (the program's second Australian player after Luke Devlin) and Gerardo Suero (who played at Our Savior New American the same school as Jamar Wilson and Tim Ambrose).

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UAlbany's Metcalf grew up with Butler

ALBANY - University at Albany sophomore captain Blake Metcalf knows quite a bit about the Butler men's basketball team.

The Camby, Ind., native grew up just 15 minutes southwest of Indianapolis.

Growing up, Blake would go to the game at historic Hinkle Fieldhouse with his father, Dennis.

"I would always jump at the opportunity because they were always fun games to watch," said Blake before UAlbany's practice on Monday.

Siena takes on Butler on Tuesday night and Metcalf said he would have gone to the game if his team wasn't playing that night. The Great Danes take on Siena's MAAC rival, Iona at 7:30 p.m.

Indiana is commonly known as the birthplace of basketball and Metcalf said the college and high school game is so popular, even more so than professional.

"College and high school basketball are way bigger back home," he said.

Metcalf grew up when Butler had A.J. Graves and made their first couple of appearances in the Sweet 16, but he said it's nothing like last season when the team was just one shot away from beating Duke for the national championship - in Indianapolis.

"My family went to the Final Four and the Final Four practices and they said it was the craziest thing ever," he said.

Metcalf has played against current Butler players Andrew Smith, Chrishawn Hopkins and Garrett Butcher.

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Siena's figuring out the point (guard)

LOUDONVILLE - Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro met with junior Kyle Griffin for an hour on Friday night at the team's hotel in Boston.

Buonaguro explained to him that he would be starting freshman Rakeem Brookins at point guard, the next day and that Griffin still had an important role with the team.

The Saints went on to demolish a good Northeastern team on Saturday, so the move seemingly paid off.

"I made the decision based on, we weren't running that well," said Buonaguro at his weekly meeting with the media on Monday afternoon. "It was nothing against Kyle Griffin. Kyle Griffin actually has pretty good stats."

Brookins played 27 minutes against the Huskies and although he didn't make a field goal, he finished with five assists and four points.

"I thought Rahk added some running to our offense," Buonaguro said. "We run the ball better when he's in there."

Brookins will remain the starter when Siena takes on Butler Tuesday night in downtown Albany. The game can be seen locally on Time Warner-3.

"I think he played well (against Northeastern)," Buonaguro said. "He ran the team well."

Griffin came off the bench for the first time this season and played 18 minutes, scoring four points and dishing out four assists.

"I was happy he bought into the role and responded," Buonaguro said.

Coach B said it was a little easier of a move, knowing that Griffin is a mature player, who will do anything for the team to succeed.

"When you have character people like Kyle Griffin, they understand when a coach makes a decision, you have to buy into it," Buonaguro said. "He understands, still, that he's a key player."

Griffin is averaging 3.0 points per game and leads the team with 13 assists on the year.

Buonaguro also addressed why he put sophomore Jonathan Breeden into the game as his first substitue at the point guard position.

"I wanted to get a look at Jon," Buonaguro said. "I played him a little at the point. He came in and I just had a hunch that it wasn't his day."

The victory over Northeastern was Buonaguro's first head coaching victory at Siena and his first head coaching win in 20 years.

"Beating a really good, quality opponent on the road is always a great feeling," he said. "To get my first win, was obviously a great moment for me."

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

FCS Top 25 - Nov. 21

The polls are done. The playoff bracket is out.

But here is my final Top 25. The number in (x) is if it's different than the actual poll.

I've also bolded the teams that are headed to the FCS playoffs which begin next week.

1. Eastern Washington/at-large
2. Appalachian State/Southern
3. Stephen F. Austin/Southland
4. William & Mary/Colonial
5. Montana State/Big Sky (6)
6. Delaware/at-large (5)
7. Wofford/at-large
8. Bethune-Cookman/Mideastern Athletic (13)
9. Jacksonville State/at-large (8)
10. Southeast Missouri State/Ohio Valley (9)
11. New Hampshire/at-large
12. South Carolina State/at-large
13. Penn (14)
14. Villanova/at-large (10)
15. Montana/at-large
16. Liberty (17)
17. Jacksonville (18)
18. Northern Iowa/Missouri Valley (16)
19. Dayton (23)
20. Georgia Southern/at-large (NR)
21. Robert Morris/Northeast (NR)
22. James Madison (NR)
23. Lehigh/Patriot (19)
24. Western Illinois/at-large (21)
25. Florida A&M (NR)

Coastal Carolina (Big South) and North Dakota State (at-large) also made it in.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

UAlbany, Siena post victories

Sophomore Logan Aronhalt scored a career-high 27 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds as the University at Albany posted a 72-46 non-conference victory over Fairleigh Dickinson.

The Great Danes also got 13 points from senior Tim Ambrose and 10 more from sophomore Jon Iati.

"Our team defense was how we won," UAlbany coach Will Brown said. "We are getting better and more comfortable playing the zone and contesting jump shots."

Mike Scott scored 23 points for the Knights (0-2), but no other Fairleigh Dickinson player scored in double figures.

Out in Boston, Siena picked up their first win of the season, and an impressive one in that, as they defeated Northeastern 84-68.

The victory is coach Mitch Buonaguro's first win as head coach for the Saints (1-2).

The Huskies (2-1) are a quality team.

"That’s as good a road win as we’ve had since we’ve been here, from start to finish,” Buonaguro said afterwards. “That was a great road win. I thought Northeastern was a really good team. Our guys were focused, they executed the game plan, they were tough. Our effort was phenomenal. That’s a great win. I couldn’t be happier for the seniors, and the rest of the kids. I thought it was total domination actually.”

Ryan Rossiter and Clarence Jackson combined for 52 points and that was really all Siena needed.

Both teams are in action Tuesday. Siena plays national runner-up Butler. UAlbany hosts Iona.

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Siena, UAlbany gameday

Below you'll find blog posts for both Siena and UAlbany as they gear up for today's games.

Siena (0-2) takes on undefeated Northeastern (2-0) at 1 p.m. today.

Here's my preview for today's game, looking at freshman Rakeem Brookins, his development and also the fact that he was choosing between these two schools just seven months ago.

Here's a links that apply to Northeastern.

Huskies follow Allen - Boston Globe

UAlbany (0-3) is also looking for their first victory when they take on Fairleigh Dickinson (0-1) tonight at 7 p.m

Here's my preview for today's game, looking at how sophomore point guard Mike Black is out again.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Iati hustling into rotation for Danes

ALBANY - Sophomore Jacob Iati wasn't in the University at Albany's nine-man rotation at the start of the season.

Just eight days later, the 5-foot-10 Iati is expected to be starting his second straight game for the Great Danes, when they travel to take on Fairleigh Dickinson tonight at 7 p.m.

Iati (seen left) has stepped into the role vacated by fellow sophomore Mike Black, after Black sprained his ankle in the season-opener against Cornell.

Iati has been high on coach Will Brown's list so far this season because of his effort and hustle.

“The way I’ve been brought up is I can’t step out on the court and not play as hard as I can play,” said Iati, who scored seven points and dished out five assists Wednesday against Georgia Tech. “I can never step out on the court and be lackadaisical. It’s not who I am. It’s not my personality.”

Brown likes what he's seen from Iati in terms of hustle and he hopes it will continues.

Iati's brother, Jon, played for UAlbany and ranks in the Top 20 on the all-time scoring list, while also being one of the top 3-point threats to ever wear a uniform.

Jon (seen right) is the Director of Basketball Operations at Quinnipiac, but made the two-hour drive to see Jacob and the Danes play against American last Monday.

“He helps me out a lot,” Jacob Iati said.

The brothers are similar in size (Jon was listed at 5-9) and they both play like they have something extra to prove.

“He was more of a true scorer and I’m more of a true point guard,” Jacob Iati said. “We play very similar games, both shooter and we can attack the rim with a shot fake.”

While UAlbany is off to an 0-3 start and the team is young, that's something Jacob certainly doesn't want to make an excuse out of.

We’re ready to play and win games," Jacob Iati said. "We don’t want to ride that out all year. We want to win. Everybody in there and the whole coaching staff want to win. We are young, but we don’t care that we’re young. We feel we’re good enough to win now.”

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Saints in search of identity and first win

LOUDONVILLE - It's been a little different feeling from the Siena camp this year.

Mostly it's been the feeling that Siena isn't going to win every time they step on the floor like over the past few seasons.

Still, I think this Saints (0-2) bunch has taken big steps over the first two games of the season and come MAAC play, the three-time defending champions will still be the team to beat.

Say it or not, Saturday's game against Northeastern (2-0) is hardly a must-win, but I'd say it's pretty darn close.

With all the questions surrounding this team, not picking up a win Saturday and possibly not against nationally ranked Butler, would put this team at 0-4, heading into their MAAC opener against Rider on Nov. 26.

That said, the Saints still seem confident.

"We just have to learn from our mistakes the last two games and try to correct them," said senior captain Ryan Rossiter, before Thursday's practice.

The feeling from the team is that they played better from first game to second game, but not winning is still not winning.

"I think we played a little bit better," Rossiter said. "We rebounded a bit better, but at the end of the day, I think we should have beaten that team and we're not proud of ourselves that we lost by x number of points. We wanted to win and we expected to win."

Rossiter had a big game against Vermont in the opener (27 pts. & 10 reb.) and fellow senior Clarence Jackson had a huge game against Minnesota (career-high 29 pts.), but the two haven't both played well on the same night.

"We have to have both of those guys Saturday, playing well against Northeastern," Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro said.

The Saints are still trying to piece things together early in this 2010-11 season and every player's contribution counts.

"The little things add up," Rossiter said. "The sooner we realize that, the better off we'll be."

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UAlbany's Black out for Fairleigh Dickinson

ALBANY - Sophomore point guard Mike Black will miss his third consecutive game because of a left ankle sprain.

"He'll make the trip," said UAlbany coach Will Brown, just before the team departed for New Jersey, for Saturday's game against Fairleigh Dickinson. "He won't play. He gave it a good 30-minute effort today and we had to shut him down. He's not ready physically nor mentally."

Brown said that Black could possibly play Tuesday against Iona, but more than likely will be back for the post-Thanksgiving tournament in Detroit.

Brown is hoping that his sophomore point guard can get back to 90 percent before he returns to action.

"Mike helps us win games," Brown said. "He's our general. He's our best player. It's just one of those things where, one, he has to be comfortable. He's not going to help us because all he's going to think about his foot. Two, as much as we want him back now, immediately, short-term, we've got to think long term. What matters most at our level and for us is conference play. We have to make sure when he comes back to play in the non-conference, he's healthy and that he's ready to go come conference play."

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Danes outgunned by GT; MAAC bounces back

UAlbany lost to a very motivated Georgia Tech team, 78-51, on Wednesday night.

The Yellow Jackets were coming off a loss to city foe Kennesaw State, a game they lost 80-63.

Here is a link from the Atlanta paper on last night's game.

The America East went 0-5 last night.

Vermont looked good before falling to UConn 89-73 (it was closer than that).

Boston University lost to Villanova 82-66.

UMBC lost to Loyola (Md.) of the MAAC 83-72.

Binghamton didn't look good, losing to Bucknell 66-38 (Greer Wright scored 21 of the 38 points).

The MAAC posted a 3-2 night, highlighted by Rider leading wire-to-wire on the road in a 77-57 victory over USC (that's USC, as in Trojans) and Manhattan's victory over Penn.

The Broncs got a career-high 28 points from Justin Robinson.

Incredibly, the Jaspers ended their game on a 17-2 run to win 59-54 and are still the only unbeaten team in the MAAC at 2-0.

Niagara lost to UW-Milwaukee 90-73, Loyola (Md.) beat UMBC (as noted above) and Marist lost 79-59 to George Washington.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hewitt: "The worst coach in the country"

I included a quote from Atlanta Journal Constitution columnist Mark Bradley, when he referred to Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt (who coached Siena from 1997-2000), as the "worst coach in the country."

Bradley went on to rip even more into Hewitt. The Yellow Jackets play UAlbany tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Here is the link.

I didn't cover Hewitt and have spoken with him only briefly, but I find it hard to believe he's the worst coach in America.

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Siena's Brookins making a push to start

LOUDONVILLE - Minnesota coach Tubby Smith made it a point, following Monday's game to ask Siena coach Mitch Buonaguro where he got Rakeem Brookins from.

Brookins scored 12 points, all coming in the final minutes of the game.

"He has had two late stretch runs in games, where he's been almost the best player on the floor," said Buonaguro at his weekly luncheon on Wednesday.

Buonaguro was asked Wednesday if he still wants Brookins coming off the bench and Buonaguro said he needs to get him in there, but the bench is where he will start games still.

"I think for now," he said. "That's a tough question."

Brookins is averaging 10.0 points per game, behind just seniors Ryan Rossiter and Clarence Jackson on Siena's scoring leaders list.

While Brookins is scoring, he also has commited 10 turnovers in two games.

Buonaguro said he spoke with former coach Fran McCaffery recently and they spoke about how Ronald Moore struggled for the first few games of his career (Moore made his first start in the sixth game of his freshman season - against UAlbany on Dec. 2, 2006).

"This kid is a little different than Ronald," Buonaguro said. "This kid can score."

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Weekly MAAC Chat

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Monday, November 15, 2010

No panic yet for UAlbany

ALBANY - UAlbany didn't play well Monday night.

They were still in the game and they had a chance to win (albeit, not really in the last few minutes), but coach Will Brown said they're not close to pushing the panic button.

I'm not sure if they should be pressing the panic button, but what I saw was a team that didn't look like it was trying to win in the final couple minutes.

Granted they were down big, but it just seemed like the last minute or two just ran off and the Great Danes didn't even attempt and three's or things you'd normally see a team do when they're trying to catch up.

On the injury front, sophomore Mike Black won't travel to Atlanta for Wednesday's game.

Redshirt freshman John Puk, who was severely limited and fouled out in 13 minutes, also may not travel (I tweeted he probably wouldn't. On second thought, I think he will).

When Brown was asked, this was his response.

"I hope so," Brown said. "If I have to carry the bucket of ice and hold his foot in it, I'll do that. I have to talk to our training staff. He was not comfortable out there."

Puk is dealing with Achilles tendonitis and hasn't fully practiced in six or seven days. Brown was told Monday that Puk's injury won't get better unless he rests, which is a luxury the team doesn't have right now.

"He's a guy that really helps us defensively," Brown said of Puk. "He did a good job against Cornell. He takes up space. He can really move. He gets off the ground. He didn't have any quickness and explosiveness today at all."

If Puk can't travel or can't play, that means UAlbany is down two of what Brown called "his best five players."
Jeff Couch - The Record

UAlbany has lost their first two games of this season and now the program has lost 14 of their last 15 contests, so confidence is something that probably isn't strong, if there at all.

"They're young, they're fragile," Brown said. "I have to be careful too, how I relay my message as well. I'm pretty intense and inpatient and I got a short fuse."

One postitive note for UAlbany came from American coach Jeff Jones.

"When you consider that a vast majority of those guys are freshmen and sophomores, they have a chance to really get better," Jones said. "If you looked at us a year ago, we were kind of in the same boat."

Now, the Eagles finished 11-20 last season, but they are the Patriot League favorites this year (and they went to the NCAA Tournament in 2008 & 2009).

One thing different though. Leading scorer Vlad Moldoveanu was sitting out, after transferring from George Mason.

Here is Brown talking about the loss.

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American 57, UAlbany 44 FINAL

ALBANY - The Great Danes didn't look great on this night.

It seemed to be a combination of Mike Black's absence and just a stale night shooting that did in UAlbany on Monday.

Tim Ambrose finished with a game-high 13 points, but 11 of them came in the first half.

Logan Aronhalt added 11 for the Great Danes (0-2).

The Eagles (2-0) got 11 points from Vlad Moldoveanu and 10 apiece from Troy Brewer and Stephen Lumpkins.

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American 34, UAlbany 23 (half)

ALBANY - UAlbany doesn't exactly have the same energy that they had Friday against Cornell.

The Great Danes came out shooting just 1-for-10 from the field, but actually trailed just 8-4.

They started making shots and the Patriot League favorite Eagles made some more.

UAlbany finished the half 9-for-26 (34.6%), led by Tim Ambrose, who scored 11 points off the bench.

American was paced by Vlad Moldoveanu, who scored seven points. The Eagles also hit four 3-pointers.

I don't usually get on the refs (if I'm not watching sports at home that is), but there have been some awfully strange calls, including the one where the ref called the ball out off Logan Aronhalt (right in front of us and legendary UAlbany coach Doc Sauers, who evaluates the referees). I could clearly see the ball went off the American player (I assume Doc did too).

The ref then made Aronhalt go get the ball (injury to insult, I guess).

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ECAC Lambert Polls - Nov. 15

Here are my ECAC Lambert polls for this week.

The number of the real spots in the poll, if different, is in a (x).

Top Ten FCS (UAlbany's division)
1. Delaware
2. William & Mary
3. New Hampshire (4)
4. Penn (3)
5. Massachusetts (7)
6. Villanova
7. Richmond (8)
8. Robert Morris (9)
9. James Madison (10)
10. Lehigh (6)

Division III (RPI & Union's division)
1. Wesley
2. Thomas More
3. Cortland State
4. Montclair State
5. Rowan
6. Delaware Valley
7. Alfred (8)
8. SUNY Maritime (9)
9. Springfield (NR)
10. Salisbury (10)

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FCS Top 25 - Nov. 15

Here are my selections for The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25.

Just one week remaining in the regular season and plenty of teams are still playing to finish off strong and make their case.

Below is my poll. If there's a difference, the number of the actual poll will be in a (x).

1. Delaware
2. Appalachian State
3. Eastern Washington
4. Jacksonville State
5. Stephen F. Austin
6. Bethune-Cookman (7)
7. William & Mary (6)
8. Wofford (9)
9. Montana State (8)
10. Montana (11)
11. Southeast Missouri State (10)
12. Northern Iowa (13)
13. New Hampshire (14)
14. South Carolina State (12)
15. Penn (16)
16. Jacksonville (20)
17. Massachusetts (19)
18. Villanova (15)
19. Liberty (21)
20. Richmond (18)
21. North Dakota State (17)
22. Dayton (24)
23. Georgia Southern (NR)
24. Robert Morris (NR)
25. James Madison (NR)

The team that are actually ranked, that are not in my Top 25 are Lehigh (22), Cal Poly (23) and Grambling State (25).

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Rossiter earns MAAC honor

Ryan Rossiter was named Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Player of the Week on Monday.

The Siena senior scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Saturday's 80-76 loss to defending America East Champion Vermont.

The effort was just two points shy of his career-high, which came last year against Mount St. Mary's.

It was Rossiter's 18th double-double in his last 20 games and his seventh consecutive double-double.

Rossiter shot 8-for-15 from the floor and made all 11 free throws. The MAAC preseason Player of the Year also blocked two shots, moving into a tie for fourth place on the school's career blocked shot list.

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UAlbany, Siena gameday

Both local teams are in action on Monday (today).

Both, Siena and UAlbany are still in search of their first victory.

Here is my preview on Siena's trip to Minnesota.

UAlbany will be looking to beat American at home, without the services of sophomore point guard Mike Black, who sprained his ankle against Cornell.

Here are some gameday links to check out


Star-Tribune - Gophers' menu: Force the issue, feast on free throws

Star-Tribune - Gophers-Siena game preview

Star-Tribune - Gold in the Barn blog

Star-Tribune - U's tower of power Sampson is huge in opener


Washington Post - American University basketball player Stephen Lumpkins is chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates

Washington Post - After slow start, American pulls away from St. Francis in opener

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Siena first reactions of Vermont game

ALBANY - Siena won't go undefeated this season.

We knew this was going to happen, but most fans probably thought it wouldn't start tonight. Or should I say end, as in the 38-game homecourt winning streak that came to an end as Vermont held on for an 80-76 victory in downtown Albany.

The Saints actually trailed by 15, before they tried to kick it into high gear and steal victory from defeat.

“We can’t put ourselves in that position and have to dig out of that hole,” said senior forward Ryan Rossiter, who was a beast late in the game.

The team's play wasn't great and kind of embodied how they've performed throughout the preseason.

“We were good at times and then we just don’t play well at times,” said coach Mitch Buonaguro. “The lack of consistency was evident tonight.”

Some quick positives and negatives.

  • Rosstier and OD Anosike should dominate throughtout the season (they combined for 38 points and 15 rebounds)
  • The late-game play was your typical Siena team, trapping and causing turnovers. If they play like that for the entire 40 minutes, they win easily.
  • Lack of turnovers. Coach B had been worried about that and the Saints had just 9, while forcing 20 turnovers.
  • Rebounding. The Saints were outrebounded 44-30 and going up against Minnesota on Monday will be a even harder to even that stat.
  • The point guard play. I wouldn't say Kyle Griffin or Rakeem Brookins were bad, but they just didn't get it done. Especially when little Joey Accaoui had a career night.
Vermont coach Mike Lonergan had a lot of good things to say about Siena (he met the school's president before the game).

“We pride ourselves on playing a tough schedule,” Lonergan said. “Obviously, they do too. They’re going to Minnesota now. I think these are two of the best mid-major programs in the last eight years, on the whole east coast, along with Davidson.”

Clarence Jackson had his thumb heavily taped in the locker room after the game.

He said he reaggrevated jamming it in practice and that's not a good sign.

He didn't make excuses for having a bad shooting night, but that thing will probably not feel much better in the morning.

“I tried to attack the basket more,” a frustrated Jackson said after the game. “I wasn’t finishing.”

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Vermont 80, Siena 76 FINAL

ALBANY - Siena fell down by double digits in the second half and couldn't climb out of the hole they had dug themselves.

Ryan Rossiter tried to will the Saints to the finish, scoring a game-high 27 points and grabbing 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough.

Vermont snapped the nation's second longest winning streak at 38 games.

Siena has to turn right around and hop on a plane for the Midwest and Monday's date with Minnesota.

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Vermont 35, Siena 31 (half)

ALBANY - You can tell this is a new look Siena team.

Especially when, midway through the first half, the Saints featured a lineup of Steven Priestely, Jonathan Breeden, Davis Martens, Trenity Burdine and Rakeem Brookins.

Siena had a lead for a while, but Vermont started making their shots and they have a four-point halftime lead.

OD Anosike and Ryan Rossiter scored Siena first 11 points, but Rossiter was just 2-for-7 in the first 20 minutes.

Vermont was led by Evan Fjeld's nine points.

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Kyle Downey injury update

I should have posted this Thursday when I saw Siena junior Kyle Downey before practice.

Downey landed on Davis Martens during practice last week and in his explanation, did a cartwheel trying to avoid landing on Martens, then didn't know where he was and when his foot planted, his knee bent to hit the floor.

"It wasn't even like a real injury," Downey said. "There was nothing I could do to prevent it."

It's a a partial tear of the MCL in his knee, which is expected to sideline him for three weeks.

"Hopefully I can cut it down," Downey said.

Downey said what's frustrating is he can run and jog with no pain, but he has to be cautious because it could tear if the MCL is stretched again.

"It sucks because I feel like I could be other there right now," Downey said. "My knee is just not stable."

It's another weird injury for Downey, who broke his foot in the middle of his sophomore season and deal with a back injury the summer after his freshman year.

"I don't think of myself as being injury prone," he said. "It's just a string of bad luck."

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VIDEOS: One picture says it all

J.S. Carras - The Record

The above picture sums up what happened on Friday night. Sophomore point guard Mike Black went down late in the first half with a sprained ankle. All indications are that he will miss Monday's game against American.

This also won't make UAlbany fans too happy.

This paragraph below was on the ESPN web recap of Friday's game.

Albany, of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which led by 12 in the first half, scored the next five points and had a chance to tie, but Tim Ambrose's driving shot in the lane in the final seconds missed.

Here are videos from head coach Will Brown and Katie Abrahamson-Henderson after their season-opening games on Friday.

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Friday, November 12, 2010

UAlbany first reactions of Cornell game

ALBANY - I think it's clear to see that this team is much improved from last year's squad.

Heck, it only took me a couple of minutes to figure that out as the Great Danes led for most of the first half.

Some other points.

Mike Black is likely out for the American game on Monday. If it's a high ankle sprain, he might not travel to Atlanta for Wednesday's game with Georgia Tech.

UAlbany shot the ball much better - 52 percent for the game (25-48). They were 10-for-18 (55%) with Black in there.

John Puk was every where early. Coach Brown said it was his fault for not continuing to go in to the big fella. I saw Puk after the game and he told Coach Brown that his Achilles was sore, but what can you expect after playing 22 minutes. He should be a force in the conference schedule.

Also, a great positive was the play of Luke Devlin, who scored 10 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Some negatives. The late game situation wasn't the best.

Brown said he wanted to get the ball in Iati's hands following the missed free throw. It didn't and Ambrose drove into the lane and shot a two, when the team needed three.

Also, 16 turnovers isn't great, but Brown said it wasn't too, too bad for the first night.

As Logan Aronhalt said, "Most of the mistakes can be corrected."

UAlbany doesn't have much time before American comes calling on Monday.

I'll have more up, with video from Coach Brown and women's coach Abrahamson-Henderson after the women's team defeated Brown 64-54.

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Cornell 65, UAlbany 61 FINAL

ALBANY - A great game, but not the end result the Great Danes wanted.

Cornell broke a 52-52 tie late and went on to win in a very crazy game, down the stretch.

Tim Ambrose lead all scorers with 20 points, but made a couple of mistakes down the stretch, with the ball in his hands.

Max Groebe led the Big Red with 15 points.

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UAlbany 37, Cornell 35 (half)

ALBANY - The Great Danes played the first 20 minutes of the 2010-11 season like last year never took place.

They came out of the gate flying and held a 19-10 lead.

With six minutes to go in the half, UAlbany led 26-17.

Then Mike Black went down. (Black is currently questionable with a left ankle sprain)

Cornell went on an 8-0 run and things have been back and forth ever since.

Tim Ambrose has 11 points for the Great Danes and Black has 10.

Max Groebe came on in the middle of the half and he leads the Big Red with 10.

We should be in for a good second half.

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UAlbany vs. Cornell Gameday

ALBANY - It's opening night for the University at Albany Great Danes.

Hopefully a decent crowd turns out tonight for the men's and women's doubleheader.

ESPN Simulation gives this game to Cornell, 74-61, and gives UAlbany just a 16.6 percent chance of winning tonight.

Of course, they have Chris Wroblewski scoring 23 points and he may not play because of a sprained ankle.

UAlbany there's hope, too. To show how much this prediction knows, it says the Great Danes will be led in scoring by transfer Theo Hatcher, who will score 11.

Here are some stories to read (if you're not already traveling to or at the game).

Troy Record advance

Ithaca Journal story on Cornell

EDIT: In my UAlbany season preview that ran Thursday, I said senior Tim Ambrose needed 28 points to reach 1,000 for his career. Not sure where I was looking when I was adding up the stats because Ambrose already has 1,051 points and sits 27th on the school's all-time scoring list.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

UAlbany's relying on youth

ALBANY - University at Albany coach Will Brown said he was talking with his friend, Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, recently, about the start of the season.

Dixon's Panthers are already 2-0 and started the season this past Monday.

Dixon's was wondering if his No. 4 Panthers were ready or not and saying they would have to rely on their seniors.

"We play a week from now and we don't have any seniors to rely on," Brown responded.

Brown said Thursday he'd like more time to spend with his team before the 2010-11 season begins, but that's likely how any coach feels.

As it is, Brown will start two freshmen, two sophomore and one junior Friday night, when the Great Danes open the season against Cornell at 7:30 p.m.

"We have a tremendous amount of youth that is going to take the floor," Brown said. "We have three guys that are going to start that have never worn the uniform before at this level."

Brown said he expects some youthful mistakes from this bunch, but he's hoping they learn and get better each day.

One player who has consistently improved and that's why he should be starting tomorrow is redshirt freshman John Puk.

Puk has established himself as one of the harder workers on the team and as a "team" player.

"He's been pretty good," Brown said. "he's got good skills and knows how to play."

Brown went on to say, "I expect him to have a tremendous career."

Another rookie who will start in the frontcourt is Luke Devlin.

You can read more about Luke and his travel from Australia in tomorrow's game advance.

"Those two guys have really separated themselves as team players throughout the course of the preseason," Brown said about Puk and Devlin.

Brown said the team will play a little different defensively, packing it in more and he said two keys to beating Cornell were defending the 3-pointer and making sure they get a shot up every time down the floor.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

San Francisco Giants were born in Troy

Associated Press picking up our case.

Check out www.troyrecord.com for more info.

TROY, N.Y. (AP) - A New York newspaper has launched a campaign aimed at persuading the San Francisco Giants to bring their 2010 World Series trophy to the city where the team was born - and it’s not the Big Apple.

An online petition drive has been started by The Record of Troy, where the Troy City Trojans were a charter member of the National League when it started in 1879.

After the 1882 season, NL owners voted to move the franchise 135 miles south to New York City, where the team became the Giants. Some baseball historians say the removal was illegal because it violated the NL’s charter.

The newspaper says bringing the World Series trophy to Troy would "right a wrong" committed by Major League Baseball.

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MAAC preseason chat

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Siena's Downey sidelined for three weeks

LOUDONVILLE - The Siena men’s basketball team has already had to deal with more injuries than coach Mitch Buonaguro would like.

Before Saturday’s season opener against Vermont, there is another one to overcome.

Junior guard Kyle Downey strained a ligament in his knee and will be out for at least three weeks, according to Buonaguro.

Downey fell over sophomore forward Davis Martens, while diving for the ball last week in practice.

"That hurts a lot because he’s our sixth man and has the ability to score in double figures," said Buonaguro.

Downey averaged 5.0 points per game in 15.0 minutes last season, as a sophomore.

It’s just another injury for Downey, who has been hampered by injuries throughout his career.

In 2008, he missed most of the offseason with a back injury.

This past January, Downey broke his right foot and missed most of the rest of the regular season, returning to play in the season finale against Marist and into the postseason.

The injury to Downey is just another for the already walking wounded Saints.

Seniors Ryan Rossiter (Achilles) and Clarence Jackson (ankle) have already missed practice time, as has freshman Trenity Burdine (foot).

The injury bug has also bit sophomore Jonathan Breeden.

Breeden, who averaged 8.0 points per game in the team’s two scrimmages, has had some swelling in his foot and ankle.

While it doesn’t seem to be seri¬ous, Buonaguro is still concerned.

"I think Breeden will go (on Saturday)," he said. "I just hope his foot and ankle injury doesn’t persist."

Breeden played in just 16 games as a freshman and averaged just 3.4 minutes per game, but his good start to this season, had him likely seeing more game action.

"I plan on playing him in the Vermont game right away," Buonaguro said.

The injuries leave Siena a little shorthanded, with the season opener just three days away.

NOTE: The Trentonian's Ben Doody and I will be co-hosting a MAAC chat at 11 a.m. tomorrow. We're hoping to make this a weekly thing. Please stop by the blog.

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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The inside info on Cornell

I've done some trading Brian Delaney of the Ithaca Journal about the Cornell/UAlbany season-opening basketball game that takes place on Friday.

I posed some questions to Brian and here were his answers about the Big Red.

1. What is the philosophy of new coach Bill Courtney (i.e. will he change the team's style of play)?
Early indications are Courtney wants to push the pace offensively, similar to Steve Donahue's style, and play a more high-energy, pressure defense that takes a lot of charges and harasses teams. Courtney's got a deep bench at his disposal, and a pretty athletic team by Ivy League standards, to try and successfully pull that style off. Playing to the strengths of his returning personnel, I think Courtney will encourage his team to aggressively shoot the 3 once again.

2. Cornell went to the Sweet 16 last year. What are realistic expectations for the Big Red this season?
Realistically, I think Cornell remains a competitive Ivy League team that defends its home court and uses the non-conference schedule as a means of preparing for the league schedule. There are no thoughts of being a top 25 team with this group, but they believe they can still challenge for an Ivy championship and an NCAA tournament berth. Getting into the tournament this year would be a significant accomplishment.

3. How good is Chris Wroblewski? Will he be ready to play on Friday (ankle)?
Wroblewski is likely to be a game-time decision for Friday night. He sprained an ankle in a scrimmage two Saturdays ago. He's deceptively good - not overly quick, but smart with angles when he's driving to the basket; great court vision; tough; poised; He's a 45-percent 3-point shooter. Last year, he was the fourth or fifth scoring option and burned teams when they paid less than full attention to him - he had 22 against Seton Hall and 22 against Syracuse. The question this year is, can he be consistently productive as teams focus on him? Cornell doesn't need him to be a 20-points per game guy. But if he can get 10-15 a night while organizing offensive sets and getting a lot of assists/hockey assists - he'll be a player of the year candidate in the Ivy.

4. Which players have been surprising, good or bad?
I've been impressed with Josh Figini, a 6-9 sophomore. He's added weight and strength and benefited from getting his tail kicked in by Jeff Foote all last year. He's a good pick-and-pop guy, and Cornell will be able to stretch teams out with him on the floor. He's someone that probably helps more down the road as opposed to right away. Another sophomore, Miles Asafo-Adjei, has improved quite a bit as Chris Wroblewski's back-up. His enthusiasm and positive attitude are infectious - an easy-to-predict captain-in-the-making down the line.

Ask Bill Courtney this question, and he'll point to two seniors having had strong camps: 6-5 Adam Wire and 6-9 Aaron Osgood. Wire was a staple of the past two championship teams. He's built like an NFL tight end, is a great defender and rebounder and does a ton of little things. Fans don't always notice his contributions; opposing coaches do. Osgood didn't crack the rotation is first three years, but he'll be needed this year.

I don't think there are any bad surprises to be named - just unknowns because so many guys on this team haven't logged enough game minutes. For instance, where does Anthony Gatlin, a 6-8 transfer from Centenary, fit in? How about Andrew Ferry, a 6-2 junior college transfer?

5. What is this team's biggest strength/weakness?
Strengths: 3-point shooting; passing; offensive chemistry; team intelligence; team unselfishness; players have been reared in a winning culture.

Weaknesses: Depth at point guard; size in the frontcourt; a proven offensive post presence; lack of a shot-blocker.

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Siena extends contract with downtown arena

According to the Albany Business Review, Siena College has extended its contract to play men's basketball games at the Times Union Center for another two years.

The Saints will now play downtown through the 2015-16 season.

“It’s been very good for us," Athletics Director John D'Argenio told the Review. "We’ve shown, when the team is doing well, that we can bring a lot of people downtown. And that benefits everybody."

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Monday, November 8, 2010

Danes news & notes from media day

Here are some other notes from UAlbany basketball media day.

Gary Holway ('59) will be honored at Friday's game. He was the all-time leading scorer in UAlbany history until some guy named Jamar came along. Holway finished his career with 1,851 points. Jamar scored 2,164.

The main thing I heard from players I spoke with about the upcoming season was - defense.

The team expects to be much better on that end of the floor.

Coach Will Brown even said the team is better on defense right now than it was in February, at the end of last season.

The players seem to fully believe that Coach Brown can lead them back to the top of the America East standings.

“I think Coach Brown really knows what he’s doing with this team and he’s got it set up to put us in the best position to win,” said sophomore forward Blake Metcalf.

The other thing I took away from media day, was how much different the women's program is being run.

In Tuesday's article, you can read a lot on coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. I'll tell you this. She is one intense coach.

Here's a good example.

"They know that hard work is an absolute. You can't be on our team or around our program, if you're not going to work hard."

I will work harder - as I assume her team will. I'm anxious to see them play on Friday against Brown.

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UAlbany PG Black's back feeling better

ALBANY - One player I got a chance to speak to at UAlbany basketball media day on Monday was sophomore Mike Black.

Black became the starting point guard last season, after the departure of Mike Johnson.

Black averaged 7.2 points and 2.4 assists per game as a freshman and the expectations are only getting bigger.

"He's a guy that I'd be shocked if he wasn't a consistent double figure scorer for us," UAlbany coach Will Brown said. "If he's not than I just think he's not taking enough shots."

Black missed five days of practice recently with back spasms, something that he said isn't a problem anymore.

"It's good," said Black, who starting having back issues over the summer. "I'll be ready for Friday."

Black and the rest of the Great Danes take on Cornell (I'll have more on the Big Red this week) on Friday in the 2010-11 season opener.

Brown said Black played well in Saturday's scrimmage, so hopefully it won't continue to be an issue.

Starting his second season, Black says he feels much more comfortable with the offense and his role.

He said his high school team didn't run too many plays, so that was a definite change last season.

"My mind was going everywhere," he said. "I'm a lot more comfortable now."

More on media day after I finish the story for the paper.

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