Checked Out: Class of 2010

After a 7-24 season, it is difficult to lament the loss of the graduating seniors whose contributions never materialized into victories. Nonetheless, the graduated Great Danes take with them a significant number of minutes played and their strengths highlight some areas of need for the ’10-’11 version.

 

Scotty briefly tapping into his world-beater potential (J.S. Carras€/ The Record)

 

The exhaustion of eligibility for transfer Scotty McRae will not be bemoaned by Albany fans across the board, but among the Danes’ most difficult tasks next season is replacing his contributions. By the end of last season, McRae secured the middle as well as any big man since Zoellner, maybe as well as any in the Will Brown era. McRae had his run-ins with Coach Brown (he was temporarily removed from the team in the off-season), but the wiry, 6’8 forward possessed athleticism to be a force in the AE. As Marqus Blakely exemplified, in a conference loaded with either slow footed or undersized bigs, athleticism prevails.

McRae did not fully earn the confidence of CB until the very end of his second and final season at Albany, but when he did, his numbers took off. For the full season, McRae played about 50% of the time, had an offensive rating of 89 and achieved a nationally ranked block rate of 4.8 per 40 minutes (418). In the last month of the season, Scotty averaged 65% minutes (he began to tip the 30 minute mark), his offensive rating rose to 100.5 and his block rate skied to 7.9% (that mark would’ve been good enough for top 60 in the country). He gathered a healthy 16% of potentially defensive boards while he was on the floor, the best of Albany’s regulars. One more full season at UA and I think we would’ve seen McRae assert himself as one of the elite big men in the America East.

More minutes in the paint will be up for grabs due to the graduation of Brett Gifford. Giff was the last remaining player to experience the NCAA tournament glory donned the cap and gown at UA and the only remaining member of the original Class of 2010 after the transfers of Mike Yocum and Reid Anderson. It is of no great value to rehash his career by the numbers- suffice it to say, after he was originally anointed by Coach Brown as one of Albany’s best recruits since Jamar Wilson, despite obvious effort to change his body and improve his game, he never established himself as the man in the middle. That said, he did play 40% of minutes last season, so overall, him and McRae combined to take up nearly all the minutes at one of the post slots.

Will Harris. If there ever seemed like a sure thing, it was Will Harris. His arrival appeared to be the best stroke of luck imaginable for Albany: a transfer from Virginia in the ACC to the America East and the incorrigible NCAA cooperated, ruling that he was eligible to play immediately. A 6’5 swing man with a good shot and an imposing upper body, it seemed inevitable that he would dominate AE foes. If you could isolate him from those expectations, he did well- exchanging the top scoring spot with Timmy Ambrose, posting 12.9 and 12.7 PPG over the last two years. Harris could catch fire from the outside, like during the final regular season loss in overtime to Hartford- where he poured in 26 points, had 67% eFG.

Then how can I even consider the loss of Harris and his offensive production less detrimental than the contributions of McRae?

His scoring numbers can be replaced, Aronhalt and others await in the wings and the team will actual become stronger, have a higher ceiling, without his devastating inability to accept this role as the go-to-guy. So many games, he would drift to the perimeter and disappear. He let his imposing his broad shoulders go unused: his rate of fouls drawn was among the lowest of UA’s regular players. His scoring ability will certainly be missed on a team that only put up 62 a game, but it’s hard to get past that Will Harris-led teams collected only 9 wins against America East.

Finally, Albany loses yet two more former transfers: Louis Barraza and the curious case of Mike Johnson. Louis had much hyped range, but suffered a serious of bizarre and cumbersome ailments, and never was healthy enough to fight for a roster spot. Barraza was never shy of launching threes and his career game against Vermont 2/7/2009 is worth remembering- 17 minutes, 5-5 3P, 17 points. Talk about efficiency . Mike Johnson entered the season at the #1 point guard, sat out the first two games with a team imposed suspension, then after 11 games at the helm was given only 2 minutes at UNC and was soon firmly being planted on the bench behind Black. His relationship with Will Brown deteriorated culminating in a refusal to enter a game late, after which he left the game. Despite Will Brown’s folksy quote about Johnson after the Morgan State gameHe holds onto the ball like he’s giving birth to it,”Johnson was never brilliant, but he was a true pass first point guard who provided a steady hand. There is no question the young and turnover prone Danes desperately used someone who could hold onto the ball in the AE schedule- it seems clear that Johnson couldn’t find his niche on this team because of issues off the basketball court.

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~ by TheMidRangeGame on October 7, 2010.

2 Responses to “Checked Out: Class of 2010”

  1. The problem with guys like Harris, McRae, and even Ambrose they have potential written all over them but they don’t have the heart or the mind to go with it.

    Put a Lillis, a B. Wilson or a Jon Iati in any of those bodies and you have s guy who would be making money for along time playing the game after leaving UA.

  2. I agree with bill, UA hitched their wagon to the Harris/McRae/Ambrose/Johnson wagon and went as far as they could take them…one of the worst seasons in UA history.

    On talent alone, the trio of Ambrose/Harris and McRae was some of the best in the AE but they never put it together. No more then one guy was ever on, they never played off of each other. If one guy was one the others just coasted.

    The only game I remember where both Ambrose and Harris were on was in the UCF game, no surprise it was one of the best games of the season for the Danes even though they came up just short.

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