The Albany Great Danes Decimated Graduating Class of 2011

Tim Ambrose
Billy Allen
Anthony Raffa
Josh ‘Scrap’ Martin
Al Turley

These five should have had their senior night together this upcoming February. In the height of their college recruiting process, they all saw the 16th seeded University at Albany Great Danes lead Connecticut and Rudy Gay by 10 points with only ten minutes to play, so it comes as no surprise that this one the most talented class that Coach Brown ever recruited. This was the class that was to build on and continue the Jamar Wilson led success. The 2010-11 season was to be the UAlbany Renaissance: this ripened senior class would be at the center of competitive UA squad that was poised for the an AE championship. At least that’s how it was supposed to play out.

The first bump was that Anthony Raffa ended up attending prep school and delaying his enrollment by a year. Then sharpshooter of the class, Billy Allen, was also kept off the floor with back surgery.

Big Al traded his Jordans in for football cleats

Al Turley was the most unusual case of this incoming class- the 6’7, 285 pounder started 11 of 30 games his freshman year. He could’ve had “Wide Load” sewn on his jersey in place of his name to warn opponents of the danger of standing between him and the basket. At the same time he was exceptionally nimble. As a freshman, he showed more polished post moves, notably a quick spin, than any Albany big man in the Will Brown era. Turley had secured a starting role by the end of his freshman season and he, I have no doubt, would have become a dominating wrecking ball down low in the America East… but he decided after his freshman year to move closer to home and pursue football.

"Scrap" Martin

“Scrap” Martin, a 6’2 guard who was strong with the ball, might have been the biggest disappointment of all. He played 20 minutes a game his freshman year (130 minutes more than fellow freshman Tim Ambrose)- and it was clear that with the graduation of Brian Lillis, Scrap would be running the show. But Martin was dismissed from the team following his freshman year, for “not [being] able to meet the minimum requirements that were established.”

We’ll never know how good this talented class could have been, but we do know it’s disintegration was a major reason Albany still has not rebounded from the loss of Jamar Wilson. When I sat down to write this, I didn’t realize I would finish by feeling legitimately sorry for Tim Ambrose. Yes, he was a 2006 recruit who had his eligibility delayed a year, but the make up of this recruiting class shows a very distinct plan in the mind of Will Brown. A true point guard, a scoring point guard, the pure shooter, the post player and Tim Ambrose, the hyper-athletic scorer. The superman role he has been asked to fill (in 2008-9 he used the seventh most possessions of any player in the country) is not what he is cut out for and never what he was intended to be. Is it a surprise that his most efficient year was playing spurts of minutes alongside the steady hands of Lillis and Scrap? We all remember Ambrose’s mounting number of turnovers, but let us not forget he also had the highest assist rate on the team for the pass two seasons. If he had Turley down low (or even a vague inside threat) to keep defenses honest, or if one of his point guard mates actually returned for a second season, Tim Ambrose might have been an Albany legend heading into this season instead of a scapegoat.

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~ by TheMidRangeGame on October 30, 2010.

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