Do You Believe in Moral Victories!?!?

UAlbany is a completely different team with Mike Black on the floor (UAlbany Athletics)

YES!!!!!!! What a game. Luke Devlin comes out firing with 4 threes in the first half. Will Brown pulls a Bill Belichick, plays mind games through the media: after assuring that Mike Black would only play the later two games or not at all, a few minutes in he puts Black in for Iati. Against a more talented Detroit squad, the Great Danes led at the half 43-39, hit two incredible buzzer beaters- first Mike Black throwing up a three at the end of the regulation that rolled around the rim, then Billy Allen spotting up 5 feet beyond the three point line to send the game into double overtime.

The Return of Mike Black: In the first half, Black was fouled near mid-court and curled in a ball before limping off. I thought the game was over. He returned only to be seen limping on the bench a few more times and ultimately having to sit the second OT, but not before forcing overtime with a three pointer at the buzzer. His shot looked great (he was perfect in the first half) and he was breaking down the defense with his dribble- the moment Iati came in for him in the first half, the momentum shifted. He made some very foolish mistakes: getting too deep into the defense without help and getting swatted multiple times, dribbling off his foot after fumbling and inbounds pass, turning the ball over out of bounds in a last second play in 1st OT before we could get a shot off, and letting the a Detroit guard beat him to the ball for an easy put back at the end of regulation.  That is a long laundry list of complaints, but most of that can be attributed to rust. The kid can play and if he’s on the floor, we will be able to challenge any team in the America East.

John Puk, Defensive Workhorse: Puk manned up against Eli Holman and kept him in check. When Puk was covering Holman, nothing came easy. And Puk was seemingly everywhere, notching four official blocks ( I would bet he had a few more) a couple on surprisingly agile plays, and altering a lot of shots. Seven boards as well in 40 minutes and he came up with a couple key ones. His strength still isn’t where it will be- the first time he made a post move on Holman, he bounced off Holman’s chest. But rest up that achilles, John. We’re looking forward to you being one of the best bigs in the America East someday.

So this is what Will was talking about: Luke Devlin draining three after three, a couple spot up and one pull up in transition. He shot with no hesitation and great confidence- think Brent Wilson in his hay day. Detroit made a nice adjustment at halftime and keyed on Devlin and shut him down after half, but he’ll learn to deal with that type of attention. Devlin was tough down low as well, battling for 10 boards. If he hadn’t picked up five fouls in regulation, there might have been a different outcome.

Tim McCarver Award for Excellence in Announcing: Horizon League color commentary guy. A great service to put up the game, but man, I’m surprised the guy could see straight through his bias. It seemed like every other thing out of his mouth in the second half was condescending. “Detroit hasn’t been able to get any separation” while the score was 49-48 ALBANY! Also mentioning that Albany was “kept afloat in first half by three point shooting” … kept afloat while continually maintaining a lead…other favorites, contesting that Billy Allen’s three was after the buzzer and acting surprised the refs didn’t review it.

Welcome Back, Billy: Billy Allen was the hero of the first overtime, but his contribution was deeper than that. He drew three huge fouls when Albany couldn’t buy a bucket- fouls that were hilarious in that Allen was not even remotely threatening to score a bucket. The most obvious was when he got fouled in the process of shooting a left handed, fade away flip shot that would’ve been lucky to hit the backboard. His foul shooting is a given and it was great to see him hit those threes, but I was most impressed with his defense. He replaced Lindfors at the four and its not surprise that Brown didn’t put Jake back in. Allen is a smart kid and he clearly knew the matchup zone and was continually in good position- he also naturally provided a nice double down on Holman without hesitation. By making himself a dependable option at the four against one of the best frontcourts Albany will face all year, Allen has assured he’ll see some more minutes behind Devlin.

End of a Point Guard Era, Almost: Jon Iati got me into UAlbany basketball and I love everything about the Iati work ethic…. but Jacob Iati does not have the size, speed, or handle to be the full time point guard of a division 1 team. In the opening minutes, he was lucky to get an outlet pass into a wing five feet outside the 3 point line back to the hoops- that isn’t how you initiate an offense. Ray McCallum was savoring the defensive assignment. With Black still battling his ankle injury, Iati will have more time to run the shown and he could very well do a good job against undersized Niagara and Bowling Green squads. He will be a serviceable back up, but it is a huge relief to know that Black is waiting in the wings to take the reins back over.

Box out much? My main gripe with the game was FOUR offensive rebounds given up on opponents foul shots and they all were at huge moments in the game. If Albany gets those rebounds, they win in regulation… or first overtime. When these guys get a chance to get back to practice, you can be sure Will will have them doing some box out drills.

Get Black and Puk in the hands of the trainer, get some rest, Danes, and let’s see if you can return home with a victory or two.

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~ by TheMidRangeGame on November 27, 2010.

One Response to “Do You Believe in Moral Victories!?!?”

  1. Mike Black adds a totally different dimension to UA’s team. His turnovers remind me of Jamar Wilson’s early TOs. I’m not saying he’s as good as Jamar but he is definitely in attack mode like Jamar.

    If Black was healthy this team would be at worst 3-3 – against a solid schedule.

    The only thing bothering me right now is our foul shooting? Timmy missing too many important ones (he’s usually a 75% guy) and Metcalf, Puk and Watts have been downright terrible.

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