Our Savior Tim Ambrose

Tim Ambrose may or may not be Superman (UAlbany Athletics)

This post could easily take a very negative and pessimistic view, but on a day when all six teams in the America East choked in the second half, UAlbany just has to thank it’s lucky stars it was the only one to pull out a win. And by “lucky stars,” I mean Tim Ambrose. The senior, who attended high school at Our Savior, took the team on his shoulders tonight.

When he picked up his third foul of the night on another questionable offensive foul call, the momentum shifted into Central’s favor… and it didn’t come back to UAlbany’s side until with 1:05 left, Ambrose picked off a cross court pass and took it the other way to tie it up. And then, for the encore, Ambrose broke down the defense and hit the go ahead rainbow mid-range jumper that went higher than it far. 21 points, five assists, the single reason UAlbany won this game. Well done, Tim.

As for the flaws, CCSU showed how we can be beaten: take Mike Black out of the game. They frustrated him with double teams and face guards, never letting him see open floor. The offense wasn’t slowed, it just ceased to exist. Mike Black was forced into seven turnovers, a few of which were pure frustration. He was, in the words of Will Brown, “exhausted” and that after almost a full week of rest.  Yes, he’s been hurt, but the lack of depth at the point guard position is a huge weakness for this team.

“He did what?” coaching move of the night: This likely was coincidental, but directly after Mike Black was called for a 5 seconds closely guarded, Jacob Iati subbed in for him. If Black cannot handle the pressure, Iati does not have a prayer. What CCSU exposed, like a few other teams have, is if Black is taken out of his game, UAlbany will give up ground quickly. It’s terrifying to watch Iati play the point. He backs it in from half court, “initiates” the half court by throwing a pass to the wing. That wing pass is either  (best case) a.  barely caught by Logan Aronhalt with his back to the hoop 5 feet from the three point line or (worst case) b. picked and taken for an easy layup. It like a coin flip between a or b; I hold my breath every time he passes the ball. At least Watts, with this strolling dribble, has the height to see over his defender, a natural counter to the trap.

A turnover is SO much worse than a missed shot: Luke Devlin and Blake Metcalf did a phenominal job on the offensive boards, the kept so many balls alive. This is a huge offensive asset, especially when Logan is off… but if we don’t get to take shots, we squander an advantage we have over most teams.
The defense…. wasn’t as impressive as the numbers look (especially in building the first half lead). Central was awful in the first half. They were missing good looks at the hoop that I cannot in good faith credit to UA’s defense. That said, as CCSU grew flustered, UAlbany’s pressure seemed to be increasingly effect. Both Black and Ambrose do a great job of getting their hands on the basketball and forcing turnovers.

Big Rotation: We don’t have much depth, but I really liked how Will Brown cycling in and out his three big men. They continually were fresh and made a positive impact inside against a smaller team.

Erik Elkin: Please, don’t be so freakin’ neutral. Up by 13 at the half, we do not want to be  continually told what Central needs to do better to win… You are a UA color commentary guy, you are allowed to be biased, or at least phrase it as what Albany needs to prevent CCSU from doing…

Radio call I never thought I’d hear: “Metcalf runs the floor exceptionally well”

To add onto that, Blake Metcalf’s inbound defense is downright hysterical. The only way I can think to describe it is a spastic standing breast stroke.

After the game, Will Brown said this “would’ve been a demoralizing loss.” It should’ve been. But they hung on, and at the end of the day, it’s so huge to have three very respectable offensive options who can carry the team. Howie Dickenmen decided to put his top defender, Devan Bailey, on Aronhalt, and no doubt that made life easier for Black and Ambrose.

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~ by TheMidRangeGame on December 12, 2010.

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