Cold Danes Can’t Run With Vermont

The celebration at the Red Roof must have lasted well into 10 pm last night.

But oh, how different it could have been! Right up until tip off, The Basketball Gods shone down upon Albany. Hartford got stomped on by Stony Brook (by the way, who on earth is Leonard Hayes??) and UNH easily handled the enigmatic Boston U. A win would have left Albany tied for third place and one game out of second. Perhaps it was all just a cruel trick from the fates…I suppose that’s what happens when your blog acronym/website URL is essentially “pagan.”

Vermont kept coming, but the Danes just hung in there like Mark Wahlberg- swaying, not looking good but narrowly avoiding the knock out punch. Everybody was pulling for the heroic Hollywood comeback: the refs were on our side, the near capacity crowd of 3,754 was desperate to get behind a rally,  Will was fired up and the team came out of each timeout with renewed energy and a game plan… but the shots just wouldn’t fall.

Here’s the story:

 

Educate Us, Stat Sheet

We played them even or better in three of the four most important statistical categories, but we just were not able to get the shots to go.

Here’s how it broke down per half:

1st Half 2FG % 3FG %
UA 9-21 43 1-7 13
UVM 8-24 33 3-7 43
2nd Half 2FG % 3FG %
UA 9-23 39 1-8 12.5
UVM 14-25 56 1-2 50

Ugly in every facet for UAlbany. But what is more fascinating is how after a very good first half of shooting the ball, Vermont extended the lead shooting only two in the second half. That screams of disciplined team that only shoots threes within the offense. Because they were scoring within the arc, no reason to launch threes and, if they stop dropping, potentially allow a UAlbany team to creep back into the game.

But for UAlbany, there just isn’t that capability for balance. Albany managed to go 9-10 from the stripe in the 2nd half, but even that boost was not enough to save them. If the jump shots aren’t falling, this team cannot win games. There’s no constant threat inside and not enough precision to get lay-ups in the half court (and Vermont is a very sound defense that does not allow much inside).

What’s the point(s)?

The power of the petite goatee. (UAlbany Athletics)

Tim Ambrose Must Hit Threes. The Renaissance of Timmy relied heavily on just how well he was shooting from deep. It opens up his entire game, forces a ton of attention from defenders, and it prevents wrecking ball Timmy. When he’s hitting, there’s so balance to his game. When he’s not, he seems to want to over compensate and forces the issue when he shouldn’t.

Backing Up The ‘Stache: If you roll with the mustache, you better have the skills to back it up or you just are side show. And Fjeld is no joke. An array of post moves along with the ability to shoot, rebound, pass, run and play tough defense. Double teams limited him, but Puk was certainly “schooled” by the senior forward- he didn’t have any impact.

The Mustache and the Forehead: The former is obvious, but the latter is what a fan in my area dubbed our still budding role player, Ralph Watts. His ability to get into the lane is an asset UAlbany should rely more heavily on.

The Defense Was There: UAlbany again showed it can slow Vermont, the second best offensive team in the America East. The intensity was there.  Even with the big second half, holding Vermont to only 63 points made this game about Albany offensive futility, not the overpowering Catamount O.

Take it to the Rack, Mike Black: Without Mike Black, this teams is about as porous as any in the nation. With him…. well, we think they could be pretty good. Watts is coming along, but big men develop slowly and there’s no realistic hope that Puk, Metcalf or Devlin will be a threat this year (or even next). Black played a solid game, 1-3 from three, 3 assists to two turnovers, a nice 108 ORtg… but (this is becoming a theme) he needs to do more. Perhaps it’s unfair, but he cannot just sit back and let the game happen. Logan is a great shooter, but he’s the antithesis of a creator- it’s Black’s job to put him in good spots. When Ambrose is off and taking too many shots, it has to be Black’s role to take the ball away from him and find him for a good look.  I always refer to the Wagner game- I want that swagger back. You could tell coming down the court, trying to claw UAlbany back into the game, he was thinking, I can and will take you off the dribble. I stand by my thought that Black is the MVP of this team- he is the vital clog in this guard heavy team. There’s no Fjeld down low to bail him out.

Turn the Page: We lost a game we should’ve lost. We’re out of the running for a second or third place ticket to the mini-Dance. But we have the most critical two game stretch of the season ahead of us and there is no time for the Danes to sulk. Without a win at UNH, a toss-up game, it will be almost impossible for an super-.500 record. And then Hartford strolls into town. The Hartford game might be the biggest benchmark game of the season to see what this team is made of – can they protect their home court on a team that mutilated them at home. But enough of the tea leaves- onto UNH Wednesday!

 

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~ by TheMidRangeGame on January 31, 2011.

One Response to “Cold Danes Can’t Run With Vermont”

  1. Nice combination of comments backed up by stats. However, (there is always a ‘however’), I think the ‘Must’ for Ambrose 3-point shooting is too specific – he ‘Must’ score. Putting his psyche aside (as you mention), he can create far better than anyone else. How he does it doesn’t matter – the rest of team can fill in whatever holes in the defense are made by it’s adjustments to handle Ambrose.

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