UAlbany Post-Season Awards

•March 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

How You Like Me Now? (UAlb Ath)

Brian Lillis Heart of Champion

If this award had existed before the start of the season and not just five second ago no one, no one would have guessed that it would go to Timmy Ambrose. Before the season started, I put him on the highly inclusive “Honor Roll” but felt inclined to include the note: “I’m not writing him off yet!” Everyone was ready to usher out the Tim Ambrose Era. Will Brown had him coming of the bench because he was a liability, the crushing failure of the last season couldn’t help but fall on our number one guy. The board was ready for his numbers and minutes to dwindle- anything to stop his turnovers from continuing to mount. Instead, he dedicated himself in a way we never saw before- he became the motor of the team. Many times he looked like the only guy out there trying and Will Brown repeatedly told him at the half to lay into his teammates who weren’t supporting him. He carried this team to a monumental LCC win, he hauled them to victory when it seemed like the rest of his team was trying to toss it away (CCSU) and when the final second ticked off in Hartford, he left everything on the floor. He finished the fourth all-time scorer in UAlbany history and after a career where he was criminally under-appreciated and over relied on, Ambrose walks away one of the most talented players to ever wear the uniform.

Minutes Up and Production Up. Beautiful. (StatSheet)

Jon Iati Talent Maximization Award

This goes to our double-double machine Luke Devlin. The lad is not fleet of foot. Hell, he’s the slowest kid on a team slow kids. But he was always willing to put his neck (or more specifically, his noggin) on the line for a basketball. He has a nice jump shot, but there’s no way to explain how he is such a terror on the glass.

“This Is A Young Team” Award for Retired Excuses

“This is a young team.” Yes, there will be no seniors on the team next year, but this group has logged a lot of minutes. If Will Brown blames a loss on youth, Lee McElroy should break up the post game interview with Rodger and fire Will on the spot. This is not a jest.

Club Trillion Award

Derrek Tartt. Tartt’s twitter provided insight throughout the year of what it’s like to be inside the head of a player buried on the bench behind 5-6 Jacob Iati.

The More Things Change…. Award

Kenpom final rankings. This year UAlbany finished 242. Guess what they finished two year ago? 242. So are we on a historic rise? Or are we just recovering to mediocrity after an awful anomaly of the season (292). Hate to say it, but until we prove we can make a step forward without Ambrose… I’ll fear it’s the latter.

Kirsten Zoellner Tree in the Paint Award

John Puk. That lanky red shirt freshman awkwardly wearing dress clothes last year turned out to be… decent?? I was highly skeptical a red-shirt freshman would have any impact, but he leapt over both Lindfors and Metcalf into the starting line up. He trailed off towards the end of the year, but he was surprisingly athletic and altered a lot of shots in the middle– heal up big fella.

Start Running Wind Sprints Award

Logan Aronhalt. You’re healthy– now figure out how you can become a stud spot up shooter/scorer for 25 games next year, not 15.

Click Clack Will Harris Award for Hype:

Jamar Wilson. He joined the One Bid Wonders live chats last week and he was talking big BIG things about Suero, our incoming swingman recruit. “Most talented player ever at Albany.” He’s throwing around NBA talent. And I think he means the National Basketball Association. That’s a serious, serious claim that is toying with our hearts and souls, Jamar. (He also mentioned that some people think he has a questionable work ethic)

Doc Sauers Longevity In Coaching Award:

Will Brown is doing just enough to stay around. He’s got one year left on his contract and might be able to swing an extension. My opinion? Let him go lame duck next year- he has zero seniors next year, so it won’t hinder his ability to give out scholis he doesn’t have (/recruit players for positions in rotation he doesn’t have). It should help keep the intensity that returned to the team this year.

Be The Future (UAlb Ath)

Purple and Gold Nation Psychic Friends Award:
I had Jabbi on my pre-season second team and Chris Martin as my sleeper first round pick– as Martin tears through the AE tournament, that is looking pretty reasonable.

Clutch McClutch Award:
Billy Allen retired and gives his aching back some rest– but his ability to “pinch hit” at the end of games and knock down free throws (not to mention that trey in Detroit) was unbelievable. ONIONS!

Creed Award for the surprising member of the supporting cast:
Ralph Watts, we’ll be happy to have you back next year. A month into the season with Watts starting in the place of the injured Black, I couldn’t see a spot for him on the team. Since then, though, he’s managed to make good on his size and solidified his value with the dunk to finish the game against Maine.

“I Believe I Can Fly” Award

This team was lost without Mike Black in the dark ages that seem so long ago against American and Iona, but once back, he struggled to assert himself. But when he got going, he was one of the best players in the league. Quick and a great shooter, Black has a chance (/ we’re probably screwed if he isn’t) to work himself into the 1st team all conference discussion. I’d love to be able to see him improve his ability to finish in the paint.

(Update: How could I forget!) The Mark Sanford Gone AWOL Award :

Russell Moore. So much promise– Moore, opening day starter over Ambrose. He was (according to Will and glimpses we saw) the best defender on the team, but he never got comfortable. He left school before the end of the first semester, rumored to be chasing his ladyfriend back home. Runner Up: Theo Hatcher. Great name, great dimensions, never stepped onto the floor.

Jamar Wilson MVP Award: Ambrose. You’ve joined a select group of AE 1st teamers, Tim (Jamar, Siggers and Lillis). Our blogging opponent from Xavier said you held your own and could even start for the Musks– finally fulfillingthat A-10 billing you came into the league with. Enjoy your ride off into the sunset.

The Road Warrior’s Last Journey (of ’10-’11)

•March 6, 2011 • Leave a Comment
The Road Warrior has valiantly trekked the northeast, going through two vehicles and goodness knows how many miles. Here, we have his last “Tale from the Road” of the 2010-11:

The Road Warrior Saw It All (UAlbany Athletics)

The ride to Hartford was nice and easy. Took just a little less than 2 hours. We arrived at the Hartford Will Call table with their staff not being able to find our tickets for some time (they apparently spelled my last name incorrectly) and then, despite asking to be placed in the ‘Albany section,’ we ended up in a section with about 80% Stony Brook fans, 15% Vermont fans and 5% Albany fans. We talked to a number of fans who were confused/frustrated by the seating placement. I know there are a lot of logistics to manage, but I’m not sure it should be so difficult to get teams’ fans in generally the same section(s). I think I might order through the UA box office next year. As we walked through the America East fan tent, the 2006-07 AE Championship game was playing on the tv. We hoped that was a good sign.

As the game tipped-off, Bryan Dougher started off on fire, hitting 4 straight three-point shots. After weathering the storm a bit, the Danes snagged a 27-20 lead late in the second half. But instead of extending that lead on a couple possessions, UA let Stony Brook back in and ended up with a 34-34 tie at the half. The Seawolves came out with much more energy and intensity in the second half while the Danes looked a bit flat and tired. Ambrose and Aronhalt were in foul trouble in the second half and were forced to sit on the bench together for about 6 minutes or so. During that time Mike Black was forced to do way too much. It seemed as if the entire team just looked for him to create something on his own and he ended up looking gassed by the time Tim and Logan re-entered just before the 12 minute mark.

Our Team Is Smarter Than Yours

•March 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment

That’s all for now.

America East Conference Awards

•March 3, 2011 • 2 Comments

Who? Me? (UAlbany Athletics)

So it’s that time of year, to bask in the glory of my pre-season predictions (one right!) and see how everything ended up. But first, how about Andrew Santillo! I always figured him as more of a LCC leaning guy- but he showed some nice hometown bias putting  Danes on each of the all-league teams. I like it.

My full completely unbiased wrap up is over at Rush the Court but, without further ado, let’s unveil for the first team!

As you can tell, I like some celebrities, value WINNING.

America East Honor Roll (stats in conference play):

Sr. John Holland, Boston University (way more points than anyone else)

Sr. Tim “Will Brown Brought Me Off the Bench To Start the Year” Ambrose (15 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 3.6 APG)

Sr. Evan Fjeld, Vermont (13 PPG, 6 RPG)

Sr. Troy Barnies, Maine (16.4 PPG, 8.3 RPG)

Fr. Brian Voelkel, Vermont (9.5 RPG, 4.6 APG)

I feel no guilt for leaving out CDLR. He could have Wilt Chamberlain numbers, but if you’re point guard, your leader, brings home a 5-24 team with a 317 RPI, sorry, you just don’t get the nod. Point forward Brian Voelkel on the other hand, earns my respect- and may have tiger blood.

And I hope you noticed I had Jabbi for second team- NOT TOO SHABBY. Thank you, Dean Oliver and Ken Pom for helping me spot his outrageous Offensive Rating and D Reb %s. I won’t go for a second/third team, because I’m too cowardly at the moment. No one played consistently well- everyone was so streaky- Conley, Do-er, McLemore, especially our boys Logan and Black. Fine fine, here’s my second team: Partin, CDLR, Conley, McLemore… I’m sorry,  Mike and Logan, your time will come, Mahamoud Jabbi.

I’ve taken away the suspense for my ROY of the year, so lets just get the rest of it done.

Coach of the Year: Mike Lonergan, Vermont. He should let Joey Ahcooey receive the award for him.

Rookie of the Year: Brian Voelkel. I freaking love Luke. He’s tough as hell and has helped transform this team through his hustle and nose for the ball- but he was the fourth option on offense and didn’t have anywhere near the responsibilty of Voelkel.

Most Improved: Troy Barnies, Maine. Had no idea who this guy was before the season.

“Why Was He On the Bench?!?” Award: Leonard Hayes, Stony Brook. The reason we will forever clamor for more minutes for the Derrek Tartts of the world!

 

Expectations? Exceeded. UAlbany Burns Black Bears in OT

•March 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The UAlbany – Maine game was meaningless. That’s the common sense going in- both seeds are set, UAlbany even knew exactly who and when they were playing the the America East championship…. and yet, this game could not have been bigger for the Danes. This is the first time Albany has beaten a better team; they were winless against the stop three. Now they’ve notched a win on the road and have brought themselves into a tie for third. To beat Maine on the road after fumbling away is a huge sign of maturity we’ve been waiting for- and one I’m sure the team needed for it’s psyche. This team believes it can beat anyone in the league.

Down early, the Danes could’ve folded with no harm, no problem. Instead, they magically pulled even off of a RALPH WATTS dunk. WHAT!? Then, Mike Black lifted off in overtime. He was glorious. 26 points, 5 treys, 5 assists, only one turnover. He won the POW award- and he damn well should have- the performance was one of the best all season for any AE player.

Luke Devlin again showed why his toughness has transformed this team- head bleeding from an elbow, he returns five stitches later to notch his workman-like double double. Metcalf is thriving in his starting role, 12 boards and 5 offensive. He just gets his hand on the basketball and makes things happen.

The big three all contributed again and, especially if Black continues to shoot lights out (he’s playing as well as anyone in the league right now) Danes will be a tough, tough out.

But first, a quick preview of Stony Brook matchup:

IT'S A FREAKIN' TRAP

Check out Stony Brooks last two games according to kenpom– what sticks out? Their offensive went from being unable to score against a girls modified basketball team to churning out some nice offensive numbers. You scoff- Bingo! Ha! Congrats for beating them at home! But how about that Hartford game, at Hartford, the location where the tournament will be played…. but that’s not my point. My point is Chris Martin. Chris Martin who torched UAlbany in the tournament last year with his driving ability and who has missed most of the season- but has been back the last two games. So? He’s had 4 and 6 assists. It might not seem by much, but an athletic driving guard takes the ball out of Do-er’s hands,  draws in the defense and lets Hayes, Do-er and even Carter take uncontested set shots. If UAlbany looks ahead at all towards Vermont and doesn’t bring it defensively, the sweep of SUNY schools could be short lived.

Sleeping With The Enemy: Maine Black Bears

•February 27, 2011 • Leave a Comment
So here it is, the bracket is set, a game played just for pride and bragging rights. Do Will and Ted go Tony Dungy and rest all their starters? Will we be seeing Iati dishing to Tartt who feeds Lindors down low??? Cutting through the obscurity to answer our hard hitting questions is Dan of Black Bear Spit Black Bears Pit (but you can see how it can be mistaken right? http://www.blackbearspit.blogspot.com/) Anyways, to stay warm up in the far reaches and to bring some cosmopolitan out to the deep woods, here’s a latte on us.
Q: Everything all but locked in for the playoffs, but I have to wonder, what on earth is going on inside the head of Black Bears fans?
A: Well, it was a quick and painless fall from driver’s seat in the confernce race to out of the running for one of the top two seeds. In little more than a week, it was over so, in a way, it was over so fast we didn’t even get to enjoy the view.
Q: Does the prolonged skid have you down?
A: No, not really. Maine in recent years has had loads of trouble in February so this is nothing new. UMaine looked a little better against UNH on Feb. 22, but it’ll be a better barometer to see what they do with an improving Albany team on Feb. 27.
Q: Do you have any faith in Woodward? Or are just happy he’s better than Macon?
A: I’ll answer that by saying the Black Bears are 16-32 in February (2005-2011) and 1-8 in March. The team has not won a tournament game since assistant coach Chris Markwood’s shot with 2 seconds to go beat Boston U. in 2005. Nobody wants to correct this more than the current players. It’s an extra burden they shouldn’t be carrying around.
As for Macon. He’s cleaning up a mess and deserves another couple years in my estimation. They seem to be playing people tough for the most part, something that can’t be said for UMBC, which has never recovered from it’s win at Orono.

I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE: UAlbany overwhelms UMBC

•February 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

You were there, you saw what happened. It was brilliant. When everyone is making shots, this time is hard (impossible) for other team of AE talent to stop. We’ve only seen this type of game once before, Mt. St. Mary’s.

Timmy finished his long, stat filled, and at times, brilliant career in the rack. Fitting that he threw down a great jam that was his MO coming in.

Will Brown and his young squad have done it- .500 for the year, 8-7 in conference, a guarantee of at least a satisfying 8-8 with a chance for a very satisfying 9-7 (with a 3-4 should’ve-would’ve-could’ve-maybe-if-they-were-older-losses).

And the FOURTH spot in the league has been CLINCHED! (Didn’t take too much this year, but hush hush). According to the infallible Andrew Santillo, “UAlbany will play Stony Brook in the @Americaeast quarterfinals on Saturday, March 5 at noon.” That’s a favorable draw.

A couple notes:

UMBC had CDLR and not much else – after it got down to 12 after 2 3’s by DLR, the DAnes stuck on him better and didn’t give him as many open shots. On top of that, Logan came in put up two semi-forced– that went in. Not a common theme lately but he really wanted to put the team on his back and it finally worked out.

A stupid T by Randy Monroe also stopped the momentum from the ‘trivers.

Worth repeating- Awesome followup dunk by Ambrose in first 5 minutes! And equally awesome dunk by Metcalf .. wait, what?! If he hadn’t had his hair cut, he wouldn’t of been able to get over rim.

Perfect game to win by a large so Ambrose and Allen had a chance for a nice standing O.

And Fran, I have to admit, I forgot you existed for most of the last two months. Congrats on your degree!

Oh, and the bad news… Black on bench with ice on calf at end of game. Hopefully it’s not serious after finally asserted himself without pressing too much.