Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Albany 71, St. Francis Brooklyn 66: 5 Observations

Peter Hooley showed signs of breaking his slump, going for 19 points as Albany defeated St. Francis Brooklyn, (Photo courtesy of Big Apple Buckets)

BROOKLYN -- Behind a 53 percent shooting effort from the floor, Albany won its tenth game of the season, defeating St. Francis Brooklyn by the final of 71-66, the Great Danes' penultimate tuneup before conference play begins next week. Below are a handful of takeaways from a game that the reigning three-time America East champions battled through the first half of before finding a way to survive the scrappy Terriers:

  • Albany won in a style they're admittedly not comfortable with.
    The Great Danes overcame a stop-and-go pace Tuesday evening, and St. Francis' competitive nature drew praise from the Terriers' opposition. "I thought the game was helter-skelter," Will Brown stated, "and I think that benefits them. We're a team that likes to run our stuff and dissect you and pick you apart. They took us out of all of our stuff. I thought the game was physical and ugly, and that's a compliment to them." 

    "I honestly think St. Francis played harder than any team we've played this year," Brown added, no small feat considering Albany opened the season against John Calipari and Kentucky.

  • Winning without Evan Singletary and Ray Sanders is an encouraging sign for the rest of the season.
    Both plagued by foul trouble, Singletary collected his third foul with only five points to his ledger with just over ten minutes to play, while Sanders' four fouls minimized his contributions to the tune of an 0-for-3 effort in just nine minutes. "It's huge," said Peter Hooley (19 points) of Albany finding a way to hold on without two of their key parts for the majority of the night. "It goes to show that we have so many players who can step up. Joe (Cremo) is a consistent scorer for us, and Greig (Stire, 12 points) played terrific in the first half. Even David Nichols, who has barely played all year, came in and gave us a huge five minutes, so it's good to know that we can all step up when we have to."

  • Life without Sam Rowley is not an overnight adjustment.
    Brown hinted at this when referencing the fast pace that St. Francis dictated, which limited the use of Richard Peters off the bench. "We're still trying to get used to playing without Sam, as crazy as that sounds," the coach conceded with regard to his now-graduated Australian forward. "We used to just throw that thing in there and just play off him."

    "We've got to find out who's going to step up when the time's right," Hooley expounded. "Once we find our identity in that, I think we'll be fine."

  • Peter Hooley on breaking out of his slump:
    "It's something that's been weighing on my head for a few games now," the senior marksman said after leading all scorers with 19 points on just eight shots. "It's good to know that I can still play my game and contribute to help us win."

    "I thought he played really well," Brown reaffirmed. "I'm not talking about a breakout game as far as his overall play, I'm talking about a breakout game where he bangs five or six threes, because that's where he's struggling. When he's making his perimeter shots, he's very difficult to guard, but I thought he played a very good overall game for us tonight."

  • Even at 10-4, the Great Danes still have a long way to go.
    "If I said yes, I'd probably be lying," said Brown when asked if he felt Albany was ahead of his expectations through the end of the non-league schedule, which culminates at Cornell on Saturday. "There's three things I look for: Our defense and our rebounding need to continue to improve, and we can't turn the ball over. Once you get to conference play, you've got to practice smarter, so you want to go into league play feeling pretty good about what you're doing. I think we've got a good staff and our team is always well prepared, so that's half the battle."

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