No one is going to accuse the Albany Great Danes (1-1) of easing into this college basketball season.
The Danes opened the season against No. 9 Pittsburgh Panthers and paid dearly for it (89-56). They topped the Brown Bears last night for their first win of the season and all they get for their troubles is their second Top Ten match-up of the season, this time against the No. 5 Syracuse Orange (2-0).
Usually when Albany is playing in the Dome, a Desko is prominently involved. So being that we have so little time to learn what we can of the Great Danes, Matt at Unranked America East has offered to kindly get us up to speed.
Answers to my questions are below and you can find my answers to his question here.
We're used to only playing Albany in lacrosse. What have we gotten ourselves into?
I guess I should probably take this opportunity to celebrate our recruiting heist of Ty Thompson. He's pretty much the Harrison Barnes of lax as far as I can gather from the few articles I've read (so watch out for an explosive sophomore performance).
Albany lost 89-56 to Pittsburgh to open the season but defeated Brown 77-68 Monday night. What have you learned about this team in those two games?
Gerardo Suero. He was shaky against Pitt in the opening minutes (wildly out of control), but he settled down and has been relentless in attacking the rim. He's a JUCO transfer from the Dominican Republican who originally got some interest out of high school before he was a non-qualifier... and he's lived up the hype. Especially when he steamrolled Brown for 29 points. Other than that, the team still seems to be finding their role along the new start -- a bit too often they seem to be just watching.
Albany is going to beat Syracuse if INSERT NAME HERE goes off...
You'd think I'd say Suero here, but it has to be Logan Aronhalt. He's our returning leading scorer who hit a prolonged slump late last season, but proceeding to rain on America's hat during a Northern tour over the summer. Logan's been cold lately, but he's the type of player who hits these hot streaks for 8 or so minutes of game play where he's just untouchable. Hopefully the zone and Suero's recent accolades will give him some free space.
And here's two fun facts about Logan for no extra charge: his hometown was where the crazy guy killed himself let all the wild animals free and Kevin Martin (formerly an employee of the NBA) played at his high school where Logan's dad coach.
Will Brown has been the Danes head coach since 2001 but he hasn't led them to a winning season since 2007. Is he on the hot seat?
Yes. It's the last year of his contact. He's got a talented team and there's no excuse to not be a top 4 team in the league and compete for a trip to the Dance. The big plus he has going for him is that there's a ton of key juniors on this team and it seems like next year they'll truly peak. Put the seat needs to be kept warm -- Will's not an elite x's and o's coach and his recruiting prowess has only recently become a prowess. Win soon or we'll look elsewhere.
Who is going to rep the AE in the NCAA Tournament this year?
I think Albany has a good a chance as anyone, especially with what we've seen so far out of Suero I think I might wager on them myself. However, to stick with my preseason pick (from 4 days ago): Boston University. The best player in the league usually brings him team to the dance in the AE and BU point guard D.J. Irving is that guy. He's the fastest player in the league (and he can hang with anyone in the country) -- he'll have to adjust to life without John Holland (graduated POY).
Do Vermont fans still talk about that damn NCAA game? I know we're supposed to get over it but...we won't.
Yes. I recruited our UVM writer from a blog called "From the Parking Lot." He started the blog last year. It's still keeps them warm at night.