ALBANY OUTSMARTS CORNELL
ALBANY N.Y. — The men’s basketball team closed out their non-conference schedule with a 69-59 thumping of the Cornell Big Red in front of 2,430 on hand at SEFCU Arena Monday.
The game was a lot closer than the score read as the Big Red hung around between six to ten points for most of the game.
Late in the second half Cornell made it interesting and went on a 13-4 run and got within two points after a made three pointer by Robert Hatter bringing the score 58-60 with 3:54 to play.
Will Brown then called a timeout and had something up his sleeve. He had his team switch their defense to a 1-3-1 zone, which became the difference maker of the game. The Danes then went on a 9-0 run and avoided yet another second half meltdown.
“The one three one is a tricky defense,” said Cornel Head Coach Brian Earl after the game. He and his team were caught off guard by the Danes changing their coverage with the game on the line. “I thought coach Brown did a good job switching it up on us a little bit.”
“I thought our one three one was good today,” said Albany Head Coach Will Brown. “We played maybe 10-12 possessions of it and didn’t give up a point.”
Earlier in the season Albany lost a close game to Holy Cross, who play an unconventional 1-3-1, and this was the first time the Danes used it on another opponent. Brown couldn’t have picked a better time to implement the gadget set to catch a Cornell team with a lot of confidence and momentum off guard.
David Nichols led all scorers with 16 points and five assists, but that was expected. What was not expected was the Albany bench stepping up and scoring 23 bench points. Travis Charles had a very efficient night hitting seven of the ten shots he attempted for 14 points. His midrange jumpers seemed to come at crucial times when his team needed to stop the Big Red charge.
Charles fit well into the game plan that Will Brown put in place. Cornell plays a 2-3 zone and one way to exploit it is to get the ball in the middle of it near the free throw line for a high percentage shot.
“In practice we were working on that and that was one of our strengths in this game,” said Charles.
The Danes got good news on Monday night when Jaraan Lands was cleared to return to practice with no restrictions by team doctors. Lands has averaged seven points and five rebounds in the three games that he’s played in and will add depth to a team that has only been playing seven.
This comes at a crucial time when Albany’s season resets and conference play kicks off.
“We’re 0-0 now,” said Brown. “And I guess because we’ve had some success the higher ups have sent us on the road for our first couple of non-conference games.”
The Danes take to the road Wednesday to take on UMass Lowell and then travel down to Stony Brook on Saturday to begin their quest for a back to back America East championships.