Coach Will Brown keeping Men’s Basketball consistent
By Aaron Cheris
Will Brown will soon begin his fourteenth season as the men’s basketball coach at the University at Albany. Over his first thirteen years, he has amassed a 191-206 record, but don’t let the numbers fool you. Now the longest tenured coach in the America East conference, Brown has shaped the program to what it is today. The ASP recently sat down with Brown as his team prepares for the upcoming season.
ASP: Five seniors graduated last year, how are you going to fill the void they left?
Brown: I think what has to happen is you have to do a good job of relying on your returning players. I think sometimes as coaches you put too much of a high expectation on new players. Our returning players have really taken advantage of the opportunity they have been presented as veteran players. Peter Hooley and Sam Rowley are the guys. They are two guys I wouldn’t trade for anyone in the league. Now we need Dallas Ennema to take the next step. Mike Rowley is finally healthy and looks great. As much as we like the new guys, we have to rely on the guys who have been through it.
ASP: How are the new players looking so far? What should we expect out of them?
Brown: Evan Singletary is a terrific point guard. He won state titles at legendary Dunbar High School in Baltimore. He really knows how to the play the game. I think he’ll be a good fit in our program. Richard Peters is six foot ten, 275 pounds, signed with Washington State out of high school, had labrum surgery in his hip and now is finally fully recovered. He is a big body with three years of eligibility. Wheeler Baker is a talented scoring combo guard. He can really put the ball in the basket. Ray Sanders will be the best defender in our program. He’s physical, strong, and talented. Tre Green played high school basketball with Jabari Parker in Chicago. He is very aggressive offensively. Our local kid is a lot better than I anticipated, Greg Stire. He’s a guy that is can really rebound the ball.
ASP: What do you think the success of last year’s team did for the university as a whole?
Brown: This past year we played three games in six days on national television. When we played Mount St. Mary’s, we opened the NCAA Tournament. For our university to go out and buy advertising on those channels (ESPN, CBS, TNT) for those six hours is millions of dollars. I think it opened up eyes nationwide. Successful athletic programs in general do wonders for an institution.
ASP: After beating Mount St. Mary’s, you had a quick turnaround before playing the best team in the country, Florida. What was that experience like?
Brown: After the Mount St. Mary’s game, I was afraid that our guys, on a big stage, were going to run out of gas against the best overall team in the country at that point. We were right there with Florida at halftime and tied in the second half. What you have to worry about is the big boys only need one run to blow a game open. We played the game in four-minute segments. I thought we showed how resilient we were. I thought we showed tremendous resiliency and toughness because we never allowed Florida to run away with the game. But for us to be the first number 16 to beat a number one, we needed more gas in our tank.
ASP: Over your time as coach, your team has challenged some of the best teams in the country. How are you able to constantly compete against the best teams?
Brown: We tell our kids that we’re not just happy to be here, we’re here to win. If you are happy to be here, stay at the hotel or don’t make the trip. We’re here to win. Our family members didn’t think we could win the Florida game. If you get caught up in being happy to be there, that’s when you get blown out. It’s a business trip and we hammer our guys. A 16 is going to beat a one eventually, we want it to be us. Let’s make history. We’ve challenged teams and fallen short. If it happens, we’d like to be in the conversation.
ASP: Do you have anything left to prove?
Brown: No, but I’m motivated by the fact that I want everyone of our players to experience the NCAA Tournament at least once during their career. Going to the NCAA Tournament never gets old. I’m motivated by the fact that we as a staff have the opportunity to make an impact on young people’s lives every day. I love the game. The game motivates me. Being around the game motivates me.