DANES CAN’T STOP A CHAMPION
ALBANY N.Y. — After an emotional win against the Siena Saints on Sunday, the UAlbany men’s basketball team let one slip away against the Holy Cross Crusaders in a 55-49 loss Wednesday night.
No, you’re not reading the score wrong and this wasn’t the total after the first half. Albany failed to get into any type of rhythm and couldn’t seem to penetrate the Holy Cross 1-3-1 zone defense that gave them fits and led to as many as 18 turnovers.
“We spent a lot of time working on the 1-3-1 for Siena and we also spent time on it for this game,” said Albany Head Coach Will Brown. “For some reason when we didn’t have success we became like a deer in headlights.”
Sophomore guard David Nichols had trouble picking up the defense along with the rest of his team. Nichols had a team high of 14 points, but seemed pedestrian after scoring his career high of 29 points last game against Siena.
“We had a lot of lazy passes and didn’t come to meet the ball when the passes were thrown,” said Nichols after the game.
The 1-3-1 zone is an unconventional defense and not too many teams will use it for the whole contest. Holy Cross is one of the only teams in the nation that run the set for the duration of game and not shy away from it. Teams that run the 1-3-1 have to be well conditioned because it’s a lot more movement then your standard man to man and 2-3 zone for that matter.
When asked how he gets his team to buy into playing at such a high intensity for such a long period of time, Holy Cross Head Coach Bill Carmody had a humorous reply, “I try to con them and tell them that you’re 20 years old and are in good shape.”
The Crusaders have won three out of their last four games and have rattled other teams the way they did the Danes on Wednesday. They would have won four, but surrendered an eight point lead late to Monmouth. Over that stretch they’ve been averaging over 13 takeaways per game.
Despite giving the ball away so many time the Danes did shoot 47% from the floor and hammered the ball down low scoring 36 of their points in the paint. Junior forward Greig Stire went 5-for-7 from the floor and scored all 10 of his points in the the paint.
Albany’s perimeter play served as it’s downfall. The Danes only managed to hit one three pointer out of the nine they attempted, that of which came with 32 seconds remaining and the game was all but decided.
On the other side of the ball Albany held Holy Cross to shooting just under 30% in the first half and outrebounded the Crusaders 28-2 on that end of the floor for the entire game. They took a six point lead into halftime, but it wasn’t enough as the Danes couldn’t finish.
In the second half the Holy Cross offense found its groove. They shot over 50% from the floor and added seven three pointers.
Holy Cross Senior guard Robert Champion led the charge for the Crusaders. Champion had 22 points in the game. 15 of them came in the second half. UAlbany had the lead for over 20 minutes when Champion hit a three at the 4:40 mark that gave his team a 41-40 lead. From there a switch went off as he hit back to back threes a little over a minute later. Champion’s play helped his team push their lead to eight points with a minute remaining. He finished with four three pointers.
“After he (Champion) hit the third three don’t you think we should guard him,” said a disgruntled Brown.
Albany’s record falls to 4-3 on the season and they have some soul searching to do before they go out to Yale this coming Saturday. The Danes will have their hands full with a Yale team that upset Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and only lost by seven to Duke in the second round last year to end their season. Both Albany and Yale are coming off a loss and are looking for a spark early on in the season.