Danes Outsmart Ivy League Foe
ALBANY, N.Y. — In basketball, some wins come easy, and some wins are a dogfight. The Danes’ victory over the Yale Bulldogs on Friday night was the latter.
In front of 2,217 rowdy SEFCU Arena fans, the University at Albany Great Danes served the Yale Bulldogs a cold dish of revenge, dominating in the second half to earn an 80-72 win. The victory comes less than one year after Yale snatched victory from the jaws of the Danes in New Haven last season.
The Danes leaned heavily on junior guard Joe Cremo all game, and he delivered. Cremo, who had struggled with his shot in Albany’s first two games, returned to his familiar form, pouring in 20 points on 8-14 shooting, while adding three rebounds and three assists. After averaging 15.8 points per game a season ago and earning national recognition in the preseason, Cremo knew that expectations would be sky high for him in 2017.
“My teammates keep giving me good looks. My confidence is high, just have to knock them down, and tonight I did,” Cremo said after his bounce-back performance.
Head coach Will Brown reiterated after the game that he shares that same confidence in his star guard.
“Joe can score at every level. He can score from three, he can score from midrange, and he can score at the basket,” said Brown. “The Joe Cremo we saw tonight is the Joe Cremo I think we’re all accustomed to seeing.”
Cremo’s efforts weren’t unmatched, as fellow Dane Travis Charles set his new career-high with 19 points, and was a model of efficiency, sinking eight of his nine shots. Charles, who provided coach Brown with a jolt of energy off the bench last season, has carried that same effort and intensity into the starting lineup.
“I’m just trying to be the same guy. It’s just focus man. Being a good teammate, energizing the guys. If you think positive, you get positive results,” Charles said about his increased role on and off the court this season.
His story is an incredible one, battling through a heart condition to get back on the court. He’s taken on the role of captain along with his increased playing time, and has thrived through the first three games.
Despite a starting five in which the tallest player is 6’7”, the Danes continue to dominate on the glass. After out rebounding Yale 40-30 on Friday, the Danes have now grabbed 125 boards this season to their opponent’s 84.
“For us, what we have to do is defend and rebound. I thought our guys did a good job against a team that’s well coached, and is going to win a lot of games,” said Brown after the win.
Beating the Bulldogs is no easy task this year. Before the season began, NBC Sports, along with others, picked Yale to win the Ivy League and make the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs were led by sophomore forward Miye Oni on Friday, which is business as usual. Oni, who is considered an NBA prospect, wowed with his athleticism and versatility, totaling 15 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and two steals. Oni did struggle from beyond the arc, which was a common theme for the Bulldogs, who were just 7-28 from downtown.
“I thought we had a lot of good, clean looks behind the arc that just missed,” said Yale head coach James Jones, who played his college basketball at UAlbany.
As far as returning to Albany, Jones said, “It’s a little weird. I had a lot of family and friends in the stands.”
Before the Danes took the court Friday night, it was announced that they would be without assistant coach Jon Iati for Friday’s game, and would be missing coach Brown for Monday’s contest against Oneonta. The self-imposed penalty was a result of a small slip-up in recruiting, one made by Jon Iati while recruiting his cousin.
Coach Brown did speak briefly about the issue, saying, “There’s nothing more important than being NCAA compliant.”