Men’s Basketball Motivated by Last Year’s Loss
ALBANY, N.Y. — Last year the UAlbany men’s basketball season ended on the road when they lost in the America East Championship game at the hands of the Vermont Catamounts in Burlington. The Danes had an eight-point lead with just over five minutes to play in that game and were nearly on the verge to go the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years. No one in the college basketball world even predicted they’d even be in that game, let alone that moment.
The 2016-17 season started off on a high note when the Danes knocked off a power five team when they beat Penn State on the road in the first game of the season. It was one of the biggest wins in program history for a team that was only supposed to finish around .500. 21 wins later and a slim defeat in the America East Championship game the Danes had a successful season, but they were left wanting more.
After a teary-eyed press conference, the 2016-17 season was over, but what it left instilled in the players on that team was motivation to get back to that same spot next year with the goal of winning a championship in mind.
The men’s basketball team this year is returning all five of their leading scorers with only two impact players, senior center Mike Rowley and senior guard Dallas Ennema, leaving the team. The Danes brought in a lot of depth up front to fill the void including Alex Foster, a 6’8” graduate transfer who played in 48 games at Texas Tech.
The Danes have also named four captions in the first time in school history for this season. They are seniors Travis Charles and Greig Stire along with juniors Joe Cremo and David Nichols. These four spend a lot of time on the court all having a big impact last season and it was only fitting that all of them be named captions.
In his 17th season as the University at Albany head coach Will Brown earned his 250th win and has also led the Danes to five America East conference title with five appearances in the NCAA March Madness Tournament. There were rumors swirling that Brown had a few offers to go to bigger schools, but the eccentric coach decided that Albany was his home.
“I think the good thing about this group, especially our returning players, is they have a very bitter taste in their mouths about how last season ended. In particular, the America East Conference Championship game, and I’m right there with them,” said coach Brown. “I thought we were the better team for 39 minutes and we just didn’t get the job done.”
David Nichols found a home at the point guard position and was a rising star during the team’s growing success last season. He scored 40 points in a playoff game and solidified the backcourt with Joe Cremo, the 2015 America East Rookie of the Year.
“I’m expecting a good season,” said Nichols. “We have a good group of guys that work hard and work well together. We have one ultimate goal in mind and we’re working every day to get to that goal.”
Nichols speaks what is on the mind of the rest of the team. After last season they now know that they have the talent on the roster to go out and compete with the best teams in the conference.
“Obviously our goal is a championship and we know it’s a long ways away,” said Joe Cremo. “Last year we were down a lot of bodies due to injuries. This year we have a lot more depth.”
The Danes’ season opens up as they host MAAC champion Iona on Friday November 10th at SEFCU Arena. Some other notable games that they play are Dec. 12 when they hit the road to Tennessee to square off with Memphis and on Dec. 20 when they travel to Kentucky to take on Louisville.