Senderoff With a Loss
ALBANY, N.Y. — It took the Great Danes more than half of the game to separate themselves from the Flashes, but they came away with a 78-68 win Thursday night and spoiled a homecoming for Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff, who graduated from the University at Albany in 1995.
The Danes got off to a slow start and turned the ball over five times in the first five minutes as the Flashes raced out to an early 8-3 lead.
“We gave them their first six points. We just weren’t ready to play the first couple minutes, which was disappointing,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown.
Brown called a timeout and had to redirect the focus of his players to prevent the game from slipping away early. From there the Danes regained their focus, tied the game at eight, hung around with Kent State in the first half and headed to the locker room tied at 29 at the break.
In the second half the Danes took over the game and outscored the Flashes 29-11 at one point and handed a team fresh off a PAC-12 victory a double digit loss.
“It was a good win. Kent State was an NCAA tournament team a year ago,” said Brown. “They’re coming off a PAC-12 win against Oregon State.”
“We’re disappointed that we lost. Albany is a very good team and they played well. Certainly in the second half,” said Senderoff. “They’re a 40-minute team and if you want to beat then you’re going to have to play hard and well for 40 minutes.”
Brown knew that Kent State was an above average team and let his players know the magnitude of the game before the ball was tipped.
“I told my guys before the game that this was going to have a conference tournament championship or semi-final feel to it because of how talented they are,” said Brown.
Kent State junior guard Jaylin Walker came into Thursday’s matchup averaging over 17-points a game and was the Mid-Atlantic Conference Tournament MVP last year. He scored 20 points against UAlbany, but in a sense was taken out of the game by Great Dane guard Devonte Campbell, who went step for step with Walker the entire game.
“In my opinion I think Devonte is the best perimeter defender in the America East Conference this year,” said Brown.
Campbell’s smothering defense disrupted Walker’s flow and even though the Kent State player scored 20 points he had to take 27 shots to do so and was only 2-for-10 from behind the arc.
“I think it’s safe to say I think that’s one of the toughest guys I’ve had this year,” said Campbell. “It’s not just me guarding it’s all five guys on the court.”
Campbell only took two shots in the game, but came away with 11 points due large in part to going 8-for-10 at the charity stripe.
Coach Brown knew that Walker could be the difference in the game and he planned accordingly. This was the first game this season that the Danes were outrebounded and you could credit that to Walker’s presence on the court.
“What we wanted to do when Walker had the ball was shrink the court and because of it we paid so much attention to him,” said Brown. “We gave up some offensive rebounds that we normally wouldn’t have given up. We were an extra step towards Walker and an extra step away from the guy that we were guarding.”
Even though the Danes were outplayed on the glass, graduate forward Alex Foster found room to grow and he’s been showing this coaching staff that he’s ready to play more minutes. Foster played more than average due to the fact that senior forward Greig Stire got into early foul trouble. In his 22 minutes on the court Foster snagged nine boards and scored eight points. This is one game removed from him a 15 rebound performance against a perennial Louisville team.
“I’ve been watching Alex Foster closely and he’s been comfortable when he plays more minutes,” said Brown. “He was awesome he wasn’t good he was awesome at Louisville. So I need to let him get into a flow.”
“Initially it took me a while, but as time progresses it’s getting easier,” replied Foster to how comfortable he is in the offense. “I know these guys trust me and it’s giving me more confidence to go out do what the players and coach ask.”
There was one blemish on Foster’s stat sheet and that was when he picked up a technical foul after letting his emotions get the best of him. Foster made an amazing block on the Kent State seven-foot center Adonis De La Rosa and started chirping in his ear. That’s when the ref called a technical and Foster knew he had mad a mistake.
“He made a great play and sometimes it’s hard to get mad at a kid, but you need to understand time, score and situation,” said Brown.
Four UAlbany players finished the game in double figures including Joe Cremo (14-points), Travis Charles (19-points) and David Nichols (15-points) and the Danes shot 50-percent from the floor. They shared the ball well and came away with 20 assists as a team.
The Danes spoiled the homecoming for Rob Senderoff, who credits his time at UAlbany for getting him involved in coaching basketball.
“My memories of this place are great and I love this school,” said Senderoff.
Senderoff was a student manager for the basketball team under then coach “Doc” Sauers. That is where his managing career started and he shifted from playing to coaching.
“That’s where the opportunities for me all started and that was here. And that was where the decision for me to do what I’m doing professionally. It came from this place,” said Senderoff.
This was the last nonconference game of the season for both teams and both are picked to finish high in their respected leagues.
The Danes conference schedule kicks off this Wednesday Jan 3 when they play host to the Hartford Hawks. Tipoff is around 7 at SEFCU Arena. Last year the Danes beat up on the Hawks and came away with wins in all three games they squared off, winning by an average margin of 20 points. They are looking to recreate that and start their quest for an America East championship.