OBW announces addition of Ari Kramer, expansion to the MAAC

October 20th, 2014 by Sam Perkins

One-Bid Wonders is extremely excited to announce the addition of Ari Kramer to its staff as its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference beat writer.

“I have had the pleasure of following Ari’s career as a writer throughout his college career covering Binghamton for the Pipe Dream, and to say that I was impressed was a massive understatement,” said OBW editor-in-chief Sam Perkins. “Ari is dedicated to his craft, passionate, extremely knowledgeable, and churns out fantastic copy.”

A 2014 graduate from Binghamton University, Kramer covered the first two years of the Tommy Dempsey era for the Pipe Dream and created a following for the @bingbballblog twitter handle.

“I haven’t seen a student writer dedicate more time, effort and energy to his craft than Ari,” said Perkins. “What really impressed me was that, although he was writing for the Binghamton student paper, he didn’t limit his scope to just ‘his team,’ he was a student of the entire conference.”

While Kramer cut his teeth covering Binghamton’s rebuilding period in the America East conference, he will be returning to the roots of his obsession with college basketball at OBW, where he will be spearheading the publication’s expansion into the MAAC (he still believes that Manhattan-Iona is the best rivalry in the northeast). Based in New York City, Kramer will also contribute to OBW’s coverage of the Ivy League and aid in its expansion into the NEC. (more…)

Coaches Q & A series: UMass Lowell’s Pat Duquette — enjoying the last laugh (and the Orioles)

October 14th, 2014 by Sam Perkins
Pat Duquette. Courtesy photo / UMass Lowell

Pat Duquette. Courtesy photo / UMass Lowell

-Your cousin just signed Delmon Young, Matt LaPorta and Jack Cust to the Orioles… Killing me!!!!!

-Those guys are no good?

-If this was 2003 maybe.

-Shared your thoughts with the Orioles GM. He laughed.

That was an exact text exchange between myself — an Orioles fan (or an extension of my brother’s Oriole fandom) — and UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette back in March. The cousin in question was, of course, Duquette’s older first cousin, Dan Duquette, the general manager of Major League Baseball’s Baltimore Orioles.

Throughout the offseason and much of the early summer, I sent many a snarky text to Duquette in regards to his cousin and the Orioles. After all, other than a berth in the ALDS (which seemed like a massive outlier), the Birds had been nothing short of abysmal for nearly two decades, and I felt like after 2012’s miracle Wild Card, the elder Duquette along with Orioles owner Peter Angelos viewed themselves as playing with house money and had very little invested in keeping the O’s competitive.

Seven months later, the Orioles had dominated the American League East, destroying the high-spending Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, along with the always dangerous Tampa Bay Rays and the star-laden Toronto Blue Jays, swept the Detroit Tigers and their trio of Cy Young award winners in the ALDS and punched their ticket to the America League Championship Series for the first time since 1997.

In other words, both Duquette’s are having the last laugh at my expense.

In the basketball world, Pat Duquette is already well versed in the art of the last laugh.

Last season, in the America East preseason coaches’ poll, and in just about every basketball publication on the planet, UMass Lowell, competing in its first season of Division I hoops, was the unanimous pick to finish last. The question entering the season wasn’t “how many games would UMass Lowell win?” but rather, would they win a single game at all?

Fast forward to the end of the season and Duquette’s team – comprised of an entire roster of Division II castoffs and spare parts — stood at 8-8 in conference play and fifth place in the America East standings.

No one was laughing at the prospects of playing the River Hawks anymore.

It’s been a busy offseason for Duquette and his team. Star seniors Akeem Williams (OBW First Team All-Conference) and Antonio Bivins (OBW Third Team All-Conference) graduated and have moved on to pursue dreams of playing professional basketball. In their place, nine new players – fifth-year transfer Marco Banegas-Flores and eight freshmen – have joined the River Hawks’ ranks (for a feature on how Banegas-Flores relationship with Duquette landed him in Lowell, read here).

Somewhere in between the cold breeze blowing off of Lowell’s Merrimack River and the bright lights of October baseball at Camden Yards, Duquette sat down with OBW to talk about year two of building a Division I program in the Mill City. Amongst other topics of conversation were his goals for year two, what he sees as changes in the team’s overall scheme, the leadership qualities of his returning upper classmen and who among them had particularly impressive offseasons.

Duquette also spoke about the incoming freshmen class, the pride he takes in having former players on his coaching staff, how the baseball careers of his cousin Dan and older brother Jim (the former GM of the New York Mets) influenced his own career, and his own career (and inability to hit the curveball) in baseball.

OBW: When we talked before last season, you said that your focus and your goal was to build the culture, the mindset, and the work ethic needed as a foundation for success. What are your focuses for year two?

Pat Duquette: There’s two big things going on right now. First, we want to approach it the same way as last year, in the sense that we’re trying to build the same foundation that we did last year in terms of establishing out identity, our work ethic, our style of play, what we expect from our players. All those things are going to carry over from last year and we’re going to continue to build on those before we even talk about wins and losses. And then I think the challenge this year is much different from last year: we have nine new guys, eight really young guys, so I think the challenge is getting the young guys up to speed and blending them with our returners.

How do you feel about the program heading into year two?

I feel very good about having the staff back and adding Louis Hinnant (director of basketball operations and a former BC point guard) – we’ve got great continuity in our staff and I think we have a better sense of each other and how to do things, and now it’s just about learning what the new guys can and can’t do and blending them with the returners.

We hear a lot about the first year for a coach can be sort of ‘playing with house money’ – there are no expectations. Did last year’s unexpected success set the bar too high for this year? Is year two harder than year one?

I think in some ways it is going to be harder because we’ve got more young players who aren’t used to playing with each other, so in that sense I think it’s going to be tougher. It’s a totally different challenge.

But I do think that our returning players developed a sense of confidence from last year’s success and I hope that carries over. I’m really putting a lot of focus on the same things I did last year. (more…)

Coaches Q & A series: Binghamton’s Tommy Dempsey — No regrets

October 10th, 2014 by Sam Perkins
Courtesy photo / Jonathan Cohen / Binghamton University

Courtesy photo / Jonathan Cohen / Binghamton University

For more than a decade, everywhere Tommy Dempsey went, he won. Then he went to Binghamton and he lost. And he lost. And he lost – five times as much as he won, to be exact.

He’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

“I don’t regret a day of it,” he said recently while driving down a long, straight stretch of highway during the home leg of a week-long recruiting trip.

Over his first 10 years as a head coach, with stops at Keystone College, Lackawanna College, and seven years at Rider University, Dempsey’s career mark stood at 207-117 (56.5 winning- percent). Over the 2000-2001 season – his year at Keystone and his first head anywhere as a head coach — Dempsey compiled a 26-4 mark. The following year, he led Keystone to a 29-4 mark and the NJCAA Division III Final Four. The next year, he led Kackawanna to the NJCAA Division II championship game.

After two seasons as an assistant coach at Rider, Dempsey took the reigns and guided the program to a 119-105 mark over seven seasons, including a school single-season record 23 wins in both 2008 and 2011, and his 82 wins from 2007-2011 were the most over any four-year period in school history.

Then he left it all to take over the complete rebuild of a Binghamton program that had just been completely imploded by a national scandal, player arrests and dismissals, and ineptitude.

Dempsey inherited a team that had won just two games the previous season and in his first year, and in his first season, mustered just two wins against Division I teams. He followed it up by winning seven games the following season. In his first two seasons, the Bearcats went just 5-27 (.156) in conference play, the two worst records of his career.

But ask Dempsey, and they were two of the best years of his coaching and personal life.

“People – friends in my inner circle — ask me, after all the losing over the past two years, do I regret taking the job? Do I think I should have just stayed at Rider? I took the job for what I thought it was going to become,” he explained. “There is nothing that’s happened in the first two years that has made me believe that we won’t become one of the premier programs in the conference and that we can’t compete for a chance to go to the NCAA Tournament.”

Binghamton may have only won seven games last season, but it was three and a half times as many as they had won the previous season, and still nearly double the program’s win total of the previous two years combined. And after finishing ninth in 2012 and 2013, the Bearcats climbed to seventh in the standings.

Binghamton also saw Jordan Reed mature through growing pains and trying times and emerge as a dynamic, dominant star, while also forming an incredibly tight bond with Dempsey. It also saw Bearcats freshmen Nick Madray (forward), Yosef Yacob (point guard) and Marlon Beck II (combo guard) all flash tremendous potential.

The Bearcats closed out the season with overtime losses at Hartford and versus Vermont, with Jordan Reed pouring in a combined 63 points and ripping down 27 rebounds, but went out of the America East Tournament with a whimper, losing 69-42 in the first round to Hartford.

Heading in to his third season at the helm in Binghamton, for the first time Dempsey has a complete roster of Division I talent – all his recruits. With Reed heading into his junior year, a quartet of promising sophomores, and several promising incoming freshmen, this could be the year that Binghamton makes a leap towards the top half of the conference standings.

Dempsey decided to kill some time during his long road-trip home by catching up with OBW. Among other topics of discussion, Dempsey spoke about his time in Binghamton, the struggles and successes of building the Bearcats program back up, some of the new faces on the roster, changes in the Bearcats’ style of play and his goals for the upcoming season and beyond. He also raved about the incoming freshmen, sophomore Magnus Richards’ summer, as well as his love of diners and the breakfast sandwich that I still owe him from Lowell’s legendary Top Donut.

When you took the job at Binghamton, the program was obviously in complete disarray – downright chaos – but did you know that you guys were going to struggle as much as you did year one, and even for parts of year two?

It’s very much what I expected. I knew there was going to be tough times, and the old saying is ‘tough times don’t last but tough people do.’ I think having been a head coach for pretty much from age 24 had me prepared for this. I’ve experienced winning before and I think that was helpful through the tough times, to be able to draw on past experiences.

We came here with a plan. We knew that the first couple years were going to be tough, and we knew that we had to be tough, we knew that we had to be calm, and we knew that we had to be positive and I think we’ve done that.

We knew that we had to really win some recruiting battles and bring in some players who could help us turn the program around, and starting with Jordan [Reed] we’ve had several young players who have believed in our process, believed in what we can do, and taken a chance on us. (more…)

Of matzo ball soup, the motion offense and appeasing my mother

October 4th, 2014 by Sam Perkins
Dane DiLiegro

Dane DiLiegro

The Torah and 3-pointers; shalom and slam dunks; matzo ball soup and the motion offense – these are not associations we typically make.

Despite the role Jews played in the early years of hoops, the NBA careers of Jordan Farmar and Omri Casspi, Amare Stoudemire’s embrace of his Jewish roots, and David Blatt’s hiring to lead the most talented team on the planet, Judaism remains the least prominent of the “big three” of the Abrahamic religions on the hardwood.

However, the tiny America East Conference has seen several members of the Jewish faith play prominent roles on the court, on the sidelines, and in the huddle in recent years (and even on media row, at least in the world of “wannabe bloggers”).

While the awesomely named Levi Levine, Albany’s former captain and all-time enforcer, was not a member of the tribe, among others, the likes of Karl Fogel (head coach, Northeastern), Al Walker (head coach, Binghamton), Dan Leibovitz (head coach, Hartford), Tamir “Jewish Jordan” Goodman (guard, Towson), Dane DiLiegro (center, New Hampshire), Josh Elbaum (guard, Vermont), Mike Horn (guard, Binghamton), and Ben Resner (guard, Stony Brook) all light the menorah on Hanukkah and attend services during the high holidays. Heck, if we’re going to break it down like Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah song, Ryan Stys is some percentage (a quarter? an eight? a 16th?), and Nick Billings has joined me for many a sader dinner and learned the art of Jewish guilt from my mom — that has to count for something, right?

And so, in honor of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and holiest of the Jewish High Holy Days, which spans from sun down Friday to sun down tonight (and, to appease my mother, who thinks I have no Jewish identity), OBW caught up with DiLiegro, one of the top rebounders in UNH history, who is currently playingprofessional basketball in the top league in Israel, and Horn, whose journey from end of the bench walk on to tenacious defender made him a cult hero and who is tackling the business world in New York. Here is what they had to say about what their Jewish identity means to them, and how they are celebrating the Sabbath.

Dane DiLiegro:

“Being Jewish is special to me because I get to be part of a very small group of people who are resilient and very hard-working and proud of who they are.

Being Jewish over here [in Israel], is very special to me because all the events and things that go on have extra meaning. Everything from Shabbat dinner to Sukkot is celebrated in a different way from America. It is a very special opportunity to be able to see that.

During Yom Kippur you are supposed to fast and not use any electronics. My coach warned us not to use our cars under any circumstances unless it was an emergency, because people are known to throw rocks at people who drive during Yom Kippur out here. Everyone either walks or rides their bike no matter what. Everything shuts down. I will be very cozy inside my apartment, either watching TV or playing Xbox.”

Mike Horn:

“Being Jewish means being part of something really special: It means you are part of the Jewish community wherever you are in the world. You are linked to the Jewish people from generations to generations who fought for our existence.

Throughout my life, I have been able to appreciate how important being Jewish is to me. Becoming a Bar Mitzvah helped me understand more of the Jewish religion and how lucky I am to be a part of this community. I’m so fortunate of my past family members who survived the brutal Holocaust, which is another example of why I am so proud to be Jewish. Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust and we are still standing strong here today. I may not be overly religious, but I do practice on the High Holy Days. (more…)

7-footer Sajon Ford commits to Northeastern

September 30th, 2014 by Zolan Kanno-Youngs

Sajon Ford, the 7-foot little brother to Northeastern forward Quincy Ford, has officially committed to Northeastern, according to the elder Ford.

Sajon is one of 10 siblings from Quincy’s St. Petersburg, Fla family. The two brothers will have one year to play together after Quincy red-shirted last season due to back surgery.

In addition to confirming his brother’s vocal commitment to a OBW reporter, Quincy also took to Instagram to show support for his brother, writing:

“Big [shout-out] to the little bro [Sajon Ford] and his commitment to Northeastern! Welcome to the NU Family! So proud of you and all the hard work you put in. Lookin forward to a year playin wit ya boi !!”

Zolan Kanno-Youngs covers the CAA for One-Bid Wonders and also writes for The Boston Globe. Follow him on twitter at @KannoYoungs.

Truth, tough love and the unbreakable bond between Tommy Dempsey and Jordan Reed

September 29th, 2014 by Sam Perkins
Binghamton junior forward Jordan Reed and head coach Tommy Dempsey have an unbreakable bond, built on truth and tough love. Courtesy photo / Binghamton Athletics

Binghamton junior forward Jordan Reed and head coach Tommy Dempsey have an unbreakable bond, built on truth and tough love. Courtesy photo / Binghamton Athletics

Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.
– Muhammad Ali

It was their darkest moment. It led to their finest hour. It nearly ripped them apart. It was where their unbreakable bond was forged.

On Jan. 15, the Binghamton Bearcats sluggishly stumbled onto the court at tiny Pritchard Gymnasium and smack into a massacre. For 40 minutes, the host Seawolves beat the bag out of the visitors. When the dust settled and final buzzer mercifully sounded, the scoreboard read Stony Brook 67, Binghamton 47. The game wasn’t even as close as its lopsided final score.

Jordan Reed, a Binghamton’s star sophomore small forward and the program’s leading scorer, rebounder and epicenter for his entire young career, spent the final 31 minutes riding the pine, benched by head coach Tommy Dempsey for selfish play and lackluster effort.

When the Bearcats next took the floor five days later in Albany, Reed wasn’t on the court, the sidelines, or even within the same area code. He was sitting back in Binghamton, in his dorm room, alone, on his birthday, left behind by his team.

“It was a really rocky time in my life, it was my birthday, and we weren’t doing to well,” Reed reflected during a recent interview. “I was young and dumb as they say.”

Most outsiders assumed Reed’s relationship with his coach irrevocably damaged and that the sophomore would follow the path of least resistance and take the easy way out, like many young players, and transfer.

“I think a lot of kids now, when something doesn’t go their way, the first thing they do is run,” said Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell during a recent interview on what has been dubbed an “epidemic” of transfers.

Eight months later, Reed still proudly sports the Bearcats’ jersey, is still the epicenter of the program and is now a Player of the Year candidate. His bond with his coach, which looked beyond repair, is now unbreakable. Both point to the “tough love” lessons imparted from coach to player for the “real” relationship they enjoy today.

“He’s a guy you look up to — I wouldn’t say a father because I have a father, but he is definitely a father figure,” said Reed.

“I’ve been very hard on him, but we have a really good relationship, contrary to what many would thing. It’s kind of like with your own son, you’re hard on them so they can be the best player they can be.

“I respect the heck out of the kid,” said Dempsey, palpable pride in his voice. “I think the fact that he stayed has shown me a lot, in this day and age, about his DNA, and his commitment to our program here.”

Both Reed and Dempsey point to a blunt and at times emotional closed-door meeting between the two, along with Reed’s parents, Curtis and Sonya, following the Stony Brook debacle and preceding his suspension for the Albany game, as the turning point in Reed’s career and his relationship with his coach.

“I brought him in and I told him and his parents if he decides he doesn’t want to be here, he’ll have 100 phone calls from people and he will have many, many options. I needed him to know that if he does want to be here, that these are my expectations from this point forward, and if he doesn’t want to be here, I’ll sign the paperwork tomorrow,” said Dempsey.

“It was at the point where we were either going to make up or break up, where things could have either gone left or right, and we made up. I could tell he really genuinely cared about me beyond being a player as far as he cared about me as a person and a man,” said Reed. (more…)

Man Versus Ball: Catching up with the former voice of the Catamounts, Chris Villani

September 25th, 2014 by Jon Hart

From 2011-2013 Chris Villani was the voice of the Catamounts, serving as the play-by-play announcer for the team for two seasons. Now working in Boston for the Boston Herald, the WEEI Sports Radio Network, and for ESPN Radio in Bristol,
Connecticut, Villani still has found memories of his time traveling with John Becker and the Catamounts, and took some time with OBW’s Jon Hart to reminisce about the NCAA Tournament trip, his place as the Catamounts’ undisputed Scategories champion, the best Catamounts to interview, Beach night in sub-zero Maine, and coach Becker’s introduction to Mister Boston Blackberry Brandy.

OBW: So you’re a Syracuse grad. You followed The Orange as a member of the media. Where were you the night The Cats upset Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament? What were your thoughts that evening?

Chris Villani: Believe it or not, I was probably one of the few Syracuse students who wasn’t all that upset about the upset against Vermont. The reason being, I was on spring break in Tampa during my sophomore year and having too much fun to worry about it too much. The game took place in Worcester, about 20 minutes from where I grew up. Had I not been down in Florida, I most certainly would have been there to witness the carnage firsthand.

After covering The Cats for a few years, how has your perspective on that monumental upset changed?

I definitely gained an appreciation for how much that victory meant to UVM when I was up there. It’s a lot different for a mid-major program when you’re on that side of a significant upset. It’s not the first time Syracuse has been beaten in the tournament by a lower seed and certainly will not be the last, but for Vermont fans, that was a great moment and one to be celebrated.

When do you know that sports broadcasting is your future? Is it in little league, or before. or much later?

I had a teacher in high school who knew that I had a love for sports and also my affinity for talking. She suggested I try doing play-by-play for the high school football team that season, and the rest, as they say, is history.

How did you land the gig in Burlington?

It’s the only job I’ve ever had when I didn’t know anybody going in. I applied, one of probably 100 or so, and was fortunate enough to get an interview and an offer.

How different is it to cover The Cats as opposed to a BCS team like Syracuse?

The biggest difference is probably the relative access to the players and coaches. John Becker is a very down-to-earth guy and great to work with and the players were always more accessible and accommodating. Both sports information department’s were very helpful. Obviously the venues and the size of the crowds are different, but the passion for college sports is very similar in both places, in my opinion.

When you’re covering The Cats, are you traveling with the team? Are you on the bus? The planes? What’s the grind like? As a member of the media, how much of a distance do you have to keep from the team your covering?

On most road trips, I didn’t travel with the team, I opted to travel independently. There were a couple of reasons for this. First, it allowed me to leave on my own schedule and miss as little time doing my talk show as possible. Second, it allowed me to maintain a little bit of distance from the team. I never wanted to be around too much. I always thought it was important as someone who had to occasionally be critical of the team in a talk show format to maintain that professional distance and not always be reliant upon them for transportation.

That said, they were always more than willing to tote me along whenever necessary. Road trips were fun. The team watches movies or TV shows. Some of the favorites during my two years were Entourage and movies like The Dark Night Rises and Thor. We also passed the time by playing Scategories, and I’m not ashamed to say that I remain the undefeated champion. Most times, the team checked into the hotel in the evening, the night before the game. There’s always a set schedule with meals, which I typically did not attend, shoot around, study time, and of course leaving for the game. (more…)

UMBC signs high-scoring point guard Joel Wincowski

September 16th, 2014 by Sam Perkins

wincowskiUMBC head coach Aki Thomas has spent the better part of his first two years in Catonsville doing his best to plug the gaping holes left in the in the programs from when the previous head coach ran it aground.

In his first two seasons, Thomas’ primary focus was on repairing the biggest hole, the team’s atrocious defensive. Over that time, he recruited long, energetic athletes who “get after it” on defense, turning a team that couldn’t stop a runny nose to a competent defensive unit that has shown glimpses of great play shutting down opposing scorers.

Now Thomas needs to field a roster that can create shots and put the ball in the basket, especially from behind the arc. The Retrievers landed a game-changing scorer in Thomas’ first true recruiting class last season in dynamic point guard Rodney Elliot. They also appear to have a pair of freshmen with the potential to score in 6-foot-5-inch long-range gunner Malcolm Brent and shifty 6-foot-2-inch combo-guard Jourdan Grant.

With the commitment earlier today of Joel Wincowski, they may have just landed another scorer. A 6-foot-2 inch scoring point guard, Wincowski has a reputation as a physically and mentally tough guard with an extremely high basketball IQ and range out to well beyond the NBA 3-point line.

A native of Lake George in upstate New York, Wincowski averaged 27.3 points per game and was named the New York State Class C Player of the Year as a sophomore and averaged nearly 30 points per game as a junior at Lake George High. Schools like Albany, Siena and Boston University all offered him scholarships early in the recruiting process, and bigger schools like Purdue had expressed interest as of late. (more…)

Heaven is a Playground: FIBA World Cup 2014 — Human nature, Gilas Pilipinas and Andray Blatche’s redemption

September 12th, 2014 by Noah Perkins

blatche3

Human Nature is about as fickle as an 8-year-old boy chasing tumbleweeds through the backwoods of Georgia, or so I’m told.

Why are we so quick to judge and falsely label others, when we all know too well the feeling of having our insides ripped apart by the cattle prod of erroneous expectations?

I vividly remember my charter school basketball team playing a team with an Asian player. All game, on the bench, one of our guys called him “Yao” and “Soy Sauce.”

Given the level of disrespect hoisted upon us by bigger high schools, you would think we’d have developed an intrinsic appreciation for others not fitting the stereotype: They thought we sucked because we didn’t have our own gym; we thought he sucked because of our perception of Asians.

As the old New York City parable goes: The Italians beat up the Irish, so in turn the Irish beat up the Jews.

Remember when Carmelo Anthony, Jeremy Lin’s then teammate, publicly ridiculed Lin’s potential contract extension as “ridiculous”? Or how about when an ESPN anchor referred to him as a “chink”? Or, what about Jason Whitlock playing the all too familiar Asian Men have a small endowment card? Ten years prior to “Linsanity,” Shaq said about a rookie Yao Ming, that he was going to drop step and put an elbow into his face. Around the same time, Chris Tucker went for the easy laugh in Rush Hour, hitting Jason Whitlock’s familiar punch line as an Asian dude’s towel came off.

These are just a few of the more visible examples of the perpetuating emasculation of Asian men. I’m probably guilty of it as well — most of us are.

Lets face it, despite outperforming every ethnic group in this country academically and socio-economically, Asians, especially Asian men, still get no respect in mainstream American society. It’s all mathletics, small dicks and hello kitty backpack jokes.

Which brings me to Gilas Pilipinas. I wonder how many players on the Philippine National Team have, at some point, suffered the same indignation as the kid I played against in High School? (more…)

#TBT — OBW Classic Clip: Albany’s Chris Wyatt dunks all over BU

September 11th, 2014 by Sam Perkins

In honor of “throwback Thursday” AKA TBT, OBW editor-in-chief will be delving into his video archive every Thursday to share classic One-Bid Wonders clips.

Perhaps I should call this “clips that remind me of my father,” because, ultimately, that’s what everything on website circles back to.

From a purely statistical standpoint, Chris Wyatt’s college career was pedestrian – perhaps even completely forgettable – in every category except one: He stayed.

During his playing days at Albany, which spanned from 2001 to 2005 and coincided with Will Brown’s early days at the helm, Wyatt’s was one of the lone constants on a revolving door roster. Suiting up next to at least 31 different teammates during his four years on the Great Danes, Wyatt watched more than a dozen players leave the Great Danes program and was the only incoming freshman in 2001 – and the only four-year recruit of previous head coach Scott Beeten – to survive for four seasons in the program.

Wyatt’s career averages of just 18.6 minutes, 3.7 points and 3.2 points over 104 games were a reflection of the constant pain – due to chronic knee, lower leg and foot injuries – and the program’s constant state of rebuilding that defined his time in the Capital Region.

But there were always flashes of athletic brilliance, like the two dunks posted above from the Great Danes 67-55 loss to regular season champion Boston University in 2004. At 6-foot-5 and a rock-hard 235 pounds of muscle, Wyatt was strong as an ox, nimble on his feet and an explosive athlete and exceptional dunker (one of the reasons he shot 50 percent from the floor for his career).

Wyatt never experienced a winning season in Albany, but he also never gave up and never stopped working during a time when Brown was struggling to simply field a roster, let alone lay the foundation for future success.

During Wyatt’s junior season the Great Danes went 5-23 and had the dubious honor, after starting a game at Hartford with just seven players in uniform, of finishing with just four players on the court.

One week later, Wyatt and the vastly outgunned, undermanned and overmatched Great Danes gave a Terriers squad that played an 11-man rotation, went 17-1 in conference play and won 23 games, with Wyatt providing two highlight-worthy slams, the first of which coming on a beautiful spin-move off a pick-and-roll, splitting Terriers forwards Rashad Bell and Jason Grochowalski (two of the leagues toughest and most athletic big men) for a thunderous slam. The second came when Wyatt followed a Jon Iati miss, soaring above BU’s vaunted front court to corral the rebound with one hand and, in one motion, slam it back through the hoop. (more…)