The Will Brown experience: Albany head coach’s press conferences are worth the price of admission.February 5th, 2012 by Sam Perkins
I’ll admit it: I’m a Will Brown guy.
I respect the hell out of what he’s accomplished on the court in his ten years at Albany; turning around the worst program in the country and taking the Danes to back to back NCAA’s. But it’s more than that: The guy is the best quote in the league.
Albany’s head coach since taking over on an interim basis during the 2001-2002 season, Brown currently stands as the longest tenured head coach in the America East, but still hardly looks – or sounds – the part of “elder statesmen.”
The road that took him the youngest head coaches in all of Division I basketball, to present has been a long and winding one to say the least.
Ten years ago, Brown was charged with simply bailing water to try and keep arguably the worst program in all of Division I afloat. During his first few seasons, the Great Danes were handicapped by the 5-and-8 rule (which limited schools to only bringing in 5 scholarship players in one recruiting class and a maximum of 8 over a 2 year span).
In his first few years, Brown struggled to simply field a team, with the Danes memorably playing the final minutes of one game in Hartford during the 2003-2004 season with only 4 players on the court due to injuries and fouls.
Brown worked tirelessly to build a program up the right way: He brought in good, hard working kids (warriors on the court, gentlemen off it). Just one season removed from a play-in game loss in 2004, the Danes finished fourth in the league standings. A year later, they won the regular season and conference tournament titles. In just five years, Brown had built a program from the ground up, taking the Danes from worst to first. Albany came withing two minutes of upsetting top-ranked UConn in the NCAA tournament and becoming the first 16 seed to ever knock off a 1. A year later, they punched their return ticket to the NCAA’s.
The Danes hit a tough patch in the years following the NCAA’s, but Brown continues to work as hard as ever to bring Albany back to “The Big Dance.”
Despite his accomplishments, Brown has never been the most popular coach in America East circles. Always outspoken, he has often rubbed people the wrong way, and is viewed by some as arrogant – an egomaniac even.
But me, I love the guy.
Off the court, Brown is genuine, sincere — humble even. He’s also hilarious.
In the Bill Belichick world of sports, where players and coaches never give you more than clichés and the company line, Brown is a breath of fresh air: he’s honest. Without a doubt the best quote in the conference, Brown avoids clichés like the plague, and shoots from the hip to tell it exactly how he sees it.
Saturday night, following a tough 76-69 loss to Stony Brook, Brown was no exception. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from his press-conference:
On Stony Brook’s physicality versus Albany:
• “They’re going to win most street fights in this league… I don’t know how many of my guys want to jump into a street fight.”
• “You’re not going to see us wearing a UFC belt anytime soon – maybe a WWE belt, but not a UFC belt.”
• “Physical game, and that’s Stony Brook’s strength, and that’s not the strength of our game. We’re a finesse team, and they’re a physical team.”
• “If [the refs] let them play: Major advantage Stony Brook.”
• “They’re the best defensive team in the league, the best rebounding team in the league and the toughest team in the league, so if they’re just average – or a little below average – on the offensive end, they’re going to win.”
On Stony Brook guard Bryan Dougher:
• “What’s a good shot for Dougher is not a good shot for most; he hits shots that just break you’re back. That offensive rebound that we should have had that they got, they throw it out, he’s 26 feet from the hoop – boom: That’s a Dougher shot.”
• “There’s not enough kids like that out there. He doesn’t say ‘boo,’ plays the game the right way. Old school from his game to his haircut – he’s just straight old school – and the only thing that would make him better would be if he wore socks up to his knees. He should be in the movie Hoosiers; he’d be perfect, right there in the back-court right next to Jimmy Chitwood.”
• “Definitely in the park he’d be the last guy picked (because of his looks).”
• “He’s a better overall player now than he was the past couple years… I think he’s improved on [his defense].”
On Stony Brook forward and Albany nemesis Tommy Brenton:
• “Tommy Brenton led the league in rebounding two years ago; he’s a power forward playing small forward, he embraces his role. He doesn’t shoot, but he does all the little things – he’s their best player.”
• “Brenton, say what ever you want – I can’t stand playing against the kid, but I would love having him on my team.”
On the equipment players wear today:
• “They’ve go all this equipment now: Fifteen years ago guys were wearing jockstraps, now they have all these padded hips, and thighs, and backs.”
On Stony Brook guard Dave Coley:
• “The unique thing about Coley is he’s the master of the lost art; which is the pull-up jump shot. He’s very good at getting 15 to 17 feet and knocking down those shots. He got himself in a good rhythm and thank god he got in foul trouble or else he might have had 30.”
On Stony Brook guard Anthony Jackson:
• “If Anthony Jackson played Albany 16 games, he’d be First Team All-Conference: He had 11 points in nine minutes down there and 11 points in 10 minutes [tonight]. Talk about efficient.”
On Albany’s defense:
• “We’re playing the New England Patriots defense; we’re trying to bend, bend, bend but don’t break.”
• “We haven’t embraced getting stops, we just haven’t done it.”
• “They’re trying… we just haven’t clicked, we’ve shown flashes. You can’t show flashes against a team that’s first in the league.”
Other thoughts on the game:
• “I definitely think we’re capable of beating them, but right now they’re better than us.”
• “We’ve played every team in the league, and they are by far the team that I’m most impressed with”
• “We shot 21 for 38 inside the arc, we probably should have shot less jump shots.”
• “The 5-22 [from 3]was a killer, and missing free-throws at the wrong time hurt us.”
• “Their bench killed us.”
• “When [Gerardo Suero] tells me he got fouled, I just look at him and say ‘you get fouled every possession.’“
• “I think in a conference tournament format, we’re good enough to win two games in a weekend and than have a week to prep.”
• “It’s not going to do me any good to hammer away at our guys about this loss, because we’ve got to practice tomorrow and play a pretty good team on Monday.”
And now, for a trip down memory lane, a few of my favorite all-time Will Brown quotes:
• “I think Levi Levine would make a great coach: He lives, breathes, loves the game – he’s got the passion. He’s a basketball junkie… but I’d be worried if he was on my staff: I think he would beat up my players for not playing as hard as he did.”
• “It’s easy to say ‘we just need a leader to step up;’ kids don’t just become leaders over night – it’s a long process… Jon Iati was a quiet leader by the end of his career, but his first three years here, if I saw him in the hall and said ‘hey, Jon,’ he’d go ‘AH!!!!’ and run the other way.”
• “He was the best player I ever coached, and one of the best kids I’ve come across, but early in his career we butted heads a lot – no one gave me more grey-hairs than Jamar Wilson,” (running his hand through is hair) “I remember there being a lot more [hair]… damn it, Jamar.”
• “I’m an Al Walker guy.”
• “Early on in my time here we had to finish a game in Hartford with only four players on the court because we just didn’t have the bodies. It was straight out of the movie Hoosiers: The official comes up to me to tell me we only have four on the floor, and I tell him ‘That’s it; My team’s on the floor.’”