Posts Tagged ‘Albany’

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

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

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…)

Albany lands a huge recruit

Thursday, April 24th, 2014
6'10" 275-pound center Richard Peters signed with Albany.

6’10″ 275-pound center Richard Peters signed with Albany.

Fresh off back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, the University of Albany landed a huge recruit earlier this week. Literally.

On Monday, 6-foot-10-inch 275-pound JUCO man-mountain Richard Peters announced his commitment to the Great Danes, signing his Letter of Intent the following morning.

Peters appears to be a high-ceiling low-floor pendulum pickup, who could wind up anywhere from a starting center and impact player in the low post, to an end of the bench reserve, depending on weather he can stay healthy and finally tap into the potential he flashed as a prep school player several years ago.

Peters spent last season at Tallahassee Community College, where his numbers, 2.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and roughly 11 minutes per game in 24 contests, were, in the kindest terms, uninspiring.

So why is signing a player whose biggest impact may have been in the team photo and at the buffet line as a JuCo freshman a big deal?

Because coming out of high school, Peters was regarded as a premium high-major recruit. How premium? In high school, Peters received scholarship offers from at least 16 BCS. A native of Ontario, Peters played on the Canadian U-17 national team. After stints at prep schools Brewster Academy and Westwind Prep International, Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Davidson, Georgia, Indiana, Marquette, Memphis, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Seton Hall, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Washington State all offered Peters a scholarship.

That is a serious list of schools. (more…)

Albany’s experience eclipses Stony Brook’s youth

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

There was an interesting parallel to witness during the pregame warm-ups of yesterday’s America East championship. Stony Brook’s players looked like they were participating in “All-Star Saturday Night,” while everything was business as usual for Albany’s players.

The Seawolves are a young team with just four seniors, three of whom see significant playing time. Besides them, no other player on the roster has ever played for a conference championship. The pressure of playing in a game of that magnitude can make a young team nervous, but Stony Brook looked relaxed. Too relaxed.

Instead of using the shootaround to prepare for the game, a few players decided to have a range contest and see who can hit a shot from 40 feet out, shots they’d never take in-game. Maybe it was because the pregame warm-up was the only time those players, who shall remain nameless, would see the court on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Great Danes were on the other end of the court going through their normal shooting drills.

Then Stony Brook’s layup line turned into a dunk contest. Clearly premeditated, even the smaller guards were trying to show off their hops. The student section rained down a bunch of “Ohh’s”, and then a few “Aww’s” when some dunks missed. The Stony Brook Athletics twitter account then tweeted this video before the game started:

Albany continued going about its business like it was just another game. This group was in the same situation last year: the four-seed playing for an NCAA tournament bid in a hostile environment. And the Great Danes stepped on the floor of Pritchard Gymnasium and defied the odds once again, defeating second-seeded Stony Brook 69-60 to win their second straight conference championship.

“I just think that we were ready, and we wanted this badly,” Albany coach Will Brown said. “And I liked the way we warmed up. I looked at the two teams, one team was shooting three’s from 42 feet and slam-dunking it, and the tuba and trombone guys were going nuts. And then I looked my team, and my team was just focused.”

For the first three minutes of the game it looked as if Stony Brook was the more focused team, opening up with a 9-0 run. Albany called timeout and then went on a 20-5 run.

“We know it’s a long game,” said junior Sam Rowley, who had a game-high 18 points. “We know there’s 40 minutes in a basketball game, one run does not make the game. That obviously wasn’t the way we planned on starting the game, but we knew that our shots were gonna fall and that we’d find our rhythm.”

Throughout the game, it just seemed like the Great Danes were more mentally prepared than the Seawolves. Stony Brook trailed for much of the first half and made a comeback to take a six-point lead in the second half. But Albany remained completely poised and answered every run that the Seawolves made.

“The one message I told guys was, ‘Regardless of the score or the atmosphere, stay the course, weather the storm,’” Brown said. “The closer this game was later in the game, the tighter I thought they would be and the more relaxed and loose I thought we would be.” (more…)

Hooley’s clutch three pushes Albany past Stony Brook, 69-60, in the America East Championship

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Late in the second half of the America East championship game, Albany’s Peter Hooley ran head-first into the shoulder of Stony Brook’s Eric McAlister and no foul was called, forcing the Great Danes to take a timeout so their star sophomore guard could shake off the cobwebs. Moments later, Hooley drove to the basket for a layup and then followed it up with a dagger step-back three-pointer with under a minute left to help lead Albany to a 69-60 win and punch its ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.

Hooley was 2-for-13 from the field, but Albany coach Will Brown said he still ran plays for the Aussie on every possession. Then Hooley suffered that blow to his head, and he came out of the timeout like a man possessed.

“Coach always has confidence in me,” Hooley said. “He just said keep shooting the ball, one is bound to go in. Coach Friel said the knock to the head I got means the next one was going to go in and I guess he was right.”

With the game tied at 54, Hooley drove to the basket and missed, but John Puk grabbed an offensive rebound, drew a foul on McAlister and sank two free throws to give the Great Danes the lead for good.

Hooley was able to extend the lead to four on a tough layup, but Stony Brook’s Carson Puriefoy III answered with a floater to make it 58-56. On the ensuing possession Hooley drove to his right and utilized a step-back that sent Puriefoy to the floor and allowed him to sink a wide open triple with 59.9 seconds on the clock.

“He drove right and hit me with his shoulder,” Puriefoy said. “It caught me off-balance, and I fell and was out of the play. So he hit the open shot.”

The Great Danes closed out the game at the free throw line to earn their fourth America East championship in program history and become the first four-seed to win back-to-back titles. Albany’s fans stormed the court, engulfing Stony Brook’s Pritchard Gymnasium in a sea of purple in what might be the final game played on the court that had been so important to the Seawolves’ success over the past few years.

“The biggest thing coming into this game was to not get caught up in the atmosphere, but to embrace the atmosphere, stay the course and be relaxed,” Brown said. “We felt that all the pressure was on them and we definitely weathered the storm. I told them coming into the game that we were the best team in this league and playing the best basketball in this league and if we don’t hurt ourselves today, you will be happy with the end result.” (more…)

Stony Brook Seniors Hope Their Third Time’s a Charm

Friday, March 14th, 2014
As a fifth-year senior, Stony Brook's Eric McAlister is the Seawolves' elder statesman and hopes to finally make it to The Big Dance. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

As a fifth-year senior, Stony Brook’s Eric McAlister is the Seawolves’ elder statesman and hopes to finally make it to The Big Dance. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

When Stony Brook played in the America East Championship game for the first time in 2011, Anthony Jackson, Dave Coley and Eric McAlister were freshman. They lost that game on a couple last-second free throws, but were able to return to the title game the following season as sophomores. They came up short in that one, too. Now seniors, the trio is back in the championship game and hoping to end their careers on a high note when the second-seeded Seawolves face No. 4 Albany at home on Saturday.

Those two letdowns, bottled together with last year’s heartbreaking semifinal loss to the Great Danes, have driven the seniors throughout the year and now they have perhaps their best chance to attain the NCAA tournament bid that has proved so elusive over the course of their careers.

“When you’re a senior, everything means that much more,” McAlister said. “We’ve been here twice before, so we know what that feeling of not reaching our goal is like and we’re trying to avoid that.”

“I don’t think ‘hungry’ is the word for it,” Jackson said. “We’ve experienced the ups and downs of the program so I think going into this game we know what we gotta do, we know how we have to play, we know the energy we have to bring, we know how physical it’s gonna be. As a unit, we’re just determined.”

Stony Brook’s first appearance in the conference championship game came off an improbable run as the fifth seed in the conference tournament that included an upset over top-seeded Vermont. But the Seawolves’ Cinderella story ended when player of the year John Holland scored 23 of his 27 points in the second half, including the game-winning free throws with 2.4 seconds left, to lift Boston University to victory.

The loss was understandable considering they were facing the best player in the conference. But this time, it’s the Seawolves who have the America East player of the year on their roster in the 6-foot-8 260-pound beast that is sophomore Jameel Warney.

In 2012, Stony Brook had the luxury of hosting the championship game as the top seed in the tournament. But the game was played on a temporary court in Stony Brook Arena, basically making it a neutral-site contest, and Vermont won a defensive struggle. This year’s game will be played in Pritchard Gymnasium, where the Seawolves are 23-1 in conference games over the past three seasons.

“The arena was still our gym, we’re not gonna try to use it as an excuse,” McAlister said. “Vermont executed better that day. But for Pritchard, there’s definitely a sense of familiarity. We workout there every day, we practice there, all summer long we play there. So it’s definitely gonna be more familiar to us than the arena was.” (more…)

Dazed and Confused: No. 5 UMBC, lost from the start, falls to No. 4 Albany, 86-56

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

(Albany, NY) — Some games are over before tipoff. In the case of the second quarterfinal of the 2014 America East men’s basketball tournament, the game was all but decided before UMBC (8-22 Division I, 5-12 America East) left Catonsville.

Four members of the No. 5 seeded Retrievers – seniors Chase Plummer and Brett Roseboro, sophomore Aaron Morgan, and freshman Charles Taylor – did not travel with the team and were not present at SEFCU Arena on Saturday. Morgan reportedly had to attend a funeral for a family member. The other three were suspended for the always-nebulous “violation of team rules.”

“We definitely showed courage to come out here and play as hard as we could,” said UMBC head coach Aki Thomas.

With four players absent, the Retrievers only dressed seven players for their quarterfinal matchup with host and defending conference champion, No. 4 Albany (16-14 Division I, 10-7 America East) – and one of those players was freshman walk-on Ben Grace, who had never scored a point in his career prior to the game.

Even at full strength, UMBC was going to be in a pickle playing a superior opponent on its home court; missing fully 40 percent of its functional roster, the Retrievers had no chance. (more…)

Despite Sunday’s loss, Albany still confident going into AE Tournament

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Last year, the Albany men’s basketball team lost to Stony Brook in its regular-season finale but still managed to win the America East tournament, defeating the top-seeded Seawolves and second-seeded Vermont for a berth in the NCAA Tournament. For the Great Danes, Sunday’s game against Stony Brook felt like déjà vu, and despite the 73-68 loss they still feel like they are entering this weekend’s conference tournament with momentum.

“Maybe it’s karma,” Albany coach Will Brown said of the identical finishes to the regular season these past two years. “Our guys are disappointed in this loss for sure, they felt like they had an opportunity to win this game. So I think we still have momentum heading into the tournament, and I think our guys’ psyche is in a good place right now. We feel good about ourselves; our number one goal is to get through this next week healthy heading into Saturday, and we’ll be good to go.”

In Sunday’s game, Albany held a 10-point lead late in the second half before Stony Brook made its charge with a barrage of deep three-pointers. The Seawolves rode the emotion of their home crowd to complete the comeback, but there were still some positives that the Great Danes could take away from the game.

“We didn’t win, but we felt we played well,” said Sam Rowley, who had 15 points and eight rebounds. “Coach said it best; Stony Brook beat us as opposed to us losing the game, they made some big shots. We definitely feel like we have momentum going into the tournament. We can draw parallels to last season and we’re in a good state of mind right now.”

Albany is the No. 4 seed but has the benefit of hosting the conference tournament, and last year’s win over Stony Brook in the semifinals was evidence of the advantage the Great Danes have when they play at SEFCU Arena. But Brown thinks his team’s improvement lately is more important than the home-court advantage.

“Finally, our team is starting to get healthy and play better basketball down the stretch,” Brown said. “I think we’ll be ready come Saturday and I think we’ll be a tough out no matter who we play.”

Albany will face No. 5 UMBC in the quarterfinals on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. A win would potentially set up a semifinal game against top-seeded Vermont, which swept the regular season series and held the Great Danes to under 50 points in both games. Still, just like last year, Albany will be the most confident team in the tournament.

“I’ve said it all along; Vermont’s the best team in this league and Stony Brook’s the most talented team in this league,” Brown said. “And we’re the team that nobody wants to play next week, and we’ll be ready to go.”

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Will and skill: River Hawks knock off defending champ Albany for third straight win

Thursday, January 16th, 2014
The UMass Lowell River Hawks huddle at center court following their 70-66 overtime win over Albany. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

The UMass Lowell River Hawks huddle at center court following their 70-66 overtime win over Albany. OBW Photo / Sam Perkins

(Lowell, Mass.) — The America East is a will and skill league – a whole lot of will and a little bit of skill is enough to grab a lot of wins in the “AE.”

In their first year of Division I hoops, it is becoming apparent that the UMass Lowell River Hawks have plenty both.

On an unseasonably warm and humid Wednesday night, the defending America East Tournament champion Albany Great Danes descended upon the mill city, to take on the River Hawks. Albany was coming off an NCAA Tournament appearance; Lowell, meanwhile, was in its first season of Division I hoops after finishing last season as the eighth seed in the Division II Northeast-10 tournament.

45 minutes of game time later, the River Hawks huddled up at center court basking in the glow of their third Division I win, which was also their third straight win and their third conference win, a 70-66 overtime thriller over Albany.

“I’m not just happy for the win, but for the way we won,” said UMass Lowell head coach Pat Duquette. “I thought it was a really gut-wrenching, tough, hard played game against a tough and physical Albany team and our guys responded.”

“I thought Lowell played extremely hard and I thought they played well,” said Albany head coach Will Brown. “UMass Lowell hung around and scraped and clawed and fought. They got the win and they deserve a lot of credit.” (more…)

“Deserve’s got nothing to do with it,” Albany survives UMBC in double-overtime, retains Championship Belt

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

(Albany, N.Y.) — Maybe the University of Maryland-Baltimore County Retrievers deserved to win last night; maybe the University of Albany Great Danes did not.

But, as Clint Eastwood’s Bill Munny said to Gene Hackman’s Little Bill Daggett in Unforgiven, “‘Deserve’s’ got nothin’ to do with it.”

By all accounts, for 50 minutes of game time, the rebuilding Retrievers fought longer, harder and flat out “wanted the win” more than a Great Danes team expected to be in the hunt for a championship at season’s end.

But when Albany senior center John Puk sunk the first of two free-throws after an offensive foul at the other end of the court 90 feet away and the final buzzer sounded of the second overtime, it was Albany that escaped with a 73-72 win.

“We stunk and they played their asses off,” said Albany head coach Will Brown hours after the game.

“The young kids [on my team] are fighters, man,” said an exhausted UMBC head coach Aki Thomas. “We played 50 hard minutes of basketball and you hope that you could come out with a win you deserved. We played well enough to win and we didn’t win.”

Red-shirt sophomore guard Peter Hooley scored a career-high 27 points for Albany, shooting 8-of-14 from the floor, 5-of-10 from the arc and a perfect 6-of-6 from the line to go with six rebounds. Hooley’s 3-pointer with 21 seconds left in regulation sent the game into its first overtime.

Junior forward Sam Rowley was also a monster, ripping down a game-high 12 rebounds to go with 20 points, five steals and a perfect 8-of-8 from the line. Rowley’s lay-up off of a brilliant drive with 31 seconds remaining in the first overtime forced a second extra session.

The Great Danes saved themselves from an upset on their home court by hitting 23-of-27 free throws, while UMBC got to the line just 13 times, hitting 10. (more…)

The death of a dream and the birth of a calling

Monday, November 4th, 2013
A car accident ended former Albany Great Dane Lucious Jordan's career and nearly took his life, but it gave him  a passion for helping young players on and off the court.

A car accident ended former Albany Great Dane Lucious Jordan’s career and nearly took his life, but it gave him a passion for helping young players on and off the court.

God never closes a door without opening a window.

To most, it is a clichéd saying – little more than lip service paid after a stroke of bad luck or a terrible tragedy. To former Albany Great Danes’ guard and current Siena Saints’ first-year assistant coach Lucious Jordan, it’s the gospel truth.

At least once a day – during an early morning layover in a vacant airport terminal; on a lonely drive along a dusty back road on the recruiting trail; or in an empty arena an hour after the last echo of the final horn – Jordan’s thoughts drift back, seven years ago. Back to that ditch along that desolate highway, 40 feet from his car and 3,600 miles from home, where his body lay broken and his dreams were dashed into dust upon the ground.

“I think about that night every day. Everything happens for a reason – I truly, honestly believe that,” said Jordan in a calm voice that conveyed every ounce of stocky-strength carried in his 6’2” 220 pound frame.

Up until that fateful morning, Jordan’s path seemed clear: to keep lacing up his sneakers and following the game wherever the ball bounced. But his career on the court was forever derailed after that horrific car accident.

“My dreams at the time died that day, but it’s where I found my purpose: To help kids navigate through basketball and life. To make an impact and make a difference.”

Lucious Jordan slumped across the back seat of a cramped sedan on the outskirts of Emmen, Holland, in the predawn hours of Sunday, Oct. 16, 2006.

That March, he had helped lead his hometown University of Albany Great Danes to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history, bringing his college journey – which began by leaving home for Loyola University in Maryland and ended with him playing the role of returning conqueror at Albany – full circle.

Now, he was trying to get comfortable in to the back of a small European car while simultaneously trying to adjust to a new country. Behind the wheel was the head coach of his new team, the Emmen Eagles, who was also doubling as Jordan’s agent.

The Eagles were a second-rate team in third-rate league, but that didn’t matter to Jordan. At every previous stop of his dirty-work career, the 6’2” man without a position had been told that he was too small, too slow and too un-athletic to compete. And every time the ball was rolled out he had flat out dominated.

As the car bombed down the darkened throughway, the rhythmic hum of rubber meeting to road reverberating through the rear bucket seat, Jordan’s thoughts floated back along the improbable, rocky-road he had already traveled: This – playing for peanuts on the far peripheries of professional ball – wasn’t his final destination; it was just another stop along the way to bigger things.

Jordan’s eyes closed and his thoughts had just drifted off into dreams when he felt the car begin to shake. (more…)