Albany head coach Will Brown and the Great Danes left it all on the court Sunday, and lived to fight (and coach) another day (Photo by Sam Perkins).
(Albany, New York) – Three minutes into the first half of the second semifinal of the America East Tournament, Stony Brook enforcer Tommy Brenton – the America East Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, and all-around baddest-mother-shut-your-mouth – lowered his shoulder into Albany forward Sam Rowley, sending the 6’6” 240 pound Australian sprawling to the hardwood.
“Sam! He’s not Tougher than you! There’s no way he’s tougher than you!” boomed Albany head coach Will Brown, his voice rising over the deafening din of the capacity crowd. “He is not out-toughing you! He is not tougher than you – not tonight!” Brown commanded, his voice raising another decibel level.
10 Months earlier, Brown was a lame duck coach playing out the string on the end of his career – in the eyes of most, at least – after his top two scorers, Gerardo Suero, a slashing wing and once in a decade athletic talent, and Logan Aronhalt, a big time shooter, unexpectedly abandoned the program (losing Aronhalt to Maryland and Suero on an ill-advised attempt to start a pro career). A month earlier, Brown was being torn to shreds, his accomplishments (among them the massive overhaul of the Great Danes during his tenure, capped by back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths) thrown on the scrapheap by the local media. And minutes earlier, before the opening tip, Albany was already all but declared the loser and Stony Brook anointed the league champion.
Two and a half hours later, Brown, the man with a quote – response, retort, witticism, joke, jibe, and hilarious comeback – for any and every scenario, was speechless, struggling to find the words after the Great Danes shocked the mighty Seawolves 61-59, to punch their ticket to the championship game.
The silence spoke volumes.
“That was a gutsy win; I have tough, tough kids,” said Brown, composing himself after coming to the brink of tears following the Great Danes win.
With 7.3 seconds remaining, and the score tied at 59, senior point guard Mike Black had stood at the top of the key, staring down highly-touted Seawolves freshman Carson Puriefoy. It seemed to be the tailor-made situation for a symbolic changing of the guard – from Black to Puriefoy as premier America East point guard and Albany to Stony Brook as the premier SUNY program.
Except it didn’t play out like that.
Just as he had almost exactly four months earlier in the Great Danes upset over Washington – the programs first ever win over a true-BCS school and arguably the biggest regular season win in program history – Black blew by his man off a crossover dribble, drove right through the lane, and finished in traffic at the rim, kissing the final of his 16 points off the glass for the win. (more…)