Getting You Ready For the America East Final
The UAlbany men's basketball team goes for its third consecutive America East title on Saturday morning (11 a.m.) when the Danes host Stony Brook at SEFCU Arena.
The game is sold out, so if you couldn't get a ticket, you can watch on ESPN 2.
Here's what you need to know:
Seasons at a Glance: UAlbany comes in at 23-8 after finishing first in the America East Conference with a 15-1 league record. Stony Brook earned the No. 3 seed in the league after going 23-10 and 12-4 in league play. UAlbany won its first 12 America East games (Jan. 3-Feb. 10).
Season Meetings: The two teams split in the regular season, as Stony Brook provided UAlbany with its only loss of the league season. UAlbany won at Stony Brook on Jan. 19th, 64-47, in the first game after Peter Hooley's leave from the team. The Seawolves rebounded on Feb. 17 to beat the Danes, 59-56 at SEFCU Arena.
Tournament History: No. 4 UAlbany beat Stony Brook for the league championship in 2014. UAlbany is 2-3 against the Seawolves in America East tournament play.
Star Power: If UAlbany is going to take the America East, they need to get good performances from their big three. Sam Rowley (14.0 ppg), Peter Hooley (13.8) and Evan Singletary (13.1) need to score. The guards will be especially important as Rowley will presumably have his hands full with Stony Brook star Jameel Warney. Warney is the reigning league Player of the Year, averaging 16.4 ppg and 11.2 boards. The 6'8'' big man will be a force down low. If Stony Brook can get consistent play out of guard Carson Puriefoy (14.0), they will have a great chance at the "upset."
Keys For UAlbany: 1. On offense, the Danes need to get production out of Hooley. He missed the first meeting after returning to Australia, and he was just getting his role back in the second meeting. The Seawolves haven't seen a full dose of Hooley this season, and he can be a huge spark. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see Hooley start. He hasn't started since his return to the team, but that may go out the window when playing for the league crown.
2. Defensively, the Danes need to be able to get production out of their rotation of big men. No one person will stop Warney. They need to stay out of foul trouble and get valuable minutes from Sam Rowley, Mike Rowley, Greig Stire, and Richard Peters.
3. Utilize the crowd. The sold-out SEFCU Arena can see the Danes clinch the league title on its own home court, something it hasn't had the opportunity for in the last two years.
Keys For Stony Brook:
1. Get a Third Scorer: Warney and Puriefoy are the only Seawolves starters who register double-figures. If Stony Brook is going to win, they'll need to establish a third option. When they beat UA in February, Scott King contributed 12 points to Warney's 20 and Puriefoy's 15.
2. Take away one scorer. Defensively, the Seawolves can't allow the trio of Rowley, Hooley, and Singletary to get going. They need to limit one of them. In the February meeting, Rowley and Ray Sanders led the Danes in scoring with just 12.
Prediction: This one is going to be a slugfest and a dogfight. I think that the crowd early will have the emotions jacked up. The first 10 minutes will be ugly, and the next 30 will be fun to watch. Low scoring, UAlbany wins 52-49.