How the Danes Got the Win
UAlbany defeated Mount St. Mary’s on Tuesday night, 71-64, in Dayton, Ohio, as part of the NCAA tournament’s “First Four” games.
A lot has been said about the “First Four” games (a lot of it by myself), but regardless, it is the first NCAA tournament win for the Albany program – and that’s quite an accomplishment.
The Danes will play top-seeded Florida on Thursday at 4:10 p.m. And while no 16-seed has ever beaten a No. 1, just remember that the Danes led top-seeded Connecticut in 2006 as late as 10 minutes to go.
Not saying the historic upset is going to happen, just saying that if anyone can do it, Will Brown will be the guy who knows what it takes.
You can read the game summary here, courtesy of the Albany Sports Information Department, but basically UA got out to a roaring 21-2 start, before the Mount used the same run to tie the game at 23-23 in the first half.
Albany trailed briefly in the second half before hitting some big shots and pulling away by as much as seven. Mount St. Mary’s had two chances to tie the game inside a minute to play, but couldn’t hit.
This is more about WHY the Danes won the game.
The X-Factor, D.J. Evans
Yesterday I talked with Laura Amato of the Troy Record, and I asked her who was going to step up for Albany outside of Peter Hooley and Sam Rowley. She thought it was going to be Jon Puk, who had eight points and five rebounds.
I thought Gary Johnson was going to be a big factor, and he contributed 13 points and seven boards, but the real star was Evans.
The 5-9 guard tied his career-high with 22 points on 8-13 shooting. He also had nine rebounds. He simply did whatever he wanted. He got to the rim and he was able to defend on the perimeter.
UA is going to need every bit of that performance if they want to keep it close with Florida like the ’06 team with UConn.
Albany has been REALLY good on the boards down the stretch. Remember when they upset Vermont in the America East tournament? They out-rebounded the Catamounts by more than 15. Well, they out-rebounded Mount St. Mary’s by 19 last night.
MSM shot 37 three-pointers last night. Thirty-seven! They converted on 12, leaving 25 misses, and more often than not those misses turned in to Dane rebounds. That was a major factor.
Your ability to keep games close and then finish games at the line is huge come March. The Danes are nearly 75 percent for the season from the stripe and yesterday they were 15-19 (79 percent).
As long as they remain committed to going to the hoop against the more athletic Gators, they’ll have a reward.
The kid continues his postseason tear. He had 20 points while playing every minute of the game. He is crafty around the rim and can stretch the defense – although he was just 1-6 from three. He’ll need to find and hit open shots against the Gators.
The Only Negative
UAlbany scored 71 points. Every one of them was scored by a starter. No bench points. Doesn’t mean that the bench players don’t contribute, but they are going to need to score if the Purple and Gold want to keep it close on Thursday.
The Danes won’t be able to run with Florida, and they can ill-afford foul trouble.
But regardless of what happens Thursday, this has been a fun March in the Capital Region.