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John Iati


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Danes' Iati gets green light

Freshman point guard is UAlbany's outside threat

 

By MARK SINGELAIS, Staff writer

First published: Wednesday, November 19, 2003

 

ALBANY -- No one had to convince Jon Iati to shoot the basketball in high school. He scored a school-record 2,216 points during his stellar career at York (Pa.) Catholic.

Of course, that mentality has to change now that Iati is a freshman point guard for the University at Albany. He must think pass first and work his way slowly into the offense.

 

Right? Dead wrong.

 

University at Albany coach Will Brown is encouraging Iati, who is 5-foot-9, 162 pounds, to shoot early and often for the Great Danes to be successful this season. Iati will be in the starting lineup when the Great Danes open their season at 8 p.m. Friday against Siena College at Pepsi Arena.

 

"You can't ask for anything else, I guess, when the coach kind of gives you the green light (to shoot)," Iati said after Tuesday's practice.

 

Brown said he actually yelled at Iati during preseason scrimmages against Canisius and the Big Apple All-Stars because he was passing up shots.

 

"I told him, 'I'll tell you when you take a bad shot,' " Brown said. " 'Right now, any time you have an inch (of space), you need to let it go.' "

 

The lesson must have taken hold. Brown said that Iati hit six 3-pointers in 20 minutes against Canisius and shot 7-for-15 from behind the arc against the Big Apple All-Stars. No official stats were kept in either scrimmage.

 

"He's not a good, he's a tremendous perimeter shooter," Brown said.

 

It's a threat the Great Danes (7-21 last season) didn't have at that position a year ago. Former point guard Earv Opong was very quick but didn't have a reliable jump shot, which allowed teams to back off him and double-team other players.

 

Brown said he needs Iati to take at least 10 shots per game, especially with star sophomore shooting guard Jamar Wilson out with a fractured kneecap suffered in practice Nov. 6.

 

Wilson is expected to miss at least Friday's game and the Nov. 28 contest at the University of Pittsburgh. Wilson will be re-evaluated next week.

 

With walk-on Courtney Johnson the primary backup at point guard, Brown said it's possible Iati could play the entire game on Friday.

 

It will be a test for Iati's surgically-repaired shoulder. Iati underwent an operation Aug. 6 to repair a torn labrum in his right (shooting) shoulder.

 

Iati only has been cleared to practice with contact for about a week. Brown said Iati still is worried about reinjuring the shoulder, a mental hurdle he'll have to clear.

 

"It feels good," Iati said. "I did three months of rehab on it, so everything's good. It's fully healed. It did (worry me) the first day back, but I know that I can take a good shot (on the shoulder). I'm not worried about that at all."

 

The other concern is whether Iati's confidence will hold up as well as his shoulder because he'll be making his first career start in front of an expected crowd of more than 10,000 people for this regional rivalry. Iati said the largest crowd he played in front of was 4,000 in a high school state playoff game.

 

"I'm sure I'm going to be a little nervous, but hopefully once the game starts, that will go away," Iati said.

 

coach Rob Lanier hasn't seen Iati play, but has heard about his outside shot. Iati averaged 23.7 points and 5.0 assists per game as a high school senior last year.

 

"He's got a reputation as a great shooter," Lanier said. "Any time there's somebody on the floor who can shoot the ball, you'd have to honor that." : Brown said sophomore forward/center Jamal Hughes "probably" won't play Friday because he is home in Rochester tending to "family and personal" matters. Brown said the 6-foot-8 Hughes might have started.

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On Roger Wyland's Radio Show

 

Coach Brown raved about John Iati. Personally I am shocked - Brown is usually reserved. Last year he was high on Jamar and Levi but was pretty low key about them other than saying they'd be good. He hyped them when their play proved that they were good.

 

I hope the Iati can handle it. Like it or not he's a marked man and he's never played a college game, and he's really not in tip-top game shape yet as he's only been cleared for contact in the last week and in the last scrimmage played with a shoulder brace under a "T" shirt.

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