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Albany - Siena 2005

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I guess by now everyone knows that the day of the Albany - Siena game is my favorite of the year. I hated that the game was played on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving this past year. In past years many more of my friends from outside the Capital District have been able to come when the game was on a Friday night. Actually, I think a Saturday night would be optimal. I also have been thinking that the coming year's game should be the best ever, in terms of anticipation. Now that we have shown the ability to win, many of our previously skeptical alumni have become energized. And, the Siena faithful are sure to come out and see their new coach and recruits in action. I honestly think the coming game could sell out the Pepsi if played on a Saturday night.


But now, I read McElroy's quote in this morning's Gazette, talking about our players. "They will learn not to be intimidated. When you play in front of 12,000 people at UCLA, you can play anywhere, including places like Binghamton and Vermont. And the week before, they will be playing in Gainesville, Fla. in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. That tough schedule should help us."


Point one. If I recall, the dates of Coaches vs. Cancer are November 10 and 11. This would put the west coast trip over the weekend of November 18-20, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Does this mean the Siena game will be November 22, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving again? I sincerely hope not.


Point two. Were our players honestly intimidated in Binghamton and Vermont? I was not at either of the regular season games there. I was at the tournament game and do not think we were intimidated. Not to over-simplify, but the whole game came down to our tactic (which I wholeheartedly agreed with) to defend below the three point line and they simply shot better than anyone could have expected. Based on statistics and the fact that the BingU students chose Zoellner to taunt, it might appear that he was intimidated, but it really didn't look that way to me. And if the reason Jamar could not drive the lane as he often does was because of intimidation, it was not the crowd, but the fact that he picked up 4 offensive fouls in his prior game there.


Point three. I would like to see a more winnable game somewhere in the early part of the season. I don't think our circumstance next year will be similar to Siena's this year, because they were breaking in 4 or 5 freshmen and/or redshirts, but there is a small part of me that believes they overscheduled early, then when they lost to us in what I'm sure they felt was their most winnable game, it set the stage for a disasterous year. I'm thinking we'll have much more mature leadership next year, but would like to hear everyone's thoughts.

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It is not the size of the crowd but often the closeness of the crowd which makes Bing and UVM far different than UCLA. That being said, I don't think it is crowds that intimidate--it is teams and players that intimidate. Having played HS and 4 years in college, I can't remember a crowd that had an effect(sp?) on a game although I am sure they probably did. A super difficult OOC schedule is scary but if I were a player I would love it. You can't grow playing the have nots.

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1. I don't know that intimidation is the right word - Vermont is a better team and it is difficult to beat them in general, but much more difficult in from of 3,000 loud fans. The same is true for Binghamton - only the team isn't as talented.


2. Not sure you want to start the year off with 4 tough games - you lose 4 in a row and nobody remembers that you were playing in front of 12k fans. Given this schedule, I think the team needs to take a few weeks and go on a pre-season trip to get some games in - I think Maine went to Canada last year.


3. Albany struggled throughout the entire conference season in three areas:

1. Perimeter defense. Binghamton lit them up in the first game and the third game, Northeastern won the game at the RACC when they shot so well, Sorrentine in the second half at the RACC...

2. Perimeter shooting. Albany ended up third or fourth in conference games shooting from the 3 point range, but the number was relatively low. Jordan had an incredible start but he and the rest of the team struggled from the perimeter for most of the conference season. Brent Wilson had some nice games and Jordan had a couple of nice games - Vermont at the RACC.

3. Consistent post play. Zoellner was great against Siena, I was sitting next to a Siena fan who kept asking why they wouldn't just dump the ball down low as Zoellner was dunking, using drop steps... Not sure what happened but he wasn't consistent for the rest of the season. One thing that I did notice was that once the conference season started, Brown made a point of starting the half court offense by feeding the post. I don't know if that was a good idea, there were so many games where Zoellner wasn't able to convert and Albany ended up with ony a few points at the 5 minute mark, training in the game.


I think the big issue is that when you start out down in so many games, it is difficult to have the energy on the road to make the comeback.

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