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The latest entry in the Mark Singelais UA blog:


"The University at Albany opens America East Conference play Thursday night with a road game against the University of New Hampshire in Durham.


"Here are Sunday’s probable starting lineups:


UAlbany (5-7): Sr. G Brian Lillis, 6-5 (13.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg); Fr. G Josh Martin, 6-2 (6.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg); Jr. F Brian Connelly, 6-8 (9.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg); Sr. F Brent Wilson, 6-8 (9.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg); So. C Brett Gifford, 6-11 (1.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg).


New Hampshire (3-8): Fr. C Dane DiLiegro, 6-8 (4.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg); Sr. F Mike Christensen, 6-8 (12.4 ppg 5.2 rpg); Jr. G Tyrece Gibbs, 6-3 (12.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg); Fr. G Tyrone Conley, 6-2 (8.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg); Jr. G Eric Gilchrese, 6-0 (12.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg).


"The Great Danes, the two-time defending conference champions, can look at this game as a fresh start.


“'It was a tough first couple of months for us,' UAlbany coach Will Brown said. 'It took Brent (Wilson) a while to get healthy. Jon (Iati’s) never going to be healthy and those are two guys we expected heading into the season that were going to carry a lot of the burden for us. The other thing is, we’ve still got some freshmen that are trying to figure it out. The good thing is we’ve got a lot of room to grow and a lot of room to improve. The bad thing is, conference play goes by quickly and you can’t afford to have too many bumps along the way.'”


"Something has to give in this one. UAlbany has lost six of seven, while UNH has lost seven in a row.


"The Great Danes are 10-5 against the Wildcats with wins in their past four meetings, including the last two conference tournaments.


"New Hampshire graduated two all-conference players from last year’s team, forward Blagoj Janev and guard Jermaine Anderson.


"The Wildcats have rebuilt their backcourt with freshman Conley, junior college transfer Gilchrese and freshman guard Alvin Abreu (11.9 ppg). Abreu has started UNH’s past four games but is listed as a reserve in the team’s game notes.


This UNH is similar to recent editions under head coach Bill Herrion, who has favored a perimeter-oriented offense in Durham.


“'They have a perimeter guy playing the power forward in Christensen,' Brown said. 'They spread you out. They look to penetrate and kick and shoot a lot of 3’s. They’re not that big, they’re not going to put the ball inside much. The same types of problems we’ve always had against them. We’ve got to defend dribble penetration and we’ve got to defend the 3-point line.'


"Christensen is back after sitting out the second half of last season with a knee injury. UNH won’t have 6-5 forward Radar Onguetou, who has missed the past seven games with a bad knee and might sit out the season.


"UNH is forcing 17.8 turnovers per game, tied for the second-most in America East, but Brown didn’t seem to be overly concerned. The Great Danes are last in the league in turnover margin at minus-3.67 per contest.


"'Their younger kids are a little quicker and more athletic than kids they’ve had in the past,' Brown said. 'But that’s not their game to really pressure you and force turnovers and be disruptive. They’re more of a 3-point shooting, penetrating, one-on-one type team, whereas in the past they used to run a lot of sets and make sure Janev always got the ball. Now they’re quicker and more athletic and a little better off the bounce.'


"The America East is in rough shape entering league play with two games tonight. The America East is ranked 29th out of 31 Division I leagues, according to the RPI, after finishing last season at No. 21.


"The poor ranking is despite the fact the America East also has the 28th-ranked strength of schedule.


"There have been mitigating circumstances. Preseason favorite Boston University (3-8) played its first nine games with sophomore guard Tyler Morris, last year’s Rookie of the Year in America East, who who was out with a foot injury. Vermont, already hurt by the graduation of center Chris Holm and forward Martin Klimes, was shocked by the transfer of forward Joe Trapani to Boston College. Then Catamount sophomore forward Marqus Blakely was slowed by a foot injury, although he is playing now.


"The league’s best team thus far has been Maryland-Baltimore County (8-5), which has benefitted from the arrival of seniors Cavell Johnson and Ray Barbosa, both one-year transfers from James Madison, and junior guard Darryl Proctor from Coppin State.


“'Boston University played the entire first semester without Tyler Morris,' Brown pointed out. 'Binghamton has plenty of talent and is getting used to a new coach (Kevin Broadus). Vermont’s got all their perimeter guys back, and UMBC has got all the hired guns. I think the league didn’t perform well in the nonconference, maybe outside of UMBC, for a variety of the reasons I just indicated.'”

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I'd say that the league's RPI is down because of the 28th-ranked strength of schedule, not despite it. That's the way RPI works, AE would probably 24th even with a winning record against those teams, and there isn't a lot of difference between 16th and 29th.


Today's story: Danes down, but so is league


Danes begin league play in the Gazette points out that this Durham will be less boisterous than the last one we played at.

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