Jump to content

UAlbany Athletics- America East-
SOCIAL MEDIA: UAlbany Facebook- UAlbany Instagram- UAlbany Twitter- UAlbany Blog-
MEDIA: Albany Student Press- America East TV- ESPN3- Schenectady Gazette- The Team 104.5 ESPN Radio- The Team 104.5 ESPN Radio Archive interviews- Times Union College Sports- Times Union Sports- WCDB- WOFX 980-
WINTER SPORTS LINKS: College Insider- Pomeroy Ratings- Real TimeRPI-
SPRING SPORTS LINKS: Inside Lacrosse- Lax Power Backup Stick-
OTHER FORUMS: America East Forum- Any Given Saturday Forum- Championship Subdivision forum(1-AA Discussion) The Hen House - Siena Forum- Stony Brook Forum- Vermont Forum

article - Hoopville

Recommended Posts

Sam Perkins is Hoopville's America East Conference staff writer.

A Boston native, Sam is a triple threat, with hoops, football, and serious baseball skills.


This time, it's the size of the Dog in the Fight


by Sam Perkins


BOSTON - Before the start of the season, most America East followers circled Wednesday night's match up between the Albany Great Danes and the Boston University Terriers as an early battle for conference supremacy, and a potential preview for the conference championship game. Instead, Wednesday night was contest between two teams in need of a win, two teams struggling to find an identity, and two teams who needed to stay out of the conference basement at all costs.


Both Boston University and Albany were coming into the game following bad losses, with Albany getting blown out by Binghamton at home and Boston University losing badly to a Hartford squad playing a sub-par game of its own. Dropping to 1-3 would be disastrous for a Terrier squad picked almost unanimously to finish first in the conference, and a 2-3 start would be equally disastrous for an Albany squad trying to regroup.


The game would prove to be a battle between both team's stars, for Albany senior Brian Lillis, and for Boston University sophomore Corey Lowe. Both players are vital to their teams, and neither squad has been able to win when their go-to players have struggled. However, the key difference has been that Lowe has had to win the majority of the Terriers' games on his own, while Albany has followed Lillis' lead, as when their star steps up so do the Great Danes.


"When this team plays at Brian Lillis' level energy and enthusiasm wise, it's as good as any in this league, when it doesn't it's as bad as any team in this league," remarked Albany head coach Will Brown.


Maybe it's simply more talent in his supporting cast, or maybe it's a different mindset, or senior leadership that can explain why the Danes tend to step up around there star, while Lowe has had to win games single handedly.


"It's putting too much pressure on him," remarked Terriers' Head Coach Dennis Wolff. "There's a feeling from him where he's got to make plays. And he's playing to help us win, but what we have to do is get these other guys involved more, and it's them and not him."


Albany came out fast, with the Terriers unable to match the Danes' energy on the court. Brent Wilson torched the Terriers from behind the arc, with Lillis scoring by slashing to the hoop, and Brian Connelly set up shop in the paint. The Terriers, who have struggled all season long early in their games, soon found themselves trailing 31-14.


"We didn't match their intensity to start," remarked Wolff. "I don't think we worked hard enough to get a good shot early."


Albany's team energy was on another level from Boston University's to open the game, and Wilson attributed that to a sense of urgency the team felt.


"When we play like our backs are up against the wall, we're a very good team," said Wilson. "But when we just kind of go out there and go through the motions, the results show."


As good as Albany was, the Terriers were that bad to start, moving around lethargically on the court and displaying poor shot selection. But most troubling was how easily Albany was able to break through the Terriers' defense, something that had been a staple of Wolff-coached teams. Said Wolff: "Our defense is not good right now. If we're picking these stat sheets up at the end of the game and their shooting fifty-four percent, we're losing."


But as has been the norm for most of the season, opponents can only contain Corey Lowe for so long, and the Terriers' sophomore came alive late in the first half, hitting from well behind the arc and getting to the hoop in transition. Lowe's emergence couldn't have come at a better time, as some questionable calls led to both Wilson and Lillis spending extended time on the bench, and Albany's offense began to flounder as the Terriers picked up, and the Danes went in to the locker room clinging to a 34-26 lead.


Boston University came out of the half with a renewed energy on the court, with Lowe and freshman John Holland energizing the crowd of 1,800-plus, as their highlight reel dunks brought "the Roof," to a volume that it hasn't reached in years. Unfortunately, every time Boston University went on a run, Albany answered, and for every high-flying dunk, there was a Jon Iati three-pointer, or a Connelly lay-up.


And when Albany couldn't capitalize on their first try, there was usually a second or third opportunity, as the Danes destroyed BU on the boards in out-rebounding them 38-20, and pulling down 14 offensive rebounds to BU's ten defensive boards. With all of their offensive problems, the Terriers lack of any semblance of an inside presence may be their hardest to overcome, as Wolff has found his team out-rebounded and out-muscled nightly, with no real answer in sight.


"You can't get out-rebounded by the number that we were out-rebounded and think your going to have a chance to win," said Wolff. "Particularly when you're giving them second and third chances after we've had half-decent defensive possessions. To me that was the whole story of the game."


Yet even with the Terriers' struggles, they still had a chance down the stretch, but Lillis once again stepped up, hitting nine foul shots down the stretch (he hit fifteen of sixteen on the night). For Brown, however, Lillis was most important when it came down to the foul shots he passed up.


"He's a funny kid, because he made fifteen out of sixteen, but when we needed to inbound the ball, he said 'Coach, let me inbound the ball,' so that shows how unselfish he is, because with a lot of kids, when they're in the groove, they want to get back to the line and get some more points."


Equally important for Brown was just keeping Lillis on the court, as Lillis picked up his fourth foul with four minutes left in the game, and Brown summoned him to the bench. But after Lillis pleaded with him to remain in the game, Brown conceded, and Lillis then went on to put the game away, as Albany held on for a 70-63 victory, and Lillis finished with a game-high 27 points and a career-high twelve rebounds.


Coming into the season, Brown had felt that Lillis would need to step up his scoring for the Danes to be successful, especially with the departure of seniors Jamar Wilson and Jason Siggers. But even Brown didn't imagine that Lillis, a defensive stopper who averaged below seven points a game last year, would become the leading scorer in conference games, and a potential player of the year candidate. Lillis has stepped up his game from role player to star, and Brown won't hesitate to speak his mind on how important he feels his senior captain is.


"I think Brian's the best player in this league right now, definitely the most valuable player in this league," he offered. "He's had one sub-par game in league play and that was against (the University of New Hampshire), and the whole team was flat. Other than that, he's dominated every game he's played in."


For the Great Danes, the victory over the Terriers is the kind that could make a season, as they now appear to be headed in the right direction, with Lillis proving that he can be a go to scorer, and the supporting cast realizing their roles.


The Terriers, however, are a team full of questions and few answers. Wolff knows what he has in Lowe, who finished with a team-high 20 points and continues to put up gaudy scoring numbers despite facing double teams. Holland, who finished with 19, continues to improve, and if they can get Carlos Strong and Tyler Morris going, BU will be in games as long as they can shoot.


However, it is going to be very hard for BU to compete with top-tier teams as long as they get nothing in the paint, and it is hard to imagine this current Terriers squad competing with the post play of UMBC, Hartford, Binghamton, and Vermont.


Sam Perkins is a Hoopville staff writer living in Boston. He can be contacted by clicking here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...