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Team Report

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Albany Team Report


Yahoo! Sports Oct 18, 2:23 pm EDT



Buzz Up




Getting Inside


Albany slipped to 15-15 last season after two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, and the Great Danes aren’t likely to get back to the national stage this season as coach Will Brown must replace seven letter-winners.


Senior forward Brian Connelly is the eighth-leading returning scorer in the America East this season after averaging 10.1 points and 5.3 rebounds last season. He shot 48 percent from the field. Two other senior forwards return to the starting lineup, but both are role players. Jerel Hastings averaged 4.9 points and 3.2 rebounds a game, and Jimmie Covington had averages of 1.7 points and 1.9 rebounds.


Sophomore guard Tim Ambrose figures to get an expanded role after making the conference’s all-rookie team last season when he averaged 7.2 points and shot 81 percent from the free-throw line while coming off the bench. Junior guard Michael Johnson, a junior college transfer from Blinn College in Texas, figures to run the point.



Two other newcomers who should add scoring punch off the bench are sophomore guard Louis Barraza, a junior college transfer from Yavapai College in Arizona, and freshman guard Anthony Raffa from Strathmere, N.J. Sophomore forward Al Turley and sophomore center Brett Gifford will be the top reserves inside.


Notes, Quotes


• Albany will play host to the America East Conference tournament for the first time this season at the SEFCU Arena from March 6-8.


• Albany has won at least 10 conference games in each of the past three seasons after notching a combined 20 victories during its first four seasons in the America East.


Strengths: Albany likes to play a 94-foot game and has the athletic players to do so. The Great Danes hit the boards with abandon.


Weaknesses: Albany doesn’t have many players who have proven they can score on the collegiate level.


Last Year: 15-15 overall, 10-6 in the America East.


Head Coach: Will Brown (career 91-108); eighth year at Albany (91-108).


Quote To Note: “I think we are ready to start the season. We have enjoyed a productive fall, and I am anxious to see how the players respond to a structured practice setting.”—Coach Will Brown.


Strategy And Personnel


Scouting The Newcomers: Albany will have six new players on the roster, three freshmen and three junior college transfers.


Junior Michael Johnson is likely to make the most immediate impact, as he figures to be the starting point guard after transferring from Blinn College in Texas. Sophomore G Louis Barraza, a transfer from Yavapai College in Arizona, is also expected to get significant minutes, while junior F Scotty McRae is more of a wild card.


G Anthony Raffa is the top freshman, as he can play both backcourt positions and score. He played prep ball at Winchendon (Mass.) School. G Logan Aronhalt was the Ohio player of the year in Division I, the lowest classification, while starring at Zanesville High School. Forward Jake Lindfors was second-team all-Illinois at Driscoll Catholic High School in Addison.


Key Early-season Games: Albany is never afraid to play top competition, and that is the case this season. The Great Danes open with road games at Villanova and DePaul and they also will visit defending national champion Kansas and cross-town rival Siena.


Program Direction: Will Brown has steadily built Albany into one of the top programs in the American East, though the Great Danes slipped to .500 last season following back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances. Albany might not get back to the postseason this season, but a strong recruiting class ensures it should be competitive for years to come.


Probable Starting Lineup: PG Michael Johnson, SG Tim Ambrose, SF Jerel Hastings, PF Brian Connelly, C Jimmie Covington.


Roster Report:


• F Will Harris transferred from Virginia with two seasons of eligibility remaining and will sit out this season. He averaged 2.7 points and 2.5 rebounds a game last season for the Cavaliers before missing the final 14 games because of injury.


• G Josh Martin, who started five games as a freshman last season, was dismissed from the team over the summer for repeated violations of team rules. He averaged 5.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists a game last winter.


• Albany has received verbal commitments from forwards Gavin Glanton of Forrest City (Ark.) High School and Ralph Watts of Peekskill (N.Y.) High School and centers Blake Metcalf of Plainfield (Ind.) High School and John Puk of West High School in Waterloo, Iowa.

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