UAlbany: Game, Black are both uncertainties
University at Albany is playing the waiting game.
The Great Danes are studying their scouting reports and practicing with the intention of taking on the Maine Black Bears today at 3 p.m. at Alfond Arena in Orono, Maine, but if the winter storm continues to batter New England as expected, the game might have to be postponed until Sunday.
In order to avoid possible travel delays from Friday’s storm, the Great Danes left after Thursday’s practice session at SEFCU Arena and arrived in Maine early Friday morning. They crushed the University of Maryland Baltimore County Wednesday night in Baltimore, and came back to Albany immediately for the quick turnover.
“We’re playing, I guess,” said coach Will Brown Friday afternoon. “We plan on playing, but if the refs can’t make it to the arena, and if the [game] officials can’t make it, they might call it off. I’ve been contacting our league officials regularly to see if anything has changed. Although we’re only 15 minutes away from the arena, they are predicting 12 to 18 inches of snow here, including periods where there is a couple of inches of snow coming down every hour, and it could take us an hour and a half just to get to the game.”
Brown said he and his team have made plans to remain in Maine to play on Sunday, if necessary.
Besides the weather concerns, Brown is also worried about senior point guard Mike Black, who sprained his ankle against the Retrievers in the first half of Wednesday night’s game. He scored nine points in the first half before the injury, and never returned in the second half.
“We practiced today, and Mike spent the whole time in the whirlpool,” said Brown.”He feels better, but we won’t make a decision on whether he plays until [today]. Our trainer, Jay Geiger, will take a look at the ankle before the game, and if Mike feels like he can play, and if Jay thinks that Mike can play without hurting it, we’ll give him the green light. But if Jay Geiger doesn’t think Mike is ready, we’re not going to take the risk.”
If Black can’t suit up, junior guard DJ Evans will get the start. Evans played well in the second half of Wednesday night’s game, and scored a career-high 12 points in 24 minutes. Redshirt freshman Peter Hooley will slide over from the small forward or wing position to the point to give Evans some rest from time to time.
“We played very well against UMBC the other night,” said Brown. “They had been playing well themselves, with three wins in their last four games, including the last two in a row. We used a lot of players again, just like we did against Binghamton in the Big Purple Growl. We were already up by 17 at halftime when Mike got hurt, and then everyone contributed in the second half.”
The Great Danes led by as much as 33 points in the second half against the Retrievers en route to the 76-56 victory. Jacob Iati, who was scoreless in the first 20 minutes, finished with 14 points to lead a balanced effort.
“We are just playing it all by ear right now,” Brown said. “We would like to play, but there is nothing we can do about the weather.”
UAlbany (7-4 America East Conference, 18-7 overall), bounced back from a three-point losing streak to win its last two games. Black (14.9 ppg) and Iati (12.7 ppg) continue to led the Great Danes in scoring, but they are getting plenty of contributions from the entire roster lately.
Maine, 3-7 and 8-15, is riding a four-game losing streak. The Black Bears are led by senior guard Justin Edwards (17.0 ppg) and sophomore forward Alasdair Fraser (13.0 ppg, 8.7 rebounds).