UAlbany not nasty enough
ALBANY Well, UAlbany can beat last-place Maine.
And the Great Danes can win at home.
They’ve proven that.
But there’s scant evidence to prove that they’re a team that can make a deep run in the America East tournament. And scant time to find out.
Saturday afternoon’s 74-63 win over the Black Bears at SEFCU Arena isn’t going to convince anyone otherwise and also served as a microcosm of a clunky season with only sporadic bursts of good play.
Like the Two-Face shorts they’ve been wearing — solid purple in back, solid white in front — the Danes can’t seem to figure out what they are.
The split personality of an inconsistent season was on full display against Maine.
The Danes took a 47-27 lead at halftime, the most points in a half this season, then let the Black Bears drive it down their throats in the second half.
Next thing you know, Maine was within a point, 57-56, with 8:02 left.
The final eight minutes were a drab, methodical response from UAlbany as they shoved Maine back to arm’s length and kept them there.
Credit UAlbany for not panicking, but it was disturbing to see the Danes playing like the 20-point halftime lead was all they needed.
“We’ve got to be a little nastier for longer stretches,” head coach Will Brown said. “I think our guys were excited about the first 20 minutes and wanted the next 20 minutes to … go away. We played like we thought the game was over at halftime.”
Brown gave his team credit for being smart enough not to buy his “Jedi mind tricks” at halftime, as he implored them to act like the score was 0-0. He also described them with words like “relaxed” and “laid-back.”
That’s a personality in stark contrast to the coach’s.
He said his biggest weakness in both his personal life and at work is stubbornness and impatience. “It’s why I don’t play golf.”
The Danes were on the verge of a Greg Normanesque collapse in a game they desperately needed.
The team hasn’t won more than two games in a row all season, nor has it lost more than three in a row.
They’re 6-1 at home and 1-5 on the road in conference play, and can console themselves to some degree with the fact that the first two rounds of the tournament are at SEFCU.
But the gap between them and the Vermont Catamounts is as wide as Lake Champlain.
“One thing I’m trying to get these guys cautious of is every game matters, every practice matters right now,” Brown said. “Don’t bank on the fact that the America East tournament is in this building. It means nothing. If we’re not playing well, we’re not winning. It’s plain and simple.
“I don’t want them to fall on that crutch of the SEFCU Arena.”
The Danes have three games to figure some things out, but through 26 games and a 13-13 record, there’s no reason to believe that they will.