On Sunday evening (and afternoon- not to slight the women’s game) the annual Albany Cup between the University at Albany Great Danes and Siena Saints will take place at UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena for the first time in the storied rivalry between the two programs. I preview the makeup of the Purple & Gold roster and what I believe they will need to do if they want to bring the Cup back to Mckownville.
Three Keys to the Game:
- Control the Energy- With the first Cup game being held at the SEFCU occurring and a sold-out crowd expected, energy and emotions are sure to run high- the Danes must keep a cool head, get the crowd on their side early and often, and stick to the gameplan if they want to win.
- Bench Production- In two of the three Albany wins this season the Danes have gotten 30 and 47 points, respectively, from their bench players. Either of those numbers would be a tall task against this Siena team, but above average play from players like Ennema and Charles would be huge.
- Play Your Game- UAlbany and Siena have differing offensive styles- UAlbany loves to slow it down while Siena likes to get out and run when they have the chance. UA has had a week off to prepare- they must follow their preparation and make Siena play their game for an opportunity to take the Cup.
Projected Starting Five: Guard Marqueese Grayson, Guard David Nichols, Guard Joe Cremo, Forward Mike Rowley and Forward Greig Stire.
This starting five is nothing new to the UAlbany fans who have followed the team in their first five games (3-2) of the season. Cremo has lived up to the hype so far this season, scoring in double digits in four of the five games, with the only time he did not was limited action against Oneonta. Nichols has scored 12 or more in each game so far, and while Cremo will be the lead on the Siena scout, Nichols could play a huge role if overlooked. Rowley and Stire will need to stay out of foul trouble- something they’ve each had a hard time doing early on- so Head Coach Will Brown can maximize his minutes from the big men and not need to dive deeper into his bench than he may want to.
Key Reserves: Forward Dallas Ennema, Forward Travis Charles, Guard Costa Anderson and Guard Jamir Andrews.
As mentioned in the Keys to the Game, the bench production for the Great Danes will be huge. UA has been looking for a steady third contributor from the perimeter to go with Nichols and Cremo. Ennema scored 20 points in the victory at Penn State and Grayson scored 21 against Grand Canyon, but a reliable presence from that third perimeter player- whoever it may be- on both sides of the ball is imperative.
In the frontcourt, the Danes will once again be without Jaraan Lands, the big body who provided good minutes off the bench in his first three games donned in the Purple and Gold. Lands, who aggravated a hamstring injury he sustained in the preseason, is expected to be out at least a couple of more weeks before he returns. His presence will be sorely missed against a bigger and more physical Siena team, adding on to the expectations for Charles and whoever else the Danes may use at the 4- whether it be Ennema or possibly Terrel Martin-Garcia or Devonte Campbell.
Scouting Siena: Don’t let the 2-3 record fool you- the Saints losses were a two-point loss at George Washington, at Kansas, and at UNC-Asheville, all three games in a span of five days- all on the road. Siena’s losses are definitely justifiable, and they deserve to come in this as the favorites. Four players average 14 or more points per game, three average 5 or more rebounds, 9 average more than 16 minutes; they can score in multiple different ways, they’re big, they’re physical, and they’re deep; all good ways to simply describe the Saints. If you want to get to know more about them, check out my colleague Dylan Rossiter’s Albany Cup Preview- from the Siena side- here.
Prediction: 79-71 Siena. Don’t hurt me. The Saints are what they are- bigger, more physical, deeper, and arguably more talented. With the Danes lack of size and frontcourt depth with Lands out, UAlbany will be facing a huge uphill battle on the boards, an obvious important category. However, don’t be surprised if the Danes win by five, eight, ten, maybe more. UAlbany definitely has the ability to score, and if they can limit the production from the Saints backcourt and get the frontcourt in foul trouble, the Danes should have plenty of opportunities on fresh-er legs to win the Cup back.
Jason Palatsky covers UAlbany Athletics for 518Sports.