The University of Albany Great Danes men’s basketball team was off to a fast start in the 2017-18 season finishing non conference play with a stellar 12-3 record while going toe to toe against Memphis and Louisville. However, they are currently on a two game losing streak as they have started 0-2 in conference play for the second straight year.
There are many reasons why this might be the case of this slow start to conference play but it can be boiled down to four reasons.
Poor play from Nichols:
Starting point guard David Nichols started off the season hot and continued that play throughout the entire non-conference schedule for the Danes. However, a small regression and it has seemed like Nichols has lost some confidence in his shot and his leadership qualities.
Nichols struggled early against Hartford and finished with 20 points on 46% shooting while only having nine points against New Hampshire on 20% shooting.
He and fellow guard Joe Cremo are the sole leaders on this team and need to be able to contribute on both sides of the ball and keep the rest of their teammates focused on executing each play to perfection and coming out of every game with a win.
Defensive mishaps and unable to defend from three-point range:
A lack of intensity and no sense of purpose from the defensive side of the ball has hurt the team. Against Hartford on January 3rd, they allowed the Hawks to drop 9 three-point baskets while shooting 50% from three-point range and 50% from the field overall. They allowed Hartford to make simple cuts and make the back door runs to get easy shots at the rim. Along with the easy buckets, it allowed Hartford to spread the Danes out defensively and open up for wide open shots from three-point range.
The game against New Hampshire was no different, poor defensive play allowed New Hampshire to go 10-24 from deep while the defensive rotation for the Danes against New Hampshire looked sloppy and unorganized.
Unable to out rebound opponents:
Throughout non conference play, UAlbany was one of the best rebounding teams in the country. Mid-way through conference play they had a rebounding margin of +10 which ranked them 15th in all of Division I.
As of today they have dropped to 25th in the country in rebounding margin per game but being out rebounded by both Hartford and New Hampshire led to the Danes falling behind significantly in both of those contests.
Slow starts and playing from behind after halftime:
Even from the beginning of the season, UAlbany have started close to every game off slowly. They have not come out of the gate swinging and do not get into a rhythm until close to midway through the first half of games or after their opponent has found a rhythm. This pattern of play has followed them going into conference play.
In the first conference game against Hartford, UAlbany fell behind very early and was unable to catch them until late in the game. They fought back to tie the game after being down by 20 points right after halftime. At that point, the team exerted all of their energy and made costly mistakes on defense late and Hartford ultimately pulled away and was able to come out victorious.
Against New Hampshire, the Danes had a little rhythm going but because of poor defense and close to no offense late in the first half, New Hampshire was able to go on a 9-0 run before halftime and UAlbany found themselves trailing 31-30 going into halftime of that game. If UAlbany continues to fall behind early in games, they will find themselves losing more games than they are expecting or win close games when they are expected to win by double digits.
Now, head coach Will Brown probably understands every issue his team is facing at the moment. He will be doing everything possible for his team to stay focused and keep composure throughout the rest of the season.
The UAlbany men’s basketball team looks to bounce back and get their first conference win tonight against Stony Brook University.
UAlbany will try to avoid an 0-3 start for the second straight year.
Tip off will be at 7 p.m. at SEFCU Arena while also being broadcast on ESPN3.