On Saturday night, the Siena Saints and the UAlbany Great Danes will take the court at the Times Union Center for the annual Albany Cup. Last year, the Danes took the game by a final score of 81-72 and will try to make it their fifth win in the past six years tonight. Let’s break down tonight’s matchup.
The Saints come into Saturday with a record of 2-6 and have struggled to find any kind of traction so far this season. Sometimes, they look great as they did in their game against Hofstra on November 25 and in the first half against Louisville in their last game on Wednesday. Other times, they look sluggish and struggle, as they did against Florida Gulf Coast and a road game against Bucknell, where the defense allowed 115 points. The underlying theme of this team is that they are young and still adjusting to Division 1 college basketball. Freshman Prince Oduro has been making great strides as of late, especially on the boards. If they want to win this game, they will need him to step up.
Ahsante Shivers has also played well lately, putting up 13+ points in four of the Saints’ past six games, including a career-high 19 points against St. Bonaventure on November 29. If he plays well, the Saints can keep this a game.
However, the biggest key to winning this game for Siena is to not allow Albany to go on a run, especially if it comes at the end of the first half or early in the second half. They trailed Florida Gulf Coast by eight with 14 minutes remaining in their home opener, the Eagles went on a run, and Siena lost by 33. The same thing happened against St. Bonaventure. They kept it close for most of the first half, and St. Bonaventure went on a run at the end of the first half and won 75-55. They gave the Capital Region hope in the first half in Louisville, leading at some points in the first half and trailed by three at the break, only to have the Cardinals go on a 16-0 run early in the second half and win by 26. If they allow Albany to go on a run, even if it’s 8-0 or 12-4, something similar to that, the game can be called over.
UAlbany comes into the night as one of the best mid-major programs in the country and boast a record of 9-1. Additionally, they come into the night on a three-game winning streak. This is the best squad that Will Brown has had in years, and would be a sure-fire pick to win the America East if not for Vermont.
The Danes overpower the Saints in this game, having experienced players that have played in atmospheres like this one before, and have the offensive firepower in Joe Cremo, David Nichols and Travis Charles. They also have big men that can go up and get rebounds, the main one coming in 6-7 forward Greig Stire, who is averaging over seven rebounds per game this season. He can also score, and is always a double-double threat.
The key to win this game for UAlbany is to just play their game like they have all season long, having rode it to a 9-1 overall record. If they get their starters to do what they do and get bench production from guys like Alex Foster and Costa Anderson, they should be able to cruise to a victory.
Score prediction: UAlbany: 82, Siena: 66
Venue: Times Union Center, Albany
Game time: 7:30 p.m.
Radio: 98.7 FM, 1300 AM (Siena broadcast), 104.5 FM (UAlbany broadcast)
Live stream: myspectrumsports.com, ESPN3