The 3rd team on my list for teams on the rise is the Albany Great Danes. Wait what? They went 19-15 and they play in the American East...yes, I’m well aware of the season they just had. Stony Brook won the conference and lose 3 of their top 4 scorers, and 2 of those guys were in the top 3 in rebounding on the team as well. Vermont loses their second leading scorer, but they will still be very good as they bring back Four McGlynn. Yes, you read that name right. Boston University loses there best player and two other key contributors. The other teams in the conference are inferior and all lose key players, except Binghamton…but they went 2-29 this year.
Albany led the American East in scoring while also leading the conference in all shooting percentages. They don’t lose anyone and return the conference’s leading scorer in Gerardo Suero (21.6 ppg) and the third leading playmaker in Mike Black (4.2 apg). Eight guys this year averaged over 15 mpg and their 6th leading scorer only played 12 mpg.
The backcourt consists of Suero, Black, and Logan Aronhalt. Suero was seventh in the Nation in scoring at 21.6 ppg, led the team in rebounding at 5.8, averaged 3.1 apg and shot 46 37 and 83. He did average 4.2 topg though, so that is a bit of a concern. Aronhalt was hurt for the last month of the season. After his injury the team went 4-4. He was averaging 15.0 4.6 and was shooting very well from deep before he was injured. Black averaged 13.4 points and almost 3 boards with his 4.2 assists. He’s also a tough defender who draws draws charges often. All three will be seniors next season, so they will have plenty of experience.
The frontcourt will be 6’9 240 C Blake Metcalf and 6’8 230 Luke Devlin. Devlin was also injured at the end of the season but played through it for numerous games. He was a So. and he averaged 5.4 and 4.4 in just about 20 mpg. Metcalf averaged 4.4 and 5.4 in 22 mpg. He’s raw but gives great effort. He’ll be a Sr. next year as well.
Jayson Guerrier, Jacob Iati, Ralph Watts and John Puk are the key reserves. Guerrier started a bit at the end of the season due to the injuries and will also be a Sr. next year. He averaged almost 11 ppg when he started and is a 6’4 205 G/F. His shooting percentages were 47 43 and 70. Iati was also given a few starts at the end of the year. He’ll be another Sr. and he is an excellent shooter from the outside and he hit his stride at the end of the year scoring over 20 points in three of the last five games. He finished the game tonight with 23 points and had seven 3’s. Watts’s numbers don’t really stand out; he just plays often, can get to the rim and adds size on the wing. John Puk is 6’10 260 and gives them some length down low and rebounding. His minutes were extremely inconsistent so we’ll see what happens with him, but he provides great size either way. Freshman forward Sam Rowley came in tonight and added 10 and 8.
Against some good teams: Against Syracuse Suero and Aronhalt combined for 51 and 11. Black also chipped in 11. Against Pitt the 3 guards had 41 of the teams 56 points. Against Maryland, Suero had 22 7 and 8, while the other two combined for 26 7 and 5. Against Stony Brook they combined for 60 the first meeting, 51 the second and without Aronhalt, Black and Suero had only 27 in the third. The only time they were healthy against Vermont (who’s won their 1st round matchup tonight) they combined for 42. Blake Metcalf had 6 and 12 against George Mason with 7 offensive rebounds. Devlin had 16 and 5 against Maryland. The frontcourt clearly isn’t very good scoring wise, but the guards can hang with anyone.
Albany could be the team to beat in the American East next year, although Vermont will be very good too. They shoot the ball extremely well; go nine deep (ten if Rowling gets minutes) and have a lot of experience. They could get to the line a bit more, rebound better and be more efficient with the basketball but they have the talent to be a tourney team next season.