March Madness kicks off tonight with the Albany Great Danes taking on the Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers in Orlando. Neither team has seen much success in the NCAA Tournament, with only one combined tournament win between the two teams. The pair bring diametric styles into the game, with Albany a bigger, slower paced team and Mount St. Mary’s typically playing at a more frenzied pace. This juxtaposition of styles should make for an interesting match-up.
Game: #16 Albany Great Danes vs. #16 Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers
Play: Tuesday,Orlando, FL
|Albany||Mount St. Mary’s|
|America East Conference||Northeast Conference|
|Record: 18-14, 9-7||Record: 16-16, 9-7|
|Coach: Will Brown||Coach: Jamion Christian|
|Best Wins: Stony Brook, Vermont, Yale||Best wins: Robert Morris|
|Worst losses: at Pittsburgh, Bucknell||Worst losses: West Virginia, Michigan State, BYU|
|Strengths: Defense, Free Throw Shooting||Strengths: Scoring, Three-Point Shooting|
|Weaknesses: Shooting, Rebounding, Assist-TO ratio||Weaknesses: Defense, Rebounding, Size|
|Albany||Mount St. Mary’s|
|C – John Puk – 6’10”||C – Taylor Danaher – 7’0”|
|F – Sam Rowley – 6’6”||G – Byron Ashe– 6’0”|
|F – Gary Johnson – 6’6”||G – Rasheed Whack – 6’3”|
|G – DJ Evans – 5’9”||G – Sam Prescott – 6’3”|
|G – Peter Hooley – 6’4”||G – Julian Norfleet – 6’2”|
Key Match-up: G Peter Hooley vs. G Rasheed Whack
Peter Hooley and Rashad Whack kickoff March Madness with a sharpshooter match-up. The pair are the best three-point shooters and highest scoring players on their respective teams and will end up guarding each other on the perimeter at times. Expect them each to launch their fair share of threes. Mount St. Mary’s enjoys playing at a frenetic pace, launching a lot of long shots and using a press often. Albany is best at a slower pace, but may be forced to play quicker to beat the trap. These teams are essentially polar opposites, so whichever star play has the better shooting night will determine the outcome.
.Peter Hooley comes into March Madness hot, carrying the Albany Great Danes through the conference tournament. They lost their only game to a tournament team when Pittsburgh defeated them by a score of 58-46. The Great Danes outmatch St. Mary’s size at every position except point guard; center John Puk is two inches shorter than the Mountaineers’ center Taylor Danaher, but has 20 pounds on him. Albany plays slow but have won three games scoring in the eighties, so they are capable of putting up points when necessary
Mount St. Mary’s Notes:
Head coach Jamion Christian is only 31 years old, and has been known to suit up in practice for the scout team. A former four-year player for the Mountaineers, Christian is making his first March Madness appearance as either a player or a coach in his second season leading the program. His squad is led by three seniors, guards Rashad Whack, Julian Norfleet, and Sam Prescott, all of whom score in double digits. No one on the team has any NCAA Tournament experience, but that can be an overrated asset anyway. They have a lot of game experience, plus a coach who knows his team. The Mountaineers will be outmatched physically, but play a frenetic pace and have the capability to keep opponents uncomfortable.
The first game of March Madness features a strategically interesting match-up; Albany and Mount St. Mary’s have opposing strengths and weaknesses. Each team will try to force their pace on the other side. While it is hard to slow the game when the opposition is running a press, the Great Danes play good enough defense to keep the Mountaineers’ offense in check. Albany comes out on top, 68-62.
Commentary by Brian Moore