We all know the cliches. More often than not they're all true. Games matter and plays matter and caring about both of them is sometimes the most important part of it all.
|via UAlbany athletics|
So, what happens when a game, technically, doesn't matter?
That's the conundrum facing the University at Albany men's basketball team on Saturday afternoon. The Great Danes take on America East rival Vermont at 2 p.m. at SEFCU Arena after gametime had been switched so that it could be seen on ESPN3. Essentially the idea was that these two teams would be battling it out for league supremacy, fighting for the regular season title and by default, the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
It didn't really play out like that.
UAlbany clinched the No. 1 seed on Wednesday night and Vermont followed up by settling into the No. 2 seed not long afterwards. But, here's the thing, they still have to play each other.
"Right now our focus, obviously, is we want to win," said coach Will Brown. "We want to be healthy, focused and ready to defend our America East Conference Tournament championship. That’s our mindset right now."
This game offers the Danes a chance to have a bit of fun, to test out some new looks without giving away every single weapon in their collective basketball arsenal. Brown said he might throw UAlbany into a diamond and one or triangle and two defensive look but also made sure to add that he wouldn't "show too many cards in case we have to play again."
The big thing for UAlbany in this game is to give some players a bit of a chance to prove themselves. It seems fairly safe to assume that guys like Evan Singletary and Sam Rowley won't notch their usual 30-plus minutes a game but that doesn't mean that other players like Mike Rowley or even Wheeler Baker and Tre Green won't see extended time on the court.
One person Brown is certain he wants to remain on the court though is Peter Hooley who hopes to be back up to his previous season average heading into the conference tournament.
"There’s really one guy that I’m concerned about his minutes and that’s Peter," Brown said. "I’d like to play him heavier minutes, get him to 28, 30 minutes if possible. Other than that I think I’ll be very relaxed. I think our group will be relaxed."
UAlbany has no plans to do anything but play to win. It may be an unorthodox approach for a team that has already clinched home court advantage in the conference tournament but it's also a team that simply despises losing, even when it supposedly "doesn't matter."
That being said, the Danes are also well aware that nothing will change if they do lose today. It will not detract from what they've already done or what they hope to do. But then again, neither will winning.
"If Vermont comes in here and beats us and we’re fortunate enough to meet again down the road are we going to be concerned or worried that they beat us in here? Are we not going to be as confident? No. Not at all," Brown said. "If we win that game, what does it mean? We won our last regular season game, let’s go defend our conference tournament title."