Saturday, August 30, 2014

THE FIRST HALF: UAlbany vs. Holy Cross

Coach Greg Gattuso said on Thursday that big plays were "the bane of any defense." That held true for the University at Albany football team in the first half of the squad's season opener on Friday night.

The Great Danes looked solid on defense - for the first two downs. Of course, stopping the Crusaders, and reigning Patriot League Rookie of the Year Peter Pujals, on third down was an entirely different story and it was exactly one that UAlbany had been intending to write.

Holy Cross connected on 10 first downs in the opening 30 minutes of play and all but one of those came on third or fourth down conversions. The one that didn't? A first down, 51-yard pass from Pujals to Kalif Raymond that saw UAlbany safety JoJo McClary beat on the deep route down the sideline.

The Crusaders used the continued drives to their advantage on their first two attempts, with a pair of Connor Fitzgerald field goes to get Holy Cross on the board.

But it wasn't until the final seconds of the second quarter that Holy Cross was able to truly take a commanding lead.

After Peter Pujols converted on another third down in a slightly unorthodox way - he recovered his own fumble at the five yard line after a 15-yard rush - the sophomore quarterback eventually found Jake Wieczorek for a one-yard touchdown reception with just eight ticks left on the clock.

The touchdown gave Holy Cross a 13-point cushion heading into the break, a welcome reprieve for the UAlbany offense, which had been forced to punt on all four of its first half drives.

Will Fiacchi was 8-for-13 for 80 yards in the first half, but was sacked twice, including on the final play of the second quarter. Omar Osbourne led the Danes rushing attack with 44 yards on 11 attempts. If there was a defensive bright spot for UAlbany it was safety Kyle Sakowski who earned the start just a few hours before game time. The safety was in on several big stops for UAlbany and was inches away from an interception.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Tri-City extends contract with Houston

The Tri-City ValleyCats and Houston Astros will be partnering up for at least a few more years. 

The two organizations announced, in a joint statement, on Friday that they will be extending their Player Development Contract for another two years, meaning it will now last through the 2016 season. 

"The ValleyCats are pleased to continue our excellent relationship with the Houston Astros, which will mark our 15th and 16th years together," said ValleyCats President Bill Gladstone in the release. "We look forward to many more winning seasons."
Mike McMahon / The Record

Since the initial venture, in 2001, the ValleyCats have clinched six Stedler Division titles, including this season, as well as two New York-Penn League championships in 2010 and 2013. The team also was awarded the New York-Penn League Vince McNamara Outstanding Club in 2008. 

Since 2012, Tri-City has posted more wins than any other Class A Short-Season club, going 139-83 with a winning percentage of .626. This year the ValleyCats have averaged 4,170, currently ranking them fifth among NY-Penn League teams. 

"We are extremely happy to renew our partnership with Bill Gladstone and his ownership group in Tri-City," said Quinton McCracken, Astros Director of Player Development. "It is truly a first class operation and a dynamic environment for our players, one that is very conducive to developing Major League players both on and off the field of play."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

UAlbany depth chart released ahead of Saturday's season opener

As expected, the University at Albany football team has released its official depth chart heading into Saturday's season opener at Holy Cross.

We're not looking at too many major surprises here - Will Fiacchi is still obviously at quarterback and all-CAA running back Omar Osbourne is once again getting the start in the backfield.
Mike McMahon / The Record

The offensive line though is going to be interesting. There's experience up front for the Danes this season, but not much in the way of returning starters and there are some new names in this chart as opposed to the preseason release.

In other words, Adam Pasnik's 22 games as a redshirt junior are the most in terms of singular experience for anyone starting on Saturday night. Coach Greg Gattuso also mentioned after last week's inter-squad scrimmage that he and his coaching staff had been working with the o-line to ring them back to square one in terms of blocking and their approach in the trenches, so it'll be interesting to see how they handle that against Holy Cross.

The entire depth chart - offense and defense - is listed under the cut with the projected starters written out first as well as the most updated Great Danes' roster, including what players are making their way onto the field as "true freshman." That includes CBA grad (and last year's Troy Record offensive player of the year) Elliott Croskey who Gattuso thinks could see some solid time at running back this fall.

Siena releases men's basketball 2014-2015 schedule

On the heels of last week's non-conference schedule release, the Siena men's basketball team has announced its complete 2014-2015 schedule.

The MAAC, which will holds its conference tournament at the Times Union Center this March, released its entire conference schedule as well on Wednesday morning.

Siena opens league play against Quinnipiac at home on Friday December 5th before heading to Rider for the Saints' first league road game on Sunday December 7th.

Overall, including the non-league games, the Saints will host 14 games at the Times Union Center, including the annual rivalry game against UAlbany on Saturday December 13.

Siena's senior day will be held on Saturday February 21st against reigning MAAC champion Manhattan. Tipoff for that game is still TBA.

The Saints' entire schedule is listed under the cut. Bold games are at home and * games are league matchups. If a game does not have a tipoff time listed, it has yet to be announced

Friday, August 22, 2014

UAlbany back-up quarterbacks and Elliott Croskey

The University at Albany football team staged its second inter-squad scrimmage on Friday afternoon and while there was the generic "team is progressing" and everyone is confident talk after the game wrapped up, there were also a few things that stood out as far as fun facts and interesting Great Dane tidbits go.

Let's start with the question of back-up quarterback. It's an interesting one because while there are some of us who like to bill things as position battles, Greg Gattuso was pretty quick to squash that idea when it came to who is going to back up Will Fiacchi this fall.

"The second quarterback thing is really kind of a work in progress and we’re really kind of looking at them by situation of what’s going on in the game," Gattuso said. "We feel comfortable with Danny (Harding) and Ryan (Smith) and Shane (Sweeney). Even Steve (Shanley) has done some good things."

As of right now, the Danes list five quarterbacks on the roster, with only one true freshman (Steve Shanley) in the mix. Each QB brings something different to the field and Gattuso has yet to name an official back-up to Fiacchi because, quite frankly, he doesn't have to; at least not until the Great Danes get into actual games and actual on-field situations.

"I don’t have make decisions on backup quarterbacks because it really is a game situation thing," Gattuso said. "We’ve got to be ready to use whoever based on if we’re losing or winning or trying to run the clock out."

While Gattuso doesn't have to make a final decision on a back-up QB quite yet there are still a few decisions facing the first-year coach right now, in particular what freshman to add to the official roster.

One frosh in particular has attracted the attention of the first-year coach and his name is well known to football fans across the Capital Region already; CBA grad Elliott Croskey.

The former Brothers standout has seen solid time in both of the Great Danes' inter-squad scrimmages during preseason camp and the odds of him being part of the official roster this season - and not redshirting - seem more than just a little high.

"He’s doing very well," Gattuso said. "We keep giving him more and he keeps handling it very well. It usually takes him a day or two to kind of grasp the new concepts and things like that. But that’s good and it means he’s a smart young man and he studies his playbook. We have confidence in Elliott. He’s a guy who we think can help us win some games this year."

It'll be interesting to see how much time Croskey can get on the field this fall. He's a strong runner and the UAlbany roster has him listed at 6-2, 200 so he strikes a fairly imposing figure, but the thing that may separate the Albany native from the rest of the freshman heap is his ability to maintain control of the ball when he's running. Croskey didn't have many fumbles in his time at CBA and last season he rarely turned the ball over. Against a tough schedule of CAA competition that alone may be enough to warrant Croskey some minutes.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Siena men's basketball releases non-conference schedule

The Siena men's basketball team released its 2014 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon, laying out the groundwork for a nine-game slate that begins on November 14.

The Saints, fresh off their CBI championship this April, open on the road against UMass before opening their home schedule at the Times Union Center against America East foe Vermont. Tipoff against the Catamounts, who have won at least 21 games over the past six seasons including a regular season AEast title last year, is scheduled for 7 p.m.
J.S. Carras / The Record

Siena heads back to the road for a three-game trip against St. Bonaventure (Nov. 19), Loyola - Jimmy Patsos' former team - (Nov. 29) and Fordham on (Dec. 1).

Of course, perhaps the biggest name on the Saints' non-league schedule is cross-town rival Albany. After a back-and-forth scheduling quest, which included the possibility of playing the game on New Years Eve, Siena will square off against the Great Danes in a men's and women's doubleheader on December 13 at the Times Union Center.

Siena also grabbed a BracketBuster against Radford on the road on December 19, while Cornell and Bucknell will take on the Saints at home on December 23 and December 28.

“Obviously, it’s another really tough schedule,” Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said in a release. “The first thing that jumps out at you is three Atlantic 10 teams on the road, the sixth rated conference in the country last year (by RPI). Albany, Bucknell and Vermont are proven programs with recent major national postseason experience, Radford won a game in the CBI last year (96-92 at Oregon State) and Cornell and Loyola are going to be much-improved. We’re going to need our fans to show up and support us.”

11/14 at Massachusetts, 7 p.m.
11/17 vs. Vermont, 7 p.m.
11/19 at St. Bonaventure, 7 p.m.
11/29 at Loyola, TBA
12/01 at Fordham, TBA
12/13, vs. UAlbany, TBA
12/19 at Radford, TBA
12/23 vs. Cornell, 7 p.m.
12/28 vs. Bucknell, TBA

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Tanielu has star-making night at NY-Penn League all-star game

Tri-City ValleyCats second baseman Nick Tanielu had one of the most productive nights of his young pro career on one of the most important nights of his young pro career - the New York-Penn League all-star game on Tuesday night.

via @ValleyCats
Tanielu, who is currently batting .307 for the 'Cats, went a perfect 3-for-3, connecting on the game's first hit and first RBI for the North, and was named the MVPof the matchup, which ended in a 1-1 tie.

Tanielu's first hit of the night came in the top of the first inning, while the RBI, the only one the South squad would notch, drove in the Hudson Valley Renegades' Bralin Jackson in the top of the fifth inning.

The NY-Penn League North team scored its lone run in the bottom of the seventh inning on a sac fly from Williamsport Crosscutters' Derek Campbell.

While Tanielu was certainly the highlight of the night, the 'Cats also saw three other players earn time on the field and on the mound.

Jamie Ritchie earned a spot on the starting lineup as catcher and went 0-for-2 on the night, while Derek Fisher, a recent addition to the all-star squad, came off the bench for one at-bat, but also saw valuable time in the field.

Tri-City closer Ryan Thompson came in to pitch in the sixth inning as well.

From a more local perspective, former La Salle and South Troy Dodgers standout J.P. Sportman, who currently leads the Vermont Lake Monsters in batting, came in off the bench for one at-bat late in the game.

The ValleyCats all-stars don't have much time to catch their collective breath after Tuesday night's game though, Tri-City is back on the field tonight for a two-game home series against the Lake Monsters. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.