Thursday, October 23, 2014

Siena basketball holds annual Madness event

There was dunking and there was dancing and there was basketball.

The Siena men's and women's basketball team held their annual Madness event at the Alumni Recreation Center in front of a jam-packed student crowd that packed the bleachers and stood nearly six rows deep on the sidelines.

"It's exciting," point guard Marquis Wright said. "I think there's more people here than last year and they're showing us a lot of support. We just have to go out and give it back."

Both teams entered to thunderous applause with player introductions and one last reminder of what the men's team was able to accomplish last season; a CBI championship, the first national postseason title in Division I program history.

The men's team then staged an inter-squad scrimmage (with a pretty sweet background soundtrack that included the Space Jam theme song) and was essentially just players tossing up give-and-go dunks to one another.

"We're a pretty athletic team," men's coach Jimmy Patsos said. "They've done a lot of work in the off-season and they're excited about the season. Last year I think we came out and we were nervous about this. I want the players to have fun with this."

While the acrobatics were certainly a crowd-pleasure, there was one performance in particular that may have sparked a few extra cheers. Wright, a sophomore guard who is listed, at six feet tall on the Siena roster, dunked more than once in the scrimmage, including a two-handed slam, hang-on-the-rim performance that almost certainly would have earned him a technical foul in a game.
Siena fans react to the t-shirt toss at the Madness
event at the ARC on Thursday. 

On Thursday night, it simply earned him even more cheers.

"Hopefully," Wright said of getting the chance to dunk. "I'm not going to press that first. But I'm going to let it come. It's great. I tried to do that (hang on the rim) on purpose. It feels good."

After a dance competition at half court (that really happened) both the men's and women's teams also staged a shooting contest, pairing players and fans against the clock.

A half-court shot competition and free pizza later and the night had officially wrapped, the final set-up to the start of the season next month.

"This is just great to bring all the teams together," sophomore guard, and Albany High grad, Emia Willingham said. "It's great to have our students support us. It's a fun atmosphere. We can see all the fans that will, hopefully, come to all of our games."

It wasn't all just fun and games though, men's basketball commit Kenny Wormley was also in attendance, taking in the event with his family. Wormley, a a 6-3 guard from Maryland, verbally committed to Siena over the summer.

The men's team officially opens the season on November 14 at UMass while the women open at Buffalo on the same day.

"This is great for the players and the students," Patsos said. "The student body is great. I don't think we would have won the CBI without them last year. It's just fun.

UAlbany men's basketball picked third in America East pre-season poll, Stony Brook first

The two-time defending America East champion, University at Albany men’s basketball team was picked to finish third in the preseason poll, the league announced on Thursday.

A season after winning their second straight league title and the first-ever NCAA Tournament game in program history, the Great Danes received on first-place vote and picked up a total 51 points in the preseason poll.

Stony Brook was selected to finish first for the first time in program history, receiving six first-place votes, while Hartford took second place with two first-place tallies.

Last season’s regular season champion, Vermont, was tabbed fourth with 48 points.

In addition to the overall team pick, Great Danes junior Peter Hooley, the reigning America East Tournament MVP, was named to the pre-season all-conference team.

Hooley led the Great Danes in scoring last season and his 15.4 points per game were the second best average in the America East.

This marks the second straight year that UAlbany was projected to finish third in the league. The Danes have not been picked first in a preseason poll since the 2006-07 season.

This season may be a little different though as just four letterwinners and two starters from last year’s championship team return to the roster, including Hooley and senior Sam Rowley. The changes open a few question for the Danes who finished fourth in the regular season last winter.

UAlbany opens the season next month with a non-league matchup at reigning Big East champion Providence on November 15. The Danes open at home on  November 19 against NJIT.

1. Stony Brook (6) 60
2. Hartford (2) 55
3. UAlbany (1) 51
4. Vermont 48
5. Binghamton 34
6. New Hampshire 26
7. UMBC 23
8. Maine 17
9. UMass Lowell 10

Peter Hooley, Jr. G, UAlbany
Mark Nwakamma, Sr., F, Hartford
Carson Puriefoy, Jr., G, Stony Brook
Jordan Reed, Jr., G/F, Binghamton
Jameel Warney, Jr., F, Stony Brook

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

No. 25 UAlbany depth chart vs. Colgate

Hey! The University at Albany football team is nationally ranked again!

Following last week's victory over Maine, the Great Danes moved back into the national spectrum with a No. 25 spot on the latest TSN-FCS poll. More importantly, UAlbany improved to 2-2 in the CAA, keeping in the middle of the ultra-competitive pack midway through the season.

Now, the Danes return home for their final non-conference game of the season, taking on a Colgate team that just saw its three-game win streak snapped by Yale last Saturday despite scoring the most points of any game so far this season.

UAlbany is a little banged up this weekend -  most notably with the probably absence of linebacker (and game one hero) Neil Morrison who suffered a hamstring injury last week - so it'll be interesting to see how the Danes can restructure a little bit. Morrison is still listed first on the depth chart, but according to Greg Gattuso on Wednesday the likelihood of him actually suiting up are "pretty slim." So, take that for what it's worth.

A victory this weekend would be a huge momentum boost into the final stanza of the season, especially into a game against New Hampshire, the preseason CAA favorite, on November 1st. So, who's most likely to suit up on Saturday afternoon? Check it all out under the cut.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Let's talk about UAlbany's Paula Heuser for a second

You guys got a second? Yeah? Cool.

Let's talk about Paula Heuser. 

The University at Albany field hockey standout is currently leading the nation in points per game average. For the second straight week. THE ENTIRE NATION. 

Take another second to read that real quick. 

The sophomore, the defending America East Midfielder and Rookie of the Year, is first in the nation, for the second straight week, in scoring. 

With only three games left in the regular season, Heuser, is averaging three points per game and boasts a team-high 45 total points this year. Add in to the mix that her 1.27 goals per game average is second in the nation and Heuser is more than just a little impressive. 

But while the numbers strictly of their own merit are impressive, Heuser herself is far and away the more interesting part of this whole story. 

A native of Monchengladbach, Germany (say that three times fast if you can) a city close to the Netherlands border, Heuser has been a force for the Great Danes since she arrived stateside last season. 

She became the first UAlbany field hockey player to earn All-America status as a freshman and was named the 2013 ECAC Rookie of the Year as well as a six-time America East Rookie of the Week. This year, she's already been named to a handful of league weekly honors and was named ECAC Co-Player of the Week earlier this month. 

The No. 13 UAlbany squad wraps up its home schedule on Saturday afternoon with a 1 p.m. matchup against Maine before finishing up the regular season with road games against Yale and Vermont. The America East tournament is scheduled to begin on November 6. 

While the competition only gets tougher from here on out, Heuser's performance so far this season has been undeniable and, it may be hyperbolic, but for this German native the field hockey sky is truly the limit. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

THE FIRST HALF: UAlbany at Maine OR The defense saves the day

Let's talk about the University at Albany defense real quick.

The Great Danes have quietly been the dominant force of the team this season and despite a pair of back-to-back losses in the past two weeks, that defensive front was, once again, the driving force for the team in the first half of Saturday's game, taking a 10-7 lead over Maine into the half.

All 10 of UAlbany's points came off of Maine turnovers as Christian Dorsey recovered a Black Bear fumble and returned it 67 yards for a touchdown before a late second quarter fumble eventually set up a 52-yard field goal by Patrick Toole.

After the first two quarters, Maine has out-gained Albany 178-to-80 but penalties and a solid performance by the UAlbany defense has helped keep the Bears relatively quiet.

In fact, the only Maine points came early in the first quarter as freshman quarterback Drew Belcher found Arthur Williams for a 14-yard touchdown pass.

By the same token, UAlbany's offense hasn't been doing much of anything.

Will Fiacchi is just 5-for-19 for 37 yards and has been sacked four times - all four of which came on third down. In that same vein, the Great Danes are 0-for-10 on third down but was able to convert on fourth down with a short run by Omar Osbourne.

If the Danes are going to hold off a Maine comeback in this second half, the offensive line is going to have to start playing better and Fiacchi is going to have to get a little more accurate. On more than one occasion the senior quarterback has overthrown his receivers. Strictly speaking, Fiacchi (from what I can hear over the radio broadcast) has been trying a little too hard to find freshman Josh Gontarek.

Meanwhile, the ground game is still struggling slightly. Osbourne has run 14 times for 65 yards, averaging 4.6 yards a carry with a long of 13.

Maine will get the ball to start the second half.

Friday, October 17, 2014

UAlbany football depth chart heading into crucial CAA matchup against Maine

It'd be a pretty solid idea for the University at Albany football team to win on Saturday afternoon.

After starting the season 4-0, the Great Danes have dropped two straight games, both against CAA foes, and, in the process, dropped right out of the Top 25 rankings and off the national radar.

Now, with their first road game in nearly on a moth on the schedule for this weekend, the Danes head north to take on reigning league champions Maine in a pretty-much, must-win game, for both squads.

Someone's two-game losing streak is going to snap on Saturday. So, how does UAlbany make that happen? With this depth chart of players, of course!

Take a look at who's suiting up for Saturday's game under the cut.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Siena's Brianna Logan out for season with torn ACL

The Siena women's basketball team made a less-than-ideal official announcement on Thursday afternoon. 

Sophomore Brianna Logan will miss the entire season after tearing her ACL in the team's first practice last week. The injury will require surgery for the New Jersey native. 
via Siena athletics

It's a big blow for the Saints who were already thin on the roster as far as experience and was prepping Logan to, most likely, start at point guard this fall. 

"Bri Logan was our most improved player coming out of the summer and into fall workouts," said head coach Ali Jaques in a statement released by the team. "My heart absolutely breaks for her. She had done everything and more to position herself for a fantastic sophomore year. I cannot explain why, but I am confident that this young woman will come back even stronger when she gets through this. She is a fighter, and our team will be resilient and continue to fight and find a way."

Logan appeared in 30 of Siena's 31 games last season, averaging four points in 19.1 minutes a game and finished second on the team with 57 assists. She was also named MAAC Rookie of the Week last December. 

The Saints will hold their annual media day next Monday, so it will be interesting to see how the team copes with Logan's sudden removal from this season's roster. Siena officially opens its season on Friday, November 14 at Buffalo.