Saturday, November 22, 2014

THE FIRST HALF: Stony Brook at UAlbany

It's the final game of the season and senior night for 13 UAlbany players and, so far, things have been going pretty ok.

At the break, the Great Danes lead in-state rival Stony Brook 7-3 following a record-making first-half performance by senior quarterback Will Fiacchi.

The fifth-year senior became the all-time UAlbany passing leader with a first quarter, three-yard pass, to freshman wide receiver Josh Gontarek. He came into the game with 7,015 total yards. In addition the career mark, Fiacchi also broke the UAlbany single-season passing mark. He needed 48 yards coming into the game and finished the half with 102 passing yards on 8-of-17 with one, late-half interception.

After a back-and-forth first quarter, where neither team's offense could get much going, the Great Danes were able to take a lead on a phenomenal catch and reception from Fiacchi to fellow senior Cole King. The 33-yard pass was flagged for defensive pass interference but King was able to hold on anyway and made his way into the endzone.

But while UAlbany's offense was finding a rhythm in the second quarter, the defense had been strong throughout the first half.

The Great Danes held strong after a first quarter Omar Osbourne fumble, keeping Stony Brook off the board despite the short field and only allowed a 33-yard field goal following a muffed punt return that set up the Seawolves on the 16-yard line.

By the break, UAlbany had give up just 88 total offensive yards, forced three fumbles and recovered one (a strip and recovery by Kyle Sakowski) while allowing Stony Brook to convert on just two of eight third downs.

The Great Danes will receive the ball to start the second half.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Two games in. What do we know about UAlbany men's basketball

Two games into the season, what do we know about the Univeristy at Albany men's basketball team?

Well, there's the obvious. The Great Danes, the reigning America East champs, are 1-1 on the season after a close opener at Providence and a lopsided victory at SEFCU Arena against NJIT.

But what else do we know and, more importantly, how does coach Will Brown feel about the whole thing, just two games into the season?

Less than 24 hours out of a tough matchup against Quinnipiac, let's discuss just that. Check it all out under the cut.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Siena and MAAC set to host 2018 NCAA women's hoop regionals

The NCAA officially announced the regional locations for upcoming Division I women's basketball tournaments and the game is coming back to Albany in 2018. 

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference along with Siena college has been named co-hosts for the 2018 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Regionals at the Times Union Center. 

It will be the second time the TU Center serves as a Regional host; the first coming later this season. the arena will also host the MAAC men's and women's conference tournament in March. 

"Siena is excited to once again partner with the MAAC, Times Union Center and Albany County to bring NCAA women's basketball to Capital Region,” noted Vice President and Director of Athletics at Siena College John D’Argenio “This is a great opportunity for people from other parts of the country to get to know Albany and to find out how passionate the community is about college basketball." 

This isn't the first time that Siena and the MAAC have co-hosted major NCAA events. the two have hosted NCAA men's basketball preliminary and regional rounds in Albany on two different occasions and in 2002 hosted the NCAA wrestling championships. 

As a conference, the MAAC has served as a co-host for women's regional championships three times since 2006. 

This is a major bump for the Times Union Center, which did not earn a berth as host for upcoming men's tournaments, despite putting in bids, when the locations were announced earlier this week. The arena recently installed brand-new courts, baskets and shot clocks at the facility and is set to undergo construction on the outer facade, including closing off the front area. 

“On behalf of SMG and the Times Union Center, we are honored to receive the award today from the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee to host the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball East Regional Championship.," SMG Regional General Manger of the TU Center Bob Belber said. "Our market has a long history of hosting NCAA Championship events and we look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with the NCAA.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Siena men and women hoops notch victories on Tuesday

It was a good Tuesday night for Siena basketball. 

Both the men's and women's teams notched victories, home and on the road, to improve to a collective 3-3 together. 

On the men's side of things, the Saints retained the Franscican Cup, defeating rival St. Bonaventure for the second straight season with a somewhat dramatic 73-70 victory over the Bonnies. It was the first-ever victory for Siena in the Reilly Center. 

“A lot of people around the country don’t know what a big game this is, but it’s a big game because the Franciscans are great people,” Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said. “That’s sometimes lost in playing, and we’re going to play this game as long as I’m the coach.”

It was a bit of a turning point for Siena, who had gone through some early-season miscues and disappointments before Tuesday night's victory, the first of the season for the Saints. The squad dished out 21 assists on 24 made baskets and turned the ball over just five times, including a whopping zero turnovers in the entire second half. 

Lavon Long led Siena with a team-high 13 points and 11 rebounds as well as five assists and the sophomore did not turn the ball over. Rob Poole notched something in just about every column on the state sheet with 12 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals. Meanwhile Javion Ogunyemi, who came off the bench in the victory, added a career-high 13 points. 

Siena led by as many as 17 points in the second half and 73-61 with 21 seconds left but the Bonnies made three straight treys to cut the lead to the game's final score and the Saints held on. 

“It’s half off – we played a really tough, challenging schedule at our level and came out 1-2 and I couldn’t be prouder,” Patsos said. “I couldn’t be prouder for the efforts we made in these three games and I hope they’ll serve us later.”

The women, meanwhile, are quietly making program history. 

The Saints are off to their best start in 14 years, since winning the program's lone MAAC Championship in the 2000-01 season, as they improved to 2-0 with a 79-57 victory over Central Connecticut State. 

Senior captain Tehresa Coles led three Siena players in double digits with a team-high 21 points while Ida Krogh added 17 points of her own along with five assists as she continues to settle into her role as point guard. 

Siena, who led by as many as 27, took control early going on a 12-to-2 run early in the first half and went into halftime with a 41-32 lead. For the second straight game, the Saints dominated inside, using a 34-16 edge in the paint as the team notched its first home-opening victory at the ARC since 2004. 

The Siena women return to the court in the Thanksgiving Class at the University at Denver while the men take on Loyola on Saturday, November 29. 

THE FIRST HALF: NJIT at UAlbany

The University at Albany men's basketball team looked good against Providence last Saturday night. The Great Danes looked even better on Wednesday.

At the break UAlbany leads NJIT 36-17 and the Danes only trailed once -when the Highlanders scored the first two points of the game from the line - before taking pretty much complete control of the matchup.

If there's a reason to be exciting about this UAlbany team this year it's for one very specific reason; the Great Danes can move the ball.

UAlbany consistently used five or six passes before even attempting a shot and with a handful of outside shooting threats in the starting lineup and off the bench, it's no wonder the Danes are a patient group.

That worked well in the first half as UAlbany spread the offense out, forcing the Highlanders into space and, despite a slow start, the Danes shot 36.% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes of play. Sam Rowley in particular was a force to be reckoned with. The senior, who was held in check with foul trouble in the opener, led UAlbany with a team-high 12 points and five rebounds. Wheeler Baker, a true freshman guard off the bench, wasn't far behind with 10 points, going 2-for-3 from behind the arc.

Speaking of offensive efficiency; NJIT didn't have much.

The Highlanders, who scored 90 points earlier this week in a victory over Maine, were held without a field goal until the 12:53 mark of the first half and shot just 17.9% from the floor, going 5-for-28. It didn't get much better at the line, shooting 60%  there. Add into the mix nine turnovers and the Highlanders didn't have much of a chance to even establish their offense.

Franks leads the way as RPI football honored by Liberty League

On the heels of earning a bowl appearance this weekend, the RPI football team has hauled in a slew of Liberty League awards honoring players from across the country and within the Capital District.

Leading the charge is senior kicker Andrew Franks who was named Special Teams Player of the
Year for the second straight season. Franks, a California native who is already garnering NFL looks, made 15 of 22 field goal attempts, including the game-winner in last weeks' victory over rival Union, and notched three over 50-yards this season alone. On October 25 he set a brand-new school record, breaking his own, by nailing a 54-yard field goal at Springfield. He also made 27 point after attempts, to lead the team with 72 points, and averaged 39.58 yards per punt, with nine falling inside the 20 yard line.

In addition to Franks' honor, several RPI players were named to the all Liberty League first-team, including senior captains Nick Borkowski, Reggie Colas, as well as Phillip Lanieri III, Steve Mills, Chris Ohnsman, Anthony Pilla and Troy-native Jay Yaskanich.

Yaskanich, a senior offensive lineman, has helped create a front line for the Engineers that averaged 229.5 rushing yards per game, including 4.6 yards per carry.

Rounding out the honors were second-team'ers Logan Gaddar and Matt Lane as well as honorable mention Colby Tragni.

RPI wraps up its season this Saturday with an appearance in the ECAC North Atlantic Bowl on Saturday against Framingham State. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Siena hoops and UAlbany women officially ink incoming class

It's early-signing period and both Siena and UAlbany are getting in on the national letter of intent action. 

Fisher
After earning verbal commitments earlier in the summer, the Siena men inked official commitments from Evan Fisher (Owing Mills) and Kenny Wormley (Upper Marlboro). 

Fisher, a 6-8, 230-pound power forward, is a big-get for the Saints, quite literally. A force under the hoop, Fisher has also shown range beyond the three-point arc and he brings more than just a little athleticism to the court. 

"Evan has got a lot of swagger, he’s cool," Siena coach Jimmy Patsos said. "He has long hair, but he’s tough. He can shoot threes. My kinda guy. He’s a little more athletic than Brett (Bisping), and he shoots it better than Brett. I don’t know if he’s as crafty as Brett. (He comes from a) great school – the McDonogh School is one of the finest schools in America. People will like him. He has some swagger to his game, and right now I wish our team had a little more swagger."

Wormley
Meanwhile, Wormley, a 6-2 left-handed point guard, has already been selected as the heir apparent to Marquis Wright. Although he obviously won't be starting at the point next season, Wormley is still expected to gain minutes with the Saints during his freshman year. 

"He’s from Team Takeover (the same AAU program as Wright)," Patsos said. "(An) outstanding kid and a really good player. (He) can shoot it better than you think. He’s a little quicker than you think, but he’s long. He’s not a prototypical guy. He’s kinda smooth, but he can score on you."

On the Siena women's side of things, the Saints announced three signings on Tuesday: Jackie Benitez, Katcia Perryman and Deja Rawls. 

Benitz averaged 23.3 points, 97.7 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 2.6 blocks as a junior at Pocono Mountains West last season and was named the Mountain Valley Conference MVP. She has already broken her school's single-season and career scoring records with her full senior season still to come. 

"Jackie is a pure shooter," Siena coach Ali Jaques said. "She has deep range and will be able to stretch our opponents’ defenses immediately."



Perryman, a 6-0 forward originally from Poughkeepsie, was ranked the 73rd best player at her position by Scouts and boasts a raw talent and physicality under the hoop that will compliment Siena's already strong frontcourt. Wrapping up the 2019 class is Rawls, a three-star point guard, who also eclipsed the 1,000 career scoring mark last season. 

Wrapping up the signing announcements are the UAlbany women who saw four new commitments for the 2015-16 season. 

Keeping the Forster tradition alive and well with the Great Danes, Heather Forster looks to follow in the steps of her older sister Julie. Her older brother Jack is currently a defensive lineman for the football team as well. 

Khara Keane, a guard out of Ontario, was named the MVP for St. Joseph's College last year and will be joined by fellow Canadian-native Veronika Lavergne next season. Finally, Amarri Trueheart, a guard out of Pennsylvania, signs after averaging almost 14 points on the court last year. A standout athlete in both soccer and track and field as well, Trueheart offers the Great Danes simple, solid speed out of the backcorut. 

"We are excited about the 2019 recruiting class," said Danes coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson. "The four players are all athletic, know the game and have a great work ethic on and off the court."