Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Siena's Lavon Long sprains ankle; will miss 2-3 weeks

The injury bug continues to strike the Siena men's basketball team.

Sophomore guard/forward Lavon Long, who had recently stepped up as one of the Saints' most productive players, went down with an ankle injury late in the team's practice on Wednesday afternoon, head coach Jimmy Patsos confirmed.

Long had been averaging 9.9 points in 28 minutes per game and led Siena with a team-high 5.8 rebounds per game. The Maryland native, in his second season as a starter, underwent x-rays already, which came back negative, but per Dr. Richard Alfred did suffer a high ankle sprain.

The injury is the latest hit to a very thin Siena frontcourt that has suffered after losing junior Brett Bisping to a toe injury and senior Imoh Silas to a torn ACL. That leaves just freshman forward Williem Brandwijk, sophomore forward Javion Ogunyemi, who were both already starting for the Saints, as well as freshman forward/guard Jimmy Paige to step up inside.

Patsos said he wasn't sure who would take over for Long in the starting lineup. "Not yet," the second-year coach said of the upcoming team lineup. "Might go small. (We'll) see after practice."

Siena takes on Radfard in a non-league game on Friday before returning to the Times Union Center for back-to-back home games against Cornell and Bucknell on Sunday and Tuesday.

UAlbany lax alum Ryan Feuerstein selected by Rochester in MLL Supplemental Draft

The University at Albany men's lacrosse team just keeps breeding success.

Ryan Feuerstein, who played with the Great Danes from 2011-14 including throughout this year's NCAA-run, is the latest UAlbany standout to join the professional ranks after he was drafted by the Rochester Rattlers in the Major League Lacrosse Supplemental Draft on Wednesday.

Feuerstein was selected in the fourth round and 31st overall in the draft, which is held to help teams fill rosters after protecting their first 23 players.

In his time at UAlbany, Feuerstein helped the Great Danes win a pair of America East titles, scoring a pair of goals in each Tournament game in 2014. He also scored a goal in the Danes' overtime loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA Quarterfinal game. By the end of his career, Feuerstein had been named a two-time All-America East midfielder, including First-Team honors in 2014, and finished his career with 43 goals, 13 assists, 111 ground balls and 21 caused turnovers.

Feurstein joins a pair of rather famous UAlbany alums on the Rattlers roster; Miles and Ty Thompson who were both drafted and played for the team earlier this season. Miles competed in nine games, notching 12 goals and seven assists as Rochester was crowned the regular season champion.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

THE FIRST HALF: UAlbany at Siena

The drama has been real!

In what has been touted as one of the nation's top mid-major basketball rivalries, the University at Albany men's hoops team did not trail for a moment of the first half, taking a 34-27 lead over Siena into the halftime break.

The Great Danes led by as many as eight as Siena struggled to find an offensive rhythm, shooting just 35.7% from the floor and going 3-for-10 from behind the arc, including one by post player Willem Brandwijk.

Evan Singletary, playing in his first-ever Albany Cup, led the Great Danes with a team-high nine points but junior guard Peter Hooley wasn't far behind with eight points of his own. Both of Hooley's field goals came from three-point range on circus-type catches as the UAlbany veteran connected on shots with one second remaining on the clock and another off a tipped pass by Siena's defense.

The Saints struggled to establish any momentum as whistles continued to plague the team. In the first 20 minutes, Siena was called for 10 team fouls and three different players were called for multiple fouls. UAlbany meanwhile was whistled for five fouls.

Despite the struggles, the Saints got within two with 2:33 left in the half, but fouls continued to strike and UAlbany held onto the comfortable cushion from the free throw line.

Siena was led by Javion Ogunyemi and Marquis Wright's five points. At one point Ogunyemi's points were the only for the Saints.

Friday, December 12, 2014

UAlbany football recruit updates: Great Danes start the recruiting train on heels of 2014 season

Remember football?

Remember UAlbany football? Remember how first-year head coach Greg Gattuso led the Great Danes to a 7-5 season this fall, including the first victory at Bob Ford Field, the first victory (three of them in fact) against CAA opponents and even coached the CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year in receiver Josh Gontarek?

A lot of good things happened for the Great Danes this year. 

Now, the question remains? What happens next? 

UAlbany lost a good chunk of leadership to graduation, including starting quarter Will Fiacchi, running back Omar Osbourne and some of the team's top receiving options as well as defensive leaders Tim Kologrivov and Christian Dorsey. 

With that in mind, the Danes have started to sign some new players for next year's roster, beginning with a pair of local-grown talent as well as a duo of out-of-the-area players that the team hopes will have the same kind of immediate impact that Gontarek had this season. 

Let's talk about them, shall we?

Griffin Clancy, DL, Saratoga High School
The Blue Streaks' defensive standout verbally committed to the Great Danes in early October following a two-year college search that also included offers from Syracuse, Virginia Tech, University at Buffalo, Central Connecticut State and James Madison. Clancy offers UAlbany a pretty big physical presence on the field. His high school line? 6-foot-7 and 310. 

Josh Wynn, DB, CBA
A two-way standout for the Brothers, who made their second straight Section II championship appearance this fall, Wynn verbally committed to UAlbany as a defensive back in November. This year, he hauled in one interception in the CBA secondary and also racked up 105 receiving yards on 10 receptions. His quick feet have allowed him to maintain speed, on both the offensive and defensive side oft he ball, up the sideline and he has a solid mindset for the game. Add into the mix that his older brother Cameron is currently on the UAlbany roster and this is the beginning of a local family legacy. 

Neven Sussman, QB, Sherwood High School
UAlbany was Sussman's first official offer this year and it didn't take long for the Sandy Spring, Maryland native to decide that he was ready to be a Great Dane. "I just thought, 'This is awesome. I get to play football and I don't have to pay for school.' What more could I want?" Sussman told the Washington Post this October. In the first seven games of his senior season, did not throw an interception and had racked up 1,287 passing yards with 13 touchdowns as well as 335 rushing yards. 

Isaiah Clarke, WR, TC Williams High School
This kid can run. And jump. And catch footballs. In fact, if the Danes were looking for an equal to Gontarek up the sidelines, they may have found him in Clarke. The Alexandria, Virginia native was ranked in the top 100 receivers in his state and Clarke committed to UAlbany earlier this week following an official visit to campus during the season. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Just a little history: cross-town connections highlight the Siena/UAlbany basketball relationship

Here's the thing.

Siena and UAlbany are very different schools.

Public and private, a somewhere lopsided discrepancy in size and runs of basketball success that seem to value one school over the other depending on what year it is.

That being said, there are also some similarities to these teams and these players that have created a slightly twisted web of lingering high school rivalries and cross-town relationships. Now, with the annual (and possibly last) Siena-UAlbany basketball game set to tipoff at the Times Union Center on Saturday, those relationships add a whole new dynamic to a local rivalry that has sparked some trash talking, a few emotions and a whole lot of questions regarding the future of the matchup.

So, how do we all know each other then?

Well, on the men's side of things Siena's Javion Ogunyemi and UAlbany's Greig Stire are old high school rivals, graduates from former Big 10 powers Troy and CBA, respectively. Both were the top recruits out of their high schools, touted with all-area accolades (including ones from me and The Record) and now, after a year apart, the two renew their individual rivalry on Saturday night.

"I don’t think it’s weird," Stire said of facing off against Ogunyemi again. "He’s a good player and they’ve got a good team. But I’m just going to try and stick to what our team principles are. I’m going to treat him like anybody else I have to play against."

Meanwhile, Ogunyemi, who was named The Record's all-city player of the year as a senior, is anxious to compete in his second Albany Cup and he's the first to admit that the atmosphere of this game is, just a little, different than the usual trip to the Times Union Center. In fact, the Troy native still recalls his first trip to the game, as a spectator, his final year in high school. Ogunyemi would later return to the Times Union Center later that year, clinching a Section II championship for the Flying Horses.

"I didn’t realize there were so many people there," he said. "Then last year, that was my first year playing in it and it’s just two different feelings. You play in the game and you see all the fans, it’s great for the community, it’s great for both schools."

While the local connection is certainly the highlight of our background-relationship-web, there's also a bit of a Maryland connection in this weekend's matchup.

UAlbany point guard Evan Singletary, a JUCO transfer, grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, the former stomping ground of Siena coach Jimmy Patsos who had previously helmed the Loyola program before taking over the Saints last season.

In fact, Singletary was contacted by Loyola assistants coming out of high school and he's well acquainted with some of the Maryland players on the Siena roster.

"I played against all three," Singletary said of the Saints' Maryland players - Marquis Wright, Maurice White and Lavon Long. "Actually one of them is one of my close friends, Maurice White. It should be fun. It’s just another game but it should be real fun."

Although the men's teams certainly have a bit of off-court history, the women's team is finding past relationships less frequent, especially with a mutual young set of rosters between both UAlbany and Siena.

Both teams have a good chunk of underclassmen on their respective rosters this season and while previous players may have formed out-of-conference friendships, that can't quite be said for this group.

"I think they used to," UAlbany coach Katie Abrhamson-Henderson said. "We used to do things up with those kids, like play pick up and stuff. We have so many young players and they have so many young, new players, I think the people that graduated had the relationships in terms of playing pick up in the summertime and things like that. I think it’s, quite frankly, a different generation of kids. They’re different now."

The annual Siena-UAlbany game is set to tip-off at 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Times Union Center. The women will play the first game of the double header, followed by the men, who are scheudled to tip at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

UAlbany women almost stage late-game comeback against Marist

Consider this your official MAAC primer, University at Albany women's basketball team. 

The Great Danes staged a late-game 20-point rally, but could not overcome an early deficit, falling 61-58 to Marist on Wednesday night. It was the first of three games between UAlbany and MAAC teams this season, including this Saturday's matchup against area rival Saturday. 

“Our second half was tremendous, and our press was very good in a great college environment,” said UAlbany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson.

Imani Tate continued her strong sophomore season with a team-high 17 points, including 12 in the second half, and six rebounds. Meanwhile, Shereesha Richards continued to be her strong self, notching her third double-double of the season with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman Tiana-Jo Carter added 12 rebounds of her own while senior Erin Coughlin notched 12 points and even sank a buzzer-beater trey for the final score. 

UAlbany trailed 55-33 with 9:55 left in regulation, but over the next 8:10, the Great Danes would out-score Marist 22-to-4. The Red Foxes would not go away however and some late-game fouling sent the perennial MAAC champions to the free throw line, allowing them to extend their lead. 

Once again, it was defensive pressure that dug the early hole for UAlbany. 

Marist, showing a tough zone defense, forced Great Danes turnovers, and used a 16-to-2 run over the final six minutes of the half to take an 11-point lead into the break. 

The Great Danes finished with 14 turnovers, shooting just 34.4% from the floor, including just 5-for-17 from three-point range. Marist, meanwhile, shot 40% on the night. If there was a glaringly bright spot for UAlbany, it came on the boards. Bolstered by the strong performance by their post players, the Great Danes outrebounded Marist 51-to-28 and 21-to-6 on the offensive glass. 

Siena sophomore Lavon Long making noticeable impact

Lavon Long has been playing well.

Really, really well and it's peaked the interest of his coaches at Siena, including head men's basketball coach Jimmy Patsos.

The sophomore guard/forward has been a bit of a beast over the past two games for the Saints, which his team split in the opening weekend of MAAC play, stuffing his stat sheet while providing an emotional resolve that Siena has sometimes found itself lacking this season.
Mike McMahon

Now, in his second year as a starter, Long is averaging 11 points per game, third on the team, in addition to a team-high 6.1 rebounds, in addition to 18 total assists and only nine turnovers in the first seven games of the season.

"Lavon Long is one of my favorite players I’ve ever coached," Patsos said. "He was just a warrior down there (at Rider this past Sunday)."

As the Saints continue to face changes to their roster, with the most recent injury keeping junior forward Brett Bisping sidelined for at least eight weeks, Long's emotional presence will be that much more important for Siena. A quiet player off the court, Long is the complete opposite once he steps onto the hardwood, a competitor who battles with, not just his talent, but every fiber of his being, including his voice.

That's something Siena needs now;a lot.

"Lavon’s a fiery guy," Patsos said. "He doesn’t say much off the court, but on the court, I’ll tell you. Lavon really cares, Lavon’s an emotional, left-handed very intelligent guy."

Despite the injury bug that Siena seems to have caught, Patsos does not expect or, for that matter, want Long to change his style of play. If anything, the second-year Saints coach simply wants Long to do more of what he has been doing; playing up-tempo, physical, full-court basketball.

Sometimes Long can be a bit of a whirlwind on the court, and his team-high 26 fouls show that, but he is also an instigator, the kind of player who won't let the game come to him. He will create his own game.

"I don’t want Lavon to do too much," Patsos said. "I think when he tries to do too much it takes away a little from his game. I just want Lavon to be Lavon. I don’t want him to think he has to save us."

After back-to-back standout performances, against league competition, Long is reaping the benefits, named a third captain for Siena on Wednesday night. Long will make his first appearance in the leadership role with the Saints take on local rival UAlbany in the annual Albany Cup on Saturday at the Times Union Center.