The Albany Great Danes were three points away from a NCAA Tournament bid in the conference championship with almost no time left. But when Peter Hooley's three went in, it gave the Great Danes a spot in the big dance after defeating Stony Brook 51-50 in the American East title game. They were seeded 14th in the East region, putting them against the Sooners in the second round of the tourney. Albany has flown under the radar all season before last weekend, so it's time to do a little research on Oklahoma's first opponent in the tournament.
Albany Great Danes
Location : Albany, NY
Enrollment : 17,000+ (2012)
Head Coach : Will Brown (325-224 overall record), has been the lone Albany head coach to lead them to the NCAA Tournament. This one will be the fourth time around for coach Brown's Great Danes. They won a play in game last year only to see them get beaten by one seed Florida, 67-55. The year before that they were seeded 15th and lost to two seed Kansas by 12. They have been able to win their conference, but haven't won an NCAA Tournament game past the play in games. Brown has been coaching the Great Danes since the 2001-02 season.
Record : 24-8 (15-1 American East)
RPI Rk : 108th
SOS RPI Rk : 313th (OU's is 17th)
Roster : #0 Evan Singletary, guard, Jun. *
#1 Ray Sanders, forward, Jun. *
#2 Tre Green, guard, Soph.
#10 Mike Rowley, forward, Soph. *
#11 Mike Wells, guard, Fresh.
#12 Peter Hooley, guard, Jun. *
#13 Reece Williams, guard, Jun.
#14 Sam Rowley, forward, Sen. *
$15 Ede Egharevba, forward, Jun.
#21Max Twyman, guard, Fresh.
#22 Richard Peters, center, Soph.
#24 Dallas Ennema, forward, Soph.
#25 Wheeler Baker, guard, Fresh.
#33 Geremy McKay, forward, Fresh.
#43 Greig Stire, forward, Fresh.
Key wins : @ #109 Stony Brook, 64-47
@ #63 Yale, 64-60
Neutral vs #109 Stony Brook, 51-50
Key Losses : @ #23 Providence, 64-60
@ #104 UNLV, 59-75
vs #109 Stony Brook, 56-59
Best Player : Junior Peter Hooley is known for his moving story of how he missed part of the season to be with his family in Australia, after his mother was found severely ill. His mother died in January, and he made her promise that he would come back to the states and continue playing. Well this past weekend in the American East championship game, Hooley sank a three pointer buzzer beater to win the game for the Great Danes. He said that this one was for his mother and his family back home. A really moving story that reminds us why we love sports.
Other than that game, Hooley is averaging 13.7 points per game and hitting 35% of his three pointers. He's scored 15+ points on nine different times in just 23 total games. He's the main part of their offense the past three seasons and will be vital to the teams success in the tournament.
How they win : By slowing down the game on defense and shooting efficiently. They are 33rd in the country in defensive points per game for that reason. Their slow pace gave many team fits in their conference, but it wasn't enough to beat Providence, the lone ranked team they played all season. However, it was enough to lose only one game in their conference out of 19 total games.
How they lose : Their level of competition wasn't very good this season, and they had a lot of bad losses this year. But they've only lost one game since January. In that loss (against Stony Brook at home), Stony Brook dominated the paint. They also held Hooley to just three points in 17 minutes of play, his season low in both categories. Dominating the paint and forcing taking advantage of what few possessions Albany gives you to work with is how teams have beaten them this season.
How they can beat Oklahoma : I really doubt Albany can beat the Sooners if Oklahoma comes out and plays how they did all season. The Sooners have won 10 of their past 13 games and have beaten teams of all styles and tempos. But low scoring affairs have given Oklahoma trouble this season, as they are 4-3 in games that the winner scores 65 points or less. If the Sooners play along in a low scoring game, they might be in trouble. But the talent in Oklahoma's starting five should allow them to dictate the tempo.
How they can lose to Oklahoma : If the Sooners play up tempo, there's a chance this one will turn into a bloodbath. The Sooners guards are much more talented than Albany's and the size of Ryan Spangler and TaShawn Thomas should be overwhelming on the boards, an area that Oklahoma needs to improve on in order to make a run. Give the Sooners extra chances on offense and they become extremely tough to beat.