2007-08 Albany Basketball Preview
Albany Great Danes
Overall Rank: #123
Conference Rank: #1 America East
2006-07: 23-10, 13-3, 2nd
2006-07 postseason: NCAA
Albany has a surprising amount of depth up front for an America East team. And despite the loss of all-everything Jamar Wilson, the size of the Great Danes will keep them towards the top of the conference. The other Wilson, Brian, is the new leader. The 6-8 senior averaged 11.0 points and 5.0 rebounds last year and will likely lead the team in both categories as a senior. Brian Connelly, Jimmie Covington and Brett Gifford are not prolific scorers, but all have starting experience and plenty of room to improve. With that depth and talent on hand, it is possible that Coach Will Brown will run a big lineup at times.
The obvious loss is Jamar Wilson, who averaged a team high 18.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists. But there are some other losses that are a cause for concern. Wing Jason Siggers added 13.8 points and guard Carl Ross had the potential to play a bigger role in the backcourt before leaving the program. Michael Knight, David Bauman and Mike Yocum are also leaving earlier than their scheduled departure time.
There should be some future stars in the class, but the most important right now are point guards Anthony Raffa and Robert Moores. Raffa is a great scorer and it would be great for the team if he could run the show by the time the conference schedule rolls around. However, Moores and his one year of experience may have the upper hand. The sophomore spent one year at Pratt Community College in Kansas and, like Raffa, will do some scoring along with his point guard duties. The team is attempting to replace Jamar Wilson with another shooting threat, but neither of these guys are going to be Wilson right away. Speaking of scorers, Tim Ambrose could be a very good one by the time his days at Albany are over. The 5-11 shooting guard is not afraid to mix it up with the big guys in the paint and he can keep the defenses honest with his outside shot as well. The tough Josh Martin is in the same boat and 6-6 wing Billy Allen has enough versatility to play on the wing or at either forward spot. Forward Jerel Hastings is the usual athletic undersized forward. He will help out on the glass right away and can be a great player once the jump shot develops a little more consistency. Big man Albert Turley will make the frontcourt even deeper. The 6-7 center is a decent offensive player for his age, but will find it difficult to steal away too many minutes from the returning group.
Who to Watch:
There is a surprising amount of experienced depth considering that Albany has seven newcomers. With the four big guys up front and Brian Lillis, Jon Iati and Reid Anderson on the perimeter, the Danes can go seven deep without even dipping into the newcomer pool. It is hoped that Lillis will take over much of the scoring on the wing. The 6-5 senior averaged 6.9 points per game but was the third scoring option on the perimeter behind Jamar Wilson and Siggers. Lillis could run the point, but that job will likely fall to Jon Iati until the newcomers are ready. Iati’s minutes have been diminished after a shoulder injury in 2005, but the 5-9 senior is still a smart player who should be able to run the show when necessary. Once Raffa or Moores cracks the starting lineup, Iati will likely do what he did last year and come off the bench. Reid Anderson saw very few minutes during his freshman campaign, but that will change this year and if he can improve as much as Albany fans hope, the 6-5 wing will provide a spark off the bench.
On paper this is not your dominating Albany team that got slaughtered by…well lets go back two years to the team that hung tough with Connecticut in the NCAA Tournament. Once the initial shock about losing Jamar Wilson subsides, it becomes clear that the Danes have some legitimate players waiting to take over. While nobody will come close to the versatility of Wilson, there is enough talent ready to help make up for some of his production.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NCAA
Projected Starting Five:
Jon Iati, Senior, Guard, 5.9 points per game
Brian Lillis, Senior, Guard, 6.9 points per game
Brent Wilson, Senior, Forward, 11.0 points per game
Brian Connelly, Junior, Forward, 5.5 points per game
Brett Gifford, Sophomore, Center, 1.5 points per game