#118 Albany Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Albany Great Danes
2017-2018 Overall Rank: #118
Conference Rank: #2 America East
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Albany has now made a postseason tournament each of the last six seasons under Coach Will Brown. The Great Danes have missed out on the NCAA Tournament the last two years, and very well could again in 2017-2018, but obviously this is a program that has been extremely consistent and always a threat to win the America East. The backcourt duo of David Nichols and Joe Cremo emerged as one of the more dangerous duos in the conference last season. Nichols averaged 2.7 points per game as a freshman and boosted that number to 17.9 during his sophomore season in 2016-2017. He also dished out 3.2 assists and added 3.5 rebounds per contest. With a little more consistency in his outside shooting, Nichols will be even more difficult to defend. Cremo is the better all-around player, averaging 15.8 points, 3.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds. Cremo was more consistent shooting from long range and also attempted a team high 153 free-throws.
2016-17 Record: 21-14, 10-6
2016-17 Postseason: CIT
Coach: Will Brown
Coach Record: 259-237 at Albany, 259-237 overall
Who’s Out:
Albany returns their top five scorers, but two starters and a key reserve are gone. Mike Rowley was a consistent force in the paint for the Great Danes. His 5.4 points and 5.0 rebounds are not overwhelming by any means, but he averaged nearly 30 minutes per game and Albany was a different team without him on the floor. Also gone is part-time starter Marqueese Grayson. The 6-2 guard averaged 4.8 points during his junior campaign and will not be returning this season. Dallas Ennema, a 6-6 forward, is a more significant loss. During his senior year he averaged 5.7 points and 2.7 rebounds and played some solid defense too. Jaraan Lands and Terre Martin-Garcia are also not returning after seeing limited action last season.
Who’s In:
Coach Brown has continuously reloaded his roster with talented and experienced players who are ready to step in and fill the holes made by the departing players. This year is no different. Three junior college transfers and one graduate transfer will compete for playing time right away. Meanwhile, incoming freshmen Brent Hank, Cameron Healy and Adam Lulka, the Australian trio, will have some time to develop. However, Lulka and Hank can battle in the paint right now and Healy can do some scoring off the bench. Sophomore junior college transfers Ahmad Clark and Xavier Cochran will add depth on the perimeter. Cochran, who redshirted with the Great Danes last season, is a big 6-6 wing who can do a little bit of everything. Matt Conway, a 6-7 forward, is the other junior college transfer. Alex Foster figures to make a bigger impact in the frontcourt this year. The 6-8, 240 pound forward spent one season at Bradley where he averaged 2.1 points and 1.1 rebounds in 19 contests. Prior to that he was at Texas Tech and finally Foster should be able to see some major playing time.
Who to Watch:
The pressure will be on Greig Stire and Devonte Campbell to help replace Rowley in the paint. Stire started beside Rowley last season and averaged 7.1 points and a team high 6.0 rebounds. Campbell started 16 games when Coach Brown put a bigger lineup on the floor. At 6-6 and 220 pounds, Campbell does have the size to play the three or the four in the America East, but he does need to shoot better. With the newcomers, it will be interesting to see how Albany utilizes Campbell and Stire. They could start at the three and four spots with somebody like Foster starting at the five. However, that would leave very little experience on the bench in the frontcourt. Or the talent on the perimeter could be too much too leave off the floor and Campbell and Stire will man the frontcourt with a three guard backcourt. That would leave Albany pretty small though. At 6-6, Travis Charles could play on the wing too. Like Campbell, he is not a shooter, but there could be a spot in the starting lineup for the senior after he was third on the team in scoring with 7.9 points per game last season.
Final Projection:
Depending on who is ready to play at this level among the newcomers, Coach Brown will get his rotation sorted out by the time America East play comes around. Regardless, this should be a deep Albany team that can give their opponents a lot of different looks. With the backcourt duo of Cremo and Nichols leading the way and experienced frontcourt players like Charles, Campbell and Stire helping out, the Great Danes should be ready for another postseason berth in 2018. And everybody in the America East knows that Albany will be dangerous in March.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Joe Cremo, Junior, Guard, 15.8 points per game
David Nichols, Junior, guard, 17.9 points per game
Devonte Campbell, Junior, Forward, 7.0 points per game
Travis Charles, Senior, Forward, 7.9 points per game
Greg Stire, Senior, Forward, 7.1 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 71.3 (222nd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 65.7 (36, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.7 (59, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 43.1 (139, 3)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.5 (320, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.2 (72, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.7 (28, 1)
Rebound Margin: 7.1 (11, 1)
Assists Per Game: 12.7 (230, 4)
Turnovers Per Game: 11.9 (70, 3)