AE Poll Misses UAlbany Hoops Mentality
Ok, maybe I don't like polls very much, especially when they are mid-major Division I polls. There are always so many variables. First, they are done by coaches, who are not always the most objective folks when it comes to other programs or coaches. Now throw in the new "Pandemic" rosters, featuring 6th year grad students and the "wild west" in recruiting created by the NCAA transfer portal, well, fans could be in for some of the best basketball we have seen in these conferences, maybe ever.
Mid-major college basketball is going to be a new game. My experience in college athletics tells me that coaches that can communicate effectively to new student-athletes, in many cases transfers from previous institutions, are going to be the most successful in the long run in this new game. That is where "Mentality" comes in.
It's not news that the University at Albany men's basketball program has a new coach, Dwayne Killings. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Coach Killings a little bit. In my tenure at UAlbany, the Great Danes won 114 championships, none of which, have I ever claimed to have anything to do with, other than my job function, as Associate Athletic Director. However, I did get to observe and note which coaching characteristics were common amongst the most successful coaches and which ones were not.
Coach Killings is a first year head coach. He's been an assistant but now he doesn't even get a chair most of the time. It's his show. Coach Killings is very supportive of his entire staff. Their communication is excellent. The coaches and staff hold themselves more accountable than the student-athletes and recognize each individual as part of the group. It's a mentality. My early assessment, without a game being played, is that Coach Killings will be very successful. He has assembled a great team of coaches around him. They trust each other and most of all, Coach Killings listens to them, and his student-athletes. It's and awesome start.
Coach Killings and his Great Danes "were picked to finish seventh in the America East Preseason Coaches' Poll, the league announced Thursday. The Great Danes earned 34 points to land in the seventh spot under first year Head Coach Dwayne Killings. Stony Brook came in atop the list with 77 points and five first-place votes, just ahead of Vermont with 74 points and four first-place votes. New Hampshire rounded out the top three with 64 points and a single first-place vote."
I too see that as the logical "top 3" in the America East but then it's wide open. However, my honest opinion of this UAlbany men's basketball team and what I've seen in practice, they can easily win the America East, if everything comes together. Again, it is a mentality, Killings' team slogan, and I think Coach, his staff team have the right one.
UAlbany's season opener is scheduled for Tuesday, November 9 against Towson at 7:00 p.m. The game will be played right in Albany at SEFCU Arena, the first played in front of live fans in over a year. For more about the 2021-22 season schedule and how to buy tickets, go to ualbansports.com. Thanks to my buddy at UAlbany Athletics, Taylor O'Connor for contributing to this article!