Wildcats Teach UAlbany Some Big Stage Lessons
Nobody told Dwayne Killings that it would be easy taking over a Division I basketball program. Add in 9 new student-athletes to the program and an entirely new coaching staff, and the equation appears tougher in front of the rookie head coach. That's the way that the 40 year old head coach appears to like it.
Monday night, the UAlbany Great Danes took on the 10th ranked team in the nation, the Kentucky Wildcats. It was UAlbany's second game in 3 days in the Blue Grass State. The Danes fell to Eastern Kentucky on Saturday 77-64. The Colonels were an extremely athletic and challenging opponent for the young UAlbany team, a good lesson.
Monday night, John Calipari's Wildcats brought another level in all aspects of the game defeating UAlbany 86-61. The young Great Danes learned a lot in those 40 minutes. They had to reach for a higher gear than many of Danes have ever been asked. The challenge was difficult, mentally and physically.
Kentucky dominated the glass, grabbing twice as many rebounds (48 to 24) as the Great Danes. Six-foot nine, 255 pound junior Oscar Tshiebwe, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, grabbed 14 rebounds and scored 12 points in only 22 minutes on the floor. Calipari recruits the best basketball athletes in the world and they play like it.
On the other bench Coach Killings wanted to see his young Danes raise all aspects of their basketball acumen. He wanted his young Danes to battle and compete in front of 18,201 Wildcats fans. They did. The Great Danes only trailed by 9 at the half. Killing's feisty group had it down to 5 with a few minutes to go in the first 20 minutes. The Wildcats were too deep and too athletic in the end.
The UAlbany Great Danes are winless in their first five games of the season. They have been close. Each of their five opponents have been from conferences ranked higher than the America East. Dwayne Killings isn't looking for easy victories in his non-conference season with his new team. He is looking to build the foundation of a team that is going to win an America East championship and go to the NCAA tournament. Monday night he got one step closer. His team got better. The Great Danes take on Eastern Illinois Wednesday at noon from Lexington, Kentucky. I believe the Great Danes will win this game. Rodger Wyland will bring you the play-by-play with the pre-game show starting at 11:30am on 104.5 FM, the 1045TheTeam app or just go to 1045theteam.com and click listen live.