Albany to play Mount St. Mary's in tournament opener
DAYTON, Ohio -- Albany coach Will Brown says there's an easy way to determine who'll win his team's First Four game with Mount St. Mary's on Tuesday night.
"I think the team with the most Australians is going to win," he cracked.
If that's the case, then the Great Danes could win a tournament in Melbourne.
They have four Aussies in a United Nations lineup that also includes players from Georgia (the country, not the state) and Denmark.
The mother and father of forwards Sam and Michael Rowley flew out of Sydney before they knew their final destination. They were changing planes in Dallas on Monday night to get to the first-round game at the University of Dayton.
"With my parents, it's just any excuse to get out of work," joked Sam Rowley, who averages 11.5 points a game, second on the team to Adelaide native Peter Hooley's 15.7.
Those families who can't make it across the world to the games have parties in the middle of the night or early in the morning to watch their kids in action.
What they'll see on Tuesday figures to be an interesting contrast.
OUTSIDE VS. INSIDE: The Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers like to run and shoot 3s. The Great Danes, winners of the American East, prefer to pound it inside.
"They're almost the complete opposite of us," said the Mountaineer forward Sam Prescott. "They'll try to slow the game down and grind it out as we're going to try to speed it up."
The Mount has attempted 797 3-pointers in 32 games; Albany has tried 431 in the same number of games.
Mountaineers coach Jamion Christian said even if his team isn't making everything behind the arc, it'll still be fine.
"We're 8-2 when we make seven or fewer 3s," he said. "So it's not all about 3-point shooting for us. The 3-pointer is more of a weapon to allow the pace to get to a level we need."
BAD SPELLS: Both teams pulled off surprises to get through their conference tournaments.
Albany (18-14) captured its second straight America East title by knocking off the top two seeds, Vermont and Stony Brook. But the Great Danes followed a 2-0 start by going 6-9.
The Mount, playing a difficult schedule that included heavyweights Villanova and Michigan State, began the season 0-5 and was just 3-9 when 2014 started.
"Even though we lost, we learned a lot from those games that prepared us for our journey," said leading-scorer (17.7 ppg) Rashad Whack.
GAINING RESPECT: Many put down the First Four as an early week series of play-in games to the real tournament, which starts in earnest on Thursday.
Both teams are in their fourth trip to the NCAA tournament. Mount is 1-4, beating Coppin State in the opening round in 2008 in the tournament's old format.
Albany, however, wants to finally win a game in the brightest of spotlights.
"That's the next logical step for us, and that's our goal for this game," Sam Rowley said.
GAINING RESPECT II: Mount St. Mary's merely broke even on the season, winning its last four games (including three in a row in the Northeast Conference) to get to 16-16.
"We can get glossed over sometimes," Prescott said. "We're always open for the challenge. If they doubt us, it makes it even sweeter when we're here."
GOOD LUCK WITH THAT: The winner not only has a quick turnaround to a game Thursday afternoon, but the opponent is overall seed Florida in its home state (Orlando).
"If you win, you go up against a monster like Florida," said Mount's No. 2 scorer (17.5 ppg) Julian Norfleet. "But you've got to win the first game. That's all our focus is on right now."
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