Eddie Timanus -- the Jeopardy! champ -- penned a nice piece on Albany today for USA Today. The story discusses Lyle Thompson's role with the Great Danes this season but also touches upon a secondary aspect to Scott Marr's group this season -- that Albany has the look and feel of Andy Enfield's Florida Gulf Coast hoops team that stormed through the NCAA Tournament this year:
The Thompson group and their style makes both coaches think of another Johns Hopkins contemporary who recently made some March Madness news in a sport with the larger ball. Andy Enfield, who directed Florida Gulf Coast's Cinderella ride to the Sweet 16 before accepting an offer to become Southern California's new basketball coach, attended Hopkins and worked with Pietramala and Marr handling the business side of their lacrosse camp. Pietramala spotted the similarities between FGCU's "Dunk City" style that captivated the public and the Great Dane's high-risk, high-reward offense.
"In fact, I wrote 'Florida Gulf Coast' in my notes after watching them on film," Pietramala says. "They will turn the ball over a lot, but they'll make some really great passes as well. We face a team you really can't simulate in practice. It's going to be a challenge."
Marr embraces the comparison. "That's how we feel," he says. "When we were excited to watch Andy's team in the tournament, and now the last thing we say to our guys before every game is let's go be that fun team that everybody wants to watch."
I'm not sure I totally agree with the comparison between Albany's lacrosse team and the monstrosity that Florida Gulf Coast unleashed on the country this season, mostly because lacrosse and basketball -- while somewhat related -- are very different games (for a multitude of reasons). If we look at the touchstone points in the piece (exciting pace, turnover rate, and a willingness to share the ball), though, the Great Danes are arguably stronger at the style of play than Florida Gulf Coast was based on their NCAA rankings in various metrics:
|TEAM||TEMPO||TURNOVER %||ASSIST RATIO|
|Florida Gulf Coast||42nd (69.1)||242nd (21.0)||175th (53.2)|
|Albany||1st (78.39)||33rd (46.42)||17th (60.29)|
Take from that what you want. Anyway, there are four games today, with action starting tonight and extending well into business time. Here is your highlight for the day:
- Albany at Johns Hopkins: In a sea of potential blowouts -- Duke may take a tire iron to High Point's face; Maryland is poised to continue Navy's miseries; and Marquette is going to learn a nasty lesson about Wes Berg's existence tonight in Denver -- Albany-Johns Hopkins sets itself apart as a shining beacon of possibility: Can the Great Danes, rolling with an offense stronger than all but one of the Jays' opponents this season (Princeton), go to Homewood and beat Hopkins? This is a major opportunity for Albany, and a win against the Jays would give Scott Marr's program two solid pelts on the year (the other being the Great Danes' double overtime victory against Syracuse to open the year). There is reciprocity for Johns Hopkins as well: If the Jays can withstand Albany's offensive showcase and deal the Danes its fourth loss of the year, Hopkins' post-season resume gets an upgrade and will, at that point, feature two wins -- Albany and Virginia -- that may end up as top 20 RPI victories when May comes around (with the caveat being how Virginia and the Great Danes close their seasons). We're past teaching moments, people; it's all about results at this point in the season. This game situates itself square in the middle of that idea.
Here's today's full schedule with links to things so that you can monitor the carnage (Wagner isn't in action today because heroes need a nice vacation):
|Albany||Johns Hopkins||7:00||LIVE STATS||VIDEO|
|High Point||Duke||7:00||LIVE STATS||N/A|
Leave your notes about the games or anything else (QUERY: Are they called Ree-see's Pee-cees or Ree-says Pee-says?) in the comments below.