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What Virginia Basketball Fans Need to Know: The Albany Great Danes

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Photo: UVA Athletics

Albany is 5-9, with two non-D1 wins, is ranked 326th in KenPom. This is the kind of game you want to come back from Christmas break to.

Virginia (8-2, KenPom: 13) welcomes the Great Danes on Wednesday night at 6 p.m. (ACC Network), the last non-conference game for UVA until the NCAA Tournament.

The Cavaliers have lost two straight – to #3 Houston (69-61, Dec. 17) and #14 Miami (66-64, Dec. 20).

The heart of the ACC schedule tips off on Saturday with a trip to Georgia Tech (7-5, KenPom: 119).

The mid-week game with Albany is a chance for Tony Bennett to get a last look at his team before the ACC grind begins in earnest.

About Albany

Best win: at Northern Illinois (4-9, KenPom: 296), an 83-78 win on Dec. 20.

Highest-ranked opponent: Florida Atlantic (11-1, KenPom: 41), which defeated the Great Danes, 73-56, on Nov. 26.

Albany plays in the America East Conference (think: UMBC).

Last year, in Year 1 under new coach Dwayne Killings, the Danes finished 13-18, with a 9-9 mark in the AEC.

Killings, a Hampton U. alum who was hired in 2021 after stops as an assistant at Boston U., Temple, UConn and Marquette, is currently facing a lawsuit from a former Albany walk-on, Luke Fizulich, which accuses the coach of assault and battery during a pregame hype circle in November 2021.

The suit from Fizulich, who had transferred from Marquette, also alleges that the school had decided to fire Killings after its investigation into the matter, only reversing course after pressure from local business and civil rights leaders that had been “rallied up” by a PR firm aligned with Killings.

Killings did serve out a five-game suspension for the incident handed down by the school.

Killings’ predecessor, Will Brown, led Albany to three straight NCAA Tournament bids from 2013-2015, peaking as a 14 seed in 2015, and five tourney bids overall.

Brown had been 315-295 in 19 seasons at Albany before it was announced in March 2021 that the coach and the school had mutually agreed to part ways.

On the court

Killings’ rotation goes eight deep. The Danes have two guys averaging in double-digits in scoring: 6’5” forward Gerald Drumgoole (14.3 ppg, 5.2 rebounds/g, 38.6% FG, 39.6% 3FG) and 6’9” center Jonathan Beagle (11.4 ppg, 6.7 rebounds/g, 50.4% FG, 27.6% 3FG).

Albany shoots 33.3 percent from three on high volume (23.8 attempts per game) and shoots 41.2 percent overall (ranking 322nd nationally).

Defensively, the Danes allow opponents to 49.6 percent from the floor, ranking seventh-worst nationally (357th of the 363 D1 teams).

Projections

  • KenPom: Virginia 79-53, 99% win probability
  • ESPN BPI: Virginia +24.4, 98.5% win probability
  • Bart Torvik: Virginia 78-54, 98% win probability

Chris Graham

In addition to being the editor of Augusta Free Press, I've written seven books, including Poverty of Imagination and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, both published in 2019, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For my commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to my YouTube page, youtube.com/chrisgrahamAFP. Want to reach me? Try [email protected].