To prepare for the tip-off of another great year of college basketball, CHD is reaching out to coaches and players around the country to get the inside scoop on what we can expect this time around. Jon Teitel continues our season preview series by chatting with Albany PF Sam Rowley about winning the 1st NCAA tourney game in school history.
You grew up in Australia: how did you first get into the sport of basketball, and how did so many of you end up in Albany? Basketball is definitely a secondary sport in Australia to rugby, AFL, cricket, yet its popularity is always increasing and a huge number of people now play it. Also being pretty tall as a kid I was always encouraged to give it a try and ended up loving it. As for ending up in Albany, we all owe our thanks to Luke Devlin, who was a class above me. Coach Brown took a chance on him as a talented but relatively unknown foreign player, and his success paved the way for more Australians to follow in his footsteps.
One of your teammates is your brother Michael: how do you like having him as a teammate/classmate? Having him on the team is quite surreal sometimes. Being able to share my experiences playing sports at the collegiate level on the other side of the world with my brother is amazing. Watching him develop as both a player and a person has been a really cool experience to say the least, and it also makes travel for our parents a heck of a lot simpler!
In February 2013 you had a career-high 15 rebounds in a game at Maine: what is your secret for being a great rebounder? I think rebounding is about three things: effort, luck, and the ability to be in the right place at the right time. I think I had a lot of luck during the Maine game.
In the 2014 conference tourney title game you scored 18 points (9-11 field goals) in a nine point win over Stony Brook: how were you able to play your best when it mattered the most? With our team that year we had so many different scoring threats that it simply was impossible for the other team to stop all of them. I was fortunate enough to end up being the beneficiary of this through both the aggressiveness/selflessness of my teammates. I also have to give credit to our coaching staff who do a fantastic job of providing clarity for us on the task at hand and aiding us in blocking out all the external factors, which makes it just another game of basketball.
You had 13 rebound in a seven point first round win over Mt. St. Mary’s in the NCAA tourney last March: what did it mean to you to win a tourney game? For me it was the culmination of over a decade of growth for our program. We have had some amazing players come through this school, and to win a game at this level really pays tribute to not just the current players but also the past greats as well as everyone else who has contributed to the continued advancement of the Great Danes.
You scored thee PTS (1-8 FG) in a second round loss to Florida: did you just have a cold shooting night or are the Gators one of the best defensive teams you have ever seen? I certainly think the quality of the opposition was a predominant factor in my lack of scoring. Florida is a far larger and more physical team than we see in the America East and that definitely affected our regular style of offense.
Last year you were named to the America East All-Academic Team for the second consecutive season: how do you balance your work on the court with your work in the classroom as a double major in business administration/math? For me basketball is a means to an end, and that end is getting a quality education. I am incredibly lucky to do something I love and manage to get a free education from it, and while I intend to pursue basketball as long as I can I know that a good education is the most important asset at the end of the day.
Your non-conference schedule includes games against Bucknell, Providence, and UNLV: which of these games do you feel will present your biggest test? In my mind UNLV will present the biggest challenge. They are an extremely talented and athletic team that varies significantly from the teams we usually play. This being said, we are extremely excited to be able to test ourselves against 1 of the best teams in the country.
You play for Coach Will Brown: what makes him such a good coach, and what it the most important thing you have ever learned from him? The more you get to know Coach Brown, the more you realize that he really takes an interest in the growth of his players both on and off the court. I think his credentials speak for themselves in terms of basketball IQ and in-game coaching ability, so for me the quality that really differentiates him from other coaches is that he advocates a holistic approach to his job. He does not just want you to be a good basketball player: he really values the academics as well as community and social involvement.
What are your goals for the upcoming season, and what are your expectations for the upcoming season? My goal this season is to help my team reach a third consecutive NCAA tournament, and my expectations follow suit. We have proved in the previous two seasons that we can outperform expectations, and with the talent we have added to our program over the summer I know that we have the ability to accomplish this.