Villanova on Tuesday morning landed a commitment from Joe Cremo, a grad transfer from Albany and one of the top targets for anyone on the transfer market.
A 6-foot-4 guard, Cremo was a big-time scorer for the Great Danes, averaging 17.8 points and 3.8 assists as a junior. He also shot the ball at 45.8 percent from three. While he is a natural off-guard, he is a perfect fit for what Villanova wants to do offensively given his ability to pass and his feel for the game. He also spent a ton of time playing with his back to the basket for Albany, and all of that fits perfectly with Jay Wright’s unique and innovative offensive attack.
“Villanova is a nice fit,” an America East coach told NBC Sports. “Good move for both parties.”
The question, however, is whether this is truly good news for Villanova.
Prior to Cremo’s commitment, Villanova was assured of having eight rotation players back next season. That doesn’t include Donte DiVincenzo or Omari Spellman, both of whom are borderline first round picks that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft. With DiVincenzo back in the mix, Cremo’s commitment means that the Wildcats have nine perimeter players on the roster on a team where Jay Wright has made a habit of using seven or eight-man rotations; he is one of the few coaches that has made a habit of leaving two or three scholarship positions on his roster available. It’s better to have players playing too many minutes that too many guys for the minutes available.
I say all that to say this: Did Villanova take this commitment because they think they are going to lose DiVincenzo to the NBA draft?
It’s not hard to connect those dots. It’s also not hard to assume that Cremo is simply a safety measure for a team that is going to have two seldom-used sophomores and three freshmen — one of whom may or may not get cleared immediately by the NCAA — playing major minutes.
Whatever the case may be, Cremo is certainly a good fit for the Wildcats, but that doesn’t mean that his commitment is a net-positive for the Villanova program.
While the NBA waits to make a decision on whether to host its All-Star Game in North Carolina, the state’s controversial bathroom bill has canceled a college basketball game.
Albany’s scheduled visit to Duke on Nov. 12 has been cancelled due to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ban on state-sponsored, non-essential travel to the state of North Carolina in response to HB2, the state’s law that requires transgendered people to use the bathroom as assigned by the gender on their birth certificate, according to the Herald-Sun.
“The State University of New York supports Governor Cuomo’s executive order banning all non-essential travel to the state of North Carolina,” SUNY spokesperson Holly Liapsis told the Herald-Sun. “We instructed our campuses to immediately review any existing travel plans by faculty and staff. SUNY and its campuses continue to support the Governor on taking this stand.”
In May, the U.S. Justice Department ruled the law violated the Civil Rights Act, but the state is fighting the decision. While the stakes of such a fight are vast and broad, it’s clear that sports – whether its Albany or the NBA’s signature weekend – will be brought into the fray as it plays out.
New York’s ban won’t affect the state’s highest-profile program, Syracuse, because it is a private institution.
VIDEO: America East’s #OurHouseRules trick shot campaign
With the start of college basketball’s regular season just over a week away, the America East Conference began a special campaign via social media. The #OurHouseRules campaign features each of the nine member schools, with a player (or players, in one instance thus far) from each team making a shot they’d use in a game of HORSE.
The schools are doing this in alphabetical order, so defending tournament champion Albany was first with senior guard Peter Hooley getting things going. Hooley, whose three-pointer in the final seconds of the America East title game sent the Great Danes to the NCAA tournament, successfully drop-kicked a shot in from just beyond half court.
UMBC, UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire, Stony Brook and Vermont are the five teams who have yet to submit their shots, with UMBC now on the clock to do so. This is a pretty cool idea, especially when it comes to getting the fan bases excited for the start of the season. Who doesn’t like a good trick shot?
Last week, Albany senior Peter Hooley accepted the Inspiration Award at the Coaches vs Cancer Basket Ball in Troy, New York. The Albany athletic department uploaded his entire speech on Monday afternoon.
Hooley had one of the most uplifting moments of March after months and months of heartache.
The junior guard missed three weeks of the season to travel back home to Australia to be with his mother, who was battling colon cancer. She passed away in January. Hooley returned to the team in February and the following month, the Great Danes had a shot at an NCAA tournament berth. In the America East Tournament championship, Hooley sunk a game-winning shot with 1.6 seconds to go.
One of the most powerful stories of the 2014-15 season was that of Albany guard Peter Hooley, whose shot with less than a second remaining gave the Great Danes a win over Stony Brook in the America East title game. Hooley’s heroics came less than two months after the passing of his mother from a lengthy bout with colon cancer, and just over a month after he’d returned to the program.
“It’s an honor for me to speak on behalf of our graduating class,” Hooley said in the release. “I’m looking forward to congratulating everyone on our last four years together, as well as wishing the Class of 2015 the best going forward.”
This is the latest honor bestowed upon Hooley, who also received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence in March and the school president’s Outstanding Senior Award. While a number of schools bring in public figures for commencement speeches, Albany’s move has the potential to be even more meaningful as the graduates will see one of their own at the podium.
Leaving the program are freshman guards Wheeler Baker, Max Twyman and Mike Wells. While the 6-foot-5 Twyman and the 5-foot-10 Wells only appeared in 15 games total this season, losing the 6-foot-2 Baker is tough for the Great Danes.
Baker showed flashes as a quick-burst scoring option off the bench this season but he was likely going to be stuck behind Peter Hooley, Ray Sanders and Evan Singletary in the rotation next season. Baker appeared in 30 games and averaged 5.6 points, 1.4 rebounds per game for Albany during the 2014-15 season.
Albany is coming off of three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, as they finished last season 24-9 and 15-1 in the America East.