Between all the ups and downs of last season, it is hard to believe that Albany barely saw Peter Hooley scratch the surface of his game.
The Great Danes ran away with the regular season championship even while the 6’4″ guard took a leave of absence to see his mother in Australia, who passed away from colon cancer. Head coach Will Brown took every precaution to ease him back into the rotation upon his return, and few can forget his game winning shot with 1.6 seconds left in the America East championship game.
Hooley started to show strides of his game in the season’s final weeks, scoring a season-high 21 points against New Hampshire in the conference tournament semifinal game when he began to attack the lane and not just show his ability as a three-point threat. Over the course of the summer, Hooley played on the Australian team for the World University Games in South Korea and he said he put the most work in on improving his mid-range game.
“In terms of the way I play, I would say my emotion try and control them and be sure that I never get too high and I never get too low and try and stay level headed,” Hooley said. “If I can manage to do that and just play the game for fun, I think I’ll be playing my best. Sometimes I forget that basketball is just a game, that I know when I realize that it’s a game we’re supposed to play for fun, I think we’ll be having more success.”
The Albany team that fans will see this season may look similar to their season finale last year against Oklahoma. In their second round NCAA tournament contest, the Great Danes were perimeter-oriented, taking 25 three-pointers in their nine-point loss to the third seed. Hooley started in their NCAA tournament game alongside Evan Singletary and Ray Sanders — the likely back court opponents will see this coming season.
“I think we’re definitely going to play through our back court and our perimeter,” Hooley said. “I’m excited to get back out there with them and then we have these new guys coming who all just want to compete and play hard, which is hard to find.”
“As soon as we all can get on the same page and play Albany basketball together, we’ll be really successful, and I know it’s going to be a great year.”
Hooley loses his fellow countrymen and only other player who shared in the success of the last three seasons with him to graduation in Sam Rowley. While they still have Rowley’s younger brother Mike on the team as a junior, Sam became almost indispensable during the last three seasons. The last game he did not start was Jan. 5, 2013 and it will be his leadership that will be missed the most.
“I think we all have to try and step up, I don’t think it has to be necessarily one person, everyone has to step up and in their own way,” Hooley said on how he thinks they can replace Sam Rowley’s contributions to the team. “I think Mike’s taken a big step for us since last year, he’s definitely bulked up in the weight room, but I think he’s going to be a tremendous asset for us.”
“I think Sam was good at always making sure that nobody got too down on any loss or any lead that the other team had, that we always stuck the course and kept playing our game. I think we’re going to have to try to remember that it’s impossible to try and think that we’re going to go through a season and never having a down time, so we have to make sure that we weather that, stay together and fight through it.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2015-16 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.