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ATC Titans head into tourney play

March 5, 2009 (Albany Herald) — The Albany Tech Titans’ 20th victory still eludes them.  The Albany Tech men’s hoops team enters the Region XVII tourney as the No. 5 seed, badly wanting to exact revenge on the last team to beat them, Coastal Georgia, as the two play again tonight in the opener.

A win tonight, however, in the first round of the NJCAA Region XVII Tournament at South Georgia Tech would not only push coach Sylvester Patterson’s team to 20-11, it would count as its first-ever tournament game victory in the program’s short two-year history.

After losing against fourth-seeded Coastal Georgia last Friday, the fifth-seeded Titans will have a rematch at 6 p.m. today. If the Titans win, they play in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday against the winner of tonight’s other game between top-seeded South Georgia Tech and No. 8 Gordon.

The Titans, who actually won the first game between the two teams, 90-85, will be without post player Marcus Jackson, who will finish his two-game suspension tonight for leaving the bench during an on-court altercation against Gordon College.

That in itself leaves Patterson uncertain about his team’s chances.
“I don’t know to be honest with you,” Patterson said. “Missing Marcus is hurting the offense a lot. (Another post player) Waylon Jones has a foot injury and (leading scorer) Truett O’Neal is having back problems.”

To compound matters, Albany Tech’s season is on the line. If the Titans had defeated Coastal Georgia on Friday, they would have clinched the third seed and a Sunday coin flip would have had to determine the No. 1 seed and host school because Georgia Perimeter and eventual top seed South Georgia would have been tied atop the standings in that case.

Patterson sees both advantages and disadvantages in playing Coastal Georgia again so soon.

“Just because we’re missing (Jackson), (it’s not like) they (don’t) know what to do,” Patterson said. “We are making adjustments.”

O’Neal likes his team’s chances even without Jackson if the Titans follow Patterson’s game plan.

“We’re really excited because we feel we’re ready to play them again,” O’Neal said. “The mood is anxious, just trying to get ready to play them again because we feel we have a pretty good chance.”

Although guard Demarcus Blunt is on the All-Region team, O’Neal was left off to Patterson’s dismay.

“He gives us almost 15 points per game and nine rebounds per game,” Patterson said. “That’s really valuable, not to mention the energy he gives on both offense and defense. To me, he’s our MVP.”

One key aspect to watch for tonight is how O’Neal plays defense since the Titans’ depth in post players is shortened because of Jackson’s suspension.

“Without Marcus right there, I can’t play the aggressive defense we’re used to playing because we’re short on big men as it is,” O’Neal said. “I have to play kind of tender a lot, not like I usually like to.”

Recent performances by ex-Albany standout Bryan Chatmon and Channing Hudson give the Titans added confidence just in case guards and ex-Monroe standouts Wilbur Lake and Dejuan Shannon struggle.

“I definitely feel we have something to prove,” he said. “When we have our stuff together, it’s hard to beat us. We want to make some noise and let them know Albany Tech is here.”


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