Friday, March 27, 2015

The Sweet 16 in Albany: No. 3 Louisville vs. No. 7 Dayton

Let's break down more important basketball! 

The second game of Saturday's Sweet 16 double header at the Times Union Center pits No. 3 Louisville against No. 7 Dayton. It's an interesting matchup with one team that's played in three conferences in three years against another team that has never been here.

So, here we go. 

The Sweet 16 in Albany: No. 1 UConn vs. No. 5 Texas

There are some pretty important basketball games happening in downtown Albany this weekend. Big games. Games with very talented players in them.

The Sweet 16 has come to Albany.

So, let's break down these very important games shall we? Let's start with No. 1 overall seed UConn and No. 5 Texas. Check it out.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Talks between UAlbany and Will Brown have been "very productive"

The coaching carousel is still spinning at UAlbany. That is, if it ever really started to begin with.

Just a few days after interviewing for open positions at both Fordham and George Mason, men's basketball coach Will Brown met with UAlbany athletic officials, including first-year athletic director Mark Benson, to discuss the future of the program and his own future on the sidelines.
J.S. Carras / The Record

As far as Brown is concerned, the talks have been going well.

"The talks with Albany have been very productive," Brown said on Thursday night. "Mark Benson and I are on the same page about wanting to grow and develop, continue to grow and develop the program, and try to reach newer heights."

Of course, the current success the Great Danes have been experiencing is almost entirely at the hands of Brown and the program he has built on Western Avenue.

This season marked Brown's 14th with the Danes and the third straight America East championship and NCAA berth for the squad. All five of UAlbany's trips to the NCAA Tournament have come with Brown at the team's helm.

It makes sense that other teams would come calling. In fact, this is not the first time that other squads have sought Brown, who is contracted with the Danes through the 2018 season, out. He interviewed with St. Bonaventure following the 2007 season. But still, the reigning America East Coach of the Year is focused on expanding the program he's built at UA and these recent talks with the athletic department have focused on just that.

"I think we have an understanding of the resources that are necessary to make that jump. I think we’re both excited about the future of our program," Brown said. "We both want to win. That’s my biggest thing. I just want us to continue to progress and make the program better, don’t ever let it get stagnant."

Brown has not been shy in the past about voicing his hope for refurbished facilities at UAlbany and when Benson came into the department this summer there was some question as to whether or not he would transition the Danes into the CAA, joining the football team in the slightly higher conference.

Nothing is set in stone yet and Brown is keeping his options open.

But, at the end of the day, the most important thing for the veteran coach is what happens to the program he has helped build and the success he has helped cultivate.

"That’s really what I’m looking to see," Brown said. "I want my staff taken care of and I want us to continue to invest in the program so we can make a natural progression that I would like us to make."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Siena women's basketball coach Ali Jaques "so happy" for Dayton?

Siena women's basketball coach Ali Jaques is a little busy this week.

After all, her Saints simply keep winning. The only MAAC women's hoops team left standing this late in March, Siena is set to take on Mercer in the semifinals of the WBI on Wednesday night. But, somewhere in between film sessions and practice and even flying back from Cincinnati, Jaques found time to make a very important phone call; to Dayton women's basketball coach Jim Jabir.

Jabir, who will be in Albany this weekend with the Flyers for the Sweet 16 games at the Times Union Center, was the head coach of the Saints for three seasons (1987-90), compiling a 50-29 record.

While Jaques schedule may have been a little hectic, she had to make sure to send her congratulations.

"I’m so happy! I talked to him today and for a former Siena coach to make it to the Sweet 16 out of the Atlantic 10 that’s a tough thing to do," said Jaques. "To beat Kentucky on their home court, I’m just so happy for Jim. He’s such a good guy. He does things the right way."

Of course, Jaque's professional relationship with Jabir doesn't simply begin and end with common ground in Loudonville. The current Siena head coach was a former assistant at Dayton during the 2005-2006 season and saw, first-hand, what Jabir did to build his program and his team there.

"I knew he was starting something special at Dayton," she said. "I had the pleasure to work for him for a year and I learned so much. It was all about recruiting at that time. He’s recruited those players, he’s made his team better and he’s made them a force to be reckoned with nationally. When you have a quality coach who has a vision and knows how to build a program, not just put a team together, you’re going to have extended success and that’s what he’s done at Dayton."

Since taking over the Flyers' helm in 2003, Jabir is the all-time wins leader in program history and has now made five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Dayton took down No. 2 Kentucky on Sunday to earn this weekend's trip to Albany.

The Flyers will square off against Lousiville in the second of the Sweet 16 games at the Times Union Center on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and Jaques is even hoping to be able to bring her current team to the matchup, as long as things go as planned on Wednesday night.

"Selfishly I’d like to be playing at home on Sunday so we could see them play on Saturday," Jaques said. "But I’m really, really excited for Dayton and that program."

Friday, March 20, 2015

THE FIRST HALF: No. 14 UAlbany vs. No. 3 Oklahoma

Peter Hooley certainly didn't look like a kid who had bombarded by media requests and potential distractions all week.

The University at Albany men's basketball team trailed 37-28 at halftime but the junior guard was an offensive force for the Great Danes, scoring a game-high 12 points in the opening 20 minutes. Unfortunately he didn't get much help.

No other player on the UA roster scored more than five points in the first half, both Evan Singletary and Ray Sanders finished with five, while the Rowley brothers both notched two.

The biggest problem, as expected, for the Great Danes though came on the offensive glass as Oklahoma's very obvious size advantage played a major part in the early goings. The Sooners out-rebounded the Danes 20-to-17 and while they only notched one extra offensive board, 15 of Oklahoma's first half points came on second chances.

The Sooners also saw nearly every player who touched the floor put points in the box score as seven different players scored, led by nine from both TaShawn Thomas and Buddy Hield.

At the break, Oklahoma shot 48.5% from the floor while UAlbany notched just 38.7% and went to the line just two times on a pair of Singletary attempts in the first 10 minutes.

Not too much foul trouble for either team with the exception of sophomore forward Mike Rowley for UA who was whistled for three fouls in the first 15 minutes. That could hurt the Danes' depth in the frontcourt down the stretch.

DAY TWO: Game. Day.

Hey. Today. You know what today is? Today is game day. Times two.

It's all happening, now guys! IT'S ALL HAPPENING. While it does happen (all of it) I'll be live-blogging the sights and sounds and vaguely sarcastic comments of the NCAA Tournament here in Columbus.

While you're waiting for the men's game to tip-off at 7 or maybe taking a commercial break from the women's game, go ahead and check out the ridiculous amount of stories I wrote yesterday. The links were all tweeted out from @LauraAmato but there's also this convenient link to click here. Go forth and read.


11:32 am - Less than 30 minutes until the women's game tips on ESPN2. Meanwhile, the UA fan bus is somewhere near the Pennsylvania border en route to Columbus. Godspeed to those brave souls who decided to charter a bus for 10-plus hours. Give me delayed charter flights all day every day.

12:32 pm - Stop me if you've heard this before. Shereesha Richards is really ridiculously good at playing basketball. Like really good. UAlbany hanging around, down 18-12 to Duke with 6:47 left in the half.

12:46 pm - UAlbany women down 26-25 to Duke at the end of the first half. It hasn't exactly been pretty but Great Danes proving they're worthy of being here, hanging around and playing absolutely incredible defense.

1:10 pm - Shereesha Richards is taking an absolute beating down low right now. Not many calls for her but still 10 points and UA down 31-28, 15:49 left.

1:30 pm - Imani Tate has been tremendous this afternoon. She might be the most overlooked basketball player on this UAlbany team.

1:43 pm - It's getting a little chippy in Cameron as Duke leads 45-44. Double technicals called on Amber Henson and Imani Tate. Deep breaths guys, deep breaths.

1:53 pm - DEEP BREATHS.

2:08 pm - Give all the credit in the world the UAlbany women's basketball team. Duke closed out the game on a 6-0 run in the final minute and ten. Sarah Royals and Margarita Rosario close out their careers with the Great Danes but shouldn't hold their heads. That was fantastic basketball.

2:34 pm - Ah, the greatest time honored sports tradition of all. Asking if you have tickets as a means of scalping said tickets. It's beautiful. 

2:48 pm - Finally got my latte. Tim Hortons, I think I may love you. 

3:41 pm - The TV in the media room is about 10 seconds slower than the game. The yells coming from the arena spoil the surprise a bit. 

4:03 pm - NO FOUL CALLS FOR ANYONE! Also I'm here now. 

4:20 pm - There is a bird in Nationwide Arena right now. It's just hanging out. Flying around. That bird has no idea. 

4:35 pm - March is fun. I'm having fun. Are you having fun yet?

5:05 pm - I straight up just professed my love to the NCAA IT man at Nationwide Arena. I am now, thankfully, hooked up to the wifi. He seemed impressed with my proposal of love since he's married and I'm engaged.

5:18 pm - The hair on that Maryland kid though. In bird updates, there are now two birds in Nationwide Arena.

5:24 pm - They've moved the Providence-Dayton tip time to 10:30. So UAlbany is going at 8 then. Thanks a lot entertaining but ultimately schedule-disrupting WVU-Buffalo game.

5:30 pm - The Maryland pep band just played the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme song. PEP BAND JOKES.

5:46 pm - Where was that burger they just showed on the TV broadcast? Someone get me that burger.

5:57 pm - NOPE. I actually saved this picture as NOPE.

6:09 pm - UAlbany just left the hotel, which is about 20 minutes away, for Nationwide Arena. A police escort was involved. Life is good for the Danes.

6:20 pm - That wasn't a foul in the Louisville game? Aight.

6:28 pm - Just told the entire UA men's hoops team, their families and the pep band all watched (and cheered) the women's game against Duke in the hotel lobby earlier this afternoon. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Know Thy Enemy: The Duke women's basketball team

The University at Albany women's basketball team opens up the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon; literally.

The Great Danes will take on No. 4 Duke in the very first game of the postseason tournament with tip-off scheduled for 12 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

But before we get there, let's break down the Blue Devils and what they bring to the metaphorical table, or the hardwood, before the madness officially gets underway. Check it out under the cut.