The roller-coaster ride continues for the University at Albany basketball programs.
Just 10 days after the school announced that leading scorers Gerardo Suero and Logan Aronhalt would not return for their senior seasons, severely damaging the title hopes for the men’s team, there was some good news for both of the UAlbany squads.
The America East Conference announced Thursday that UAlbany’s SEFCU Arena will host the 2013 tournament, for both the men and the women, who won their first conference title last season under second-year head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson.
It will be the second time that SEFCU Arena has hosted the men’s event and the first time the facility will entertain the combined men’s and women’s tournament.
Hartford hosted the combined men’s and women’s championship for the last three years at the Chase Family Arena in West Hartford, Conn.
“We are thrilled that the University at Albany has been chosen by the membership to host this championship,” said UAlbany athletic director Lee McElroy. “Our staff looks forward to building on the standard that Hartford has created hosting the combined tournament during the last three years, and promises to provide a first-class tournament for America East, its schools, student-athletes and fans, as well as the Capital region.”
The first, quarterfinal and semifinal rounds for both the men and the women will be played at SEFCU Arena. The championship games are played at the site of the highest remaining seeds.
UAlbany head men’s basketball coach Will Brown is thrilled with the announcement.
“There’s a comfort level there [at SEFCU] for the kids and our coaches, plus our fans don’t have to travel for the tournament,” Brown said. “If you have a solid team, or better, you’ll be in a situation where you can realistically win a couple of games in a row. Then, depending on how you did in the rest of the season and who you have left in the tournament, you might even get another game at home.
“It’s a win-win situation for everybody. Hartford did a tremendous job of hosting the tournament, but I’m confident our people will do just as well, or better. We have no travel worries, we’re not lying around in a hotel trying to find something for our players to do and we’re not trying to find practice time at the gym. It’s a very good situation for us.”
McElroy said that despite the good news, there will be challenges hosting the combined men’s and women’s tournament.
“We submitted the bid a couple of months ago, and you never know how things are going to work out, but we are delighted,” he said.
“Now, we have to get to work. There are several things that are different about the tournament this time around. We got raves when we ran it back in 2009, but now we have both the men and the women together. We are going to work hard to get more corporate support and to make the community aware of what we’re doing.”
UAlbany is also in the process of hiring a new sports information director to replace Brian DePasquale, who left in November. The school has been short-staffed in its athletic communications department since then, with only two full-time staffers, Brianna LaBrecque and Johnathon Gasparoni, helping to administrate and to promote all of the Great Danes’ athletic programs.
“We are still keeping our doors open, but it is true that we are down in staffing,” McElroy said. “We’ve got to replace some people and then train them so that they understand this market. In addition, we have to work harder on the outside, and on the inside, to make this happen.”
Space constraints at SEFCU Arena also are a challenge, but McElroy said that many of the smaller sports programs will have to make space available in the facility for when the tournament comes to town.
“We have to expand the media room, for example, because there will be more writers, video and television people, a lot more technology involved,” he said.
“It will be a lot of work, and it will be a challenge, but we do have a year to make our plans.”
America East officials are happy about the move to UAlbany and its 4,538-seat SEFCU Arena.
“Albany served as a great host for the 2009 men’s championship, one of our most successful in recent memory, and will no doubt be so again in 2013,” said America East Commissioner Amy Hutchhausen.
When UAlbany hosted the men’s tournament in 2009, the event drew 15,000 fans, the second most since 2002. SEFCU Arena also hosted the 2006 men’s championship game, as well as this season’s women’s championship game, which drew more fans than any league title contest since 2006.
GAZETTE COVERAGEEnsure access to everything we do, today and every day, check out our subscribe page at DailyGazette.com/Subscribe
More from The Daily Gazette:
Categories: College Sports