ALBANY — University at Albany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown called the decision a “no-brainer” for his program to accept an invitation to this year’s Basketball Hall of Fame Belfast Classic.
“This event presented itself and it’s an opportunity to take your team overseas, on an international trip during the season, and to a place that most likely everyone in your program hasn’t been,” Brown said Tuesday, not long after the tournament’s field was announced. “It’s an opportunity, maybe, none of our student-athletes will have again, either.”
UAlbany will be one of eight teams to compete in this year’s Belfast Classic, a tournament that involves four games for each team. The Great Danes will play two games in the United States and two games in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Besides UAlbany, the classic’s field includes Buffalo, Dartmouth, LIU Brooklyn, Marist, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, San Francisco and Stephen F. Austin.
A schedule for the tournament is not yet available, but games in Belfast will be played from Nov. 29 through Dec. 1.
“And we want to get there as early as possible and stay as late as possible because we want to do some community work there, too,” Brown said.
UAlbany is coming off a 22-10 season, but has experienced major roster turnover this offseason. The Great Danes lost four players to graduation and four to transfer — including each of the team’s top four scorers.
The Belfast Classic, a multi-team event, affords UAlbany the ability to play an extra two games during the 2019-20 season. That, Brown said, should serve as a bonus for what will be a more youthful Great Danes team.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Brown said. “It’s a tremendous cultural experience for our players and coaches, and we have an opportunity to use basketball as a resource to get us there.”