The Outlet: Albany Cup between Siena, UAlbany men’s basketball returns — and shouldn’t disappear again

UAlbany's Da'Kquan Davis drives to the basket next to Siena's Jared Billups and Jackson Stormo in the Albany Cup at MVP Arena in Albany Saturday.

UAlbany's Da'Kquan Davis drives to the basket next to Siena's Jared Billups and Jackson Stormo in the Albany Cup at MVP Arena in Albany Saturday.

THE OUTLET – It was a line I heard often Saturday night, often delivered with a wink or a smile. 

“Fun night. We should do this again next year.”

Of course, it’s already set that Siena and UAlbany will meet for the next two seasons in men’s basketball. The Albany Cup — gone for five years before Saturday’s return in downtown Albany — isn’t going away anytime soon.

But it’s a community event that shouldn’t ever go away, something that Saturday’s game demonstrated from start to finish.

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“That was a special environment. Shout out to the community of Albany, thanks everyone for supporting us and Siena,” UAlbany’s Trey Hutcheson said after the game played in front of 9,561 fans at MVP Arena. “It was incredible to be able to play in that situation.”

And here’s where it should be noted: Hutcheson played on the team that lost Saturday’s game.

Even after his club suffered a tough defeat, one that in which the Great Danes had a double-digit lead evaporate and turn into a 75-62 Siena win, Hutcheson could recognize he’d gotten to take part in something special.

“That,” Siena’s Jared Billups agreed, “was a top-tier atmosphere.”

“I know [coach] Carm [Maciariello] says it’s just another game,” said Siena’s Andrew Platek, a Guilderland native, “but there’s a ton of people here.”

Those people showed up in their school’s colors and were loud throughout the night. It was festive, and felt like the Capital Region showcase the Albany Cup is meant to produce.

One thing I didn’t hear anyone discuss Saturday night was where the game was played, the detail that served as the reason why UAlbany and Siena couldn’t bring themselves to play men’s basketball against each other for a regrettable spell after playing for 17 consecutive years.

The hard part about that disagreement is that both parties have an undeniable reality on their side.

Siena is right. The best place for the teams to play in terms of allowing the most community members to flock to a game that’s about the community is in downtown Albany at MVP Arena, where Siena plays all its home games. 

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UAlbany is right. The Great Danes shouldn’t need to play a local rivalry game every year inside the rival’s building.

But everyone is wrong when the programs don’t figure out a way to play each other. 

Now, it’s hyperbole when Dwayne Killings, or anyone, refers to the Albany Cup as a “Super Bowl” for area fans, as the second-year head coach did the other day. But hyperboles are grounded in truth — and the Albany Cup is a crucial piece to our region’s sports landscape.

College basketball nowadays moves at an accelerated pace, but it’s still striking how much changed within these two programs in the span of time between when they could agree to play the game. Nobody on this year’s UAlbany and Siena teams were around when the clubs last played, and the same could be said about last year’s rosters.

That last matchup between the teams, back in 2017?

Will Brown and Jimmy Patsos were the head coaches that night at then-Times Union Center. Joe Cremo and David Nichols made up the starting backcourt for UAlbany and hadn’t yet transferred to high-major programs. Nico Clareth was involved in that game for Siena. So, too, was a Siena rookie named Manny Camper who played minutes nine and 10 of a college career that grew to include nearly 2,600 of them.

That’s all to say that, well, it had been way too long since UAlbany and Siena met in the sport that the most people in the Capital Region want to see them meet.

Saturday’s game — technically, a “neutral-site matchup” — was the first in a three-year series. Next year’s game will take place at UAlbany, and 2024’s game will be played at MVP Arena. From there, the schools will need to figure out a new deal, again.

And that one can’t take a half-decade to make. 


The rivalry matchup between the Siena and UAlbany women’s basketball teams takes place 1 p.m. Sunday at UHY Center in Loudonville.

It should be an interesting game. While full-strength UAlbany vs. full-strength Siena heavily favors the Great Danes, it’s unclear if UAlbany will be anywhere near that.

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The Great Danes won their opener 67-53 against Merrimack despite missing four players that could start for head coach Colleen Mullen’s team. While Lucia Decortes (lower leg) is out for at least several more weeks, it’s unknown how long the club will be without all-conference players Kayla Cooper and Helene Haegerstrand, as well as reigning America East Sixth Player of the Year Morgan Haney.

While missing players from UAlbany’s rotation was the headline item from the Great Danes’ season opening, it was a much different story for Siena. The young Saints posted a surprising 20-point win in their opening game against New Hampshire. In that victory, a pair of freshmen — Angel Jones and Elisa Mevius — led the Saints in scoring.

While UAlbany returned its top-nine scorers from last season, Siena’s roster includes nine freshmen.

A year ago, UAlbany won 64-44 against Siena.

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Categories: -Sports-, College Sports, Siena College, Sports, UAlbany

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