A new men’s Division III basketball program in the Capital Region makes its debut when the Sage Gators host Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Sunday at 3 p.m.
Brian Barnes, a former tri-captain and later assistant coach for the University at Albany program, as well as an assistant at RPI for three years, takes on the responsibility of building the first-year team.
“I’m thrilled to be so close to playing our first game,” said Barnes. “We’ve had a good month of practice with the guys getting to know one another and knowing me. We’ve been focusing on the job at hand.”
Barnes has had plenty of time to recruit his players and fine-tune the new program.
“I was hired in June of 2008, and I officially started Aug. 1 of that year. Really, from that point on, I was in gyms all over the state,” he said. “I’ve had a full year to recruit.”
A majority of his players are from Section II.
“I’m really excited about the guys we’ve got,” he said. “It’s a terrific recruiting class. I think we’ve got guys with real talent. We’re going to play up-tempo as much as possible and whenever possible. We have players who fit perfectly into that system. We have the perimeter players and we have post players.”
Sage has been a four-year school for eight years now, but men’s basketball hasn’t been a varsity sport since Sage-JCA was a junior college program.
“I was very impressed right from my first telephone interview with the support I’ve had adding a new athletic team to Sage,” Barnes said. “The administration and the athletic department understand what it takes. They’ve done a terrific job of getting me what I need to do my job. Being local has been a terrific advantage for me, especially from a recruiting standpoint. It’s easy for me to establish relationships with the local coaches, many of whom I already know. Just knowing the basketball landscape of the area helps.”
Local players on the roster include 5-foot-7 freshman Stephen King from Columbia, 5-6 freshman Jeff Stopera from Scotia-Glenville, 5-11 freshman Justin Brignola from Shenendehowa, 5-11 junior Garrett Bishop from Saratoga Springs,
6-1 freshman Mason Horne from LaSalle, 6-1 freshman Alex King from Saratoga Springs, 5-10 junior Ryan Harris from Glens Falls, 6-4 freshman Matt Lee from Shenendehowa and 6-3 freshman center Jake Douty from Columbia.
Hunter Morris, a 6-7, 240-pound freshman from Graphic Communication Arts in New York City, should provide muscle inside.
“It was a lot easier than you would think to get our first schedule together,” Barnes said. “We have 20 of our 25 games in the Skyline Conference, which is a very big league. I only needed to come up with five non-conference games, and everybody wanted to play us in the first year.”
u Four Union College football players have been selected to participate in a pair of all-star games.
Linebacker John Peters and defensive end Tim Romano have been tabbed to play in the Taxon de Estrellas (Bowl of the Stars) Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. at Tec Monterrey Campus Estado de Mexico in Mexico City. Offensive linemen Colin Berry and Tim Furcillo have been selected to play for the North team in the D-III Football Senior Classic Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. at Salem Stadium in Salem, Va.
u For today’s game with Susquehanna, the members of the Union football team will wear special black game jerseys in honor of the Wounded Warrior Project. The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower wounded warriors. The purpose of this program is to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, to help severely injured service members aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of severely injured service members.
“The money raised from the sale of the jerseys is going to the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Union head coach John Audino. “I am proud of our players and their dedication to community service, and this participation in the Wounded Warrior Project is an outstanding effort on their part to give back to this fine organization. The players raised the money themselves through the purchase of their own jersey, which they will wear this weekend and cherish as a keepsake after their football careers.”
u University at Albany’s field hockey team finished 18th in the Kookaburra/NFHCA Division I National Coaches’ Poll. The Great Danes were ranked for the final six weeks of the season and finished with a 13-5 record after falling to Boston University in the America East Conference Championship.
Schenectady’s Alyssa Goodman (Emma Willard) earned first team all-Landmark Conference honors in women’s soccer for the second time in her career after the senior outside midfielder scored seven goals and added an assist. She scored three game-winning goals. In 71 career games, Goodman scored 24 goals and ranks in the program’s top 10 in goals and points.
Tim Acker and Bobby Stutz, a pair of defensive backs, were named to the first team on the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District team. Acker has a 3.73 grade point average, and Stutz has a 3.2 GPA. Acker, a team co-captain, is second on the Engineers in tackles with 60 to go along with a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. Stutz had 19 tackles, three pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Senior midfielder Kristin McGorty was named to the All-Northeast Conference second team in field hockey. She led the Saints in scoring with four goals and six assists.
Junior middle hitter Nicole Corbett (Columbia) was named to the Vassar Invitational all-tournament team in volleyball after recording 11 kills and three blocks.
Caitlin Brauer (Shenendehowa) was named the Northeast-10 Conference co-freshman of the week in women’s swimming after posting a school-record time of 10:45.65 in the 1,000-meter freestyle. She also won the 100 free (56.05) and was part of the winning 200-yard medley relay.
Elise Britt was named the MVP and joined teammates Katie Potter, Christine Kemp and Casey Tang on the Liberty League all-tournament team in field hockey. Skidmore won the tournament championship game and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament for the third straight season and ninth time overall.
Sophomore forward Bridgette DeSantis (Mohonasen) was named to the first team on the All-SUNYAC women’s soccer all-star team. DeSantis led the Red Dragons in scoring with seven goals and four assists for 18 points in 20 games. She notched three game-winning goals.
Freshman defensive back Jalon Scott (Albany) was named to the D3football.com national team of the week after making six tackles in the Crusaders’ 35-31 win over WPI. Scott, who has six interceptions, was honored on that team three times this season.
Senior Veronica Mynders and sophomore Eve Richards (Schenectady) were selected Liberty League volleyball first team and second team, respectively. Mynders made a team-leading 657 digs, four kills and notched 18 assists this season. Mynders was named MVP of the Interleague Challenge hosted by Union. 10-11. She was also selected to the all-tournament team at the Hartwick Invitational. Richards led the Dutchwomen with 332 kills, 408 digs and recorded 11 assists. Richards was selected for the all-tournament team at the Tufts Invitational.
Zach Epley was named the Liberty League football co-special teams performer of the week. Epley made a career best three field goals in one game, in Union’s 37-6 win at Merchant Marine. His field goals came from distances of 27, 21 and 21 yards.