The University at Albany’s basketball team once again will face some brutal tests early in the season to prepare for its America East Conference schedule.
A grueling non-conference schedule includes Ohio State, Washington and Duquense, as well as archrival Siena.
The Ohio State and Washington games are part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament, played at both campus sites and the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
“I feel that our non-conference schedule is extremely challenging and will help prepare us for America East Conference play,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown, who begins his 12th season with the Great Danes and is the longest-tenured coach in his conference. “We are very excited about the opportunity to play in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tournament.
“We will be tested early and often in non-conference play. Several teams on our non-conference schedule will compete for conference championships and be in a position to play in the postseason. This non-conference schedule will improve our team and will get us ready for the rigors of the conference season.”
After the conference competition, UAlbany will host the America East Conference tournament for the second time.
The Great Danes open the season at home in SEFCU Arena against Duquesne of the Atlantic-10 on Nov. 9. The only other time these teams met was in the 1998-99 season opener, and the Dukes prevailed, 72-43.
The Great Danes then play in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at Ohio State Nov. 11 in Columbus and at Washington Nov. 13 in Seattle. That tournament continues at the Mohegan Sun Arena against Missouri-Kansas City on Nov. 17. The Danes conclude that tournament against either Norfolk St. or Loyola, Md., the next day.
“The opportunity to play in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament was the key for us,” said Brown. “I had to make a commitment to playing a couple of BCS teams right away in Ohio State and Washington. But this is an opportunity to play at Mohegan Sun. I thought it would be a nice trip for our fan base, and they can make a weekend out of it. They can spend some time at the casino and then watch us play. It’s also a nice short trip.”
UAlbany begins a home-and-home series with South Carolina State in the Smith-Hammond-Middletown Memorial Center on Nov. 20 to complete a five-game swing away from home.
UAlbany hosts Wagner Nov. 26 and takes on Siena at Times Union Center on Dec. 1.
Home games with St. Francis (N.Y.), South Carolina State (Dec. 12), Quinnipiac (Dec. 21) and Brown (Dec. 31), along with road tests at Colgate (Dec. 8) and Navy (Dec. 28), complete the regular non-conference schedule. UAlbany also has been invited to play in the ESPN BracketBusters on Feb. 23, against an opponent to be determined, on the road.
“We’ve got to get through the first eight games and hopefully, feel good about ourselves,” Brown said. “Being tested early and often will definitely prepare us for the league schedule, and we’re very excited to be hosting the conference tournament this year.”
UAlbany was 9-7 in conference play and 19-15 overall a year ago. Leading scorers Gerardo Suero (21.5 ppg) and Logan Aronhalt (13.8 ppg) decided to leave the program at the end of the season despite having remaining eligibility.
Returning full-time starters include senior guard Mike Black (13.4 ppg), junior forward Luke Devlin (5.7 ppg) and senior center Blake Metcalf (4.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg).