The University at Albany
women’s basketball team is no longer the hunter, but rather the hunted.
After securing their first-ever America East Conference tournament championship and inaugural trip to the NCAA Division I tournament a year ago, the Great Danes were picked No. 1 in the preseason coaches poll at Tuesday’s annual conference media day at SEFCU Arena.
UAlbany received five first-place votes and 61 points. Boston University (56) and Hartford (54) each received the other two first-place votes. Rounding out the poll were New Hampshire (37), Vermont (37), UMBC (34), Maine (17), Binghamton (16) and Stony Brook (12).
The Great Danes won 14 of 16 conference games a year ago and finished 23-10 overall. They return three of their five starters, including all-conference selections Ebone Henry and Julie Forster. Third-year head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson was named the America East Conference Coach of the Year for her efforts in leading the Danes to their first postseason berth.
Henry earned her second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award last season, and was one of the reasons why the Danes held opponents to a conference-low 53.4 points per game. She averaged a league-best 2.8 steals per game, and was also a first-team all-star for the second straight season after
averaging 14.3 points per contest.
Forster, a walk-on, was a second-team all-star last season and led the conference in rebounding for the second straight season at 10.3 rpg.
Joining Henry and Forster on the first-team all-conference team were senior guard Chantell Alford of Boston University, senior forward Ruthanne Doherty of Hartford, junior forward Morgan Frame of New Hampshire and senior guard Mo Moran of Boston University.
Alford is a two-time America East Conference Player of the Year.
UALBANY MEN FOURTH
The UAlbany men’s team was picked fourth in the preseason coaches poll, behind Vermont (60 points), Stony Brook (58) and Boston University (49).
The Catamounts, who have won five America East titles since 2003, received five first-place votes, and Stony Brook took the other four.
UAlbany earned 38 points, followed by Maine (35), New Hampshire (34), Hartford (26), UMBC (15) and Binghamton (9).
The Great Danes return eight letterwinners and three starters from last year’s team that finished 9-7 in the conference and 19-15 overall. UAlbany also earned a trip to postseason play in the CollegeInsiderTournament.com.
Senior guard Mike Black, who averaged 13.4 points and 4.3 assists,
is the conference’s active leading scorer (1,024 points) and playmaker (299 assists). He was a second-team all-conference selection a year ago.
Senior swingman Jayson Guerrier, who led the league in three-point shooting percentage (.423) is also back, along with graduate student Jacob Iati, 6-9 senior center Blake Metcalf and 6-8 junior forward Luke Devlin.
UAlbany head coach Will Brown is the longest-tenured head coach in the league as he begins his 12th season by hosting Duquesne Nov. 9.
Vermont (13-3, 24-12) returns three starters from last year’s championship squad. The Catamounts, who defeated Lamar in the first round of the NCAA tournament, were 31st in the nation in scoring defense (60.9 ppg). Junior Brian Voelkel, the most outstanding player in the America East Conference tournament, is the team’s top player.
Joining Black and Voelkel on the all-conference team are Tommy Brenton of Stony Brook, Chase Plummer of UMBC, Alasdair Fraser of Maine and D.J. Irving of Boston University.
Also announced at the media day was that SEFCU will be the presenting sponsor of the America East Conference tournament, which will be held at SEFCU Arena March 8-10.