All was quiet Monday at the University at Albany — the day after its men’s basketball team learned it would face Duke University Friday in the NCAA tournament.
The Great Danes earned their spot in the tournament by defeating the Vermont Catamounts on Saturday to capture the America East championship. UAlbany was seeded 15th and will take on the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils Friday at 12:15 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The men’s team will leave from SEFCU Arena Wednesday at 1 p.m.
It’s spring break this week and only a handful of students were on campus to celebrate the news, but that doesn’t mean the excitement is any less.
“I think it’s pretty cool,” said freshman Omoyeme Tokulah of Binghamton.
Her mother, Maggie Clements, said her son-in-law is an athletic director at Clark University in Washington state who was planning to attend the game.
“Our oldest daughter is a big sports fan and her husband is an athletic director, so I know they’re excited,” Clements said.
Mahamadou Bagayoko, a student from Mali, West Africa, was shooting a little pool in the student center after coming to pick up a book. He said he had been following both the men and women’s teams. The women’s team is also in the NCAA tournament after defeating Hartford on Sunday. The team is seeded 14th and will take on third-seeded North Carolina on March 26 in Newark, Del.
“I’m very happy that both of the teams won their games,” he said.
He said he would love to go see Friday’s game.
All this attention is good for the university, according to spokesman Karl Luntta.
“But more important than the publicity is the buzz, the electricity, the excitement that the success of the team creates on campus,” he said.
The basketball teams’ success could raise the profile of the university. Luntta said there was a bump in applications during the two years UAlbany made the NCAA tournament in 2006 and 2007. He couldn’t provide specific numbers.
That excitement is spreading off campus to graduates and the community at large. Students and alumni are calling the university asking about tickets. UAlbany is providing three buses that will leave from the SEFCU Arena at 6 a.m. to travel down to the game.
The university’s allotment of tickets is very limited and school officials recommend that fans purchase tickets through other outlets. The section designated for UAlbany fans in the Wells Fargo Center is 114 and 214.
A limited number of free tickets is being made available to students on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Luntta.
The UAlbany Alumni Association is holding a drawing for two free tickets. People must register by today at 8 p.m. to be eligible to win. Travel arrangements are not included in the prize. Visit the Alumni Association portion of the UAlbany website at www.albany.edu for details. Alumni are also hosting viewing parties. For more information, email Violetta DeRosa at the Alumni Association at email@example.com.
The men’s game will be televised on CBS and broadcast on radio at WOFX-Fox Sports 980.
The community is thrilled for UAlbany. Still recovering from St. Patrick’s Day, the Washington Tavern on Western Avenue is getting ready for what it hopes will be a big crowd to watch the game.
“Unfortunately, the students are away. We want to get as many people in as possible Friday to watch the game,” said Heather Hadgeoff, daytime bar manager.
Hadgeoff said the tavern is going to try to put some specials together to show its support. The bar was packed for the America East championship game on Saturday and for the selection show on Sunday, Hadgeoff said.
Angela and Tony Devlin, parents of basketball player Luke Devlin, will be among fans in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. Angela Devlin said she believes there will be a large contingent representing UAlbany as season-ticket holders were making arrangements to go to the game.
Finding lodging is another matter, according to Tony Devlin. “It’s been hard to get accommodations in Philadelphia. The hotels [are] booked up,” he said.