Clifton Park native Greg Koubek is probably one of the few people from the Capital Region not pulling for the University of Albany men’s basketball team in the NCAA tournament.
If the team were playing anybody besides Duke, he would probably get behind the Great Danes. But his blood runs Blue Devil blue, as Koubek played four years for the Duke basketball team, which included four appearances in tournament’s final four.
“I would like it to be a close game,” said Koubek by phone Thursday. “I really do hope it is a close game.”
In addition to growing up near UAlbany, he has a loose connection with the team’s coach, Will Brown. Even though Brown grew up in Suffolk County, Koubek said they played in some summer league games against each other.
“I’m definitely happy for Will Brown and the University of Albany,” he said.
Koubek remembers when UAlbany made the leap to Division I athletics after the 1999 season. At the time, a friend who had played for the team when it was in Division III, predicted it would take the program only 10 years to be comparable to Duke, which has a storied history of championships and producing NBA players.
He couldn’t help but kid his friend about the prediction, but Koubek noted that UAlbany has made it to the tournament three times since they jumped up to Division I.
Today’s game will have a 12:15 tip-off, which is a little too early for Koubek, who lives on the West Coast. His plan is to tape the game and watch it after work.
As for his Duke Blue Devils, who are a two-seed in the tournament, Koubek feels that they shouldn’t be counted out. “I think this is a year Duke can surprise people,” he said.
Noting the healthy return of Duke’s star Ryan Kelly, he said this year feels like their surprise win two years ago in the tournament.
Koubek runs a half-day basketball camp in Clifton Park every year, now scheduled for July 15 to July 19.