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A Lot from the Top, a Little from Down Under

Great Dane seniors for 2017-18, left to right, Alex Foster, Greig Stire, Travis Charles and Costa Anderson. (Photo by Bill Ziskin)

ALBANY, N.Y. – Bolstered by the return of its top five scorers and a boost from the “Australian Connection,” UAlbany men’s basketball team opens its season at home on Friday against Iona. The preseason forecast has the Great Danes finishing a strong second in the America East Conference.

Friday's non-conference game versus Iona, the reigning MAAC champion, tips off at 7 p.m. in SEFCU Arena. Both game tickets for Iona and season tickets are available the Great Danes website.

The America East preseason outlook came from a poll the league’s head coaches, which placed Vermont, last year’s AE champion, as the favorite for the title. Last year, UAlbany finished tied for third place in the conference with a 10-6 record, but defeated Hartford and Stony Brook in the conference tournament to earn a berth in the title game, falling to Vermont in Burlington.

The high prediction is no doubt do to the Great Danes returning its top five scorers from last year, including two all-conference players, both juniors, who last week were named NBC Sports preseason “Mid-Major All Americans”: David Nichols who averaged 17.9 points and 3.2 assists per game, and Joe Cremo, who averaged 15.8 points, 3.8 assists and 5.3 rebounds a contest.

In addition to the solid nucleus, UAlbany has continued its solid “Australian connection,” adding three freshmen from “down under:” 6-8 forward Adam Lulka and 6-3 guard Cameron Healy, both from Sydney, and 6-10 forward Brent Hank from Port Lincoln. All three were influenced by the careers and counsel of former Australian Great Danes Mike and Sam Rowley, Peter Hooley and Luke Devlin.

Women’s Basketball

The UAlbany women’s team will open its season as well on Friday, but away from home and with a giant of an opponent: Big Ten 2016-17 co-champion Maryland, where Great Dane Head Coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee spent four years on the coaching staff of Brenda Frese, including being part of a national champion in 2006.

After another away contest versus Monmouth on Thursday, Nov. 16, the team opens its home season on Sunday, Nov. 19, at 2 p.m. in SEFCU against Fordham. Tickets for that contest are available here, and fans can also go to the sports website for season tickets.

The Great Danes will have to fill the shoes of an all-time great of the program, all-conference guard Imani Tate. They’ll also be without Bailey Hixson, last year’s third leading scorer, and two-time team captain Cassandra Edwards. Nine players will return, however, including rebound leader and second-leading scorer Jessica Féquière. Four recruited freshmen will be working into Coach Mac’s system in hopes of filling some of the gap left by the graduated players.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.