UAlbany Women’s Basketball Is The Best Team In Albany Area That Nobody Knows About
There are a ton of teams that call the Albany area home, with many of which seeing success in their immediate pasts. However, there is no debate as to which team is Albany's best, and it's one that is being ignored to near-criminal levels by the area as a whole.
UAlbany women's basketball is having not only the greatest season in program history, but is simply making their opponents look like they don't belong on the same court as the Great Danes, not that you could tell by the amount of support being offered by the community.
They sit at 21-3 on the season under head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, boasting a 12-0 mark in America East conference play. Thanks to Boston University being ineligible for this year's America East Championships, a penalty for their decision to move to the Patriot League starting next season, UAlbany has locked up the top seed in March's conference tournament. With a win over Boston tomorrow at home, they will be one more win or Boston loss away from clinching the regular season title as well.
Senior guard Ebone Henry is all but a lock to win conference Player Of The Year and is a prohibitive favorite to win her third straight America East Defensive Player Of The Year award. Freshman Shereesha Richards is all but guaranteed to win the league's Rookie Of The Year award.
However, those facts don't even begin to tell the story of how good this team really is.
They have more wins by 30 points (eight) than they do by single digits (two) on the season. They have won 15 games by 20 or more points. Somehow those numbers don't manage to do their season justice either. To see just how special this team is, you have to really look at the numbers.
The Great Danes boast the nation's top scoring defense, allowing opponents just 47.5 points per game. Sitting in second place are the Connecticut Huskies, who have just one fewer loss than UAlbany. UConn's field goal percentage defense is just .3 points better than the Danes' who, at 31.6%, are second in the nation in that category. At +11.5 rebounds per game, UAlbany also sits in fourth in rebounding margin behind Liberty, Maryland and Notre Dame.
Albany is also putting up 67.8 points per contest. Their 20.2 points per game scoring margin is good for eighth in the country, placing them four spots ahead of Stanford in that category. Stanford, by the way, snapped Baylor's 42 game winning streak earlier this year, a game that has been Baylor's only loss this season.
From beyond the three point line, UAlbany is 12th in the nation in three point shooting percentage at 37%, thanks in large part to senior Lindsay Lowrie, whose 42.2% clip is the twelfth best in the country.
This team has done everything it can to prove that it is the best in the Albany area at any level. Now it is time for the local sports fans to step up and support its best team.
Average home attendance for the team is listed at roughly 1,150 per home game. However, those numbers are misleading as they factor in the number of tickets sold for the season opener against Fordham and the Big Purple Growl versus Binghamton, both of which were a part of doubleheaders with the men's team.
The Fordham game, one of the team's three losses, was contested after a men's game against Duquesne. Once the men's game ended, nearly all of the fans flooded the exits in an embarrassing display of "school pride" that saw hundreds, if not thousands, of people turn their backs and walk out of the arena during the banner unveiling ceremony commemorating the women's team's trip to last year's NCAA Tournament.
Meanwhile, an average more than 2,800 attend UAlbany men's games to see a team that, while they have had a good year, have not been nearly as good as the Great Danes women's team.
I get it, it's not trendy to like women's basketball, especially when the local team is one that relies on defense, which has become public enemy number one for the casual basketball fan. We'd all rather watch the
dunk-a-palooza Jacob Iati three point shootout that is America East men's basketball instead.
But, here's the thing: it is possible to watch both and support local teams regardless of their gender or differences in style. In fact, it's fun to take in the strategic nuances of two completely different game plans and skill sets, both of which are contained within the same school colors.
Tomorrow the Great Danes women's basketball team will take on Boston University at 7 p.m. at SEFCU Arena in a game between two of the top ten scoring defenses in all of college basketball, with the America East regular season championship on the line, and in what could be the last matchup ever between these two rival schools.
I, for one, will be there in purple and gold, probably yelling something about it sucking to BU. Whether or not you are compelled to do the same thing is entirely your prerogative, but one thing is certain: you are missing out on the area's highest quality sports team every game you ignore UAlbany women's basketball.