Albany Ready To Take On Aggies In NCAA First Round
Albany enters Saturday's NCAA First Round looking to make more history and become the first 14 seed to ever knock off a three seed in the women's tournament. The Great Danes take on Texas A&M Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN2 and ESPN3.
Friday, March 16
Syracuse 59, at Hartford 42 (WNIT) l Game Story l
Record Number of Postseason Berths
An America East record four teams will participate in postseason tournaments this season. This is the third time in four seasons in which at least three squads have advanced past the conference tournament and onto the national stage. This season, Albany will participate in the NCAA Tournament, Boston U. and Hartford will play in the Postseason WNIT, and New Hampshire will compete in the WBI. America East has had multiple teams in the postseason for eight straight seasons, tied with the Atlantic-10 for the longest such streak among non-BCS conferences.
Albany Claims Crown
The University at Albany won the program's first-ever America East Championship last Saturday night with a 69-61 win over fifth-seeded UMBC. The Great Danes became the third different team in as many years to win the conference title as well as the sixth different team to win it over the last decade. Albany entered the tournament as the second seed and defeated the seventh, sixth and fifth seeded teams en route to being crowned champion.
Danes Are Dancin'
Albany earned the America East's automatic NCAA berth by virtue of its America East Championship. The Great Danes, making the program's first-ever Division I postseason appearance, garnered a 14 seed and will face No. 3 seed and defending national champion Texas A&M on the Aggies' home court Saturday night on ESPN2. The game will begin at approximately 6:30 p.m. EST, 30 minutes following the No. 6 Arkansas-No. 11 Dayton matchup.
The League And The NCAAs
America East teams have found relative success as of late in the NCAA Tournament. Owning a 4-23 (.148) mark in 23 overall appearances, the league is 3-7 (.300) since 2006 with three of its NCAA wins coming in the seven most recent appearances. The last win for an America East team came when No. 10 Vermont upended No. 7 Wisconsin in the first round of the 2010 tournament. That year was also the last time the conference had multiple bids in the field of 64 teams as Hartford earned an at-large berth in 2010. Albany's No. 14 seed is just the second time an America East team has been seeded such. Hartford also received a No. 14 seed in 2005 and fell to No. 3 Rutgers in the first round. The highest seed given to an America East team was an eight seed to Vermont in 1993.
Albany has won 10 straight games and 17 of 19 entering the postseason. The Great Danes have a 23-9 overall record, including a 14-2 mark in America East play. Under second-year head coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, Albany is in the midst of its first 20+ win season since joining the Division I ranks for the 2001-12 season.
Coach Abe Is Awesome
Albany Head Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson, better known as Coach Abe, captured the 2012 Coach of the Year Award after leading the Great Danes to the program's first-ever 20-win season in the Division I era. Albany finished the regular season with a 20-9 mark, including 14-2 in conference play. Albany's overall wins and conference wins both mark the most for the program since the Great Danes joined America East for the 2001-02 season. Coach Abe has led Albany to 10 straight wins including tournament play and the program's first conference championship in just her second year on the Albany campus.
Hand It To Henry
Albany's Ebone Henry, a junior guard/forward from San Diego, Calif., came up big in the clutch for the Great Danes, scoring 23 points in the America East Championship title game and being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Henry averaged 16.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 3.3 spg in the tournament to take home the championship's top individual honor. Earlier this month, Henry also earned the America East Defensive Player of the Year award, becoming the first-ever two-time recipient in the 10 years of the award. She led the Great Danes to a league-low 52.4 points allowed per game during the regular season. Henry leads all active America East players in career steals (225) and this season leads the conference with 2.8 thefts per game. As a team, the Great Danes lead the conference with 11.1 steals per game and a +4.0 turnover margin. Additionally, Henry ranks second with 14.3 points per game and eighth with 7.1 boards per game on her way to earning first-team all-conference honors for the second straight year.
A trio of second-year coaches are making some noise around the league. Albany's Katie Abrahamson-Henderson led the Great Danes to the America East Championship crown after being picked to finish fifth in the preseason coaches' poll. She's also led her team to its first 20-win season in the program's Division I history. New Hampshire head coach Maureen Magarity has also helped her team move up the ranks, finishing fourth after a sixth-place prediction during the preseason. The Wildcats accomplished their first winning season since 2005-06 and reached their first postseason tournament since 1999. Finally, Vermont's Lori Gear McBride has one of the most improved teams in the league despite the Catamounts' 4-12 league mark and seventh-place finish. Vermont matched last year's win total in just the first six games of the season and won six of its first seven games. Despite the devastating loss of two key upperclassman starters and regularly using three freshmen in the starting rotation, the Catamounts have given some of the veteran teams in the league trouble and matched last year's tournament seeding.