Saturday, March 7, 2009

Danes excited for AE Semifinal

UAlbany (15-15) will take on UMBC (14-16) in an improbable semifinal on Sunday at SEFCU Arena. 

The Great Danes were obviously ecstatic about the win. 

"I knew we had our hands full, so it was a great effort from our kids," UAlbany coach Will Brown said. 

Both Brown and senior co-captain Brian Connelly took a second to say something to Vermont all-conference senior Mike Trimboli following the game. 

Trimboli never made it to the NCAA Tournament in his four years at Vermont and UAlbany was a big reason why. 

"I just wanted to let him know how I felt about his talent and his desire to compete," Connelly said. 

Trimboli's status for the tournament was uncertain because of a viral infection that kept him out of the regular season finale. 

"He's had a great career, he's a fierce competitor and there has been a huge rivalry between us in our time here," Connelly said. "Luckily for me, we came out on top, but that shouldn't take anything away from him."

UAlbany was helped by a big-time hometown crowd. 

"I felt we gave the crowd energy and then the crowd responded and helped us," Connelly said. "That's how Albany fans are, they are great at responding like that and they helped us out with their energy."


One of Vermont's best chances to win the game came when Trimboli stripped Mike Johnson and tapped the ball to Marqus Blakely

Blakely, a regular customer on SportsCenter for his highlight reel dunks, dribbled the ball off of his leg very uncharacteristically. 

"When you see Blakely taking off with the ball, you think SportsCenter, so thank god he dribbled off his knee," Brown said. 


UAlbany and UMBC split the season series, with both teams winning on their home floors. 

The game in Baltimore was just seven days ago and the Retrievers won 68-64. 

"I think they have a great chance to win tomorrow," said Vermont coach Mike Lonergan, before knowing who the Great Danes would play. 


Connelly joked about how long the second half felt, as the Great Danes lost the lead, regained it and then had to play overtime. 

"That was the longest second half ever," Connelly said. "I looked up at the clock and it said four (minutes) and then what felt like three hours later, it said 3:30."  

UAlbany won this game with grit and determination and as Brown said by making it a "slugfest."

"I think this time of year you win defending, you win pounding the glass and you find way to score," Brown said. 

The Great Danes will be trying to cook up that formula again tomorrow. 

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