ALBANY, N.Y. – The University of Albany men's basketball team lost to the University of Florida in the NCAA Tournament Thursday, but fans watching the game were proud of what the team accomplished.
Fans gathered at Across the Street Pub to watch the Great Danes take on the Florida Gators. UAlbany lost 67-55 in their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, but the team kept the game close and that was enough for the fans.
“They gave it all,” UAlbany fan Terry Hurley said.
Earl Hunt agreed.
“I think it was a great game,” he said. “They represented the university well and the community.”
UAlbany was a 16-seed taking on a number one seed, but fans never lost hope.
“I thought maybe a number 16-seed could beat a number one. And I believed that,” Hurley continued. “You know, I thought the sun would line up with the moon.”
Michael Arduini owns Across the Street Pub – a home for UAlbany fans.
“The community got together to support this team who really worked hard to get to his point,” he said.
He said the area seems to have lost that one, special team to root for.
“We've lost a few things,” he said. “We used to have the Giants who are gone.”
But UAlbany basketball has reignited sports fans throughout the area.
“UAlbany really put everyone back together, and now we got something to support and cheer for,” Arduini said.
Many hope the national exposure will help attract new students and new recruits that could hit the court in years to come.
“It's definitely a plus,” Hunt said. “There's no denying it.”
Drew Peace is the UAlbany assistant baseball coach. He also credits the coaches for helping advance the university.
“What Coach Will Brown has done, what Coach Abe has done on the women's side has been incredible for enrollment,” he said.
And UAlbany fans are proud for the school legacy to grow.
“They lost on score, but they won in our hearts the whole tournament,” Arduini said.
UAlbany women's team is still in the tournament. They play their first game Sunday.