ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The Times Union Center has been transformed into one of four NCAA Women’s basketball regional locations.
When the final tips off between UConn and Dayton Monday night, there will be more ties to the Capital Region than the venue itself.
Dayton’s Cinderella run has captured the hearts of underdog fans everywhere and fans of the Flyers’ coach.
“I’m just so happy for Jim,” Siena women’s head basketball coach Ali Jacques said. “He’s such a good guy. He does things the right way.”
Jacques would know. She worked with Jim Jabir nine years ago at Dayton, and they now share a special connection. Both landed their first Division I head coaching gigs at Siena – Jabir in 1987 and Jacques 25 years later.
“When I worked for Coach Jabir, I knew he was starting something special at Dayton, and I had the pleasure to work with him for a year, and I learned so much,” Jacques said. “It was all about recruiting at that time. He’s recruited his players. He’s made that team better. He’s made them a force to be reckoned with nationally; not just in the A10.”
But the force to be reckoned with in women’s college hoops is UConn, and the Huskies star forward Breanna Stewart is no stranger to the Capital Region.
“When I found out Albany was one of the regional options, I was hoping we’d come here,” she said.
The Syracuse native had some success in the region winning back-to-back high school state championships at HVCC. She’s pumped to be back.
“You know, I’m excited,” she said. “It’s the NCAA Tournament, so you can’t not be excited to play a game. But I think being here in Albany definitely added another factor.”