STORS, Conn. (NEWS10) – Ask anyone and they will say the University at Albany women’s basketball team has no chance to beat UConn. But tell that to the Great Danes, and they’ll smile in your face because they’ve heard all year long what they can’t do.
The dynasty continues. For the sixth year in a row, UAlbany is America East Champions, and they’re headed back to the NCAA Tournament.
Six-time defending conference champions is the longest active streak in Division I women’s basketball. Impressive, but on paper, the Great Danes were never supposed to make it there.
“I personally never had doubt; I knew coming into this year we was gonna be good,” senior guard Imani Tate said. “I’m not really shocked that we’re here. I mean, I’m excited we’re here, but I’m not really shocked.”
After winning its fifth America East title last season, the program saw its all-time leading scorer, head coach and starting point guard walk out the door. But this year, another senior and new head coach stepped up.
“From the first time I met Imani in my freshman year on my official visit, I knew that she was something special,” senior guard/forward Cassandra Edwards said. “Every time she plays a competitor, she never looks at the name on their back or the front. She just attacks them each and every time. She’s a leader for us and same with Coach Mac. The fact that her first year she can still carry on the legacy and bring us to the NCAA Tournament, I feel like that speaks for itself.”
Tate may not be Shereesha Richards, but then again, she never had to be.
“I think the way she puts the team on her back is super impressive, and I love her confidence and that’s what she brings every day,” head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said.
And Coach Mac, who had big shoes to fill, has found her own way to stay on the winning path.
“Just tried to stay true to myself and I hired an unbelievable coaching staff, and we work extremely hard,” she said. “These players work extremely hard, and I think it’s great that we’re here and getting this opportunity.”
While it may have been a surprise UAlbany made it to the tournament, the only thing shocking about its opponent will be if the Huskies don’t make it all the way.