Since the final buzzer rang on Dec. 13 and the Great Danes hoisted the Albany Cup trophy in the Times Union Center, the question has turned to the future of the rivalry between Albany and their crosstown rival Siena.
While there has not been progress to date of a renewed series between the two schools, and the possibility that the series does not renew, the general feeling on the outcome turns to indifference.
“I always like to play the game,” Albany head coach Will Brown said. “But my mindset now is if it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
His Great Danes have won four out of the last five Albany Cup meetings with the Saints. Each of those meetings over the course of 15 years between the two schools have occurred at, what is now called, the Times Union Center. Siena’s home court held 10,278 fans in their Albany Cup meeting last season, a 77-68 Albany victory.
It is hard to mistake Siena’s home court as an advantage that has pervaded throughout this series, one that Brown and Albany hope to peck away at by seeking a more equitable solution in these negotiations for a new contract.
“As long as we get a game in the SEFCU Arena against them,” Brown said. “That should as part of the deal and we’ll see what happens.”
Albany has won three straight conference tournament championships, their most recent in the confines of their home court because the Great Danes won the America East regular season championship. The Times Union Center hosted the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament this past season, their first of a three year run, but Albany was the remaining school of the two on March 8 when they played a semifinal against New Hampshire. Siena fell to top seeded Iona in the MAAC quarterfinals the day before.
Brown’s argument hinges on the fact that he has seen Siena play their fellow conference rival Vermont in a home-and-home series and wonders why they wouldn’t visit an arena less than eight miles away from their own.
The Times Union Center has hosted the game since the Division I rivalry began for the two schools. Though both schools are close enough to pack the 15,000 seat arena with fans, Siena sells the rivalry as part of their season ticket package, which allows their fans to grab plenty of preferred seats in their home arena.
Brown said he has held a date on his schedule that he and Saints head coach Jimmy Patsos agreed upon a date for a possible game, but he has not been told whether the process has been completed yet and a new deal for the series is in place.
“It’s just a headache up here, because I mean we don’t have any impact on whether they win the MAAC, they have no impact on whether we win the America East,” Brown said. “I just think sometimes too many people get caught up in this game.”
“It would be a lot different if we were both in the same conference for sure, because then we would be playing each other twice and then you could play a third time in a conference tournament, but we’re just playing once as a local rivalry game. That’s in all reality, it comes down to a whole lot of nothing in the grand scheme of things.”
Ryan Restivo wrote the America East conference preview for the 2014-15 Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. He covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, the America East conference among others for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.