Wednesday, July 20, 2011

UAlbany's Basketball Program Will Play in 2011 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off

New York, N.Y. - University at Albany Vice President and Director of Athletics Lee McElroy announced on Wednesday, July 20 that the school's men's basketball program has been chosen to play in the 2011 Dick's Sporting Goods NIT Season Tip-Off. UAlbany will compete in the North Regional, hosted by Syracuse University at the Carrier Dome.

The 27th annual tournament field will feature Syracuse (Big East), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (SWAC), Brown (Ivy), Colorado State (Mountain West), Florida International (Sun Belt), Fresno State (WAC), George Mason (Colonial), Manhattan (MAAC), Monmouth (Northeast), Oklahoma State (Big 12), Oral Roberts (Summit), SMU (Conference USA), Stanford (Pac-12), Texas-San Antonio (Southland) and Virginia Tech (ACC).

"We are excited to participate in the NIT Season Tip-Off," said UAlbany coach Will Brown, whose squad made the second-best improvement in program history with a 16-16 record last season. "It gives us an opportunity to compete in a tournament and for a championship early in the season. The NIT is an exempt event so we get to play additional games. The proximity of traveling to Syracuse is beneficial for our season ticket holders, fans, students and alumni."

The first- and second-round doubleheaders will be played November 14-16 on the campuses of the four highest-seeded teams -- Syracuse, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State and Stanford. The winners of the preliminary rounds advance to the semifinals, which take place in New York City's Madison Square Garden November 23. The consolation and championship games will be played November 25.

The remaining teams will play third- and fourth-round doubleheaders November 21-22 on the campuses of the three highest remaining seeds. Participating teams will not play any team twice, and the third- and fourth-rounds will be assigned to the most geographically compatible site.

The sites and pairings are as follows: The North Regional will take place at Syracuse, where the Orange will host Manhattan and UAlbany squares off against Brown. The East Regional will be held on the campus of Virginia Tech and the Hokies will meet Monmouth, with George Mason facing Florida International. The Midwest Regional will be played at Oklahoma State, with the Cowboys taking on Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Oral Roberts battling Texas-San Antonio. Stanford is the host team in the West Regional and will play Fresno State in one half of the doubleheader, while Colorado State takes on SMU.

Syracuse, a two-time NIT Season Tip-Off champion, is coming off a 27-8 campaign and the program's 34th NCAA Tournament appearance. Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim owns an 856-301 career record. Kris Joseph, a 6-foot-7 senior, earned All-Big East third-team honors while averaging 14.3 points. Scoop Jardine, an honorable mention all-conference guard, added 12.5 points per game.

UAlbany will meet an Ivy League opponent for the eighth consecutive season in the first-round match-up with Brown. Head coach Jesse Agel returns Tucker Halperin, an honorable mention All-Ivy performer who scored at a 12.6 clip. Sean McGonagil (11.8 ppg) was named the 2011 Ivy League Rookie of the Year.

Manhattan, a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, hired former Louisville assistant Steve Masiello as its head coach last spring. George Beamon, a 6-foot-4 swingman, averaged 16.3 points and was picked to the All-MAAC third team as a sophomore. If UAlbany and Manhattan square off in the second round, it will be the first meeting between the programs since Feb. 4, 1939.

The Great Danes return four starters off last year's team, including All-America East Conference guards Logan Aronhalt (14.6 ppg) and Mike Black (12.3 ppg). Luke Devlin, who averaged 7.4 points and 6.9 rebounds, was voted to the conference all-rookie team. Blake Metcalf, a 6'9" junior, contributed 4.0 points and 4.8 rebounds.

ESPN will provide coverage throughout the event, televising games on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and Games on ESPN and ESPN2 will be simulcast on For updated coverage of the NIT, go to

Paw Prints: Syracuse ranked second nationally in attendance last year by averaging 22,312 at the Carrier Dome ... UAlbany last played Syracuse on Nov. 9, 2009 in the first round of the 2K Sports Classic, benefitting Coaches vs. Cancer ... the Great Danes, who appeared in the 2010 Legends Classic, are part of an in-season tournament field for the third consecutive year.

Courtesy: UAlbany Athletics

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

UAlbany's Laurie Gonzalez Named to COBRA Magazine's Preseason All-America Volleyball Team

Albany, N.Y. - University at Albany's Laurie Gonzalez has been chosen to COBRA Magazine's Preseason All-America Women's Volleyball Team, as announced on Friday, July 15 by the national publication. Gonzalez, a defensive specialist and libero, was named to the second team and was one of 45 players selected.

Gonzalez was voted America East Conference Defensive Specialist of the Year for the third consecutive season as a junior. She ranked first in the conference and 29th among the NCAA Division I leaders with a 5.16 dig average. Gonzalez, who was also fifth in the America East in service aces, established the program's single-season record with 583 digs.

A senior from Carolina, Puerto Rico, Gonzalez has been named to All-America East second team on three occasions, including last year when she totaled a season-best 31 digs against Yale. She recorded 20 or more digs in 15 of 31 matches played. Gonzalez is third on the school's all-time list with 1,510 career digs.

In 2010, Gonzalez earned a spot on the America East all-championship team after leading UAlbany to its fifth conference tournament championship. The Great Danes, who finished with a 22-9 record, advanced to the NCAA Tournament to play Stanford, a team that eventually reached the national quarterfinals.

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports

Sunday, July 3, 2011

University of Albany's Nikki Branchini Selected America East Conference Lacrosse Scholar-Athlete of the Year - UAlbany Sports 2011

Cambridge, Mass. - University at Albany's Nikki Branchini has been chosen America East Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the sport of women's lacrosse, as announced on Wednesday, July 6 by the conference office.

Branchini, the first UAlbany female athlete to earn All-America recognition on the field and in the classroom at the Division I level, graduated with a 3.83 cumulative grade point average in history and a minor in education. She was selected to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America At-Large national second team and was named the 2011 Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Division I Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

In May, Branchini was tabbed America East Conference Woman of the Year for combining excellence in athletics, academics, service and leadership. A three-time America East all-academic team selection, she was awarded an ECAC Merit Medal as the school's top senior female student-athlete and was the recipient of the Chancellor's Scholar-Athlete Award. Branchini has interned at the Albany County District Attorney's Office and at the Albany City School District as a tutor for special education students. She plans to attend law school.

Branchini made her second straight appearance on the IWLCA All-America Team as a second-team defensive midfielder. She was also voted to the Synapse Sports All-America Team and earned first-team All-Northeast Region honors. During her career, she won or shared America East Player of the Year twice and became the third player in conference history to win multiple top player awards. Branchini is the first UAlbany player to be voted all-region three times and first-team all-conference in all four years. She was voted UAlbany's Female Athlete of the Year for second time during her career.

A native of Guilderland, N.Y., Branchini led UAlbany to its first America East Conference championship and the NCAA Tournament's quarterfinal round, losing to eventual national champion Northwestern. UAlbany (18-1) was ranked in the top 10 nationally in both polls for the first time, including No. 8 in the final IWLCA rankings.

Paw Prints: UAlbany's Nikki Branchini is the fifth Great Dane to receive America East Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year in women's lacrosse since the program joined the conference in 2002 ... Olivia Jarem (2010), Kate Fontana (2007) and Theresa Masse (2002, 2003) were also honored.

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

University of Albany First Baseman Gina Mason Named to 2011 ECAC Division I Softball All-Star Team - UAlbany Sports 2011

Centerville, Mass. - University at Albany's Gina Mason has been named to the 2011 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division I Softball All-Star First Team, as announced by the conference on Thursday, July 7. Coaches within the ECAC membership voted on the teams and individual awards.

Mason, an All-America Conference first-team infielder, led the Great Danes to their fourth conference championship and an NCAA Tournament this season. The senior from Sacramento, Calif. was also recently named to the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association All-Region Team.

The first baseman, who led UAlbany in all major offensive categories, batted .404 this season, with 55 hits, 27 runs scored and 29 RBI. She led the team with 11 doubles and five home runs, while also posting a .640 slugging percentage and going 4-for-4 on stolen base attempts. A .317 career hitter, Mason ranks second in RBIs (129) and doubles (36) among the school's all-time leaders, plus tied for second in home runs (26).

A journalism major who will be attending Iona College next fall for graduate school, Mason maintained a 3.38 cumulative grade point average en route to being named to the America East Conference All-Academic Softball Team.

Courtesy: UAlbany Athletics

Stephanie Klein Named an NGCA Division I All-American Scholar-Athlete

Coral Springs, Fla. - University at Albany's Stephanie Klein has been named to the 2010-11 National Golf Coaches Association Division I All-American Scholar-Athlete team, as announced by the organization on Monday. A total of 566 women's collegiate golfers, across all three NCAA divisions were recognized. The criteria for selection to the NGCA All-American Scholar Team are some of the most stringent in all of college athletics. The minimum cumulative GPA is 3.50.

Klein finished with a three-round total of 254, including a team-best round of 80 on the final day of play, to lead UAlbany to a fourth-place finish at the 2011 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Golf Championships. She finished the spring averaging 87.18 over nine rounds of play. Klein was also second on the team in the fall season, posting an 85.20 average in six tournaments.

Klein, who was also named to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Academic Honor Roll, maintains a 4.00 cumulative grade point average as a pre-medicine major.

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

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