Albany takes on UF after busy week

Albany's D.J. Evans answers questions at a news conference for the NCAA men's college basketball tournament in Orlando on Wednesday. (AP Photo)

Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 8:14 p.m.

ORLANDO — It was 4:30 in the morning and DJ Evans couldn't sleep.

“I was anxious to play (Thursday),” he said.

It's not difficult to understand the excitement the Albany guard was feeling. It's been wild for the Great Danes over the last six days.

On Saturday, they beat Stony Brook to earn an NCAA tournament bid.

On Sunday, they found out the journey would begin in Dayton, Ohio, in a First Four game.

On Monday, they flew to Dayton.

On Tuesday, they withstood a furious rally to beat Mount St. Mary's in the first round of the NCAAs.

As Tuesday turned into Wednesday, they boarded a plane to Orlando.

And today, they face the No. 1 team in the country and try to become the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1.

“It's been a long few days,” said Albany coach Will Brown. “We only played seven guys (Tuesday), so the biggest thing we're doing is a lot of mental preparation.

“We have to keep our legs fresh and have a lot of energy.”

The Great Danes are coming off the school's first NCAA win and the first four-game winning streak in the postseason in school history. If Brown didn't know the odds are stacked against him today, he received a reminder from his 11-year-old son, Jackson, 15 minutes after the win in Dayton.

“Dad, we play Florida right?” he asked his father. “Are we going to get killed?”

Brown said he told his son that “we'll be OK” and would let him know after watching video of the tournament's No. 1 seed.

Albany will hope to keep the tempo at a slow pace not only because of playing its second game in three days, but because that's the way the Danes have played all season.

“All the pressure is going to be on Florida in this game,” Evans said. “They're the No. 1 seed.”

Which is why the Gators are playing a team that had to go to Dayton and landed in Orlando at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“Getting that game out of the way, everybody's nerves have settled down,” said Peter Hooley, Albany's leading scorer. “It was a big win and we had time to relax (Wednesday). Everyone wants to get back on the court.”

They'll get their chance today.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

▲ Return to Top