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Lady DP and I were talking about the $iena rivalry the other night at the diner (yes, we actually talk about this stuff). What she was asking was before $iena and Albany went from D3 to D1 basically all the schools in the capital district played each other (Albany, $iena, Union, RPI, Skidmore, St. Rose). Why then did Albany and $iena develop a rivalry and not say Albany and Union for example? I thought because $iena has the most arrogant fans but I'm not sure that's it.

My theory is both schools used to be filled with mostly local kids until recently. Some kids went to private schools for high school and then on to $iena for college. Public school kids went on to UA for college. That way the public school kids could start hating the $iena kids before they even got to $iena. I'm just guessing here as all this probably started before I was born. I went to UA in the later 1900's when the two schools rarely played each other in any sport. The exception was hockey where a buddy of mine played on the UA hockey team. That's where I learned that if you went to Albany you were supposed to hate $iena.

I know some of you saw those legendary Albany-$iena games of the 70's and I was curious when things became so heated. I remember the game two years ago at the Pepsi there were a couple of older guys behind me who were loudly booing the $iena players when they came on the court. These guys hadn't seen the teams play in over 20 years and they were still that animinated. Those must have been great games.

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This is a great question. All I can tell you is that when I arrived on campus in 1969, the rivalry was already very heated. I'm hoping OldTimer can shed better light as he indicated he played in the years before the nickname was changed from the Peds to the Great Danes.

 

It would be terrific if one of the local newspaper sports reporters did in depth interviews with Doc and some oldtime Siena faithful and presented a balanced look at the issue in the weeks leading up to the game.

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DP, i think you hit it on the head regarding the public v. private school journey. I too would like to see the answer to this question. I do know this, as for football, UNION was definately our local rival. A loss to Union was something we couldnt stand. Unfortunately it came with an disturbing regularity.

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Can't tell you about the Indians before 1968, but as for the other colleges, RPI had hockey and never paid much attention to hoops themselves, St. Rose went from NAIA straight to D-II so they never played UA much, and the Fighting Wombats of Skidmore were women-only until the mid-80s (when they started men's teams, they changed the name to Thoroughbreds). Then when cable TV and ESPN arrived in the late 70s attendance at all D-III sports fell off.

 

I also suspect that forty years ago fewer students had cars (forbidden to freshmen at RPI) so there wouldn't be quite as much mingling between students in the bars of Schenectady, Albany and Troy, while $iena had mainly commuter students and is centrally located but has few spots near their campus. That's just a guess, though.

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All of the thoughts on this thread are pretty accurate. RPI scheduled and scrimmaged Albany often in the late 50's and 60's, Union was a little more reluctant to schedule a public school until the mid-60's although scrimmages were frequent in the 50's and 60's. Siena is a different story. They were a nationally recognized program in the early 50's and in the late 50's and 60's still played Niagara, Canisius and St. Bonaventure even though they had been forced to give up their scholarship program. The result was a huge incentive to "BEAT SIENA"! I think the attendance at the renewal of this rivalry indicates how intense it was. One theory that is not correct is the local private versus local public college rivalry. Remember that in the late 50's and early 60's when Albany was a "teachers college", it was also the ONLY teachers college that you could teach at the secondary or high school level. As a result only one player lived within 100 miles of Albany and Siena had many players who were not local.

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I have to agree with Statefan that it would be great to read more about this either from the University or one of the local papers. In all those games played and the intensity of the rivalry I have a feeling there are alot of good stories.

I suspect if the teams had never played before we would have started building a rivalry two years ago. I call this a rivalry but it won't really be one until Albany wins one of these games. When that happens there will probably be $iena fans lining up to throw themselves off the Dunn Memorial Bridge.

One of the more engaging features of Coach Brown is that he seems to understand how much Danes fans want to win the $iena game. I was a little disappointed last year at the basketball luncheon when Patterson refered to the $iena game as just another game. Brown knows differently, it's not just another game and probably never has been.

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