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My Turn


haggyland
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Disclaimer: The following is posted after a 62-57 loss in men’s basketball to a Binghamton team with seven scholarship players.

 

I want more than to just erase the visions of tonight’s basketball game from my memory.

 

I want to admit that even when UAlbany made its late run that I was ambivalent to the outcome. I want to admit that I already considered the game a loss. I want to admit that I classified the game as a missed opportunity to handle a team on the home court and start off the conference schedule with a win. I want to admit that I felt I had just witnessed a slap in the face to the fans, followers, and boosters who argue that in a one bid conference all that matters is winning the conference tournament.

 

But this isn’t about a 5-11 men’s basketball team losing to a team with more recent suspensions than Top 3 finishes. This isn’t about watching a guy without his last name stitched to the back of his jersey outhustle and outplay the home team in front of its supporters. This isn’t about getting embarrassed in national television games during the regular season, and in the post season tournament.

 

This isn’t about the failure to learn how to break a press, or the propensity to turn the ball over twenty times a game (with half of the turnovers a result of sloppy and careless play.) This isn’t about scores in the fifties and nobody creating or finding an open shot. This isn’t about execution of set plays or an overall general “clumping” in the offensive zone. This isn’t about the coach’s failure to lock into a rotation and clearly define roles. This isn’t about the perceived “quick hook” and the purported “dog house”.

 

This is about all of us, and everything.

 

This is about students needing the chance to win an iPod or a “Shot at Tuition” to convince themselves to turn off their televisions and Madden football games, and go out and support their school. This is about eight game road trips and rival games during student break, and the failure to tie everything together and build a larger, louder, and stronger following. This is about the lack of billboards and advertising and grab-you-by-the-seat-of-your-pants excitement generated through an incessant and unignorable buzz droning throughout the Capital Region.

 

Sometimes I think it is unfair that as a higher profile and well attended sport that men’s basketball has to answer to a higher amount of critics. Maybe it is unfair to expect more than mediocrity when you run a clean program that has won two consecutive championships in the recent past. Maybe it is unfair to have your every move scrutinized and second guessed in lean times because the access to the information is readily available. Maybe the buzzing of a hundred fanatical followers doesn’t add up to anything special, but maybe there are voices worth listening to.

 

Maybe this is about continued success at this level. Maybe this is about showing up with your best game every night and making a fight out of it. Maybe this is about ownership and accountability. Maybe this is about admitting that the system and the kids are not the only broken part. Maybe this is about realizing that along with cashing $300,000 in checks a year and winning half your ball games comes the responsibility of being a vocal face of the University, and the need to lead with passionate example.

 

I want a coach who can let bygones be bygones and who can be man enough to walk up to the University’s beat reporter and start building for a better future. I want somebody that can ignore the past and realize that daily inside information is a small but absolutely necessary contributor to the building of a strong and elite program. This is about being wrong and about taking the measures to correct it.

 

I remember the disappointment of last year’s basketball team. I remember convincing friends to attend games with me, only so I would be forced to apologize to them later in the night for subjecting them to a game that was unpleasing to the eye. I remember holding on to the few hopeful moments and thinking that we could build something powerful. I remember all but giving up on the team, and then finding myself shaking with excitement for many minutes after a thrilling conference tournament win over Vermont. I remember questioning how a team that had frustrated me so much could redeem itself at such an important time.

 

This isn’t about injuries, or inexperience, or “low basketball IQs”. This isn’t about the players, or the coach, or the fans. This is about pride in the University and in the promise and the potential which it holds. This is about jersey popping emotion that screams “We are UAlbany.”

 

I don’t want to hear about who knows what about the political process or who is more knowledgeable regarding student activism. I don’t want to be told that I can’t comment in a critical manner because I never excelled at the game or because I miss certain events, or even certain sports entirely. I am out there when I can be, searching for that glimmer of hope, wishing that UAlbany Athletics would build itself to the point where people can wear their pleather jackets and hooded sweatshirts emblazoned with the schools name, and stick out their chests and be proud. In Chapel Hill. In Syracuse. In Montana. In the Times Union Center.

 

I want an Athletic Director that looks beyond personal friendships and a couple of wins in a time of absolute need and instead focuses on the 71-134 record over the first seven years at the helm. I want an Athletic director that recognizes the failure to build a winner and demands that somebody be held accountable. I want an Athletics Director that views never completing a season at over .500 as a failure, and who takes immediate evasive action to remedy the situation. I want loyalty to the growth of the athletics program to be the first and most important motivator.

 

I want a fairer contract with my cross-town rival in one of the biggest rivalry games in the Northeast. I don’t want to know who blames who for the current arrangement, or who favors the continuation of the series and who does not. I want a united decision either way.

 

I want the basketball series ended unless somebody walks into an office somewhere when the details are being finalized and the contracts are being signed and he or she screams at the top of their lungs that results be damned, but we, as a University, as a community, and as a family, will not take part in an athletic competition unless we are treated as athletic equals. I do not want to see jacked up ticket prices and higher concession and souvenir sales bolster the pocket of my rival, and help them to attract new recruits that will perpetuate the current cycle that favors their position.

 

This is about choosing to sell home football games to FCS rivals an hour and a half a way to make a quick dollar for the department. This is about having a glorified high school football stadium, with poor sightlines, limited concessions, and inadequate creature comforts, for a team that has overplayed the University’s commitment to it. This is about rewarding a man that remained loyal to one of his loves because maybe there was a gleaning hope that it would love him back, but on a greater stage.

 

This is about somebody answering for Project 2010. I don’t care whose concept it was, or who openly supports it. I want a grand vision for the University and I want everybody on board and on the same page. If you don’t have full support, don’t announce it. If you don’t have the conviction to place your reputation and your LIFE behind it, don’t stick it up on the website and behind some glass cases, and then wish and hope that the funding comes through. Conversely, if you throw your heart and soul into it and you don’t have the full support of those you need most, sever your ties and find more passionate people.

 

I am familiar with a Master Plan whose completion date was scheduled for some time later this year and I want to know why the only major piece that was completed was spearheaded by a major private donation. I want to know how the concept designs and the final product for the fan amenities of this portion of the plan can differ so greatly from each other. I want to know why visible blood, sweat, and tears have not been shed in the fight for the realization of the entire project. I have heard the political explanations but I want a glimpse into the personal worlds of those most involved. I want daily updates from impassioned and committed people. I want results and I want the names and faces of those that will fight tooth and nail for it.

 

I want faces on televisions. I want names in print. I want grassroots presences in shopping malls demanding to be recognized and supported financially. I want Joe Public to see the look of determination in the faces of EVERYBODY that represents the University and I want Joe Public to realize that the program is serious. I want to see transparent examples of this EVERY DAY! I want excuses of political favoritism and lack of funding due to economic crises to be forgotten because there is an army of seething, foaming-at-the-mouth UAlbany community members saying that the status quo is no more.

 

I want a change in the overall culture and attitude of the Athletic Department. Most of all, though, I want somebody to hold my hand and rock me to sleep and tell me that the UAlbany that I graduated from, the UAlbany that I love, will shake off its timid persona and grow some gusto.

 

So maybe I will have to go away for a while to same fan purgatory for pointing out the flaws I see in the program I love. Maybe I will have to train myself to be less passionate, less attached, or even less hopeful about my alma mater. Or maybe I will continue to believe that with great leadership and with great commitment amazing things can happen.

 

We need to stop waiting for somebody to hand us something and we need to take it. We need to walk into an opponent’s arena and need them to fear the UAlbany brand and what it represents. We need to tell our family that we don’t seek autographs from the opposing coaches because we are there to take more than a signed piece of paper away from them. We need to remind all athletes, all coaches, and all fans that we are there to take their dignity, and take their pride, and to show them that in the hearts of our Great Danes lies greatness itself.

 

My stance on particular topics may cause some people to take umbrage to my comments, and I am likely to be entirely wrong in other areas, but I am not running away and I am not giving up. If anybody feels the same you can find me at the Vermont game. I will be the older guy in the student section wrestling with the decision of watching ineffective basketball or reading Thoreau.

 

I love this area and I love the people, but if the one you love can’t love you back as much there comes a time to walk away. Is this my story book ending? Or do I just want more, and I grow weary of the pace of progress? Or should I just say “Stay Tuned”?

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I love this area and I love the people, but if the one you love can’t love you back as much there comes a time to walk away. Is this my story book ending? Or do I just want more, and I grow weary of the pace of progress? Or should I just say “Stay Tuned”?

 

What you can 'stay tuned' for is the national championship that Coach Marr is going to be bringing us in the near future!

 

How about all disgruntled basketball fans pledge to attend ALL lacrosse games @ Fallon Field. Men's Lacrosse will bring this university its first national championship.

 

I encourage all of you to bring the friends, family members, and co-workers that you invite to go with you to the basketball games, to the lacrosse games with you as well.

Edited by uofalbany
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Please email this to McElroy and Philip..................immediately.

 

You were able to put in words (eloquent words at that) what I think most of us on here have thought for years.

 

Bravo.

I make take the time to edit the text and make it more business savvy, but I think the main motivating factor for me was catharsis. I know we can all do more for the program, but sometimes I feel like there is a disconnect between the people and the goals.

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Please email this to McElroy and Philip..................immediately.

 

You were able to put in words (eloquent words at that) what I think most of us on here have thought for years.

 

Bravo.

I make take the time to edit the text and make it more business savvy, but I think the main motivating factor for me was catharsis. I know we can all do more for the program, but sometimes I feel like there is a disconnect between the people and the goals.

 

 

I don't even necessarily think its a disconnect between the people and the goals as much as it is a lack of defined goals.

 

Where does the University want its athletic program to be?

What are the long term goals? Do we want to be Buffalo or UMass?

 

Without those questions answered its impossible for anyone to be satisfied or for the University to build a strong supportive alumni/fan/donor following.

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Haggy

 

I understand where you are coming from. I agree with a lot and don't necessary agree with some and am not going to comment on most of the issues you raised, but just a couple.

 

I agree with you on the contract with the cross town team. It either needs to be fair or the athletic department could better communicate what the benefits are to UA in the current format which appears to subsidize Siena's program. I took some flack last season for skipping that game and went this year to the same miserable seats and it looked like nothing had changed. Still their home game and still us in crappy seats. I am done with that game until we get a home game or a fair split.

 

As far your comments on the university beat reporter, I must disagree with you. Yeah we suffer, but is it because of the relationship or the fact that the TU reporter just isn't that good a lot of the time. Just from my limited interaction with him both on line and in person, I know I wouldn't want to have to deal with that "reporter" on a regular basis. He criticizes the program constantly, occasionally warranted , but often not and in the most negative light that he can. But if any one criticizes him he has a cow. Also I never have heard coach having a problem with any other members of the media because either there are no problems or the other media handle any issues in a professional manner instead of putting out a stupid blog entry.

 

That being said, this season as a whole has been disappointing in all ways. To me it isn't just the games that declined this season but the whole game day experience including the varsity pregame before basketball. Maybe I would overlook being hassled for heaven forbid using a third beer ticket that someone gave to me because they aren't using it if the games were played better. Maybe I would also overlook that we get less games to hang out before the games if the team was playing better, but the cutbacks are still another negative to me on top of the teams play this season.

 

As far as the team, we will have to let it play out. I had hoped they turned the corner during the Yale game, but then the next game was very poor. Who gets how much blame doesn't really matter to me. I would like to see the team play better from here on out.

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