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2015 - the year in review


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The T-U has published its list of their top ten stories of the year



UA MBB/Hooley is #2, UA WBB is #4, Lyle Thompson is #10, honorable mention to UA and the $10 million for Casey Stadium. (America Pharoah was #1)


Wilkin interviews Peter Hooley as Athlete of the Year, but it's not online yet.




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TU Athlete of the Year Peter Hooley


UAlbany guard Peter Hooley hit the shot, and now he can take the bows. Hooley's top of the key 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left gave UAlbany a 51-50 win over Stony Brook in the America East Tournament championship game last March. This, after his mother, Sue, died of colon cancer a month and a half earlier in Australia. Hooley, who became a national story as the Danes headed into the NCAA Tournament, is in the headlines again as he has been named the Times Union Athlete of the Year.
And here, he talks about it:
Q: You are the winner of the third annual Times Union's Athlete of the Year. How does that make you feel?
A: It's an honor. Makes me feel good. It's a special thing, for sure.
Q: Go back to the shot, the one you made almost at the buzzer to win the America East championship game over Stony Brook and put UAlbany in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. Describe, if you can, what happened in that crazy second.
A: I was running back to halfcourt, because I knew I hadn't played well, and I really didn't want to have anything to do with it. Then the ball dropped to me at the top of the key and I thought (the Stony Brook defender) was going to get there in time, but he didn't. I didn't have anything else to think about. I just shot-putted it up. It didn't look like it was going in at all, and at the last second, it just swished in. And then everything just closed in around me.
Q: The emotion, considering all you had gone through (his mother passed away in January), did it all come crashing down on you as soon as the ball went through the basket?
A: Not as soon as it went in. As a kid, you dream of making a big shot like that, and you plan on what you are going to do when you hit it. I was in shock. I had no idea what was going on for at least 20 seconds. Once everything engulfed me and the fans stormed the court, it started to hit me. I just wanted to be on my own, really.
Q: It was pretty hard to be by yourself with everyone wanting to get a piece of you.
A: Yeah (smiles). That's why as soon as I cut down my piece of the net, I walked to the back of the gym and just tried to find a seat of my own. It is tough to be on your own, when there are 4,000 people all around.
Q: Did you cry?
A: I did. I got through all the interviews on the court. Then I just broke down. Everything just closed in around me, and I didn't know what to think.
Q: If your mother was here, and she saw you cry, would she have given you a hard time?
A: (smiles). No. Not at all. She would have known that is all I do. It's not a secret that I'm an emotional guy. It's probably mum's fault. When I was little, she forced me to watch "The Notebook" with her. It's a sad movie. There are only a few movies that I would get pretty choked up while watching.
Q: Like what?
A: "I Am Legend," where Will Smith has to kill his dog on his lap. And my all-time favorite movie, "The Intouchables," It's a French movie. True story. A beautiful movie. It gets you.
Q: As soon as the American East championship game was over, it seemed like overnight you became a national story. Was that overwhelming?
A: It was a little bit at the start. I was trying to make sure I was focusing on the game coming up (NCAA Tournament vs. Oklahoma). We still had a game to play. That was big for the whole community and the team. The more the story came out, and the more people reached out to me, I wanted to make sure I could handle it all. All the messages I got helped to keep me grounded.
Q: Who did you get messages from?
A: I got an anonymous message about a 12-year-old boy. He had lost his mom, and he wanted to play in his championship basketball game because I was doing it. He was a local kid. I got a call asking me if I would like to talk to him, and I said I would love to. I hung up the phone and said, 'How am I going to do this?' I got the courage to do it, and it's probably the best memory I have from last year, to be honest.
Q: Who else reached out to you?
A: I got a couple tweets from Anthony Morrow, a guard for the (Oklahoma City) Thunder. Some NFL players. They tweeted at me.
Q: For your college career, I am sure that shot will be the highlight. Do you ever watch it?
A: Not that much anymore. I can see it online. A lot of my friends like to bring it up. I don't think I will ever escape it, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Q: So, you thought it wasn't going in.
A: No, it looked completely to the right to me. It just curved in the air. I launched it, and started pedaling back (to play defense) because I didn't think it was going in. I was skipping back. It was weird. I didn't have the chance to even think, 'What if this ball goes in? What if I won the game for us?' It was unbelievable. I still have to pinch myself at times.
Q: SEFCU Arena was very loud, understandably. Could you hear it?
A: No. I never heard anything. I couldn't hear coach (Will Brown). Nothing.
Q: And you are convinced that your mother had an assist on that shot.
A: Without a doubt. I used to watch the TV show "Touched by an Angel" with my grandma. She would be crying, saying, 'That's what happen.' I can vividly see that shot curving. Strangest thing. The shot didn't look good. It didn't feel good. It should not have happened. The way we were playing, we didn't deserve to win that game. Everything had to go right for us in the last few seconds. It had to be perfect.
Q: How is your family (dad, Jeff, twin sister, Emma) doing?
A: They are doing well. They are getting by. It's common knowledge now. My sister is expecting a baby in April.
Q: Are you going to be the godfather?
A: Probably. Surely! I'll be the big uncle.
Q: You were a redshirt your first year. So, this is your fifth year. Does it seem like it was just yesterday that you got here?
A: At times, yeah. There have been other times when it seems like I have been here forever. It does feel like just the other day that I was a freshman.
Q: Do you have a nickname here?
A: Rich (teammate Peters) calls me Petey. (Assistant) coach (Jared) Knotts calls me "Pistol." No crazy nicknames.
Q: If you could be on a game show, which one would it be?
A: Probably "Family Feud." I love that show.
Q: Would you be any good?
A: I would. Between Mike (teammate Rowley) and I, we would be pretty good. That's all we would need.
Q: OK. Who would be the rest of your team?
A: Well, Mike for sure. And (former teammates) Sam (Rowley) and Luke (Devlin). Who would be the fifth? Dallas (Ennema) wouldn't provide anything. I wouldn't take him. I would need at least one American. Maybe (Greig) Stire. He has some knowledge that I don't think he even knows he has. I think we would do pretty well.
Q: If you could have one super power, what would it be?
A: Superman has always been my favorite superhero, but I think I would like to be able to turn invisible. That would be real cool.
Q: You like to write. Is that what you want to do when basketball is over?
A: Sometimes I see myself really pursuing writing, and other times, I see myself doing other things and writing on the side.
Q: I know I am putting you on the spot, but if you had to write the lede for the story of the Stony Brook-UAlbany championship game, what would it be?
A: That is putting me on the spot. Let's see. Something like this: "From worst heartbreak to greatest miracle, Albany player Peter Hooley hits the biggest shot with an assist from an angel." How's that?
Q: OK. If you could have dinner with three people, living or dead, who would they be?
A: I would say mum for sure. Maybe Will Smith. I have always liked him. And Margot Robbie, the Australian actress.
Q: If there was a movie made about your life, and you could pick the actor to play you, who would it be?
A: Maybe Mark Wahlberg. He plays a lot of different characters. He is funny at times, and he can also be serious.
Q: If you had a headset on going out on the floor, what is on your iPad?
A: I like country music when I am getting ready for a game.
Q: Favorite sports movie.
A: I am going to say something different. "Gladiator."
Q: City in the United States you would like to visit that you have not been to.
A: Miami.
Q: So you see yourself living in the U.S. when your time in Albany is done?
A: I don't think I will be in the U.S. I might stop by now and then. I feel like my time here is about up and I have done everything I possibly can here. And it's time to try different pastures or head home. But I do have a lot of my closest friends here. It will be tough to leave them.
Q: Describe Will Brown.
A: As a person or a coach?
Q: Whichever way you want to do it.
A: As a coach, he just gets the job done. He knows the X's and O's and how to win big games. He is ready for the games that matter. He is a tough coach, no doubt about that. He has ridden me for four and a half years. As a coach, I owe everything to him. He never saw me play (before offering a scholarship). He took a blind pick on me and kept the faith with me even when I was hurt (freshman year). I owe a big thank you to him. Off the court, I don't know where to begin. He has helped me through more than I could have ever imagined. And his wife (Jamie). They have both been there for me at any time of the day to help me. They both have no reason to look after me the way they have, but if they were not here for me, with everything I went through with mum, I would not have made it, for sure,
Q: If you could trade places with anyone in the world for one day, who would it be?
A: Good question. That's tough. I don't have an answer for that one.
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