Game 074: (5) Binghamton 76, (4) Albany 70America East Quarterfinals
Saturday, March 5, 2005
Events Center - Binghamton, NY
Folks who maintain that the regular season doesn't mean anything have had their case bolstered by this year's America East tournament. The Binghamton
Bearcats limped to a 2-8 start in conference play and salvaged their season with a five-game win streak and finished fifth in the league at 8-10. For their efforts, they were rewarded with a home game against a higher seed.
Granted, the conference tourney was scheduled to be held at their glittering Events Center located several miles from downtown Binghamton, in the shadow of the Oakdale Mall ("the inside place to shop"). But you really had to feel for the Albany
Great Danes, a team that went 5-23 last year and staged a staggering turnaround - we wrote in this space two months ago
that they were capable of earning the right to wear their home unis for a tournament game, and that they indeed did.
The problem is, Albany's home uniforms are yellow.
This gave fifth-seed Binghamton an even greater home-court advantage, because they opted to don their color-contrasting white kit instead of their road dark-greens. The arena was packed, the "BU Zoo" student section took up one entire end, the team got to use its normal locker room and parking lot, and all of a sudden that game-in-hand the 9-9 Danes earned didn't mean so much anymore."This is our house!"
the Zoo chanted. Clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.
The sizeable yet dwarfed contingent from Albany agreed. "Quite ob-ser-vant!"
The Bearcats led throughout bolstered by long-range bombs and in-your-shorts defense, but Albany had their run near the close. The 2004-05 Great Danes' final twitchings were spirited and strong, but in the end they could not compute the intricate mathematics of missed free throws and three-pointers that have added up for so many lower seeds, virtual as well as non. As time ticked away on Binghamton's first-ever postseason win at the Division I level, the packed house of nearly five thousand roared, just like the enormous green Bearcat at center court would.
"The crowd was 100 percent behind us," Bearcat sophomore guard Troy Hailey said after the game. "Albany had their crowd, but it was nowhere near compared to ours."
Albany's about-face into the America East's upper division is truly admirable, and the 2004-05 Danes rank with high when it comes to the most improved teams in the nation this year. But if they want that extra edge in the future, they might want to think about putting in an application to host the tournament.Photo Gallery (Games 074/075/076/077)