Tonight, your University of Kentucky Wildcats will take on the Great Danes from Albany at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network. We’ve got some time to kill before tip off, so here are some things to know about tonight’s season opener, the first meeting between the two schools.
The Great Dane replaced a penguin as Albany’s mascot
“UAlbany” is located in Albany, New York, and has an enrollment of 17,280 students. Their colors are purple and gold, and their mascot is Damien The Great Dane, who has represented the school since 1965. Damien replaced Pedwin the Penguin, because, really, who’s intimidated by a penguin?
In 2003, Damien got a younger sidekick, “Lil’ D,” who is probably just as inferior to him as Scratch is to the real Wildcat. Whereas Damien looks like he’s in control and knows what’s up, Lil D’ looks like he just walked in on his parents doing it.
Albany went to the Tournament last season
As Drew shared with you earlier, the Great Danes reached their third consecutive NCAA Tournament last March on Peter Hooley’s game-winning three in the America East Conference Championship. Albany lost to Oklahoma in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament 69-60, but they’ll always have Hooley’s one shining moment:
Albany is ranked 115th in the RPI
For perspective, that’s three slots above Auburn and two above Wake Forest. The Great Danes finished 24-9 in the America East Conference last year, and return four of five starters.
None of their starters are over 6’8″
The same was true in UK’s two exhibition games. Albany’s strength is its guard play on the perimeter, so this could be a game in which Skal, Marcus Lee, and Alex Poythress dominate.
They got haircuts in Rupp Arena during yesterday’s shoot around
I’m not really sure why, but sophomore forward Greig Stire gave the coach’s son a haircut at Rupp Arena yesterday, which Peter Hooly thought was such a great idea he got one too:
Did Stire cut Patrick Towles’ hair too?
Their head coach thinks Jamal Murray is the best player in America
Albany’s head man Will Brown had nothing but compliments for the Cats when speaking with Adam Zagoria earlier this week. He said Tyler Ulis is the best point guard in the country, Skal Labissiere the next #1 Draft pick, and Murray the best player in the country. Strong words!
“And I’ll say it now before everybody jumps on the bandwagon, I think Jamal Murray might be the best player in the country. He reminds me of a combination of Mark Jackson and Andre Miller with a jump shot because he can post you up, he’s got size, he can run a team and he can really shoot that thing.”
Write it down: Will Brown said it first.
Toby Foster will be one of the ball boys
Toby Foster, a super UK fan battling mitochondrial disease, will have the honor being one of the ball boys tonight. Toby, Jared Lorenzen’s cousin, is close with a few of the players, including EJ Floreal and former Cat Willie Cauley-Stein, and is just about the neatest, most positive kid you’ll ever meet. Look for him under the basket.