Tuesday, December 28, 2010

UAlbany Gives Winter Lift To Opponent

This item has nothing to do with the MAAC, except that the University at Albany has played some MAAC teams (Iona and Siena) in non-league games.

But, it has everything to do with the Christmas season, a season of giving, and everything to do with what college basketball is supposed to be about.

It's about a bus trip from Albany to Cincinnati for UAlbany this past Sunday, a 12-hour journey necessitated by winter's grasp on the great northeast that prohibited air travel. But, the Great Danes needed to get there for their game tonight (Tuesday) against Xavier so a bus was hired.

One of Xavier's players, standout sophomore guards, Mark Lyons, also needed to get there.

He was home for Christmas in his native Schenectady, N.Y. And, like UAlbany, discovered that the flight he intended to take to return to Xavier was cancelled and he wouldn't make it back to Cincinnati in time for the game.

That's when Xavier coach Chris Mack reached out to UAlbany and its coach Will Brown and asked if the Danes could add another passenger on the bus ride to Xavier. The extra passenger, of course, was Lyons.

Brown could easily have responded that there was no room at the inn, that he would not allow Lyons to book passage with his team. He could have played the part of the Grinch, and that stance would have been understood.

After all, it would have been a competitive advantage to tell Lyons that it would be uncomfortable for him to be on the bus and leave him behind. Lyons is Xavier's second-leading scorer averaging 13.1 points per game.

Instead Brown embraced the season of giving, and never hesitated in providing transportation for Lyons on the UAlbany bus.

"This speaks volumes about the college basketball community trying to help someone out like this," said UAlbany sophomore co-captain Logan Aronhalt.

It speaks volumes about the season of giving, at atmosphere that, one hopes, exists in college athletics year round. It speaks volumes about college sports being something more than a business, about being something more than a win-at-all-cost situation.

And, it speaks volumes about UAlbany coach Brown, a good guy who did a nice thing.

The story of Lyons' trip with the "enemy" to get back to Cincinnati for tonight's game was widely reported in upstate New York.

One of the best reports seen by this blogger was done by good friend Tim Wilkin of the Albany Times Union newspaper.

Here's a link: http://www.timesunion.com/sports/article/Rider-on-the-snowstorm-923444.php

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