The Mullen Era Begins for Danes
For the last seven seasons, the University at Albany women’s basketball team has done nothing but win. A lot.
Back in March, the Great Danes streak of six straight conference championships came to an end with a 58-56 loss to Hartford in the 2018 America East semifinals.
On top of that, it was announced during the offseason that head coach Joanna Bernabei McNamee, who led the program to a 2017 title, had left the Danes to take the head coaching position at Boston College.
UAlbany also said goodbye to five players including their top four scorers from last season (three graduates and two transfers). Guard Jessica Fequiere graduated after leading the team in scoring one year ago with 17.3 points per game to go along with 6.1 rebounds.
Freshman guard Mackenzie Trpcic, who led the America East in assists with 6.5, transferred to UC Davis, currently in the Big West Conference.
To put it simply, the team that takes the floor for the season opener at the University of South Florida on Nov. 9 will be very different than years past.
New coach Colleen Mullen, who takes over after seven seasons with the Army Black Knights, is well aware.
“We don’t know what the future will hold,” Mullen said. “We lost 80 percent of our offense. We lost five players, so right now, we are going to have a balanced attack, but our main focus is just to compete, have fun, and get better every day.”
Mullen joined the Black Knights as an assistant back in 2011 and was promoted to associate head coach after just one season. She led the team to two Patriot League titles, including the 2015-16 squad which set program and conference records with 29 wins.
The Black Knights finished under .500 just once under her tenure.
“Coach is a great leader,” forward for the Danes Chyanna Canada said. “I’ve never met anyone like her. She’s very intelligent, she’s played the game, so she’s been in our shoes. She understands what it’s like to be a college athlete and she’s a great teacher. She wants the best for us.”
Despite all the changes, the team does bring back a few familiar faces, including seniors Heather Forster and Canada.
Both bring championship experience, having won two conference championships with the Great Danes.
“We work really hard and we learn quickly,” Canada said. “We’ve had a lot of changes. A lot of ups and downs but we’re very adaptive. We take something and we can run with it. We can work together, come together and make things great.”
Forster was third in rebounds last season while Canada, a Syracuse native, was fourth in scoring for the Purple and Gold.
Mullen wants the identity of the Danes to be defense, something she is no stranger to from her time at Army. During that record-breaking 2015-16 campaign, the Black Knights had the lowest opponent scoring average with 50.8 points per game.
The 2017 squad led the America East in scoring with just over 68 points per game while ranking fifth in points against.
Her number one goal is simple.
“We want to lead the league in rebounding.”
Fans will get their first look at the Danes in SEFCU Arena when they take on Manhattan College in their home opener on Nov. 14 at 5 p.m.