Albany, N.Y. (NEWS10) — When Colleen Mullen took the UAlbany women’s basketball job in 2018, she mapped out a four year plan. Four years later, the Great Danes were champions.
“Well I asked the magic eight ball and when he came back he said it was going to take four years,” Mullen said.
She must have loved it when her plan came together. Inheriting a program that saw seven straight 20 win seasons, Mullen had work to do retooling the Great Danes.
“We needed to get our players better that were here developed, build relationships with them, build trust so that they could help us recruit talented players, players of high character to build a program,” Mullen said.
After three losing seasons, this year showed the fruits of her labor. The Great Danes boasted one of the best defenses in the country on their way to a 23-win season.
“Defense, you have control over that,” Mullen said. “It’s effort, it’s commitment, it’s discipline.”
UAlbany’s regular season included a seven game win streak, but the turning point for the Danes was the comeback win over Stony Brook.
“16 points down in the fourth quarter, making those big plays down the stretch, having that experience and confidence, that really propelled us into the tournament and to become champions,” Mullen said.
The Danes dominated in SEFCU, but Maine spoiled that perfect home record. UAlbany got their payback when it mattered most. Mullen’s first win against the Black Bears made the Great Danes America East champions.
“Becoming champions and cutting down the net for the players and all their hard work that validation of realizing a goal having it come to fruition is just what you dream of as a coach,” Mullen said.
While the dream run came to an end in the NCAA first round against top seed Louisville, that just made the Danes hungry for more.
“A young team having that experience you’re like ‘oh I want to get back there,'” Mullen said. “I want to do this. Now I want to win a game in the tournament.”