Oklahoma was one of seven teams that represented the Big 12 in this year’s NCAA Tournament. After receiving a selection committee bid, the Sooners are the No. 3 seed in the East region and head into play posting a 22-10 overall and 12-6 in conference play. Oklahoma will take on the No. 14 seed Albany in the Round of 64.
No. 14 Albany has a round of 64 matchup against one of the seven Big 12 teams – No. 3 Oklahoma, which received a selection committee bid to the Big Dance after finishing 22-10 (12-6).
As for the Great Danes, their journey was a bit different as they earned their ticket to the NCAA Tournament by winning the American East Conference Tournament. And one of the hands leading Albany is guard Peter Hooley.
Here’s what you need to know about Peter Hooley:
1. Hooley Is From Australia
The 6-foot-4 junior is from Adelaide, Australia where he played for Concordia College. During his high school career he helped lead the team to the 2009 state championship, was named as the 2009 Open A School MVP and was Country A Grade’s top scorer at 35.3 points per game. In that season, overall Hooley averaged 26.8 points, 5.6 assists and 5.2 rebounds.
Hooley also played for the South Australia Country Team, was a member of the Under-19 Australian Emus Team and won a silver medal at the 2010 South Australian Championship. In 2011, he was the vice-captain for the South Australia Under-20 Team that won the bronze medal at the 2011 Australian National Championships. Hooley also walked away as the third-leading scorer in tournament play with an average of 19.4 points. He also led the Norwood Flames Under-18 Division I to consecutive State League championships and was named the Norwood Flames Under-18 Division I MVP.
2. He Missed 8 Games Because His Mom Died of Cancer
Hooley’s mother, Sue, was battling colon cancer. When it took a bitter turn, America East Men’s Basketball Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year knew it was time to go back home to Australia to spend every last second he could with her before she died on January 30.
During his time at home, Hooley missed eight games. And while he is the second-leading scorer with a 13.7 points per game average, Albany was able to keep up it’s winning performance. In fact, the Great Danes only lost one game during Hooley’s absence – it was a close 59-56 loss to Stony Brook in early February.
3. He Hit the Game Winning Shot at the Buzzer to Send Albany to the NCAA Tournament
The Great Danes might have been down, but they certainly weren’t out. Albany was down by two with just 17 seconds remaining in the American East Conference Championship game against Stony Brook when Hooley became the hero. You could say it was a revenge match as Stony Brook was Albany’s only loss in the 19-game span from January 3 – March 8, and a game Hooley missed the first time around.
After a missed jumper by his teammate, Hooley grabbed the rebound in time to throw up a last-second prayer shot from behind the arc. With just two seconds on the clock the shot went in, giving the Great Danes a 51-50 win, the American East title and the automatic bid to the Big Dance.
The game-winner came just weeks following his mom’s death and Hooley told numerous media outlets that he didn’t shoot that shot alone. He told ESPN:
When you have angels watching you, anything can happen. This is special to me, it’s the best moment of my life. After everything I’ve been though, this is for my family, for mom especially.
And Hooley told The Washington Post:
I know Mom was with me every step of the way. She probably put that ball in the basket better than I did. So … I’m speechless. Speechless.
4. He Has a Twin Sister Emma Hooley
And Hooley’s twin sister Emma got in on the reaction too. She tweeted several times about the end of the game and her brother coming through for the Great Danes.
5. He Reached the 1,000-Point Mark Earlier This Season
As a co-captain, Hooley has stepped up for the Great Danes. Even with his three-week leave, he has been named to the Capital One Academic All-District First Team for second-consecutive season and reached the 1,000-point mark on February 13 in his first game back from Australia. This year he’s averaged 13.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and has shot 43.6 percent from the field and 35.2 from three-point range.
Peter is one of the best players in the America East Conference, and as good as you will find on the perimeter. Similar to Sam [Rowley], we need Peter to grow as a captain and become more of a vocal leader.