Albany had options for an opponent in this season's college basketball opening game. Coach Will Brown chose to play at No. 2 Kentucky.
That decision began with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame calling to ask if Albany wanted to play in its early-season event.
"I said, sure," Brown said.
"He said, 'We've got nobody who wants to play Kentucky.'
"I said, 'We'll play them.'"
Brown said this week he didn't hesitate. "It took me about five seconds."
As if believing it was the humane thing to do, the caller from the Hall of Fame gave Brown a chance to reconsider playing at Kentucky. He said, "Well, you could potentially open up with them."
This only further encouraged Brown. "I said, 'Then, we'll definitely play them.'"
This game with the be-careful-what-you-wish-for undercurrent is Friday in Rupp Arena. Brown said he thinks playing Kentucky a "win-win" for Albany. Grand stage. Rich possibilities for exposure.
No one expects Albany to win. In John Calipari's six seasons as coach, Kentucky has lost once at home to a non-conference opponent (Baylor, Dec. 1, 2012). But the Great Danes seem equipped to take on the challenge.
Albany, which has played in the last three NCAA tournaments, returns three guards who might be all-league selections in the America East Conference.
"If you're going to have a chance in an opening-night scenario in Rupp Arena, I think you have to have really good guards," Brown said. "We're hoping our three returning all-conference guards will have a calming influence on our group in this type of environment."
Brown, who could have opened the season against South Florida, Ohio State or a third possibility he could not remember, acknowledged that Kentucky will be difficult challenge for any opponent.
"We're smart enough to realize we have to play very, very well and (play) mistake-free basketball if we're going to have a chance to compete against arguably the best-slash-most talented team in the country," the Albany coach said. "We're looking forward to the opportunity."
Those experienced guards heighten Brown's anticipation. Point guard Evan Singletary, shooting guard Peter Hooley and wing Ray Sanders led Albany into the last three NCAA tournaments. Three times the Great Danes played competitively in losses to much better seeded opponents:
■ 69-60 to No. 3 seed Oklahoma last March.
■ 67-55 to Florida, the overall No. 1 seed in 2014.
■ 73-61 to No. 2 seed Duke in 2013.
"I don't think we will be intimidated," Brown said, "and Kentucky gives you plenty of reasons to be intimidated."
Brown described Singletary as a "Baltimore kid" who is aggressive and tough-minded. "He's fearless," the Albany coach said. "He's a guy who will walk into Rupp with a chip on his shoulder. I'll let him know I think Tyler Ulis is the best point guard in the country, and he'll be upset with me for saying that. But I call them as I see them."
Hooley is a shooter from Australia who has a high basketball IQ.
"He's a throwback," Brown said. "Old school. Really crafty offensive player. He usually shines on the biggest stage when the lights are bright."
Sanders is Albany's defensive stopper with an improving offensive game.
"All three will attack," Brown said. "So they're not going to get caught back on their heels. It's just that we need to make sure we're not over-aggressive. That they're making smart decisions. ...
"You have to be smart-aggressive against Kentucky, in my opinion. You have to realize when you attack that (UK) pressure and get in the paint, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 Draft is salivating, waiting to punch it into the 10th row, and there is Ashley Judd to catch it."
Of course, that No. 1 pick is freshman Skal Labissiere.
Albany, which was 24-9 last season, lost its best inside player. Sam Rowley, another Aussie, was the Great Danes' leading scorer, rebounder and free-throw shooter. In his place, Brown plans to rotate four players, all of whom played between 21 and 19 minutes in a recent exhibition game.
"One of my assistants was joking, 'I hope Kentucky is ready for our big-man platoon,'" Brown said.
More seriously, Brown promised that Albany will compete. "We're going to fight, scrape and claw," he said.
As the phone call came to an end, Brown confessed that he made one demand before agreeing to play at Kentucky in the opener.
"I'll play Kentucky," he said he told the Hall of Fame. "But then you have to send me some place warm. So send me to South Florida so we can get out of the Albany cold in late November and get some sunshine."
Albany plays at South Florida on Nov. 24.