COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) -- When coach Gary Blair took over at Texas A&M in 2003, he went door to door begging people to come watch his struggling team play.
Blair has since transformed the team into a contender, and he led the Aggies to their first national title last season.On Saturday, No. 3 seed and 22nd-ranked Texas A&M will make its school-record seventh straight NCAA appearance, facing No. 14 seed Albany and hosting a tournament game for the first time since 1994.Albany (23-9) is making its first-ever NCAA appearance after winning the America East tournament.Blair says his team is just starting to find its identity this season after losing last year's star Danielle Adams."We have to share who's going to be the go-to person on the court," Blair said. "There isn't one. It shows you there's a lot of we in us instead of a lot of me."The Aggies (22-10) will get leading scorer Tyra White back for Saturday's game after she missed the previous three games with a foot injury.Kelsey Bone said playing without White helped several players improve."We got some really good wins without Tyra," Bone said. "I think that helped the rest of us understand what we were all individually capable of. Now we put Tyra back in and we keep the train moving."The Great Danes aren't intimidated by A&M, but are a bit nervous about being in the tournament for the first time."I think we just look at it as an opportunity," Albany forward Julie Forster said. "It's going to be a tough game -- they're a great team. But we need to play hard, that's what we can control."Albany coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson is always looking for ways to motivate her team. Her latest incentive came when she presented them with new Jordan warmups before the conference tournament championship game."They were like: `Ooh, these Jordan sweats are sweet," she said. "And I said: `There's nothing on them, it depends on what you want to put them on them. Do you want them to say 22-10 or 23-9?"The group wore those black warmups, emblazoned with gold embroidered letters that said "NCAA 23-9" on the shoulder and "America East Champs" in large block letters across the back on Friday before practice."I wanted them to be proud and walk around with their chests out and they've earned all that," Abrahamson-Henderson said.