In the months since her run as head coach of Siena women’s basketball ended, Ali Jacques “has been busy doing things I wanted to do, but never had time for.”
There has been more time for family and friends. She dabbled with writing a book, worked toward becoming a yoga instructor, and closely followed the New York Yankees’ season that wrapped Tuesday night.
A new discovery that will make Jax a fixture of the capital area’s college basketball scene.
Jacques Ulbani will serve as color analyst for women’s basketball home games during the 2021–22 season. An NYU graduate with a degree in broadcast journalism — and one in German too — Jacques is also in the mix calling games for other conventions and schools, but Albany resident Great Danes home games as well as play-by-announcer Rich Baker. play.
“For me, taking this leap, I have tremendous experience from the basketball point of view, from the coaching point of view, from the sports point of view. I can talk to him,” Jacques said in a recent interview with The Daily Gazette. “So I have to use all that knowledge and experience in my broadcast. I need to be really brief with what I say, be to the point and speak to the audience. It’s definitely going to be a transition, but it’s one I’m really excited about.”
When he graduated from NYU in 1998, Jacques said he considered some opportunities to use his degree in broadcast journalism. However, she opted to start her coaching career. Jacques was on the coaching staff at five schools before becoming Siena’s head coach in 2012. He spent nine seasons in that role before the school did not renew his contract after the 2020–21 campaign.
“I’ve been coaching for 23 years, but I’ve always wanted to do an analyst job, a TV job,” Jacques said. “At the time, when I graduated, I had the opportunity to coach Division I basketball coming from Division III play—so who would turn it down?”
Earlier this year, Capital Region SportsNet – a streaming service founded in 2015 by Joe Calderone who has worked in sports broadcasting within the region for nearly two decades – produced broadcasts for the Gymrat Challenge AAU tournament games. Chris Watson – who served as the Siena women’s basketball radio announcer for two seasons during Jax’s tenure – needed an announcer partner for those games, and he recruited Jax to join him.
“And she was a natural. She took exactly what I thought she would,” said Watson, who is the communications director for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association and plays for Spectrum News 1’s weekly high school football coverage. act as -by-play announcer. “I thought she was going to be fabulous, and she was.”
Calderon said it was “almost too easy” for Jacques.
“She can do it for a living, if she wants to do it,” Calderone said.
UAlbany’s first game of the season is a home matchup with Hofstra on November 10. Jacques said UAlbany head coach Coleen Mullen contacted him directly to see if he had any interest in commenting on the Great Dane’s home games this season, which are streamed on ESPN+ or ESPN3.
“So I think I’m going to do them all — except one,” Jacques said.
That one is the December 12 game of Great Danes vs. Sienna, at the SEFCU Arena.
“I don’t think it would be good for me to play Siena,” Jacques said. “I don’t know if I’m there yet.”
Jacques said he had a few different opportunities to stay in coaching after leaving Siena, but no one felt it right. Getting back into coaching isn’t something he has ruled out, but Jacques said his current basketball focus is announcing games.
“Any opportunity that comes to my desk, I’m doing it,” Jacques said, adding that he is among the roster of announcers for assignments with the Atlantic 10 and Big East conferences, while several MAAC schools have considered potential Contacted him about gigs. “I want to put myself out there with this.”
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