ALBANY — Devonte Campbell hobbled behind the bench as his University at Albany teammates practiced Friday at SEFCU Arena. Jaraan Lands, a Great Dane sitting out with a hamstring injury, gestured toward him as if to ask, “How bad?”
“Can’t move, bro,” answered the sophomore junior college transfer who just started earning time.
Campbell had hurt an ankle, and just returned to practice that day. He landed badly and tweaked it, and now it looks like he will be out for tonight’s game against St. Francis Brooklyn (7 p.m., SEFCU Arena).
“I wouldn’t think he would be able to play,” head coach Will Brown said.
And so it goes. The cliche “Next man up” is turned on its head into “Next man down.”
Usually by this time of year, with conference play on the near horizon, college coaches and players have a pretty good handle on their basketball team, and what tweaks need to be made in order to make a run at a league title and/or the NCAAs.
As for Brown? He has no clue. That’s because he has barely seen his team — and the Great Danes are 11 games into their season.
“No We’d like to think that we have ABC. Until they all play together . . .” Brown said. “A good sign: we played well the first game of the year at Penn State. Then Cincinnati was a different animal. Then the Oneonta game. That is all I have.”
After the first three games, injuries have struck, including Lands (hamstring), Travis Charles (knee) and Jamir Andrews (knee). Sophomore guard Xavier Cochran is already out for the season (hip). When a Costa Anderson misses practice with illness, and Campbell goes down again, all a coach can do is throw up his hands — and throw coaches on the floor to fill in spots for practice.
“It’s one thing after another,” Brown said.
So the 6-5 Great Danes have had Dallas Ennema playing out of position at power forward, and have played guards Joe Cremo and David Nichols, and forwards Greig Stire and Mike Rowley, too many minutes. As great a concern is grinding the players still standing into pulp in practice.
“You have to worry about the guys who are practicing,” Brown said. “We had seven guys practicing prior to today. You have to worry about wearing those guys out that are playing heavy minutes. It’s a whole new puzzle.
“You always worry about the cumulative effect.”
Nichols said players can’t slow down just because breathers are few and far between in practice. “We are not going to stop what we are going to do in practice.” As for getting a feel on what this team will be as a whole unit, though, he agrees that is a riddle.
“We are a work in progress,” Nichols said. “We are still trying to figure it out a little bit.”
Lands is expected back by the end of the month. Charles may go tonight. Andrews is expected soon. Eventually, Brown will have his team. Then he can see what kind of team he has.
“The plan and the hope is we can finish our last two non-conference games [Dec. 30 at Columbia and home Jan. 2 vs. Cornell] with our original eight-man rotation,” he said. “We are trying to get some resemblance of order.”
SCOUTING ST. FRANCIS BROOKLYN
The Terriers (2-8) are led by senior guard Yunus Hopkinson. The team’s top-scorer at 14.3 points and 2.9 assists per game, Hopkinson ranks third in the Northeast Conference in 3-pointers with 29.
UAlbany is undefeated all-time against St. Francis Brooklyn, winning all six meetings. Last season in Brooklyn Heights, UAlbany defeated the Terriers 71-66.
This is UAlbany’s lone game against a Northeast Conference opponent this season.
CREMO NAMED CO-PLAYER OF THE WEEK
With a pair of 20-plus point performances, Cremo was selected as the America East co-Player of the Week on December 12th. It is his second America East Player of the Week award this season. He scored 29 vs. Colgate and 24 vs. Marist, both wins.
CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARDS
UAlbany is 22nd in Division I in rebounding margin, averaging 8.8 rebounds more than their opponents. Stire and Rowley are tied for fifth in America East (6.4), while Cremo is tied for 14th (4.8).
Despite Brown’s constant refrain that he is disappointed with his team’s perimeter defense, UAlbany is second in the America East in 3-point field goal defense percentage at 34.4 percent.
Maybe that’s because the Great Danes simply don’t believe in treys: UAlbany doesn’t take them either. The Danes’ 142 3-point attempts are last in the league, far behind the next team on the list (UMBC, 220).
Reach Executive Sports Editor Mark McGuire at 395-3105, [email protected] or @MJMcGuire on Twitter.
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Categories: College Sports, Sports