UAlbany men’s basketball’s Campbell: Wins, not starting, is what matters

Senior could move to the team's bench
Devonte Campbell is shown during Wednesday's practice.
Devonte Campbell is shown during Wednesday's practice.

ALBANY — Devonte Campbell wants to start.

But the University at Albany men’s basketball senior needs to win.

So, if UAlbany head coach Will Brown tells Campbell he is coming off the bench when the Great Danes host Manhattan in Thursday’s 7 p.m. non-conference game, Campbell said that change is “not at all” an issue for him.

“Regardless of what happens, we’re trying to get the ‘W.’ We don’t have a lot of those right now,” said Campbell, whose team has three wins in its opening dozen games. “So if we’ve got to adjust something, I don’t ever question anything coach Brown has to do.”

Campbell said that holds true even if the decision Brown decides is necessary is to turn Campbell, a player who has started 59 of the last 60 games he has played for UAlbany, into a reserve.

“I think it’s no secret that everybody likes to start,” said Campbell, who is averaging 8.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. “As I get older, being a senior, you realize that you want to get the ‘W’ and you want to play well. So whether you’re in the game [for] the last moment or you start the game off, if we got the ‘W,’ nobody says anything. If we lose, it’s a different story — and, as a senior, all I’m trying to do right now is get a ‘W.’”

Brown appears to be, at the very least, strongly considering removing Campbell — a two-time America East All-Defensive Team selection — from his starting lineup. Junior Ahmad Clark is the team’s top scorer and playmaker, and he is not leaving the team’s opening five, while Brown has referenced at different points this season an interest in starting all four of his freshmen in Brent Hank, Cameron Healy, Adam Lulka and Antonio Rizzuto.

Having Campbell come of the bench, too, allows UAlbany options about how it wants to adjust to opposing teams since Campbell is capable of playing the 3 in a big lineup or the 4 in a small-ball look.

“Devonte is the one guy that could be a multi-position guy, potentially, off the bench, if we go that route,” Brown said.

Fresh off Tuesday’s 30-point loss at Providence, what could keep Brown from making a lineup switch against Manhattan is the health of Hank. The 6-foot-10 redshirt freshman returned to UAlbany’s lineup against Providence after missing a game with a bruised right quad, but struggled with his mobility during that game and at Wednesday’s practice. If Hank cannot play — or can play, but will again be severely limited — it seems unlikely Brown would make a significant lineup change like one involving moving Campbell to a reserve role.

“I’ll keep you guys guessing,” Brown told local reporters after Wednesday’s practice about if he will make the lineup switch against Manhattan. “Keep you on your heels.”

Players, though, do want to start. Campbell said as much Wednesday, and Hank backed up his teammate’s stance.

“Obviously,” Hank said, “as a player, I’m sure everyone’s mindset is that everyone wants to start.”

Campbell said his approach, though, won’t change if his status as a starter does. If he starts or comes off the bench, Campbell is still likely to log near 30 minutes of action.

“I’ve just got to be a leader first,” Campbell said, “and then go from there.”


UAlbany sophomore Philip Flory (foot) was cleared Wednesday to play, but Brown said Flory won’t play against Manhattan. Flory is expected to play in the Great Danes’ following game, which takes place Dec. 28 at Kent State. “We want to make sure he gets enough full-court work and cardio,” Brown said. . . . After missing UAlbany’s first eight games with a variety of ailments, Rizzuto has averaged 9.0 points per game in the Great Danes’ last four contests. “I feel like I’m getting more into the swing of things with every game,” Rizzuto said. “I still have a few times where I’m messing up, but with experience I’ll be better. My legs feel good right now, and I’m going to keep shooting and being tough.” . . . Brown said senior Ray Miller won’t play against Manhattan after injuring his right ankle against Providence. The injury, Brown said, won’t keep Miller out long.

Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.

Categories: College Sports, Sports

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