ALBANY — Before his program made its trip to Canada to play five exhibition games last week, University at Albany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown said he was eager to see which players could deliver in a game setting.
Notably, Romani Hansen — a senior transfer from Savannah State who is immediately eligible to play — showed he was up to the task. The 6-foot-8 forward impressed throughout UAlbany’s 3-2 effort in Canada, averaging 10.4 points and 8.8 rebounds.
Brown had been encouraged with how Hansen — who averaged 9.5 points and 5.5 rebounds last season — had performed during UAlbany’s summer workouts and practices.
“But you just don’t know. You try to remain optimistic when you see guys in workouts. You think you have a good idea, but when the lights go on, you’re never sure — and I thought he was really good, to be honest,” Brown said of Hansen. “His activity was outstanding. He kept balls alive on both ends for us. Did a really good job on the glass. Made open shots. Blocked shots.”
Hansen, one of five newcomers this season for UAlbany, blocked eight shots during the tour of exhibition games that ended last Thursday.
“He’s different from our other frontcourt guys in that he has great length, and he’s bouncy and athletic,” Brown said. “He can finish above the rim and block shots. I thought it was a positive trip for Romani.”
Between stops in Montreal and Ottawa, UAlbany defeated McGill University (90-78), University of Quebec at Montreal (82-81) and Concordia University (85-57), and lost to the University of Ottawa (82-69) and Carleton College (90-77).
Redshirt sophomore Cameron Healy led UAlbany in scoring on the trip at 13.6 points per game, while senior Ahmad Clark averaged 10.2. Sophomore Malachi de Sousa scored at least nine points in four of the games, and redshirt junior Jojo Anderson, freshman Mitch Doherty and senior Kendall Lauderdale each had multiple games with double-digit scoring outputs.
While redshirt sophomore Adam Lulka didn’t play on UAlbany’s trip to Canada because of “shin stress reactions,” as expected, two more Great Danes missed some action because of injuries.
Sophomore Antonio Rizzuto missed the bulk of the trip’s games with an “oblique issue,” while Lauderdale missed time after aggravating a quad injury.
Brown said Lauderdale is expected to be fine with some rest, while Rizzuto was scheduled to see a doctor Monday regarding his injury.
“But we’re optimistic and hopeful it’s nothing that would sideline him for too long,” Brown said.
Lulka gets re-evaluated Wednesday after missing all of the team’s basketball activities during August.
“In the last week, he’s been feeling better, but that’s based on just walking around,” Brown said.
UAlbany used heavy doses of four-guard lineups during its Canada trip, and Brown said he was most impressed with a combination that used three guards in Anderson, Clark and Healy, a wing in de Sousa and Hansen as the lineup’s big man.
“That was a unique combination that presented defenses with problems,” Brown said.
That part, though, was expected. What served as the pleasant surprise for Brown was how well the smaller lineup defended.
“When that group focused in, we caused problems for offenses,” Brown said.
The pairing of Anderson and Clark — both point guards — in the same backcourt is one Brown used often during the trip.
“Both of them are very aggressive, offensive-minded guys that can get into the paint,” Brown said. “They put a lot of pressure on defenses.”