ALBANY — Will Brown didn’t confirm that the way his Great Danes were divided up to scrimmage toward the end of Thursday’s practice showed which players he views as leading his rotation for the 2019-20 season.
The UAlbany men’s basketball head coach didn’t do a whole lot, though, to suggest otherwise, either.
“It could be,” Brown said after his team’s workout at SEFCU Arena, which saw a purple-clad group of sophomores Malachi de Sousa and Antonio Rizzuto, redshirt sophomores Cameron Healy and Adam Lulka, and seniors Ahmad Clark, Romani Hansen and Kendall Lauderdale working together.
UAlbany won’t know until next Tuesday if redshirt junior Jojo Anderson (knee) could be available to play this season. If Anderson is able to play, Brown has made clear the guard will factor into the team’s rotation, which is guaranteed to also include Clark, de Sousa, Hansen, Healy, Rizzuto and Lulka.
Lauderdale joining that group at Thursday’s practice was a significant development, but Brown seemed to suggest his regular rotation will include at least eight players. Brown said freshman Trey Hutcheson — who is playing despite tearing a tendon in a knuckle on his left ring finger — has impressed throughout the preseason and “would play” if the season started right now.
“We don’t play until November 9th,” Brown said. “So everything is up in the air right now. The one thing I’m not doing is shutting doors on any individual.”
UAlbany will participate in a closed scrimmage this Saturday at Buffalo, which won 32 games last season including an NCAA tournament contest.
UAlbany was picked fourth in the America East Conference preseason coaches’ poll released Thursday, while Vermont was picked to finish first.
Healy — a third-team all-conference selection last season — was a preseason all-conference selection, and said it was “really cool” to receive the recognition.
“But,” he said, “it’s a preseason ranking.”
Similarly, Brown provided a predictable response to his team’s placement in what he termed a “guessing game” the league’s coaches engage in each year.
“Yeah,” he said, “I don’t pay too much attention to the preseason polls.”
Brown said he doesn’t “know how many head coaches actually fill out the poll themselves,” but said he does personally rank the league’s teams and top players.
Usually, he said, that email is responded to “five minutes” after he receives it.
‘THAT’S THE WEIRD THING’
Hutcheson has to wear a splint on his injured finger through the remainder of 2019, but he said the injury is more of a nuisance than anything else.
“It actually doesn’t hurt at all,” Hutcheson said. “That’s the weird thing.”
Hutcheson said he jammed his finger twice within a short period of time, and suffered the injury on the second occasion. A right-handed shooter, Hutcheson said the splint he has to wear affects his ball-handling and ability to catch the ball, but not too much.
“I’ll get used to it,” Hutcheson said.
2019-20 AMERICA EAST PRESEASON POLL
(First place votes in parentheses)
1 – Vermont, 64 (8)
2 – UMBC, 53 (1)
3 – Stony Brook, 48
4 – UAlbany, 47
5 – UMass Lowell, 38
T6 – Binghamton, 23
T6 – Hartford, 23
8 – Maine, 15
9 – New Hampshire, 13