ALBANY — One UAlbany basketball program received good news Friday.
The other is still waiting on some.
The UAlbany women’s basketball team was allowed to resume in-person activities Friday after a four-day pause, a development head coach Colleen Mullen’s program didn’t let go to waste. Mullen’s team had a morning shootaround, afternoon practice and evening lift following getting the OK to get back to work preparing for a 2020-21 season that’s scheduled to start next Thursday with a game at Hofstra.
“Right now, the players need to focus on feeling prepared conditioning-wise to compete next Thursday,” Mullen said. “As a coaching staff, we need to make sure we’re setting them up for success.”
UAlbany’s athletic department announced Thursday morning that both its basketball programs had to halt in-person activities, again, because of issues related to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The women’s program paused Monday and the men’s program paused Wednesday. An athletic department statement issued Thursday said that both UAlbany’s basketball programs were “on a temporary pause from team activities due to presumptive positive tests among individuals associated with both programs’ Tier 1 group” and that “further testing and contact tracing are being conducted to determine the length of the pause and whether any additional measures are necessary.”
Following the women’s basketball team’s presumptive positive tests, UAlbany athletic director Mark Benson said Friday that subsequent PCR and saliva tests for all of the program’s Tier 1 members returned negative results, allowing the team to resume practicing on Friday. Contact tracing and testing continued for the men’s basketball program, Benson said, and the needed length of that team’s pause remains undetermined.
“I’m hopeful we’ll know something soon,” Benson said.
Since the start of the 2020-21 academic year, UAlbany’s basketball programs have dealt with multiple pauses of varying lengths. While the women’s basketball team’s most-recent pause lasted for less than a week, Mullen said “it was pretty noticeable” the negative effect the time away from the court — and weight room — had on her team as it got back to work Friday.
“But, right now, the adversity we’re facing so early in the season — I’m hoping it will serve us really, really well later,” Mullen said.
Her team’s camaraderie and culture, Mullen said, is in a good place. With less than a week until her team’s first game, though, Mullen said she is unsure how her starting five will look. Senior guard Kyara Frames has been “very good,” junior forward Lucia Decortes has “improved a lot,” and sophomore Helene Haegerstrand continues to build on a freshman season that saw her named to the America East Conference All-Rookie Team . . . but Mullen said her playing rotation in early games is going to depend most on which players are “best-conditioned and ready to defend” following a span of months in which the Great Danes have been shut down for nearly as many days as they’ve been allowed to work out.
“It’s going to take some time for us,” Mullen said.